Cher Public

Angel of peace

lupone_angelLa Cieca’s fans worldwide will be happy to note that she doesn’t think scandals are limited to only New York and Bayreuth. In fact, wherever Patti LuPone goes, scandale follows. Right now, La LuPone is in Chicago, and, yes, the Hogtown natives are restless.

But, this time at least, the diva’s not the cause of the scandale, more like an innocent bystander. And, in fact, her upcoming performance of Annie Get Your Gun is being used as a sort of olive branch for the shortchanged patrons of the Ravinia Festival. [Chicago Tribune]

  • This is extremely Off Topic but I thought it worthwhile, as it’s quite new.

    Glyndebourne, so it seems, have managed to find the perfect Anna / Elvira combination for their new Don Giovanni, conducted by Jurowski.

    Anna Samuil is a known quantity as Donna Anna. I’ve heard her do it live and she is really impressive, no problem dominating the ensembles like the human trumpet she shoule be, and moreover, she has easy, flexible coloratura. The diction isn’t bad and she knows what it takes to be effective in this Verdian role.

    Despite some distorted vowels and a rather fast tempo, Kate Royal is really impressive as Elvira. The voice functions very well in this extremely intricate yet voluptuous aria. AND she retains the traditional “Glyndebourne” breaths at the coda, which, despite being much more difficult, I think are more ‘in style’ and make better musical sense -- keeping the ‘lui’ going towards the ‘pieta’, and breathing only after the second word. It is customary in Glyndebourne since Helletsgruber, and Yakar, Ewing, Pieczonka, everybody did it like this over there.

    I hope that they release it officially.

    • dame ernestine sherman tank

      Off Topic? Yeah. A bit….

    • Simon Blackmouth

      The tempo in “Mi tradì” does not sound fast to me. It sounds pretty normal, possibly even a tad on the slow side.

      • It’s an error made by so many conductors. In the classical period, tempi shold be related to one another, as in a dance suite (actually it’s a very good maxim to go by even in later repertoire). Elvira’s Mi tradi is marked Allegretto, whereas Anna’s Fors’e un giorno (the cabaletta) is marked Allegretto moderato. Assuming the Mozart knew what he was doing, both tempi should be similar, the Elvira aria slightly faster, definitely not the allegro taken by most conductors. The basic defining unit in both arias is an eigth note. If you take Anna’s cabaletta in the same speed as the Elvira (and you should), the sixteen notes coloratura in the Anna aria become absurdly fast, when done Allegro. So basically Mozart is indicating that the Allegretto for Elvira should be flowing and lyrical withought being hysterical, while the Anna cabaletta should be a mite faster and more brilliant than it is usually done. Gardiner, Mackerras and Jacobs get it perfectly right.
        Besides, in a slower Elvira tempo you can hear all the juicy wind detail and the music just breaths better. It’s a very Beethovenian aria, meaning that the basic motive is going through the voice, than imitated by the instruments. Orchestral detail is extremely important here.

        Another common tempo mistake in Don Giovanni, on endorsed no doubt by the 19th century, is the Andante introduction and statue scene in the 2nd finale, which is uniformally done at an Adagio. This is effective stage music, not a Bruckner slow movement. Yet most people think the slow, heavy tempo is more ‘impressive’. Because that’s what they’re used to.

  • SilvestriWoman

    Thanks, La Cieca, for spreading the word! This “scandale” is actually the icing on the cake for rising local frustration with Ravinia. Andrew Patner’s Sun-Times piece truly sums it up:

    I was at this concert. How ill-attended was it? Hardly anyone on the lawn… Though I’d paid for the cheapest Pavilion seat ($25), I had a fabulous seat -- dead center in the center section. The cheap seats were virtually empty. (In fact, I retreated there after intermission, finding the acoustic superior and better able to silently sob in peace.)

    Just as bad -- or worse -- was the abominable PR Ravinia sent out -- via e-mail and Facebook -- right before the concert. The concert was billed as a Wagner greatest hits evening featuring his famous Ride of the Valkyries. This perplexed me as the program announced was the Brunnhilde’s Awakening from Siegfried, followed by three Gotterdammerung excerpts: the Rhine Journey, Siegfried’s Funeral Music and, of course, the Immolation Scene. Well, that’s exactly what I got. Either the PR department never bothered to check the programming or chose to promote an entirely different program. Heads should roll…

    • quoth the maven

      The gaucherie of the PR copy beggars description. Among other things, it seems like they were determined to get in a Looney Tunes reference—even if it didn’t correspond to what was being played:

      Joined by two soloists famous the world over for their Wagnerian interpretations, James [i.e. Conlon] is scaling the Olympus of opera again by conducting L.A. Opera’s first complete Ring Cycle in 2010. We’ll get a sampling of that music on this program that includes the “Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walküre (can anyone ever forget Elmer Fudd’s classic cartoon rendition of “Kill the Wabbit”?), the galvanizing “Forging Scene” and “Brünnhilde’s Awakening” from Siegfried, “Siegfried’s Rhine Journey” from Götterdämmerung and the ultimate musical cataclysm, “Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene,” which concludes the entire Ring cycle.


