I practiced every day. And every day I wanted to give up. I took detailed notes of what was wrong with my voice. My daily practice videos documented slumped shoulders, and a variety of hair cuts. On rare days I just stared into the camera. What was all of this for?
When contemplating the content for Confessions, soprano, Laura Strickling's recent recording of contemporary art songs by American composers, all of whom occupy the highest ranks of the genre, she was guided by a keen ear for quality and vocal suitability. She was also guided by a commitment to create, out of these fragile entities, a strong and satisfying musical program.
"Our city" – It was a phrase that came up often in our conversation. It's clear Maestro Mazzola already has one foot firmly planted in his newly adopted hometown. As he confessed, he is excited to spend his first holiday season in Chicago despite health restrictions and cancellations.
It is a journey that does evolve over the course of the three songs, and textually speaking it is such an interesting journey I honestly wish there were more songs devoted to it.
In a recent Zoom conversation, Yankovskaya's pride and enthusiasm in the COT administrative and artistic staff was evident from the start. She praised their collective grit, acknowledging that their upcoming digital release, Rimsky Rebooted represents not just a "Plan B" pivot from live performance, but is rather a "5th or maybe 7th reimagining" of what they hoped to originally present to Chicago audiences.
Some listeners may prefer moderation when it comes to the tenor based pyrotechnics that ignite this recording. Soaring high notes and vivid vocal coloring create sure-fire thrills but thrills depend on relative rarity and risk being diminished by such concentrated exposure.
I'm going to write this as a live-blog, as one of the advantages of attending virtually is you can type as you listen, instead of having to remember all your thoughts from the concert!
This production has been a huge redirect for VO, and they have coped with it with creativity and great success both artistically and technologically.
Nagy and her group appear in the perfect environment for their naturalistic style of video that revels in dramatic fades to black, subtle cross fades and deft use of camerawork and lighting. The passing from day to night, from a sun-filled hall to one of intense lighting and dramatic shadow, is visually alluring.
"What does 18th-century opera have to offer us now when we face such existential challenges? Haymarket's tenth season highlights the transformational power of beauty as presented through myth, storytelling, and exquisitely timeless music by one of western music's most empathetic and compassionate composers."