I hope we get some Strauss tonight. Ridiculous that there hasn’t been any. Other surprises- no Rusalka, no Lauretta, no Violetta, no Cherubino…
Mary King again, with Hazel/Rebecca. I suppose I’ll have to chance my arm tonight and predict my final five while the judges are deliberating. Well, Nakamura will be there, and Scherbachenko, and probably the Ukranian male soprano, which leaves two more places to be fought for by Park, Lucic, Martinik and tonight’s five.
First up tonight we have New Zealand bass Wade Kernot. He restores vintage cars. This is more interesting than singing. Everyone loves vintage cars, right? Sigh. Reminiscent of Jon Favreau (the actor, not the speechwriter). Kicks off with Madamina. His Italian isn’t great but he brings a lot of character to it and- heavens- actually gets laughs. Voice sounds ok, but it’s hard to tell in this, which I would categorise as a personality aria rather than a voice aria (categories: writer’s own). However, he fills out the ‘maestosa’ stuff nicely. Now he’s going to do something serious, apparently, which this year means Fiesco. Much more of a true bass than last night’s winner, nice rich dark chocolate sound- and the first of our three Fieschi really to nail the last note. Very good start. Mary will love him, she loves a bass. But no- both King and Evans think he’s better up top, and he’s forcing a register break. Can’t say I felt that.
Helen Kearns- Irish Soprano. Talks about singing, and hey, it’s interesting. Josie please note. Another coloratura, another Regnava, so she’ll be in direct competition with Ivanova, who as promised I haven’t stopped banging on about. But no- she’s a lyric, not a coloratura soprano, richer and maybe more varied of voice than Ivanova. Not as agile, though, nor as pure of tone, but still this is very very good and hey, there’s room for both in the world, if not in the final. She’s good enough to win tonight on this evidence, but then so was the kiwi bass. If I’m honest she finds a lot more in this aria than Ivanova did, but isn’t as reliably lovely of tone or precise of noodle. Does some nice things at the end. Now for some Stravinsky- the Rossignol. Question- why hasn’t someone done ‘No Word From Tom’? In fact, why isn’t she doing it now? Because this is lovely, lovely singing of a number I’ve always found a little arch and annoying. Yeah, she’s better than Wade.
Giordano Luca- Italian Tenor- youngest competitor at 21. Born 1988. Are you kidding me? Che Gelida Manina, of course, and very nice it is too. Sappy and youthful. A larger gentleman, his gestures remind one of another slightly overweight Italian tenor of recent memory- one doesn’t imagine him to be an electrifying actor. But this is lovely swoopy romantic Puccini singing, even if he doesn’t quite bloom up top as he ought to. Can’t resist forcing a bit on ‘la speranza’ so no doubt he’ll be singing Radames next year and things will go all Villazon. Follows it with a gorgeous, light but impassioned version of the Lombardi aria. He’s going to win tonight. Finishes with a pretty unimpeachable ‘Pourquoi me reveiller’ and this is a part I would love to see him play, if I were the type of person who went to see people play Werther- and not yet. There are bags of potential here.
And now a new country. Ha, Andorra. Well, he’ll put 10 men behind the ball and commit little niggling fouls behind the ref’s back. Mark Canturri, a baritone. He’s starting with Gounod’s R&J, because although I missed the memo there’s a new law that everyone must sing it all the time everywhere. It’s ok, nothing special. I am beginning to get slight singer fatigue, to be honest, it’s all becoming a bit of a blur. He’s neither the best baritone in the competition (IS there a best baritone in the competition?) nor the worst. Next is Deh vieni alla finestra, which is better than the Hungarian chap’s (but then so was my father’s funeral) while not being particularly special. He sounds a little ragged up top, if we’re being hyper-picky. And finally- oh, please. Korngold twice and no Strauss? I suppose it was the responsibility of the sopranos to give us a bit of RS but it seems a little mad that we’re getting Tote Stadt for a second time when we haven’t had any Ariadne. He sings this nicely enough, but he’s faceless. Ends it beautifully.
So, the last of 25- Dora Rodrigues, Portuguese Soprano. No doubt she’ll do Mein Elemer, Da Geht er Hin, and Es gibt ein Reich, just to make me look stupid. Nice and bubbly in interview. Donde lieta usci. Don’t like the first phrase- sounds careful and music boxy. Nope, Luca’s won this, and this before Dora has got to the word ‘fior’. She’s a polished enough singer, and emotes nicely, but the tone isn’t quite to my taste. Has an odd tendency to coy, pecky little staccati, as if she were a particularly 15-year-old Butterfly. Giuditta next, which should give her a chance to show what kind of stage animal she is. Ah, sideways glances and eyebrows, is the answer, like someone who has had the word sexy described to them by an inarticulate person. Other than that, she’s good. There’s nothing wrong with this, just doesn’t blow me away, that’s all. And in fact that’s something of a theme of this evening, and why Luca will win it- other than his performance it’s all been a little safely unspectacular. I’ll look out for Kearns though, she’s got something.
So, time to put my neck on the line. The finalists will be Luca, Nakamura, Mynenko, Scherbachenko and Ivanova. If not Ivanova, Lucic or Martinik or, at a pinch, Kearns, or a pincher, Park.
Now lets see if I’m right *bites nails*
1) Luca wins
2) Finalists are the five heat winners. So I am going to give myself 4 and a half out of 5, and now I’m going to have my dinner.
I won’t be around for the song prize tomorrow night, as I shall be out doing young person things, or the final, as I shall also be doing young person things. So you’ll have to fend for yourselves from here on in.
And if you see me blogging on opera again in the next month or so, you have permission to shoot me.