Cher Public

Cold cassia files

Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera“Carmen, opera’s favorite bad girl, is sexy, unpredictable and fascinating — everything the Met’s new production of Bizet’s Carmen is not.” [NYP]

  • Olivero is my Drug of Choice

    If only the NYP would give Mr. Jorden space for a few more words to expand his reviews.

  • quibbleglib

    This is completely unrelated, but did anyone record the finals concert from this year’s Licia Albanese vocal competition, or know where one might procure a recording of it?

  • Camille

    “…like a pole dancing lesson by Martha Stewart”. Has got to be one of the funniest images conjured up by JJ in a long time. The review confirmed my suspicions and has save me the ticket price.

    After having seen Alagna’s final duet (with the woeful Waltraud) in the gala last spring, I would say that JJ has summed up things exactly.

    Maybe Borodina will add some heat — maybe not an opera-comique sound as Garanca’s could have been, but some kind of fire or russisch soul masquerading as duende. Why is Frittoli singing this role, I wonder — wouldn’t that be a good Lindemann singer role, for instance?

    As for Mariusz I guess he packs a pistol and that accounts for his popularity.

    • Zerbinetta

      I would be surprised if Borodina cured the sexiness vacuum; her Carmen two seasons ago with Alvarez was extremely dowdy. It suits her voice, but if there was fire of any sort I missed it.

      This makes me look forward to L’Evasiva’s take on Carmen in April. Though her audibility is only a question should she actually show up. Who is the cover for these performances?

      • Camille

        Vocal vacuum, not secks vacuum — I am well aware of Borodina’s figure these days. I am sorry to hear she lacked vocal glamour, though after what I heard from La Damnation de Faust I think she is just tiring out of the whole business. When you think that she started around the same time as Gorchakova and has had a kid or two, well maybe we can cut her some slack. Her Pauline was one of the few absolutely gorgeous theatrical vocalizations I’ve ever heard at the Met. Sorry to digress.

        As I had not really seen a photo of Garanca other than as Romeo before. The photo kind of explains everything.

        • Zerbinetta

          Sounds about right to me. I do like Borodina in Italian and Russian rep.

          On an unrelated note, the performance with Borodina and Alvarez cut almost all the spoken dialogue. I’m not clear on what the dialogue situation is in this new production, but I hope they kept a decent amount of it. I’m going tonight, so I’ll soon see!

        • Camille

          Do give a reporting, Zerbinetta. I am curious (yellow).

  • Signor Bruschino

    Didn’t Wheeldon make his company debut with La Gioconda last season?

    • javier

      I wasn’t even last season, it was likt 3 years ago! Someone is going to have to do some editing.

      • quoth the maven

        even Homer nods…

        • mrmyster

          I love the quote “even Homer nods.” It can be
          very useful — who originated it, Dr. Johnson?
          [But who is ‘Homer’ in this case, Dr. Gelb? Heehee!]

        • rapt

          My deep Google research indicates the phrase is Horace’s.

        • quoth the maven

          “Homer” in the case being La Cieca’s cohort JJ, who is usually impeccably accurate.

      • squirrel

        What’s your point? I don’t see where JJ states otherwise…

        • La Cieca should note that the online version of the story has been corrected to reflect Wheeldon’s debut status.

        • Alto

          That’s why God gave us the Internets.

  • Often admonished

    When I click on the NYP link the page that comes up is blank except for the message UNKNOWN ERROR.

    Sums up the entire Murdoch press rather well, doesn’t it.

  • oh rest
    • mrmyster

      Reading the Jorden/Post review and the Waleson/WSJ review in the same sitting was quite revealing of two entirely different worlds. I agree, Jorden should be given more space by the Post, and I might add Heidi should be granted less space by the Journal — she seems, really, to have relatively little to say — and says it in too many words.
      I am sure those who see this Carmen on simulcast Jan 16th will have a better impression of the production than those who have heard it, so far only on Sirius. But, being in the latter category, I thought Jorden a bit hard on Garanca as a characterful singer — I found much of her work, as music making and singing, exemplary, and in partnership with Seguin, real symbiosis was now and then achieved — the lilt and dynamic pulse of the Habanera, for example. Heidi, on the other hand, seemed determined to find good in everyone and every thing. Kwiecien simply did not command his role vocally — it was almost painful, yet Heidi had to talk about his tight pants. Oy. Enjoy.

      • mandryka

        I saw the production on opening night and am looking forward to seeing it again tonight. Though both Heidi’s and JJ’s reviews leave much to be desired, I’d say Heidi’s is a good bit closer to the reality.

        For old time’s sake, I’d be willing to chalk JJ’s up to having a bad night — which we all do now and then, don’t we?

