Cher Public

Mai più, mai più

met_applauseThis is the way the public used to greet the entrance of a beloved star, and La Cieca is very unhappy to think that she will never hear the like again.  

Hello, Minnie!

  • La marquise de Merteuil

    Could it be that there are no more stars who deserve this kind of attention?

    I can’t think of anyone, since seeing Anja Silja of all people, who truly gave everything.

    This may be a controversial thing to say, but this links up to the conversation Camille and I had a few weeks ago about opera’s long walk into a settled and calculated mediocrity.

    • ianw2

      And no one has made a decent movie since Hitchcock died. No-one! Mediocre garbage all of it!

      • La marquise de Merteuil

        OK smart-ass, I’ll take the bait. Pray tell, in your opinion singing today who equal, or surpass, in the vocal and dramatic endowments of Callas, the two Renata’s, Caballe, Price, Sutherland, Corelli, Pavarotti, Bumbry singing at the A/recording international level. And if you say Genaux, JDD, Angela or Fleming (whom I adore) I’ll vomit.

        • armerjacquino

          OK, there’s nobody as good as Tebaldi or Corelli singing at the moment. What shall we do now?

          The only answer to that question I’ve ever seen is ‘moan’.

          • La marquise de Merteuil

            Well, we are talking dementia vs mediocre right?

            Still waiting for butterballs to respond though …

            My point is that we’ve gotten used to mediocrity cos there is no one better.

            And yes, we are lucky to have the likes fo Kaufmann, Pape, Fleming, and AG.

          • Edward George

            Dementia vs mediocre? What is stellar about our Minnie in this extract, a voice that even the esteemed, devoted parterriani have struggled to identify (but who does not appear to be any of the stars listed by La marquise above)? Perhaps this was a voice you had to experience live?

            This audience sounded willing to applaud a star before she had even sung a note and regardless of her vocal state. Is this the beginning of a descent into mediocrity?

            Thinking aloud: perhaps audiences today are more critical, waiting to hear a singer before whipping themselves up into dementia? perhaps audiences, new audiences, see characters first rather than stars and less regular, much-marketed, opera-goers know little of the singers’ history or status? perhaps singers prefer to see themselves as singers/actors rather than “beloved stars”? Certainly, the expansion of blogs and youtube etc, makes today’s singers much more tangible and less exclusive.

            It’s easy to get nostalgic about the past and lament the present, but the clip just seems to demonstrate that hype and anticipation over substance is nothing new. The clip’s good fun, though, and the audience’s reaction quite overwhelming.

          • richard

            Edward George, if in fact this clip is of Steber, and I believe it probably is (I’m guessing it’s from the OLD Met, from the photo and it’s unlikely to be Kirsten or Price), the performance had a huge circus like aura surrounding it.

            Steber was a very popular singer who had been a Met favorite for years. Bing had pushed her out a few years earlier based on Maazel’s complaints about her Donna Anna, which had evidently deteriorated alarmingly.

            So when Bing asked Steber to substitute in Fanciulla on just a day or two’s notice, she went for it.

            Steber was the underdog here, a big cluster of fans felt she was being vindicated for her “shoddy” treatment by Bing. Hence the huge greeting at her entrance.

            I’ve heard a recording and it’s not very good and Steber is in pretty poor shape. I don’t know if it was cause or effect or what but Corelli bailed out after one act.

            This was certainly NOT a performance for the ages, nothing to hold up as a yardstick as a shining example of a past “golden” era but more a special event kind of thing that still surrounds one or two cult divas today. I don’t think I need to name names here.

            I wonder how many attendees remained as enthusiastic when Steber started trying to sing.

          • iltenoredigrazia

            Edward, audience responses can be of different sorts. This one is obviously the greeting of a singer who has captured the imagination and love of a large audience. It’s a way of greeting and encourage the artist. A way of saying, yes, it’s all worth it because you’ve made us love you. This used to be standard when Tebaldi, Corelli, Sutherland, et al would first appear onstage. And the ovations where particularly enthusiastic when it was a singer first appearing after a long absence; first appearance of the season; following a crisis, etc.

            Other times, the ovations at the end of a performance were not necessarily because the singing had been particularly outstanding but because the audience knew the artist was retiring or had just gone through a crisis. It was a way of saying thanks for all the wonderful memories, or we understand you’re not at your best but want to encourage you. (Examples of this were Scotto’s and Nilsson’s last performances at the Met. The applause at the end was not for the singing those particular Saturday afternoons but in appreciation for their contribution to the art through the years.)

