If Rome's Traviata were a videogame -- and frankly, why not -- we'd say that Renato Bruson 0wned Angela Gheorghiu at Halo using just the keyboard -- Angela was all made up with big hair and all, fresh from a diet that made her as svelte as mean ol' Frengo likes his leading ladies to be, and she was all like, "here's my big titanium wi-fi prototype remote controller my hawt husband (may i introduce you to my hawt husband?) got me in Tokyo, made to measure on my hand's plaster cast measurements".
And then old gray glum Bruson shows up with an old grody Atari 1981 joystick that falls apart immediately so that he has to use a Commodore 64 keyboard and there are some keys missing to boot, and he still PWNS her big time, and it's 'game over' before she even realizes what hit her.
All those people standing up, screaming "Bis! Bis!", asking for an encore at the top of their lungs. And Bruson -- grudgingly lol -- giving that encore, as Angela watched the horror unfold in front of her eyes.
He didn't waste time spelling it out, but Bruson's encore was a very clear way to say:
"I am an old baritone in Rome, and you're not. I give encores at Opera di Roma, and you don't."
//we like him, unsurprisingly.
We don't mind Angela; Angela needs a cookie: here's a cookie:
What was I just saying? Oh yes, the old-skool: because that's how the old-skool works: the new kids have all the hype and DVDs and recitals lined up until 2035 and the sycophantic journalists and the classical music record executives (who cannot distinguish the sound of a viola from that of a harpsicord because they used to work for a cellphone company). And that's, you know, Angela.
Then the old-skoolly-old singers like Bruson show up, and they don't l00k so hot now, and their voices have seen better times: but they have the skillz of a lifetime of hard work and hard study. And they've sung opposite all the greats, the ones that singers of Angela's generation only listen to on CDs on their Bang & Olufsen sound systems.
Next week, it'll be the 45th -- yes yes...forty-fifth -- anniversary of Bruson's debut at Opera di Roma, in a 1962 Puritani. Coincidentally, and the irony is too delicious to behold, we're told that Angela's actual birthdate (the official biographies say she was born in 1965) is really 1962.
So this old cranky dude actually debuted there when Angela just a baybay -- or wasn't even (barely) born!
No wonder that he let her belt out a few choice arias, and then when the second act was going at full steam, right before Angela's huge arias of the third, tragic act, he decided to crank up the awesome just a little bit. And swiftly went for the kill.
We're told Angela really never knew what hit her.
We also hear that Opera di Roma is probably going to rename the opera Germont.
It's pretty easy:
ANGELA GHEORGHIU RENATO BRUSON IS TRAVIATA GERMONT
Looks good to me!
//(more on Zeffirelli's revenge later: it's the weekend & we're also redesigning the blawg, and you're not)
Rome's Il Messaggero writes that Angela didn't start very well, and neither did Grigolo in a lackluster first act:
But then after Bruson's triumph in the second act things warmed up, and the third was the best, thanks to the voices and Gelmetti's conducting. Flowers and bunnies and ovations and all.