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Saturday, March 19, 2016

She Loves Me

Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti in She Loves Me, photo by Joan Marcus

Right now two classic musicals by the team of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick are playing across the street from each other. Fiddler on the Roof and the Roundabout Theatre's She Loves Me are both playing by the corner of 53rd St./54th St. and Broadway, and you can't really go wrong with either musical. Both shows are over 50 years old, and the fact that they're still being revived is a testament to their continued appeal. But the approach Bartlett Sher took to Fiddler on the Roof and the approach Scott Ellis took to She Loves Me is a useful comparison of how to revive (or how not to revive) classic musicals.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Don Pasquale and L'elisir d'amore: A Tale of Two Tenors

Grigolo and Kurzak, photo @ Marty Sohl
On March 15 and 16th the Metropolitan Opera performed two beloved Donizetti comedies that starred tenors with remarkable vocal instruments. Both Vittorio Grigolo (Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore) and Javier Camarena (Ernesto in Don Pasquale) have the kind of voices most singers dream of: the warm, sunny, timbres with bright pinging upper registers. They open their mouths, and the audience loves the sound of their voices. However, the similarities between the two tenors begin and end there.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Javier Camarena - King of the High D's

Buratto and Camarena in Don Pasquale, photo @ Marty Sohl

If there's type of opera fan that absolutely sets my teeth on edge, it's the high note freaks. The type that will dismiss an entire performance of Lucia because the soprano didn't sing two (unwritten) high E flats in the (transposed) Mad Scene, or will overlook hours of abysmal, unmusical singing just because a singer capped "Di quella pira" with a huge roaring high C. But occasionally there comes a singer whose upper register is so glorious, and who uses said register in such a musical way, that you can't help but scream and stomp when said singer brings the house down with a blazing high note. Javier Camarena is one of those singers.