Cher Public

October song

stock_crashReaders of are, La Cieca calculates, about six weeks ahead of the curve, so your doyenne figures you are ready to hear what will likely be a major scoop in the New York Times a few days prior to Halloween. It’s about the technical rehearsals for the Met’s season opener Das Rheingold, and what is heard from backstage is not encouraging.  

A source close to the Met whispers that the rehearsals thus far have been “excruciatingly slow, and plagued by multiple technical glitches, which end up dragging out the rehearsal process beyond scheduled stop times, resulting in numerous overtime expenses for technical crew.” The informant adds, “And to what effect? So far nothing looks very exciting.”

Of course, a lot can happen in two weeks, and La Cieca understands that the Met’s main stage will be devoted to that production practically every day of that time before the opening night. But will this show turn out to be just too complicated for the Met?

  • Nero Wolfe

    Wow. Great scoop. Cannot wait to see who points the first finger at whom.

  • CruzSF

    :-( I very much want this production to work out. I hope they can resolve their issues — technical and otherwise — soon.

    • louannd

      YES! Please, I want to be excited about something!

    • Me too. I’m rooting for this production to be a triumph. As La Cieca has said, a lot can happen in two weeks. We’ve all seen episodes of Project Runway where the designer pulls it altogether and turns a mess into a success.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Rehearsing Wagner is often slow going for the tech people. Maybe if the mole were singing Alberich he would have a different feeling about how the time was passing. As for being exciting, maybe it’s not supposed to be exciting, just undulating with a zillion light cues.

  • LittleMasterMiles

    It’s hard to know what to make of this without more precise information. Does “technical glitches” mean cues that have to be just right and take a long time to perfect, or machinery that doesn’t work. Because LePage’s always depend on extremely precise cues, and I wouldn’t be surprised if rehearsals go long (remember the infamous final light cue in the Bondy Tosca? Apparently they re-rehearsed that one every night during the Act II-III intermission). On the other hand, if the 60-ton see-saw isn’t working, that could be a huge problem (and one that should have been solved back in Montreal.)

  • messa di voce

    “And to what effect? So far nothing looks very exciting.”

    And that is the ultimate measure of the artistic merit of a production, isn’t it: that it be exciting during tech rehearsals. I remember how everyone was on the edge of their seats during the techs for “Carmelites.”

  • Well, a couple of things La Cieca can guess at here.

    One is that ten days or so of on-stage rehearsals can make an enormous difference in a production. We have heard reports from open dress rehearsals of details that were changed by the time of the official opening, and, in the case of the Doyle Peter Grimes even some tweaking between the opening and the second performance.

    The other is that Peter Gelb is not afraid to spend money when he thinks it will make a difference. So he’s not going to send everyone home just because of the spectre of golden time; rather, he’s going to keep everyone working as long as it seems like progress is being made.

    Perhaps in the next couple of weeks there will be some effects that will be omitted or simplified from the original concept, but that’s not unusual for an elaborate production on any stage.

    • CarlottaBorromeo

      Oh a lot can happen late. At the premiere of the horrible Moshinsky Luisa Miller a few years ago Joe Volpe restaged the final scene during the second interval!

      • Was there anything that man couldn’t do?

        • CarlottaBorromeo

          well he couldn’t do much to improve that awful production!!

  • I see the PR Dept. is hard at work already trying to drum up a little tidbit of gossip. Lets not put the cart before the horse here. They still have plenty of time to get it right and I am really looking forward to this so they better get it right.

  • papopera

    Nothing is too complicated for the Met’s magical stage I’m sure. But that new production by LePage frightens me. I’m rather old fashioned prefer the classic spectacular old production which I hope has not been destroyed.


    • LittleMasterMiles

      I liked the previous production as well, but in calling it “old” let’s not make the mistake of thinking it had some kind of authenticity. A friend of mine, in excoriating the Bondy Tosca last year, complained that he preferred “the original,” meaning the Zeffirelli spectacular.

      I don’t think it much matters whether the previous production was destroyed—they’ll never revive it, and I don’t think it could go into any other house on earth (not, at least, without a major redesign). Does any other opera house with a stage the size of the Met’s have the necessary elevators?