  • OpinionatedNeophyte

    What IS it about Annie Get Your Gun anyway? First there was that ill thought revival that the normally luminescent Bernadette Peters inexplicably won a Tony for. There’s the sure-fire Debbie Get Your Trainwreck in the works and now Lupone is going to sledgehammer the role? Is this now everyone’s favorite vehicle or is it just that at this point we’re finally throwing away all pretense that Lupone can perform roles that require even a hint of subtlety in the acting or singing. What’s Audra McDonald up to? I’ve never seen her play to anything but a well sold house at Ravinia, even with Lupone there in the way.

    • Baritenor

      Annie sings about 85% of the score. No wonder Divas love it.

  • So the patrons paid money to see really short celebration of Sondheim and as a compensation, they have to spend more money to get a free ticket. Two for one still means they have to buy something. So, in essence, Ravinia is double dipping.

  • Bluessweet

    Don’t worry Chicago—Philly’s Mann is trying to out do you. $15.00 parking fee--on grass! More pop than Philly Orchestra. Declining attendance at the Orchestra. Curtis students (good but really!) in place of name artists. Fewer name conductors.

    We”ve gotten to the point where a semi comedic performance (Malena Ernman) can be compared to an established opera star doing a pop song straight (Anna Nebtrenko.)

    It seems that taste is gravitating to the mouth.

    • SilvestriWoman

      Bluessweet, not sure if you’ve ever been to Ravinia, but paid parking is on dirt and gravel. The “bonus”? You’re right outside the park. Free parking is available but in distant lots. School buses transport you to/from the park -- unbelievable lines. The best way is the train. Metra gives a great deal of round-trip for $6. It’s good on any train but there’s a Ravinia Special train that gives you an express trip to the park from downtown at the same price.

      All this saddens me if it reflects poorly on the CSO -- still the jewel of Ravinia. I can see incredible concerts for a fraction of the price of Orchestra Hall. As I said, rear Pavilion seats are a mere $25 -- a steal. The great irony is that it’s the non-classical concerts that are absurdly expensive. With those, Pavilion seats are all the same price, and invariably cost more than the most expensive CSO concert. The only one I attended was Tony Bennett, but bought a $15 lawn ticket -- incredible performance, but I’ll never do that again. Though I arrived 90 minutes before the concert started, I was literally sitting with my back in the bushes. Ridiculous…

  • Clita del Toro

    I live in Chicago and regularly attend the free concerts at Millennium Park (I can walk there from where I live), but rarely--very rarely--go to Ravinia. I just don’t like those types of venues.

    I lived in DC for over 22 years and went to Wolf Trap one time (not that I went to the Washingon Opera that often; I would rather fly to NY and go to the Met). It was so hot and sticky at Wolf trap, I never went back. I am sure that the weather at Ravinia is great this cool summer! LOL
    As to Brewer/Wagner, I barely knew about the concert; and if I had been more aware of it, I wouldn’t have gone anyway.

    It would, however, take a Meade Norma to get me there!

    • SilvestriWoman

      Well, you missed out on an incredible evening of Wagner. Yes, I saw Nilsson’s Gotterdammerung Brunnhilde -- SFO ’73. Brewer sang just as effortlessly -- perhaps even more so. Treleaven, though not blessed with true beauty of tone, still sang his music without effort and, in the Funeral Music, great emotional depth. All received a thunderous applause but the loudest ovations -- deservedly so -- went to the great CSO brass section (especially the principal horn player). At the end, Conlon held up his baton for quite some time, and the audience respected it. All you heard was the soft breeze in the trees -- and, yes, the weather was sublime.

      • scifisci

        It’s interesting….i’ve eagerly gone to so much of what christine brewer has done in NYC, mostly at carnegie hall, and i’ve never been impressed by the voice. Could it be that she holds back 95% of the time? I really have to say i’ve been wondering what the fuss is about, though my experience contradicts so much of what others have written about her.

  • Clita del Toro

    As to Patti LuPone, Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun or anything Sondheim, wild horses couldn’t drag me to Ravinia or anywhere else to see that stuff. Well, maybe Betty Hutton would if she were still with us.

    • mrmyster

      Hey Clitz — you are soooo deja vu!! So diffident! Any fool knows you have to take the train from WDC to NYC, not fly, to be in proper form for opera!! Tut!
      As for Sondheim, he did some good stuff, but his only outstanding talent is,
      of course, to make money and that he has done awfully well. His old music
      teacher from Williams College told me, “he has little talent or serious artistic
      purpose, but he’s avid for money -- all he thinks agout!” Why am I not

      • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

        BBC Radio 3 ran a Sondheim love-in all last week in the run-up to a Proms concert featuring, among others, Dame Judi Dench (no doubt summoning some amusing circus personnel) and Bryn Terfel. The composer attended in person, and he granted the Beeb an interview during the week.

        Goodness! Every work sounded the same -- ballsy gals and fey tenors ironising and emoting away no great effect, ever in a minor key.

        It reminded me of what Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant said when comparing him to Prince: unique -- but also overrated.

  • Clita del Toro

    My Meister. I often took the train but loved the shuttle as well. There wa a shuttle Delta? Wher you could take a boat to the East Side, it was fun.
    Sorry, typing on this phone is hell!

  • WindyCityOperaman

    So is anyone going to bother to read the bitter windbag’s autobio when it comes out September 14?

    Sorry, not a fan of the LuPone and the Patinkin anymore. Lately sings like she has lockjaw and he sounds like a parody of his younger self.