Cher Public

at least her jewels are

Watching the Richard Tucker Gala just now, La Cieca is reminded to something she said to a companion after an early Diana Damrau Met performance (Ariadne, she thinks it was.)

What La Cieca said was, “Well, you can send all the others home, because we’ve found our Neely O’Hara!”

  • Thackeray Gnomey

    Maybe we should find an opera where Grace Ann (another impressive veteran who by all rights should have no voice at all left at the age of c.70) could join Silja in deploying her ‘grosse Stimmresten’.

  • Thackeray Gnomey

    Hagen -- Damrau and Kirchschlager also sounded squally on the live broadcast on Radio 3 (currently available on the BBC i-player). I haven’t heard Damrau live, but I find Kirchschlager a vocal non-event.

  • Cassandra

    Silja gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in the recent Met Rusalka.


  • Gualtier Maldè

    Cassandra, you should employ a fact checker. Silja has not done any role in the Met’s “Rusalka” though I wouldn’t put it past her to have done any role in it at various times in her career -- Rusalka, Foreign Princess or Jezibaba.

    I think you are speaking of her work in “Jenufa” with Mattila. However gripping that was she actually sang it better circa 1990-91 as a second cast alternate with Leonie Rysanek. However, in 1990 she was in the shadow of Leonie in full late-career glory. But Silja sang it like a major soprano in her prime -- even did some extra alternate high notes. Two seasons ago, she was extremely powerful dramatically but the voice was that of an old woman marshaling her resources.

    Her Emilia Marty at BAM (earlier at Glyndebourne) was a revelation -- an artist who seemed to live and breathe an operatic character.

  • Cassandra: That wasn’t Anja Silja; that was Renee on a bad hair day.

  • scifisci

    Silja’s Kostelnicka a few years ago with Mattila was a bit unsteady for sure….but my god anything in her mid to upper register was a piercing wall of sound. Those performances were quite an experience…two great singing actresses delivering the goods both vocally and dramatically. I simply could not fathom why the house was half empty.

  • balabanov11

    Holy crap -- I had previously heard Damrau’s G&BG, and liked it very much. Having not heard the Tucker, I just listened to the above youtube clip -- she was awful! Everything about it was wrong, more out of control than she had done it before, and the voice sounded worn and in need of a rest. Too bad, I normally like her in the right repetoire.

  • Lucky Pierre

    i agree with scifi, even as late as a few seasons ago, silja’s kostelnicka was riveting, and her top was still amazing — she could have hurled a few “hojotohos” that night. that was a great evening, the two ladies (and silvasti as steva) made me cry.

  • Lucky Pierre

    i meant silvasti as laca… although he did sing both roles in that run.

  • Cassandra

    “Cassandra, you should employ a fact checker. Silja has not done any role in the Met’s “Rusalka” though I wouldn’t put it past her to have done any role in it at various times in her career -- Rusalka, Foreign Princess or Jezibaba.”

    Sorry, I was getting my Dvorak/Jancaek mixed up. Of course it was Jenufa, and she was singing Kolstenicka. One of THE greatest performances I’ve ever witnessed. Ultimate kunstdiva. In my rush to get it out before actually being awake, I have no idea why I said Rusalka.

  • Bill

    Eva Marton sang a riveting Kostelnicka in Budapest a couple of years ago. She was stupendous in every way though, it is true, the voice was a bit wobbly. Those from Vienna thought Marton equaled Rysanek in the part. Silja was also truly effective though with less voice than either Rysenek or Marton. Of course I also liked Moedl, Jurinac, Dvorakova, Hofffman, Randova and others in the part and Varnay was dramatically effective though (the times I saw her) with weaker high notes.

  • What’s all this [negativity!] about Damrau I hear? I have to admit I’m a biased rabid fan of both Damrau and DiDonato.

    RE Damrau: Personally, her new Mozart Donna disc just doesn’t sound as great as her Arie di Bravura. Elvira, for one, is just not the right rep for her voice.

    And yes she over-acts [see her Covent Garden Konigin der Nacht], but that’s typical in opera-houses isn’t it? Bigger is better for the benefit of people sitting on the balcony. On the TV it looks terrible and over-done, but she was probably appreciated by people in the hall itself.

    Though she still apparently has technical flaws [ I don’t pretend to know anything about music ] she did a smashing good job as Lucia, or so I heard. Give the woman a break!

    RE the Tucker Gala: The Cosi fan tutte duet was magnificent. I didn’t very much like the Rosenkavalier one, but it was alright.

  • Addendum: Damrau’s Myrten [a collaboration with Ivan Paley] is often overlooked. Her Der Nussbaum is to die for.

  • armerjacquino

    Silja was a wonderful Kostelnicka in a televised Glyndebourne Jenufa with the glorious Roberta Alexander a few years back.

    Randova, on stage at CG was utterly electrifying, one of the greatest live performances I have ever seen, opposite lovely (whatever-happened-to)Ashley Putnam.

  • The Vicar of John Wakefield

    Tinsley is worth three Siljas!