All the [singers's] performances were hampered, indeed sabotaged, by the conducting. Placido Domingo, appearing for the first time since stepping down as general director, is a wonderful singer. But rather than supporting the singers, his conducting either drowned them out or tripped them up. He got warm applause, but I’m not sure his presence sells enough tickets to make up for spoiling the evening. Surely there are other ways to include him in WNO’s future.Yikes! "Sabotaged"(!)? We doubt it and doubt as well that Ms. Midgette meant to even so much as imply that Mr. Domingo actually sabotaged anything, but rather meant to say that his substandard conducting undercut (as in diminished or weakened) the singers's performances.* For his part, Mr. Domingo shot back in a Letter To The Editor:
Midgette’s statement that my conducting actually “sabotaged” WNO’s recent performances of Puccini’s Tosca is offensive and defamatory.... An act of sabotage is a destructive act done on purpose. Her remark suggests not only that I "spoiled" the performances but that I did so intentionally. This is unconscionable.To which Ms. Midgette, missing the point entirely, replied:
I am surprised that Mr. Domingo takes such exception to this review, since, as he himself has told me, an artist knows when he has done well or badly. I can’t believe he feels in his heart that this Tosca represented his finest hour. And I’m sorry that an artist of his stature, faced with evidence that I admire him as a singer but not as a conductor, chooses to dismiss criticism as a personal attack, rather than the response of someone who believes him capable of representing the very best.As we said, oh dear. As to the other items of interest, we have this from artist representative Amanda Ameer of Life's A Pitch on the appearance last night of the great violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter on the Late Show with David Letterman:
Last night, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter performed on David Letterman to celebrate the release of her box set, which Dave called, "the ideal hamster habitat." [...] Why musicians feel the need to play songs-they-think-people-want-to-hear on national television rather than Real Classical Music, I will never understand, but Mutter chose to perform, "It Ain’t Necessarily So" from (THE GERSHWIN’S, h/t Sondheim) Porgy and Bess. It just seems like a wasted opportunity, and the unwashed masses are drawn to virtuosity in any field more than we think.We agree thoroughly with Ms. Ameer as this was our thought precisely, and would add that the performance was positively embarrassing as not only were there problems of intonation(!) here and there but it was also clear that Ms. Mutter has little idiomatic feel for this music and would have done better — lots better — to have chosen even a wow-'em warhorse from the classical music rep with which rep she's so intimately familiar and in which rep she performs so superbly. On a happier note, we just watched our DVR copy of last night's PBS's Great Performances presentation of "Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk" (yes, THAT Hugh Laurie), a performance by the actor singing and doing admirable service on piano and guitar (while singing and otherwise) backed by some of the city's best jazz musicians in a set of New Orleans blues numbers recorded in New Orleans's historic Latrobe’s building in the French Quarter. How was the performance? In a word, splendiferous, all things considered. If you want to hear the performance for yourself it's available in an album of the same name ("Let Them Talk") an MP3 of which can be downloaded here for a mere $7.99. That is all. As you were.