Cher Public

  • Lee B. Ahmo: I also enjoyed the show – thought it one of their best ever. As usual, your review is spot on. Several among the cast... 6:58 AM
  • PushedUpMezzo: Glyndebourne next year will include a new Hamlet opera by Brett Dean with Allan Clayton in the title role,Barbara Hannigan... 5:26 AM
  • PushedUpMezzo: Amazing line-up for the first Monte Carlo Tannhauser since the Thirties. Stutzmann is also giving a recital including the... 5:15 AM
  • fletcher: Georg Zeppenfeld 12:23 AM
  • zinka: httpv://www.youtub e.com/watch?v=gmFa 1WV3ABI DISCOVERY!!!!! But the entire Marinsky Frau is totally amazinbg..MAGIC... 12:08 AM
  • bobsnsane: May I ask, please, who is the Hunding ? 10:31 PM
  • willym: Saw Stemme at La Scala – under Barenboim’s otiose baton – and Goerke in Toronto. To quote Macheath: How happy... 10:06 PM
  • phoenix: A TALE OF TWO MEISTERSINGERS – This weekend two Meistersingers were broadcast, one Sunday from SFO last autumn and another... 7:36 PM

It happened in Boston

UPDATE: It’s official.

EARLIER: La Cieca hears from a generally reliable source that James Levine has resigned from his post as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Expect an official announcement later today.

94 comments

  • 1
    Dan Johnson says:

    How sad. His back problems sound just excruciating (and of course it’s a great loss for music-lovers).

    • 1.1
      leonora3 says:

      Sad, endeed. Now I realize how lucky I was when I saw Maestro condacting twice during my short stay in New York. It was Don Pasquale and Simon Boccanegra.
      Both were brilliant!

  • 2
    OpinionatedNeophyte says:

    Seems like the right thing to do, here’s hoping he focuses on his health and is able to enjoy his life a bit more. Once these issues are truly under control, he will be welcomed back with adulation. Perhaps a similar announcement will appear vis a vis the Met once the season is over.

    • 2.1
      @scazzasofija says:

      An announcement was expected at the 2011-2012 season presentation and Gelb said the opposite, that they were planning together far into the future. It was meant to quell speculation. This certainly would free him up to be healthy for his Met obligations.

  • 3
    perfidia says:

    I blow hot and cold with levine, but when I like his work, I have really liked it. I just hope he really takes the time to heal, even if the lack of activity drives him up the wall. A bad back is not something you can isolate until it gets bettter.

  • 4
  • 5
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    • 5.1
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      I was surprised to see that Maestro Anton Coppola conducted the commercial recording:

      • 5.1.1
        saldellapatria says:

        In all the discussion of Levine’s health why is there no mention of Parkinson’s, the symptoms of which he has seemed to have had for ten or twelve years?

        • 5.1.1.1
          Harry says:

          Didn’t someone make some report here about, signs of flaying (or shaking) gestures of his legs and arms, in regard to that Boston rehearsal?
          One only hopes it was just acute transmitted pain from his back and spinal problems.

      • 5.1.2
        Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        Coppola, by the way, at the published age of 93 is still conducting opera!

        • 5.1.2.1
          LeperEllo says:

          I had the privilege of singing chorus under Coppola several times in the early 80s. Boheme, Cav/Pag, Rigoletto, a few others. One of the nicest men on the podium and a real pleasure to work with. However, he is a short man, and if you were positioned too far upstage, it was nearly impossible to see him over the lip of the stage -- one had to keep an eye out for the tip of the baton to swoop up over the horizon of the stage on the upbeats.

          I was in the offstage chorus for Suor Angelica and he conducted what was probably the best performance of it I have ever heard (Patty Craig and Lilli Chookasian as Angelica and Zia
          Principezza). I remember when the curtain came down the audience let out such a roar and some members of the company were saying “they’re applauding the lighting effect” or “they’re applauding Puccini” or whatever. But to this day I still think that roar of applause was for Coppola.

          Has anyone heard his opera on “Sacco and Vanzetti”?

          • vendorune says:

            Coppola on “Sacco and Vanzetti”? No I haven’t heard anything, tell me more! I had a relative named after Vanzetti.

          • LeperEllo says:

            Opera “Sacco and Vanzetti”

            This is all I can find on it — have always wondered what it sounds like. When I knew him, he was talking about finding a suitable subject for an opera, and more than once he brought to rehearsals his own re-workings of scenes we were working on.

            http://raforum.info/spip.php?article510&lang=fr

            “…Nearly one hundred people -- including a cast of two-dozen singers, large chorus, extras and production personnel -- crowded on the vast stage of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center at the conclusion of Anton Coppola’s opera Sacco & Vanzetti ; there was barely enough room for the composer to take a bow…”

            “… Find room they did, and justifiably so. The world premiere (March 17) was a triumph for the eighty-three-year-old Coppola…”

            “… Sacco & Vanzetti may turn out to be the operatic sleeper of recent years and come to enjoy a greater shelf life than other works launched with much greater fanfare. The resources required may discourage other companies from picking up the opera. But Coppola’s attractive, compelling work merits wider advocacy.”

