Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Living of a Broken Heart

I go to the opera to have my heart broken, not by any contrivance of the plot or literal drama, but by the animal vulnerability of the human voice which, if properly embodied, will be unable to control every facet of every tone, leaving itself to break and taking my heart along with it.

It has happened several times: In La Traviata; in Alcina, in Otello, in Dido and Aeneas.  I treasure those moments among the greatest of my life.

It conspicuously did not happen last week at the Coronation of Poppea.  Beautiful voices, no doubt about it--one might say too beautiful.  Many varieties of high-pitched voices from high lyric soprano to counter-tenor, perfectly produced, top to bottom.  Except for the basso, the long low timbre, there was no individual vocal color, therefore no magic when they came together.  The performance was in every way delightful but it was not opera.  They might as well have been speaking their roles.