Author Topic: General Opera News  (Read 174367 times)

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uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #60 on: June 27, 2007, 05:36:56 AM »
Sounds as if our friend Nigel had a grand time attending The Rape of Lucretia:

http://npw-opera-concerts.blogspot.com/2007/06/britten-rape-of-lucretia.html

Offline Brewski

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #61 on: June 27, 2007, 06:19:40 AM »
Look forward to your review, Bruce! The Hindemith piece a bit too much for the New York/New England audience? Nigel's comment went something like: 'This too is Hindemith?" or words to that effect.  ;)



Here is the review.  The audience seemed to like the Hindemith -- perhaps surprisingly, but Muti is very persuasive.

--Bruce
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uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #62 on: June 27, 2007, 02:32:47 PM »
Very lively and interesting review, Bruce! Thank you. Muti does have his way with musicians, doesn't he? It's the Italian Labour Unions he can't tame.

I wonder if the program was recorded and we get a CD some day? No, I won't dream about a DVD, New York events are rare on DVD, small German towns like Schwetzingen are commonly available!

Offline Brewski

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #63 on: June 27, 2007, 02:39:20 PM »
Very lively and interesting review, Bruce! Thank you. Muti does have his way with musicians, doesn't he? It's the Italian Labour Unions he can't tame.

I wonder if the program was recorded and we get a CD some day? No, I won't dream about a DVD, New York events are rare on DVD, small German towns like Schwetzingen are commonly available!

Thank you, Lis!  You can tell by the musicians' faces that they really like working with him.  There was some speculation that he was the number one choice to follow Maazel, but I don't get any indication Muti wants to conduct full-time over here.  (Supposedly that's the main reason he left Philadelphia, i.e., to spend more time with his family.)

The program might show up on iTunes -- some of the New York Philharmonic's concerts have.  (I didn't notice any cameras for a DVD, alas.) 

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

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Offline MishaK

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #64 on: June 27, 2007, 02:46:23 PM »
Thank you, Lis!  You can tell by the musicians' faces that they really like working with him.  There was some speculation that he was the number one choice to follow Maazel, but I don't get any indication Muti wants to conduct full-time over here.  (Supposedly that's the main reason he left Philadelphia, i.e., to spend more time with his family.)

He's also being frequently mentioned as a potential successor to Barenboim here in Chicago. I don't see either of those happening. One of the main reasons so meany US orchestras are leaderless or looking for successors is the amount of extramusical work with which US orchestra administrations have burdened the position of music director. They will have to scale that back considerably if they want to attract and retain top international talent. I don't see Muti or Chailly or Barenboim or even Rattle or any of those guys coming back permanently to these shores.

Offline Brewski

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #65 on: June 27, 2007, 02:49:14 PM »
He's also being frequently mentioned as a potential successor to Barenboim here in Chicago. I don't see either of those happening. One of the main reasons so meany US orchestras are leaderless or looking for successors is the amount of extramusical work with which US orchestra administrations have burdened the position of music director. They will have to scale that back considerably if they want to attract and retain top international talent. I don't see Muti or Chailly or Barenboim or even Rattle or any of those guys coming back permanently to these shores.

Yes, I agree.  Why would they want to, when they can zip in, get tons of praise for guest-conducting for a few weeks and then leave, without all that extra work? 

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #66 on: June 27, 2007, 02:54:55 PM »
top international talent. .

Does it have to be international talent? I'll get a bit personal here, but a friend of mine, chief conductor and artistic director of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra for 25 years, is sitting in Arizona, unemployed! Even his Italian name does not help him getting a job!  :'(

uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #67 on: June 27, 2007, 03:06:22 PM »
Add on - and maybe OT - part of the collection:

http://www.bpolive.com/

That's only part of the concert repertoire, he has been praised as a great 'Italianate' opera conductor; whatever that implies.

Hector

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #68 on: June 28, 2007, 04:53:29 AM »
Does it have to be international talent? I'll get a bit personal here, but a friend of mine, chief conductor and artistic director of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra for 25 years, is sitting in Arizona, unemployed! Even his Italian name does not help him getting a job!  :'(

Well, he's hardly likely to get a top-notch conducting job in Arizona, now, is he?

Tell him to move back to Europe (has the WNO appointed a new Music Director yet?).

uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #69 on: June 30, 2007, 08:38:29 AM »
Benjamin Britten fans: Death in Venice is being broadcast here, start in a few minutes:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/classical/index.shtml

Ian Bostridge is starring, his first time in this difficult role.

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #70 on: July 05, 2007, 11:04:40 PM »
"SOUR Angelica" was the first opera to be presented in Puccini's "Trittico" (New Israel Opera, Tel-Aviv June 21-July7) reversed in its usual order with "Tabarro" (the "Cloak") second. "Gianni Schicchi" was the delightful third after the horrors of the first two.  When first seeing the advert about "bitter" Angelica (though she had every right to be) in the local press, I did a double take but "sour" was duly reprinted in big red letters in the program.

The decided unimportance of the words was reflected in the performances as well but not surprising in a tower-of-babble country where everyone speaks a few languages badly. Except for those male performers who either were in the main, natives, one born and bred Italian and a very competent Romanian who from childhood were used to open vowels, the language was the weakest link, leaving one wondering whether they were supposed to understand one another onstage.

The women on the whole were awful. The mangling of the Italian language would probably not be tolerated in any European Opera house. It was practically unrecognizable coming out of the mouths of the women mainly from the former Soviet Union. (And they sing with TOTAL confidence!!).  Also their style of gut screaming (none of the women could produce a pianissimo let alone a piano) was practically unbearable.

The Mother Superior and the second female supporting role In Tabarro had the same aggressive production and unclean vowels. The latter sounded and looked like she just walked out from Onegin as Tatiana's nurse with more or less the same costume.

A perusal of the program showed a preponderance of Russian names. Having to depend largely on locals from the Russian invasion of the past 20 years is probably the reason for Moskovization of the Israel Opera. (Issac Stern said "those coming off the plane from Russia without violins are pianists"-- also wannabe singers, I guess.) Opera being a huge undertaking with large numbers of people involved is why it can only be as strong as the weakest link. But really they should sing in any other language but Italian, even Hebrew.

All the above to me was a severe distraction since opera is singing and music. Direction seems to be much better than before though. The kind of exhibitionism still alive and well in Europe fairly kept people away from "taking their kids to the Opera" for years so perhaps they cleaned up this act. The "Tales of Hoffman" 20 years ago in its utter kinkiness was simply embarrassing.

"Sister Angelica" had the nuns sing lying face down and the protagonist herself on her back and also with her arms attached to a pole as on a cross towards the end of the opera in "expiation". Those non-Christians who were the bulk of the audience will walk away thinking that nuns live in black holes and are not allowed to pet or keep sheep--not exactly the rustic monastery from the "Sound of Music". (Angelica's aunt was also dressed up like a female Darth Vader and sang like a cross between Ulrica and Azucena on a bad day.) But if there is any visual misrepresentation, it is Puccini's fault who was exploiting perhaps the dark side of monastery life for its shock value on stage. Strangely enough, though, in Schicchi, keeping the money out of the hands of "fat monks" was the reason for futzing the will. I wonder if anyone else noticed that contradiction. Oh well.

The turbulent, even violent dramaticism of the operas, especially the first two do not lend themsevles to singing in the conventional sense, rather intense shrieks and shouts except for short monologues. This is "verismo" where life becomes art and art supposedly becomes life. So if one didn't hear a lot of Bel Canto the fault can also be ascribed to Puccini.

The orchestra deftly accompanied throughout and kept a good pace but in the "O Mio Babbino Caro" a short aria for a young girl in "Schicchi" simply drowned her out. Due to her lack of development, she had no business on an opera stage but people in the audience applauded her "college try".

