Cher Public

Put on your Tuesday clothes

MANON;ROHLa Cieca’s old, old, old friend Intermezzo (not pictured) reacts to last night’s prima of Manon at the Royal Opera: Anna Netrebko “sang strongly, the voice fuller and darker than ever before, looking gorgeous” and Vittorio Grigolo‘s “technique and stamina were truly spectacular.” The pair “were, deservedly, a huge hit with the audience…. authentic and vital.” The Laurent Pelly production offers “some stylish stage pictures, but his storytelling doesn’t hang together.” [Intermezzo]

  • you should see Vittorio shirtless on the Otello DVD, and he is on my facebook, check him out, only 33 yo.

    • Il faut parterre

      Wenarto…your comments are lewd, bawdy, and disgusting to serious students of the High Art of opera.

      In other words: I like you! :-)

  • as far as ANNA….hmmmmm, I think I have to compete

    • Wernato -- so much one could say if only one could find the words…..

  • Flamingopera

    Not shure about the production…and I’m not shure if the Met public will like it… :S


      What are your reservations, Flamingo?

      • Flamingopera

        I’m not sure…it’s just that it looks a bit plain… But that’s only by looking at the pictures. It’s just my first impressions. Maybe it’s very good!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Since we were talking about VUVUZELAS on Parterre long before OperaChic, don’t miss the great vuvuzela recital now at DIE ZEIT (also embedded by the ever savy Chic):
    The intonation of the vuvuzela players in the Ravel Bolero put many singers to shame in terms of accuracy of pitch!

    • Il faut parterre

      With all due respect, QPF, I don’t believe the majority of visitors to this sacred site are all that interested in intimate aspects of the female sexual anatomy…

    • papopera

      ah! ah! for the vuvuzela, sounds like an old serpent. I tried mine, but my heart exploded.
      To play tunes on them, one should have 6 holes pierced in it, it will then give a lot of harmonics.

  • Flamingopera

    Hey…a bit out of subject but was Sonia Ganassi going to sing Eboli in don Carlo at the Met next season? Its because I just checked the brochure they sent us after the season announcement and its written her name. Now its Anna Smirnova who will sing the role according to the Met’s website…

    • stuey cheedio

      She’s recently had her first child: she withrew from the ROH’s first revival of this production due to pregnancy. If it’s any consolation, Eboli is really not her role, and I would think definitely not in a house the size of the Met.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        I think she was great in the first outing of this production. I was expecting her to be too light for it, and while it’s true that she was very much at the lyric end of the role, she didn’t disappoint in the garden trio or ‘O don fatale’ -- her top notes (bs? or are they c-flats in the context?) were spectacular. Her voice has enough brightness and release for it not to matter whether she’s at the ROH or the Met, she could convince in the role in any house.

        • I would have to agree with Cocky. There is a strong tradition of Rossini mezzos growing into this role (Ganassi, Horne and Balsta are but 3). The clip of O don fatale shows that she was much better than Podles in the role.

          Yes the voice is on the lyric side, but that makes the accomplishment all the more impressive to me. At this point she is tired and she is obviously paced herself well to be able to sing it like this. Personally i prefer her in it, I never liked her Rossini.

          The aria starts at around the 3 minute mark.

        • She’s definitely on the lighter side for Eboli but I liked this very much. Great involvement in the role. Gleaming hight notes (and yes, that big note near the beginning is a C-flat).

        • Regina delle fate

          Never heard Horne’s Eboli live, but I remember reading less than adulatory reviews when she did it for the first time and a New York friend told me she didn’t really cut the mustard at the Met. I did hear Baltsa and the role was a HUGE stretch for her, although she’s exciting on the Karajan recording, more so than Lucia Valentini-Terrani on the Abbado French version. I’m not sure if LV-T ever sang Eboli in the theatre, but on disc she sounds like a Rossini mezzo getting above herself. Ganassi at Covent Garden was fine, but again she sounded like a Rossini/Donizetti singer, at least compared to my first Ebolis, Fiorenza and Grace -- Borodina and Zajick I haven’t heard live, either, but I guess they are the best Verdian options for the role in big theatres. I really can’t understand why we never hear Zajick in London when we get Marianna Cornetti as Eboli and Amneris. As for the new CG Manon, I think it looks pretty grim and will look worse at the Met -- the Hotel de Transylvanie looks like a green multi-level prison and is hard to move in. Nebs looked gorgeous, and her high Ds were fine, although one sounded as if it might sag and Grigolo has a surprisingly large voice which he is already pushing. He’s fantastic on stage and Pappano got him to sing some really lovely mezza voce phrases, which might sound like crooning in a bigger-theatre. I think Beczala is a better choice for the role when the production goes to the Met, but he’s not as cute as Grigolo.

