main: July 2007 Archives
Those who read only official festival programmes don't know what they're missing. Next Wednesday, at that fancy hostelry the Goldener Hirsch, the true spirit of the modern Salzburg Festival will be celebrated by a display of Montblanc's 'new fine jewellery'.
Montblanc is a leading and 'exclusive' sponsor of the Salzburg Festival (see press release below). It is involved with a special tribute to Max Reinhardt, the idealistic founder.
The guest of honour at the Hirsch will be Jerry Hall, sometime supermodel and rockstar moll. What Ms Hall has to do with Max Reinhardt is some way beyond satire.
I am rather glad to be missing Salzburg this year.
Someone asked for my view on Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts. Here goes:
Paul Potts: Once Chance
album released Monday 16 July
review by Norman Lebrecht (Evening Standard)
Nothing deceives like the evidence of our eyes. A month ago, Paul Potts, a mobile phone salesman from Port Talbot with wonky teeth and a waistline problem, convinced 13.5 million TV viewers and countless more on YouTube that Britain's Got Talent and he was it.
Premium phones lines glowed red when he sang Nessun Dorma and Simon Cowell, the pop-picker at the heart of the enterprise, thrust him into Air Studios for a debut album that is released on Monday, preceding a national tour in the New Year.
What appealed to viewers, the quality that plucked our heartstrings, was that Paul was such an obvious loser. Bullied at school, unskilled at work, a virgin at 30 who met his wife in an internet chatroom, he reached for a dream and scratched it with a fingernail. His performance of Nessun Dorma aroused more football memories than operatic, but who cared? This was the ordinary man's David Beckham moment and none could begrudge him that glory.
Remove the visuals, however, and the music leaves the ordinary man viciously exposed. Nessun Dorma, the CD's opening track, is not just clumsily phrased and vocally strained but utterly charmless. Paul comes over like a Venetian gondolier who won't take no for an answer. Several notes are on the edge of sour and the aftertaste is rank.
The rest of the album is made up of package-tourist ballads and motorway favourites like Frank Sinatra's My Way, rendered in tourist Mediterranean. Paul's range of expression so limited that sincerity is reduced to a binary alternative of sigh or shout. Time to Say Goodbye is the second track and I wish he had made it the last. The rest is dreary to the point of somnolence. Haste was plainly of the essence. An extra week with a vocal coach might have helped him inject more colour into the tributary Caruso song or more feeling into Stanley Myers' Cavatina. This is amateur night in a very small town.
A magnifying glass applied to the booklet's back page reveals the LSO as the accompanying orchestra. I guess they won't be advertising that in their next Barbican season. All the echo chambers at Air and all the remastering skills of Cowell's team, cannot disguise the sad truth that this is a singer with nothing to say, nothing to add beyond his ordinariness. Sad, really. It was all a visual illusion.
I know we're supposed to suspend critical judgement at charity gigs, but a chance sight of Sarah Brightman attacking Nessun Dorma at the Shanghai corner of Al Gore's Live Earth made me want to save something more endangered than a little old planet.
Transposing Puccini's tenor aria for non-operatic soprano was a tacky idea. It substituted warble for vibrato, evoking the gooey feeling you get when coffee cream has been poured mistakenly into a cup of tea. Ms Brightman cannot manage anything emotionally more complex than the loves me/loves me not music of middle-period Lloyd Webber and was left gulping for air where she should have been vocally in mid-line. The orchestration must have been arranged at a local copy shop and the Chinese audience, as seen on TV, were presumably supposed to know no better.
True, Shanghai was the hardest nut to crack in Al's bowl. Neither the Chinese government nor the national media were much interested in signing up to good eco behaviour and the show consisted mostly of local pop stars. Ms Brightman was there to add cosmopolitan glamour but all she brought was a soiled aria, a second-hand plastic rose. Even Ms Streisand, in her opera album, never sunk so low when aiming so high.
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog