Ernesto and Luciano: similar yet different

It was forty years ago. I was in New York on my honeymoon, seeking a ticket to see the Metropolitan Opera (even a scalper if necessary).

But I found tickets at the box office, 7th row (if my memory doesn’t fail me). It was Der Rosenkavalier, with omg Tatiana Troyanos, Kiri Te Kanawa, Kurt Moll, Judith Blegen… You couldn’t find a better cast.

It was to be broadcast. Would my view be obstructed, I wondered..? Perhaps that’s why I was able to get such superb seats.

The magic was captured for all time, broadcast on television.

The most brilliant thing in the show that I didn’t appreciate until I heard it?

There in the tiny role of the Italian Singer was Luciano Pavarotti. Has anyone ever sung it better?

Curiously Luciano didn’t read music. He was always on pitch.

What an ear. What a sound.

I was so lucky to stumble on that performance. Tis the season for gratitude (it’s our Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend).

Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss wrote this German opera to include the solo from the Italian Singer, singing up in the stratosphere. Is it high? Almost the entire solo is above middle C. It’s so simple in its design.

Strauss understood beauty.

I’m thinking of how few singers I’ve ever heard who make a sound comparable to Luciano. Of course everyone is unique.

But there is a younger singer we get to hear in Toronto from time to time. I’m thinking of Ernesto Ramirez.

Notice how perfectly pitched he sings, especially on the ringing high notes. He does read music, unlike Luciano.

Next week Opera by Request tell us they will present:
“the final chapter of The Three Queens with Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, starring Canada’s formidable Ernesto Ramirez and Antonina Ermolenko in the leading roles… Ably assisted by mezzo-soprano Barbara King, baritone Michael Robert-Broder, and Francis Domingue and Bruce Reid.

I recall seeing Ernesto step in with the Canadian Opera Company in their 2014 production of Roberto Devereux, doing a superb job. Here’s a chance to hear him sing it again.

If you’re able to make it on October 15th, 7:30pm at College Street United Church, tickets are $20.

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