Sento, ah, more!

Posted, by some odd coincidence, to a David Daniels discussion board:

“Remember, a Baroque opera has the same structure as a hard-core porn film: several minutes of boring dialogue/recitative, and then ten-minute sessions/arias where the stars show off their assets and climax in a spectacular ‘cadenza’.”

37 Responses to “Sento, ah, more!”

  1. Winpal Says:

    Yes, and usually impossible to watch from beginning to end in one sitting.

  2. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    To get me to listen to a countertenor for any length of time would require him to at least drop his pants!!

  3. Winpal Says:

    But there is the risk, callasorphan, that you may find nothing there.

  4. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    oh shit!! winpal you’ve shattered my dream. Bottom line (excuse the punn) the only way that I could take a countertenor for any length of time is to see some flesh–I know that I’m bad but hey show some mercy for the elderly!

  5. opera80221 Says:

    Has anybody seen/heard Bejun Mehta? From my perspective, the guy has a stronger countertenor than David, is DEAD on with singing coloratura, and he could sing soprano for me, drop his pants, and I’d be in HEAVEN!

  6. rysanekfreak Says:

    But isn’t the orgasmic metaphor true for a lot of opera? Especially Richard Strauss?

    Mozart no.

    Wagner yes, but it’s 45 minutes between orgasms.

    Early Verdi is every five minutes.

    Verismo can be nonstop!

    And all those bel canto performances with Sutherland and Caballe. It’s just that the older guys were too polite to ask for tissues, so perhaps you never knew what was REALLY going on in the balconies.

  7. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    rysanekfreak, Ive been known to have orgasms while listening to Verdi and some Wagner (you are so right, the foreplay in Wagner can go on a while but when you do get to that “good” spot–WOW!)

  8. Winpal Says:

    Rysanekfreak, I might argue that the long ensemble that ends Act 2 of Marriage of Figaro qualifies as orgasmic (within the stylistic constraints with which Mozart had to work). In one unbroken arc it builds from a duet to (I think) a septet and closes the act with a bang (so to speak). Orgasmic and orgiastic in its own way.

  9. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    rysanekfreak, us older guys always showed up with our OWN tissues or at best a nice white hanky in our three peice suit jacket–sure got sticky!! We were too cool!

  10. Kashania Says:

    I heard Mehta as Oberon in the Met’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (one of the best things that I’ve seen at the Met). He has a large voice for a countertenor and a mellow quality to the timbre — none of the usual untertenor “hootiness”. I wouldn’t mind at all if he dropped his pants, but having said that, I can gladly listen to countertenors sing baroque opera fully clothed.

  11. Baritenor Says:

    Most Orgasmic Music por Moi…Rossini’s Act One Finales. L’Italiana, Cenerentola, Barbiere…I don’t care. Just that slow to quick speed up into rapid patter from lyrical ensamble….goosebumps and pre-cum everytime.

  12. Mr. Wotan Says:

    Opera80221: I had the great pleasure of hearing Mehta sing Handel’s Orlando in March of last year at City Opera. It was a Saturday matinee (I believe Cav/Pag was playing next door for the broadcast that afternoon) and I was absolutely blown away.
    That was only my second encounter with Handel at NYCO (the first being a revival of that FABULOUS Xerxes with Sarah Caldwell and Beth Clayton – Matt White was one of the countertenors – can’t remember the other) and it was simply sublime. My preferred countertenor these days, however, is Philippe Jaroussky. His Vivaldi IS porn.

  13. Mr. Wotan Says:

    Baritenor: Yes on the Rossini. But let’s please not forget the slow tension, proding and pulsating, and gradual culmination of the ultimately orgasmic Act One of Walkure…. Mmmm….

  14. chekurupi Says:

    Anyone know much about Mr. Korn. He is a male soprano in Seattle Opera’s Handel next year. He seems a young and handsome fellow. You can see his photo and bio at their site.

  15. hab mir's gelobt Says:

    when counter tenors deliver the goods it can be exciting … but that asexual sound is often a bit of an acquired taste. it is also advisable not to sit in the gods when going to an opera with counter tenors, as they are usually not that audible up there. its probably the bartoli effect of a voice😉 (in audibility, not in voice type of course)

  16. Gregory Says:

    Bejun Mehta is my diety. And he’s a great guy.

    As a male soprano who reads this page, let me please ask for a little bit of politeness towards the voice type. We’re all welcome to our own opinions and Lord knowns I couldn’t change anybody’s mind even if I tried, but broad statements about fach across the board isn’t very becoming of such lovely company.