            The singers and the audiences understand these. And they know it’s different from when the applause is in response to the actual singing that has just preceded.

            Not different in other arts or entertainment forms. People applaud Angela Langsbury when she first comes onstage, don’t they? And Madonna. And Derek Jeter when he comes to bat the first time.

            Nothing to do with mediocrity. Mediocrity is when everyone routinely stands to applaud at the end of the performance whether it was good or not. Mediocrity is when just getting through a performance without falling down gets applause. (Yes, it happens routinely at the ballet.)

            And IMHO mediocrity is also when an artist performs through the numbers, follows every step as specified by the director, sings the notes, and adds nothing personal to the portrayal. The real stars shine through all the trappings and those are the ones the audience falls in love with and applaud at the beginning, in between, and afterwards.

        • ianw2

          Had Parterre existed, I have no doubt the end of castrati would’ve been met with accusations of a slide into populist mediocrity (“This role was written for a MAN, a WOMAN is against the composer’s intentions! Since Farinelli died, this is just another step towards mediocrity!”) . I find fetishising of dead singers and historic performances very counter-productive.

          I find the chorus about singers not like ‘the old days’ about the same as people who complain that ‘New York isn’t like it used to be…’. And?

          • rommie

            undoubtedly, the culture here at parterre box is one of necrophilia

          • Jay

            Tenore: when Nilsson made her entrance at the 1974 Gotterdammerung prima, the audience applauded, something that normally won’t have happened in this opera. Reason: Nilsson’s arm was in a sling from the fall she’d taken earlier in the week and the audience was expressing its regard for this artist.

            And thought in pain, Nilsson was, to quote Harold Schonberg, “white hot” that night.

          • La marquise de Merteuil

            Ianw2 -- castrati and women often sang roles of the opposite sex -- even in the same production eg Scarlatti’s Pompeo (?) where there were castrati singing male and female roles and women singing female and male roles!

            For the 18th century composer and audience, OFTEN, castrati and women’s voices were interchangeable. Casting had more to do with star status than desired voice type. But then judging from your post above, I guess you already know this?

      • Harry

        ianwz: What a complete over statement.It appears you have seen enough films to compare. And what was but C to D grade mediocre garbage? Things like………Marnie, Under Capricorn, Torn Curtain and that Z grade -- Topaz. If one has ever compared the notorious ‘farmhouse scene’ from Torn Curtain -with, and without Bernard Hermannn’s particular scoring (which Hitchcock jettisoned). A simple case of ‘No Hermann….no Hitchcock!’ Do you realize that the Hermann film Rebecca was underpinned by Hermamnn’s music for about 90% (yes 90%!) of its running time Hitchcock had just then at that moment cut off his own nose. Imagine the later non Hitchcock film Taxi Driver without Hermann’s unsettling scoring. Hermannn was at least 50% of the artistic worth of Hitchcock. Too many of Hitchcock films re- visited: show they are but quaint and following an over cooked set formula, using his favorite current stars at any given time. I;R Grace Kelly ‘swishing around’ in over full flared frocks..shit! Dated….tired!!!!

        • Harry

          Mistake: ‘”Hermann Rebecca” should read… Hitchcock Rebecca.

        • lorenzo.venezia

          I am SO looking forward to Hermann’s “Wuthering Heights” at Minnesota Opera this spring. I’ve never heard it, but how could it not be fun???

          • CruzSF

            Ditto. I heard parts of it this summer during a broadcast from France. It certainly sounded interesting.

          • ardath_bey

            I have the recording, it’s said to be unsingable. Apparently no one back then wanted to record it, Herrmann paid out of his own pocket to make it happen.

            He used the theme he had written for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir as the big tune of the opera. I saw Nathan Gunn sing highlights of it in 2001 with the Eos Orchestra, nothing hit me as masterful. Herrmann’s my favorite film composer, but never had any significant inclination for vocal writing. Hitchcock gave him the chance to rewrite the entire cantata for the climax of The Man Who Knew To Much but he decided that he couldn’t improve on Benjamin’s Storm Clouds, which is no Messiah. What composer would turn down such an opportunity?

          • lorenzo.venezia

            ah well. they’re doing it so I’ll go. I sort of enjoyed Poul Ruder’s “Handmaid’s Tale” when they did that a few years back.

          • CruzSF

            I think you should go, and then tell us how it is. I’d like to go, but don’t know that I’ll be able to travel to see it.

        • ianw2

          Not for the first time, I wish there was a universally recognised font for sarcasm.

          I’m not shitting on Hermann! I love his film scores! Haven’t heard anything from his Wuthering except the extract on Kate Royal’s album.

        • ardath_bey

          I never read anything more misinformed. For openers, Herrmann didn’t score Rebecca, Franz Waxman did. Hitchcock was the Master of Suspense way before Herrmann even scored their first picture together, in 1955. Herrmann had NOTHING to do with with Hitchcock’s success and/or artistic worth.

          Hitchcock made fantastic films before Herrmann (Rear Window, Rebecca, Notorious, Shadow of a Doubt, Spellbound, Strangers on a Train, Suspicion, I Confess, Rope, not to mention The 39 Steps, Saboteur, The Lady Vanishes) and made fantastic films after Herrmann (Frenzy, Family Plot, you can include The Birds, which has no music).

          Psycho has a phenomenal score, but the film Hitchcock made came first, Hitchcock’s art was what inspired Herrmann. Vertigo, first class score, gorgeous, it would still be a masterpiece if Rozsa or Waxman or Tiomkin had scored it. Marnie? Mostly tacky and dreadful music. Torn Curtain’s barn murder works better without music, this time Hitchcock was right. He was also right to fire Herrmann’s arrogant, pedantic and outdated ass.

          Hitchcock without Herrmann: the Master of Suspense. Herrmann without Hitchcock: just another Hollywood composer, not as NEARLY as successful as Newman, Steiner, Waxman, Tiomkin or Rozsa.

  • richard

    Who’s the Minnie? Could it be Steber?

    • CruzSF

      Whoever it is, she’s having an off-night.

    • Jay

      Tebaldi? Hard to tell, because we don’t hear much that much of her. (I saw it w/Renata on a Saturday night, was coming down with a bad flu, and don’t remember if Minnie got a prolonged ovation when she made her entrance.)

      • iltenoredigrazia

        Renata got great applause at her entrance but not that long. Or perhaps at her very first Fanciulla. (She also looked spectacular in her outfit.) But that’s not Tebaldi’s voice. The best guess is Steber. It was a welcome back after several years. She had earned it even if she had not sung a single note after that.

    • Camille

      It sounds like Eleanor, but I thought she only rode on for the last act. Certainly isn’t Our Lady of Puccini, Big Renata.

      Beverly Bower, peut-etre?

      Well, that’s a picture of the Old Met that Cieca has posted, so I’ll say Eleanor. I know mymyster will come along to chew me out.

      • mrmyster

        I’ll come back to Steber, NOW what in hell is going on with Don Carlo
        at the Met — they are all losing their voices. I have never heard a cast
        literally get sick and die right before our very eyes/ears!!!! Pops is just
        out of gas -- she’s singing half-voice, can’t hold the B. Alagna is leaving
        out notes and croaking like a frog. Keenelyside is still singing flat, if a
        bit stronger, now and then. Even Furl. is diminished in power and is
        slighting note values to get bye. Golly gee!
        This is just pathetic; is anyone else listening? Disaster! And isn’t this
        the one they are recording for bdcst in theatres Dec 18? Gott! I hope

        • sterlingkay

          What are you talking about? The HD transmissions are live and not recorded. Calm down!

          • sterlingkay

            By the way the HD transmission is this Saturday not the 18th…and it will be live, as they all are

            The 18th is the Radio Broadcast which will also be live…with Yonghoon Lee…

        • mandryka

          They were all holding back last night, no doubt saving their voices for the movie theater showings saturday afternoon. At least they showed up, unlike Gheorghiu, who has been known to take a powder the performance before the movie-house event.

      • mrmyster

        Camilletta: I wont give you a chewing out; maybe a kiss on the cheek, for I think you are right. Eleanor was senza voce by 1966 and that two-day
        notice for doing Minnie was a cruel joke of sorts. They could have let her
        come back, with rehearsal, and sing one Musetta as a farewell, which is what she wanted to do. Contrary to popular belief, she was a terrible Minnie, even in 1954 -- Eleanor sang seven Minnies in her entire career: Red Rocks, two; Chicago, two; Italy, two (the Chi and Ital were both with Mitropoulos),and that final fiasco at the Met. Minnie helped to put the final nail into her vocal coffin, so don’t talk to me about all that nonsense — Edw. Johnson told her, “You are not a Puccini voice!” and he was dead right. She was furious and went on and had her way, and we saw what happened. Of course, it was probably going to happen anyway. As the world turns . . .
        So Camille, next time we have lunch I’ll tell you the full saga. Very little has been fully revealed to the cher public, and I am a primary source. Hold
        the thought; we’ll see. Bye for now.

        • quoth the maven

          MrM--have you heard Steber’s Maggio Musicale Fanciulla? I find it astounding that you would deem it “terrible.”

        • Camille

          Greetings to you in the desert, mrmyster.

          It is understood that Miss Steber was essentially, or basically a Mozartian and Mr. Johnson did know what he was talking about, but golly gee, I have to agree with quoth the maven, here below, that the Fiorentina Fanciulla really does sound good even if She may well be at the limit of her possibilities. Damn, I do love it.

          I guess we’ll have to meet in St. Louis for lunch, a possible and appropriate midway point! Perhaps we can search out Helen Traubel’s home and lay a memorial wreath on her lawn. I believe she died in Santa Monica, California, and she probably is buried there?

    • DonCarloFanatic

      They made an announcement at tonight’s Don Carlo before the last act that Alagna had a cold but would continue. That explains his problems with tonight’s performance.

      • mrmyster

        Sterling -- let me clarify; for some reason the Santa Fe Lensic Arts Center is not showing the Don Carlo as a live transmission; it is being recorded and shown a week later; small slip there, sorry.
        I hope Mr Lee sings the show in place of Alagna — on whatever
        date. Poor Alagna keeps having his problems. Bad singers’
        weather in NYC.

      • mrmyster

        Well Fanatic, they made the same announcement opening night and he sounded exactly the same -- terrible; I understand there have been some
        better evenings in between. I like him; I wish him well.

        • oedipe

          I dare not imagine what you are like with people you HATE!

  • pernille

    Actually, Tebaldi got a reception like this in 1995 ( I believe it was ) when she walked into the house -- and she wasn’t even going to sing! ( obviously)

    It was quite a night ( think it was Ballo) simply because of the look on the faces of friends who politely asked us afterward whom we had seen at the Met.

    • This used to be on youtube but I can’t find it.

    • iltenoredigrazia

      Renata got a huge ovation at her entrance as Mimi in 1964 after not having sung for a year. She had cancelled out of Adriana the year before and reworked her voice. I wonder what a singer thinks about while all that applause goes on. What pressure it must place for singing the first few phrases.

  • rysanekfreak

    The final two Toscas that Callas sang at the Met have great entrance applause for both Callas and Gobbi.

    The Poliuto with Corelli also has a great Callas entrance. It’s as if only part of the house sees her at first and then other parts see her and take up the cheering.

    Remember the Met Tristan broadcast when Peter Allen first comes on to talk and we hear cheering in the background? My first thought was, “The conductor is already entering the pit and we haven’t heard the cast.” Finally, Peter explains that Birgit Nilsson is in the audience and the people had caught sight of her and were cheering. I don’t remember who the Isolde was that afternoon, but talk about pressure.

    • I was going to mention the Callas Tosca. Corelli gets a warm welcome, too.

      This one’s Steber, right? Both comebacks, of sorts. Surely the best triggers for screaming entrance applause. Imagine if Stratas came back to do the Pique Dame countess or something.

      • Camille

        Stratas as the old Countess in Pique Dame. What a concept. I’ll be there.

        • Tim

          And may I add Jussi’s entrance on stage (well after the Siciliana) in the amazing 1959 Cav with Simionato. I’ve been told it lasted close to five minutes.

    • Here’s the Callas entrance in Poliutio:

      The closest I came to experiencing anything like this was when Ewa Podles was singing Giulio Cesare in Toronto and Maureen Forrester walked into the auditorium. It wasn’t pandamonium like this (we are Canadians, after all!) but it was still a lovely thing to experience.

