The French expression l'embarras du choix refers to a state in which the only difficulty is in choosing. In English, we'd say embarrassment of riches. It comes down to this: when you've got (at least) two performances that happen to be at two difference venues on the same night, which do you choose?
Thankfully, this dreadful situation doesn't happen as often as it could. But, sadly, I will have to make several choices this season.
1) BEN HEPPNER vs. CECILIA BARTOLI
December 8, 2006:
So, look. I've heard them both, Heppner in solo recital a couple seasons ago (and at the Volpe gala), Bartoli in concert last season. I've also heard both in opera (Otello, Parsifal, L'Italiana in Algeri. So they're even in that regard.
Neither is in my list of treasured singers, but I like them both. Mere liking doesn't help in the decision-making.
Heppner will give two concerts in Paris this fall. The first, on November 14th at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees on November 14th, consists of exerpts from the Ring. The second, on December 8th, is another all-Wagner program, this time excerpts from Lohengrin, Tristan and Parsifal. I have tickets to both.
Bartoli's concert went on sale only last Friday. The program hasn't been announced in detail, but it sounds like it might be the Opera proibita stuff, which I heard her sing in Boston last season.
I am a huge fan of Wagner and of the arias that Heppner will sing. At his best, Heppner is nothing short of stunning. Bartoli's stage presence can sometimes distract from her singing. She's at her best, and reachs her most beautiful sound, in slow, lyrical music. There's a dull sameness in coloratura passages, which also bring out the ugly parts of her voice. At the same time, she's a great performer with energy to spare.
This is a tough one, and I have to say that I have not decided . . .
2) SUMI JO vs. FELICITY LOTT
December 12, 2006
These two sopranos rarely perform in the States, and I have not had the chance to hear them, though I admired the recordings of both (when I listened to recordings). Lott promises a program of art songs with piano, while Jo offers an unbelievable program of mad scenes. I have a ticket for Lott, because somehow I feel that hearing her program would be better for me, though I have to say I'm tempted by Jo's aural-pornography, with its high notes, florid coloratura, and trills.
Currently, Lott is in the lead . . .
3) BARBARA BONNEY vs. JOYCE DiDONATO
April 5, 2007
I bought a ticket for Bonney's performance, but later learned of DiDonato's. Matters were made simple by Bonney's early retirement and the cancellation of all engagements. And then, my travel plans will prevent me from staying the night in Paris, so I'll miss DiDonato as well. At any rate, I'll have the chance to hear DiDonato in a couple other things in Paris this season. So, nothing lost, nothing gained . . .
4) RENEE FLEMING vs. SOILE ISOKOSKI
April 21, 2007
This is a good story, actually.
[to be continued . . .]