Cher Public

The smooth and the rough

Snippet from yesterday’s Carmen telecast.

  • “La fleur que tu viens de me jeter.”

    • oh, in between lines I fell asleep, so sloooow, and my carmen is way more beautiful

  • Fischi:

    • squirrel

      Hmmm sounds like a pretty “mixed reception” for La Dante

  • MontyNostry

    Barenboim is such a pedestrian conductor. Where’s the elegance? Where’s the pace? This is even worse than his Manon. He needs to stop trying to be Furtwaengler.

    • Alto

      Are there no limits? “Barenboim is such a pedestrian conductor” must be the most chutzpah-laden sentence ever posted here. I suppose it was to be expected after what was said about, oh, Gardiner, Norrington, Brueggen, Christie, etc. yesterday.

      • squirrel

        Indeed. While he is stylistically unsuited to Carmen in many respects, and gave a leaden and rather puffed-up performance yesterday, he is def. not “pedestrian” in any way, on the contrary he is quite an exciting conductor where subtlety and finesse is not a paramount concern.

      • MontyNostry

        If a conductor can make Act II of Carmen turgid, then he’s pedestrian. It’s one of the most exciting spans in the operatic repertoire when done with flair, panache and sensitivity. Tristan is probably another matter.

      • mrmyster

        Alto, are you saying Danny B is NOT a pedestrian conductor? Is that it? I think he is an amazing pianist; a sensational egotist, and a real routiner when it comes to most repertory. I found his Met Tristan extremely uneven last yet; some good stuff, some not, you never knew what was coming next. I also feel he is not much in tune with singers. Let him conduct Tschaikowsky’s ‘Pathetic’ — that is about his level. Now, when it comes to the Beethoven sonatas, that is another matter. He’s a curious mixture isn’t he? The Carmen mezzo seemed to have no upper voice at all, and the tenor was very flat after delivery a decent p. Bb. So it goes. Nothing is for sure in the blood sport of opera!

        • squirrel

          there is a solid point lurking in these comments.

          talent is not enough, and it is no guarantee. mr barenboim is a hugely talented man and a deeply interesting thinker. sometimes this is manifest in his conducting and sometimes, disappointingly, those other features of his personality subvert the objective.

  • pernille

    OMG! The missing candelabra from Tosca!

  • iltenoredigrazia

    “Mixed reception”? Very timid applause over all and very loud and prolonged boos for Dante according to my ears.

  • operabitch

    Barenboim is a great conductor, he just needs to stay away from French opera because he doesn’t have a clue, not that French opera has a clue anyway.

    As for Kaufmann, did he borrow that hair from Bozo the clown?

  • MontyNostry

    In the world’s fashion capital, Signora Dante deserves fischi for the Lily Munster gown and hair.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Very upsetting to see people booed like that on such a wonderful occasion as the opening of La Scala. They should never have dragged Emma Dante back out for another bow. How sweet of the Carmen to kiss her during the major booing.

    • It does seem that Barenboim by now should know the drill for handling a booed director, i.e, let her take one quick bow, then pull her back into the line and continue company calls, stifling the boos. Shoving her out to take additional calls seems pointlessly cruel to me.

      • MontyNostry

        From what I hear from people who have worked (and more) with him, Barenboim is not the kindest of men.

        • javier

          The booing wasn’t unanimous so if she had only taken one call and disappeared it would have made her seem weak. I heard many applauds and cheers, but they were competing with about 50 dogs howling.

        • rommie

          uhh.. did you see the look on her face? she was holding on to Daniel *yes we’re that close* for dear life!

        • javier

          uhh…yea. yea, i did. yea…

        • Verdilover

          Hopefully she wont come to take a bow on the second show, or it might be even worse. The prima is rarely the unkindest audience.

      • Shocked German

        In todays “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” Barenboim explains why he took Dante out for a second curtain call. He claims that he did it to defend her and the product. FAZ cites him with the claim “I am from Israel, the land of prophets and I guarantee to you that this production of Carmen will become a legend. I am extremely proud to have been the conductor to this staging.” (“Ich komme aus Israel, dem Land der Propheten, und ich kann Ihnen garantieren, dass diese Carmen zur Legende wird. Ich bin sehr stolz, diese Aufführung dirigiert zu haben.”)

