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22 oct. 2012


foto: Joanna

Esta es la crónica de Joanna, que asistió a las sesiones de los días 19 y 20 del Requiem de Verdi de Philadelphia, con dirección de Yannick Nézet-Séguin, con Rolando Villazón como tenor. Os dejo también fotos suyas y de Marion. Thank you both!

I did it. I survived. I can now finally say that I have seen Rolando Villazón perform live, not once, but twice.

Here is the story of those magical nights.

I begin with a certain given: I knew that something would surprise me about the whole experience, I just couldn’t predict what. In both performances, so much came together into a kind of marvelous union: the conductor, the orchestra, the chorus, and the soloists. Yannick was on fire, conducting without a score, sawing the air with his baton, the brilliant master and commander of this magnificent ship. The soloists were superb, their voices blending in complete and gorgeous harmony.

One of the big surprises of the evening was the large choir: they were fabulous and forceful in the powerful “Dies irae” and “Sanctus” and delicate and soulful in the soft passages. One would have thought that these were 170 seasoned veterans, but this was not the case. They were in fact students from a small music school in New Jersey, all of them barely in their early twenties. But more about them later in a very “Rolando-esque” moment.

I’ve heard so many of you say that hearing Rolando on CDs and DVDs is so different from seeing him live. Now I know what you mean. Watching him sing is a physiological, even visceral, experience. You feel it throughout your body, like blood coursing through your veins. You feel it in the pit of your stomach. You feel him in the air where his voice shimmers or cuts through you. He sings with his whole body in a way that I have never seen anyone else do before. And that voice: so full of colors, nuances, and richness that you actually hear the music in a new way.

I watch him closely throughout the performance. The music is so powerful for him that on occasion he closes his eyes trying to take it all in. He is so excited during the “Dies irae,” that he begins to nod his head sharply, punctuating the forceful rhythms, looking like he is about to do some serious head-banging. The tenor in the Requiem is judged by his “Ingemisco,” and Rolando shapes his with a staggering beauty that brings you to your knees. And what can you say about “Hostias”? It is sung with such exquisite, melting sweetness that it would wring tears from a rock. When those violins shimmer and he sings the first notes, I am transfixed. During the final moments, a beaming smile spills over his face—“Perfection, bliss,” he seems to be thinking.

The final note sounds softly, and Yannick holds his baton, poised in perfect stillness. Everyone and everything freezes. There is a hushed moment that hangs in the air for what seems like forever. Yannick barely begins to lower his baton, and the audience explodes into wild applause and cheers, jumping out of their seats for an immediate standing ovation. I promise you that this is not typical behavior after classical music concerts in America. If we give standing ovations, we must be coaxed out of our seats very gradually. Not here. The audience has been completely and overwhelming swept up. The young choir receives a resounding roar of approval. The performers, hand-in-hand, take their final bow, and a jubilant Yannick kisses Rolando’s (and only Rolando’s) hand in a touching moment of friendship and gratitude.

Almost impossibly, the second performance is even better than the first. Simply perfect.

A particularly memorable and touching scene followed the second performance. The young members of the choir (and it looked like all 170 of them) lined up for autographs from Rolando. The line stretched down a long hallway as far as the eye could see. Each student brought his/her score for Rolando to sign, all of them choosing the pages of “Ingemisco” or “Hostias” for the signature. The looks on their faces as they approached Rolando for their turn was just precious. “You were fantastic,” “You were incredible,” they said to him over and over. These fresh-faced kids looked completely star-struck, gazing at Rolando in a kind of giddy wonderment. Soon the students began beseeching Rolando for not just a signature but a drawing as well, and once that started, there was no going back. Rolando promptly announced that he would be charging 2 euros for each drawing, which drew a big laugh. I’m sure even these poor students would have paid it. As this scene unfolded, there were some special moments. One young woman’s name was “Maria,” and Rolando promptly burst into “Maria, I just met a girl named Maria…” to her complete delight. A young man approached Rolando, loudly proclaiming, “You’re fantastic! I’m Philipino!” The delightful non-sequitur, spoken in such a heightened state of obvious and ridiculous excitement, drew a howl of laughter from the crowd.

Each time and for each student, Rolando exhibited that kindness, humor, and generosity that so many of you have described during the autograph sessions. After about 25 minutes of signing, the Kimmel Center staff was looking anxious to bring it to an end, even though there were still many more students waiting. The choir director then asked all students making the trip to New York to ask for Rolando’s autograph there. The young people walked away, hopefully only disappointed for a few more days.

Then out into the dark night wondering, “Did this really just happen, or did I make it up out of my over-active imagination? Too much Chardonnay?" Each morning I woke to find that, yes, indeed, I just saw Rolando perform, and he was superb. I promise you all this is just the first of many more to come. I’ve only just begun.

Viva Rolando! Viva Philadelphia!

foto: Joanna

foto: Marion 19/10/12
foto: Marion 20/10/12
foto: Joanna 20/10/12
foto: Marion 20/10/12
foto: Marion 20/10/12

foto: Marion 20/10/12

19 comentarios:

  1. Thanks a lot Joanna and Marion.
    J'attendais ta chronique avec impatience dear Joanna.
    Voir et entendre Rolando sur scène est une expérience très forte, il vous prend par les "tripes" et ne vous lâche plus.
    L'addiction Villazon est en vous, et c'en est fini de votre vie fade et tranquille, car vous n'avez plus qu'un seul souhait, une seule pensée, "quand vais-je le revoir ???"
    La longue file d'attente des jeunes du Choeur, leur enthousiasme et leur admiration, montrent que Rolando touche toutes les tranches d'âge, que ce soit hommes ou femmes, jeunes ou vieux.
    Viva Rolando qui va reconquérir les US !!!

