I have rarely followed male singers. Female singers have been my passion. Popular male singers have drawn me sporadically and briefly; male opera singers I have rarely listened to more than once, except, of course, for the one and only Luciano Pavarotti. BUT currently there are two young men from Poland who knock me off my feet! And give me a whole new area of music and drama to revel in — this inspires me no end!
Thanks to the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series, two seasons ago I saw Mariusz Kwiecien as Mozart's Don Giovanni and he blew me away! A good-looking baritone, Mariusz sings with great passion and beauty, but what really excites me is his totally physical portrayal. He springs onto the stage, every fiber of his being infusing the part. From head to toe he generates excitement making his enthusiasm for what he is doing palpable and completely infectious. Last season he performed alongside my second favorite soprano Anna Netrebko in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore and was just as exciting in that part as in Don Giovanni.
Two seasons ago, as well, I discovered Piotr Beczala. It was a great year! In Massenet's Manon, tenor Beczala was not only blue-eyed handsome and incredibly talented but exceedingly passionate in his singing, acting, and command of the stage. Like Kwiecien, his whole body vibrates to the tune of the verve he has for his art. And we in the audience do more than feel it, we get electrified by it. Near the end of Manon, in newly appointed abbé's (Beczala's) meager quarters in the chapel of St. Sulpice, Beczala finally, after an entire opera of holding back, throws Manon — played here by an equally passionate and electrifying Anna Netrebko—down on his rickety single bed and in a climactic moment of desire mounts her, kissing her with an intensity and physicality that rock and roll Anna, who responds in kind, halfway off the bed! I am telling you this scene has returned to me and again and thrills me every time. I think I have never seen anything quite as intensely passionate onstage in my life!
For the current 2013-2014 season at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, the opening piece is a new production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, a Russian drama of fateful romance. For me, its stars are a dream come true: Mariusz Kwiecien as the love struck Onegin, Anna Netrebko — opening The Met for the third year in a row and performing there for the first time in her native language — as the equally love struck Tatiana, and — as if that were not exciting enough — Piotr Bezcala as Onegin's friend turned rival. WOW! If you like opera, DO NOT MISS THIS! Later performances will be with a different cast. I don't know how much later. Luckily, we don't have to travel to NYC to see it! On October 5th Metropolitan Opera Live in HD will show Eugene Onegin in theaters around the world. Check your locals for venue and time. According to the Met's website, an encore will be shown in the USA on October 9th at 6:30 pm local time.
A note for 2014: on February 8th, Piotr Bezcala will play opposite my favorite soprano Renée Fleming in Dvorák's Russalka. That should be a real sizzler!
Go to The Metropolitan Opera webpage at: www.metoperafamily.org