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  • Guestoria Unpopularenka: Kabaivanska sang Tosca tonight at Teatro Reggio di Parma as part of her own 80th... 10:11 PM
  • YigeLi: Not the one discussed with you sometime ago, I think all the recordings of that performance came from... 8:51 PM
  • YigeLi: Regarding the Schwarzkopf-VLL issue: I remember reading it somewhere that ES said her voice was a bit... 8:42 PM
  • armerjacquino: La V: Horne most certainly did do the VLL- the evidence is right there on YouTube. I... 8:34 PM
  • Quanto Painy Fakor: When Gobbi made the sign of the cross at the end of the Te Deum, he did it with a closed... 8:33 PM
  • Quanto Painy Fakor: If that’s the way Frizza conducts Puccini, you can keep him. 8:28 PM
  • zinka: httpv://www.youtub e.com/watch?v=6xzn 5xpLazA Courtesy of the GREAT Coloratura fan..My idol…&#... 7:59 PM
  • zinka: What is that about????????????? ??????Galvany was great!!! 7:45 PM
  • Dabrowski: I have listened to Flagstad, Norman, and Jane Eaglen in both cycles, and to Schwarzkopf in the... 7:43 PM
  • manou: Will Jagde have the edge? 7:40 PM

“That concept is insane!”

romeo_runway“Director Manfred Schweigkofler conceives a new production that pits the Capulets and Montagues against one another as dueling fashion houses. Against a backdrop of models, paparazzi and high style, Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other unfolds to its deadly conclusion.” [Opera Company of Philadelphia]

72 comments

  • Dan says:

    Excited for Costello and Perez.

    And it’s great that a company like Philly is doing Henze. Can’t wait.

  • Lucky Pierre says:

    who’s the lady on the left?

  • Lucky Pierre says:

    oh, never mind!

  • Lucky Pierre says:

    liana, you better not be disturbing the adults again! go to bed! isn’t it about 4 in the morning in poland????

    i can tell you to go to bed since i’m your (slightly, very slightly) older brother!

    CF, i was typing another long stupid post but my browser lost it again. in any case, i was saying that i’m attracted to very distinctive voices, rather than bland ones, regardless of how correct musically they might be. i like those even imperfect but exciting voices, over the perfectly trained but somewhat bland singers. sorry, just my opinion. never heard margiono, but sutherland and gruberova were never my cup of tea. and then there are those whose tone is just not to my taste — like kraus. i don’t hate kraus but his voice never got on my good side.

    i’m also too young to have caught all those legendary voices. never heard tebaldi or nilsson live, not even caballe or price even though they were still singing when i started getting into opera. i blame it on my father, who used to have opera blasting all day long when i was a kid. thus tortured, we grew up hating opera and classical music. this didn’t change until i went away to college, where i discovered that i actually like this stuff.

    btw, please don’t be too harsh on klytaemnestra. you have to remember that poor klytie was also a victim, a war trophy, taken by force by agammenon, who also sacrificed her daughter iphigenia. would you blame her for wanting to kill the bastard?

    and oh, liana, i hope you are enjoying the ariadne. today i almost thought of going to the met and try to get a rush ticket. i saw this production long time ago, and it’s very beautifully designed. i hope the singers are good tonight.

    • Liana says:

      Actually, it’s 3.30, so I can pretend I just got up very early. So far, I like what I’m hearing (well, apart from MJ and Will), but since I never heard Ariadne before, I can’t make any comparison. BTW, I heard Caballe live, during a concert with Carreras, some 15 years ago. They were both awful, and with the very unnerving attitude “we great singers here in the province”. Before, I saw Domingo in the same concert series, and he at least never behaved like that (oh, and I’m not going to bed; never listened to my parents, why should I listen to older brothers?????).

  • florezrocks says:

    STRAUSS ON FIRE!!!!
    Kim and Stemme AMAZING!!!
    What a night of female prowess for this audience

    • Nerva Nelli says:

      Sorry, kiddo, but listen to ANY recorded exponent of Zerbinetta for a better performance: Berger, Streich, Getszy. Peters, Gruberova, Jo, Grist etc etc. Kim is a nice talent but this was not remotely ready the Met stage.

  • Camille says:

    Mme. Claggart:

    Renata dice: “Voi manderete tutto alla malora!
    VERGOGNA!”

    Mme. Cerquetti-Farrell, for expressing her/his individual taste — and we all have our own — did not deserve to be attacked in an ad hominem fashion by you. You two have gotten on very well together -- your dialogues have been entertaining and edifying.

    I am truly most sorry for this incident and aggrieved by it. Please try to be a gentlewoman and make up, I am asking you, please.

