Cher Public

Nothing succeeds like access

PD*29958591Fans of Joyce DiDonato and fairness (and there is considerable overlap between the two groups) will be happy to know that the Metropolitan Opera, as part of a settlement in a civil rights lawsuit, has agreed to increase accessibilty to the opera house, including the installation of additional wheelchair seating. [NYT]

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Here is a glimpse of the new restroom for the MET:

    • La marquise de Merteuil

      QPF, this Ballo excerpt is even more offensive for me:

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Never encountered Anna Maria Sanchez -- she’s very good indeed, beautiful sound! And production-wise, after the business in the introduction, Bieto more or less leaves her to it, as he seems to in the Teco io sto which follows. Nothing too offensive or shocking IMO- all he does is paint a slightly crass picture of how ‘orrido’ the campo is. Of course, I don’t know what else happens in the rest of it…

        • Batty Masetto

          Also further evidence of how large singers with fine voices never even get inside the door of the major houses in this era of dastardly regie directors.

    • OpinionatedNeophyte

      Am I simply not clever enough to understand the relevance of this Ballo production to the issue of civil rights for disabled people? Consider my peals partially clutched.

      • Have you seen the whole thing? I haven’t, but most Regie productions aren’t best appreciated in chopped-up YouTube form. Lots of things that look silly or nonsensical in isolation can fit together into a good production.

        It just annoys me when people reduce productions into “the [opera] with the [weird thing]” or to a single aria or a few pictures without making an attempt to try to understand what the director is trying to do over the course of the opera. I don’t mean this at you, you are trying to understand it, but it’s not Bieito’s fault if one aria ripped out of context doesn’t make any sense. The whole thing should work together, that’s part of the point of Regietheater.

        • Oops, “attempt to try” is a little redundant. It’s early. No, wait, it’s almost noon. Sorry.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Zerbinetta, I think ON was more objecting at the OT nature of the posting, without even getting into the merits of Beito’s Ballo at all. I’m not sure who you were addressing your reply to. If it was me, then rest assured that I keep a very open mind about these things -- my stance was simply that contrary to La Marquise’s comment, I don’t see anything terribly shocking -- mostly just a brilliant singer being allowed to behave naturally.

        • OpinionatedNeophyte

          Zerbinetta, as Cocky implied my issue is not the Beito production, I’d be interested in seeing it. My issue is the image of men on toilets as the first response to a story with some social importance. There’s something vaguely irritating that the first thing someone thinks about when learning about wheelchair access is the toilet. Like I said, pearls *partially* clutched. I’m not quite sure why it bothers me, but it does.

          • Well, I suspect yours was the reaction Bieito was going for, actually. It is a mildly shocking opening, but all his work is about upsetting your preconceived notions of what you should be seeing and thinking. Usually he comes up with something interesting and different, occasionally not so much.

            Not meant at you, either, Cocky, just the world in general.

          • armerjacquino

            ‘I suspect yours was the reaction Bieito was going for’

            What, he staged the scene on the offchance it would be posted in reaction to a story on an opera blog about wheelchair access?

            Wow, that guy thinks of everything.

          • OpinionatedNeophyte

            AJ: LOL that Beito knows and sees all. Ironically, his champion on this thread seems incapable of seeing words and reading them.

          • OpinionatedNeophyte

            Look, I get the point of the politics of “shock” I wasn’t quite old enough to observe ACT UP doing its thing, but I’ve read about it. What I find a little bit silly is that you think QPF is rocking some ultra subversive shock-queer politics on us by linking to this. Maybe I should be more charitable to my fellow parterrians though.

          • just meant the pearl=-clutching, AJ. wow, I’m really not expressing myself very well today.

          • lorenzo.venezia

            don’t mean to be a philistine, but since it has been used several times, I have to ask: what does “pearl clutching” mean?

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Carissimo Lorenzo,

            I wish I could demonstrate it for you, since I do it so well… just think of an aging but eternally youthful diva like myself holding on to her pearl necklace (obviously given by one of her many admirers) forcefully, with a tad of emotion (as for example, when I recall all the great successes of my life in dear old Milano). Ciao, bambino.

          • lorenzo.venezia

            ah. ho capito ;-) a gesture of angst?

        • IIRC, this image of the men sitting on the stalls used to be the homepage image of parterre. I’m glad to finally see this now iconic bit of staging. I think it’s rather brilliant. The conspirators’ music is right there in the prelude, so to put the focus on them in the beginning makes sense. And while the imagery is attention-grabbing, I don’t think it’s gratuitous. I presume that it fits with the rest of the production as well.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            I’ve seen this production and although admittedly it was quite a few years ago, I don’t recall the opening image fitting in with the rest of it per se -- it was all pretty tame after that, I think (I have a hazy image of the conspirators in drag, but maybe that was where I went afterwards).

      • Don’t worry too much about it, ON. Posting unrelated youtube videos is QPF’s thing.

    • iltenoredigrazia

      Don’t they wipe themselves before getting dressed again?

  • Nerva Nelli

    Can the experts install something to help sopranos who have no rhythm, musicality, breath control or linguistic ability?

  • OpinionatedNeophyte


  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    They will be installing a Pitch-o-meter throughout the house to alert all of their handicapped singers onstage when they are wavering from the correct pitch. Alarms will sound if the public should evacuate.

  • Belfagor

    We’re not still talking about Poplavskaya’s bits, are we?

  • callasorphan

    Being a person that is “wheelchair strapped” all that I can say is BRAVO!!!

