Day 8- Erwin Schrott

As I said yesterday, I’m sure you all are tired of hearing about this opera and that. This project is getting more and more interesting as I go along, though, because it seems as though I am ruining any concert experience that is not top-notch, and I think I may be getting too cynical and judgmental for my own good. Exhibit A was last night’s performance by Erwin Schrott, the world-renowned bass-baritone who is also married to Anna Netrebko (can someone say ‘power couple?’). His voice is awesome. It’s dark, silky smooth, and powerful, and from the moment he opens his mouth to say “Hello,” the entire crowd is swooning. Last night, most of the crowd was definitely enchanted, save for one slightly unprepared and cynical me.

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I came to the concert thinking it would be a recital of sorts. Schrott is a world-famous opera singer, so of course I don’t think I was wrong to suspect that he would sing opera. As is the case most of the time–I was wrong. The program was called Rojotango, and it featured not only Schrott, but also the Rojotango Band. Basically, it seems as though this is a side project of Schrott’s–though he’s using his opera fame to promote it. The first thing that set me in a bad mood for the night was the program. In Vienna, no matter where you go you have to buy the program. At the Staatsoper it can range from €1,70 for just the cast list to €4,50 for a very detailed, well designed and aesthetically pleasing booklet that is well-worth the money. Last night, I paid €5 for an eight-page booklet that had a preliminary (subject to change) set-list, bios that I could’ve found online, and advertisements for more concerts. Definitely a ripoff.

Another reason I was so put off by this concert was that the program mentioned nothing about where this project came from, Schrott’s Latin background, or anything at all that would have given me insight into this venture. It solely talked about his opera career, how he won a couple competitions, sang at the Salzburger Festival, etc. I can guarantee you that he was not choosing from his Rojotango rep at any of those events.

He sounded great last night, of course. Why wouldn’t he? His voice can fill the Met and la Scala–why would we expect otherwise when he’s using a microphone in the Vienna Concert House? It was like using a bazooka to hunt rabbits. Every now and then he would dig into his operatic training box to hit a high note or a loud not or something, and I found myself only wanting to hear that. I appreciate tango. I appreciate that he loves tango. But I want to hear you sing “Le veau dor” from Faust or “Votre toast” from Carmen, not “Oblivion” and “Nonino.” I probably should have read the program description earlier than right before the show.

As far as my research goes, it seems as though there were a great deal more middle aged people at this show than at the Opera or the Philharmonic. Parents brought kids, couples were on dates, and then there was the poor old woman right in front of a speaker in the front row. I paid €55 for a ticket on the balcony, so I can only imagine what they were paying down below. The Concert Hall itself is pretty nice–very large, lots of refreshment counters, and some lady was handing out free cough drops. That was especially nice for me, since I had just finished practicing 30 minutes before the show. It was definitely not as well-oiled a machine as is the Staatsoper. The show was supposed to start at 8:30, but we didn’t even get into our seats until 8:45 because of some delay.

It was a good show, don’t get me wrong. He seemed to have fun, he’s a great singer, and the band was pretty sweet. I just wished it could’ve been more than it was.

Thankfully tonight I’m heading back to the Staatsoper for the premier of Tristan and Isolde, so it’s time to get all fancy in my tux!

Thanks for reading!

Drew

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