Monday, July 21, 2008

The Final Four Marias Reduced to Three

By the end of the show last night, I had one screaming thought: "OMG! How do I choose?!!"

In the beginning, I figured this would be an easy elimination. From previous nights, I thought the weakest Maria of the four left was Marisa. To complicate things for her, with Andrew Lloyd Webber there, nerves would either be frayed or explode the others' performances into jaw-dropping territory. To top it off, Andrew set the tone for the night when he said that the American Idols he saw live, though good, didn't have a patch on these Marias.

Jayme started us off by singing a number that put a smile on the face. Then Elicia came out and left one feeling wrung out, long after her performance was over. As Andrew said after seeing two excellent Marias in a row, he was "absolutely pole-axed." And then Janna hit the stage, back to her usual professional and emotive self. With each Maria singing their chosen well-known song in a way that made them unique, making them Maria songs, showcasing their sopranos -- I became more and more impressed with how Andrew's presence and his short coaching sessions had made such a difference to their performances, bringing out their stamina, their vocal talents, and their acting abilities, in a way that the panel had not up to now. The panel had given them feedback that helped them grow week to week -- assuming they listened and incorporated it -- but not at this leapfrogging level. No wonder Webber is so successful. With an ability to draw out the best in people, to see into the heart of their potential and their weakness, while at the same time being open to them following their own instincts, makes him tower over the others. Plus he has a wickedly dry sense of humour. In response to Elaine's Gere comment: "Richard Gere? Oh dear. We'll be talking about gerbils next."

And so into this atmosphere of high achievement came Marisa. As I said, I expected a dimmer performance from her in relation to the others. Sometimes a person achieving a stellar height can intimidate the next act. But not so for each Maria that followed Jayme, and that included Marisa. I was truly impressed. She blew me away. She put a smile on my face. She exceeded my expectations. And I liked that.

So I was quite surprised when the panel was lukewarm. Andrew was much more on the money with his positive assessment.

I liked the new incentive to get people to vote that Gavin Crawford told us about over and over. Whoever received the most votes would be guaranted a place in the final. But I personally couldn't figure out how anyone was going to choose! Previous weeks, easy. This week, hard!

Even the sing off was impossible to decide upon. This week, Andrew takes over saving duties from Simon Lee. I'd assume he'll be thinking from a different perspective than the ordinary theatre-going Canadian; he'll be listening for subtle vocal differences, acting abilities, and just the look. Tough job.

But as he said last night: "Whatever happens, Canada's going to get a great Maria."

He chose to save Jayme (because he felt Marisa was more suited to a more gorgeous, husky, sexy role, a role that she can make her own, not forcing her soprano into areas causing problems for her).

And the guaranteed finalist is -- they didn't tell us who got the most votes! Hey, what's up with that!! Gavin said in one week we'll be choosing who the Maria is, so I'm feeling a bit had. I assume, we'll be voting two off? Well, it's going to be exciting anyway!

2 comments:

joannis said...

In my opinion, these three judges are egomaniacs - thus andrew's gerbils remark to the worst of the three, elaine overholt.
Gratuitous insults revealed solely that they were totally swamped by vanity and vainglory. I have never seen such poor judging.
I believe that is why andrew came to Toronto early; he caught wind of it. He liked Marisa, and he even contradicted the buggers, saying he hoped she made it through the competition. Alas, Overholt tilted the vote by naming names of her two favorites. Week after week they totally contradicted themselves about Marisa. THey started out by saying that she was too soft and vulnerable. Then when she adjusted to that, they said she was lacking vulnerability. This went through two cycles, so you just knew that this husky stuff was pure politics, with Andrew not wanting to contradict his strutting-while-sitting judges.
THey kept favoring Janna and Elicia, who unfortunately can't seem to stay in tune; their pitch is awful. But pitch doesn't seem to dawn on these egomaniacs - Overholt's website manufactures her vocal technique as 'big voice' - really it should just mean, I'll continue to in my vanity make out I'm making an original contribution, name-dropping, and proving by ignoring pitch that I care far more for my inane technique than whether there is actually the best talent on the stage. If ever there were real talent, Overholt would be sure to be so jealous that it would have only reached as far as Marisa could but no further.
Marisa never left her perfect pitch - she everytime hit the notes in their centre. She also had the sweetest face - perfect for Maria. Oh ya, the kids liked her more than these judges favorites too. She ended tonight's performance with a perfect non-husky soprano that was etherially sweet and andrew was left with sell-out egg on his face.
Jayme is a strong second because she doesn't lose her pitch as quickly as Janna and Elicia. If pitch is as bad as these vain ones are prepared to let it, I'd be leaving the theatre.
I suspect now, Jayme, though clearly now the most talented, will now have to go through the crap treatment that they put poor Marisa through.
I'll vote for Jayme and invite others to do so as well, just to spite the asshole judges.

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

Wow, the judges really pissed you off. I thought only the Idol judges had that capacity, to piss people off, or Simon Cowell in the US anyway. I have to admit I know nothing about hitting the sweet spot or centre of a note, I only know what I like. I liked the fact that Marisa exceeded my expectations, but ultimately I believe the ones who are left really are the best singers, the best Marias.

I've heard, when watching Idol, that what we hear on TV and what they hear Live are two different things and perhaps that's also feeding into differing perceptions.

But in the end, it won't be just singing that will determine who Canadians vote for; it'll be the entire package and a little bit of that je ne sais quoi factor that causes a voter to vote for one over the others. At least, so far, they've shown good sense, unlike on Idol where they kicked off one of two female singers tonight, both really good, and saved one of the dreadful male singers probably because he was cute.

After many years of watching Idol, I've noticed the final swan songs are far better than the performances on previous nights, probably because they're relaxed, have nothing to lose, and/or want to go out with a bang. It's a bit frustrating to see as it would be nice if some of them had sung that well when it counted.