Ellie and I attended tonight's Boston Symphony production of Der fliegende Holländer. Deborah Voigt was supposed to sing the soprano lead, but she had been sick this week. However, the replacement soprano had apparently been so bad that Voigt showed up tonight after all, much to our delight. (I had previously only seen her in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Met. She has got to be the top dramatic soprano in the business, IMO.) It was a wonderful performance (concert, not staged). The orchestra and chorus were particularly good, I felt. The principals were good, but nothing particularly rave-worthy (except for Voigt, of course, even if, following along in the score as I was, you could tell she still wasn't 100% because she cheated some of the high, sustained notes). I had only previously listened to one Wagner opera in its entirety (Das Rheingold, about 15 years ago) and was quite pleased with the Dutchman. The music was lighter and more melodic than I anticipated. It's not through-composed as much of Wagner's later work is, and I enjoyed the distinction between musical forms. Above all, it was a joy to hear the music, with its leitmotifs, orchestrations, etc., tell the story as much as the libretto did.
The BSO did not user supertitles. Instead, they distributed copies of the libretto. It was both annoying and amusing to listen to several hundred people turn pages at the same time, not quite in unison. It seemed as though an inordinate number of page turns came during quite sections when they'd be especially noticeable. <sigh>
The opera was a stark contrast to what I spent the rest of the day listening to. briganski burned me a CD of rap selections. He recalled the story I tell of a conversation I had with ME on one of our dates last year. I mentioned I enjoyed rap. She seemed surprised, not expecting this white boy to list rap amongst the music he enjoyed. I told her I have some rap in my CD collection. "Oh yeah, like what?" "Um, I've got some Coolio, some MC Hammer..." "That's not rap," she interrupted. (This was before I had picked up my Run DMC CD.) So, now I have some real rap. Amongst the rappers on the mix are DMX, Will Smith, Beastie Boys, Tupac, Snoop Doggie Dogg, Dr. Dre, Fifty Cent, Outkast, and, yes, Coolio and Run DMC. I didn't care much for the Fifty Cent and Tupac, but the rest is pretty good.
Hmm, from rap to Wagner...what a contrast! So, to take another musical U-turn, let me talk about Ives a bit. New England Conservatory was doing a series of recitals featuring Ives' music, in preparation for the BSO's concert of Ives' Second Symphony. As a big fan of Ives, I was looking forward to these recitals. But I lost track of the dates. The recital I most wanted to hear, featuring the "Concord" Piano Sonata, was this past Sunday, and the one I next most wanted to hear, featuring selections from his 114 Songs, was tonight. I think the only Ives-centered performance left is the BSO's next week, and I'm not as big a fan of Ives' symphonic work as I am of his songs and piano sonata -- which is one of the greatest pieces for piano ever composed, IMO, and, along with Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess, the work of classical music which best captures the American essence.