Our Met broadcast today, a performance from February of 1959. Such fun. That Nicolai Gedda. Jack of all trades and, well, master of all of them too. There's something so honest and earnest about his singing too, that you can't help but like him. And George London, one of the coolest bad guys I've heard. I can't help but think he must have had a brilliant time, running about the place playing four different villains. So nice, as well, to hear a bass-baritone who can go way down low without wobbling away like mad; he just stays wonderfully, vibrantly nasty. Overall, I'd have to say the boys did better than the girls in this one. Mattiwilde Dobbs' Olympia was suitably mechanical but somewhat uninspiring; Helen Vanni was a respectable enough Nicklausse but a bit squeaky for my taste in the upper register. However, Lucine Amara was an absolutely lovely, sweet sounding Antonia, capturing both the frailty and the artistic aspirations of her character. And Rosalind Elias was magnificent. Vocally stunning and utterly convincing - I was hanging on Giulietta's every word. I think I'd give away my reflection too, if someone with a voice like that asked me..
And the opera is, as I said, wonderful fun. Stage directors must just go crazy staging this, there's so much there to play with. Music ain't bad either, is it? Bit of a hit parade really. Certainly a step up from La Belle Hélène, which I saw on TV a few weeks ago and found a bit boring really, musically speaking. Hoffmann, though, rattles along with lots of excellent tunes. I've never much liked the Barcarolle, but 'Elle a fui, la tourterelle' is just beautiful and I love the 'Kleinzach' sequence from the Prologue. So, a very enjoyable three hours. Next week promises to be even better, though: Aïda with the most all-star cast imaginable. Leontyne Price, Grace Bumbry, Carlo Bergonzi, Robert Merrill... the mind boggles. Should be fantastic.
Now listening to: Beverly Sills ornamenting the hell out of 'Da tempeste il legno infranto' from Giulio Cesare, and wonderfully too.