28. July 2011 · 8 comments · Categories: Ramble

So tonight I went to the (not-quite-so) live broadcast of the concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra that I blogged about earlier. I went back and forth on whether I should go, as my left ear never has improved. (It’s an very weird and annoying pain on my outer ear … I know it sounds crazy, but it really is quite difficult to deal with.) But yes, I went. As I was warned in the email, the box office seemed to know nothing about the press ticket(s) I was offered. The house manager was called and she denied knowing anything either. Hmm. Fathom Events, you might want to check into that! But she let me in, for which I was quite thankful.

When I entered the room I was the second person in the theater. When the concert began there might have been fifteen of us, but I doubt there were even that many. Too bad … it really was fun!

There were glitches in the broadcast, and I wonder if that happened everywhere. Sometimes there was a buzzing sound and then a glitch. At one point, at the beginning of one orchestral work (by Albéniz), it stopped and restarted with Mehta walking on stage and starting the work again. Odd. Toward the end there were pops and hisses for some reason. Still, it’s rather amazing to think we can watch a concert that only a short while ago took place in Jerusalem!

One thing I’d suggest to whoever put this together … let us know it’s intermission and how long it will be! Instead a video about Callejo played, and then one about Fleming, and then some other things. We didn’t know if there was time enough to leave the room or not. So not one person moved. I’m sure some might have enjoyed a bit of stretching or even a bathroom break!

Camera work was odd. During the Rimsky-Korsakov, as the harpist played a cadenza, the cameras focussed on the rest of the orchestra. It didn’t seem to know where the English horn was. Not ever. But I was able to see the oboists; it appeared that the principal oboist was playing on a staple like Mark Chudnow makes. I couldn’t tell what kind of oboe was being played though. The orchestra has so many oboists that I don’t know who this was, but if it’s the first one listed on their roster, Bruce Weinstein, he plays a Laubin. I could also see the principal flute mouthing the words to some of the opera arias. Made me smile, as I’ve been known to do the same thing.

But especially fun for me was seeing the musicians react to things. When Renée Fleming came out for the second half I saw one musician grinning from ear to ear while looking at another. I’ll just BET you he had told the other one that he thought she’d come out in a different dress. And she did. She even changed all of her jewelry and her hairstyle. (I know in the orchestra I play in we often talk about “the dress” … or dresses … it’s sort of a fun part of our job.) After the very lengthy Butterfly duet, which goes on and on for we woodwinds, the principal oboist tugged at his upper lip and gave a very weary look. (I’ll bet he didn’t have a clue the camera was focussed solely on him at that very moment!) Yes, sometimes we feel like we aren’t even going to be able to MOVE our lips after playing that piece. I wonder if he’s ever tackled the entire opera! I was surprised to see one female orchestra member in what looked like a gray top, but I actually liked it! (Gee, how about gray and black options for an orchestra? She looked so classy!) With a filmed concert I think some of the men might think about those very ratty looking bow ties. Hmmm. A cellist had a bit of a coughing fit (which I could hear, but could see) and her stand partner started to crack up. Hah!

The best thing was seeing the musicians smiling as if they loved what they were doing! That was a joy!

Oh … and one other note of interest. The woodwinds had chairs in between the ones on which they were seated. The chairs faced them, and the seats of the chairs were partially under their stands. This is where the keep their cases, swabs and other necessary equipment. Interesting! Of course this wouldn’t work with us; we have risers and NO room to do something like that.

I knew all the works but the Albéniz and Massenet. I’d like to hear the latter again. I really enjoyed both the singers, but I’m not a vocal judge so I never trust what I think about them. I thought the orchestra sounded pretty good on most everything. Sure, there were glitches, but that’s live music!

While the orchestra seemed a bit puzzled (or was it Mehta who was?) by the Leonard Cohen, it was moving to hear the audience singing along. Yeah, I teared up. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing! The audience then applauded like crazy at the end. We American audiences don’t do that. We all want to get to our cars, I guess. These folks were wonderful!

Here is the entire Program:
Verdi: Overture to La forza del sestino
Verdi: La donna e mobile from Rigoletto
Gounod: Jewel Song from Faust
Verdi: Prelude to Act I of La Traviata
Verdi: Parigi, o cara from La Traviata
Puccini: Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut
Puccini: Vissi d’arte from Tosca
Albeniz: Triana from Iberia
Puccini: Aria, E lucevan le Stelle (Tosca)
Massenet: Aria, J’ai versé le poison dans cette coupe d’or from Cléopâtre
Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol (4th & 5th movements)
Puccini: Duet from Act I of Madama Butterfly

Puccini: O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi
Cohen: Hallelujah
Verdi: Brindisi (libiamo)

(I have a feeling the tenor was planning on singing Nessun Dorma before Fleming’s O mio babbino because that title flashed on the screen first. Perhaps he felt his voice couldn’t handle it. Or perhaps that was just an error on someone’s fault. In any case, I thought he sounded very nice on what he did sing.)

