"There are notes between notes, you know." -- Sarah Vaughan

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The sweet bird of youth

I've been meaning to write this for some time now and kept forgetting, but on election night, Mr. SLS took me to see a dress rehearsal for the opera "Carmen" at the Kennedy Center.

It was a great surprise because I had never been to an opera and once he discovered that gap in my musical experience, he made it his business to take me to one.

It was also cool because I knew the story and I understand and can read French, though my conversational skills leave much to be desired, causing my French brother-in-law and my Quebecois ex-roommate to laugh at my attempts to respond to them en francais.

To sum up, it was a wonderful experience.

But there was one teeeeny tiny thing that puzzled me throughout the performance: Denyce Graves as Carmen.

Yes, I know this is her signature role and that she's a great mezzo-soprano, but I've always envisioned Carmen as this young, sexy, sultry, carefree thing and Denyce's voice is older and heavier sounding, and did not communicate young, sexy, sultry or carefree in the slightest for me. And considering she's pushing 50 (though she looks DAMN GOOD for her age!), that's not surprising. Her body seemed matronly to me as well, as it was obvious she was wearing some sturdy foundations underneath her costumes.
(I'm not sure when this performance was filmed, but that's pretty much how she sounded a couple of weeks ago).

None of this ruined the experience for me, it just made me focus, at times, on how ill-suited she was for the role rather than on the opera.

I'd love to see Carmen again, with some ingenue playing the lead role.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I would love to see Carmen! I guess at this point Denyce is playing the part of Carmen the Cougar. I was in a production of Carmen (on-stage chorus) back when I was a sophomore in college and one of my best friends had the lead. Her voice sounded like a younger version of Denyce's and she really wanted to sound more mature. I did some accompanying for her voice teacher who said over and over that none of the best opera singers are really thin. I guess the vocal chords need some additional "support" in order to gain a richer quality. That's probably why so many opera stars, both male and female seem a little old and un-thin for the roles they are playing.

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Use your inside voice ... or I'll put you outside. -- SingLikeSassy