Cher Public

  • nalasa1: I remember seeing a tryout of “Subways are for Sleeping” in Philadelphia. I loved it, especially Phyllis Newman. Yet... 12:05 PM
  • Camille: Beati Voi!! I would love to see that island adjacent to Siracusa, among many other things—and must just briefly pop in to tell... 12:03 PM
  • Feldmarschallin: ‘Ditto Emily Magee.’ Well that isn’t putting the bar very high is it? Emily Magee can be put in the... 11:40 AM
  • Batty Masetto: Well, kerflooey. Lorenzo, I tried replying here but it wound up at the end of the thread. 11:40 AM
  • Batty Masetto: Lorenzo, how kind of you to stand up for me. And I utterly share your fascination with Sicily. Some years ago I toured... 11:38 AM
  • Batty Masetto: Thank you, Mrs. JC. No harm done, but I didn’t want to let the record stand the way it was. 11:33 AM
  • Cicciabella: I don’t think there was anything strange in Wilson’s reaction to the parterre review. Her mistake was to react... 11:12 AM
  • lorenzo.venezia: armer, you’re on your own, baby ;-) 10:02 AM

The mystery of the disappearing dress

Three Juliettes, three different seasons of the Met’s Roméo et Juliette: Natalie Dessay in 2005, Anna Netrebko in 2007, Hei-Kyung Hong in 2011. At this rate, La Cieca predicts that the role will be performed in the nude sometime around 2025. (Photos: Dessay and Hong by Marty Sohl, Netrebko by Ken Howard.)


  • armerjacquino says:

    Two smiling faces and one worried one.

    ‘Oh, can you not trill? We can’

  • louannd says:


    Disappearing Juliet sleeves, even on Juliet.

  • phoenix says:

    If I’m not mistaken (and I might be very wrong) but that dress Hong is wearing looks very familiar. I can’t believe it and i dare not say it, but I will anyways. It looks like the one she wore 15 years ago when I first saw her at the Met as Juliette. I would have to dig through the old foto archives for quite awhile to figure it out. Dementia must be settling in on me again.

  • Camille says:

    I love the red dress, and she looks at least 15-20 years younger than her age-brava! But honestly, a red dress on a 16 year old Renaissance pura vergine!?? Probably Dessay is dressed most appropriately and I do love her little masque, as well.

    Anya looks like she’s been shopping at Betsey Johnson, where she’s mislaid her trill, along with a roulade or two.

    Anya: the Marchesi Methode de Chant has a handy-dandy how-to on trills and shakes @ the back of the book! Shake it Anushka!!

    • Donna Carlo says:

      You’re right, Camille, and the disasters a red dress can provoke continue to delight:

      • Camille says:

        Thanks, that was a lot of fun.
        I realized that I’ve never seen Jezebel. A horrible omission in my silver screen viewing, And one which I intend to remedy as soon as convenient.
        I do believe she won an Oscar for this part?

  • Will says:

    And if she can still wear it 15 years later, good for her!

    Actually, if you look closely at a Anna’s and Hei-Kyung’s dresses, it looks as if they are the same basic dress and stomacher with the long sleeves and top removed to reveal Ms Hong’s attractive shoulders, neck and bust.

    • steveac10 says:

      There’s no question it’s basically the same dress. But who was it altered for: Hong or Gheorghiu? Regardless, talk about a MILF (and I don’t even roll that way). Not only does she look decades younger in that photo -- she sounds decades younger than she is on Sirius tonight as well. Talk about aging well.

      • poisonivy says:

        It does look like the same dress, with the sleeves removed. And I agree, if Hong can look so great in an off-the-shoulder dress at her age, go for it! Anna’s dress is probably more flattering for the “average” opera singer, who tends to be a bit thick around the waist and broad in the shoulder area.

    • LittleMasterMiles says:

      Definitely the same dress:

      • MontyNostry says:

        “Lydia Silvestry is a phenomenon. As a young girl, she was pronounced dead in a hospital emergency room. It was during this experience that she became aware of her spirit choosing to return to her body in order to be of assistance on earth. In her teens, she attended a beauty pageant as a spectator and, inadvertently, was crowned Puerto Rico’s Beauty Queen. As a journalist in her twenties, she could not find a dress that suited her versatile needs, thus she invented the world famous Infinite® Dress: a garment designed to be worn more than 100 different ways. Lydia also speaks seven languages.”
        Maybe she and Renee should talk.