  2. Catherincita22/10/12 12:44

    Après la lecture d'une chronique aussi parfaite, je crois que je ne serai plus capable d'en écrire une autre...
    Joanna!! cette fois, il ne s'agit pas d'un "délire personnel" mais du récit de 2 soirées exceptionnelles et les mots que tu as choisis pour exprimer ce que tu as ressenti, en écoutant et en voyant Rolando chanter pour la première fois, sont tellement forts et vrais : Oui, Rolando chante avec tout son être, avec toute son âme et ce qu'il parvient à faire partager à celui qui l'écoute avec ferveur est UNIQUE.A chaque fois, que j'ai la chance de le voir en live,je vis un moment inoubliable.
    Ton récit a toutes les qualités : précision, détails, émotion, et en le lisant, la voix de Rolando me transporte aux cieux et son souffle devient une caresse...MAGIQUE !

    From the bottom of my heart : Thank you Joanna!!

  3. Catherincita22/10/12 12:45

    Many thanks to Marion for her wonderful photos !!

  4. Thank you, Joanna for this fantastic report, and many thanks, Marion for the photos.

    I've shuddered as imagine the magic was in Verizon Hall for three nights. Congratulations to all participants.

    Thank you, Teresa for this post.


  5. Merci pour les photos Mario ,Joanna .
    Superbe compte rendu Joanna !!
    Bravo encore et toujours à notre cher Rolando ,bravo pour le chef exceptionnel et aux choristes qui ont enchantés le public .
    Quels moments de délectation pour vous Joanna .
    Soirées mémorables impossibles a oubliées .

  6. Poetry, thy name is Joanna! I am so happy for you :) Thank you for sharing with us your magique experience

  7. Me alegro como siempre por todos los exitos de Rolando.He leido sus comenterios sobre Menorca y creo que ni el mejor poeta podia describir la isla con tanto cariño y romanticismo

  8. Thank you Joanna for this magic report!
    I`m so glad for you that it was so great!
    And I am happy for Rolando :-)

    Herzlichen Dank auch an Marion für die Fotos und die früheren Zeilen über die Konzerte!

  9. dearest Joanna, YOU ARE THE ONE AND ONLY reporter for us. With your huge writers talent you gave us here the most visual , true, tangible and sensitive outstanding commentary of Rolando's performance.
    I am so happy for you that you finally had the occasion to assist to this live concert . And you explained your feelings so truly that we all were also present and could feel the vibrations coming from the concert but certainly the vibrations that Rolando emanates when he sings, or better already when he appears on stage.
    Twice I was so close to him that I could feel these vibrations like beams coming out of his body !
    Thank you so much ! and also thank you to Marion who made these magnificent photographs !

  10. Merci à Joanna et à Marion de nous transmettre aussi bien ces belles soirées !

  11. Thank you, Joanna, for describing with your very personal touch the feeling we have when watching Rolando sing. It is not only a spiritual, intellectual, emotional, but also a deeply physiological, even visceral, experience.

    And we were there... I cannot believe even now!

    Thank you, Rolando!

  12. It's so touching, Joanna. Thanks so much for telling us about the evening. It's true that through his body Rolando transmits something that can't be felt from the dvds. It's a paradox-- why wouldn't we be able to feel it when we watch him on a dvd? Well, this is the miracle of live theatre-- the vibrations in the hall are actually felt and processed as emotion. Film is great, I love film, but there's something about live theatre... live concerts....

  13. Comme toujours, lire l'histoire sur le concert était comme lire un poème. Un rapport sur du chœur de jeunes chanteurs est grand.Même les jeunes sont excités sur Mozart, Verdi, Offenbach, ... Juste il faut que quelqu'un montre la voie pour le comprendre.Merci, correspondantes merveilleuses!

  14. Joannaaaaaaaaaaaaa: you made it, girl!!!
    I'm so happy for you, and your chronicle made me share a tear of sisterhood with you. We are so blessed to have the pleasure to hear him sing and watch him be not a musician but music itself (himself).
    Kisses and thanks to Marion too for the pics.

  15. Thank you Joanna for this very touching report! I have read all you hilarious Rolando-stories on this blog, what a delight! and now you finally got to see him live! I can vividly remember my own first-time-Rolando-live, and I'm so happy for you. I'm waiting foe your next Rolando-story!!

  16. Thank you all so much for your very kind words. The pleasure was all mine!

  17. Dear Joanna
    A fitting chronicle for a great performance! Congratulations! You transmit what so many music critics do not. The ambience, the excitement, the music itself. Thanks so much ( and all the performers involved) for bringing this concert alive.
    Thanks Tere for building all these bridges.

  18. Seulement une semaine et je recois la catégorie "Album de Verdi". Mon Dieu - ce que cela a dû être pour un temps "Requiem" en Amérique - en fonction de cette description si tendre et poétique - merci pour elle! Je suis déjà dans une grande joie et d'attende, pour l'instant en Novembre, je serai à Munich Rolando entendre le concert et voir en particulier. Qu'est-ce un artiste talentueux et un être humain! Il est tellement bon qu'il est là.

  19. Esther and Laure, thanks so much!