  • CruzSF

    I hope a broadcast of this production is coming to Operacast. From the photos, at least, Anna looks totally invested in the part.


      Speaking of broadcasts, I’ll try to put out a list of available things as I did last week, but so far nothing is listed. I visited a couple of websites, and found that there will indeed be a MANON but it’s from Canada and features Nathalie Paulin and Michael Schade.

      • Buster

        Nathalie Paulin has a very beautiful voice -- she was Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Lia here, earlier this month.


          She was also one of his soloists in tonight’s broadcast of the Mahler 8th. Of course, it’s hard to judge who is who in that. Except that MacMaster made me cringe.

        • Buster

          Yes, dress in yellow is a excellent idea:

    • Strephon

      It is being relayed and streamed on 10th July by BBC R3:

      Last night I attended the 3D filming of Carmen at Covent Garden, and operatic first . Two great booms across the auditorium , a dolly at the front of stage, and a peripatetic hand held cam. Pity it had to be Hymel, constricted with truly awful French, rather than Alagna as earlier in the season.. To be screened in the autumn.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    The prima of Manon at the ROH got great reviews by all critics. One described Netrebko’s E-flat as “stratospheric.” It was a great night for both Netrebko and Grigolo. It seems that with the eclipse of Villazon, Netrebko will partner more often with Baczala and Grigolo, with Giordano and Alagna in between. I saw the HD re-run of Met’s Romeo et Juliet tonight, and Netrebko and Alagna looked and sang better than I originally thought.

    • Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t recall opportunity for Eb’s in Manon, I do remember several D’s that can be sung, but no Eb’s.

      Nebby looks possitively fantastic in that pic. A vision from heaven And she looks fantastic in pinks.


        Yeah? Maybe, I guess. I keep expecting Kramer to come through the door.

    • starflamingqueen

      Deaf critics again. Nothing higher than a D was emitted from Netrebko’s variable throat all evening. As much as I adore reading Intermezzo’s blog, she has no ear for music at all. Netrebko looked a million dollars but sang with all the panache of a fish wife. God awful French throughout, breaths snatched everywhere, which constantly destroyed the line and real pitching problems throughout. Her gavotte was as clumsy as I’ve ever heard, but by Acts IV and V she was sensational. Why is she so variable?

      • enzo

        Deaf indeed. I’ve never heard Netrebko sing a high D on pitch. There are many people who think that a high note is either a C or an E-flat. And today’s critics are a hopeless bunch.

        What’s with this Grigolo hysteria? Do we have another Villazon here? I’m beginning to suspect that the ROH uses sound enhancement.

        • OpinionatedNeophyte

          I think there’s no question Grigolo is heading towards Villazon burnout. There’s some unfortunate clips of him singing Nessun Dorma out there and he literally does Kathleen Battle face, lips over the mouth, at a number of points and it definitely creeps you out. Here’s hoping he’s not on a shortlist to sing the whole role any time soon. Why aren’t these guys ever willing to sing, light lyric stuff until they get into their late 30s or 40s? Sure the six pack may soften, but there are lots of opera goers who will ooh and aww over a sexy 40something who hasn’t ruined their voice.

        • Okay, please tell me what is more “light lyric” than Des Grieux? There are simply not enough productions of Don Giovanni in the world for everyone to sing Ottavio for the first 20 years of his career.

          And for heaven’s sake: singing an aria is not singing the opera. Or has Renee Fleming been singing Marietta in Die Tote Stadt for the past two decades without anyone noticing?

        • I might add to La Cieca’s post that a young lyric cast in a French opera brings more opportunity for the kind of delicate singing that French music requires and which young lyrics can do with more ease.

        • Ciaca carissima, de Grieus is not all that lyric. there are parts that feel truly spinto to the voice. The scene after the Ah Fuyez is a trial for any lyric tenor who has not paced himself well. I saw several tenors crack their way through the aria and the following duet.

        • ilpenedelmiocor

          I’ve never heard Netrebko sing anything on pitch. Well, maybe the happy birthday clip.

        • MontyNostry

          I can see Nebs’ appeal — and her top notes are impressive — but am I alone in finding something vaguely unpleasant in the tone itself, though I appreciate that it is bascially rich and rounded? It’s hard to describe, but it’s a slightly sickly edge: a bit like the sour fatty taste you get in a Krispy Kreme doughnut!

      • Henry Holland

        And for heaven’s sake: singing an aria is not singing the opera. Or has Renee Fleming been singing Marietta in Die Tote Stadt for the past two decades without anyone noticing?

