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Cher public dell’abisso affrettati!

ulricaLa Cieca (not pictured) invites you, her group mind, to help her sort out the following conundrum.

Our situation thus far at the Met revival of Traviata — as it has been passed along to La Cieca bit by rumored bit –goes something like this:

  • Leonard Slatkin showed up for rehearsals not, let us say, entirely conversant with the score;
  • Which mightily pissed off Angela Gheorghiu (Violetta) and Thomas Hampson (Germont);
  • Who, whatever you may think about one or the other of them, do know their Traviata pretty well, and are not known for reticence in expressing their opinions;
  • And whereas, at Wednesday’s rehearsal of the Verdi, La Gheorghiu was not anywhere to be seen;
  • And so Hye-Kyung Hong sang the rehearsal;
  • And, furthermore, so a source near the Met tells La Cieca, Gheorghiu has protested Slatkin.

So, cher public, La Cieca asks what will happen Monday night?  (Please note that you may enter more than one answer!)

134 comments

  • casualoperafan says:

    To Comment #119, no it is not lack of rehearsal or problem with the conductor.

    Almost all her performances have tempo malfunctions and many of them have near misses.

    It is documented all over You Tube. There is one of her singing Io son l’umile ancella that would make a person who knows the aria cringe.

    A conductor who understands that kind of singer and can hear that they are going to just do whatever they want when they hit a pretty patch or tone or have trouble turning a phrase can follow a singer like that, if they want to. But a lot of conductors really don’t like becoming hack accompanists and even more of them can’t hear it enough in the singing to know to make the accommodations.

    But it is HER, not them.

  • La Cieca says:

    La Cieca knows this aria; in fact La Cieca used to sing this aria. Gheorghiu’s performance does not make her cringe.

    It’s not perfect: the recit is flat, and there are a couple of places where she gets ahead of the orchestra, both times caused because she phrases through instead of breathing where most singers catch a breath. For my taste, the “Mite gioconda” is taken a bit slowly for her size and body of voice; she would make a better effect here by keeping the line moving toward “fedelta.”

    It’s an aria recital, so it’s the conductor’s job to follow here. If this were a staged performance with other singers, I would expect her to “obey” more.

  • MontyNostry says:

    Well, she’s doing Adriana complete at Covent Garden next season, if she shows up. (That video must be from a few years ago.) Not much contrast between ‘mite’, ‘gioconda’and ‘atroce’ there, which is disapppointing…

    The much less hyped Nelly Miriciou gave a far more detailed and exciting rendition in the context of a complete concert performance in London a couple of years ago, with the much-maligned (on Parterre) Plowright as the Principessa and the gifted, but charisma-free tenor Peter Auty as Maurizio.

  • Arianna a Nasso says:

    I’m all in favor of an artist changing slightly from performance to performance rather than replicating an interpretation cookie-cutter, but it’s frustrating suffering through the wild variances that come up in virtually every Gheorghiu performance. It always feels like she and the conductor had set one tempo in rehearsal, and then she wildly goes off in a different direction that even the best “follower” can’t keep up with her. I can’t imagine that if she were to tell a conductor what tempi she needs, she wouldn’t get what she asks. I don’t recall such regular mishaps in live performaces by great interpreters like Scotto or Callas (no flames please)so it baffles me why Gheorghiu has to be so erratic.

  • casualoperafan says:

    Well first off, in this version the conductor DOES her and she does meander slightly. But when the conductor follows you it covers up that you are meandering.

    I am not suggesting that conductors shouldn’t follow meandering singers, just that this doesn’t change the fact that they meander and that some conductors don’t have that ability.

    This is from a concert in London, in which she actually stopped singing because she got lost in Lascia ch’io pianga :-) and had to start over. Of course the mistake is edited out.

    No one will believe me now, but… there was another version of this aria up there at one point, to which I was referring as cringe-worthy. She was wearing a completely different outfit and it was a completely different setting, not the Covent Garden. In that version she almost ground to a halt in one spot and then meandered wildly in another and overall in general it seemed like she never knew where it was at. She was better on pitch in that version but structurally all over the place!

    Now it is nowhere to be seen

  • “The conductor DOES her,” casualoperafan? No wonder she and Roberto are over, then.

  • Harry says:

    What is the meaning of artistic professionalism if there is no sense of planned co-ordination and then sticking ‘to the plan’ if performers are working together before a public audience? If the contrary keeps happening, it is not a simple case of mere accident or lazy oversight but someone deliberately trying to upstage other peers.
    Imagine AG if she kept pulling her wayward willful stunts on the likes of a Solti, or a Von Karajan(irksome though he was). There would have been a mighty firestorm. Miss A.G. would have been out on her backside, looking ‘for a job’ in a 5th rate house.
    Such undiscipined antics plus her frequent petulent cancellations, prove the going -currency of ‘what’s considered available’ to book these days. These sorts of accepted artist behavioral standards are the basis of the real rot setting in, and the decline of what WAS ONCE considered international-level operatic singing.

