Sunday, December 7, 2008

Concertgebouw (Tour: Days 5 & 6)

The Concertgebouw!

Nearly 7 years ago to the day, more or less, I sat in this very concert hall, entering its fabled doors for the very first time to take my seat way up in the balcony (the cheapest seats available), and was swept away by the grandness that is Jessye Norman. She flitted and floated and glided down the long carpeted stairs that lead to the center stage (does any concert hall in the world have as grand an entrance?), with her layers of chiffon wafting about her, and proceeded to fill the gorgeous, sublime, serene concert hall with her overwhelming tones and personality. It is a night I will never forget.

It was just over 2 months after the attacks of September 11, 2001. I was knee deep into the role of Sesto for the first time, finding unanticipated and much-needed solace in Handel's tortured youth, and learning volumes about myself as a person. It wasn't one of the easiest periods I've ever passed through, but happily I endured, grew immensely, and started a love affair with this composer. How fitting that my second time through these pristine doors should be in a recital dedicated to his works. (I did perform a recital a few years ago in the "Kleine Zaal", the intimate recital hall next door, which I treasured as an experience, but this is a different animal!)

I'm happy to say that after a rough day yesterday of fighting off a serious throat ailment, I enjoyed the recital tonight tremendously. I have a feeling that I've been fighting this bug off all week - compounded by, or set-off by the terrible travel problems. But my course of homeopathy and REST seems to have done the trick, and tonight's recital found me feeling much better - I find that the breath is the first thing to go when you're under the weather, and tonight I felt it was back, which naturally is a wonderful thing!

The audience overwhelmed me with their generosity, staying with me through the escalating program in rapt attention, and it meant so much to me. This is a program that grows slowly throughout the evening, asking a lot of the public (at least this is my impression - the public may certainly differ!) and an audience's concentration means so much to me - it allows me, or perhaps it invites me, to dig deeper and keep going. That was in abundance tonight, and I give a big "dank u well" to the wonderful Dutch crowd (and Swiss, and Italian...!) I can safely say that this, too, is a night I will not soon forget.

Surrounded by the sublime

The orchestra really shone tonight, as well, and having the chance for this program to grow over the course of 9 concerts (in 5 countries!) is a gift!

Knowing that this throat "bug" is most likely a strong one, I'm going to grab my rest while I can! Travel day tomorrow to Gay Pareeee, a few interviews, hopefully a nice meal, and then I get to visit Salle Pleyel for the first time - this is fun!

P.S. One reason I'm excited about our President Elect - this quote from a talk show today:

"Thinking about the diversity of our culture and inviting jazz musicians and classical musicians and poetry readings in the White House so that once again we appreciate this incredible tapestry that's America. Historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that sense that better days are ahead. I think that our art and our culture, our science--you know, that's the essence of what makes America special, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House."

Wow, that feels good!


Marten said...

Thank you for a marvellous concert!! It certainly was an unforgettable night for me as well.The first piece after the interval (from Ariodante) was one of the most exquisite pieces of music I've ever heard and your presence in it certainly made it reah the top ten! In my short experience of life (I'm 19 years old) and of opera, I can truly say there have been few occasions such at that ten minutes after the interval.
I hope you're invited back soon to the Netherlands, because yours is a trilling voice which I would like to hear more often!
So, thanks again!

- Marten Velthuijsen
The Netherlands

Mei said...

Glad to read you're enjoying the tour...

PS: Let us know when you meet the Obamas... ;-)

Sarah said...

Have they asked you to sing at the Inauguration already? You'll be in the States ;-) OK, how about the reinauguration, in 2012?

I am still waiting for more information on that "another recital tour" teaser that's been on your Website for AGES. Obviously your "Furore" tour has been so wonderful that you will have to extend it to the States in a BIG way (not just NYC and Kansas). Hint: Twin Cities. Or even Chicago!

Maarten Luykx said...

I just want to thank you (and Les Talens Lyriques) for the beautiful concert in the Concert Gebouw last Sunday. It was really superb. My first experience with an opera of Händel was Giulio Cesare in December 2001 in the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg. I remember that there were two casts at that time. It was purely by coincidence that I visited the theatre on a day that you were singing the part of Sesto. I believe that Magdalena Kožená sang the part of Sesto in the other cast. However, I was totally thrilled by this masterpiece of Händel in general, and by your singing in particular. Later on I went to numerous performances of opera’s by Händel. But I always longed to hear you singing again, and I was very glad that this opportunity came with your “Furore Tour”. Thank you so much, I hope that your tour will be a big success, and that you will come back to Amsterdam sometime soon.

Maarten Luykx

Nicolas said...

Funny that you mentioned about your experience of Concertgebouw as a member of the audience during your concert the other night. I also cherish memories of a few special nights in that same place : Jessye Norman singing Ravel’s Sheherazade (that’s 20 years ago), Berganza singing Spanish songs, René Jacobs directing Giulio Cesare (with Hunt-Lieberson as Sesto), Von Otter singing Ariodante opposite Podles’ Polinesso under Minkowski… Well, last Sunday was one of those special nights to remember : “Scherza infida” was breathtakingly moving. Thank you !

I heard you for the first time as Idamante at the DNO and enjoyed your performance then so much that I was really excited to have another chance to hear you sing live. What a gutsy yet elegant singer ! Please try not to forget about Amsterdam now that your career is taking you to NYC, San Francisco, London, Paris and Milan. Hey, these might be the greatest opera houses in the world, but they have nothing that compare with the Concertgebouw’s “stairs” ritual ;-)

Have a great tour.