I have been subsisting on Met and La Scala moviecasts and not much else — plus starting a new job here — which is why proper posts are a bit thin on the ground. I have a few in mind (most of them admittedly centred on Cheryl Barker) but in the meantime, a few bits and pieces elsewhere worth a plug.
For those who've not found it already, let me point you towards Score Desk, bloghome of CaroNome, "the world's first ever teenage-opera-singing-ballerina-blogger". With Sieglinde apparently disparu, a couple of other favourites fading away and Parterre populated by some depressingly cynical and nasty commenters, she's a much needed ray of sunshine. Bright, funny and infectiously enthusiastic.
I spend enough time chez Opera Australia that I have my favourites not just among the soloists but among the chorus as well. Chief among those is Jane Parkin — sister of the slightly more famous David — who always strikes me as someone who ought to be plucked from that chorus line and given a solo role. She was impressive in the McDonald's Aria finals last year, not just because she sang well (you'd have to figure most of the chorus could do that, or they wouldn't be there) but because her repertoire, her approach and her stage presence were all suggestive of an interesting and individual artist. Plus she's exactly the kind of soprano Opera Australia is serious need of, and thus worth developing. The only evidence I can offer you is this hilarious clip from, of all things, a pop science show. It's at least reflective of her star power, if not perhaps of her vocal abilities.
The Netrebko-Villazon behemoth hardly needs any marketing assistance from little old me. Just the same, their recently released La bohème is really, really good — and this coming from me, confirmed unfan of La bohème. Inevitably it is The Anna & Rolando Show, not so much an egalitarian ensemble piece, but in fact probably the more thrilling for it. She always seems to sound better with him beside her, he is swoon inducing with or without her and they make a pretty damn appealing couple on record. It's a little odd that Deutsche Grammophon, with its impressive stable of stars, couldn't come up with a more impressive Musetta than Decca's Nicole Cabell, who is outclassed here. Still, this is pretty top notch; it's a Bohème that makes me not detest Bohème, and that's saying something.
After last Sunday's Met moviecast, I walked out of the movie theatre, took a bus into the city and immediately bought the DVD of La fille du régiment from the Royal Opera. I needed a permanent souvenir and this is as close as it comes. There are subtle differences between this and the Met incarnation, but it is equally terrific. Natural comedienne that she is, Natalie's improvisations change with every performance; I suspect you could watch her do it twenty times and she'd give you something new in every one. Juan Diego is as exruciatingly talented as ever and just as adorable; he was perhaps in even more fluid voice at the Met, but quite frankly, with Juan Diego, you're just comparing wonderful with wonderful. The only major difference is Dawn French as the Duchesse de Krakenthorp, who is a scream; less haughty than Marian Seldes but much, much funnier.
This is weeks old now, but while I'm promoting things — if you've a desire to read me in slightly more sensible, less overflowing mode, a piece I wrote about the rivalry between Lully and Marc-Antoine Charpentier appeared in Pinchgut Opera's April newsletter, available here. Pinchgut's 2008 production is Charpentier's rarely (ie practically never) performed opera David et Jonathas, which, despite containing far too many boys, promises to be another gorgeous success.