Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday afternoon with Armide

Today I went to see Lully's Armide at Glimmerglass Opera with painter and singer (Aida chorus) Yolanda Sharpe and was better pleased overall than I was the last time around, when I was pleased in part only. It was interesting to see a Baroque French opera with a good deal of dancing (although the elderly lady sitting next to me slipped sideways into sleep during the dancing, she dozed gently and did not snore.) The semi-transparent set designs inspired by Persian illuminated manuscripts and calligraphy were lovely, and the scattered lights that showed through at times pleasantly echoed the bits of crystal sewn onto the ladies' bright jewel-color skirts. Some voices were better than others, and some minor things felt distracting--what did the bit of gender-bending with some of the over-effete poses of the men versus the mannish hair (striking compared to the pretty bunheads of her ladies) of Armide add, and why? The Quinault libretto (story drawn from Tasso) was fanciful enough that the idea of it being the Seelie Court and the Fairie Queen kept tumbling through my head. Certainly the dancing courtiers appeared close kin to the trooping fairies with their aristocratic ways and fine processions. Or perhaps, given the invocation of demons, it might be the Queen of the Unseelie Court. She would knock down her world when angered! And of course pop it up again when she felt the desire for another go-round with the handsome Renault. Press images here.

Afterward we went to the Pavilion and heard a great number of songs and set pieces, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I am wishing that they would make more use of Yolanda some year; she has a rich voice and much training, though she is tethered to SUNY-Oneonta, where she is an art professor. It would be a great thing for Cooperstown and Oneonta audiences, as she is so well-known and active in both places, especially after her recent recital to benefit the food bank.

5 comments:

  1. Not long ago I thought Glimmerglass was a fictional name, so lovely it is. How marvelous to have opera there. I like your personal reactions to the works you've seen, even if partly negataive. Interestingly I've just read a about it on a music blog which I have followed for years: http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2012/07/glimmerglass-lets-put-on-show.html

    Just curious, would you nudge awake a snorer beside you? I have had such temptations....

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  2. This woman was a peaceable sort and probably would have appreciated an "accidental" joggle if needed. But there are plenty of opera goers I wouldn't dare to wake!

    "Glimmerglass" is a fictional name--James Fenimore Cooper's name for Lake Otsego (from which the Susquehanna River flows.) But like many things Cooperians, it now exists in real life as well.

    Shall have to go back and see the verdict, as the blogger has not weighed in yet. I looked at some reviews of "Aida" last night, as I found it a production with clear strengths and weaknesses. It's an interesting challenge, looking at opera, because first and foremost it demands the ability to grasp what is weak and strong about many sorts of voices, but then it also asks for the judgments on set design, mode, clothing design, any alterations to the text, etc. It's a lot to cover, and some people just ignore whole areas of discussion.

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  3. And hey, all you writers out there, "Glimmerglass" is the title of a forthcoming book of mine. Dibs have been in place for years! XD

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  4. Those pics are lovely. Sounds amusing, and I'm sure it's always great to hear Yolanda. You did say she was in this one, right?

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  5. No, she is in "Aida," where she looks like a different person in wig and wonderful Egyptate gown: I had to recognize her by her Mayan nose!

    They didn't really show the "Armide" set designs, which were lovely. I loved the vegetative panels and the dramatic magic mountain...

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.