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(E) Croatian tenor - A Star Is Born in Berlin
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/4/2002 | Culture And Arts | Unrated
(E) Croatian tenor - A Star Is Born in Berlin
Subj:Kresimir Spicer (pronounced Shpitzer! 
Dolje je kompletni tekst MusAm clanka reproduciranog na 
oznacio sam s --> djelove koji se odnose na Spicera i njegov skorasnji 
nastup u Brooklynu, ako zelite skratiti ili izostaviti oatatak, iako je 
opis Olge BorodinA (accEnt on the last syllAble!) i Dominga zabavan (i 
poucan? - sugestije za skracenje i izostavljanje oznacene s (~ / ~) 
Classical News from Musical 
Daily stories from the business source for the performing arts. 
            A Star Is Born in Berlin 
            by Paul Moor, 
            Wednesday, February 6th 2002 
            BERLIN -- Since Kent Nagano took over the leadership of the 
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, Berliners have grown accustomed to some 
fairly extravagant ideas of programming, but this week must have set some 
kind of record. 
            Monday's night's began with Luciano Berio's 1968 realization of 
Claudio Monteverdi's 1624 cantata "Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda" 
(The Conflict Between Tancred and Clorinda). After that came a 40-year-old 
echo of that unmissed aberrational phase of Europe's musical avant-garde 
that called itself "instrumental theater," György Ligeti's "Aventures." 
Only after the intermission did the part come that had justified the 
concert's billing as "gala": a concert performance of Act 2 of Camille 
St.-Saėns's opera "Samson et Dalila," flaunting two of today's stellar 
vocalists, Olga Borodina and Plįcido Domingo. 
            (~Even at gala prices, a capacity audience packed Berlin's 
Philharmonie; in fact, the gauntlet of hopefuls pleading for tickets one 
had to run began a full block away from the entrance.~) One Berlin critic 
evidently kept an eye on his watch during the evening; by his reckoning the 
entire concert lasted only 90 minutes, with much of the St.-Saėns segment 
devoted to the harangue between Delilah and the High Priest (Sergei 
Leiferkus, first-rate), leading into that critic's grumpy question "Ten 
minutes of Plįcido Domingo for 125 Euros?" (roughly $100). 
            Both Borodina and Domingo did indeed treat us to some memorably 
fine vocalism - with Domingo sounding every bit as wonderful as he ever 
has, something of a miracle at the age of 60, but for not me alone the 
-->evening's vocal highpoint, in fact a revelation, came when a young 
Croatian tenor with the improbable name of Kresimir Spicer (:KrEshimir 
ShpItzer, u fonetskom originalu S sa `kvacicom'!) provided the first part's 
high point as the narrator in the Monteverdi; during the intermission, an 
enthusiastic little crowd of Berlin's musical sophisticates surrounded him 
in the Philharmoniker's backstage buffet crying for information about this 
vocal discovery. More about Spicer in a moment. 
            First, the shortest of shrift for the Ligeti abomination. The 
so[u!]briquet "instrumental theater" (think first and foremost the rather 
cumbersome high jinks perpetrated by Mauricio Kagel) applied to 
instrumental works that required the performers to horse around in one 
extra-musical way or another, to no apparent purpose. In 1962 it pleased 
Ligeti to perpetrate a work for two sopranos and one baritone in an 
invented nonsense language he called "asemantic." Their particular horsing 
around toward one another supposedly conveys such emotions as anxiety, 
boasting, foolishness, and so on. 
            Uncertain audience titters rewarded, for instance, the 
percussionist's using a carpet-beater the size of a tennis racket to wallop 
a sort of miniature mattress beneath it, or pop an inflated paper bag, or 
when the three long-suffering but impressively capable singers (Sarah 
Leonard, Linda Hirst, and Omar Ebrahim) pinched their nostrils closed to 
produce an unattractive nasality, or when they picked up small megaphones 
from the floor and bellowed through them into the auditorium. I had heard 
about "Aventures" sporadically ever since its world premiere, but until 
this week my luck had held out against actually encountering such rubbish. 
            During rehearsals for this concert, Nagano had reported things 
"going really well" with "quite a chemistry between Domingo, Borodina, and 
the orchestra," but conceivably those rehearsals took place in the DSO's 
stageless rehearsal room and not on the stage of the Philharmonie. At the 
concert, things went logistically wrong from the start of the St.-Saėns, 
for instead of a strictly concert performance, the performers decided to 
incorporate a modicum of physical histrionics - and when you turn two such 
impressively endowed and experienced singing hams loose with no control 
whatever to rein them in, musical disaster automatically threatens. 
            At the worst moments Monday evening, it didn't only threaten. 
Leiferkus's segments provided him scant opportunity to spread himself, but 
Borodina almost immediately turned into the very model of an old-fashioned 
primissima donna of the most self-indulgent sort. Unabashedly, arrogantly, 
almost contemptuously, she ever more and more ostentatiously turned her 
back completely towards Nagano - and any opera's conductor must always 
remain in control musically. 
            Poor Nagano could only pivot back and forth on the podium, 
sometimes looking almost pleadingly at the singers behind him, hopefully 
trying to catch an eye at least occasionally, usually with no success 
whatever. As a result, Borodina and Domingo mostly did what singers 
unfortunately will, given half a chance; they indulged themselves in the 
most narcissistic, self-serving manner of performance imaginable. We did 
indeed hear great, surging billows of glorious vocalism - but music? In 
spite of Nagano's valiant exertions, music to a large extent simply went 
down the drain. 
            But let's get back to the -->truly musical highlight of the 
evening. Note the name - write it down, memorize it - of Kresimir Spicer, 
for me the most exciting vocal discovery since Thomas Quasthoff exploded 
into my ken five or six years ago. Artists' program biographies tend to 
vaunt, but Spicer's perceptibly does its best to inflate such things as he 
has done to date. Little wonder, since he gives his age at merely 25! 
            Born in Slavonski Brod, he studied in Zagreb and Amsterdam, 
where he settled - and even while still a student he appeared in 
professional productions there of "Don Carlo" and "Gianni Schicchi." Last 
June he first attracted major international attention at the 
Aix-en-Provence Festival when William Christie cast him as Ulysses in 
Monteverdi's opera with Christie's splendid ensemble Les Arts Florissants, 
with Marijana Mijanovic singing opposite him. 
            Gaėtan Naulleau wrote in "Le Monde" on June 13: "The eve of the 
premiere, nobody knew Marijana Mijanovic (Penelope) and her companion 
Kresimir Spicer (Ulysses). The next day, their names drew moved smiles upon 
all the lips of the people in Aix plus enthusiastic babbling." -->Residents 
of greater New York may anticipate a similar experience when the 
-->Brooklyn Academy of Music imports that production intact for the -->week 
beginning April 7. 
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