  • Henry Holland

    Dear Man Screaming “Brava” In La Cieca’s Clip:

    If you ever sit next to me at a performance and pull that bullshit while the music is still playing, I will punch you in the throat. Shut up, sit the fuck down and have some respect for those of us who are there to listen to the music, not act like drunken Knicks fans.

    Thank you

  • operaman50

    My guess is that it MUST be Tebaldi … probably on the opening night of her run. Who else would inspire such a vocal ovation? … or deserve it more? Oh, that we had ovations like this today … when a star appeared on stage? ….but then, I fogot…no one worth it!

  • JacktheRipper

    Dear HH:
    If you were to punch me in the throat for yelling “brava!” or “bravo!” at the opera, I guarantee you that I would take full advantage of my rights to self defense and filet you in your seat and feed your rotting carcass to the polar bears at the Central Park Zoo. How DARE you propose violence to people showing passion and enthusiasm at a live performance. Opera is NOT a static art form, dumbass. Its about passions and emotions. So careful next time someone next to you is deomonstrating enthusiasm (or hatred) for the performance. It might be me.

    • mrmyster

      Give ’em Hell, Jackie!

  • Arianna a Nasso

    Late Tebaldi had her flaws, but a raspy middle voice was not one of them. Could it be Steber’s late career jump-in performance?

  • Steber.

  • MirtoP

    Sounds like really late Steber to me. Surely not Tebaldi.

    • celmo

      Definitely Steber. I heard a tape of the whole performance and it is a pretty sad affair. Regarding the entrance ovation -- let’s remember that Steber was a beloved star for more than twenty years whose problems with Bing and her declining vocal resources resulted in her being off the roster for some five years. Obviously there are a lot of Steber fans, including the loud Bravos from the person who taped the performance, in the audience who were overjoyed to see her back at the Met. If I were there that evening, I am sure I would have joined in with the rest. A final note -- I find that the applause to Steber’s entrance a lot more genuine than the hollow standing ovations that now seem manditory at most opera and theatre performances.

      • sterlingkay

        I don’t find it “genuine” at all….clearly some people in the audience were trying to make a point about Bing’s “treatment” of Steber, whose best days were clearly behind her. Claque, anyone??

        • “What have you got back there, radar?”

          • manou

            Que vient faire Spencer Tracy dans cette galère?

    • messa di voce

      So we’re sure it’s not Voigt at the dress?

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    My point exactly! La Cieca is right. It’s a very sad loss, like being robbed and has been like that for more years than I care to remember. None of you who only know the Lincoln Center MET post-Leontyne Price can possibly imagine the electricity in the old house generated by audiences like that.

    • sterlingkay

      Well I think it’s completely tacky and inappropriate to be screaming like a banshee while the music is playing. Save the ovations for after the arias and the curtain calls. What about the people who want to hear the MUSIC??? Povero Puccini. It’s like the idiots who applaud the scenery when the curtain goes up at one of the Zeffirellis or who begin applauding when the curtain starts coming down even though the music is not over. Some “traditions” are better left dead & buried and not everything that happened at the old MET was in good taste.

      • Arianna a Nasso

        Agreed. Traditions like applauding and screaming over the music to greet a singer strike me as anti-theatrical as well (oh stop trying to pretend you’re Mimi, we all really know you’re la diva Tebaldi). And what does it say about the audience member’s need to draw attention to himself?

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          NO, Leontyne called love!

          • sterlingkay

            Thank you QUANTO!! That’s what I call a DIVA!!!! Riveting…….

          • Qanto thank you so much again for posting this clip. I’ve heard it before and never get tired of it. What a fabulous woman and artist she is. Hard to imagine any of today’s crop coming anywhere near the standard she set herself but perhaps I’m being unfair.

        • Jack Jikes

          The most appropriate applause I ever heard -- albeit by recording --
          are the screams for Leyla Gencer’s Maria Stuarda -- yeah, after the confrontation with Elizabeth -- during the music. If you did not make a noise after hearing THAT you are morally corrupt, If, at such a moment,
          you let out an involuntary outburst, and he likes of the above protest, tell them to go to hell.

          • Jack Jikes

            ‘the likes’

          • Jack Jikes

            A sort while ago -- at the Philharmonic -- some prim man told me I was applauding too loudly -- a delicious “Va’ all’inferno!” moment.

