Friday, July 4, 2008

Renée Fleming triumphs in Athens. The Athenians honour the Diva with long standing ovations.


Writer´s block. This is what is happening to me right now. I ‘m back home after Renée’s triumph and I can’t write a thing. Nothing! I can’t think, my mind has stopped and the only thing that is buzzing around my head are scattered phrases. “Fish are jumping”, “era il suo nome Barbara”, “nell’ ora del dolore”. I just wanna have a drink and listen again to some of the most beautiful moments of the recital, the ones that really brought tears to my eyes.

Renée started off with a well sung “Adieu, notre petite table” but which I found a bit cold and bland and went on with Manon’s Gavotte sung gracefully but with problems of accuracy and stability (especially at the coloraturas and the high notes). It was more than decent but not what I would have expected by a Manon as wonderful as Renée.

Is Renée trying to cross over to the dramatic repertoire? Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and Tosca were on the bill and I was really curious to hear both…

“In quelle trine morbide” was sung exceptionally, beautiful high notes, piani, phrasing. “Sola perduta abbandonata” came as a shock to me. Great pathos, terrific fortissimi, but also a lot of chest voice (the chest voice was present elsewhere too) and some memory lapsus. She was so involved while singing, she was soooo Manon-Lescaut-dying-in-the-desert that I couldn’t help thinking of that famous heartbreaking video of Eva Marton literally crying while singing.

Second part of the recital and after a hideous Semiramide Ouverture by the Athens State Orchestra (they were disastrous throughout the concert and someone booed them, i swear that was not me!), La Fleming delivers what I consider to be the peak moment of the recital: Desdemona’s “Piangea cantando….Ave Maria” from Verdi’s Otello. Listening to something so perfect was I think the reason I was about to cry. Perfection! Desdemona was there! On the stage of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus waiting for the Moor of Venice… The audience went wild! They wouldn’t stop clapping after that!

Elena's "Merce dilette amiche" was next but of which i have almost no recollection (after the astral moments of Ave Maria), i just remember that Renée was dancing to the rhythm...

Two more to go, and time for some more Puccini: Lauretta’s “O mio babbino caro” and Tosca’s “Vissi d’ arte”. Who would have thought that Renée could sing Tosca like that! And by “that” I mean with so much passion, so much volume (!!!), superlatives fail me, I think!

First standing ovation for Renée and a unanimous roooooar of “bravas” that are followed by our first extra treat for the evening: Gershwin’s “Summertime”. And the time stopped. And in a hot-as-hell Athens the living was suddenly made easy, the fishes were jumping and the cotton was high! And the little babies hushed! to share with the Diva one of the most beautiful songs ever composed.

More standing ovations and Renée invites us to join her in singing! “I could have danced all night” and the audience not just hums but they actually sing along! Thousands of Elizas Doolittle and on stage a lady in red topping the song with a high E flat (?) and the audience going wild. Sounds tacky? Maybe it was, but nevertheless it was fun, cheer up you old maids!

More standing ovations and Renée is back on stage! People yell “Rusalka, Rusalka!” but no Rusalka for the Greeks. It’s La Wally now, and her “Ebben! Ne andró lontana”!

End of the Recital, everybody is standing, calling the Diva over and over again on stage, Renée looks thrilled! So are we.

After the performance, a wild bunch of fans are gathered at the Artists’ Exit. Photos, cd’s, dvd’s, pens en-garde and everybody is waiting for the Chiffon Diva, who appears after a while, looking stunning, and signs all 12.347 fotos that the fans have brought with them. While leaving she asks “What did you guys like most?” and I scream “Desdemona!!!” to receive Renée’s “You ‘ve got great taste!”.

I wouldn't want to leave you without a taste of the Recital...

Listen to

Renée Fleming

singing Ave Maria live in Athens on June the 3rd 2008

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-.-

Now, if you would excuse me, I have to go and make my suitcase, I have a boat to catch in 2 hours. You know where I ‘m going again….don’t ask.

19 comments:

Alberto said...

Great review! It's always a pleasure to read your reports.
So glad Renée Fleming did a great job.
In the previous posts, you expressed kinda fear about singing without amplification in the Odeon. It seems it was not a problem, was it?

Best
Al

mahler76 said...

Χαίρομαι που πέρασες σούπερ και που θα περάσεις ακόμα καλύτερα το Που-Σου-Κου.

Parsifal said...

Hello from on-board! I couln't tell if the amplification was needed or not... i was sitting very close to the Diva. We 'll just have to ask people that were sitted at the Upper Tier...

ps. I just read my text, i think its terrible, but at 4.30 in the morning it was the best i could do(and i'm currently writing while on a boat in the middle of the Aegean, i love my friends you carry their notebooks and wireless connections with 'em...)

Alberto said...

Have a nice trip!
Only another question: is the Willow Song from a broadcast or did you record it by yourself?

Thanks

Attis said...

Great review, Parsifal!

I saw it too and was absolutely amazed! What a beautiful, rich passionate voice! What a great sense of drama! And all this coming from such a beautiful Diva, a joy to watch on the Herodeion stage. I also loved they way she connected with the audience, leaving it wonderfully mesmerized....

Αστάλη said...

i wouldn't like to listen to her singing with amplification.Truth be told however, being sitted at the middle of the upper tier and rather to the side of the theatre, i had some problems listening to her.. irodion's accoustics aren't ideal for opera..but it is so beautiful and enchanting that you tend to forget such trivialities..:P

Ντεμης said...

I was at the upper tier, way up, and everything was perfect, just like you describe it, dear Parsi! Oh, what a night, I can't say whether I was crying thanks to Renée or beause it was ending so quickly and I knew I wouldn't live it again!
I didn't believe she could be so perfect, I fell in love with her, is there somewhere one could write to her and express his gratitude?
And your text is perfect dear friend, and your photos and sound clip as well. Have a nice holiday and come back to add more!

Willym said...

damn fine fine review for 0430 - have a wonderful time - like I have to tell you to do that!

Ilaria said...

I.AM.JELOUS.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl Studer has also appeared at the Herodius Atticus in at least one ocassion in recent years. For instance: http://www.aca.gr/event03-10.htm

But no one has written about it. Parsi, where were you?

Anonymous said...

The end of "I could have danced all night" topped with a high not is only a high C as Birgit Nilsson used to do.

Parsifal said...

I m on an iPhone on the beach therefore can't write much.the recording is private.great sound huh? I was there at the cheryl studer recital and I also have a DVD. I k now the Nilsson version.possibly a c.when I m back I ll check.

Attila said...

Please write more reviews at 4.30 in the morning. I keep re-reading it - imagining I was there.

I hope you can post some more clips.

Anonymous said...

UNE ARTISTE QUI TOUCHE LE COEUR. UNE FEMME UNIQUE

Attila said...

Oh my God! I have just seen the Eva Marton video of Manon Lescaut - it's stunning. Is Parsifal really saying that Renée's "Sola..." was really in the same league? He must post the clip of La Fleminga doing her version so that we can compare...

Anonymous said...

CHERYL STUDER, MAIS OUI. UNE ARTISTE QUI TOUCHE LE COEUR. UNE FEMME UNIQUE.

One Big DJ said...

Une jeune homme a demandé un dvd et n'a jamais révélé pour l'obtenir...
grrrrr ;)

Anonymous said...

Informations about Renée Fleming and Rolando Villazon :

Concert Fleming / Villazon (Oberammergau 19 juillet) sur radio Bayern Klassik le 8 aoùt à 20heures.
Retransmission TV en direct de Salzbourg Romeo et Juliette ORF 2le 2 aoùt.

Parsifal said...

Merci!