  • Bluessweet says:

    [img] images.jpg[/img]

    Trill? You say trill? Joyce Didonato says ANYONE can train themselves to do it!

    • Hell…way back when I was a conservatory student studying voice. Truth be told, I was mediocre. I studied with contralto, Eunice Alberts. I was a tenor who never figured out the passagio and had a weak top. BUT I WAS TAUGHT TO TRILL. Eunice was a big fan of the Marchesi Method and that’s how I learned to trill. I must have sung Marchesi’s trilling exercises a million times. I can still trill to this day.

      • phoenix says:

        Can you regale us with one of your performances (audio excerpt, utube, xtube or otherwise)?

  • antikitschychick says:

    LMAO. Well below is the only time I’ve seen/heard her seriously attempt to trill (or produce some semblance of it)
    I think she could do it IF she practices enough, but that’s a big IF. She should be practicing now for AB and judging from her met interview it seems she is taking the role seriously. I hope she does manage to do it, because trills are a major component of the bel canto style (of) ornamentation and sometimes they are specifically required/written in the score. I read somewhere she will be singing the countess in Figaro sometime in the near future and the score for that also has trills written in so she best get to workin’ on those! Skip to 6:54:

  • phoenix says:

    Does anybody remember Stoyanova trilling her way through Anna Bolena? I only heard it a couple of times years ago and Stoyanova’s legato singing, like Hong’s, was so beautiful I didn’t even care about a trill.

  • Bill says:

    Stoyanova also has sung the Countess in Figaro,
    in Vienna for sure but I think also in Washington,
    DC so someone on this blog must surely remember whether
    she has a trill or not. Also she has Marguerites
    in Faust coming up -- another opera where a trill
    is important.

    I believe Hong trilled when she sang Eva -- and I have heard her as the Countess in Figaro but one normally does not remember the trills unless they are omitted.

    Netrebko is singing her first Countess in Figaro in
    Vienna next season.

    Tonight at the Romeo and Juliet, Hong, for the most part, sang splendidly, perhaps sligtly effortfully in the Waltz song but with limpid tone throughout much of the evening and while not jumping around as much as Dessay had in the premiere season, Hong acted with youth and vitality -- an admirable interpretation. Of the various Juliettes I have seen my favorite remains Pilou. Beczala also sang with verve and almost consistently with considerable beauty of tone.
    Applause for Hong and Beczala was fervent but not at all prolonged. The House seemed pretty full -- not the rows of empty seats which has plagued other recent
    performances of Armida or Iphigenia or Fanciulla.

    • mrsjohnclaggart says:

      Ah, Bill, only you and I remember Pilou, a most wonderful singer (slightly challenged on top) and very moving. She is on my short list like Maliponte who in her best days was magic. Hong’s survival is amazing though perhaps understandable since she chose to stay close to home with husband, children and church (she spoke to me at length once about “Jesus” whose existence I very much doubt, who even as a fiction had no message for Koreans or any Asians and would have had to have been, if such a person lived in some way not documented, a Jewish insurgent, those groups did indeed accept Old Testament beliefs about the slaughter of those not approved of, which I believe would be most of us here at the delightful Parterre Box, including those who are ethnically Jewish, half or whole.)

      Hong has had quite a history, including being a motorcycle chic who ran around with a white biker/rocker, who when she was invited by Evil Incarnate and the Filthy Pig she married to ‘coach’, joined her, uninvited and during the inevitable inquisition asked the FP if he was the one who discovered the Beatles!!!!!

      They were promptly chucked out and there are those who believe he tried to harm her career. (Conversion must have come later in her life). The Filthy Pig published a version of this without naming her though it was perfectly obvious who he meant (he does refer to her as “the one great talent we heard in those days”), but she speaks of it frankly (though she has a different perspective, including perfectly well based suspicions of his motives, one of the reasons she allowed the biker to accompany her. “As for [EVIL INCARNATE] she would have harmed me, I believe now, though then I was devastated,” she said.

      I wonder if you saw her Julliard Manon many moons ago, a really great account of the role.