          • sterlingkay

            Jack Jikes—

            I can certainly understand being swept up by a performance and reacting that way even during the music. But the clip posted was in reaction to a singer’s ENTRANCE, before she had sung a note. Totally different, in my opinion….and then to just go on, and on, and on, while the music is playing is, I’m sorry, TACKY!

      • Loge

        In my first several Aidas I would not have known from the performance that Amneris sang anything at the end. As soon as Aida and Radames quit singing the audience started clapping and completely drowning out whatever poor Grace Bumbry or Fiorenza Cossotto were doing up there.

        • MontyNostry

          What a shame, because the last moments of Aida constitute one of the very best (and most moving) endings of any opera. And a last opportunity in the opera to hear Grace, Fiorenza or whomsoever. (Maybe only Dolora and Olga are currently worthy of mention!)

          • MontyNostry

            And what about quiet endings in Wagner? Do they ever get clapped over, or are they sacrosanct? (On the assumption that anyone is still awake by the time they end.)

          • Jay

            Monty, there are always cretins who start applauding before the last note of Parsifal, Act I has sounded. I don’t necessarily buy into the “don’t applaud at the end of the first act” hokum, but people at least should have the courtesy to wait until the act has completely ended.

            But nowadays, when going to the theatre, you can expect at least some rude behavior. Texting, conversing, noisly flipping through programs, etc. And movies (except for Met HD broadcasts) have become unbearable!

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

          • Edward George

            And let’s not forget the equally cretinous silence-shattering, atmosphere-wrecking, ill-timed shout, “Bravo!”

          • DonCarloFanatic

            I’ve solved the rudeness problem at the HDs, and it has been a major relief. I sit in the very first row, which is at least a couple of rows from where anyone else ever sits. It’s just like seeing the opera in a private screening room. Occasionally, legs look disproportionate, but I’ll take it. Otherwise, the behavior of the crowd--don’t hate me, but especially the Russian emigres--is unbearable. Talking, talking, talking. I’m not overly fond of hearing people chew popcorn during an opera, either.

          • oedipe

            Applause while the music is playing is very uncommon in some European countries and I have met foreigners who attended the Met for the first time and were unpleasantly surprised by this habit.

          • Jay

            Listening to the end of Act 2 of a 1960s Met FRoSCH broadcast, the audience starts applauding as the orchestra plays the last two notes. Excitement may have been the reason. After 40-plus years, one of those 1960s FRoSCH performances (2/21/69) remains the most exciting opera experience I’ve ever had.

            The next day Saturday, was a Karajan-led Rheingold matinee followed by a Nilsson/Caballe Turandot (J. King replaced Corelli in the latter show).

            People can holler “necro” because some here cherish such high-octane performances, but a sequence such as occured on Feb 21-22, 1969, is extremely rare nowdays.

  • Will

    Absolutely not Tebaldi. Her voice had some problems in those Fanciullas but nothing like having to yell the opening lines instead of singing them just to get them out. She was big and confident and, yes, she flatted but she flatted with stunning authority. She OWNED Minnie.

    I definitely think it’s Steber.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    • Camille

      Quanto, you’re the best!

      • Jack Jikes

        Worth saying every time -- AVE MARIA! Ah the pity that so many new production eschew intermission bows in front of the gold curtain.

        • I think that the Met has gone from one extreme to another when it comes to intermission bows. The old productions used to overkill the intermission bows, having multiple bows at the end of each intermission. And now, there are none. I’m a big believer in “special” intermission bows. There are certain moments when the audience needs to express its appreciation after an act — like for Siegmund/Sieglinde at the end of Act I of Walküre or Otello/Jago at the end of Act II of Otello — but when it’s done after every act of the opera (especially multiple bows), then it seems prefunctory rather than celebrating a special moment.

          • Jack Jikes

            Nicely put!

      • Loge

        Camille, I have put the first act of the Niska Fanciulla on disc and, so far, what I have heard sounds pretty good. I thought my old Peaches cassettes had gone bad but the first one is in pretty good shape. I’ll work on the second tape tonight or tomorrow. How can I get in touch with you to get the performance to you?

        • Camille


          That is just wonderful. Just send it to Madame La Cieca, as she knows where I am. Also, please let me remunerate you an appropriate sum for your postage and troubles, as I appreciate it very much and it is very kind of you.

          Thank you very much for taking the time and being considerate enough to even think of Camille.