    Not to chastize, but…

    That said, speaking of people dropping their pants, I’m all for starting a fund to send a check to tempt Mariusz Kwiecien to drop ’em!

  17. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    gregory,I’m sorry soooooooooooooo DROP THOSE PANTS!!!! Hey, I’m old I can say that if I want!

  18. Gregory Says:

    Una pax operatica!

    Had only the Tebaldiani and the followers of Callas come to so speedy a treaty.

  19. Baritenor Says:

    You know, I had the option a few months ago, of deciding wheater I wanted to train as a counter-tenor or a Lyric Baritone. I have the easy Falsetto that was qoute: “prime Ottone Material”, and I can go up to a Soprano A-flat if I’m lucky, so I had the option. But Since It was a choice between singing Mozart and Handel, I think I made the right choice.

  20. Gregory Says:

    Well, Bari-T,

    Ottone is one of the hardest CT sings. You could make a living singing that role alone.

    RE: Handel vs. Mozart. If you’re lucky enough to be born with something above that Ab, and even a moderately sized voice, the world of Rossini and Bellini are also open to you. Convincing a casting director that the world is ready for soprano singing men in pants roles? Ah, there’s the rub!

  21. Daniel Says:

    I’m surprised at the negative comments directed here towards counter tenors and the like. As they nearly always sing in the Handel/Monteverdi/Rossini/Gluck genre – or is it fache?” hehe I find it all quite fitting, and regular to my senses. Perhaps that is because I have been listening to them for so long……

    In this part of the world we have been often “treated” to the considerable talents of one Graeme Pushee.

    He remarked in an interview not so long ago that often he senses an initial “small shock reaction” at the beginning of an opera when he starts to sing, but once into it- the audience seems to adjust to the “incongruity” of sight and sound and they even become extremely enthusiastic.

    He wasn’t lying – I have been there on several occasions when he has recieved huge ovations and there was no doubt that the audience loved what he did.

    I suppose we have to become accustomed to something to really appreciate it – but as Kermit himself once said – “it isn’t easy being green!”

  22. Baritenor Says:

    You know, I have always considered one of the things I most wish I could see (but would be horrified to hear it) would be counter-tenors in pants roles like the Komponist and Idamante. Not beacuase it’s a good idea, but because I’;d like to see how much everyone hates the production, no matter how good the singing is. I mean, We’ve already have had Counter-Tenors Orlofskys and Guardians of the Temple (FroSh), so why not more traditonal Travesti roles? (Steps back, puts on kevlar vest, steps behind bulletproof glass, desends into panic room inside bomb shelter).

  23. Winpal Says:

    It’s interesting to see all the discussion and debate over countertenors and male sopranos. Like ’em or not, there is no doubt that there are many fine singers active today in those voice types with major careers in mainstream houses. When I was young, this wasn’t the case (at least not apparent to me). I only remember people like Russell Oberlin and Alfred Deller, who were mainly confined to academic “early music” circles (think Dowland lute songs and the like). They were definitely of the bloodless, asexual variety. It gets me to wondering what has caused the wealth of good and interesting singers we have today? Is is that there are more performance opportunities (or is it the reverse — the operas are now more often staged because there are people who can sing them)? Is there more societal acceptance of “alternative” male voices? Is there access to better/different training programs? Global warming?

  24. Gregory Says:

    The great thing about the countertenor voice is that there are so just as many sub-fachs as there are of other voices. There are the singers who do a great job with early music and really cash in on the “pure” sound that some people thing to be characeristic of the voice. There are rather dramatic voices that actually sound better outside of the Handel repertoire than in.
    Ms. Jarrousky is an angel, tittering hither and thence and making me fall in love with his blushing pre-raphealite sound while I feel rather raped in some instances by Metha. But, as they say, you can’t rape the willing. Maniaci was the first to actually say, “Look, I’m a soprano and there’s not much I can do about it”, and his sound is very apt. He’s appropriate in Handel, but I have a recording of him singing Idamante’s aria “Il Padre Adorato” that would make a few mezzos I know think twice about their comfort zone. My teacher, a very large and (very beautiful countertenor voice) is often called on to sing “O Patria…Di tanti Palpiti”. As in, not “Oh, well, we’ll do this for an encore,” but rather, “We have heard and we must have this. Come here and chantez, child.” I’m biased, but it’s a revelation, if I do say, and I am tough to please. The modern countertenor/male soprano voice is very equipped for the bel canto repertoire, and I absolutely long for the day when someone with actual testicles steps onstage to sing either Arsace, Malcom, or Tancredi.
    In my auditions I am always called on to sing “Voi che sapete” and I will be adding Der Komponist and Octavian to my roles.