    • Uninvolved Bystander

      I saw the Schenk “Ring” 5 times. In fact, my very first time at the Met was for the 1993 Ring. Each successive cycle was lit darker and darker to try to disguise how shabby the production was getting. The last time I expected to see the cast channel the spirit of Birgit Nilsson and come out in miner’s helmet.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    The Wonka Chocolate ad was just here a second ago. That was exciting.

  • jatm2063

    We should give them the benefit of the doubt, and not make any judgments until after it has premiered. Tech rehearsals exist to work out the problems.

  • florezrocks

    OT: Fleming sounds amazing in the Four Last Songs right now from Proms!

    • CwbyLA

      she is not singing the Four Last Songs.

      • florezrocks

        indeed I am an idiot!

    • Uninvolved Bystander

      Renee leading the Proms audience in “Rule Brittania.” Bashing to commence in 3…2…1

      • CwbyLA

        why can’t we have a similar thing here in America? This sounds so festive!

  • Conchita

    Sorry to break ranks. The Proms (which I admit I just finished listening to) is a display of self-congratulatory provincialism and smugness about all things British that is unsurpassed except for perhaps American nationalism about how great all things in the US are, which of course they’re not.

    • CwbyLA

      oh no, don’t be sorry.

    • Conchita, I assume you mean The Last Night of the Proms? I am trying to think of how a incredible concert such as the other evening’s Vivaldi-Handel with Jean Christophe Spinosi, Ensemble Matheus, Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Philippe Jaroussky was a display of “self-congratulatory provincialims etc.” or the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s doing Ligeti or Nina Stemme doing Berlioz. Would there were other places in the world where such a wealth of music were performed as is listed here:

      • Uninvolved Bystander

        I’m recording this Prom right now. I’ll have all the concerts on my computer before the end of the week and a lot of good music to listen to during the winter months.

        Yes, the second half of the Last Night may have a bit of British nationalism to it but Americans should be wary of snarking on a day when too many of our fellow citizens are wrapping themselves in a cloak of our brand of nationalism.

      • Harry

        What else does the ‘Bee-Bee -See’ do, but self congratulate itself gathering together to its bosom , this display of European provincial music making? Whilst it itself , is still grandly funded, by ripping off the English public with mandatory tax funding from ‘license fees’. It is socialistic old hat practices, akin to ‘You will take it AND YOU WILL like it’. Throw in the most weird forms of programming and tell the masses how clever you are.

        • Uninvolved Bystander

          Yes, those “socialistic old-hat practices” can’t hold a candle to our bold and brazen PBS/NPR programming and the for-profit examples of all those flourishing classical music stations.How’s that working out for you?

        • brooklynpunk


          give it up, ALREADY….

          “AUNTIE BEEB” IS THE BEST THING TO EVER HIT THE AIR-WAVES…I would be grouchier then I usually am, without the GREAT programming on many, if not ALL the BBC stations…talk and music….

        • Harry

          Well,Uninvolved Bystander & brooklynpunk… have you noticed the ‘austerity cut backs going on with with the Bee Bee See’,while at the same time,the disclosures are coming out thick & fast about the financial routs committed by many members of staff. When you have ‘mandatory license fees’ you also have to have ‘Orwellian little tin god inspectors’ to go around, snoop, check and prosecute those, not paying. Creating a whole new line of ’empty non productive jobs about CONTROL’. That’s efficiency??!!! But then, England is the great Land of the CCTV surveillance’. I am sure they cannot even scratch their bum without it being observed and recorded.
          Now take a different model -The Australian Broadcasting Commission. Once it ran on that same model till it was abolished decades ago. It is calculated that each Australian through their normal taxes pays 8 cents a day. For which they get 3 digital HD TV channels, and numerous 24 hour FM radio stations (including purely classical) ..all going digital across the entire length & breath of the country. Yes, and they are presenting the Domingo Rigoletto tonight on TV in HD. Yet dear little Britain : you could plonk the whole of it inside just one of the very smallest states of Australia.
          Besides that , they are 3 more TV Channels (SBS) which takes limited advertising and show the finest discerning TV programs and films the World has to offer….it has its own sub-titling teams for foreign programming.Then there is another 9 commercial TV channels, and then finally the only thing people ‘choose to pay for’ …various cable networks .