So anyway, thanks very much, Fathom Events, as well as Weissman/Markovitz Communications, for letting me have a very enjoyable evening. Much appreciated!


  1. We experienced the same audio and video glitches that you did. I found out about the show one day before it aired and there were also glitches about purchasing tickets on-line. I called the theatre and they said that 74% of the seats were still available. I arrived at the theater last minute thinking that we were going to get terrific seating but instead we discovered that it was sold out. We had to sit in the front row…. The audience loved the show.

  2. Wow, so cool that it sold out where you are, although I’m sorry you didn’t get the best seats. I wish it had sold out here too … these are well worth experiencing, imo. It’s not like attending live and in person, but there are things about it I wouldn’t have noticed if I’d been there live, as you can read in the blogpost.

    One funny thing I did experenced: when the English horn was playing I attempted to look over at the player. Of course he wasn’t IN the picture, but my head automatically turned to the right to look for him!

  3. Sounds like we were at the same theater…were you at the Alderwood 7 Cinema? I complained to management and got 2 free passes which helped ease the sting of dropping $40 bucks for my daughter and I. Management told me that’s how they got the recording and there was nothing they could do about it. If that’s the case then Fathom can forget about me going to any more of their events.

  4. We experienced similar issues with the do-over and some hissing and buzzing here in South Alabama. We had just a handful in the theatre, but great that someone actually attended in a full house. We normally go to a newer theater closer to the beach for the simulcast from the Met, but still thoroughly enjoyed this last night. It was delightful to hear Ms. Fleming, and the audience, sing ‘Hallelujah’ as well as Ms Fleming on her self-professed ‘favorite’ O mio babbino cara. I also wondered why the Nessun Dorma was flashed up then not performed. My more cynical husband said he would have absolutely nailed it and drawn attention from Rene Fleming as the star, so who knows? I left the theater humming it badly and a tad disappointed that it was briefly flashed but not sung.

  5. Thanks s much for your comment, Nancy. I enjoyed the concert quite a bit. Yes, there were glitches, but things happen. Especially with technology. (I remember hearing about the power going out on the synth used for the organ in Phantom of the Opera … can you imagine!?) I prefer to think Calleja was just thinking his voice wasn’t up to hitting the high note (notes?) in Nessun Dorma. Of course some would merely take it down a step. (Played for a very famous singer who did that toward the end of his career. It happens.) I came home with “Hallelujah” in my head, believe it or not!

  6. Well, I just think things like that happen, so I wasn’t too terribly upset, Stu, but I guess we all have different things that bug us. Had the performance been rotten I would have been upset … but we never get refunds for bad performances! (Good thing, since I had one of my own a bit over a year ago … I felt like I should have turned in my paycheck for my mishap. Sigh.) It is true that the house has nothing to do with the quality of the “movie” in this case. (I also assume this wasn’t in HD as the picture wasn’t as clear as some I’ve seen/heard.) I’ll go back … I just take such joy in seeing the musicians, and love seeing their personalities pop out (as the oboist’s and flutist’s did).

    Btw, I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m not familiar with the “Alderwood 7 Cinema”. So I’m guessing we don’t live near each other!

    Thanks so much for your comment. I love hearing from readers … even if this is possibly the only time you’ll visit my little blog. :-)

  7. I saw the concert in Tucson, AZ and was grandly disappointed. I experienced much of the same sound issues you talked about as well as the sudden break in with the promos. In addition we were cheated out of 4 of the pieces starting with the Albeniz and were unceremoniously dumped into the middle of the Butterfly duet. I almost cried when I saw on your program listing that I had missed hearing Calleja sing the Tosca aria. I’m a huge fan. I wrote a letter to the theater manager, am hoping I will hear something positive in return to make up for the $20 I wasted. Our audience was pitifully small too.
    I loved your observations about the orchestra members. I’m a violinist and I saw all of the things you saw as well as the trumpet player looking disgusted after a solo passage. And was the french horn (2nd?) player ever gorgeous!

  8. Gee, I missed the trumpet look and didn’t notice the French horn player. Shame on me!

    SO sorry you had such a bad experience … nothing like that happened at mine; while there were glitches we DID hear all the music! So it seems like something was even more awry with yours. Yikes! That would be worth a refund, to be sure, while what I experienced, imo, wasn’t. It was a wee bit annoying, but I still felt I experienced the concert!