Hello old friend – and i don’t mean Puccini ;-)

http://www.vevo.com/watch/USSM21500374?syndicationid=bb8a16ab-1279-4f17-969b-1dba5eb60eda&shortlink=kkzoiS&country=GB

Please click on the link above to view the video, otherwise it is embedded into the ClassicFM article linked below (it’s a promo video but apparently not available everywhere, etc and i can’t embed it here as Vevo and WP seem to hate each other)

Talk about coincidences, this is what dropped into my Inbox this morning 🙂 I knew the CD was coming, it is somewhere in my pre-order list at amazon, but i’d pre-ordered it and then forgot about it. I do have everything he has recorded to date, not all DVDs, but all CDs as it is the audio aspect that interests me more that some productions.

ClassicFM has done a funny little article about it here 😉 Feel free to have a look and don’t throw tomatoes at the photos, i knew, some kid in the office has been at photoshop again and he ain’t very good about it! As you can easily tell by comparison with the live figure in the video 😀 No idea why they do this stuff and create bad wax replicas in photos, but there you go, money only goes so far with the classical music business and the money goes to the recording process and little is left to pay really good photographers…

I know these videos are made for a purpose, to sell. But i have no issue with that, particularly as it is a tiny market compared to pop music and singers, if lucky, only make about 1 Eur per CD sold. These days it is more to capture a voice for future generations, to get to sing stuff you may not get a chance to do on stage, to collaborate with certain musicians, etc. And these recordings are very expensive to make, pay the orchestra, the conductor, the venue. It used to take several weeks in the past but these days people hardly have the funds to stretch recordings like these for more than 1 week. So it is intense, very hard work, sometimes 6h+ in the studio/hall a day. And that is a lot for singers who under normal circumstances when they performed sing for about 3-5h a night every 3 days on average.

Anyway, enough boring background about the making of 😉 This video is a promo about the upcoming CD which contains only Puccini arias. Funny enough Puccini is not my favourite composer at all, BUT the man had a knack for brilliant stage drama and the music can rival the best of movie scored from today. And he picked interesting stories to tell.

I am sure anyone will recognise some arias on this video, the Tosca bits and the Vincero 😉 (from Turandot, about an princess who kills all the potential suitors who can’t solve the riddles she sets them 😉 this one is set to defeat her however, duh! 😉 ) I do like Tosca a lot and not just the well known bits but the duets and the interactions and he is by far my favourite painter, Mario Cavaradossi. I can’t begin to describe the sweetness of his vocal lines when the talks to his lover, the famous singing diva, Floria Tosca. Check this out, from a live performance and listen out for the chuckles, smooching sounds and all that 😉

It is one of my favourite roles of his, among other things because i was there when he sang it for the first time, in London with Tony Pappano (same conductor as on the upcoming CD) a bit over 7 years ago 🙂 Another very fond memory of those nights (went to see it 3 times 😉 ) is the way the hall went dead silent when he sang his last year just before he knew he was going to die, saying good bye to his memories of her and to life in general and hearing the sighs and sobs of people around me, men and women alike. In fact people were so utterly moved, nobody dared to clap at the end of the aria and that is, as far as i know unheard of. Because you see, in opera, arias are there to impress with vocal proves, with high notes and it can be so exciting to hear you forget what the singer sang about and cheer him for what he is able to accomplish with his voice.  Now imagine somebody who puts his all into it and all he gets is…. silence 🙂 We actually had to tell him what people were experiencing after the show, as he thought something had gone wrong for the usual reaction not to happen. As he says in the video, Pappano knew him better maybe than he knew himself as an artist at the time and gave him this role to own, at a time when nobody in an opera house as big as the ROH would have considered to pick him for something as challenging and high profile. And boy was it special 🙂 I remember wanting to come back again and again and again (i wasn’t living in London at the time) until a ‘certain someone’ said: ‘don’t, it’s enough, i’ll do this again’.

And i have seen it quite a few more times and hope to see it some more 🙂

His Mario i’ll never get bored with. But there is another role on the CD and of Puccini that i particularly like, he mentions him in the video as well, the story of the bandit, saved by a strong woman 🙂 Puccini adored his leading ladies and his operas are mostly showcases for sopranos. But i like this story because it was written at the beginning of the century when stories of strong women were not necessarily a staple on stage and it is nice that for once the hero is not the tenor 🙂 This aria, which happens towards the end of the opera is therefore special, because it captures a moment of utter vulnerability. He has been captured, his bandit days are over and he is prepared to die hanging and asks them to not tell her about his death but pretend he has gotten away and if living a life of freedom (And then she comes and convinces them to let him go as she believes he is reformed and she can save him; the opera actually has a happy ending, which is unusual!).

So there it is, video from a live performance this time, Ch’ella mi creda libero e lontano (let her believe me free and far away from here..):

Looking forward to the CD now, not only because of the nice memories it has brought back, but because this is the most thrilling, powerful, rich, raw and emotional voice i have ever heard live on an opera stage 🙂 Mille grazie Jonas 🙂

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