      • The Vicar of John Wakefield says:

        “I wonder if you saw her Julliard Manon many moons ago, a really great account of the role.”

        These days SUCH PEOPLE start at Calais, whereas Our Own Valerie Masterson practically *was* French.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Drop it, Nerva, it’s over.

          • Regina delle fate says:

            And of course “Our Own” Valerie Masterson was hugely acclaimed as Manon, Marguérite, Mireille, Juliette -- and Mozart and Handel roles -- not only at ENO but in such provincial centres as Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Geneva . A rather more accomplished and versatile singer than, say, Kathleen Battle, many of whose roles she sang in her early career.

      • phoenix says:

        Wait just a moment dear… many of us do remember Pilou, who sang into the 1980′s. But of course how many of us are willing to “show our age” by revealing that yes, we remember her early years, too, in the late 60′s as Juliette, Violetta and Micaela at the Met and in San Francisco.
        -- Yes she had her good days and her not so good ones. But that Pagliacci they broadcast once in awhile on Sirius with Vickers as Canio & Pilou as Nedda (her last broadcast season at the Met) caught Pilou, albeit in her later years, on a very good vocal day. The two of them are phenomenal IMO.

        • armerjacquino says:

          I seem to remember hearing a recording of Butterfly from her too, somewhere.

          • phoenix says:

            I do remember going to see Pilou as Butterfly at the Met in 1970, so yes she did sing it (and also in France I remember her singing Butterfly there, too); somebody probably put it out on an audio recording.
            -- Yes she was sometimes short on the top but other nights she was right on-target.
            -- I also remember how beautiful she looked as Marguerite in Faust in the blond wig (circa 1976). She had beautiful smooth milkwhite skin like one of those greek statues of the goddesses.
            -- In the early 1980′s I also enjoyed her Melisande. She was definitely an authentic artist, the real thing, no matter what vocal problems she may have been going through. Her acting as Melisande was quite subtle, but very communicative; Pilou had a way of drawing your attention into whatever character she was performing without you even being aware of it. However, in those days I preferred Stratas’ Melisande, who didn’t have the beautiful tone Pilou had… but Stratas gave an intense interpretation of the role & she turned the whole thing into a great, moving tragedy.

          • Regina delle fate says:

            I saw her once -- as Mimi in Cologne. Absolutely heart-rending.

      • Nemorinopr says:

        Mrs. Claggart:
        I also remember Pilou and Maliponte. Both beautiful lyric sopranos who deserve greater exposure in YouTube and other sights.
        And…….I do believe in Jesus!!!

        • mrsjohnclaggart says:

          Well Nemorinopr, some people believe in Behrens as the Redeemer, and jesus forfend if she rises from the grave (she hasn’t so far, it only took him three days).

          I can’t of course control what people ‘believe’. But I am concerned with beliefs that are focused on who knows what but which cannot be shown to be actual events and which have motivated mass murder and enslavement.

          Let’s leave Yesu the Gallileean (for such would have been the Aramaic name of a poor person from there, translated into Hebrew as Joshua, then in Greek as Jesus, let’s leave “The Christ”, a Greek word used three times in the Septuagint for “Messiah” (Septuagint is the koine Greek translation of the Hebrew holy books, which in itself shows the writing we have does not reflect the thinking or word use of anyone who could have known the Palestinian Yesu,) let’s leave the liar, “Paul”, whose real name is uncertain and who hated on sight the leaders in Jerusalem of the “Jesus” sect such as he calls them, because they were devout Jews --

          -- who couldn’t have been, had the person they were commemorating actually been believed by them to be Messiah, the one who overturned Mosaic Law, and let’s leave “Paul” the creator of “Christianity” whose ‘teaching’ was gleaned from talks with the ‘risen’ Christ IN HEAVEN, not on documents by the “real” person, none of which survived and there may have been none, given the high rate of illiteracy at the time — let’s leave all that behind and you pray as you must.

          But in terms of hysterical non historical assertion, I’ve seen Behrens’ gritty, harsh, unreliable tone described here as ‘beautiful’ and other adjectives, yet INNUMERABLE tapes, records show otherwise.

          I have seem her acclaimed for interpretive skills, yet in music, an inability to sing in tune, the lack of a firm, rich, focused, well controlled, steady middle register (where most of the Wagner roles lie, in fact most operatic roles lie there) limits what she can actually do — however sincerely she may have prepared the roles. This too is abundantly evident on actual sound and video documents (we have none for “Jesus”).

