Cher Public

I would like a waffle

La Cieca preens proudly  to present a peerless pair of protégés (left to right) Squirrel and Maury D’Annato. The bromancers attended (or one should say “took in”) last night’s Ariadne auf Naxos at the Met, and as of early this afternoon they were still deconstructing.

maury: oh hey look at us

squirrel: sec, coffee. ok

maury: ok

squirrel: sec, waffles,  just kidding,  ha

maury: i would like a waffle.

squirrel: well who would not.  oh hey were you at Brunnhilde auf Naxos last night??

maury: I’m actually listening to an old recording right now  and downloading another old recording.

squirrel: does that have a cleansing effect?

maury: oh, hm.  you shared the prevailing sentiment about last night then?  “About Last Night But Not in That Way” starring Maury and Squirrel: or perhaps “About Last Night” starring Maury and Squirrel But Not in That Way

squirrel: I’m shocked you didn’t use any commas  but mm yes,  testing, testing, is this thing on?

maury: I mean…it’s hard to get around the elephant in the room, the elphant singing tenor.

squirrel: he’s a big boy

maury: The elphant bravely singing tenor with a cold, but…

squirrel: and what about those asswipes in FC booing him?? not really fair.

maury: Let’s just get this out of the way: he left out a big chunk of the role. For anyone who wasn’t listening at home.  (Was it broadcast?)

squirrel: Yes it was.  (  )

maury: in the kingdom of Maurytania, people who boo a cover will be caned or something.  People who boo a sick cover will have to listen to nothing but Olive Middleton evermore.

squirrel: I especially agree about the latter

maury: Did I tell you this old guy tried to enlist me in his outrage by the cancellation billboard downstairs? Like there are all these really great Bacchi standing around not getting their shot.

squirrel: Ha. Yes, at the after party.  Let’s make up fake names for all who attended?

maury: that sounds like work.

squirrel: It wouldnt be fair to drag them into this quagmire.

maury: that is true.

squirrel: Did you like Kim?

squirrel: I’m referring to the Zerbinetta, it’s not a pseudonym for THAT GUY

maury: ha,  Ok.  This feels like the most overloaded question.  Yes, I did.  It wasn’t a Zerbinetta for the ages, but there were some really good things about it.

squirrel: wow you’re kind

maury: See I knew you were going to hate on her, but I feel this is in part because you’re a Damrau loyalist.  But go ahead. Let ‘er rip.

squirrel: well as i was telling “Zeke Walsh” to my left, while having fried calamari and beer…

maury: oh get you with the names.  i was like “I can’t possibly think of names”,  (now listening to Stratas as Komponist)

squirrel: kim reminded me of these sanguine polish waitresses at a bar i went to often in vienna,  they’d flirt with you in lousy german to get bigger tips.

maury: that is so specific.

squirrel: it kinda felt like that.

maury: oh I see your point.  yeah she crossed a line as far as futzing with the music and I wish she wouldn’t do that.  But…  I dunno, do you want a short, tedious paragraph about why I did like her?

squirrel: Well if this is not the space for that, …

maury: right.  Ok so Zerbinetta.  The worst thing that ever happens to her is that she’s played for pure cute.  Like…well for me, Damrau went a ways down this road.  I get all happy when she’s given another dimension, which I usually assume is going to be a little world-weariness.

squirrel: yeah, i mean, it’s written into the role so this is a fair expectation

maury: and Kim didn’t do that.  But there was a certain innocence, and maybe some will have read this as blandness, but for me it still made her Zerb more rounded than some.

squirrel: Oh ok

maury: you’ll concede it was technically quite accomplished except for where you have to swoop up to that one, eh, D I guess?  not the one with the trill.

squirrel: yes but she didn’t sound as polished and secure as in her Olympia,  I’m just not going to like her.

maury: that’s fine.  I’m going to like her reasonably well.

squirrel: what was “Jock Jarboe’s” big problem with the composer? i thought she made a nice impression.

maury: I want to toss in a caveat about everything, which is that more and more, the balance in balc boxes seems to get in the way. Last night I kept hearing so much organ it was like I was at a baseball game or a church service (two situations I have studious avoided in my adult life),  hah.  Jock Jarboe.  You’re killin me

squirrel: oh yeah, i love the organ in the orchestration but it was just a bit much.

maury: it surely wasn’t just the Brit thing.

squirrel: i was expecting, maybe, Also Sprach Zarathustra to break forth

maury: no kiddin!,  so it wasn’t just my balc box.

squirrel: balcony box makes me barf

maury: i’ve always liked them.  nice to see a face now and then.

squirrel: nina stemme seems pretty. I wouldn’t know, I was way up in the squirrel nest

maury: Komponist is a tricky role.  I say this without any reasoning in mind except that someone can sing it very prettily and understandably, as I think Connolly did, and it can still fail to spark.  As, for me, it did a little. I’m listening, as I said, to Stratas singing Komponist and though she’s in kind of craggy voice, she does that recently-post-adolescent yearning thing.  I honestly don’t know how that comes through or doesn’t in any particular perf.  Like porn, I know it when I see it.

squirrel: ha ok

maury: you liked her?,  I hope you liked her.  It’ll be more good cop/bad cop.  Not that I thought she was bad.

squirrel: yes, and thought she was commanding, more or less, in the prologue.

maury: More Hannity/whatsit.  Fair and Balanced,  did she move you on a gut level?  great that sounded gross but.

squirrel: not, mind you, knock everyone else off the stage commanding, but,  hmm, no i did not have to run to the mens room

maury: let’s take another pass at this: did you find her emotionally compelling?

squirrel: these are loaded questions,  the composer has the best text in the prologue, the only stuff that’s not just purely function and/or slapstick, and yes she sold it admirably. It was not loud, but carried up to FC ok.  I found it convincing.

maury: oh yeah, seemed perfectly well Met-sized.  It’s one of my habitual dodges when I don’t want to be negative, but I think I’ll like her better in something else.

squirrel: that’s not negative, that’s just futzy,  sometimes I rearrange my living room

maury: sometimes my arms bend backwards.  do you get up at midnight and stop clocks?

squirrel: not yet

maury: oh right, next year.  isn’t next year your Marschallin Year?

squirrel: let’s not talk about it.

maury: Fair enough!  Hey have you noticed how I haven’t brought up Mentzer?

squirrel: Just did.

maury: I mention my not mentioning Mentzer because I feel like it could be a drinking game.  Everyone do a shot when Maury compares absolutely anyone singing der Komponist to Mentzer.

squirrel: Suzanne Mentzer drinking game? This is going to be all the rage.

maury: and then they all died of alcohol poisoning.

squirrel: Want to make bets on how the Parterre public liked the broadcast?,  I mean, based on the long faces over dinner at our secret Blogger’s Cave….

maury: I mean…we’re going to have to find someone fairly slow to take the “Everyone Loved It!” side of the bet.

squirrel: Yeah, maybe we shouldn’t wager actual cash

maury: maybe not.  so Stemme, yeah.  She’s opera hot or something?

squirrel: I’m unfamiliar with the phrase, but yeah.

maury: Oh, it was originated by the Wellsungs, them what we are blatantly ripping off by indulging in this format.

squirrel: Oh, I should have guessed.

maury: (I feel there should be an acknowledgment)

squirrel: Shout out to wellsungs!

maury: Wellsungs in da house or whatever the kids were saying ten years ago.

squirrel: But others on the internetz to this too, no? I mean, I don’t know.

maury: The thing about Stemme is I lost all track of how she was doing because I was so tense for poor M. Hendrick up there, giving it a good shot but living the nightmare of losing your voice in front of a big house.

squirrel: True, he was croakin’

maury: THE big house.  by which is not intended prison.

squirrel: correct

maury: But Stemme, the voice is major league no?

squirrel: that big, brown, bullhorn of a soprano – i mean, you can’t not like that. It’s like an enormous roast beef sandwich… oh wait,  now I’m hungry.

maury: urgh.  me too.  dammit.

