Cher Public

Now it is your turn to wait

erwartungIn honor of National Procrastination Week La Cieca has a challenge for you, the cher public. If you’re anything like your doyenne (and she thinks at least some of you are in most important ways) you possess opera-related media that have been sitting on a shelf or wherever it is you stow your opera-related media for days, weeks, months, even years without so much as a listen, or, for that matter, without even being freed from that constraining shrink-wrap. 

So here’s the game. You find a CD, DVD, audio file or opera-related book you’ve been meaning to get to for while, and, well, get to it. Then post a quick account of the experience in the comments section below. Points will be won for length of the procrastination, the decision-making process that led you to choose one thing over another from the slush pile, and of course interesting critique.

Given that La Cieca didn’t get around to creating this competition until two days into National Procrastination Week, she’s going to cut you a little slack and say that comments will be accepted until midnight on Friday, March 12. The best procrastinator (which, ironically, in this case, will mean one who manages not to procrastinate) will receive a $100 gift card from amazon.com.

  • La Valkyrietta

    The last time I listened to Leinsdorf live was around nineteen eighty eight at Avery Fisher. Brahms, Horne, and the Harvard Glee Club were fun enough, but the ending of Götterdämmerung was fabulous. I told myself I must listen again to the recording of the Met’s complete Tristan with Melchior and Flagstad that Leinsdorf conducted February 8, 1941, that I had gotten ten years previously. Can you believe I still have not played this album since the concert?

    Procrastination is not unknown to me. After all, I am retired and I still have not decided what I want to do when I grow up. Now I have further complications. My turntable does not work and I have to get a new one. I want to get a USB one so I can transfer vinyl records to the computer. This means I have to inform myself what is a good one to get. If that was not enough, I have to find room for the turntable next to the computer, not an easy task. The Tristan came in a nice box with an album of photos and a separate libretto, and I remember loving it the times I listened to it maybe thirty years ago. I do want to listen to it again. I think perhaps I would come across it on a CD. Then before I manage to start making room for a possible new turntable, I get distracted on the Internet, or on books, and I think maybe there will be Tristans in the future I would want to see. Perhaps one of the new clever directors will do what Wagner was rebuked for not doing, a second act starting with a brilliant court-ball, and the hapless pair at the proper time hiding themselves in some shrubbery or other. Some of this, in place of that little outhouse structure the present Met production has, would have to be done in projections, maybe in 3 D. There are today directors expert in shrubbery. The discovery of the lovers would create quite a startling scandal, mirrored in the shocked faces of the chorus, shown only in projections, of course, together with the ensemble, while King Marke sings. No, no, no, I tell myself, I must listen to the young Leinsdorf, fairly new in his job after Bodansky had passed away, before I see another Tristan production or performance. An then I find myself writing this post. There is no remedy for procrastination.

  • laragazza

    I thought National Procrastination Week was next week.

  • BETSY_ANN_BOBOLINK

    Manou? Are you all right? We miss you.

    • manou

      Betsy Ann -- I was away in darkest Scotland becoming a grandmother (lovely baby girl, all well). I am back here now but my sister has arrived from Toronto and I am now busy being a sister. I do not even have time to procrastinate…

      But I do keep up with Parterre (often on my iPhone, so I squint a lot).

      Love to all!

  • Olivero is my Drug of Choice

    Sitting on my bookcase is a shrink wrapped copy of “The Toughest Show on Earth” by John Volpe. The New York Times quote on the cover says” Engaging…..delightful….A classic American success story.” Perhaps it’s time I find out if i agree.

  • jatm2063

    BAB: Kissy Kissy. I love a good sport.

    Harry: The pot calls the kettle black.

  • Baritenor

    When this challenge was announced, I fretted for hours on how best to select a recording. I had several lying around but none of them seemed right. The Met’s 1989 Ring DVD? No, It was bought too recently, just last week. Sills’ ANNA BOLENA? No, I’ve only had it for a month. My 23rd recording of DON GIOVANNI (Mitropolous’)? That’s been at least two months since I was in New York and picked it up on my last pilgrimage to Academy Records. But No, I wanted a recording that has truly been gathering dust, sitting unheard for months, nay, for years. Those kind were in short supply now, for I was once a master procrastinator. Those days are over.

    Let me, by way of explanation; take you back to Decemeber of 2008. Looking at the meticulous catalogue of my CD Collection I’ve been working on for the last eight years (Yes, I’m a nerd), I noticed several recordings that had fallen by the wayside, bought on impulse or by design, cherished, and then forgotten on the shelf. I looked through my collection, realizing to my mounting horror that what seemed a few was many: Out of over eight hundred recordings of complete operas, over a hundred were un-listened to! This was unacceptable. Being late December, I turned a new year’s resolution into a solemn vow: to not purchase any more recordings of classical music until I had listened to or watch every disk in my collection.