          I have seen her acclaimed for her ‘acting’ presumably by the blind, the lame and the halt for the eye popping, spastically grimacing, shoulder lifting spasms, suggest nothing other than physical distress and mental insecurity in trying to produce a tone somewhere near some pitch, not Brunnhilde’s or Isolde’s or Elektra’s dilemmas, and again we have abundant video documentation.

          Yet we are to ‘believe’ these assertions? And no, at this level of arrogant grandiosity it is not a matter of opinion. Anyone has a right to say, “well, your strictures are accurate and reflect your concerns but I was moved, even though I can see how her flaws might limit the enjoyment of some”. No, these people KNOW that their REDEEMER liveth.

          There have been many, many, OK, adequate and reasonable singers who may not have risen to the heights in these roles but somehow got acclaim for them here and there --without anyone thinking they were ‘great’ or for the ages. But Hildegarde, the Savior, is compared without embarrassment by people who want to be taken seriously at least as sensible, to miracles like Nilsson, Flagstad, Leider for starters.

          Indeed one could compare the three of them for weaknesses and limits and find one “better” than the others — but Behrens Christus is as a diseased mouse to them. And with all these people there is abundant documentation.

          And those who try to be rational about Hildegarde are held up for mockery as Harry was last night for just making reasonable points about the automatic doubts one should have about the spasms of hysteria fans.

          Someone even posted they needed access to “google translator’ after one of his posts, when he had quite clearly suggested that when the bought and paid for hype had died, as it does, and one had only her documents, she seemed at best a footnote, as pop idols like Bieber and Miley Cyrus will in a few years if not months, as the pop icons of yesteryear that sold millions, had millions of hysterical fans, were called by morons like John Rockwell, the one eyed fraud who ran the Times Arts and Leisure page for a while, “great” in his moronic, ignorant efforts to link pop singing to opera singing.

          (Yes, Jo Stafford was a much better singer than Hildegarde and she had serious skills, as much pablum as she had to record to keep herself viable commercially in a changing pop landscape, but she had by any standard a sumptuous, wide ranging voice and perfect pitch, but while she loved opera and worked with a ‘serious’ voice teacher she never tried to sing without a mic and never tested herself in public even with an aria or two let alone a role).

          Someone posted that “The Times” had compared Behrens to Leider and Marton to Flagstad, that was John Rockwell who when I asked him (I wrote for him), admitted he had never heard either.

          He had overhead some queen saying that ‘compared to Behrens, Marton might as well be Flagstad”.

          The Leider comparison had come from his pal, Joe Horowitz, a scum bag idiot of that era who wrote some of the dumbest books on music ever (well, it’s only because publishing of all kinds of books has fallen off that we have fewer of those, we still have SOME!!!!). Rockwell was a FRAUD, in other words, who hadn’t a clue about what he was writing.

          Two very flawed singers who were the best the Met morons (led by Jonathan Friend who was astounded at this period when told that Varnay had been a great WAGNER STAR “isn’t she some supporting woman who looks like a cleaning lady?” He asked) could find, were puffed by an imbecilic asswipe know-nothing flack for the Met and yet this is an AUTHORITY??

          (Marton of course had a tremendously impressive instrument, a jerry built technique, and a love of forcing, especially overloading her top. “I give her five years,” said Birgit to me after Marton’s impressive but not effortless Empress, where, none the less, at the curtain calls she pushed Marton out for the final bow and ‘crowned’ her, knowing this would get to Rysanek and KILL her, since the Empress was HER role and they were feuding at the time.)

          Birgit said, “I have small high notes and never press there!!!!” What she meant is that she didn’t scream, and allowed the natural resonance and focus of her tone to sound in the house, which it did, to so far unmatched effect, even fairly late in the day.

          Birgit was right, within that five years Marton began to scream more than she sang for short term effect (the opening night Ortrud 1984 was stunning but the very next performance she was hoarse and as far as I know was never able to sing again with that abandon though there were still a couple of respectable nights).

