Friday, July 16, 2010

Wine, women, and song. And then there was Bach and Jesus.

Today I had a little extra time on my hands and so I decided to listen to some good old opera choruses. It started with a little hankering to listen to the Hunter's chorus from Der Freischütz. I love how powerful that and many other German opera choruses sound. Naturally this led me to seek a great recording of Steuermann laß die Wacht from Der Fliegende Holländer. The orchestration in Wagner operas never ceases to amaze me. From there I moved on to a little lighter fare with the Soldier's choruses from both Il Trovatore and Faust. Both are favorites of mine. Naturally, I also listened to the Anvil chorus since I was already in the whole Trovatore mode. I finished up with a great rendition of the Pilgrim's chorus from Tannhäuser. It was such a peaceful song compared to all the others that I listened to. After listening to that, I really wanted to listen to some sacred music and so I turned the King of sacred music: J. S. Bach.
With a good while of just Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I was just feeling so grateful for music but also for Jesus Christ and all that he went through for me so that I could be here and not only enjoying this music but also understand the meaning of the text and the sacrifice that Jesus made. I love to give my testimony through song and whether the piece is by Bach or Sally DeFord, I can show people my understanding of the gospel and also the love of God. Music just makes me so happy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rolando Villazon's Eyebrows

So the other day, my sister and I sat down and watched an opera on DVD. Obviously, this is not the first time that this has happened and isn't the last time, but this one was definitely a different experience. Anyone who has seen the La boheme directed by Robert Dornhelm will understand. It's not often that an opera movie comes along that is high-budget and fully cinematic. That is exactly what Mr. Dornhelm attempted and succeeded at bringing to pass in his very own Boheme. However, this does present a bit of a problem. Operas are often best left on the stage but I guess, if one opera was made for the movies, it would have to Puccini's grand masterpiece.

Now let me explain my thoughts on the movie. First of all, I must admit that it was a gorgeous production. The scenes were definitely rich with color and a good amount dirt where it was required. You really do feel like the artists are living in little hole in the wall apartment. You can also really feel the camaraderie between the poor bohemians Rodolfo, Marcello, Schaunard, and Colline. All the roles were well sung, especially on the parts of Rodolfo, played by the capable Rolando Villazon, and Mimi, sung by opera's very own Russian cover girl Anna Netrebko. I have to admit that they do make a pretty couple on-screen. Sometimes Rolando's eyebrows get a little on the distracting side. They are very large and sometimes take on a life of their own, but it is something I've grown to accept of the many great singers who have that issue. Another strange issue that you run into with movies of operas is the insistence of many directors to include parts where the singers are quite obviously not singing and yet the singing continues in the background. All I know is that one minute Rodolfo and Mimi are singing to each other and the next, they are swinging each other around in the snow and someone is singing and it's not them. I don't mean to pick too much on Rolando, but he is just so ripe for it. His mouth is definitely interesting to watch when he sings. He sometimes loses his lips and it's kinda interesting. I was pleasantly surprised by the movie as a whole and I do recommend it to anyone out there that might be looking for a more in-home introduction to opera. You can watch the trailer for the movie here. I know there was nothing about baritones in this post, but the world won't come to an end......or will it?