        I wish, she’d be a terrific Marie/Marietta! Instead, she decides to punish bel canto fans…..

    • DonCarloFanatic

      I saw it too, I’m still high.

      I don’t even like Romeo and Juliet (the story) in any form. This one had magic.

    • “Stratospheric”? Were they tuning at A=442 or something? I mean, don’t most E-flats possess around the same amount of stratosphere? Or is that a nice way of saying she was singing a little sharp?

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    I’m going to see this on July 4th and I can’t wait. I just hope Trebs doesn’t get bored and leave town before the end of the run. Maybe it has just been my bad luck, but she seems like the Caballe of our age in that sense (and that sense only).

    • Does Netrebko have a reputation for leaving a production mid-run? This is news to me.

      • SF Guy

        Netrebko has appeared in over ten productions here, and never left one earlier than scheduled. The closest she’s come was renogiating her Traviata contract last summer after the birth of her child, skipping her originally announced two performances in July; however, this was done more than six months in advance, so ticket holders had plenty of time to make an exchange if Perez or Futral weren’t to their taste.

        Her record in L.A. is also excellent, at least once she shows up for the opening. She did cancel an Idomeneo production down there on relatively short notice, but she wasn’t as big a star at the time and Domingo was the headliner, so it didn’t exactly leave them high and dry.

        To my knowledge, her track record in this department is better than average (though that final Met Boheme this spring looks a bit suspect).

    • Can you tell us what you’re talking about? When did Netrebko do this? In New York, she’s got a superb attendance record.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Just my bad luck then, I expect. Of the 4 times I’ve booked to see her in something, she has actually appeared only once.

  • SopracutO

    Teh amazing buffo Paolo Bordogna as Mamm’Agata in Donizetti’s “Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali”

  • manou
    • OpinionatedNeophyte

      Two of those three compliments had nothing to do with singing…hmmmmmmmm

    • Regina delle fate

      However one describes her top notes -- penetrating, brilliant, just about on pitch -- they could hardly be called “creamy”. I’d love to know of a soprano with creamy high notes -- possibly Leontyne Price but brilliant and gleaming would be a better description of those, too. Maybe he meant knicker-creaming high notes, if you’ll pardon the vulgarity.


    RIP Giacinto Prandelli, June 14. “Attention must be paid to such a man.”

    • CruzSF

      I’d love to read any fond memories you can share about this artist.

  • richard

    Prandelli was a very elegant sounding lyric tenor.
    I never heard him live; he retired around the time I started to go to opera performances but I was familiar with his work on records.

    When I was younger and more impressed with decibels than I am now, I thought he was sort of unimpressive.

    But I returned to some of his recordings a few years back and had a new appreciation for his work, he never shouted or tried to make a bigger sound than he had. And I really enjoyed his Maurizio on the Cetra recording of Adriana with Carla Gavazzi, both singers clearly understood the style of the music they were singing but neither turned the opera into a screamfest, which destroys the atmosphere that this piece should have.

    • Will

      How refreshing to find an appreciation of artistry over brute volume!

  • thomas

    It’s shocking that this run of Manon is not sold out.

  • Popp Fanatic

    Well, I went to the second performance on Friday despite the fact that Manon is not one of my favourite operas (sue me). I really only went because it is a new production from a director whose work I have greatly admired in the past and, yes, for Trebs. She may be flawed in some aspects (which artist isn’t?) but she’s also quite unique in many others. We’re fortunate to be able to enjoy such a talent performing live; avoiding her because of the publicity surrounding her is just silly.

    Anyway, to my unrefined and uneducated ears this was a top rate performance. Indeed most of the enjoyment went to those second-rate sensory organs, since the production was sadly uneven: there were moments where it really worked (e.g the dirty old men ogling and groping at the ballerinas in Act 3 was extremely perceptive in the context of the period the piece was transposed to) but many more where it didn’t (e.g the annoying fluorescent lights in Act 4 which spoiled our night vision so that we couldn’t actually properly see the performers!).

    But I found the performances almost uniformly marvellous. Sure, you can always find little things you can nitpick. For instance, Grigolo is a very impressive talent from a vocal athleticism point of view and has an exciting voice, but I prefer singers who are more nuanced and don’t blast out full volume just because they have the ability. He’s still a work in progress, but it remains a very impressive Covent Garden debut, and he’s one to watch in the future.

