Archive for February 2, 2009

Three Dead Women – Part II

Twenty fours hours later I was in the same Opera House again to witness a opera and change of scenery several centuries earlier in Italy. The setting of Rigoletto is that of a Duke who is boastful of his conquests with women and Rigoletto, the court jester, taunts him.  From what I understand a wicked curse was spoken against Rigoletto by another man. Men seemed to dominate this opera and most all of them did a superb job of singing.  The male chorus in their bright costumes was a wonderful backdrop to the soloists, they sang many complicated numbers throughout this Verdi composition.


However, the most beautiful was Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda who was kept safe in his house until the servant was paid off for the Duke to kidnap Gilda.  I must write that from the very beginning the Duke as a tenor did NOT have a strong voice.  He was coughing in his first numbers and was drowned out by the orchestra.  When the duke was singing a duet with Gilda, the beautiful soprano, he went flat.  Overall it seemed a mismatch from the get-go.  Gilda in the end dies to the great heartbreak of her father, Rigoletto.  Second dead woman.


What was MOST troubling about this piece, besides having a poorly equipped tenor, was the fact that right when Gilda was about to go into high gear, and I do mean “HIGH,” something happened in the audience in the front row.  All of a sudden there were three teenage boys that ran as if on fire up the middle aisle and banging out the back door.  It would not have been so bad but the trampling effect was enough to put a fright in all of us in the audience, so much were we concentrating on the lovely soprano in the middle of the stage.  Gilda didn’t bat an eye, she didn’t miss a beat and thankfully neither did the orchestra conductor.  She kept going with her solo number and went into her most amazing, spectacular performance.  I’m thankful that this didn’t happen during her more complicated runs because it was a wonder she could even pull it off after that alarming noise from the audience.


When the opera ended with the tragic death of Gilda laying on the stage in a man’s outfit (that was her disguise to get out of the Duke’s clutches), she looked different at curtain call from what she had worn earlier of her beautiful feminine costume.  The assassin took a bow, the vampish woman took a bow, the Duke as the tenor was on the far end from Gilda, the soprano but neither of them took a separate bow.  I think the whole audience was waiting for Gilda to stand out alone and it didn’t happen.  What was going on with this opera?


Gilda (Zhamila Baspakova, according to my program notes) stole the show and it made me wonder if the three young boys weren’t a plant to purposely make her falter during her solo. That is how suspicious I am.  The tenor was clearly a Kazakh singer by the name of Murat Shalabaev.  He had a nice voice but he was NOT in his game and maybe suffering from a cold, his voice cracked on his last solo from off stage.  Again according to my notes if I’m reading it right without knowing Kazakh, Rigoletto was Talgat Kuzembaev and not Kazakh either.  He, like Gilda, did a great job as well.  I’ll always wonder but the analogy to me is that sometimes the bright shining stars are sometimes put down and sometimes the mediocre players are supposedly exalted.  The audience knows though, the audience knows.


On a sadder note, when I left church earlier that morning there was an actual dead woman on the street who was being photographed by police.  This was presumably a hit and run accident and the authorities just left her where she lay with the cars going around her on the busy one way street.  The direction of traffic has been recently changed as of a month or so ago from a two way to a one way.  She may not have known and walked out in front of a fast moving car.  We may never know.  Her purse or bag was about a meter away from her body.  Three dead women in one weekend is a bit sobering.

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