Sur les fils de la pluie,
Les anges du jeudi
Jouent longtemps de la harpe.
Et sous leurs doigts, Mozart
En gouttes de joie bleue.
Car c'est toujours Mozart
Que reprennent sans fin
Les anges musiciens,
Qui, au long du jeudi,
Font chanter sur la harpe
La douceur de la pluie.
("Les anges musiciens". Maurice Carême.)
Originally I had no plans for any particular celebration because every day is Mozart day. Then I thought maybe I'd spend the day with Concert FM, who were devoting the whole day to him. However the majority of the day's programme was given to a 12 hour musically-illustrated biographical feature, full of people reading letters and reflections from experts. I heard the beginning and the end, but biography and historical context, as interesting as they are and as well-executed as this feature seemed to be, were not how I wanted to spend the day. I wanted to spend it with him himself, so I did it in the best way I knew how: sopranos. Five hours of 'em. Beginning with Barbara Bonney's exquisite disc of Mozart Lieder, followed by Mozart Arias discs from Véronique Gens, Vesselina Kasarova, Yvonne Kenny and Kiri Te Kanawa. Then a Requiem. Then NZ Opera's Don Giovanni courtesy of Concert FM. Still on radio, half an hour of "Mozartiana" and now, to finish off with, another Requiem.
That's something like 12 hours out of 24 spent with Mozart. Not only that, but 12 hours of only vocal music. Four or five of them nothing but soprano arias. But you see, you can limit it all you like and he remains limitlessly, miraculously beautiful. There's infinite variety here. I was never bored, never fed up. Saturation point? I don't know. Perhaps, yes, I've had enough Mozart for today. But only for today. This Requiem hasn't finished yet, and will continue past midnight, and if there were more Mozart after it (there isn't) that would be just fine. Maybe when it does end, I'll drink in some Così or Mitridate, re di Ponto.
I've heard some incredible singing today from some incredible women. Vesselina's Mozart disc was new to me today and she's terrifying. In the best way. Of course, terrifying isn't exactly the adjective you want to apply to a Zerlina; but as Vitellia, Sesto, Idamante, Farnace, the hurricane force of her voice is quite something. I still can't get past how impossibly gorgeous Kiri's Concert Arias CD is, or how long it took me properly to realise this. Barbara's Mozart Lieder are incomparable. And Yvonne is Yvonne, and in "Ch'io mi scordi di te" (both versions) will make you - yes, you - feel very guilty when you can't answer her heartbreaking "Perchè?". But don't come too close to her "Per pietà". It burns.
The Don Giovanni on Concert FM was an unexpected delight and one I very nearly missed. This is the NZ Opera Don Giovanni I saw three times and in two cities. I didn't find out until yesterday that it was to be broadcast tonight. Interesting to revisit it after all these months. With distance comes perspective and I have to be honest: I think Wyn Davies' was a rather superficial and at times insensitive treatment of the score. There are such depths to be plumbed in Don Giovanni and nobody could be expected to explore them all, but I felt like he didn't even let that depth be hinted at. Everything taken at such a gallop, no time to pause and breathe the music in. There's no point in Giovanni's serenade if it seems almost as quick as his "Finch'han del vino", and no room for any humour in Zerlina's arias when she's obliged to rush through them so. I still take issue, too, with Donna Elvira's characterisation one-dimensional conventional coquette here. I don't know why "Mi tradi" was cut, and it's a shame that it was, because I adore it: but on the other hand, it wouldn't have made any sense coming from this particular Elvira. Ah, but what does all this really matter when there's Patricia Wright's Donna Anna in the world? She was the reason - the only reason - I saw this production three times; I spent more than I should have to see it in Auckland and with just "Non sperar se non m'uccidi ch'io ti lasci fuggir mai" she paid me back tenfold; she's one of the singers I love best in all the world - and yet somehow, somehow, I was still surprised by just how damned fabulous her Donna Anna really was. She outshone the lot of 'em, including that applause-stealing Ottavio. It really is just terribly lucky for me that she lives in this country: if she were based anywhere else I'd be bankrupt by now.
Once again, as always, I've been sidetracked into the praise of sopranos. But it all comes back to the unbelievable gift that is Mozart, to the darling boy I'm so very attached to. Impossible and beautiful and utterly inexplicable. Glaubt mir, er muß ein Zaub'rer sein.