  • reedroom

    Off Topic--Just saw the NYTimes obit for Hugues Cuenod. I’ve been away from parterre for a few days, so if his death has been mentioned already, excuse the repetition…

  • Sterlingkay, while I agree with you regarding “screaming before the music is finished etc” I think applauding the “set” or scenery as you call it, can be entirely appropriate on certain ocassions- and after all, when it is “exceptional”- why shouldn’t the audience show some appreciation? To my experience “scenery claps” are usually brief and hardly too intrusive but they must also be hugely encouraging to the artists when they know the audience is receptive and ready to enjoy. Sadly, in these days of regie crap, such experiences seem less frequent.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      The guys at La Barcaccia recently mentioned this and played the explosion of applause when the curtain rose on the opening night of the Visconti production of La Traviata at La Scala (Callas, Giulini). It was an expression of sheer delight.

    • Ruxton, I agree. If the occasion is big enough or if a performer has done something extraordinary, I have no problem with audiences showing their appreciation. What I do object to is the drowning out of the quiet concluding bars. That kind of applause rarely has to do with the excitement generated by the performance and is almost always about the fact that the curtain is descending.

  • manou

    OK -- this is off topic (but not really as the thread is called Mai più, mai più). Here is the London Times on the Villazon concert which I attended on Monday. There are also lots of pictures on Intermezzo and comments.

    I am copying and pasting this as you have to be a subscriber to read it online.

    “Rated to 4 stars

    If Mexico ever needs a president who can sing, do stand-up comedy and earn wads of foreign currency for the country, Rolando Villazón is the man. Indeed, the tenor appears to think the same thing. “Vote Villazón!” he cried after one eulogy to the beauty of his homeland, delivered in a concert containing nothing but Mexican songs.

    This audience, which seemed to comprise London’s entire Mexican community plus a few hundred benign gringos, certainly voted Villazón. His ditties and quips (mostly charmingly self-deprecating) were rapturously received. The final singalong, led by Villazón in a sombrero, was like panto. That followed the Mexican Hat Dance with Villazón nipping to the back of the Bolívar Soloists, his multinational band, to join his German rhythm section (“who would have thought we would turn to the Germans for ritmos?”).

    And the backchat from the stalls was incredible. One adoring female near me repeated the last word of each sentence Villazón said, like an echo-chamber. “I assure you that, unlike the composer Agustín Lara, not every Mexican musician begins his career in a brothel,” Villazón quipped. “Brothel!” the lady squealed joyously. “Now I’m off for a tequila,” said the tenor. “Tequila!” his No 1 fan screamed. “Can I speak?” her hero shouted over the rising cacophony of adulation. “Speak!” she shouted back.

    In this environment, Villazón is a star reborn. After his throat operation, his Handel-arias project last season was embarrassing, even by the lamentable standards of operatic comeback tours. But this was a different matter. These Mexican songs, Villazón noted in the programme, “speak to me in my own emotional language” — and he put them across with irresistible panache and a vintage array of exuberant hand movements. The only disappointments were the instrumental arrangements: too sedate, string-based and salon-like for these heart-on-sleeve ballads.

    And Villazón’s voice? A bit untuneful when he pushed. But when he rolled through the throbbing climaxes of Moral’s Stolen Kisses or Dominguez’s Perfidy he sounded far warmer and more secure than he did a year ago. Whether he has rediscovered the vocal resources to get him through Werther at the Royal Opera next May remains to be seen. Perhaps the tequila helps.

    • Jay

      It would take a couple of shots of tequila to get through one of these concerts and I’m partly Hispanic and don’t drink! Thanks for posting, Manou.

    • Nerva Nelli

      Next stop: The Continental Baths

      • Harry

        No doubt drinking some of the spa water after he, Villazon has washed in it.

    • phoenix

      Manou, it is wonderful that you have taken the time & effort to write & post this. In the wake of Villazon’s career failures and the not-so-positive coverage of things Mexican in the media, you have cheered me up very much with your account of a very happy evening in one of the best old cultural traditions.
      — Thanks!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    What’s a girl gotta do to be recognized as mighty fine?

    Look what a bandista conductor can to to spoil things:

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Why do those chorus people keep giving Norma fabric?

      • Ya gotta know how to work your fabric or you aint a Diva!