        The FAZ (Jan Brachmann) liked everything, Jonas Kaufmann (“geradezu fiebrige Süße des Singens”), Anita Rachvelishvili (“erdiger, schwarz-schlundiger Mezzosoprano” [I have no idea, what that could possibly mean]), the production (“behutsame und klare Inszenierung”), and Barenboims conducting (“straff wie einfühlsam”).

        In other news, I just found out that Arte will also broadcast Jonas Kaufmann as Werther at 26 January from the Bastille. Personally, I am very much looking forward to it.

        • Shocked German

          and with product I mean production, obviously

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          Far from the charismatic prodigy of his youth, the recent RAI telecasts have shown that Barenboim is now an old man prone to extensive “Plauderei” (chin-wagging) -- very unbecoming at best. Just watching him in the brief rehearsal segments on the pre-opening RAI program and the intermission of the prima made me think how horrible it must have been for Emma Dante to have him around rehearsals. The bizarre gestures and signals he sometimes sends to the orchestra these days can’t be compared to, say, the meaningful miniscule gestures of a Fritz Reiner, and the camera does nothing to flatter what Baremboin is doing in the pit these days for Bizet.

        • yappy

          LOL I found “product” quie fitting in this context.
          Well literally it would of course be earhty, black-pharynxed mezzo soprano, but read aloud it sounds somewhat like black bubbling goo from the slimy depths of anatomy to me. ;-)
          As for arte, I really hope they’ll return to putting their opera broadcasts back on the +7 website.

    • You know? this kind of reaction comes with the territory. You have to be prepared for it no matter what.

      That been said, even if Bareboim put her up for more booing, I’ll give her credit for facing her detractors. Most directors who get booed in Europe take this Plebeians, you don’t understand true genius. You are all beneath me attitude that it is almost funny.

      I will give her credit for facing them. You can see how she is a little scared and disturbed about it. Seems like she was genuinely going the people would like her ideas. Obviously some did and some didn’t.

      I have not seen the telecast. I will be watching it soon, but by the looks of it, seems that there were some good ideas and some not so good (Michaela becoming the mother, is that true? The wedding dress?).

      Overall, it looks like a traditional production. The Carmen is one of those artists that you have to see to get the whole thing. Aurally she was OK on the webcast, adding the visual part helped. Not all that bad I’ll say based on this aria. We’ll see about the rest.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    How does that Carmen get her hair to wing out like that?
    Both hair tosses yielded the same lock across her face!

    • squirrel

      rachlachschvili and squirrel have the same stylist, fyi

    • That looks like AR is wearing her own hair, though, left to her own devices, she favors a more flattering coif a la Malfitano.

      • I can not wait to see her in a copy of the one Malfitano wore to the Met Centennial Gala. She looked the ripe ‘ol age of 65 while sounding all of 25 as Juliette.

    • RRnest Thesiger

      I can see why Barenboim chose her. She looks so much like him, they could almost be father and daughter.

  • La marquise de Merteuil

    Haven’t seen the production, so maybe shouldn’t comment -- but it didn’t look offensive. Has it become a fashion to boo EVERYTHING now -- or am I missing something?

    • CruzSF

      I thought that there is a long tradition of booing at La Scala, even on opening night (I base this belief in readings I’ve done).

      • Verdilover

        I can list a few opening night disasters for Scala off the top of my mind:

        Traviata 1964. Freni doesn’t do that well and gets booed.
        Vespri Siciliani 1970. Scotto doesn’t do well and gets booed too.
        Lucia 1983. Pavarotti booed -- scandal in the media.
        Luisa Miller 1989. Riciarelli off prime is booed to the point of almost not making to the end of the opera. Fist-fight in the foyer.
        Aida 1976. Bergonzi goes terribly flat at the end of Celeste Aida. Someone screams “Stonato!” on the end of the aria.
        Carmen 1984. Verrett is not in good shape, and gets booed to the point that she finishes the performance in tears.

        • rommie

          8 years after she was swept by the audience to her car after Macbeth….