One wonders WHAT THE POINT is in expending so much effort and capital for this kind of "entertainment", whether it is supposed to be educationally uplifting or something to see live performances rather than much better examplars on film. But "Opera" itself is problematic especially for the alleged need to trot out the SAME relatively few operas that have been written 100-200 years ago but are repeated as nauseam. The New Israel Opera is as largely conventional and tradition bound as the Old one in their choice of repertoire.

ZB
« Last Edit: July 06, 2007, 02:57:01 AM by zamyrabyrd »
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uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #71 on: July 13, 2007, 06:55:36 AM »

Offline MishaK

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #72 on: July 13, 2007, 07:45:25 AM »
Does it have to be international talent? I'll get a bit personal here, but a friend of mine, chief conductor and artistic director of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra for 25 years, is sitting in Arizona, unemployed! Even his Italian name does not help him getting a job!  :'(

Of course it doesn't have to be "international", though that word should include all countries. I have frequently said that, e.g., Spano should be given a more prestigious orchestra to lead.

Maybe your Arizonan friend with the Italian name should look in Europe again. They love American conductors there. In my former neck of the woods in Germany it seems every other conductor was American. We had Larry Foster in Duisburg for many years, John Fiore now heads the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Steven Sloane is in Bochum, Hugh Wolff was at the RSO Frankfurt for a number of years, James Conlon was at the Gürzenich for many years, etc...

uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #73 on: July 13, 2007, 07:52:34 AM »
True! Thank you for your input. There is always the issue of the Agency! He is on the list of a British, German and American agency; independent applications for a job are frowned upon by the agencies, after all, they too want to make money, lots of it!

In the mean time another collection of his recordings with the Budapest PO, plus his autobiography will be on the market in time for xmas shopping!

Offline T-C

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #74 on: July 13, 2007, 11:20:10 AM »
"SOUR Angelica" was the first opera to be presented in Puccini's "Trittico" (New Israel Opera, Tel-Aviv June 21-July7) reversed in its usual order with "Tabarro" (the "Cloak") second. "Gianni Schicchi" was the delightful third after the horrors of the first two.  When first seeing the advert about "bitter" Angelica (though she had every right to be) in the local press, I did a double take but "sour" was duly reprinted in big red letters in the program.

The decided unimportance of the words was reflected in the performances as well but not surprising in a tower-of-babble country where everyone speaks a few languages badly. Except for those male performers who either were in the main, natives, one born and bred Italian and a very competent Romanian who from childhood were used to open vowels, the language was the weakest link, leaving one wondering whether they were supposed to understand one another onstage.

The women on the whole were awful. The mangling of the Italian language would probably not be tolerated in any European Opera house. It was practically unrecognizable coming out of the mouths of the women mainly from the former Soviet Union. (And they sing with TOTAL confidence!!).  Also their style of gut screaming (none of the women could produce a pianissimo let alone a piano) was practically unbearable.

The Mother Superior and the second female supporting role In Tabarro had the same aggressive production and unclean vowels. The latter sounded and looked like she just walked out from Onegin as Tatiana's nurse with more or less the same costume.

A perusal of the program showed a preponderance of Russian names. Having to depend largely on locals from the Russian invasion of the past 20 years is probably the reason for Moskovization of the Israel Opera. (Issac Stern said "those coming off the plane from Russia without violins are pianists"-- also wannabe singers, I guess.) Opera being a huge undertaking with large numbers of people involved is why it can only be as strong as the weakest link. But really they should sing in any other language but Italian, even Hebrew.

All the above to me was a severe distraction since opera is singing and music. Direction seems to be much better than before though. The kind of exhibitionism still alive and well in Europe fairly kept people away from "taking their kids to the Opera" for years so perhaps they cleaned up this act. The "Tales of Hoffman" 20 years ago in its utter kinkiness was simply embarrassing.