    Hojoto!
    (And baritenor thought he would have to protect himself! I am cementing the doors shut!)

  25. leontyneschiava Says:

    I know this is not going to make me popular- but let me go ahead and say it. I think singing count-tenor is a cop-out and doesn’t require an abundance of skill and techniqe beyond the acquisition of the style needed for the repertoire. These roles were written for casrati and the modern day falsettist/ counterteor in no way approximates that sound experience- sorry

  26. papagenodz Says:

    1) “Anyone know much about Mr. Korn. He is a male soprano in Seattle Opera’s Handel next year. He seems a young and handsome fellow. You can see his photo and bio at their site.”

    He used to live with friend Rachel. Darling guy, great voice.

    2) “In my auditions I am always called on to sing “Voi che sapete” and I will be adding Der Komponist and Octavian to my roles.”

    Careful! While the notion is charming, they are Strauss orchestras and in a house larger than medium sized you may never be able to speak again. I personally think that a male Octavian sort of misses the point of what Strauss intended–it’s not a veristic work and the delicious sexual ambiguity of a woman playing a man is still a bit titillating. For me, the same thing applies to Cherubino, and is perhaps therefore referenced in the Komponist.

  27. Hans Lick Says:

    David Daniels has an EXTREMELY sexy countertenor, not to be confused with the old English hooting standard. When I heard his “Care speme,” I turned to jelly … I thought, “What is this feeling … ladies, do you know what I mean?” and I remembered: it’s the way I feel when I’m getting REALLY well fucked.

    And DD’s not my physical type at all — insufficient chest hair.
    (And remember: if they have chest hair and facial hair, you KNOW they’re intact down there.)

    I find DD’s voice more beautiful than Mehta’s, and he is both a better musician and a better actor — though it is true Mehta has less vibrato, which might appeal to certain early music types. (Mehta is also less often on pitch.) Matthew White is another opera-house quality countertenor.

    And I always prefer that male roles written for males (such as Handel’s Julius Caesar) be sung by males — I don’t believe a woman can perform such a role effectively. Sing it, perhaps. Play it, no.

    Wagner composed great orgasmic music, but unless you time your orgasm exactly to match his, the effect will be out of sync and merely frustrating. Much better to simply memorize it and play it back in your head during a happy soundless session with someone companionable.

    Greg — as the Number One Mariusz Kwiecien fan west of the Oder-Neisse (there are bigger ones in Poland, I’m sure), I’m sorry you missed him in Don Pasquale the night Norina’s pillow was ill aimed and landed on part of the set that was supposed to be a neighboring rooftop. Without missing a syllable of glorious singing, Mariusz reached out with his knickered legs (great calves), caught the pillow between his feet, and did a somersault to restore the pillow to the playing area — thereby displaying the excellence of his buns — all of this quite impromptu. And, as Cosi fan tutte showed us, he can float a beautiful line while jumping up and down on his overcoat. I don’t know his chest hair situation — he’s a baritone who can make waves with his shirt ON — but his career is burgeoning (six different productions of Don Giovanni next season?) and the current state of opera staging pretty much guarantees that we will all find out soon enough.

    Hans Lick

  28. Michael Farris Says:

    “Greg — as the Number One Mariusz Kwiecien fan west of the Oder-Neisse (there are bigger ones in Poland,”

    Not necessarily, I live in Poland and managed to never hear of him before.

    For a number of reasons, Polish opera singers get recognition in Poland only after becoming well-established abroad.

  29. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    gregory, thank you for your forgiveness and do ignore my obscene suggestion to you–just having that day a bad case of the “vapours” (whatever the hell they are) with no fainting couch near by!
    I DO wish you the best of luck with your singing career!!

  30. Hans Lick Says:

    rdbellais said…
    I know this is not going to make me popular- but let me go ahead and say it. I think singing count-tenor is a cop-out and doesn’t require an abundance of skill and techniqe beyond the acquisition of the style needed for the repertoire. These roles were written for casrati and the modern day falsettist/ counterteor in no way approximates that sound experience- sorry

    ME:
    I’d very much like to know how many castrati you have actually heard sing on the opera stage, and how you can be sure the modern operatic countertenor “in no way approximates that sound experience.”

