Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thoughts before Jenufa

I suppose it bodes poorly for the house's future that my favorite Metropolitan Opera evenings of the season have been lightly attended, while some of the most heavily-sold (and promoted) engagements have been outright disaster. This month's Jenufa revival, which began yesterday, continues the trend -- on the unseen/terrific side.

For this unpopularity one might blame whichever fool is holding up release of Karita Mattila's Salome video... Or perhaps Mattila herself (if she's not suppressing her own recording!). Taking the same productions -- Jürgen Flimm's Fidelio, this Olivier Tambosi Jenufa and now Tambosi's Manon Lescaut -- around the world has its plusses for her and the opera houses, but by the time a much-traveled show hits town the second time, it's got little novelty to sell it. (The Met's increasing forays into co-production make this an important point for the future.) And further, she seems to take little interest in non-opera fame (outside of Finland, anyway), being remarkably low-profile for the most universally and deeply admired singer around. Having found herself at the height of fame, she said in an interview last year, she found that she didn't like it:
Colleagues such as Renée Fleming and Angela Gheorghiu have their official websites, publicists and Rolex contracts, but Mattila shuns these. 'As my husband says, it's a question of how famous I want to become. I wouldn't be able to handle it. I know myself. After Salome in New York, two years ago, people started recognising me on the street. I felt like an animal in a cage.'
You recognize this when the curtain falls: her bows are short, and she quickly deflects attention to her colleagues. But a certain amount of accepting adulation is not only good for business, but proper. (Applause, as I've noted, is the consummation of drama, and squelching it is as poor form as Gheorghiu-style milking.)

But enough dissatisfaction: that evaporates as this show's curtain rises.

[Review in a post to follow.]

1 comment:

  1. Are some singers more universally admired than others? I thought something was universal or wasn't universal. Can somebody be universally admired if I don't admire her? Maybe I don't count. To say nothing of most of the world's population who never heard of Karita Mattila.


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.