        I though Garanca was an excellent Carmen, who took us deeply into this wonderful music. To me, a lot better than the Borodina and Graves versions we’ve seen so much of in recent years. (And they were both pretty good in their own ways.)

        The adored Mariusz was indeed a bit weak that night, but it was sweet of Heidi to mention his, uh, way with his costume.

        By the way, the Zuniga was the best I’ve seen and heard in a lifetime of Carmens.

        There is much else that is well worth one’s time in this production, and JJ’s dismissive attitude was not especially helpful.

  • CruzSF

    have a sneaking suspicion that JJ’s original review was much longer. Would he allow the whole review to be posted here?

    • kashania

      I’m going to guess that JJ knows how much space he has and writes his reviews accordingly. Not to suggest that there isn’t any editing going on but JJ knows the word-limit. On a much smaller scale, when I was writing film reviews for my university paper, I used to write them as long as I felt they needed to be and let the editors cut it. After a few reviews, I realised that it would be preferable if I got to decide what got cut. So, I wrote much shorter reviews and the final product ended up much closer to my original. I doubt that JJ wants to let the NYP editors decide what to keep and what to reject.

      • mrsjohnclaggart

        In fact professional editors do not WANT to have to edit a professional writer. The writer must be able to fit his/her copy into the space alloted. A writer who must be edited won’t work. In a newspaper (and also an Internet newsline) context where space is at a premium the editor may have to cut a line or two if there’s a last minute change in the slot available. It’s unrewarding for the writer, and some good writers can’t do it. Mr. Jorden whoever that is, is very good at fitting sharp insights into limited space (I would say he’s good at inserting a large point into a small opening but would risk being misunderstood).

        As to the insignificant error someone was small minded enough to point out, EVERYONE who writes reviews especially but not only to deadline makes mistakes, much larger ones frequently than I have seen the mysterious Mr. Jorden make. He at least seems to be aware of small errors; some ‘famous’ writers of reviews and ‘think pieces’ make completely idiotic mistakes (essentially because they don’t know what they’re talking about)and never catch them and resent having them pointed out.

        • Jay

          You’re right, reviewers know the word count beforehand and are expected to write to that limit, no more, no less. Reviewers, and other professional writers, know there is a chance their copy may be cut at the last minute and therefore usually put their least important observations in the final paragraphs.

          I certainly wish JJ and Martin Bernheimer of the FT were given more space. Both writers have made a necessity into a virtue and write very crisp, focused, witty copy. Both also have an innate sense of what does and does work in a performance. As a result their reviews are always worth reading, even when one doesn’t agree with their conclusions.

  • javier

    Reviews are best kept short. If you give someone too much spce to write…ZZZZzzzz.

    • CruzSF

      As I’ve said in other contexts: I want more.

      Plus, given that you admit to being a skimmer, I don’t see how a longer review would put you to sleep, Javier.

      • No Expert

        Hello CruzSF. This is totally off topic but: speaking of Fritz Wunderlich; you might give a listen to the 1959 recording of Joan Sutherland as Alcina and Wunderlich as Ruggiero. This was before the authenticity police made period instruments a requirement and transpositions a capital offense plus Dame Joan first steals Morgana’s big aria for herself, but still I think it’s an interesting and enjoyable take on this opera.

        • kashania

          I have this recording and really like it. But while Wunderlich is lovely in this recording, the role sits rather low for him and doesn’t really show off the glory of his voice. So, it’s a good performance from him but it doesn’t show a Wunderlich-newbie what all the fuss was about. But CruzSF, by all means get your hands on some Wunderlich — some of the most beautiful tenor singing you will hear.

          Interestingly, he pretty much sight-sang his way through the recording (coloratura and all) because the tenor who had been contracted to sing Ruggiero showed up having prepared the wrong tenor part!

        • CruzSF

          Thanks No E and Kashi. You two always point with encouragement (and not with the middle finger). :-)

        • javier

          Deutsche Grammophon re-issused this Alcina last year and it’s only $14.99 on itunes. It’s actually a live recording made in 1959 but the sound it great studio quality. Wunderlich sounds so much better than that mezzo, Monica Sinclair, who is with Sutherland in her other studio and live recording of Alcina. As for Sutherland, she’s at her best, and there are no signs of the poor covered diction that people always talk about. Also, she doesn’t steal Morganna’s big aria, they simply used a alternate version of the opera written by Handel where Alcina sings the aria instead.

        • javier

          Yeah, I don’t know the whole story behind it, but Wunderlich and Sutherland weren’t the original choices for the roles. But Sutherland had done Alcina before 4 years earlier and I think Wunderlich had never sung Ruggiero before. Anyway, it’s a pretty amazing recording. Get it.

