Cher Public

pape idle?


La Cieca hears that Rene Pape has just canceled an upcoming production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Now, we New Yorkers perhaps should not panic quite yet, because the engagement he has just asked to be released from is not at the Met.

On the other hand, the Hoffmann Pape is leaving is after his scheduled Met dates and (so La Cieca hears) the version of the music he was to be asked to sing is more or less identical to the mongrel edition James Levine uses at the Met. Which suggests that, in fact, maybe we should panic — because, if Pape can’t or won’t sing it “there,” he’s unlikely to go through with the hoopla of a Met new production, HD telecast and all that.

  • Alto

    Will speaks of:

    “Shenck’s idea-free Ring”

    I had always considered the RING to be Wagner’s — a work that is replete with the ideas of its librettist-composer and not in need of “ideas” imposed by some director.

  • enzo

    “Sorry but why would a rumor about Racette be construed as “wishful thinking”?”

    LOL I was wondering the same thing!

  • paddypig

    I agree with Alto. don’t under la cieca’s anger with Schenk, have enjoyed his productions. love the ring.loved the Hoffman. love the tanhauser. these operas are great and a director doesn’t need to recreate them. He needs like a great singer ( Callas or Scotto) try to realize the composer’s intentions. not his own!!!!!! I also love productions such as the La Gioconda and Zeffirelli Boheme, I also like the Zeffirelli Tosca. I go to see what the singers have to say, not what the director has to say. I want a production that does not interfere with the performance. I don’t need to have the Virgin Mary carrying Leonora’s Samsonite luggage on an ocean liner in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO or a RIOGLOETTO that is set in THE PLANET OF THE APES. I can make the connections to my own life without some insipid director making his connections for me or showing me how clever he is while pissing on an opera. I think the Zimmerman (or should I say Dessay) Sonnambula is the perfect example of pissing on an opera. Schenk at least is honest and doesn’t try to impose his misconceived notion of an opera on the rest of us. He gives us productions that allow the singers to communicate their performances. In that much alligned Hoffman I have seen the unforgetable Olympias of Welting and Dessay, the glorious Troyanos and the wonderful Hoffmans of both Donmingo and Kraus. The concept of the production never got in the way of these wonderful interpretations. It only enhanced it. Ditto the ring. Morris’s Wotan, Behrens’ Brunhilde, the Sieglinde of Altemeyer, Norman, Voigt, Meier, the Siegmund of Domingo, all were given room to perform in a realistic production that allowed them to bring their vision of their roles, without some idiot (like Robert Wilson) forcing them into a lot of ludicrous stage business. I will miss the Schenck ring and Hoffman. Call me an old fart if you like but I don’t enjoy the productions that interfere with the opera. but then again I am not a wanabee opera director.

  • paddypig

    forgive all the typos. had a long day at work

  • Krunoslav


    So Zeffirelli doesn’t “interfere with the opera” by rendering the interaction among the principals in BOHEME Act II all but invisible? By lowering the stage in TRAVIATA so the dying Violetta has to rush down a light of stairs? By staging Act II of CARMEN in Bedrock?

  • Often admonished

    Hoffman will always be flawed; we might get closer to what Off. wanted, but we’ll never have his finished thoughts. This fascinates, but quite honestly, it will only ever be a second rate piece. Why such a fuss?

  • Hippolyte

    For those who’ve been scoffing about Gubanova’s casting as Giulietta, I’d like to quote Opera Chic who attended the opening of a new Aida last night in Munich:

    “Amneris (Ekaterina Gubanova) soared above her colleagues with gorgeous singing and sensitive acting — she’s a treasure, and one wishes her the wonderful career she deserves (at age 30, she has already worked with so many great conductors — they know she’s the real thing).”

    I would add that I saw her as Brangane at the Bastille a few years ago knowing nothing about her at all ahead of time and found her superb.

    Not that any of this means she’ll be a wonderful Giulietta but…

  • paddypig

    krunoslav, how does a very traditional staging of Boheme interfere, you may not like the large numbers on stage, but most traditional Boheme’s usually have a garret in Acts 1 and 4 that covers the entire stage, when have you last seen a Bohemian garret in Paris that is 5000sq feet. Your arguement is flawed. Comment on the Carmen, The Met put Zeffirelli on a very tight budget for that production and he was not happy with the compromises he had to make to stage it on that budget, He chatted with me during the opening night performance (I was the Number 1 spot in standing room and he stood next to me watching it) He did not feel the way the half wall swings out in act one to designate the police station was effective, he did not like the second act and he was very unhappy with Meier’s take on Carmen. He something to the effect that she looked like a German housewife at a costume party. The Traviata is a bit excessive but it is still true to the time and setting of the work. There is no way that you can compare it to all the regie productions that seem to rule the stage. and unlike certain more traditional directors at the Met today (Bartlett Sher and Jack O’ Brien) he certainly understands the opera, You talk about getting lost on stage, both Tabarro and Suor Angelica are such huge overblown sets for very intimate operas that they can’t even block the singers effectively. compare the videos with the older production with Scotto or the video of Tabarro with Stratas. and while I do not dislike the Barbiere, the big circus wagon entrance for Figaro is rather ridiculous and entirely overblown with the girls dragging it in. At the Met we have actually been lucky, we have not had too many of these atrociities that they suffer in Europe inflicted on us. We had the SONNAMBULA, the previous Trovatore were both outstanding abominations, with other productions coming close to this category being the new Salome and Fidelio for Matilla (who else besides Matilla or Meier could climb that stupid ladder) Zeffirelli productions while prepared with particular singers have also had the virtue of adapting to many different performers with different dramatic ability and different appearances. The Zeffirelli Tosca has hosted Toscas of every shape, size, ability and acting skill from the dramatically clueless Voigt to the campy exciting Millo, to the elegant Caballe and blood and guts performance of Giovanna Casolla. Mimis and Rodolfos of every shape and size have tread the boards of the Boheme after Stratas and Carerras, including the magical Kleiber performances with Freni and Pavarotti, Mr and Mrs. Alagna, and countelss others. would you really want to watch the Baz Luhrmann Boheme for twenty plus years. Once was enough thank you very much. Ditto any of these regie productions, good, bad or indifferent they really do not lend themselves to more than one viewing.

  • enzo

    #27. I heard the webcast of Aida and Gubanova revealed a weak lower register and a strident top. She also has a pronounced vibrato.

  • kashania

    Paddypig: I don’t think it’s imperative for a director to always project his/her ideas on an opera, especially when trying to fit a huge work like the Ring into a narrow concept that says more about the director than the work.

    However, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for thoughtful direction in a traditional production (be it by Zeffirelli or Schenk) that some of the productions listed have lacked. The Schenk Ring is visually magnificent but lacking in direction. Yes, singing actors like Behrens and Jerusalem were able to give vivid portrayals but they were pretty much left to themselves.

    I love an opulent, traditional production but the sets and costumes should never be a substitute for direction.