Sunday, April 15, 2007

Karita Mattila sets Jordan Hall on fire


Karita Mattila in her dressing room at Jordan Hall on Friday night. I took this photo. Please credit me and link to this post if you use it anywhere.

The brilliant Martin Katz strummed the opening chords of Samuel Barber's wonderful Hermit Songs . . . her voice entered the beautiful and intimate hall . . . well, that moment was like the first touch with a great lover. That flutter.

I'm back in Paris, and I cannot stop thinking about Karita Mattila's spellbinding recital in Boston on Friday night. I was extremely lucky to have an amazing seat--five rows back and directly across from Mattila. Jeremy Eichler offers an accurate review of the recital, but I need to underline Mattila's staggering artistry and outsize presence. Her huge, refulgent voice. Those delicate crescendos. Those dances!

But really, who am I kidding? I'm not up to the task. As I told my friend that night, Mattila is a great argument for why live performances need to be experienced, well, live. I can only sketch, badly, that which can actually be articulated. A performer like Mattila resonates on so many levels, some so profound that the body rings with the sensations for days, even weeks. It was probably a blessing that I saw Eugene Onegin the evening of the final performance of Jenufa, a matinee, because I may very well have obsessed to death about it. (I ended up obsessing about Onegin, which is a far tamer thing.) The lingering question: how on earth will I handle Mattila's Salome? At least Jenufa has a happy ending . . .

I need to mention that she looked stunning. She showed off her svelte body in two boldly form-fitting gowns, one in off white with black beads and embroidery, accented with white diamond jewelry, the other in black--with a slit on each side--decorated with copper beads and accented with jewels of a similar smokey color. I have never seen a sexier a woman on stage.

What's also amazing is her genuine humility. That just can't be faked. I noticed that she seemed genuinely surprised and touched when the audience applauded after the first group of Finnish songs, two songs by Toivo Kuula. She later said that she didn't think we would applaud so early, and that we have been so generous. Speaking in the pause between the Oskar Merikanto and Leevi Madetoja groups, she said that she thought that this would be the first point at which we would applaud (just after "Kun päivä paistaa", a glorious piece that ends triumphantly). She talked a bit and found herself rambling, and poked fun at herself ("I should just sing!"), eventually saying, "And now I need a glass of water!", but decided, "I will be brave." Backstage she mentioned to a young singer that she was so moved by the audience's warm response. I believe that this was the first performance of her brief US recital tour, which she will take to New York's Carnegie Hall on Wednesday.


Also recently attended: Andrea Chenier (outstanding) and Die Aegyptische Helena (inscrutable, but worth it for the aria) at the Met; Flavio (a must-see) at City Opera.


Opera Chic said...

omg i love me some Mattila.

Thanks for publishing the awesome picture.

You are totally spot-on regarding her personality. She is sooo fragile, but insanely strong and fierce at the same time. A total dichotomy.

And she works really hard for that body, yoga, pilates, dance, and diet. Glad you got to see the recital!

of the kosmos said...

Thanks for the comment, opera chic! My friends aren't as into Mattila as I am, so I'm glad I have a kindred spirit in you.

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