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Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 01/11/2011

Broadcast notes

By Anne Midgette

A postscript to the broadcast issue: last night I listened the Sirius broadcast of Sondra Radvanovsky singing her first "Tosca" at the Metropolitan Opera (she has already done the role in Colorado). I won't comment on the quality of sound through my laptop speakers, but it did sound like a pretty exciting performance. Radvanovsky had her unevennesses -- some charge her with a lack of emotional involvement, though I think part of that apparent coolness is a result of her rhythmic unsteadiness, which keeps her slightly apart from the core of the action -- but her "Vissi d'arte" was outright gorgeous, poignant and silvery. And the addition of Roberto Alagna, who stepped in for an indisposed Marcelo Alvarez at the last minute, only helped matters; Alagna, as he showed in the Met's recent "Don Carlo," is a trouper, and turned in a solid, even ardent performance. Sign of a pro: his ability to turn high notes that might have become disasters for a less experienced singer into at least manifestations of gutsy determination ("not only will I not let this note crack, but I will hold onto it until I have half convinced you I meant it to sound this way"). I was initially uncertain about Falk Struckmann's Scarpia, but in Act II he focused his sound, lost some of the woofiness, and turned up the dramatic heat so that the death scene was pretty blood-curdling even (or especially?) without the visuals. The orchestra and chorus sounded unusually fractured under Marco Armiliato's baton. In any case, it sounded like a good night at the opera, and made a good case for Radvanovsky's continuing to sing Tosca; I'd certainly far rather hear her do it than Karita Mattila, who sang the premiere of this Luc Bondy production, but who for all of her merits isn't as good a fit vocally for this particular part.

More broadcast notes: over at the NPR blog Deceptive Cadence, Tom Huizenga did an excellent follow-up on the Dudamel/LA Philharmonic broadcast on Sunday.

Edited to add: And speaking of HD opera broadcasts... ENO is getting on the bandwagon.

By Anne Midgette  | January 11, 2011; 11:43 AM ET
Categories:  music on the Web, opera  
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I enjoyed your mini review - it pulled no punches, as far as I could tell - and thanks for the links. Thanks also for mentioning the orchestra's fractured performance. In an orchestra of this caliber, the fault would ALWAYS lie with the conductor.

Posted by: pronetoviolins | January 11, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Anne: Buy yourself some good headphones if you're going to listen to music on a computer!

Posted by: BobTatFORE | January 11, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the review, Ann. I missed the Sirius broadcast of Tosca, but I'm looking forward to the matinée broadcast later this month. I'm curious to hear Radvanovsky's Tosca; I think she is without peer among today's Verdi sopranos, but Puccini is a different kettle of fish.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | January 13, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this entry Anne. I have been a great fan of Sondra Radvanovsky ever since I heard her live in Lucretia Borgia in Washington a few years ago. As you remarked at the time, she gave one of the best performances heard in Washington in a long time, certainly better that Renee Fleming’s Lucrezia. I listened to the Met transmission of Tosca and was thrilled with much of her performance, especially, as you mentioned her fantastic rendition of Vissi D’Arte. Her performances are usually thrilling and we make special trips to hear her live. We saw her in Don Carlo in Paris, Il Trovatore at the Met, Ernani and Un Ballo in Maschera in Chicago, Aida in Toronto and already have tickets to the Met to see her Tosca live. We believe that she is one of the best contemporary sopranos and probably deserves more recognition for her talent.

As far as the quality of the Sirius transmission, I got a fantastic present from my son: an internet radio. It is much better than using your computer. The small radio ( we got a Logitech ) can be moved into any room in your house and the sound quality and the reception is much, much better than on the computer. The cost is reasonable (under $200). You just need to have wi-fi in your house which by now is widely available. I am thrilled to listen to the 15-20 radio stations dedicated to opera and classical music. In addition all the international radio stations add a more divers flavor to our listening habits.

It was nice meeting you personally at the theatre on Sunday.

Posted by: Mike-Klein | January 13, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

@ Mike-Klein

I, too, saw Radvanovsky in Chicago in both Ernani and Ballo...amazing performances, both. Had I heard them before her performances in Lucrezia here, I would have turned heaven and earth to have been there.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | January 13, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Sondra's Lucretia Borgia was really fantastic. It was the "B" cast since everyone wanted to hear Fleming but it turned out to be a much better performance. Her Aida in Toronto was also exceptional.
By the way, looks like La Scala will have Radvanovsky in Tosca in February. At least that's what the Scala website is showing.

Posted by: Mike-Klein | January 13, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I saw Sondra twice in Ernani in Chicago last year and unfortunately did not 'take to' her. I found her loud. That was all. A good voice, loud. I'm glad to hear of more expressiveness in the Tosca. I'll keep listening!

Posted by: dansarah0 | January 14, 2011 2:45 AM | Report abuse

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