    He certainly in EVERY way “approximates” that sound experience. The only significant question (since Farinelli and Senesino, like Gencer and Zeani, made far too few recordings — believe me, I’ve heard them all) is does he do it WELL? Many of them do it spectacularly well — they serve the music magnificently, and the drama to an extent probably undreamed of in Handel’s day. What, then, are you complaining about? Or are you 200 years old, and it’s not like the days of your youth? I suggest that your senility has made you forgetful.

    Mr. Farris — I did not say that EVERY PERSON in Poland was a Kwiecien fan. It’s a big country and one or two of them probably don’t even like opera, and have never heard of Podles or Sembrich or the de Reszke brothers. (Mariusz cracked up when he heard me try to pronounce that last name, and taught me the proper way to do it.)

    I stand by my statement that there are Kwiecien fans in Poland — SOMEONE picked him to represent the country at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. (He made Finalist.) What part of that do you object to?

    Hans Lick

  31. Michael Farris Says:

    “I stand by my statement that there are Kwiecien fans in Poland — SOMEONE picked him to represent the country at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. (He made Finalist.) What part of that do you object to?”

    By now, I’m sure. I’m just saying that IME Polish opera fans (and even more, critics) don’t much respect homegrown talent until it’s been acclaimed abroad. The CW is, if they sing very much in Poland, they can’t be very good… I think that’s a dumb attitude, but it’s there.

  32. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    winpal, I too remember Russell O. and Alfred D. Alfred D. did a master class on Baroque music at the music school I attended (Univ of Colo.) and his voice type was a complete novelty. At one point he assured the attendees that he was not a castri by bring his son on stage. Now his voice type is almost common–how time changes things.

  33. Gregory Says:

    rdbellais said…
    I know this is not going to make me popular- but let me go ahead and say it. I think singing count-tenor is a cop-out and doesn’t require an abundance of skill and techniqe beyond the acquisition of the style needed for the repertoire.

    G: You are more than welcome to dislike whatever sounds because they don’t appeal to you. But this is really unacceptably ignorant. Do you really think that any less body is involved in creating a fully supported countertenor sound? Do you honestly think any less air is needed for me to sing a soprano high C than it is for a female singer? Do you think that we just go onstage and phone it in on half a cord?

    I read this comment yesterday and have spent the last half a day walking away from the computer screen trying not to “say something I’ll regret.” But in not responding, I find that I am, as rdbellais, says, “cop”ing out, something I’ve never done. The only cop-out of countertenor singing is, in my opinion, walking away from one’s true voice because of the certainty that there are misinformed audience members (or fellow singers) who “won’t like us”. In fact, choosing to Cop-out and sing countertenor was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, and each time I body-up to sing, it continues to be some of the hardest work I’ve ever done– not only because it’s singing, and singing of any kind is hard f*ing work, but because I know that there are still people out there who will negate what I am trying to offer as “fake”, “false”, “unnatural”, or who will not even bother to review it, but simply dismiss it because, “I don’t like countertenors.”

    I hope the readers of this list will pardon me for this excessive sidebar.

  34. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    gregory, you just go forward and have a stupendous career. I love your spirit!

  35. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I sympathize with Gregory’s comments. Not being a singer of any kind I can only imagine the work it takes to sing and to learn to sing. And that’s why I appreciate it so when someone does it well.

    As much as I hate to have opera companies take my money and give me singers not up to their roles, I’m just as well very sympathetic when a singer falters.

    That’s why I hope Heppner recoups and makes the Parsifals; and Fleming pulls herself together and decides what kind of artist she wants to be; etc.. I would even enjoy having Studer back in top form, in spite of all the alienation generated by Marschallin.

  36. Hans Lick Says:

    MF — I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the attitude towards Polish singers who sing in Poland — not long ago, it was the attitude of Americans towards American singers who only sang in America, and Aussies towards Aussies etc. etc. But every Polish opera lover I meet seems to know all about Mariusz — there was a fan club of Poles at the stage door after the last Don Pasquale with red and white carnations to throw and a carpet to unroll before him (thinking of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, I was a little worried by that), and the Polish opera web sites are full of articles, reviews, interviews about him. So I think he’s the alternate tradition: he represents Poland to the world, and among Polish opera lovers appears to be the national hero.

    I know you live there — do you hang out with Polish opera lovers? Ask them.

    Hans Lick

  37. Michael Farris Says:

    I don’t hang out with opera lovers except on line. I’m just out of it, which is maybe why I’d never heard of him.

    I’m still confident in saying he became appreciated by Polish fans primarily after obtaining success elsewhere (in which case, yes, he’ll be a national hero in opera terms).

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