    • mrsjohnclaggart says:

      But Camille though I am a gentile woman no one has ever suggested I was a gentlewoman. I’m not sure a joking reference to his best seller “The Tinny Voice” was such an ‘attack’ on C/F anymore than I expected to meet Armerjaquino who quietly despises me I am sure, and of course could never deliver Prince Harry Windsor.

      Much worse has been said about harmless and essentially very sweet little ole me. I have become a little skeptical of some grandiose assertions. Though Henry Holland made a fool of himself with ‘insipid’, I had the same response to C/F and some others about Tebaldi.

      It is fine bei mir (well maybe I’m not a gentile) to aver, “I like such and such very much, or dislike such and such”. But I think when such opining rises into grandiose pronouncement I have some trouble. I don’t think Margiono is really special, though I respect someone who thinks she has fine qualities. I think Tebaldi was a miracle, though she had faults. Having heard both live I find insensitive and silly the anti-Tebaldi assertions for to hear her was to be bathed in a tidal wave of gorgeous tone throughout the range, effortless on her part, and on the good nights and in the right roles there was deep feeling, idiomatic understanding and great skill (as I have never heard another Forza Leonora deliver the role so astoundingly on two LIVE occasions in the 50′s).

      And that is the dilemma of the immature; those who experienced Tebaldi, Del Monaco, Warren, Hotter, Modl Zinka, live in the 50′s, and London, Nilsson, Sutherland, Vickers, Crespin, Frick, Leonie in the 60′s had an incredible experience at the opera (there was overlap, for while Tebaldi suffered a decline after 1960 she delivered in my experience thrilling Toscas, Mimis, Manon Lescauts in the mid 60′s; the first Giocondas were amazing if not effortless and she had to scream the top, and the Fanciulla quite approximately sung as to pitch had such abandon and sincerity live that it was overwhelming, even though I personally find the tapes unlistenable.

      It’s easy to find fault with close mic’d records and iffy tapes and you tube compression, and paradoxically to give slobbering homage to people who could ONLY do some things on records after say 18 takes and twenty splices but what these great people could do on good form WITH NO NET, LIVE was astounding and isn’t matched and hasn’t been not by some fine artists, including Margiono for example.

      The smugness of the dismissal enraged and alienated me. And there it is.

      • OlivePratt says:

        BRAVO!!!

      • The Vicar of John Wakefield says:

        “I have never heard another Forza Leonora deliver the role so astoundingly on two LIVE occasions in the 50’s”

        You clearly never heard Jo Barstow!

        • mrsjohnclaggart says:

          I think I DID see Jo Barstow (‘hear’ is a complex word in response to what she did) — the doctor traced my brain damage back to that Forza. But Vicar I am told you have NOT worn out your recording of Kiss Me Kate with Jo and that I find intolerable. Also I wonder if you could upload a copy of her famous Ilia in the great Idomineo with Elisabeth Bainbridge as Idamante, Aled Jones as Elettra (“yes a BOY soprano!” remarked young conductor JE Gardiner, “Elettra is clearly a boy but her testicles have yet to descend, hence her frustration!”)and of course Murray Dickie in the title role, with John Shaw as Arbace (“I don’d mind lowering the part here and there for such a great artist,” averred Mr. Gardiner).

          This last appeared on The POO label from Pearl: “Pearls from Old Oysters”, catalog number 890764-erp. Thanks.

      • Well, Mrs John, there it is, you see, you can never assess the magnitude of an attack unless you are the one under it. I’m not easily shaken as a rule, but still haven’t mastered the personal shock when encountering a sharp change in attitude towards myself. Because I do not behave like that, not in real life nor online. I see no difference.
        But I liked your very interesting remarks above and am content at the change of tone so I’ll leave it at that.
        I have a lot to write about live music vs the art of music on record (it is a separate art and not to be treated with disdain), but not now. After all, all we are left with are these audio ‘photographs’, be they reliable or not.

  • OlivePratt says:

    “Sorry for not having heard ‘the greats’, sorry that I was born in 1973″

    apology accepted.
    that is why you like whom you like, not having heard the greats and all.

    i shudder outright to think what is coming to those born now and thereafter.

    those who did not hear these voices live will have NO idea what we mean for those who did hear them. NONE. and there is no way to aurally convey the magic that positively dripped golden out of those throats.

    • CruzSF says:

      But the thing is, when you were our age, there was the Golden Age of singers from your grandparents’ time, singers you were unlucky to never hear, and so on.

      • OlivePratt says:

        very true, but i fear, unlike our great grandparents and grandparents, hell even our parents time there were some examples of the right sound for the vocal categories and the roles were generally cast a-typical. there seemed to be a general more informed “accepted” requirement to be cast in a role.Now? The inmates are running the asylum.