squirrel: Over dinner at the Blogger Cave, “Ronalan” told me she’s singing Brunnhildes at San Fran?

maury: This is true, I believe.  And “Ronalan” tends to know.  I mean, not to jinx the lady, but there is a little Nilsson color there, is not there?

squirrel: would probably be more apt casting, but I enjoyed the Ariadne anyway,  Yes, good call,  she is an artist and I think not likely to be jinxed by the comparison.  are you a bravo shouter?,  or a whistler?

maury: tracy dahl and her weird voice just sang one of my favorite lines: auf dem Theater spiele ich die Kokette etc.  ,  i shout bravo in a not fully convincing way.  what do you do?

squirrel: same, then i get a little shy

maury: right, same.

squirrel: i need that roast beef sandwich

maury: I shouted “bravi” for the rather deluxe nymphs, and then realized I’d made them into dudes.

squirrel: fair enough, i liked the nymphs.

maury: It was, btw, exciting to hear my pal Anne-Carolyn Bird as Najade, and more exciting to hear her sing it in such a lovely way.  And surrounded by excellent co-nymphs, so yay.

squirrel: those look like dangerous dresses!

maury: ACB says it’s not so scary as it looks.  I wouldn’t want to be up there.  So it’s fortunate I’m neither a talented singer nor a soprano nor even a dame.

squirrel: I’ve always considered that fortunate too, I mean about myself.

maury: ok should we wrap up? I gotta get on a bus headed into a snowstorm.

squirrel: ok in summary,  see this opera, one thumb up?

maury: pretty much.  some stuff will go better, and it remains an iconic and wonderful production and blah blah.

squirrel: oh also petrenko is super good, and I hear very nice guy,  Met, hire the boy!

maury: I felt like it might be a bit singer-unfriendly but you’re a much better judge of conducting.  So you get the last word, except that I just kind of maybe took it.

squirrel: True, he pushed Ms Stemme a little in the languid parts, I don’ think it was unfriendly. He’s a man of the opera house fer sher,  ok

maury: again

squirrel: i could make a joke about the great pumpkin..  but i need a sandwich

maury: yeah i think your stomach has the right idea.  on that note…

squirrel: squirrel out

maury: edit to read “your stomach is good editor “

  • Cassandra

    The Wellsungs most certainly did NOT originate the phrase “Opera hot.” My friends and I have used it for two decades.

  • scifisci

    Stemme has a Voice with a capital V. She has developed it patiently throughout the years and it shows. It is full, even, rich, huge, and beautifully produced from top to bottom (which extends very, very far down). I would not be surprised in the least if she is the brunnhilde at the Met next year. Let’s just hope she’s not otherwise booked!

    Is this what golden-age singers sounded like?

    • Arianna a Nasso

      “Let’s just hope she’s not otherwise booked!”

      Why would such a high-quality artist be sitting around with months of her 10-11 calendar free? That doesn’t make sense. Her schedule has been pretty busy for years now.

    • Mrs Rance

      Yes I think Stemme has something going for her, and I have to admit I thought of Brunnhilde during her ARIADNE.

  • rysanekfreak

    Opera hot?

    It’s not who invented it. It’s who made it famous. Such as, oh, I don’t know, the Rossini Crescendo, which was not invented by Rossini.

    I love the Squirrel-Maury duet, almost Tristanesque in length, if not in passion. What other combos can we have?— The Vicar and MrsJohnClaggert?

  • mrmyster

    Boy oh boy, this is Attitude Central!!!
    Were we meant to read all that? Jeez! To what effect?
    As for Ms. Stimme, have you listened to her recording,
    the one with Domingo, of Tristan und Isolde? Made, what?
    five years, six, ago? She was very clearly under great stress
    to sing it then, especially in Act II her voice loses some
    support and color, you can sense the tension and forcing.
    I was not then expecting her to be much.
    Now, we have all these raves. What happened? Did she
    stop the heavy stuff and build her voice -- when, how, with
    whom. I gotta hear it to believe it, and look forward to
    doing so. Of course, Ariadne is NOT Isolde or Bruna,
    for sure!