          Our Savior Hildegarde also screamed at the top producing a strident, unreliably pitched, eventually unsteady shriek which only those in need of a hearing aid might enjoy (but it was loud, so the goon squad now on Opera-L, led by two of the dumbest people known to human kind, Kosovsky and something called E.J. Michel, were thrilled, you can read them there, I don’t bother).

          I actually respect your belief in jesus more than I respect the cheering section for Hildegarde.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Mrsjohnclaggart you tell us lots of wonderful stories and inside info and I enjoy them a lot and really appreciate what you post but I also have to stick up for Behrens’ fan. Some performers or artists really speak to us on a very personal level and win our hearts, there is nothing wrong in loving them. I speak as a devoted fan of June Anderson whom I adored almost to obsession at one point while I met many people who detested her with a passion. It is difficult but not impossible to respect each others’ personal opinions -- or beliefs!.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            My darling Madame JC, just so your blood pressure remain within tolerable limits, I’ll repeat what I have said earlier, for sheer camp and entertainment value, there is no one like you!!!!, and I read your posts with great anticipation and fun. You are miles more intelligent than Nerva, and write somewhat more coherently than your buddy Harry. And the rest, as they say goes with the territory……. But occasionally you do get carried away with your phobias, and end up perhaps inadvertently speaking untruths. So some minor corrections to your latest, for the sake of historical accuracy:

            The article setting up Behrens against Marton, as the premier dramatic sopranos of the 80s was in TIME Magazine, not “The Times” and the author[s] were Michael Walsh, Nancy Newman and Adam Cohen, as can be clearly read in this link:

            So John Rockwell had nothing to do with it. Now you indicate that John Rockwell wrote that, while admitting to you that he had heard neither Flagstad nor Leider (I assume that is what you mean as he surely had reviewed Behrens and Marton for The Times by then) when he made the comparison. The presumption is that he was fraudulent, is that correct my darling Madame JC?
            Well, my dear, let me remind you that a few years back you admitted in these very pages that you had attended the 1983 new production of the Solti/Hall/Behrens Centennial Ring at Bayreuth, and left in disgust after Die Walkure. Somehow though, you managed to write a full review for Opera News in which you went into great detail about how execrable Behrens had been IN THE COMPLETE RING, even though, by your own admission you never saw Siegfried and Gotterdammerung!!!!!! So apparently John Rockwell would have been in great company when writing about things that were never experienced, no my dear? Needless to say your scathing review was in the minority of one, as the 1983 Bayreuth Ring crowned Behrens as the new Wagnerian Queen as the Times called her. A promise she delivered in eight productions of the Ring, five mounted especially for her over a period of nineteen years.

            Among the great musicians that share my love of Hildegard Behrens, and that of countless others, we would have to include Herbert von Karajan who adored working with her in Salome and Fidelio. Dr Karl Bohm who adored working with her in Ariadne and Fidelio, and both of whom fought in a bitter rivalry over conducting her in Elektra, that neither was able to fulfill. Her Brunnhilde was beloved by Solti, Sawallisch, Levine, von Dohnanyi, Horst Stein, Runnicles and Haitink, and several others. Her Elektra was conducted by Ozawa, Levine, Abbado, Sawallisch, Eschenbach, Welser-Moest, Maazel and several others. Her Isolde, was conducted by Bernstein, Sawallisch, Levine, Barenboim and Maazel, and several others. And her unforgettable Fidelio was conducted by Bohm, Karajan, Goodall, Tennstedt, Eschenbach, Leinsdorf and several others, All of these musicians count themselves among the greatest giants of t he 20th century, and yet we are to believe YOU my dear Madame JC? Res Ipsa Loquitur.

            Now how about a drink, my dear Madame?, voulez vous danser?, we can certainly talk about Domingo :-) :-) :-)

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Grimoaldo, mille grazie, you are as sweet as Troppo Primavera (where is he?) and I gather you are also a Brit? like some of the most intelligent posters here?

          • grimoaldo says:

            “I gather you are also a Brit?”

            Yes but currently living in Washington DC after many years in London.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Point of order, mrs jc: the ‘google translate’ post was mine and I have no desire to be dragged into the endless back and forth about Behrens which goes on on this site.

            I have no opinion about Behrens one way or the other; I have liked her in some performances, disliked her in some performances, but essentially know very little about her.