        Now an agent who wants new golf clubs will literally throw a young voice under a truck,
        artists themselves drunk with their version of success by a null and void press, stoop to insane arena shows and whole organizations spring up to capitalize on just that. Not the art form, but the art formed to fit the prevailing and uneducated idea of what “sells”. Each age feels the next is degraded, I get that, I just don’t see a lot of this current age educating correctly the next age.

        For those of us who did hear the voices, based on that history, we are in a free fall.

        • CruzSF says:

          I don’t disagree that too many singers are accepting roles that are inappropriate for their voices. Perhaps they are drunk on fame, maybe their managers are selling them out for selfish reasons. I don’t know the causes because I’m not in the music business nor do I have connections to those who are.

          As for “just don’t see a lot of this current age educating correctly the next age”: I’m not sure if you’re referring to successful singers of previous generations teaching the younger ones how to maintain and grow their voices, or to opera fans showing the newly interested how to recognize quality singing. I hope someone in the know can speak to the former. As for the latter, it seems to me that too many experienced opera fans here call the younger generations “stupid” and “unlucky” “idiots.” Such remarks don’t teach anyone anything about singing.

        • BETSY_ANN_BOBOLINK says:

          CruzSF: You’ve gotten more than your share of abuse and I admire the way you’ve refused to take it. Hang in there; you’ve got integrity.
          I’m not sure I agree with Olive; I don’t do as much hand-wringing, because I feel that what will turn up next year just might be awfully exciting. Maybe not, but to an extent history bears me out.
          Take a for instance. There has been no one like Flagstad since Flagstad, true, but there was no one like Nilsson before Nilsson. We didn’t know enough to moan and groan that we didn’t have a Nilsson; we enjoyed Flagstad instead. The same can be said of Price (Leontyne or Margaret), or Callas, or (watch me carefully as I perform me patented sleight-of-hand) or Thomas Hasmpson, or Cecilia Bartoli or (ooohh, he’s going onto the real thin ice) or Renee Fleming or Brandon Jovanovich or . . . . my point being that new excitements are emerging every day if we are willing to find the joy in them without longing for something else. Loving what Renee does in absolutely no way compromises the sheer joy I felt when I first heard Eleanor Steber over 50 years ago. In fifty years I hope you will still feel that remembered joy as you experience the new joy of Robo-Voca-Initiator Z3. That is what I hope you will pass on to your grandchildren — the joy of the now.
          Yes, there is a problem of young voices being crammed into inappropriate roles. The plethora of opera production companies simply must accept that they cannot all produce AIDA the same season — to use just one example. It may be that they should not produce AIDA at all for several seasons. Or TOSCA Or the RING or whatever. As it stands now they commit themselves four and five years in advance to a slate of operas that are chancy at best, and then at the last minute have to force Mindy Poontangle to sing Brunnhilde while she’s still in her vocal diapers. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. In my 70+ years of loitering on the sidelines, I can name three times that Tristan und Isolde was cast adequately — and I mean top to bottom. Last season it was produced by I think six different companies with varying degrees of horror, with the result that new audience members who came to see it went away thinking “Boy, is that what opera is? Next time I’ll go to the Sledge-Hammer Throw instead.”
          It’s really late; I’m rambling, and I’ll probably regret sending this, but fuck it, why not. Most people never read these long things anyway.

        • CruzSF says:

          Betsy Ann, I read your post all the way to the end! I’m impressed that you’ve resisted the bitterness despite your many years of listening. I hope I can do the same. I like the way you put it: the joy of the now. And the joy of the now need not diminish the amazement we felt when we heard La X or Il Divo Y, back in the day.

          I look around me and am hard pressed to find someone I expect to remember with the warmth that others feel for Flagstad, Nilsson, Corelli, Price, Sutherland, and Garden. (Only DiDonato comes to mind at this late hour of the night.) But who knows? There is always tomorrow for a discovery.

          In 50 years’ time, when I hear that Robo-Voca-Initiator Z3, I’ll remember your words here.

        • Liana says:

          Well, Cruz, the Golden Age was invented by Hesiod in the 8th century B.C. and already then it was in the past, since the world was slowly degenerating. Now, after over 2000 years , we’re still there… Certainly, there are some dangerous trends in the opera world, but I don’t think the situation is that bad. And there always were singers singing what they shouldn’t and destroying their voices. Isn’t Callas a good example of a prime way too short ? Or Varnay? Didn’t Scotto distroy her voice? Cura was awful as Stiffelio, but I just bought a live recording of Don
          Carlo with Rysanek; the tenor (don’t rememeber the name) is even worse, and it’s the Golden Age we’re speaking of. And, as far as I am concerned, there are some contemporary singers I’ll always remember with great respect. For one, Domingo; he really had a very beautiful voice and is a very charismatic performer if he choses to give his best, which he did at all the occasions I saw him. The problem may be that today, for musically talented people, there are career options much more attractive than opera, and it’s why many potentially beautiful voices get lost for the classical world. It could be perhaps prevented, at least to a certain degree, by a proper musical education at schools, but unfortunately, the trend seems to be exactly the opposite (well, at least in Poland).