    • scifisci

      I had never been impressed with Stemme prior to hearing her live. The voice seemed to be forced a lot and she had that awful goat vibrato. However, her voice sounded nothing like that last night. The warm and fullness in the middle is especially amazing.

    • mrmyster

      Sorry about typo -- read Stemme for Stimme, though
      as typos go that one is on the right track! :)

    • Harry

      Agree about Stemme’s contributions in the Domingo Tristan. What are those ravinga from others, about? For a Brunnhilde??!!! ‘They wish’ and that is about it will be..a bit of romancing.

  • Straussmonster

    OTT, but I know at least one other loyal Parterre reader was at the Opera Lafayette Armide the other night (Wednesday)--anyone else go? I enjoyed myself thoroughly, but I admit to having known the work inside out and backward beforehand. Any other takes on it?

    • parpignol

      Armide was wonderful, and I’d never heard a note of it before. . .
      funny, the NY Times making much of the fact that it was sold out, when in fact the tickets were being practically given away at fifteen bucks. . .
      nice performance of Carmen tonight, everyone in good form, and Escamillo sighted afterwards at Fiorello. . .
      and the little program bio of Jovanovich mentions that Bacchus is in his repertory; now that could come in handy!

  • sterlingkay

    I heard two performances of Stemme’s ISOLDE at Covent Garden…she was glorious, not only vocally but dramatically. By far the best ISOLDE I have ever heard live and I go back to Nilsson.

    • mrmyster

      Wonderful news, sterlingkay; I can’t wait to hear
      it. Will the Met pick this up, do you suppose? Of
      course there is the matter of an adequate tenor.

      • Harry

        Oh dear! With singers that may be ideal in some R.Strauss. Then we hear the old adage from everybody…. “Quick, look -- they have done a Isolde or two…. they wll make a great Brunnhilde”. Here we go again. The only dramatic thing that usually happens, is the comments tha then start: how ‘dramatic’ the condition of their voice has become. The opera house back door suddenly opens for an another faster exit.

        Similiarity: Mothers of tiny tots impressed with little daughter’s ‘progress at ballet school, Ballet teacher putting the dear things up on point, prematurely -doing damage as a result..

  • sterlingkay

    Well….Ms. Stemme must be getting used to working with problematic tenors….her Tristan at Covent Garden was Heppner and he was in horrible form both nights. I felt so bad for her during the second act, having to deal with Big Ben’s constant cracking and ill-tuned singing. Much like last night.

    • Harry

      How ironic . How fickle people are. In 1988 I saw Ben Heppner do Bacchus 3 or more times. It was the ‘stuff of dreams’. The audiences loved it so much one night they forced the particular House’s protocol to be broken for the first time- That of never having another curtain call once house lights came up. In the lights up: tthere was revealed a full standing ovation and the audience demanding ‘lift the bloody curtain or else’!

      I feel for the fellow mentioned that covered it at the MET, under horrendous conditions. It is a ‘bitch’ of a role with some god -almighty traps. Those moments, where the temor gets one crack (no pun!) to position the note, and
      there is no second chances. There is one of those notes ‘sounding’ in my head as I write. Used to it some often, I have been known to even play the complete opera at breakfast time -- my favorite , the version with Garry Lakes, Tomawa-Sintow and Baltsa.

      • mrsjohnclaggart

        Oh Harry!!! How could you break my shrinking heart? It would be as though you had spent precious gold on portraits of Manrou, the “fish” woman of London with fins for hands and that fish’s mouth — a famous mouth among aficionados of the grotesque and she (I believe her parents won a civil law suit to stop people from calling her ‘it’)certainly has used it to give pleasure and succor especially to the homeless in sewers.

        I wonder if you have the portrait of Manrou on the rusty garbage can lid drawn cunningly to resemble our own Betsy-Ann, where Manrou’s shark’s mouth like labia majora features so prominently (Betsy Ann while having Manrou on her head as platter is reaching up to hold the seaweed curtains back). They need to sustain one another, rather touching actually.