    • bluecabochon

      I have noticed that the wheelchair seating is awful, and think it’s unfair that it has to be at the back of the orchestra only. I’m glad that they will make the changes necessary, but it’s too bad that it was accomplished only because a lawsuit was brought.

      • erica

        It’s funny, and not funny ha-ha, that I had just replied to the Met’s e-mail survey today that I don’t go to the house any more, because the last time I was there (for the ballet admittedly), an usher felt my elderly, disabled mother took too long to exit the auditorium and use the bathroom, and started bellowing “The House is closing!” as she was trying to make her way up the tortuous front stairs. I’m sick of being crowded and bullied and paying $200 to do it.

  • papopera

    Prurient enteric staging. Disgusting.

  • zinka

    Hey guy….I prefer HELLUVA NERVI…who once had pizza with us and trashed other divas……Imagine…..Only Toscanini liked her. the comment on the new access….I have said for YEARS that if I were KING(I said KING)…I would electrify all Met seats and if any of the following occured, their ass would feel like what happens in a few pornos:

    1. Ladies dangling bracelets or husbands
    2. Russians talking in Family Circle (plus the Vodka consumption)]
    3. Idiots (Gelb does not care) laughing in Tosca act one every time they hear “D’avanti la madonna” or “Ma..fa gli occhi neri.”
    4. People who snore (thankfully Lois Kirschenbaum does not)
    5. People who applaud because s0me record company says “She is the next Patti.” and they know from nothing
    6. Any gay person who never heard of Zinka Milanov (whose club was populated by not one straight person..except Zinka..and even there I am not sure.)
    7. Anyone who says, “I think Angela Gheorghiu audible.”
    8. Anyone who is opposed to chest voice (that includes most Met divas..and their dressing rooms should have their toilets electrified) I or do I not belong here??????

    • phoenix

      of course you belong here, dear!

    • celmo

      Dear Zinka, I believe all are welcome here. BTW I heard your 51 Santuzza on Sirius yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by the more than usual use of the chest. Some moments were actually quite demented. Also the broadcast has THE greatest Lola of Margaret Lipton -- gorgeous tone, sexy and sounds like she really wants to piss Santuzza off.

      • celmo

        Sorry, that’s Martha not Margaret

  • zinka

    You forgot THELMA VOTIPKA…..She did have a good high C in act 2 Rosenkavalier…but we always laughed at her…..I do not know exactly why…..she was a stalwart…ch

  • zinka

    Zinka DID have a wonderful mixed rich chest voice..Listen to Norma 1954 or earlier “IN MIA MAN” is one of the most wonderful examples……… I miss her….

  • zinka

    That crazy Liceo Ballo…really shopws lots of BALLS….. Look, how many of us have vocalized on the bowl…..we sing our die aria

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    All of these Sony MET products make me wonder if there isn’t some sort of kick-back headed for a certain MET impresario and his Mitgang.

    • Signor Bruschino

      I’m sure the Sony coffers are going to be overflowing thanks to their DVD release of Penny Woolcock’s production of Doctor Atomic… in addition, I can see families buying copies of the Mattila Salome for the mini-van DVD player to keep the kids relaxed on those long drives to Grandma’s…

      I think the impresario and the mitgang are just happy they are out on a physical format, let alone expecting kickbacks for these potential blockbusters!

    • This is how “fairness” is defined now: when Peter Gelb was at Sony and didn’t release opera because it was unprofitable, he was damned because he didn’t. Now that he is at the Met and has found a way to work with Sony so that opera can be released and (presumably) some money be made in the process, he’s damned because he does. The important thing is that no matter what Peter Gelb does he be damned.

  • Buster

  • phoenix

    Lots of nice stuff on this thread & it’s particularly wonderful to hear from Boble & Zinka.
    — Well la C. you do have a very obvious point there. But remember many of us never even knew who Gelb was when he was at Sony. Gelb’s business at Sony was Sony business, not Metropolitan Opera business.
    — As far as Gelb’s Metropolitan Opera general managership, criticisms are valid only inasmuch as they relate to the PERSONAL satisfaction/dissatisfaction of the criticizer. Occupying the visible helm of all aspects of the organization, in reality it’s very difficult (and IMO nearly impossible) to discern how much power a “general manager” at the Met actually has nowadays as compared to, say, the days of Rudolf Bing, who was the general manager at the Met when I first started going there. In his prime years at the Met, Bing wouldn’t put up with bad singing & acting and legally, apparently he didn’t have to put up with it.
    — My individual criticism of the Met is and always was based on my personal satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the “casting department”. As far as what else goes on at the Met, IMO it certainly is no worse & appears to be better & more “efficient” than it was in days of Rudolf Bing. And I much prefer Gelb’s way of getting things taken care of compared to his immediate predecessor.
    — You know at first when I read the article above this thread I was a bit pissed off… the Met will probably use this new seating arrangement for wheelchairs as yet another justification for them to raise their prices in all categories …
    — Then I woke up today & thought about it again… So what? If the Met doesn’t use this as a justification to raise prices, they’ll come up with something else.
    — It’s still more important for a handicapped person to be able to attend than many people realize. For some of them, I know for sure, it means a great more than it does for many of us. One of the standees I knew in the late 1960’s & early 1970’s lived in poverty, he was handicapped but very self-sufficient. Once remarked to me: “My life begins again when the curtain goes up…”.

  • zinka

    When Olivero made her 1975 Met debut…there were NO STALLS AVAILABLE..since everyone was changing reels(No cassette portables as i recall)in the ba5throom stalls…I always said that there should have ben signs on some stalls that said “Solamente per i pirati”. I also think that if an opera is borrrrrring there should be a stall big enough for…well, I won’t go there…..CH