          • And i was in his Chenier in Cincinnati in the 90’s. he is a sweet man and a hell of a conductor.

  • 6
    operadent says:

    This ia sadness beyond words.
    I pray the Maestro will recover his health and stay with the Met.
    Buona Fortuna, Jimmy.

  • 7
    hochstelust says:

    This should allow him to stay on at the Met. It was just impossible for him to continue in both positions.

  • 8
    Pelleas et Melisande @ Most Addictive Opera says:

    In 2004 Alex Ross wrote:

    “Levine is stressing new music in Boston: he thinks it will have an invigorating effect on how the orchestra plays and on how the audience listens”

    [….]

    “It remains to be seen how the average listener will take this strict modern diet”

    ******

    Yeah well, unsurprisingly, most have rejected it.

    I wish Mr. Levine would stop advocating utterly unmemorable modernism (i.e. Carter, Wuorinen, Babbitt) and devote all his energies to opera.

    • 8.1
      Jack Jikes says:

      Never trust anyone who doesn’t embrace modernism.

      Boston? They demolished their opera house for a parking lot.
      I’m told that THEY do like ‘early’ music.

      Many musicians I know think that Wuorinen is the greatest living composer.

      • 8.1.1
        Bosah says:

        *sigh*

        The original opera house fell into disrepair at the same time as many opera houses and other theaters did in America -- the 40s. A college now has a dormitory on that original site.

        In 1991, the city decided its opera company needed a better, permanent home and spent 30 billion dollars renovating what is now the new Opera House.

        BSO concerts, even weighed down heavily with Levine’s modern projects, sell out almost every performance. In the last couple of years, he’s found a much better balance of new and traditional, and he’s been very respected.

        I’m going to assumed you just didn’t know the facts. :)

        • 8.1.1.1
          scifisci says:

          do they really all almost sell out? That’s extremely impressive if that’s the case. It sure isn’t true for the nyphil or my poor philadelphians.

        • 8.1.1.2
          Drew says:

          “BSO concerts, even weighed down heavily with Levine’s modern projects, sell out almost every performance.”

          That’s not true in the least.

          The BSO’s attendance woes have been well-publicized, and the orchestra has resorted to heavy papering for the last three seasons.

          Even Christoph Dohnanyi, Bernard Haitink and Colin Davis do not attract full houses in Boston.

          • mrsjohnclaggart says:

            Thank you, Drew. The person you quote has been a blight on this board for some time, a champion of misinformation, false equivalences and sheer — well, I’ve been enjoined to behave so I tremble to characterize the absence of cerebration. Beings of this kind should not be indemnified from shall we say severe correction.

            I am especially sick of this dim entity’s ignorance — about the faking of Domingo on his records for example and the many, many, many, many short falls, unmusical compromises and sheer arrogant disregard for the art form of his live performances on a regular basis for at least 25 years, many of these things abetted by the collusion of the apparently divine Levine (lowering ALL of Alvaro for example).

            The person you quote noted that: People who have never seem the operas in question performed by others LOVE Fleming and Dessay (implication they are above criticism)-- a statement of mind numbing philistinism.

            It’s along the line of some other — please supply the adjective — who averred “Levine can conduct anything put in front of him,”. Really? Why all the mistakes at the Met Orch concerts, including two of the worst readthroughs of the Mahler 9 ten years apart I have ever heard, or the composers of certain new scores cursing him and the orchestra for not getting what they wrote?

            Has Alex Ross and the ‘Net created a world where ANY deaf and dumb dodo of sufficient arrogance can opine with impunity? Is there any hope?

            I wonder where the ability to qualify statements went (“Of course, I enjoy Dessay a lot but have to admit I haven’t heard many other people do her rep not even she in what were probably her better years, nor have I studied the scores and really, don’t care all that much about details, and also acknowledge there might be better. Still, she gave me pleasure and I felt well repaid for buying my ticket.”)

            Or, “I’ve read that Boston, like Ny Phil and Philly are experiencing problems with attendance but when I’ve gone it has looked full and the audiences were very enthusiastic. If course there may have been a lot of paper and discounting but still I had the impression of success.”

            NO!!!! This oven mitt KNOWS!!!

          • Bosah says:

            MrsJC:

            What are you talking about?

            Is the following about me? Seriously. What?

            I am especially sick of this dim entity’s ignorance — about the faking of Domingo on his records for example and the many, many, many, many short falls, unmusical compromises and sheer arrogant disregard for the art form of his live performances on a regular basis for at least 25 years, many of these things abetted by the collusion of the apparently divine Levine (lowering ALL of Alvaro for example).

            I don’t believe I have ever posted about Domingo… maybe I suppose. Faking of his record?? Really, truly, completely lost.