      • papopera

        going to the laundry

  • Jay

    For those of you not in the Fanciulla chat room, someone, OperaCat, I believe, posted a link to Belasco’s Girl of the Gold West play.

    I just scanned the last few chapters and there are enough Dick lines for several Parterre contests. Sample (from Chapter XVII):

    He’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone! Dick! Dick! Dick…!”

    • Camille


      Dick is just too good to let go.

      The Dick Johnson contest continues!

      • Jay

        Camille, when I started reading through the play, I started ROTFLMAO. Here’s another line:

        “Yes, come on, you..! was Handsome’s ejaculation,”

        Peurile, but fun in the contest context.

        • Jay

          Oops. Puerile, not Peurile.

          • Camille

            Chapter XII:

            “Dick”, “Dick”, “You’re free!”, “You’re free!” “You’re free!”

            You’re right, Jay --this Girl of the Golden West is a goldmine!

        • Harry

          What I find fascinating with all this tlk about ‘Golden Girl’, no one has yet mentioned a video of it with Barbabra Daniels, and if I am not mistaken Domingo.

          • Well, as you mention it Harry, (taking a huge risk) I bought the DVD recently and if ever there is a production that deserved a scenery clap, it is this one. The whole production is superb.. and yes, Snr Domingo is our Dick with Sherril (what kind of a mother calls her son that?) is the bad one. la Daniels is warm, buxom and endearing and manages to pull Minnie off well enough despite a few screeches and sometimes being ever so slightly under the note. Snr Dom is as usual, more than thoroughly competent and engaging. It’s a great rendition and of course, the Met orchestra is wonderful. I love this production and lent it to someone who “hated” this opera- who said later, they had “reconsidered” and were surprised they actually enjoyed it…so it can’t be too bad.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor
      • Jay

        Sounds like very tasty Carribean cuisine!

        • Jay

          “This time, gentlemen—” he said, with a significant pause and accent—”just for social recreation. What do you say?”

          “I’m your Injun!” acquiesced Sonora, rubbing his hands together gleefully at the prospect…”

          … above is from Chapter V. A theatre company could have a blast, parodying the show, shooting out these lines as double entendres.

          OK, basta!

          • Camille

            Yes, maybe we had better basta, Jay.

            I just read the very end of the tale, after they leave the miners, and crossing the frontier of the Sierras down into desert. I was very moved by the Girl’s plight and her reaction, as Camille, too, has left her beloved California for her love’s sake.

          • Jay

            Camille, parfois, nous abandonnons cher quelque chose à nous pour une douceur encore plus grande.

          • Camille

            Vous etes sage, o mon Jay!

            Et vous en avez bien raison.
            Merci pour la votre gentillesse.

  • I wouldn’t frame the argument here as a question of mediocrity. Though I don’t think the overall level of singing today is as high as what audiences experienced in the 50s-70s, we still have many fine singers today.

    I think it’s more of a question of a star who would actually motivate the audience to give this kind of rapturous reception just for walking on stage. I think Netrebko has enough fans to one day generate this kind of response some day. I’m sure that late-career Fleming might also generate enthusiastic entrance applause in the future.

    Millo certainly had that kind of hold on audiences and, had her career lasted longer, I’m sure she’d be able to generate this kind of passionate audience involvement.

    • NYCOQ

      Just what did happen to Millo’s career? Her concert at The Rose Theatre a couple of seasons ago was phenomenal. I know that its always about the new hot young thing, but considering the dirth (dearth?) of spintos around someone shoud be throwing that woman a bone. We can’t blame this one on Gelb she was on the outs before he arrived. I would really like to know the skinny. Is she still doing covers at the Met? Yes, her last Tosca at the Met was a trainwreck, but it was an old fashioned diva-against-conductor train wreck and it was quite entertaining. I got completely wasted with friends discussing the performance afterwards. I rarely do the after thing opera thing, but divas who can really get the juices going are sorely lacking. Netrebko can only sing so much at the Met.

      • Arianna a Nasso

        The pianissimi went, and the top became less consistent. The sloppy musicianship which you cite became present (I certainly don’t want to pay $200 to watch a musical trainwreck, as amusing as you may find that). Her cancellation rate increased. That said, she still has a greater voice and sense of style than many singing her rep. For no theater to hire someone like her on a consistent basis makes me wonder if issues behind the scenes at play.

  • Jay