            My response to harry was nothing to do with any kind of faction. I was remarking- joking- on the incoherence of his post, which looked as if it had been rendered into English by a translation engine (I was not, as you seem to think, saying that a translator was needed to understand it).

            I had thought that was clear enough and apologise for the confusion it seems to have caused you.

          • mrsjohnclaggart says:

            Thank you Amar-Jaqueeno (I have renamed you for refusing to meet me in Piccadilly and introduce me to Harry Windsor, perhaps I can come up with something more Jewish sounding? I appreciate at least your not calling me an anti-Semite, the lowest form of ‘Net forum baiting, indulged in only by scum, so now we know that who was a crock of shit all along). I did not need clarification as you well knew.

            I felt Harry made valid points about the worship of fans carried to extremes. Since I’ve seen great artists like Mallarmé and Baudelaire maligned here by would be ‘intellectshulls’ I’d rather read someone who was sincere but perhaps not a fluent writer of prose, than ponder the lucubrations of a shitty crotch. But that’s me.

            Sorry for any distress I caused you (and psst! I don’t care about Hildy either. She’s gone, was horrible, was miked on occasion and who cares? I’ve just been postponing things I should be writing, but I suspect you know that trap and how easy it is to fall into it).

          • Drew says:

            Marshiemark, when and where did Behrens appear in a “Fidelio” with Karajan?

            I believe that is bad information.

            I believe that Karajan’s final “Fidelio” performances preceded the career of Behrens.

            And the information on the Bach Cantatas website is wrong, if that is what you are relying upon.

          • Drew says:

            Marshiemark, Karl Bohm died in 1981, so Karajan had plenty of time to engage Behrens as Elektra long after Bohm’s passing--and long after any alleged “fight” between Karajan and Bohm, a fight Karajan would have easily won, as you very well should know.

            Was Behrens even contemplating singing Elektra before Bohm’s death? Your information makes no sense.

            I believe Behrens and Karajan gave eight performances, and only eight performances, together: the eight Salome performances at Salzburg, four in 1977 and four in 1978.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Drew, I have the Fidelio on my shelves, Salzburg 1978. Can make you a copy if you wish. She is beyond SUBLIME, the radio broadcast sound not the greatest. Care to indicate the precise errors in the Bach-Cantata bio? they took an early version of something I wrote, so you can understand my special interest.

            Re: Karajan vs Bohm. Indeed there would have been plenty of chances to do it with Karajan, but he wanted it then and there, i.e ca 1978. She said she was not ready, but he would have her first Elektra, whenever she was ready. They had a fight and never spoke again. In 1987 she scheduled her first Elektra in Paris with ,and gave Karajan her promise to do it with him first if he so wanted (by telegram). He said back by telegram “best of luck in Paris”. Und das ist alles. Any quarrel with that version?

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Errata: In Paris with Ozawa

          • mrsjohnclaggart says:

            Oh, BTW, the better version of the Aramaic name is Yeshu; I think my Romish upbringing had me using Yesu. Sorry, now I’ll go back to bashing Jews.

          • Drew says:

            Marshiemark, I assume you mean that you were mistaken, and that the alleged Karajan “Fidelio” with Behrens was in fact a Paris performance under Ozawa?

            I do not believe that “Fidelio” was on the boards in 1978 in Salzburg. In any case, Karajan had washed his hands of that particular opera by the early 1970s, and certainly would not have conducted a “Fidelio” performance anywhere during Behrens’s active career.

            Your information regarding Behrens and a prospective Behrens “Elektra” under Karajan must have come from Behrens, and Behrens alone. Not that it matters, but I question whether Behrens was providing you with accurate information on that subject.

            The only thing on the Bach Cantatas bio of Behrens that jumped out at me was the nonsense about her appearing in “Fidelio” under Karajan. I knew that to be demonstrably untrue. I am sure the bio is otherwise accurate, and you would know better than I.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            No Drew, the errata was with respect to the first Elektra in Paris. In the original post it came blank followed by a comma, where it was meant Ozawa.
            But yes she also did Fidelio in Paris with Ozawa and God (ahem Jon Vickers), but that was like in 82 or 83 I think.