        • Ercole Farnese

          Other legendary Scala fiascos:
          I Lombardi 1984: Dimitrova badly booed
          Anna Bolena 1982 Caballé was almost lynched. The opening night had been delayed one week because she was indisposed (she had mumps) and when she sang, it was an epic disaster. She cracked the high C on the recitative (altare infiorato), does a decent job with Al dolce guidami, and then cracks a couple of notes in Coppia iniqua. The audience was infuriated and called her every name in the book. The most heard insult was “grassona”. They had to lower the iron fireproof curtain.
          Madama Butterfly 2002: Dessì gets booed at the end.
          Lucia di Lammermoor 1992: Tiziana Fabbricini gets booed right in the middle of the Mad Scene.
          I vespri siciliani 1989: both Chris Merritt and Cheryl Studer get booed.
          Attila 1990: Studer again booed.
          And the most recent: 2006 Aida, with Alagna’s infamous walk out
          And just last year inauguration, Don Carlo, where Gatti seems to get most of the boos.
          In the Luisa Miller Verdilover mentioned, Ricciarelli, right after the third act with the baritone, said to the audience “Dio vi stramaledica”. Furious opera lovers waited for her at the theater’s stage door, and as she was leaving someone said loud “After tonight, all she can do is go walk the streets”. Her husband kicked the guy, actually he kicked the wrong guy (not the one who had said that phrase) and the whole thing even went to court. I think that must be the most chaotic opera night I have experienced.
          These are the ones I saw. I am sure there must be others.

        • And Pavarotti got a 2nd helping of Boos for showing up to sing Don Carlo and not knowing the part.

          And a certain American diva gets her share for singing a high G on Lucrezia Borgia.

        • rommie

          Verdilover, where did you get your info about Verrett? thanks

        • Verdilover

          Well I had listed opening night booes. And I dont think this Carmen will fare bare on the second night of the run.

        • Verdilover

          Rommie, I am aquainted with people who took part in that performance.
          But you can read a little about it here:
          http://www.nytimes.com/1984/12/10/arts/carmen-at-la-scala.html

          I believe that her sucess at the Macbeth might have raised expectations to levels that she could not achieve. Probably if it were another singer then, reaction might have been different.

        • rommie

          i envy a lot of you, who are acquainted with some of the people we worship (and even make snide remarks about) on here.

          like really.

        • Ercole Farnese

          Verrett got her share of boos in Un ballo in maschera, in the late 70s. I think the year after Macbeth. In an interview she said she had strong doubts about singing Ballo, but Abbado convinced her otherwise.

        • rommie

          was there ever any Gran Diva who didnt get murdered by the loggionisti?

        • Verdilover

          There are a few. But this talk about the 1984 made me search youtube, and I found this particular very nice interview:

        • manou

          Thanks for the interview -- Verrett seemed very dignified and still “abbastanza” content with her performance. Raimondi mentioned trouble outside as well -- was there a demonstration?

          There are also clips here

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qg55ANc5e8

        • J. G. Pastorkyna

          I believe that Freni didn’t make it to the Traviata Première. After a stormy dress rehearsal, she may have been replaced by Moffo.

  • BillyBoy

    and no one said

    hairograpy!

    • MontyNostry

      It will be interesting to see what this does or doesn’t do to Anita R’s career. Will other houses pick up on her willy nilly or will she be allowed to mature a little before further major exposure.

      By the way, I think that this young raven-haired mezzo — who is at La Scala’s academy — is more interesting, though also still work in progress.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCHDnQ5L3qg

  • spiderman

    is it true? zefirelli is going for it again. dante for him is “the devil”. poor old zef seems to need higher medication (first bondy, then dessi, now dante)… all in 2 1/2 month.

  • Harry

    Is it me or what? That La Scala Carmen clip enterely suggests something boring and pedestrian. No matter whether people want rate it solely becayse ‘Kaufmann is in the cast….gee whiz!’ To think people are willing to dress up and pay big money to attend such dire dross presentation.
    For Don Jose, being completely passive: as the Carmen attempts her stage antics at sitting on him and ‘showing pussy’ in some ‘man or mouse’ test. That ridiculous ‘I’M SO HOT’ gesture! The way she keeps sliding her hands irritating ,up and down her legs like she is into cramps from secondary’s of VD infection. ……….. A comment of ‘I could swear Carmen’s got at least scabies or crabs’ -- comes to mind. That probably explains Don Jose’s apprehensiveness in this production. With the health of the Carmen character herself NOT with the disruptive situation, he has placed himself in. It is all rather comical.

    Plus where is the mercurial ‘flick of the wrist’ musical flashes, or the rhythmic pointing that is synonymous with Carmen, as an opera? Either, out of the singers or from Barenboim directing the orchestra?