            The person you quote noted that: People who have never seem the operas in question performed by others LOVE Fleming and Dessay (implication they are above criticism)– a statement of mind numbing philistinism.

            Lordy. I said -- Those who have never seen Fleming and Dessay perform the SAME ROLES THEY’VE PERFORMED EARLIER in their careers don’t have preconceived ideas of how they should perform it now.

            If I hear Fleming’s Armida recording, I expect to hear that and will be disappointed. If I’ve seen Dessay’s previous Lucia, I expect to see that today.

            My point was that, in my opinion, those who were unfamiliar with these two performers’ previous incarnations of the roles they’re playing today, enjoy the current productions better.

            MrsJC -- Please try harder to understand my point.

            Finally,

            The person you quote has been a blight on this board for some time, a champion of misinformation, false equivalences and sheer — well, I’ve been enjoined to behave so I tremble to characterize the absence of cerebration. Beings of this kind should not be indemnified from shall we say severe correction.

            Yes, I was corrected and accept the corrections. Will you admit you’ve been wrong here in this post?

            I’ve never been a blight before. So I’m a “blight on the board.” A BOB. Sounds like fun. I’m always up for trying new things.

            And, MrsJC -- I truly don’t know what I’ve said that has bothered you so. Perhaps you just can’t stand someone who isn’t shy about saying they don’t agree with either your opinions or your tone? If I’ve offended you in some way, I apologize.

            I have noted that those who dish it out are often the least able to have it dished on them.

          • Bosah says:

            Gosh darn HTML tags:

            Italics are supposed to end after:

            (lowering ALL of Alvaro for example) at the end of paragraph one.

          • Bosah says:

            I hope you all will please indulge me -- I’m reposting this entire message. I fear that the italics in the original were so messed up and are so confusing that MrsJC won’t be able to understand where and how I’m responding.

            MrsJC:

            What are you talking about?

            Is the following about me? Seriously. What?

            I am especially sick of this dim entity’s ignorance — about the faking of Domingo on his records for example and the many, many, many, many short falls, unmusical compromises and sheer arrogant disregard for the art form of his live performances on a regular basis for at least 25 years, many of these things abetted by the collusion of the apparently divine Levine (lowering ALL of Alvaro for example).

            I don’t believe I have ever posted about Domingo… maybe I suppose. Faking of his record?? Really, truly, completely lost.


            The person you quote noted that: People who have never seem the operas in question performed by others LOVE Fleming and Dessay (implication they are above criticism)– a statement of mind numbing philistinism.

            Lordy. I said – Those who have never seen Fleming and Dessay perform the SAME ROLES THEY’VE PERFORMED EARLIER in their careers don’t have preconceived ideas of how they should perform it now.

            If I hear Fleming’s Armida recording, I expect to hear that and will be disappointed. If I’ve seen Dessay’s previous Lucia, I expect to see that today.

            My point was that, in my opinion, those who were unfamiliar with these two performers’ previous incarnations of the roles they’re playing today, enjoy the current productions better.

            MrsJC – Please try harder to understand my point.

            Finally,


            The person you quote has been a blight on this board for some time, a champion of misinformation, false equivalences and sheer — well, I’ve been enjoined to behave so I tremble to characterize the absence of cerebration. Beings of this kind should not be indemnified from shall we say severe correction.

            Yes, I was corrected and accept the corrections. Will you admit you’ve been wrong here in this post?

            I’ve never been a blight before. So I’m a “blight on the board.” A BOB. Sounds like fun. I’m always up for trying new things.

            And, MrsJC – I truly don’t know what I’ve said that has bothered you so. Perhaps you just can’t stand someone who isn’t shy about saying they don’t agree with either your opinions or your tone? If I’ve offended you in some way, I apologize.

            I have noted that those who dish it out are often the least able to have it dished on them.

        • 8.1.1.3
          Jack Jikes says:

          It is a FACT that THEY tore down the opera house and replaced it with a parking lot. Most theaters, then and now, were/are in some state of disrepair. The building was gutted in 1958 but was so solid and of such fine construction that it defeated two demolition companies. BTW the building opened in 1909 with Gioconda -- Louise Homer was LA CIECA! To its end it was the venue for Met Opera tours. I find your ’30 billion’ figure incredulous if not laughable. C. 1963 the construction cost of the New York State Theater was16 million dollars. The recent renovation was 100 million. On the other hand Boston has had its share of graft scandals -- maybe, maybe…

          • Bosah says:

            Man.. okay…

            1. Jack:

            I meant 30 million, not billion. Of course I didn’t mean billion. You’re right, it’s a ridiculous figure. Apologies for the typo. Should have reread my post.

            And yes, THEY (I assume you meant the city) demolished the building, which had, as I said, fallen into disrepair in the 40s. I thought making the point that the dorm was where the building used to be made it clear that it was demolished. Thanks for making it even more clear. And yes…. the dorm does have a parking lot. The dorm building and the lot take up the area of the old opera house.