    It took me a year, a long and arduous battle against time and my attention span, which is that of a gerbil’s. I had accumulated a LOT of pointless stuff: Who really needs recordings of DISERE UNDER THE ELMS or TROILIS AND CRESSIDA? Who really needs multiple recordings of TIEFLAND? And Sullivan’s THE BEAUTY STONE? I mean, really, past Baritenor, what were you thinking?

    I do not deny it was a slog. I broke my vow on occasion, I admit; going on shopping trips for My Birthday and at the end of the academic year. But those recordings were promptly listened too. And I got through it, experience new works at least twice a week, suffering the lows of THE KNOTT GARDEN and EURYTHANE and the highs of VESPRI SICILIANI (Levine’s) and PARSIFAL. I discovered things to love in Faure’s PÉNELOPE, learned Mozart was capable of boring me with ASCANIO IN ALBA and watched three separate DVDS of OTELLO.

    On January 4th 2010, I crossed the last entry off my list, having deliberately left the best, the classic Georg Solti recording of FIGARO, for last. It was over.

    Or was it?

    Last week, in search of my recording of WINTEREISSE, something caught my eye in my alphabetized-by-composer book of CDs (NERD! Shouts the gallery, and they are right.) Could it be? No, this was not possible. But yet there it was, nestled in between OEDIPUS REX and HMS PINAFORE: an Oversight.

    Which is why I ask that flights of angels sing La Cieca to her rest (even if it’s just for a quick nap between performances). I now have an excuse to finally correct my error and complete my vow in earnest. I grab my sword, insert the disk in to my laptop, and as Itunes shines on my screen, click. Now my work begins.

    Recording: Igor Stravinsky’s THE RAKE’S PROGRESS, conducted by the composer. Recorded live at the 1951 world premire in Venice.
    Year of purchase: 2005.

    This has been gathering dust for a very long time, and frankly, I know exactly why. This was one of my earliest purchases, bought shortly after I started collecting. I know this because I remember buying this at a Borders, and I stopped shopping for music there LONG ago. I believe I started it shortly after purchase, and then put it away again. Some world Premiere casts are so fantastic that you cannot imagine them being bettered on (Brittan’s The Turn of the Screw, thankfully preserved, or the fantastic cast of Adés’ The Tempest are examples) Others…not so much. This is in the “…not so much” category. Surprisingly the principle offender is Stravinsky himself. The Wit and vitality found in his later studio recording of the work are totally absent; he conducts a glacially slow, anemic performance of one of his best scores. It boggles the mind that the man who composed the opera could give it such an unworthy treatment. The cast ranges from excellent (Schwarzkopf’s Anne, Hughes Cuonod’s Sellem) to good (Robert Rounseville’s bland but brawny-sounding Tom, Ottokar Kraus’s Nick) to unfortunate (Jennie Tourel’s Baba, making the showiest role in the damn opera into a drab, boring housewife). In general, English diction is a problem. Only Robert Rounseville and Nell Tangeman (Mother Goose) are native speakers. The other soloists cope with the devilishly tricky text to varying levels of success. Hughes Cuénod has excellent diction, Schwarzkopf is pretty good, Kraus gets by, and Jennie Tourel is completely unintelligible. The worst offender is the Italian chorus (La Scala’s) who seem to be singing, not in English, but in Esperanto.

    I’m glad I’ve listened to this, despite the issues in the pit, the awful diction and the hissy, distant sound on the Gala label release. It is after all the world premiere. But from now on I’ll be sticking to Kent Nagano’s exquisitely done effort, complete with a French chorus singing impeccable English.

  • Audrey Stottler was a sour bitch in real life- but her Turandot (around 98) was excellent. I only mentioned the real life bit cos I tried to be nice to her once but she was only a cold cow in a toxic waste dump…just another double bum who clearly needed a good root.
    By the way- I love the name Betsy Ann Bobolink, even without the underscores -- *thinks: why do we have underscores for anything?
    “Turn of the Screw” should have been “Turn off the Screw”- and “Death in Venice” shortened to just “Death”- cos it is.

    • BETSY_ANN_BOBOLINK

      It’s an Amish thing. Only married women are permitted to remove their underscores.

  • Ahhh right! Thank you Betsy Ann -- do you mean the name is Amish or the underscores? I know the Betty Sue and Mary Jo thing is one of those God awful American cringe things we shouldn’t copy- however, unfortunately in this part of the world the Catholics used to bless us with a raft of “Patsy- Anne’s” and “Petine- Ann”/s etc- equally as ghastly.
    I’ve just finished a puppet that’s yet to be named and I’m suddenly thinking Bettsy Ann Bobolink without the underscores would be just fine.
    Sorry jatm -- but I couldn’t call her “jatm206” and these days for adult performances, kindergarten level works just fine. Now I’ll go and put away my toys. :)

    • BETSY_ANN_BOBOLINK

      Both the name and the underscores are Amish. I, on the other hand, am fully Am.

      • manou

        Betsy Ann -- Amished you too!

  • Betsy Ann- I’m firming to the idea -- and they do make nice furniture too!