  • casualoperafan says:

    Hahahaha I meant, obviously, DOES follow her!

    Freudian slip, anyone?

  • m. p. arazza says:

    “Slatkin actually has conducted TRAVIATA in washington DC with Hei Kyung Hong in the 2003-2004 season. At the time he conducted a version of the opera that was very different than the one we see nowadays”

    Why then does he write, in his website: “At first, I said I would not do the switch [i.e. from Ghosts of Versailles]. After all, this is an opera I had never conducted…”
    (Does he consider the version that different?)

  • casualoperafan says:

    Re: Comment 124

    I basically agree with all your wrote regarding the soprano in question.

    There is an uncertainty of line in AG’s work that I find offputting. I too often feel it’s two steps away from collapse, and, for no good reason.

    It brings to mind a singer featured a few days ago -- Olivero. Now there was a singer who was very personal, very idiosyncratic in her delivery, yet, she never had that meandering uncertainty AG has so often. There was such a sculptural integrity to everything Olivero did -- and she did a lot in terms of pulling lines around, especially as she got older, but somehow she did it in a way that never shook the foundation of the line of the piece.

    Another singer who had that quality was definitely Scotto -- she also played around a LOT with rubato and lines, etc. but always seemed to have the musical foundation still in place. She somehow kept the proportions or something in a way that a singer like AG does not, AG loses the line often, aside from the examples of her many musical mistakes usually incorrect entrances.
    Not quite sure what terms to apply to the difference!!!!

    I’m all in favor of an artist changing slightly from performance to performance rather than replicating an interpretation cookie-cutter, but it’s frustrating suffering through the wild variances that come up in virtually every Gheorghiu performance. It always feels like she and the conductor had set one tempo in rehearsal, and then she wildly goes off in a different direction that even the best “follower” can’t keep up with her. I can’t imagine that if she were to tell a conductor what tempi she needs, she wouldn’t get what she asks. I don’t recall such regular mishaps in live performaces by great interpreters like Scotto or Callas (no flames please)so it baffles me why Gheorghiu has to be so erratic.

  • Regina delle fate says:

    Rutterama -- if she were singing at the all of the world’s great opera houses (she isn’t even singing much with any of the UK’s five leading companies) one might conceivably understand the Vicar’s sarcasm. Monty and Armer are absolutely right -- she is a serviceable ‘house’ soprano who might fill the Lorna Haywood or Ava June slot if ENO had a genuine company of the kind they did when those ladies (and the young Anne Evans, Josephine Barstow, Valerie Masterson etc) were members of the resident ensemble. Rutter is a hugely useful soprano, particularly in the Italian repertoire, for British companiesw who can’t afford international stars.Early in her career she was a fine Donna Anna, Elettra and Violetta for Scottish Opera, where she established her reputation. She has sung Tosca, Donna Anna and Amelia (Ballo)at ENO, but nowadays she appears to be only on Grange Park Opera, where she sang a creditable Norma and she is returning as Tosca this year. By the time she sang Alice at Santa Fe, I suspect her voice might have been too unwieldy for the role and she is not really a sparkling actress which I would have thought one of the pre-requisites. The way people go on here, you would think Santa Fe is America’s answer to Salzburg -- okay Susan Graham and Joyce Didonato occasionally sing there, but that doesn’t make it the American Salzburg. I’ve heard several third-rate Americans there who have gone on to sing with our provincial companies and ENO. You have to endure Clare Rutter’s Alice, we have to suffer Anna Christie’s singing-razor-blade Lucia. You win some you lose some in this globalised world of opera.

  • bassoprano says:

    Listening to the broadcast of the first performance, it is obvious Slatkin does not know how to conduct Traviata. He is messing up Hampson, Gheorghiu and the orchestra in equal measure. Hampson had to repeat a word, the orchestra was so far off. If the Met orchestra is falling apart in La Traviata, it HAS to be the conductor.

  • rapt says:

    Bassoprano,that’s the feeling I have. Slatkin seems unable either to follow effectively or, alternatively, to assert himself. Gheorghiu and Hampson don’t really seem that eccentric in their pacing. It does feel as if they’re being left alone--and then undermined--by the conductor. I’m not going to stay up for the curtain calls, but I do wonder how Slatkin will be received.

  • bassoprano says:

    I can’t really imagine Ms. Gheorghiu having to bring him out for a bow. She should send the Annina to do it.