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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Friday, August 5, 2011

A Good Wife in Santa Fe? with corrections

The Good Wife -  not to be confused with the recent TV Series of similar name :-)...
GRISELDA stands as a synonym for the Good Wife in olden days.

photo ariatours

Vivaldi’s “Griselda” was written 270 year before Peter Sellars made Golijov's Ainadamar at Santa Fe  into perhaps the most celebrated American operas of the last decade. I vividly recall that opera performance with GRONK's art all over the stage.... and liked it a lot, really liked it!

GRONK photo Sante Fe New Mexican
Leonard, Daniels, Minenko - photo Santa Fe New Mexican
The complete cast with  3 non singing roles and Arwady, Majeski, Groves-photo LATimesblog
The artist (GRONK) painted the flats that ARE the entire set design. To enliven the stark and bare floor a chair, later two, a blanket and 'rolling around the floor' bodies are used. According to Sellars it is “A hint of Santa Fe” - thus the Indian blanket and Isabel Leonard as a quinceanera, and let's not forget Meredith Arwady’s blue peasant style apron. Sure it was a- well to be expected from Sellars - mind boggling thing.
Costumes by Dunya Ramicova and bizarre colorful lighting effects. Grant Gershon conducts.

Gronk’s painting is a wild collage of images, Ingalls’ lighting must have been intended to highlight different moods( he did like RED  and blues) in character development when used to bathe the stage in colors or fade color of the costumes. Everything seems rather unsettling visually even a bit over the top. The only IMO redeeming feature  the truly outstanding singers. With the women taking the first bows.

Meredith Arwady's contralto seems like a force of Nature (underlined by lightening bolts and short drumming rains- a 'Santa Fe Special Effect' last night,  Toward the end of the (long) opera, Arwady sang with deep conviction a piece from Stabat Mater that should not have left a dry eye in the house - those that fled in intermission missed out on this perfectly presented piece.
Isabel Leonard as Costanza was stunning - in looks and voice which was beautifully showcased by her several da capo arias to much applause.
Amanda Majeswki in the trouser role of Ottone, had some juicy arias and  sang well.
Paul Groves as Gualtiero was sufficiently violent to portray the sadistic king with at times gleeming high notes.
David Daniels, Costanza's lover  Roberto was very fine in a blue suit, while Yuri Minenko, green suit clad, as his brother Corrado, did a great job with the somewhat fewer pieces handed to him. One could have wished to hear more of him, as his voice seemed richer and more expressive (to my ears) than Daniels. All singers had ample time and opportunities to show off their singing prowess from prone and supine positions throughout the opera or seemingly trying to disappear into Gronk's chaotic walls ;-)!

Singers of this cast and some examples of their vocal art
Meredith Arwady,
a contralto is a Griselda with spiritual fortitude.
Isabel Leonard is the Costanza with a creamy MEZZO (not soprano) albeit a high mezzosoprano.
Mezzo -  ACTUALLY a soprano (not too high a one at that) Amanda Majeski as Ottone, who pursues Griselda),
the excellent countertenor Yuri Minenko
(as Corrado),
Tenor Paul Groves singing like a king undone by politics (how timely, eh?). 
Plus the well known Countertenor David Daniels
who sings Roberto, Costanza's betrothed, with fervor.
Casting these voices is rather interesting after one got used to the reversal of sound in the characters ...lol! There were two silent 'secret service' types who also doubled as special forces commandos with machine guns (one got to thinking Sellars needed to reuse the guns which were prominent in Ainadamar ;-) as well -and a young boy running silently around the empty stage floor.

Musically a true lovely experience, visually nightmarish and the convoluted plot remains convoluted despite any attempts by director Sellars to clarify it. And I am not even going to try.
Suffice it to say it seems a mish mash of mishandled intentions, sadistic wife bashing a la baroque and even the phenomenon of abused wives coming back for more. With a soupcon of seeming incest thrown in.

Anyway one can be thankful it is sung in Italian which makes it all much more palatable ;-)

Personally, this is one opera one would probably enjoy just as much if not more in a pure concert version with great singers without Gronk and 'red light district' and other weird lighting!

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