            Fidelio: OK you seem very adamant that Karajan did not do a Fidelio in 1978, but I have a CD here from the Easter Festival, 10 March 1978, with Jose van Dam as Rocco and Winkler as Florestan. She was incredibly proud of these performances, and brought them up all the time in conversation. Hildegard ADORED Karajan, and Eliette von Karajan told Hildegard, in front of me,in 1996, at the post Tristan Gala Party at the Opening of the Prinzregenten “he adored you”. I heard that with my own ears, standing a couple of feet away from both of them, that is not hearsay, OK?. However, the intrigants had made sure the relationship soured, by telling Karajan that Behrens was doing the Elektra film with Bohm as a fact, who had certainly asked (before he did it with Rysanek). Hildegard had declined and told him, when she did get to do it, it would be with Karajan first, but once Karajan heard the rumor, he simply fired Hildegard from her contracted Kundry for DG, replaced her with Vejzovic, and that was that. The story is a bit longer but this will do for now.

          • Drew says:

            Marshiemark, I apologize for being such a snotpox.

            I just found online a program for a March 19, 1978, program for a Karajan/Behrens “Fidelio” performance at the Salzburg EASTER Festival.

            I had earlier checked the regular Salzburg Festival, but had not bothered to check the Whitsun or Easter festivals, because I thought Karajan had dropped staged opera performances for the smaller festivals by the mid-1970s.

            Profuse apologies.

          • Drew says:

            ” . . . a program booklet for a March 19, 1978, performance . . .”

          • Bill says:

            MMII -- I also thought that Karajan had done Fidelio with Behrens though I was not at Salzburg for the occasion. In an interview done about 1979, Irmgard Seefried, who was hired by Karajan at the age of 19 in her first engagement at any opera house in Aachen, was asked about Karajan with whom she sang for approx 23 years and she was discussing his desire to utilze singers instrumentally as part of the orchestra but that he sometimes cast singers in roles not necessarily suitable for their voices at the time (she herself having to endure a series of Donna Annas under Karajan’s helm at the age of 20). In regard to Behrens, who was just making her fame at the time, Seefried said “I have seen Karajan get enthsiastic over certain artists to whom he hands over all the plums, even when they are absolutely unsuited. Now he is all worked up about the very gifted Hildegard Behrens. I sincerely hope that she does not end up like Helga Dernesh, whom he used for all the hochdramatisch Wagner roles. Now she (Dernesch) has become a Mezzo. For Behrens I feel it is too soon to take on roles like Isolde and Leonore, and it is a pity, for hers is a fine talent. I wish her well.”

            It was well known that Karajan, after Seefried had retired, sent quite a few young singers to Seefried for “advice and inspiration” but I have no idea if Behrens was among them, as it was usually done rather quietly.

            It is interesting to note when all these people on parterre discuss Wagner sopranos of the period of the 1970′s etc (Behrens, Jones, Marton etc.) and earlier periods (Leider, Flagstad, Konetzni, Traubel, Moedl, Varnay, Grob-Prandl, Nilsson, Rysanek), that Dernesh is practically never mentioned at all though for a certain short period of time Dernesch had important Wagner engagements thanks to Karajan.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Apologies accepted Drew. You are not the only person who has underestimated MMII, but I try to only speak facts when I know them to be so. It’s so easy to just say “I think” when you are not sure, and my memory is getting very hazy with the passage of time. But I repeat, she would frequently mention those performances, as Fidelio was a sacred piece for her, and of course Karajan a huge father figure.

            Anyway, where are you? I could make you a copy, unfortunately the sound is really boxy, and really worth only as a document of that partnership of titans, in a titanic opera. Too bad that God was not the Florestan, then it would have been unbearably glorious :-)

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Bill, yes Karajan did that to a lot of young singers, and he very certainly wanted to do Elektra just as Salome, record it and then do it in Salzburg in 1978, and release them as a duo set. But Hildegard knew very well that Elektra was a whole different cup of tea from Salome. She told me, I knew I’d have to do Brunnhilde BEFORE Elektra, and this before anyone had ever thought of her as Brunnhilde. In the final analysis, Brunnhilde gave her very few troubles until the late career decline, that was inevitable, and always in the Todesverkuendigung typically. I never saw her do a less than stellar Gotterdammerung for example, even as late as 1998 in Vienna. But Elektra gave her trouble from almost the beginning. She could do a sublime Elektra and the next could be quite troublesome, and the most spectacular failure she had was with Elektra at the Met Opening in 1992. It IS the most difficult role in all of opera I think.

