Monday, March 16, 2009

Goin' to Chicago

My friend Peter says that Matthias Goerne is singing at Ravinia this summer. He says we should get a group together and go on down there and rent rooms at the Red Roof Inn and catch Matthias Goerne's act.

I looked on the Internet and lo, there it is: Matthias Goerne is singing Schubert, with pianist Christoph Eschenbach, at Ravinia on July 27, 29 and 31. He is singing the complete "Die Winterreise" and other Schubert songs, too. Rumor has it he is singing "Die Schoene Muellerin" and "Schwanengesang." But it is late and I cannot get the Ravinia Web site to do what I want it to do.

I cannot make up my mind whether I like Matthias Goerne or whether I think he is a thug.

He just looks like a thug! He frightens me!

That is a picture of Matthias Goerne above. He looks like a prisoner. Here is another picture of him you see a lot where he is feral and unshaven.

Here Goerne is singing "Die Nebensonnen" from "Die Winterreise." It is not bad if you divorce his voice from his look. Though even just his voice by itself, I would have to warm up to that.

After "Die Nebensonnen" comes the haunting closing song, "Der Leiermann." That is in the video too. Such thrillingly bleak music!

It suits Goerne, I will say that.


  1. I'm interested in the juxtaposition of someone's look and talent, but not in sympathy with linking the two things. It reminds me of an (admittedly hilarious) Tallulah Bankhead story. She would say and do anything, often fueled by liquor or drugs. Once, when she was in a fancy restaurant, the story goes, she summoned both the captain and her waiter. Indicating a couple dining in her line of sight she said, "Dahlings, those two people are dreadfully ugly. They're upsetting my digestion. Would you kindly ask them to leave?"

    Another story, a true one, is that Wagner saw a singer auditioning for the role of Sieglinde in the first Bayreuth festival. He blew up and said "I won't allow it! That is the ugliest woman I've ever seen on a stage." She sang the premiere; no one else could handle the role. I think her name was Josephine Sheffsky.

  2. Ravinia is a WONDERFUL place to see a concert. Elaborate picnics abound with silver candlesticks, beautiful tapestry tablecloths, and Veuve Cliquot. Some people even had caviar at their picnics. It is a pretty special place. I think that you would like it. :)

  3. I love the Tallulah Bankhead story!! And the Josephine Sheffsky story too. But I do think that on stage a person's art and appearance are linked, for better or for worse. We will have to explore that more!

  4. I backtracked today and found your reply. I wish this was set up differently, so it could be an easily found forum.

    Before the age of recordings, a critic (I don't remember who) wished he could just hear Tristan in the dark, sans the sight of singers and stagecraft. On the other hand, Ned Rorem, in one of his books, wrote that he felt performers were at their most physically beautiful while performing. I remember how your appearance used to change when you were playing the piano. Your features relaxed and you looked different than when you were socializing. Now, don't laugh, but in the movies the same was true of Harpo Marx. If you watch him closely, you'll see the madcap character he played transform into the face of an artist when he plays the harp. By the way, his son, who is a professional musician, once wrote about how Harpo looked into Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and even electronic music in his private life. I agree this is an interesting subject, and I encourage you to pursue it.

    Maybe I'm touchy about it because I don't like my looks. I wish I was as good looking as Pennario...wish I could play like him too, (ha ha ha).

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