For the third round I chose an aria from Mitridate, Rè di Ponto, by W.A. Mozart. Farnace is angry with Ismene, who wants to give him away to his father. It is an early work of Mozart, I think he wrote it when he was fourteen.
The aria got this wonderful cheek and primal rage of a just-so-adult, the slightest bit of cherubino, but turned sour and taken to the next level. You can totally imagine a 14year-old saying “So what next… You are going to tell my dad? Won’t let you get away with it.” I picked three exemplaric renditions, more or less at random.
I will adapt my categories a bit to the ones used by definitely the opera *wave
timbre — tempo — oddball factor — hotness — did they get the point? — cadenza
Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt — movie by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1986)
timbre — a very dark, homogenous voice, almost without a noticeable switching of registers. Perhaps it lacks the last sharp edge I think necessary for a Farnace, but the “va” at about 1:10 reconciles me with the rest.
tempo — very slow — I actually think this is one aria where it is really hard to even try to determine a “proper” tempo, as the aria can be sung in many ways, depending on how the singer/director likes to picture the character.
oddball factor — Hilarious, hilarious. Gjevang is having a great time I guess, she obviously enjoys singing a breeches role for once. Her hairdo adds another point for sheer outrageousness.
hotness — Optically — well, hmm, not really. Vocally and the way she acts — hot.
did they get the point? — Yes. A very sexy, very conscious Farnace, very sexually aggressive. All the coloraturas are turned to into something meaningful.
cadenza — The cadenza enhances the soft, half flirtatious, half threatening motive, it fits well.
sum-up: a unique way to sing the aria, Harnoncourt could be a bit more brave, imho.
CD by Berlin Classics, conductor Hartmut Haenchen
This is a recording available on CD, which in this case implies, it is produced, sometimes overproduced. I cannot find the CD at the moment, but I guess it is conducted by the unspeakable Hartmut Haenchen. I normally don’t bitch, but he manages to turn everything in a smooth sauce, which makes low-budget operetta recordings a pleasure to listen to in comparison — I don’t like him.
timbre — Kowalski’s vocal range is almost perfect for the aria. He does surprisingly well, though the d’ is exactly his weak spot imho, he would have a better time if they had chosen not to record the piece in 440Hz temper. So he constantly tries to get it either from bottom or top, endless quarrel ensuing if his falsetto or chest voice gets the better of it. ( I just know that whatever term I chose, endless discussions will follow about registers, falsetto, chest voice, passagio … but just to give it a name). Also his attempt to add drama — in parts, maybe, to set something against Haenchen’s boring directing — makes the voice sometimes appear a bit hoarse.
tempo — hmpf… alright; but utterly boring.
oddball factor — This is a studio recording; Still, when he tries to be too dramatic — e.g., at the second “va, va, at 45 sec roundish or at the B part, “Quando sì lieve offesa…” his accents turn into something that can only described by the term “in-your-face-gay.”
hotness — no.
did they get the point? — Yes. But then, at the cadenza I get my doubt about it. A menacing Farnace, but lacks a bit of the sexiness the role usually has.
cadenza — Beautiful … Still, it remains a mystery to me what he wanted to tell us with it in that particular aria. … And the trill at the finally “ti costerà” with the i.y.f.g (see above) accent is RIGHT OUT.
sum-up: Nice, could have done a lot better with small means, which is a pity. I like Kowalski a lot, I have seen him live, and the recording doesn’t do him justice.
Sir Roger Norrington/ Camerata Salzburg
From the 1997 Salzburg Summer Festival
(CD released by Orfeo)
timbre — The aria is a bit low for her, but she does well — of course! Her voice is unique, and has the certain metal in it that is perfect for a Farnace, her changes of register are more audible than Gjevang’s, but this is one thing that makes her voice so special.
tempo — Very fast, also interesting.
hotness — Kasarova is hot by definition.
did they get the point? –– definitely. The butchest Farnace of the three.
cadenza — Enhances the whole attitude of the aria, fitting perfectly.
sum-up — The recording I like best in total, especially the extremely sexy B-part that starts almost in a husky voice.
La Kasarova wins the round– of course, no big surprise there ^^
Mitridate, Re di Ponto, Act II
(libretto by Vittorio Amedeo Cigna-Santi)
Va, va, l’error mio palesa,
e la mia pena affretta,
ma forse la vendetta,
cara ti costerà.
Quando sì lieve offesa
Punita in me vedrai,
Te stessa accuserai
Di troppa crudeltà.
Go, go, and reveil my fault,
and make my punishment come quicker,
but maybe this revenge
will dearly cost you.
When you see me punished
for such a minor offence
you will accuse yourself
of excessive cruelty.