Anyone who knows me soon also knows that when it comes to tenors, Marcello Giordani is my main man. Part of that probably has to do with formative bonding. I was way too young for my very first operatic experience, which was (I kid you not) Jon Vickers in a Houston Grand Opera Peter Grimes, when I was in high school and knew far less than the little I know now. Since the Adams and Glass operas I favored in college and just after didn't really offer the stuff of full-blown awe -- Sanford Sylvan's Chou En-lai perhaps the exception (and not a tenor, mind you!) -- the first hero to well and truly rock my aesthetic boat was the 20-something Giordani, a cocky, sinister-but-seductive Duke of Mantua at HGO circa 1989.
When the immediate superstardom I'd anticipated for Giordani failed to materialize, I initially wondered... and then then lost track. Of course, his subsequent vocal crisis has now been well publicized. Although it's clearly still painful, Giordani willingly speaks of his travails now, as something of a cautionary tale. I spoke to him about it for TONY when he came to the Met for Il Pirata, opposite Fleming. This singer worked hard to rehabilitate his instrument, and when his second chance arrived, he surely delivered. I thrilled to his appearance in that production, as well as his following triumph in Benvenuto Cellini.
Giordani did it for me again in the Opera Orchestra of New York's William... er, sorry, Guillaume Tell at Carnegie Hall tonight. The voice was spot on, secure and ringing even -- especially! -- from my odd perspective at fifth row, center. His pièce de résistance, of course, was the one-two punch of "Asile héréditaire" and "Amis, amis, secondez ma vengeance." Giordani threw himself into the cabaletta heart and soul, stalking each side of the stage in turn, and letting the high notes rip. And perhaps since Giordani had been utterly gracious in acknowledging collaborators all night long, it didn't seem at all like hubris when he responded to the crowd's uproar by reprising the last stanza of "Amis..." As he lurched toward the stage door during the repeat, I half expected one of James Brown's handlers to rush out and toss a robe over his shoulders, escorting him to the wings... only to have the tenor shrug it off and belt a few more high C's for good measure. Like the Godfather of Soul, Giordani knows what the crowd wants, and delivers it.
He was well-matched by what struck me as a superlative cast... even the smallest parts were remarkably well delivered. You probably don't need me to tell you that Marco Chingari presented a richly voiced Tell. (He did.) Angela Maria Blasi, as Mathilde, offered meltingly beautiful sounds and exacting diction; her "Sombre forêt" was another show stopper. Other big moments included the radiant faith Ellie Dehn projected as Jemmy when reassuring dad prior to the arrow-through-the-apple scene, and the utterly gorgeous trio of Blasi, Dehn and mezzo Heather Johnson (who I'd previously heard only in a scattering of disjunct notes during Wuorinen's Haroun) at the opening of Act Four's second scene. Paul Mow (as Rodolphe) and Patrick Carfizzi (as Gesler) dug into their nasties, serving up sumptuous menace. And while buzzed-about Fisherman Stephen Costello was a bit raw, his instrument holds unquestionable promise.
Since I'm reasonably certain I spotted La Cieca a couple of times tonight, more insightful dish is no doubt forthcoming. And since Tony Tommasini was in tha house, a Times review is presumably on the way. But I'll close by reporting the response of the rapt observer who sat next to me tonight, who offered that he hadn't heard a more overwhelmingly high-voltage operatic performance in this hall since Semele. (And even I know what that means.)
Witold Lutoslawski - Symphony No. 1; Silesian Triptych*; Jeux vénitiens; Chantefleurs et Chantefables*; Postludium I - Olga Pasiecznik*, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Antoni Wit (Naxos)
Witold Lutoslawski - Symphony No. 4; Les Espaces du sommeil*; Symphony No. 3 - John Shirley-Quirk*, Los Angeles Philharmonic/Esa-Pekka Salonen (Sony Classical)
Eliane Radigue - Adnos I (Table of the Elements)