Cher Public

Column inches


La Cieca’s curiosity is always aroused when a journalist probes with really penetrating questions. For example, how long is too long? Is bigger always better? And which is more satisfying: cut or uncut? That’s the thrust of Tony Tommasini‘s hard-hitting column in today’s NYT.

Now, if you’re ejaculating, “This thing looks familiar,” well, that’s about the size of it, because it’s a retooled version of a 2000 piece:

Later in the act, Walther sees Eva and, overcome, sings his song for her straight through. This somewhat spoils the effect of the song in the third act, where it should come upon Eva, and the mastersingers who are judging the contest, as a revelation. You could argue that the first performance is private and the second, more lavishly orchestrated one is public. My guess is that Wagner knew he had a hit tune here and could not help milking it.

  • Krunoslav

    I too would posit Gruemmer as the best Haensel, though there are several very good ones, Moffo not among them.

    Harry, I find Else Schuerhoff’s Hexe a liability, though clearly around 1915 she must have sounded good as Haensel. A shame her illustrious Gretel never added the Hexe to *her* stage gallery; think what authenticity she would have brought to the scenes involving ovens.

    Plus the Eichhorn set is also pretty starry: the Sandman and Dew Fairy are Arleen Auger and Lucia Popp!

  • louannd

    another dick joke

  • Harry

    If anyone wants Hansel & Gretel casting go to the Pritchard version. Von Stade -- Cotrubas -- Ludwig(as Mother) -- Nimsgern -Te Kanawa -- Welting and Soderstrom as the Hexe.. Where would you get that super casting today?
    Another version as yet unmentioned: Seefried-Rothenberger-Hongen (Hexe) -- Hoffmann and Berry under Cluytens.
    For sound effects the exploding oven on the Decca /Solti set is truly spectacular (complete with what one assumes- is ‘cremated’ bones flying about).
    I do not know of a ‘dud’ version.

    It also contains some of the most sublime music, ever written.

  • Byrnham Woode

    A few comments on the oft repeated desire to abridge certain operas. DER ROSENKAVALIER’s third act is routinely cut -- I can’t think of a recent performance that wasn’t. Often, portions of the second act dealing with Och’s wounded laments are also trimmed. The cuts date from early in the opera’s history. On records, Solti and Haitink care note complete, but both Karajan’s and the Kleiber videos take some or all of the standard cuts.

    To cut act three of ARABELLA is very difficult, though I understand the desire. In a misguided tribute to his dead collaborator, Strauss set the first draft text of act three without changes. He shouldn’t have, as an already hard-to-believe situation goes on far too long. But some of the trims I’ve heard of make it even harder to believe the action.

    One cannot cut an opera willy-nilly, just to get to the high points. There are such things as plot and action to be considered.

    And cutting is not adaptation. Whoever asked “what about what Verdi did to OTHELLO” doesn’t understand what we are talking about here. OTOH, when Von Karajan cut OTELLO’s third act he was violating a truly great opera.

    And it is always easier to trim a verse or a refrain than to make internal cuts in through composed scores. That doesn’t mean it’s right.

    VESPRI is a superb first stab at a French grand opera from an artist just reaching the heights of his power. I wouldn’t be without a note, and would love to see it done sometime in a Festival Staging that included the ballet. The MANON ballet is important to the plot and should not be omitted. The OTELLO and TROVATORE ballets are add-ons to satisfy Parisian convention. They are not missed. The TANNHäUSER ballet, however…

    But that’s anothter conversation.

  • Best Hansel und Gretel in my experience is that Wallberg recording with the singularly sinister AND funny witch of Edda Moser. Can’t listen to anyone else.