Friday, April 06, 2007

Homage to Ruth Ann

There are a lot of things one could say about this article on Ruth Ann Swenson, and most of the more obvious ones have already been aired. Some red herrings aside, Swenson's own take seems essentially true: as an unaloof, technically sound, American (!) stimmdiva, she's pretty much the opposite of what Gelb has promoted as the house's future. So -- and surely this is the bitterest part -- it doesn't matter that this year at the Met may have been her best in a decade or more. (Or in some twist, was it this uncharacteristic bitterness and discomfort that, despite cancer, made the success? Life, and art, are funny.)

Of course, there are other perspectives. As her voice lowered and deepened over the years, she's moved from the natural repetoire of her milky-soubrette temperament (she's the finest Adina I ever expect to see) to parts calling for more emotional and dramatic command. These -- and her ease in her new voice -- have been slow in coming, and if Marguerite was a worthy harvest, previous runs of Manon, Violetta, and the like failed to inspire. The marketing stuff has, in a sense, just given her less leeway for that sort of thing.

Next season's Violettas are primed to be different, but that is circumstance. Were she again the comfortable vocalist, what roles then? I do hope I get to find out. Her unmistakable sound, when freed to do its thing, makes me very happy.

(Incidentally, I've long thought she'd be the ideal Adalgisa, but houses have truly bizarre ideas about that part.)

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Mind you, the part of the Times in this isn't pretty. How bizarre that it's taken this turn for them to notice a singer -- any singer -- not actively pushed by Met administration!

UPDATE (4/7): I've heard quite an interesting rumor (somewhat far from most speculation) as to the context of this story. Even if true, however, everything above still goes.


  1. Don't leave us hanging ... please share the rumor! :)

  2. I second that request, to share the rumour. ;)

    But I actually came here to wish the owner of this blog, and allegedly a good friend of mine (although by my absence in our haunts, one wouldn't think so...) the very best Easter Sunday.

    Hugs to your family!


  3. Happy Easter to you and yours, too, Vic. And to all Christian believers reading this.

    The rumor, as you might guess, isn't for posting. ;)

  4. Well, if the rumor is that she will indeed be singing Adalgisa --- it is a rumor no longer. It has been announced for the Baltimore Opera for the 2008-2009 season.


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.