        • No Expert

          Javier, I meant no offense to Sutherland. Regardless of who “Tornami…” was originally written for, by the time she’s finished singing it, it rightfully belongs to her.

        • CruzSF

          Javier, thanks for chiming in. The diction issue is one of my beefs with Sutherland, but I’ll check out this recording since you say she’s clearer.

    • Camille

      This is in the space between Javier and Cruz.

      I always think of you guys as the Jets vs. the Sharks! I think Javier has a point, that is, most people really don’t have the time to wade through a lot of expatiation and musings on the muse; they just want to get the facts sorted out to make a quick decision on whether they are willing to ante up with the exorbitant wads of cash the MET, e.g., demands.

      On the other hand, I think our young friend Mr. Cruz is very earnestly looking for answers and trying to assemble some sort of frame of logic for himself, and wants to get to the truth of things. Well, I don’t know what to say as this is an extremely subjective, personal art form. One man’s truth is another’s banality. You’ve really got to read a lot, and ask questions a lot, and think a lot, and reflect a lot, and then basically start all over. It’s endless. It takes time, patience and perseverance and the magic ingredient is, or has been for me, a very great love. Everyone and I mean everyone will try to get you to think HIS or HER way and you have to take every crumb of knowledge you get gratefully and then form your OWN thoughts, because no matter how highly you think of someone else, your own opinion will always be the most important.

      Sorry for the old person lecture. I just see you guys struggling and wish you the best and applaud you for hanging on in the dense jungle of operaland. It takes time and most of all, GUTS.

      • CruzSF

        Camille, thank you for a wonderfully written post. I think you sum well the space I’m in right now. I’m reading a lot right now and listening to a lot, too. I even listened to Assedio di Corinto yesterday on Sirius, despite not having the libretto or even knowing of its existence until 10 minutes before the broadcast started. I feel like a sponge and I just want to suck it all up.

        • No Expert

          L’Assedio di Corinto….I still vividly remember being riveted to my radio that Saturday afternoon so long ago.

        • CruzSF

          NoE, this performance featured Sills, Díaz, and Verrett. (I don’t know if this the only cast ever to perform Assedio di Corinto.)

      • Brava Camille, so eloquently put. ! So true.

        • Camille

          Eloquence is Thine, Mme. Cerquetti/Farrell.

          Io non son che una povera fanciulla,
          oscura e buona a nulla —
          mi dite delle cose tanto belle
          che forse non intendo.

          Non so che sia —
          ma sento nel cuore uno scontento —
          d’esser cosi piccina
          e un desiderio di’innalzarmi a voi

          su, su, su, come le stelle!
          per esservi vicina, per potervi parlare!

          Bravi, Mmes. C/F-J.C.

        • Tanto belta! Ma non la merito, ti rassicuro, carissima Camille !!!!

          Solo un bacio virtuale posso mandarti su questo pagino cyberico `)

  • No Expert

    I think there were other European productions of L’Assedio, but that’s the one I’m talking about.
    It was the week of Sills’ long awaited Met debut and the Saturday performance was broadcast live on Met Opera Radio. I don’t know if L’Assedio has ever been performed in the US since. This version is now considered inauthentic because different versions of the opera were stitched together to create it. But you know, I can be forgiving about that sort of thing. L’Assedio had also been Sills La Scala debut back in the sixties. There are recordings of that and she, Marilyn Horne and Justino Diaz are fantastic.

    • Jay

      The since-defunct Baltimore Opera performed Siege of Corinth in 2006. Washington Post review link:

      • No Expert

        Thanks for that! I’m embarrassed I didn’t know since Futral is kind of a New Orleans hometown girl….or at least an extended metro area hometown girl! But 2006 was kind of a blur. Did you see this?

        • Jay

          No, it happened when I was traveling. Wish I had seen it, though.

    • perfidia

      What I have heard of Sill’s Met broadcast of L”Assedio is really poor. Her voice sounds, to these ears, very worn out, and although she can still sing runs at superhuman speed, the top is not as responsive as it was earlier in the part. I hear that she was sick at the time so that, combined with the heavy repertoire, could be the reason why this performance sounds so disspointing.. From what I have heard, Verret really stole the show, but I am sure Sills was great in the theater. She had real presence, and there is no denying the sense of ocassion about these performances. Now the 1969 performance from La Scala is phenomenal.

      • No Expert

        There are those that say this Sills performance was not perfect, but to me it was still near perfect. I love how she uses her trills in “Parmi Vederlo” to convey spookiness. Probably every Neocle likes to think she stole the show….and that part does have one roof blowing, barn busting, show stealing number for sure.