"Sister Angelica" had the nuns sing lying face down and the protagonist herself on her back and also with her arms attached to a pole as on a cross towards the end of the opera in "expiation". Those non-Christians who were the bulk of the audience will walk away thinking that nuns live in black holes and are not allowed to pet or keep sheep--not exactly the rustic monastery from the "Sound of Music". (Angelica's aunt was also dressed up like a female Darth Vader and sang like a cross between Ulrica and Azucena on a bad day.) But if there is any visual misrepresentation, it is Puccini's fault who was exploiting perhaps the dark side of monastery life for its shock value on stage. Strangely enough, though, in Schicchi, keeping the money out of the hands of "fat monks" was the reason for futzing the will. I wonder if anyone else noticed that contradiction. Oh well.

The turbulent, even violent dramaticism of the operas, especially the first two do not lend themsevles to singing in the conventional sense, rather intense shrieks and shouts except for short monologues. This is "verismo" where life becomes art and art supposedly becomes life. So if one didn't hear a lot of Bel Canto the fault can also be ascribed to Puccini.

The orchestra deftly accompanied throughout and kept a good pace but in the "O Mio Babbino Caro" a short aria for a young girl in "Schicchi" simply drowned her out. Due to her lack of development, she had no business on an opera stage but people in the audience applauded her "college try".

One wonders WHAT THE POINT is in expending so much effort and capital for this kind of "entertainment", whether it is supposed to be educationally uplifting or something to see live performances rather than much better examplars on film. But "Opera" itself is problematic especially for the alleged need to trot out the SAME relatively few operas that have been written 100-200 years ago but are repeated as nauseam. The New Israel Opera is as largely conventional and tradition bound as the Old one in their choice of repertoire.


This arrogant and insulting “review” is disgusting.


uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #75 on: July 14, 2007, 02:12:57 PM »
He better not!!!  $:)

Just read in this month's Opera that Peter Sellars has produced Tristan und Isolde! Is this already a done deed and is anybody familiar with it? Semyon Bychkov will conduct it in Japan next July and at the Opéra Bastille in November 2008.

There are some Sellar's productions I even like, but if he messes with MY Tristan und Isolde he is in a heap of trouble!  $:)

uffeviking

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #76 on: July 15, 2007, 06:22:28 PM »
In the mean time I have been informed that Sellars's production of Tristan und Isolde is Kalter Kaffe, already happened long time ago, but my senior moments interfered. Here is the review our absent friend Nigel wrote:




Wagner – Tristan und Isolde
Opéra National de Paris – Bastille, April 28 2005

Conductor: Esa Pekka Salonen. Production: Peter Sellars. Stage design: Bill Viola. Lighting: James F. Ingalls. Costumes: Martin Pakledinaz. Chorus master: Peter Burian. Tristan: Ben Heppner. König Marke: Franz-Josef Selig. Isolde: Waltraud Meier. Kurwenal: Jukka Rasilainen. Brangäne: Yvonne Naef. Ein Hirt/Ein junger Seemann: Toby Spence. Melot: Alexander Marco-Buhrmester. Ein Steuermann: David Bizic. Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris.

Remember Anna Russell? Like Brünnhilde in her 20-minute Ring, it sometimes seems to me that Peter Sellars, the former enfant terrible of opera productions, has in recent years completely gone to pieces, espousing a sententious, sentimental, old hippie/new age, vaguely moralising style (El Niño, L’Amour de loin…) And now, in Bill Viola, he’s found a friend. Well, I’m an old hippie too, but I grew out of it. OK, I’ve given up smoking, but I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t wear Birkenstocks or homespun tunics, I don’t collect pebbles and light candles around the house, I don’t hug trees…

So these videos of Viola’s that are supposed to be the bee’s knees in this production did little for me. They were best at their grainiest and most abstract, worst when they looked like a Nina Ricci commercial. However, they were uninteresting enough not to be a distraction. The otherwise bare, black platform and dark clothes, neat blocking, tidy lighting and well-rehearsed movements made for a good, chic semi-staging; but, with Sellars’ and Viola’s fees and technical costs, presumably the most expensive semi-staging in the history of opera.