          Besides their own collections of music….do people have the actual time to listen to what is truly available? I think not. There is only 24 hours in any day…that has not changed.

        • Regina delle fate

          The BBC is a bargain. £135 a year for four television channels, some of which produce shows and documentaries which are seen all over the world. It also funds five orchestras -- if it didn’t there would be no orchestra in Cardiff or Belfast -- and it organises the Proms which in addition to some “provincial” and London-based organisations, invites the greatest orchestras in the world. American orchestras were thin on the ground this year but that’s partly because they don’t have the sort of core state subsidy enjoyed by their European counterparts and rely to an extent on the rich of wealthy individuals and corporations. As for the Last Night, well the warmest applause for Fleming all evening was when she said how touched she was at the support she was getting on the anniversary of 9/ll. She was in lovely voice, and looked wonderful.

        • armerjacquino

          Anyone who uses ‘socialistic’ as a derogatory term loses me straight away.

        • I am right there with you, Armerjacquino. The word socialist is for me a compliment, but then, after a life time in the US, I am used to hearing it used in a derogatory way.

    • operabitch

      Conchita: that time of the month again, huh? Might be a good day to stay off the computer

    • Harry

      Gee, don’t tell us The Proms are still carrying on with all that flag waving Elgarian ‘Land of Hope & Glory’ stuff and all things British. I find such shows of blind nationalistic feverishness sends chills down one’s spine. I suppose though, we do not have to worry too much…that dysfunctional country is completely on its arse financially, anyway.

      • brooklynpunk

        As a RED DIAPER BABY --“(STILL..!!!) AND the brother-in-Law of an Anti-Brit Irish lad…I STILL get a thrill listening to “Land of Hope and Glory”…”Jerusalem”…”Rule Brittania”…and even “God Save the Queen”…at the last Night of the Proms…!

      • woodshed

        I don’t care much for the last night of the proms myself but I wouldn’t take it so seriously. The whole thing is very tongue in cheek, closer to pantomime than a nationalist rally.

        • Uninvolved Bystander

          Exactly. My introduction to a Last Night at the Proms was a video on TV and I loved that everyone seemed to be having a raucous and irreverent time. And I saw as many flags from other countries as well as British ones.

      • Britain never never never shall be slaves!

        Don’t worry Harry, Britain will be fine (now that they’ve finally got rid of their socialist government). Look out for a huge year in Britain in 2012 with a jubilee, olympics and a royal wedding where the Brits will do pomp and ceremony like no one else can. I guess you won’t get an invite.

        • Harry

          Well Ruxton, it will be just a case of ‘put it all on their ever increasing deficit financial tab’ for these tacky British extravaganzas celebrating the dotty linage of inbred creatures. As they try to remember when they once for some reason or other, they called themselves ‘great’ Britain. They need this excuse every so often to ‘create jobs’…employing their own considered lower underlings, to polish up the livery, the buckles and the boot straps for the greater glory of the idiots and hangers-on.

  • aloki miyeyi

    The advance publicity heralding this new Ring as cutting edge technology may lead to much disappointment when it is actually unveiled on opening night. It would seem from the diagrams of the stage machinery and the publicity photos that this production may suffer from the same problems as The Damnation of Faust, which was also trumpeted as state of the art. I saw that production multiple times both seasons it was mounted, and no two evenings were exactly the same, the production depending as it did on intricate interaction between the acrobats and performers, and the stage machinery. In addition, the entire technical setup of Damnation was on the wall, and one dimensional with the projections attempting, and not always succeeding in opening up perceptions of depth. The staging was basically played against a series of tableau. The Ring set looks to function in similar ways. The cast, in costumes based on or inspired by very traditional designs, will play out against changing arrangements of the basic structure of the sets, which will be modified by projections to either detail or suggest the appropriate backgrounds for these traditional designs. Or at least is seems so from the drawings and pictures which have been released. Whether magic will come into play anywhere but in the orchestra will be seen when we see it. It looks to be shaping up as a big, technological diorama. The Rheingold cast is at least first rate in my view, whether or not Terfel meets the very high standards insisted upon by some of our commentators (which standards by the way may or may not ever have been met). The orchestra most probably will be excellent, and Levine may amaze, and “the music of the future” will be what it always is, but all that would obtain in a concert performance. All this being said, I am still very excited that there will be a Ring. My conviction has always been that the function of production and direction is to provide opportunities for the artists, and let us hope that Mr Lepage feels the same way.