            Your sentence was:
            “Boston? They demolished their opera house for a parking lot.
            I’m told that THEY do like ‘early’ music.”

            You made it sound as if our city had no opera house because it was demolished. In fact, we do have an opera house -- and one which the city and its citizens spent 30 Million dollars to refurbish.

            This was the reason for my post to you regarding that sentence.

            2.
            Thank you Drew for your comment. Whenever I have been there, it’s been almost full -- and I’ve heard the same from others. I assumed it was ticket sales…. but yes, I accept your comment about the papering. I was simply going on what I’ve seen inside the hall.

            I appreciate the info.

          • Jack Jikes says:

            Boston has a vaudeville/movie theater they call an opera house.
            In NY no one would call City Center an opera house because it inadequate for the needs of opera performance. Opera has been performed in both venues but as a marriage of convenience. Boston HAD a significant
            opera house. It was demolished at the behest of Northeastern University
            and the lot was used only as parking lot for many years.
            That noun phrase “university culture” -- an oxymoron.

        • 8.1.1.4
          Despina says:

          The City of Boston did not pay all that money to restore its opera house. The Clear Channel company did, in order to bring traveling Broadway productions to Boston. At first there was a clause that a few opera productions a year would be performed there, but that didn’t happen. Neither of Boston’s two major opera companies performs in the Opera House. Boston Ballet and touring Broadway productions perform there and the opera companies both have to make do with inferior performing venues. The Wang Center, which is large enough for grand opera, has horrible acoustics.

      • 8.1.2
        m. croche says:

        Many musicians I know think that Wuorinen is the greatest living composer.

        I can quite honestly say this is an opinion I have never before encountered.

      • 8.1.3
        Belfagor says:

        Carter, Babbitt and Wuorinen are not modernism -- they are the relics of a past century and really very old in all senses- their music is of a past and vanished another age

        If you go back 100 years to 1911 and advocated composers of their generation as ‘modern’ you would be citing Brahms, Smetana or whoever, which in the time of Schonberg and Stravinsky would be just preposterous.

        And from the many musicians I know, I’ve never heard a good word about Wuorinen -- it simply isn’t ‘heard’ -- it’s cerebral stone dead stuff. The others have more to recommend them, but I can’t say I have their stuff on my iPod, a couple of Carter pieces excepted……..

        • 8.1.3.1
          Belfagor says:

          oops -- delete ‘another’!

        • 8.1.3.2
          m. croche says:

          I think there’s a middle ground between “greatest living composer” and “no good word to say about him”. I think “cerebral” is an ill-chosen adjective -- thought and feeling are not mutually exclusive. Nor are we able to second-guess whether a composer “heard” the music s/he wrote. Some of Wuorinen’s music is interesting, some of it less so. It’s seldom faceless. I’ll post the opening of the concerto for Electric Cello, which might win him some sympathy in these parts:

          • Belfagor says:

            M.Croche -- just saw this, and thank you for posting. This music is indeed arresting, and unlike other (mainly vocal and chamber) pieces of Wuorinen’s I’ve heard.

      • 8.1.4
        Pelleas et Melisande @ Most Addictive Opera says:

        Jack Jikes,

        “Many musicians I know think that Wuorinen is the greatest living composer…”

        A risible claim, isn’t it?

        Can you name a single work by Charles Wuorinen — a man who has been composing for over 40 years now — that has entered the marginal (forget standard) repertoire?

        True, one shouldn’t equate frequency of performance with greatness but don’t you find it odd that the intelligent concert-goer could not think of one, let alone pronounce his last name?

        Heck, at least Schoenberg produced ‘Transfigured Night’ and ‘Songs of Gurre’

        (P.S. I love basically all of the Second Viennese School so the issue is not about tonality or “melodiousness”)

  • 9
    sidessa says:

    Why has no one suggested a gastric bypass for our beloved Maestro? Within a year after, the dramatic weight loss would heal all back problems and remove all diabetes and other weight related symptoms. He would return to optimum health and be able to handle his duties with the Boston Symphony and the Met. He is relatively young and we have seen many other slender maestri conduct full schedules well into their eighties. God Bless you Meastro Levine, please have the gastric surgery.

    • 9.1
      florezrocks says:

      Yes but then his Brunhilde will suck!!!!

    • 9.2
      scifisci says:

      I agree that he should lose weight, but gastric bypass would be death knell for him. He is so frail and unfit, what he really needs is exercise and smart dieting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though these are things he is willing to do. After all, shouldn’t the last time around have been a wake up call? As much as I have often marveled at Levine’s performances, I don’t really think he should be given carte blanche at the Met anymore. He needs to prove that he can realistically assess what he is physically capable of doing and schedule himself accordingly.

      • 9.2.1
        Gualtier M says:

        Have you guys seen Levine lately? HE IS QUITE FRAIL AND THIN. He doesn’t need anything to inhibit his food intake. He is quite small and can barely walk. Seriously, I think that his whole health story is being kept from us.

