Wednesday, 10 June 2009
That was no dream - it's she!
Adapting words from Pushkin's famous letter, and following up yesterday's ecstatic footnote, I offer a photo of the latest Tatyana incarnate, Yekaterina Shcherbachenko, from the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2009 website. Oh, and slava Bogu, they're showing the complete Letter Scene - not just the half we got on BBC4 - here. I failed to mention below how fluently Lawrence Foster and the BBCNOW worked with her, and she with them - a real partnership; many folk may have overlooked conductor's and orchestra's role in her success.
Forget the GMTV woman last night who gushed that experiencing this, the evening's winning act, was like taking a warm bath with candles, after which she'd happily go to sleep; many of us were bouncing off the walls, just like Tchaikovsky's teenage heroine.
How is that so many Eastern European and Russian sopranos (Vishnevskaya, Benackova, Prokina, Gorchakova, Kovalevska, Anna Samuil, now Shcherbachenko) - and the odd westerner (Boylan and Roocroft, at least in the Pimlott production) - find so much truth in this music? It can only be that the composer identified completely with Tatyana's yearning.
Big question now is: what can Shcherbachenko sing in the final? Is she allowed to repeat this? Because nothing can go deeper in its effect. I see she's also sung Prokofiev's Natasha, Tatyana's offspring, at the Bolshoy; maybe she could give us 'What right have they?', Natasha's aria of longing for the absent Prince Andrey from War and Peace Scene Three. I'd love to see Shcherbachenko in the role: she'd surely be the most heartrending Natasha since Prokina. No, I haven't forgotten Netrebko: despite Hepburnesque looks and lively acting, she didn't sear my soul.
One polite request famously made by audition panels, 'did you bring any Mozart?', shouldn't be heard on Sunday, though.
11/6 Now seen the next round's obvious top choice, Yury Mynenko - big virile Ukrainian male soprano (rather than the usual counter-tenor). Robust, but on the evidence of the 'Parto, parto' runs, may not be agile enough for a lot of the rep he has to sing. Stands a real chance of winning, though, for various reasons.