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Amuse-bouche

Philip Langridge as the Witch in "Hansel and Gretel". Photo:  Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera“It’s no spoiler to reveal that, at the end of Hansel and Gretel, the kids defeat the witch. In the Met’s production of Humperdinck’s fairy-tale opera, the singers of the title roles steal the show, as well.” [NY POST]

By the way, our JJ isn’t the only one to glimpse a similarity between the Witch and Susan Boyle. (Though La Cieca, as she so often is, was six months ahead of the curve).

15 comments

  • Krunoslav says:

    How can you defame Roz Plowright, the greatest Gertrud since Anne-Marie Owens (flown in by Chicago) and Mary Lloyd-Davies (flown in by San Francisco)?

    These Britcastings were at the explicit demand of director Richard Jones ( though of course this kind of thing NEVER happens, we are assured hereabouts), who presumably felt that these mediocre singers ( Plowright is now worse than that, sadly, just a liability) could put over the British slang with which he laced his translation-- a boon no doubt for the ex-pat administrators who did the hirings, but hard luck on the other blighters, no?

    • Arianna a Nasso says:

      “though of course this kind of thing NEVER happens, we are assured hereabouts”

      When have we been assured of that? If conductors and superstar singers can impose casting, why is it a surprise a prominent director could? [I'm not defending the practice, just observing.]

      Also, weren’t the Chicago performances in German? And did Chicago and San Francisco really have British ex-pat administrators at the time those productions were contracted?

  • Pelleas says:

    In the house for Elektra last night, and I’m sorry to say I found Susan Bullock reminding me a good deal more of Susan Boyle than Langridge does. But sounded good--at least until the entrance of Aegisth, where she seemed to suddenly become exhausted.

  • Pelleas says:

    Okay, I just saw the “grace coddington” tag, and can’t stop laughing.

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

      Well, Grace Coddington is interviewed in today’s [London] Times, and discusses those fabled Wintour editorial over-rules. Ms Coddington reveals that, for this month’s grand H&G splash, she and Annie Leibovitz wanted la Boyle to play the Wicked Witch -- but Wintour wanted, and got, Lady Gaga instead…

  • Veal Bastarda says:

    Good god, that picture of Langridge is pure agony! I hope I can peel that image off my retinas now. I had no idea he was so ugly! Is the Witch supposed to be THAT hideous? Sadly seems so.

    • Ercole Farnese says:

      Also, one of the capital rules of fashion says that ladies of a certain age should not wear sleeveless dresses, especially with all that flapping around on stage.

  • Camille says:

    Today is Ludwig van Beethoven’s Birthday, #239.
    Can we all reflect for a moment?

  • squirrel says:

    I thought in the tv spots for this that Langridge sounded kinda treacly rather than scary.

    But that huge fish!!! aargh!

  • Camille says:

    Philip Langridge as Julia Child.

  • Baritenor says:

    Random question time: Does anyone else actually Prefer a tenor to a mezzo as the Witch, as I do?

  • calaf47 says:

    I prefer Christa Ludwig on the Moffo/Donath RCA recording.

  • Byrnham Woode says:

    Humperdinck parodies Wagnerian sopranos and mezzos in his vocal style here. Therefore:

    The Witch is ideally done by a great dramatic mezzo, whose repertory routinely includes -- or did until recently -- such parts as Fricka, Waltraute, or Ortrud.

    Christa Ludwig is by far the best exponent of this tradition on records (RCA, with Donath and Moffo). Closely seconding her is Marjana Lipovsek on the EMI set led by Tate, with Bonney and von Otter.

    Once the MET abandoned the “travesty” casting of character baritones or tenors in the part, they gave it to mezzos and sopranos such as Elias, Chookasian, Janis Martin and Marilyn Zchau. Felicity Palmer was wonderful. They only returned to the male version when this staging was new two seasons ago.

    The part calls for a comic villain, and to that extent the use of an experienced character man can be helpful. But it is just as often a brilliantly funny opportunity for a seasoned female exponent -- see Sena Jurinac in the fine t.v. film led by Solti, and with the charming children of Gruberova and Fassbänder.

    Anna Russell proved she was born to the role in a an animated film made in the 1950s that used well over half of Humperdinck’s inspired score.