        • 9.2.1.1
          brooklynpunk says:

          Gualtier:

          I have the utmost respect for your postings…and I know the the nature of the ‘net doesn’t allow for modulation of “tone of voice” -so I assure you I ain’t being “snappy” to your last line..

          BUT..

          …I CERTAINLY HOPE SO..!…

          WHO are ANY of US-- to really be privy to the Maestro’s personal health issues-really?

          Isn’t it enough--and all too clear--to know-and see-- that Levine is ailing?--and to be sad at that fact…without probbing into the particulars?

    • 9.3
      Harry says:

      sidessa: Gastic bypass surgery is not to be ‘taken lightly’, even if treated by some gullible people out there, as a form of cosmetic cum health surgery.. In some cases it can cause even greater overall problems to peoples’ quality of life. Even too absolutely wrecking them. Rather than the less drastic : strict proper diet, rest, a set form of suitable correct form of individually tailored exercise and removal of all stress. If Levine has diabetes symptoms / problems -- the involuntary ‘shakes of legs & arms of the limb extremities -- I commented on previously -- can easily fit with that problem. It is simply called ‘physical nerve -- damage’ possibly not controlled by the requirements of the tasks: a sufferer has taken on, in their workload. Let’s leave aside whether or not, he can ‘survive’ conducting The Ring at the Met. Of paramount importance in any case : this man himself in his late 60’s, should be taking a good hard look in the mirror and thinking and deciding firstly about his own personal health issues and welfare. Bugger the Ring! The fans are not in his predicament. The MET will find a conductor if they have to. Better to, now rather than later. Sorry!

  • 10
    BillyBoy says:

    I happen to enjoy many of the contemporary composers Levine has programmed (but not Harbison!), but haven’t found he has a talent for them. He’ll make a better guest than Music Director.

    • 10.1
      ianw2 says:

      Ah yes, those many notable Levine-led contemporary scores we’ve seen at the Met. He could conduct anything you put in front of him but which contemporary composers does he regularly program…?

      (I admit I don’t follow the Boston program much, so am waiting to be surprised)

    • 10.2
      m. croche says:

      Has Levine ever conducted Tristan Murail? For some reason this strikes me as a nice pairing, much better than Levine-Wuorinen or even Levine-Carter.

      • 10.2.1
        oedipe says:

        m.croche, why do you think Levine would pair well with spectral music?

      • 10.2.2
        m. croche says:

        I was thinking primarily of Levine’s slow, comparatively sensuous Wagner and his fondness for the equally sensuous Berg. It occurred to me that Levine might be an interesting conductor to pair with Murail’s beautiful, time-suspending music. (Murail specifically, mind you, not all “spectralist” music.) The previous discussion had led to me to revisit the youtube videos of Levine conducting piano concertos by Babbitt and Carter -- to my mind the Babbitt really benefited from Levine’s patient ear. Carter’s note-spinning is fluent, but somehow a bit empty for me. It was the color in the Babbitt that led me to think of Murail. (Not such a strange pairing perhaps -- many who work a lot with electronics must surely develop a keen sense for orchestral sonority.)

        • 10.2.2.1
          oedipe says:

          I was just curious because I have only heard Murail’s music (and that of other composers with a similar approach) interpreted by relatively small, specialized groups (such as the Ensemble Intercontemporain or the Arditti Quartet) in specialized venues (such as IRCAM). Boulez is of course an example of a “mainstream” conductor of avant-garde music, but he is the exception rather than the rule.
          Incidentally, aside from Murail, from the same generation, I very much like Horatiu Radulescu and Michael Levinas, both of whom I find very original.

          • m. croche says:

            Ah, well Murail teaches at Columbia so he’s not unfamiliar in the US. I’ve listened to only a bit of Radulescu and Levinas, mostly because I’m lazy. I’ll move them up the queue.

        • 10.2.2.2
          Pelleas et Melisande @ Most Addictive Opera says:

          M Croche,

          “I was thinking primarily of Levine’s slow, comparatively sensuous Wagner”

          Exactly.

          Which is why I wish he’d study and conduct the most worthwhile and rewarding opera of the last 30 years, Messiaen’s ‘Saint Francis of Assisi’

          Carter, Wuorinen and Babbitt are really getting tiresome at this point.

  • 11
    parpignol says:

    OT: Eve Queler looks healthy at 75, conducted a very enjoyable concert performance of L’Africaine this evening at Avery Fisher, with Giordani and mostly impressive performers in the other parts; and what a wild and crazy opera!

    • 11.1
      brooklynpunk says:

      parpignol:

      Who did you find ” less impressive”?-- I thought the performers were all pretty good..

