Attention, Houston opera buffs! This is an important public service announcement! Three of the world’s greatest opera singers – Anna Netrebko, Jonas Kaufmann and Erwin Schrott - will be performing some of the most beautiful arias right here in Houston at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Technically, they’ll be performing in the film version of a concert entitled 3 Superstars in Berlin at the River Oaks Theatre. But speaking as a dedicated opera lover, I can assure you from having seen it screened here last week — the first of only two Houston showings — it’s a fabulous listening experience that can best be described as aural ambrosia. Plus, you’ll have a better view of the superstar trio than the 22,000 people virtually seated in front of you in Berlin’s beautiful Waldbühne open-air amphitheater.
It’s a fabulous listening experience that can best be described as aural ambrosia.
Speaking of beautiful, there’s something to please every ear and eye in the program. The program is a mixed bag that encompasses not only traditional opera arias, but contemporary music by Bernstein and Gershwin, and even a sultry tango or two.
As for the eye candy, let me begin with the highly gratifying visuals provided by handsome Uraguayan bass-baritone Schrott. Given that the debonair Schrott is wed to opera’s reigning diva, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, out of respect for my operatic soul sister, I will provide a restrained description of his exceptional appeal. Let me simply say that he displayed a special theatrical capability of convincingly embodying the seductive character of a particular song; for example, when he swayed sinuously to the rhythm of the bandoneón playing Astor Piazzolla’s sensuous tango music.
Oh, and his voice was quite appealing, as well. First thing the next morning, I phoned Barnes & Noble and ordered Schrott’s new CD, Rojotango. I also ordered German tenor Kaufmann’s Romantic Arias, recalling how Herr Kaufmann melted every heart in the audience (the camera panned to show couples of all ages smiling lovingly at one another) as he sang Strauss’ “Ich liebe dich” (I love you) in his powerful, rich voice. Kaufmann’s German needs no translation in America. The good-looking young man with the charming grin is so popular in this country, he’s been described as the Justin Bieber of the classical music world.
The good-looking young man with the charming grin is so popular in this country, he’s been described as the Justin Bieber of the classical music world.
Lastly, what can one say about Netrebko? Anyone who’s ever heard her voice surely understands that she’s the gold standard of sopranos. People who love opera tend to be a tough crowd of perfectionists who continually educate their ears to better detect and appreciate the tiniest nuance in a fine singer’s voice. The greater voices we hear, the harder we are to please.
With Netrebko, I invariably find myself smiling as I slowly relax into the realization that once again, I’m hearing the assured voice of a supremely talented, disciplined, experienced vocalist who is going to deliver the best. The gorgeous formal gowns she wore during the concert were the frosting on the cake.
At $18 a ticket, this proved to be such an extraordinary experience that the Frugal Fraulein has already bought another ticket to see the film again Wednesday night. Hey, it’s cheaper than if I’d flown to Berlin to see the live performance. See you at the River Oaks Wednesday. Auf Weidersehen!