The last time I saw Tristan was in Vienna, with Voigt. I admit I can see, now, why people have said she “is not really Isolde.” She was noble, imperious and defiant, visibly in control, and the silvery voice was gleaming and confident, with ringing top notes. Waltraud Meier plays a more vulnerable, “broken” character more in keeping with the tortured texts. The voice, of course, is totally different: coppery bronze, with gorgeous sounds in the medium and upper medium and enough experience to turn trouble at the top to dramatic effect. If Meier has been through a sticky patch (I was told her voice, at a recital not so long ago, was “in ribbons”), she has certainly emerged triumphant. The one minor problem was the lack of contrast with Yvonne Naef’s resounding (occasionally squally) Brangäne: you had to “read their lips” to check who was singing.

After his well-known ups and downs, Heppner also seems to have emerged better than ever. The last time I heard him at the Bastille, the voice was rather ethereal. It has taken on body, and the rest… well, everyone knows what a marvellous voice it is, and for once we hear the role sung: shaped and phrased and nuanced and coloured – and acted.

The rest of the cast was strong, with the possible exception of a braying Kurwenal, and included the surprising, very English tones of Toby Spence, appearing on a balcony high up at the sides - as did the chorus, the cor anglais and the fanfares: Sellars had at least to do something to earn his fees!

Salonen went for his customary clarity and transparency of texture – you might even say a deliberately French sound, in contrast with the all-enveloping Vienna velvet - but also for some slow tempi – the Prelude, for a start. The orchestra was not as at home, I thought, in Wagner as in the recent War & Peace. The audience, having coughed their lungs out without reserve and received phone calls as if they couldn’t give a damn, roared their approval. One loan boo for the conductor, soon shouted down, but the players stayed in the pit to applaud the stage: always a good sign

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #77 on: July 15, 2007, 09:37:41 PM »

This arrogant and insulting “review” is disgusting.

Excuse me, paying the equivalent of $75 to hear Russo-Italian is disgusting.
Having less than a handful of professionals interact with rank amateurs is putting the wool over the eyes of the public, or is it "cloak"?
 
ZB
"I write to discover what I know."
 ― Flannery O'Connor

Offline T-C

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #78 on: July 16, 2007, 01:15:36 AM »
Excuse me, paying the equivalent of $75 to hear Russo-Italian is disgusting.
Having less than a handful of professionals interact with rank amateurs is putting the wool over the eyes of the public, or is it "cloak"?

I have no intention in analyzing your post line by line. I also attended the NIO performance of Il Trittico. You think that the performance was awful with many unprofessional singers. As someone who knows the opera very well, I think that your review is awfully unprofessional and petty and gives a very poor and distorted impression of the show that was directed by Giancarlo del Monaco, a very well known opera director. You are of course entitled not to like what you have heard and seen but I hope that I have the right not to like what I have read.

But what I find the most disgusting of all are those stereotypical generalizations: in this tower-of-babble country everyone speaks at least one language correctly. Most Israelis speak very good HEBREW, others speak very good RUSSIAN a.s.o. Many speak more than one language fluently.

I resent your use of the term "Russian invasion" for the immigration of Jews from Russia to Israel. There are plenty of very talented musicians among the immigrants, singers too. Your nasty disrespect for them as a group is outrageous. Many of them perform all over the globe and are desirable artists. I really encourage you to purchase the latest addition to the Opus Arte DVD label – a performance of Rossini's opera Il Viaggio a Reims that is conducted by Valery Gergiev. All the cast of about 17 solo singers, sing in Italian with a very prominent Russian pronunciation. But this performance was not recorded in Tel-Aviv but at the center of the world: Le theatre du Chatelet in Paris…

But anyhow if you suffer so much from the unprofessional nature of the singers at the NIO why did you spend $75 for a ticket? You can get a very good recording of Il Trittico for much less. I can recommend a few options…

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #79 on: July 16, 2007, 04:44:03 AM »

I have no intention in analyzing your post line by line. I also attended the NIO performance of Il Trittico. You think that the performance was awful with many unprofessional singers. As someone who knows the opera very well, I think that your review is awfully unprofessional and petty and gives a very poor and distorted impression of the show that was directed by Giancarlo del Monaco, a very well known opera director. You are of course entitled not to like what you have heard and seen but I hope that I have the right not to like what I have read.