      • 11.1.1
        parpignol says:

        brooklynpunk, I thought Taigi was very uneven, for some of the reasons noted below by Lucky Pierre, but especially because her top turns very harsh at full voice; though I thought she had saved enough to make something quite good out of the death scene; I thought Giordani was heroic and almost always came through on top, but missed some sweetness of tone in the more lyrical passages; I loved Dehn (who also seemed to be the only person on stage who knew she was singing in French) and loved the baritone Mvinjelwa; hope we’ll be hearing more of them; and I totally disagree with LP below about the opera as a whole: very often gorgeous or thrilling and sometimes both at once, I think it dramatically achieves greatness-through-weirdness, left me thinking about Meyerbeer’s relation to Verdi and Berlioz, and I would happily sit through it again if there was to be a another performance in my lifetime!

        • 11.1.1.1
          Lucky Pierre says:

          parpginol, there wasn’t even a ballet!!!

          i think matos would have made a fantastic selika.

          yes, the nelusko was quite good. south africa seems to be producing a lot of young promising singers.

          • brooklynpunk says:

            ..but…

            There was Ballet music, at the begining off the fifth(?) Act-nu?

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            bp, you are right… i think it was act 4. i must have dozed off then and drooled on you at the time.

          • parpignol says:

            ballet music which Queler conducted quite poorly, as if she didn’t really care about it at all. . .

        • 11.1.1.2
          manou says:

          The baritone Mvinjelwa would score very highly with me if capitalized names were allowed in Scrabble.

    • 11.2
      Lucky Pierre says:

      parpignol,

      i was there too, and what a freaking tacky mess this meyerbeer is. someone here, i think brooklynpunk, owes me dinner for making me sit through this 3.5 hours of this filth. chiara taigi started out promising, but what a mess, she’s a wild and uneven performer. her registers were uneven and she had some trouble with dynamics. her berceuse in act 2 had lots of potential, her histrionics were fascinating to watch (it looked like she was doing elektra’s monologue), but in the 2nd half (acts 4 and 5), her middle register turned to filth — she was channeling leyla gencer by then — and by the death scene, she was also running out of steam. well, one thing she’s not, bland and boring, but someone please bring back the young grace bumbry!!!!!

      ellie dehn sang great — she even outsang taigi in their duet. i can see why this opera should be called “vasco da gama”, the tenor does all the heavy lifting. giordani did pump out lots of volume and high notes, but as usual, sounded whiny to me.

      i was familiar with this work from recordings… and hearing it live did not change my opinion of this bloody mess.

      • 11.2.1
        Pelleas says:

        Well, I disagree about Meyerbeer--I think of him as a sort of operatic Cecil B. DeMille, and there seems to be plenty of room for that, particularly if all we’re going to get is the occasional concert performance.

        From my section of the orchestra, Ellie Dehn did NOT always sing “great”--she sounded exhausted at the beginning of the duet with Taigi. I realize this is more or less a voice crank’s version of 4chan at this point, but honestly--the Speaking of Objective Truth About Subjective Aesthetic Experience around here is wearying (cf. Farhad Manjoo’s new Slate article about NPR fans).

    • 11.3
      Evenhanded says:

      Well.

      I think Parpignol’s original comment is probably the most charitable so far, and so I will respond here. Yes -- it was very enjoyable. As has almost always been the case with OONY events, it was a mixture of sublime, absurd, and plenty of mediocre.

      Giordani started in husky, raspy voice, but warmed up, made some sensational sounds in his upper register, and looked horribly uncomfortable for most of the evening: he didn’t know the opera. He was GLUED to the score and made loads of mistakes (including an accidental exit from the stage at one point). Taigi had temperament and stage presence to burn. Wow -- I haven’t seen a singer with so much sense of Italian ‘style’ in many years. (Yes, I said Italian, despite this being French Grand opera.) She could give masterclasses in the use of hands alone. Her vocal technique is excellent -- unfortunately, she has clearly overworked her voice and there are now flaws that cannot be concealed, including an incipient wobble and plenty of harshness on top. Still, hers was a remarkable performance in many ways. Dehn is typical of the younger American singers: poor French pronunciation, generic in style, and no clue whatsoever about effective stage presence. Her dress was gorgeous, but her character was blank. And the voice isn’t particularly special either. Mvinjelwa was solid throughout, and offered robust, stylish singing and lots of charisma. Daniel Mobbs looked ridiculous, but sang very well. Too bad he always seems 100% disinterested in what he’s singing about.

      As for Queler, she conducted well enough, and held the considerable forces together calmly and gave the singers every bit of help they might need. She has had a great career for one so untalented as a conductor. He gift to the musical community over the last 40 years cannot be underestimated. The prolonged ovations she received from the audience were richly deserved. Brava, maestra. Enjoy your retirement.

      • 11.3.1
        brooklynpunk says:

        Was it only MY “Playbill” that seemed to omit a bio for Daniel Mobbs (Don Pedro)?

        • 11.3.1.1
          Lucky Pierre says:

          no, bp, it’s not a conspiracy. i noticed that too…

          • brooklynpunk says:

            Lucky:

            I’d be glad to take you out to dinner--Dutch treat??