    Trebs was probably at her best I’ve seen her live. In my opinion she has greatly matured as a performer over the last few productions I’ve seen her. Starting with the 08 Trav, continuing with the 09 Caps and Monties and now with this Manon she seems to be turning into a more subtle performer: she doesn’t go for backflips or hanging upside-down from the edge of the orchestra pit these days, and the result is much more satisfying. Her singing was gorgeous and, probably due to the extensive rehearsals, as precise as I’ve ever heard it. Even her breathing -which can be dodgy sometimes- was fine.

    As for the athletic report, since you people here are mostly American and so you care about the bottom line: she hit all those silly high Ds or whatever they are. One or two came out a bit thin and reedy, the other nice and clear, and for all of them I will say again: Who cares really? Go listen to a tuning fork if you must have the perfect pitch.

    Honestly, I don’t understand people who shell out 200 quid so that they can have a good moan afterwards. We have disasters enough in opera (cancellations are my personal bete noire and Trebs is particularly annoying when it comes to that), and lord knows how many times I’ve felt short-changed because of a conceited production or singers mailing the performance in. Here we were lucky enough to witness one of the good nights: talented performers and a top-rate director going all-out for our benefit, and mostly succeeding. Was it perfect? No. Was some other performance a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away much better? Probably. So? I personally had a great time and I don’t even *like* bloody Manon that much!

    • ilpenedelmiocor

      Hell yeah, she’s a world class musician, why should she have to worry about stupid things like pitch?

      • Popp Fanatic

        Har, har, how witty. It’s not like we’re talking about the whole score being sung off-tune! It’s 2-3 (whatever the number is, it’s not my favourite opera and I don’t know it by heart) extreme notes. If they’re hit, fine, if they’re not, big deal. I’ll take a beautifully coloured, quite unique, voice bringing out the emotion in the score (not to mention the theatrical performance) but missing 1-2 notes any day of the week.

        This is not sport we’re talking about, chaps. Or rather, it’s a bit like a good 0-0 draw in soccer. It’s not the number of goals in the game, it’s how it’s played (a bit like “size” and how you use it :-)).

        I have concluded quite a long time ago that to look for “perfect” performances was not only futile, it was also philosophically repulsive to me. I don’t get along with Plato and his ideal archetypes, you see. Opera at its best is a live art form, shaped by the performers and the orchestra in a different way every night. An infinity of flawed but alive perfomances is preferable to a perfect (and dead) archetype. I guess this approach makes me crass and uncultivated, but it also definitely makes me a happier camper than many around here.

        • judycadanna

          Amen. And if she looks like a DollyLeviIdLikeToFuck while doing it, so much the better!

  • Constantine A. Papas


    Well done; but don’t blame Trebs for backflips and upsidedowns. These are directors’ ideas who take advandage of Netrebko’s theatrical and athletic capabilities. She may like them but she doesn’t invent or demand them.

    • I never understood why people reacted so strongly to Netrebko hanging her head in the orchestra pit for five seconds in Puritani. Why not? It was interesting moment of staging and has been talked about ever since. One has to take risks in order to achieve something remarkable. Yes, for most people, that bit of staging was a mistake but I don’t fault her for taking the risk. It was a striking physical gesture and it got people talking. Sopranos usually run all over the stage during mad scenes anyway, so why not hang her head in the pit? How is that any less legitimate than running back and forth and on stage?


        Simple, Kash. It breaks “the fourth wall,” the tacit agreement between performer and audience that what is occurring on-stage is just like real life, only louder, brighter, more expensive, and set to music. There just weren’t that many Puritan castles with orchestra pits, and when she hung her head over the side it jarred the audience into remembering that what they were witnessing was taking place in a theatre, instead of in a 17th Century home populated by two dead horses, a portrait of Mao Tse-Tung, a phalanx of servants dressed as Japanese beetles, and assorted Regie-mimes with daffodils stuck in their asses.

        • luvtennis


          Breaking the 4th wall can work in some very limited circumstances -- but ONLY when done with a very particular effect in mind. The Callas Bernstein Sonnambula comes to mind -- as you recall, they turned up the house lights for the final cabaletta which was addressed directly to the audience.


          I haven’t believed in the 4th wall since Our Town.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Sorry; the above comment was meant for Popp Fanatic, #14

    • operacat

  • Popp Fanatic


    Well, according to her interviews both of these examples were her idea; I recall her saying that the the upside down bit was made in a desperate attempt to spruce up that neolithic Puritani production.

    In any case, I don’t “blame” her. I actually *like* the woman! I meant to illustrate that these days she goes for a more understated acting approach, that just happens to be more effective than the energetic outbursts of old, fun though those undoubtedly were.

  • manou

    Okay -- here is a less dithyrambic review :

    from our old old friends at Opera Britannia.

    The Sundays are still gushing and very complimentary.