  • OlivePratt says:

    Betsy and CF your elation at a new voice is one I share. I go all the time hoping someone will appear who has not bought in to the robotic, bullshyte of today’s voices. I don’t believe in belittling anyone who loves opera and is discussing it.

    Betsy points out very well about Flagstad leading to a Nilsson and so on and so on. They were coming about in a time that had maestri that knew how to train and cultivate.

    The modern maestri do not seem to know as much. They seem to care less. Speed. Who cares about the voice running, it’s all a ping pong ball to them, even the big voices. I like energy but not dispersed. The aida of Gatti this year was quite disappointing. a new approach is welcome, but to deform the music as was done during that run. Not enough tar or feathers.

    A short while ago it seems, Ms Garanca would never have been aloud to sing the carmen with no real style.

    Who could help her really? and would she let them help her, her half measures and pretty face have seen her come this far and with great PR and fanfare.

    why do better when just enough is accepted. much less the disasters in Italian opera with more to come. Do we honestly think in his best dreams that is the way Cura wanted to sing the Stifellio? Really? He sells tickets mucking up a major voice, so let him do as he wants?

    You would think people who conduct do not think they will love long or, more rightly, once it is realized how inferior they are, they will be gone.
    No such luck but hope does spring ever eternal.

    exceptions are the prayer. where you lose me, and this is totally my opinion, not to slam yours, but the voices as you read them down, and that is an apt direction,seem to lose authenticity.

    Hampson is a lieder singer,Mozart, his recent descents into Italian Verdi baritone rep are loud and undistinguished. Fleming on occasion can give a very disciplined account of her repertoire but this is increasingly hard to hear from her these days.

    It seems that as people become successful they seem to develop, or we notice more on long acquaintance with a voice, certain tics. mannerisms some call it. With every possible respect to all in this discussion, there seem to be more born of the exposure to the tics and mannerisms than ever before.

    Young voices are arriving copying, or more politely, being educated or exposed first time to major current stars who are simply thumbing their noses at accepted “basics” of singing all in the name of individualism. I want personal. I want unique.

    I do not want out of pitch, however well intended, straight tone Verdi or Puccini or really anything bel canto sung the way it is today….. I don’t want robots and I don’t want lyric tenors singing radames or tristan, or being pushed by record companies and falling to pieces when they cannot produce that inflated sound in the theater. Too many to note.

    I am hopeful always. But who is the example? If we keep negating the past, where things were closer to the time written, composers themselves called out certain voices as being exactly what they had in mind or better in some rare moments,what can we hope for.? People today think Bocelli is an opera singer? Russell Watson,
    PAUL POTTS sold more records and had a chance to make one more than a few other younger guys who still go unrecorded. Need i menton Ms. Jenkins and incur the wrath of the vicar? LOL.

    I do not close myself off to the joys of now, but if you will permit me, I will sound the alarm often and loud about the need to, yes, stay with joy, whenever possible, in the now, but insist that we go into the next with the best respect for the what “went before.”
    Top what went before, top it, do it better with each new voice,do better, sing with a line like cappucilli, or ruffo, or bastianini, do it. know about it at least. or don’t mind if folks call attention to it.

  • daviddc says:

    LOL @ “the children” QF and Liana. Yes, 1973 was clearly a good year! Thanks for cheering me up at the end of a long day with your bemusement when people go off their meds. And thanks, QF, for (yet another) great reco. I’m checking out the Charlotte Mangiorno I’d overlooked (a live Walkure is wending its way from Presto). Happy beauty sleep to you and Liana both.

  • Liana says:

    Thank you (well, I’m still listening to the Ariadne premiere, so the sleep has to wait, but thanks anyway :D ).

  • daviddc says:

    Me too! Waiting for Nina Stemme (although MJ and Will’s intermission blather is almost driving me to beauty sleep, or some kind of sleep)

  • Liana says:

    I have exactly the same problem, especially given that it’s 3.30 a.m. here :D . The intermission features are a truely exceptional sleep-aid. I’m still awake probably only thanks to the fact that Will’s enunciation is such that I don’t understand half of what he’s saying, so there’s only MJ to put me to sleep…