            You can drool all you want..

            I did doze on and off, during the first 45 minutes ( but still thank Agnes V. for the opportunity to snooze in such great seats)

            I can’t say that I’m rushing out for a recording , but still glad to hear a work I’ve heard so much about, but hadn’t heard in in it entirety before

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            which seats did you have, BP? i was in the back, not the absolute last rows, but close to the back. i spent part of the time watching the poor german shepherd guide dog, who laid there on the floor, really better behaved than many in the audience.

          • brooklynpunk says:

            Lucky:

            The audience was unbearably rude, I thought..and sort of clue-less ( it was very clearly noted that the intermission would be after Act III-which didn’t stop an exodus after the SECOND ACT..

            I was sitting next to the dawg’s master— sorta sheparding him….’

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            oh, i thought you were his husband…

      • 11.3.2
        viper says:

        I feel like it’s not impossible that Giordani was, well, maybe a little drunk…

        That said, I completely enjoyed the whole crazy performance.

        • 11.3.2.1
          Gualtier M says:

          I was sitting pretty close and Marcello didn’t seem drunk. However, he was singing very loud and at one point got a frog or some cracky/husky break in his voice at the end of a dramatic phrase. He went offstage I think to get a glass of water.

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            i thought he started out “oh paradis” rather hoarse but soldiered on gamely. i too didn’t think he made a false exit, i thought he was just going to get water.

            but the weird thing was, they obviously did not rehearse the bows at the end. there was a huge delay before the offstage singers came out to join mvinjelwa and taigi. then when ellie dehn came out, she took a solo bow, and she didn’t know that no one else had taken on, so it was odd that the 2nd donna got one but not the prima donna.

        • 11.3.2.2
          brooklynpunk says:

          Lucky:

          I ain’t “the marrying kind”--AND--

          The dog is a girl--not my type….!

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            well, the girl is too adorable for words. i just wanted to go pet her during the boring moments in the perf.

          • brooklynpunk says:

            she loves that— and she is usually one of the better-behaved members of the audience

            (her only draw-back is a lack of appreciation for 20th cent. music)

  • 12

    Those who do not know who Chiara Taigi is, take a look and you will understand:

    • 12.1
      thenoctambulist says:

      I don’t know what you guys are talking about. From that clip, I would she’s a very promising singer. This is a better senza mamma than Sondra Radvanovsky. By the way, this singer has already sung Medea!

      • 12.1.1

        I have to disagree, strongly with this assertion.

        Tiagi is not a “promising singer”. This is how it gets with her: Squally top, ugly bottom and a strident middle; and the wobble in the middle and bottom registers is not what I would call healthy either.

        Actually, it sounds like she is not supporting through the middle and that is giving the impression that she is running out of breath often, specially at the end of long phrases.

        This lady is not just starting, not an advanced student and certainly not about to break into the business. This woman is seen as the soprano taking the mantle from Dessi, basically.

        I think the scene is painful to listen, there are too many ugly notes and there is no high C or B to speak of. Even the final A in Senza mamma is wobbly and flat. How could this be considered better than anyone is surprising, but to each his own. 90 year old Magda sounded better in the Adriana Monologue.

        Her advantage over la Rad is the fact that she is a native speaker, so she has a deeper connection to the language and the style.

        The incredible part is that 10 years ago she was singing just like this and she was not laughed out of the stage:

        • 12.1.1.1
          Lucky Pierre says:

          the thing that is puzzling is that, at least last night, once in a while she made some lovely sounds, particularly in the top register, why she can’t consistently maintain that, i don’t know.

          • Hippolyte says:

            If I’ve ever sat through a worse opera than L’Africaine, I can’t imagine what it would be. I truly never understand what people are always on about when they yammer “wouldn’t it be wonderful if they revived Meyerbeer”? After seeing Huguenots at Bard and now L’Africaine, I can’t think of a worst waste of time and money than spending it on him. I remember feeling nearly the same about Huguenots but at least there were a few moments that weren’t excruciating empty (and I’m just about to listen to some of the Madrid broadcast of it from the other day to hear its impressive female line-up: Massis, DiGiacomo & Deshayes). But I didn’t hear ANY in L’Africaine and it actually drove the friend I went with home at intermission (and he’s usually game for anything!).

            Was this Queler’s farewell? It seemed so given her over-enthusiastic applause throughout (certainly more for her 40-year legacy than her actual “talent”) but her ever-plodding conducting didn’t help Meyerbeer’s cause, not that the greatest conductor in the world could have. (I can’t imagine what Muti made of this piece back in the day with Norman and Luchetti--and, yes, I know that recording is easily available but no, thank you!)