    • MontyNostry

      No, Harry, it isn’t just you. Making Carmen boring is an achievement in itself, I guess.

  • wladek

    from what you see and hear it is about two people in heat ,neither
    can sing well- Carmen a vulgarity
    to the hilt and poor Jose doing
    the best he can with whatever
    technique he has. This ain’t Carmen
    as much as what goes on in the
    back alley with two cats in summer heat .None seem to have any artistic
    dignity whatsoever .They miss the
    point of the opera entirely.

  • Harry

    Many years ago there was an extensive video documentary on Regina Resnik directing Carmen in Hamburg with Domingo.
    Having also sung the main title role many times: she pointed out the directing pitfalls associated with Carmen. She was clear and concise about her approach, with none of the ‘mod’ veneer of feminist bullshit -- construct, we hear today. I loved it when someone asked her what is the essence, of what Carmen’s character was about. In a flash without pause, she walked over, picked up a rose, gestured to some man to smell it and then threw it to the floor and trampled on it. Bang!…..in an instant, Resnik showed she was not only fully competent but well prepared for any contingency situation, a director finds themselves in. She spoke about the culture surrounding Spanish army soldiers for that period and how she herself, saw Carmen. As a ‘walking dead’ fatalistic character, who lives rather dangerously with her life choices. Someone. sub-consciously looking for some candidate to come along to kill her. Others may differ with such a concept, but it cannot be denied such experienced forthright people as Resnik never ever left themselves open to accusations of being ill prepared or ‘ditherers’ for such tasks.

    Today, too many directors wear that particular fault almost, as a badge of honor, not as a crime! Even, by becoming their own ‘self- conjecturing chatter-boxes’ in print or voice media about what they did, long after an event, they ‘allegedly directed’.
    They have no core or real foundation for what they wish to, or appear to -- stand for. Being so anonymous and blank, perhaps give it another week and they will give a completely different view of what they just stated ‘as truth’.

  • wladek

    Harry- absolutely right !!!! Carmen
    is all about those cards ,every turn
    of the card is what she fears most --
    the inevitable -- the rest is window dressing -and when you see it done
    the way Bizet moves it -the whole
    thing changes as an expierence -- it
    takes great artists to achieve this, and
    we ain’t got many of those around.

  • Jay

    From what I heard streamed, Barenboim’s conducting wasn’t a patch on LB’s take on Carmen at the Met back in the 1970s. Oy, vey, talk about turgid. Henry Lewis, never one of my favorites, at least kept the production moving. This was the “gay bar in San Juan” production. At least that’s how someone described the Act II tavern set.

    • Jay

      I meant to say Henry Lewis kept the performance moving. Svoboda, of course, designed the production, which I liked, though many others didn’t.

    • MontyNostry

      I can believe it. LB could be terminally self-indulgent. His recording of Rosenkavalier is another example. Very beautiful, but set in aspic.

  • squirrel

    Tru dat. The LB carmen is not just sluggish but a “deconstruction” of its elements

  • The Vicar of John Wakefield

    All one needs for a capital staging of CARMEN is a bit of all right like Joyce Blackham,

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35891355@N03/3318057181/

    • manou

      OMG -- bedroom scene? Escaping breasts? Two gay abandons? AND the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal….

      I fear the Vicar will soon be defrocked.

      • MontyNostry

        Were breasts allowed in South Africa during the apartheid era?

    • J. G. Pastorkyna

      Vicar, this WAS the occasion to mention Katherine Pring. She was indeed the best Carmen I ever saw, at the Coliseum, circa 1977. What joie de vivre, yet what fatalism. And the way she spilled that cart of watermelons at the end of Act 1. Terrific!! Also, having spent three acts barefoot, you could see Carmen was self conscious in her act IV finery. I still remember it. Oddly enough, I believe the Micaela was Linda Esther Gray.

  • Best, most intelligent and moving card scene in my experience (yes!) is the glyndebourne staging by MacVicar and Jordan in the pit. Von Otter was spot on. Now you can kill me.
    The best conductor of the score IMHO. Well, Beecham and Cluytens are there too.

    Here’s the quintet

    • CruzSF

      Would this production count as regie?

      Despite the heaving bosoms, this excerpt seems to have very little heat. No one seems to sing or act with abandon. I do like the very clear diction, though.

    • Alto

      Utterly refreshing.