  • Will

    See today’s New York Times (accessed on the web) for a striking photo of the Gods’ Entry into Valhalla in rehearsal and a hard-headed article by Tony T. on Levine’s current schedule (including the Rheingold matinee in NYC, Mahler evening in Boston on the same day) and his decline in ability to program am interesting season for the Boston Symphony.

  • La Valkyrietta

    I hope the technical part is dreary and the notices are horrid. I don’t expect much from the production, though. I just had a dreary time seeing clips from the Tannhauser at La Scala with that Addams Family huge hand, so I don’t care about the scene in Rheingold. I want a seat not with partial view, but with no view, but live sound. This not because I am mean, but because I have no tickets to any Das Rheingold, and this way, if the notices are dreary, it would be easier obtaining one at the door :).

    Anything can be done in ten days. Why, a hundred and sixty six years ago or so in less than ten days Richard Wagner arranged to have the Saxon Glee Clubs go to Pillnitz to greet the King arriving from London, and managed in a short time to compose for the occasion the Tannhauser March. Everything was so wonderful that the Queen later said it had been the fairest day of her life.

    • fartnose mcgoo

      why don’t you just buy tickets for the score desk? They are $10, located in the family circle boxes, and have great sound. If you just want to hear it, you can do that.

      • richard

        That’s just too simple of a solution for all the Schenk widows…..

      • Hippolyte

        MET score desks haven’t been $10 since 08-09; this season they are $16 except for galas and Opening Night.

        • La Valkyrietta

          fartnose mcgoo,

          Your idea might be the perfect solution for me, thank youe. A few questions. Do you get those Met score desk seats at the regular box office? I have never been to those seats, and on the Met site all the performances of Das Rheingold in September and October appear as sold out. If you don’t get them at the box office, where? Do you happen to know they are available? Sixteen dollars if I don’t go on Opening Night sounds dirt cheap.

  • brooklynpunk

    La Valkyrietta:

    You usually get the Score Desk seats through the MET Guild…on the main website….I’m not sure if they sell them directly thru the box office..(they didn’t -AT ONE TIME….)…

    BUT..The guild has a schedule with availible dates on their site page…..(not any left for Rhinegold, tho….)

  • La Valkyrietta


    I used to belong to the Met Guild I think around the time those guys who made computers popular dropped out of Harvard, but no longer. No sense pursuing that avenue since you tell me there are no Score Desk seats left for Rheingold. I wonder what the odds are of getting one from a scalper at the door. Thanks for the information. Perhaps it will be more fun reading about this production here than actually seeing it :). There’s always March.

  • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

    If for any reason it does not tur out ‘alright on the night’, you can always try this:

    Indeed, some of you may be thinking, why not have both?

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    One of the most memorable features of attending performances at Bayreuth is the total darkness in the theater from which the first motive of the Rhein rises. Not even a glow from Exit signs! While the opening night telecast from the MET should be a blast for thousands of people, the idea of showing it in Times Square and on the Plaza with all that ambient light is very strange.


    I was supposed to be at the final dress rehearsal on Thursday but Gelb has completely secured it -- no artists friends -- NOBODY!!!/ What this means I can’t say but I have heard from MET management that the rehearsals have been frought with problems *(on top of the Rene Pape Boris problems) the company has been putting in 16 hour days trying to get the season up and running. Anyway I have a ticket for the oct 6 matinee so I’ll see for myself! Wagner Fan