But what I find the most disgusting of all are those stereotypical generalizations: in this tower-of-babble country everyone speaks at least one language correctly. Most Israelis speak very good HEBREW, others speak very good RUSSIAN a.s.o. Many speak more than one language fluently.

I resent your use of the term "Russian invasion" for the immigration of Jews from Russia to Israel. There are plenty of very talented musicians among the immigrants, singers too. Your nasty disrespect for them as a group is outrageous. Many of them perform all over the globe and are desirable artists. I really encourage you to purchase the latest addition to the Opus Arte DVD label – a performance of Rossini's opera Il Viaggio a Reims that is conducted by Valery Gergiev. All the cast of about 17 solo singers, sing in Italian with a very prominent Russian pronunciation. But this performance was not recorded in Tel-Aviv but at the center of the world: Le theatre du Chatelet in Paris…

But anyhow if you suffer so much from the unprofessional nature of the singers at the NIO why did you spend $75 for a ticket? You can get a very good recording of Il Trittico for much less. I can recommend a few options…


Get a grip, T-C. I'm sure you speak many languages well but maybe you can't recognize some good natured irony.

As for the "Russian Invasion", there are only about 1 million of them who on the whole didn't immigrate for the love of Zion but to get OUT of the former Soviet Union and get better social rights. Why should I respect them or any social group for that matter? People in groups are simply meant to be satirized. But joking aside, I 've been in quite a few institutions where they more or less take over and operate according to Bolshie norms. I've never seen such a group of people who know how to work a system for their own benefit, step on anyone else who gets in the way, lie like a rug as a matter of course to promote themselves, are extremely competitive and manipulative, use all the animilistic survival techniques that one needs in order to avoid going to labor camps in Siberia. Humanistic, liberal values were not exactly the norm over there for 70 years.

A friend of mine singing in New York no less was telling me how several of the abovementioned were purposely tripping her up by giving false cues in an opera. One English dancer for that matter, in a film about herself in Russia on Mezzo TV several months ago says it is STILL a whole different artistic world over there--cutthroat competition. The women all come to class completely made up. (Come to think about it, that is the way they go to the supermarket.)

But in general the professional baggage (that I'm familiar with in teaching) they come with is authoritarian and unsuited for the 21st century. Most of those who have had Russian teachers complain about their strictness and closemindedness. Maybe these traits worked in an authoritarian society but they don't pan out very well in the West.
The Soviet Union was caught in a time warp and closed off from the outside world for more than half a century. What can one expect anyway?

Vocally, and that is my area of expertise, closed Russian vowels do not go with Italian. Maybe you didn't notice but for me it was waving a red flag anytime those Russiot sang. Of course, SOME may have overcome their training and went on to become great as you mentioned. (English speakers have to be trained out of diphthongs, etc., so this is nothing surprising or new.) But I just felt those who sang with such unclean vowels didn't bother to do their homework, in other words, humbly learn what one needs to do in order to sing in another language with respect. But if it didn't make any difference to you, then most probably it didn't bother the majority either who also don't know.

HOWEVER, there would be NO WAY this "Triptych" could be done AS IS in Europe and the US without being taken to the cleaners and MUCH WORSE than what I have written.

ZB

PS A modest estimate is that more than 50% of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union are NOT Jewish.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2007, 05:16:06 AM by zamyrabyrd »
"I write to discover what I know."
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