            Frankly, the terms “filth” and “demented” etc. don’t register for me--it’s not my taste and they’re not qualities I relish or seek out-- but I sort of had the feeling while watching Taigi last evening that that’s what I was getting. It was kind of dramatically compelling, but not always in a good way and not that anyone else was even trying, which made it all the more bizarre. And the singing of course was all over the place. When I read Taigi was hired, I sought out a broadcast of her as the Cherubini Medea and it too was all over the place, the top a particular mess. It’s always been a very “provincial” career, in both senses of the word and based on what I saw and heard last night, rightly so. On the other hand, without her wildness and unpredictability to (sort of) keep my interest, I, too, might have fled at intermission. Let’s hope that Veronesi will make some better choices for OONY in the coming years!

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            haven’t listened to her clips above yet, but here she’s in a bit more lovely moment, why she can replicate it more often is puzzling:

            here she’s not too bad either (now i’m trying to think who the tenor sounds like but i can’t place it for sure):

            don’t you just love the costumes and design?

          • Paulo says:

            Lucky Pierre,
            The tenor in Ballo seems to be Aquiles Machado.

    • 12.2
      tinney says:

      I can honestly say that I agree with everyone when they say she was vocally uneven BUT she was the most entertaining singer on stage last night. She had moments that were brilliant and then she had moments where I was sitting there confused, “was this the same voice that just produced that gorgeous dimenuendo?”

      I think in the above video it demonstrates for me what I believe her main vocal issue to be; she has a huge break in her lower middle voice that forces her to go into chest VERY high like around an f above middle c. For a soprano, even a dramatic soprano, that is not smart and very dangerous. You can hear how she uses a sort of chesty mix as opposed to a head mix to make the sounds. I am not entirely sure of why she is doing this; perhaps the rep is too big, perhaps she never learned how to mix correctly, perhaps she’s trying to be louder, or who knows BUT it has certainly shaved off notes from her top.

      Having said all of that, I still find her entertaining but I do not wish to hear her in anything heavier than this and according to her bio in last night’s program she’s going full force!!

      • 12.2.1
        Lucky Pierre says:

        i don’t know how many of you were there (i wasn’t) but i find the recorded l’africaine from london in 1978 with bumbry the best of all the recordings i’ve come across. she had the agility for the part, the rich tone, and certainly the temperament… it’s about the only one i’ve enjoyed. not that there are many versions out there…

  • 13
    Pelleas says:

    That anyone could complain about extremely infrequent performances of Meyerbeer in the face of the continual scheduling of Gounod around the world boggles my mind.

    • 13.1
      richard says:

      Yeah, really. the Meyerbeer pieces are very uneven but they are done soooo infrequently, I don’t really see the point in complaining about them compared to the Gounod pieces which aren’t all THAT much better. And the Gounod revivals DO take up a lot of resources.

      I suspect a part of the problem a lot of the attendees had with L’Africaine was 1)concert opera format and 2)OONY quality, both of which could take a piece that is marginal and sink it.

      I saw the first OONY L’Africaine and it was sort of dreary, a typically messy Queller, an aging Tucker and Stella, a clueless second soprano. I don’t remember who did Nelusko but he wasn’t that hot. I thought the thing was a bore.

      Much later, in the late 80s, I saw it staged at SFO and the piece with exotic, evocative sets and some very good singing ( really, Swenson brought the house down) made a much better case for the piece. Yeah it was still an uneven mess, but it had moments that were thrilling and I got a glimpse of why this very old fashioned opera was once very popular.

      • 13.1.1
        Pelleas says:

        I found the Tucker memorial last night…strange; saying this performance was “honoring” (rather than “commemorating”) Tucker’s struck me as the worst sort of over the top worship of the past that gives the audience a bad name. To actually play a recording of Tucker singing the tenor’s Vasco’s big aria seemed, however unintentionally, a rather shabby way to treat Giordani.

        • 13.1.1.1
          brooklynpunk says:

          …especially as the recording of Tucker was in awful sound quality….!!

          I , too, found it odd that they would play it, in Giordani’s presence..but at least Marcello sounded so much better , live..

        • 13.1.1.2
          La Cieca says:

          It did seem they did Marcello a “Kathy Lee.”

  • 14
    Hippolyte says:

    Yeah I hate Faust pretty much too, and find the MET scheduling yet another new production of it pretty inexplicable and a total waste of Kaufmann and Pape (whom I spotted standing in front of the Empire Hotel last evening after L’Africaine on my way to the subway--the high point of the evening, needless to say). Romeo I like better but not enough to bring myself to sit through another evening of Hong whom I’ve always found extremely dull.

    • 14.1
      poisonivy says:

      I think R&J done with the right singers can be an absolutely beautiful opera. Beautiful arias and duets. Lots of filler, but still, the highs are very high. Faust otoh I have less and less tolerance for, it’s one of the most banal operas still in the popular rep.

  • 15
    BillyBoy says:

    This is why I am less than fully sympathetic. Levine has long been known in the medical community as a bad patient:

    “Volpe added that Levine – who has long been plagued by back problems and complications from a viral infection – was self-medicating… and the drugs had begun to take a toll on his facilities.”