        But I think the Levine Ariadne to which you are referring is best for the recording of the orchestra, especially piano and harmonium blend. You mean you don’t worship Kempe? How about Herbie with sublime Seefried and Evil Incarnate’s best operatic performance? You don’t love the Salzburg opening night with the greatest Jurinac and then Ludwig’s only Ariadne (sharp, then flat, and then running out of steam fast but TONS of fun)? How about one of the greatest Lisa’s performances? There’s even the Leonie RCA, with the greatest Jurinac — it’s tremendous fun and frankly I have heard far worse than Becky Peterson and Jacob Pincus Perelmuth!!! And of course there’s the DVD from Aix with the sublime Troyanos (orchestra gives her a standing ovation at the end of the prologue) and the greatest Regine? Or the great Chicago pirate with Jochum conducting (tremendous R Strauss conductor not many of the operas documented with him), the sublime Seefried, Crespin even better than at Aix and the delicious Reri Grist (and you can hear all their voices bounce out into the huge house, Crespin’s immense easy volume for once in evidence)?

        Oh, Harry have you kept Besty Ann’s first attacks on me? With her preposterous malapropisms and idiotic vocabulary, amongst the most sheerly stupid posts in Parterre history, no doubt fed her by Manrou? I think I have them around, maybe I’ll repost them.

        Evviva Tebaldi.

        • Harry

          Well Evil Incarnate’s (Blackhead’s) Ariadne under Von Karajan is so goddam slow during the second Act, you want to pick up a strong whip and thrash the bloody thing back into life. Ariadne may ask Bacchus “are we there yet?’ at one stage, but the listener wants to instead know, ‘is the fuckin’ thing (the opera) finished yet? Her best perfomance is in Capriccio.

          Gueberova is truly spectacular as Zerbinetta in the Solti/Price version, more so than her contribution in the Philips- Jessye Norman version. The Ryansek/Jurinac vesion…a few flat notes here & there. The one thing I find worrying, with the Kempe version is Janowitz…that tubular sound she tends to make. King on the other hand is fine there, as Bacchus.
          Ah! though, since it is such a magic opera, I am glad to have so many versions to listen to.

          Now, now Mrs John Claggart we know you will simmer down. Maybe Manou and Betsy Ann might become ‘parterre buddies’ of yours yet.Stranger things have happened. Each one of us, must humbly admit ‘We all have been involved contributed in catfights’ here that we also possibly helped to start. Leading then to the troubles we cause La Cieca: making her giving all of us, a smack from time to time.

  • manou

    Did Godot turn up after this dialogue?

    • rysanekfreak

      Why didn’t manou get an Oscar Wilde picture for that delicious comment at #8?

  • Famous Quickly

    In my day, young men of this sort held jobs as bank tellers and largely kept silent at dinner parties.

    But then, who today dances, who sings? NOBODIES.

    • And some of them don’t even dance.

      • LittleMasterMiles

        We’re not getting back into Tommasini’s _Carmen_ article again, are we?

    • Ah well. In my day people who make the same joke hundreds of times and don’t say much of anything else aren’t invited to many dinner parties. It’s a question of tedium and inanity.

      • CruzSF

        Hahahahaha. YES.

  • speedbump

    Wow Maury, a Twin Peaks reference and a Rosenkavlier reference in the same sentence. Bravo!

    • Oh hooray, I thought the Twin Peaks ref might end up being an inside joke between me and me!

      • I totally didn’t get it until speedbump pointed it out. [ashamed]

        • Dan: I also have to give you props for the brilliant reference to Alexyss K. Tylor in your review. AMAZING. This remix is dedicated to you:

      • Famous Quickly

        I spoke with Blanche and Roz and we are deeply — no, PROFOUNDLY — in awe of the way you keep those popular culture references coming despite the high odds that no one else here is remotely as hip and “inside” as you.

        That says “guts” to us veteran mezzos…

  • Squirrel and Maury! (Wocka-wocka)

    • Why do I never get to be the blond (he sighed) or get the blond, but that’s a whole other tragedy.