The Lane Series
The Lane Series recently presented pianist and lecturer Lara Downes in a concert of American music with commentary. The commentary was for the most part excellent and exactly on point. The concert-consisting of American music from the 20th century by Cowell, Copland, Gershwin and others-was well-chosen to exemplify the points she was making about American music.
Her playing was technically brilliant, and her technique was always at the service of the music. When first noting on the program that you try to play Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, I wondered exactly how the piece would work out for solo piano. In the event, the performance was exciting and very complete, despite the absence of the orchestra.
I felt personally that I would have liked to have heard more music and less talk, especially since I had attended the pre-concert talk which she gave.
I decided, however, to be content with quality and not quantity.
I attended the Met H.D. broadcast of Madama Butterfly with Patricia Racette, Marcello Giordani, Dwayne Croft, Greg Fedderly, Dean Peterson, and David Won.
The one thing about which I was most concerned, given the previews of the production, was that the intimacy of the opera would be destroyed by kind of Cinemascope approach to the opera. I need not have been fearful, because the intimate scenes were perfectly conceptualized and realized by scaling the size of the Met stage down to an intimate level.
This is one of the more difficult role that a soprano might tackle, given the fact that it has such difficult vocal requirements, but must be sung from the viewpoint of a 15-year-old girl (at the beginning) who ages to 18 before the curtain falls. Racette engaged in a great deal of facial movement in giving us the youth of Butterfly, and we were particularly aware of this technique because of repeated close-ups. Her entrance song was wonderfully sung, as were all of her more famous arias, especially 'Un bel di'.