            Seefried: No, I never heard her mention Seefried, early or late. She did work with Schwarzkopf though, but just once :-) :-) :-)

          • m. croche says:

            “Since I’ve seen great artists like Mallarmé and Baudelaire maligned here by would be ‘intellectshulls’ I’d rather read someone who was sincere but perhaps not a fluent writer of prose, than ponder the lucubrations of a shitty crotch.”

            I suppose this canard should be dealt with, since Mrs. JC seems bent on repeating it at every turn.

            Here are the sum total of my remarks relating Alice Goodman to those poets:

            1. “M, do you feel that the Goodman libretto lacks generosity? Are you in fact bored by it? “One or two roadblocks” is not the same thing as an evening of Mallarme. I simply meant something more difficult than average prose.”


            2. “This [passage] is evocative of Baudelaire’s conception of synaesthesia – that one sense can be interpreted in terms of another, and furthermore in doing so you gain greater knowledge of the meaning behind the world of appearances.”


            And here are a couple of Mrs. JC’s many characterizations of these sentences:

            3. “as one whose reading skills raise doubts after the sallies about Mallarmé and Baudelaire and the horrific Alice Goodman being somehow equals raise doubts”

            4. “Alice Goodman as you know is [Baudelaire's] equal and such insight and elegance shows in EVERY LINE of her work”

            5. “I am just astounded by all of this. Goodman (neither good nor a man) is first comparable to Baudelaire and then to Mallarmé?”

            6. “An also ran (at best) like Goodman somehow equals Baudelaire? That is preposterous from every angle”

            In #1 I mention Mallarmé only to say Alice Goodman is nothing like him. #2 has Goodman evoking an idea expressed by Baudelaire. It’s certainly not making any claims regarding Goodman’s status vis-a-vis Baudelaire. (The point in #2 may well be a dumb one, but at least it should be criticized for what it actually says.)

            Readers may judge for themselves the accuracy of Mrs. JC’s paraphrases. Sorry to bore you all with this, but it needed to be said someplace. Mrs. JC is endlessly entertaining, but her facts occasionally require double-checking.

    • iltenoredigrazia says:

      Did Beczala attempt the high C?

      • phoenix says:

        Last night he made the C with just a very slight rough splitsecond toward the beginning of his approach, but it blossomed out quite well. He sounded much better last night with only a bit of strain here and there. The weight of his voice sounded perfect for Romeo.

    • iltenoredigrazia says:

      Pilou was my first Juliette and she was absolutely lovely in the role.

  • DurfortDM says:


    Perhaps the Doyenne is being a tad conservative in the 2025 estimate as the process seems rather far along. In the current run Hung does indeed looks absolutely stunning and might be described accurately, if somewhat euphemistically, as dripping with sex appeal. She might accelerate the process still further by dispensing with her kit for the remaining performances, an action that would not doubt be appreciated by many.

    • almavivante says:

      By 2025, I may very well be in my dotage, but I will be happily shocked out of it if an undraped Juliette is partnered (especially in those bed scenes) with a similiarly undraped Romeo in the form of James Valenti. Will I care what he sounds like? Not in the least. Having seen his video commercial for a regional opera company, singing in the shower, all I can say is that if the bottom matches the top, we have a star.

  • sensibility says:

    Totally off topic but beautiful in my opinion.
    Bogdan Mihai-tenore

  • WindyCityOperaman says:

    Also, totally off topic.

    Happy 72nd Birthday Sir Robert Tear

  • Bosah says:

    OT: one review of Joyce DiDonato’s Carnegie Recital.

    But, did the NYT review? Or any other papers?

    Can’t find anything else.

    • antikitschychick says:


      I don’t think that review is from her Carnegie Hall recital. I believe it is a review for a previous recital she did in Philadelphia.
      But you are right about there not being any reviews from the NYT or any others. Strange.

  • Ruxton says:

    Wow MM2 -- fantastic response to MrsJC’s hugely entertaining post. I am in awe of the both of you and I still love La Hildie.

    • marshiemarkII says:

      Mille grazie says MarshieMII in a humble bow, to Joan D’Arc herself, in “horned” Valkyrie helmet!

  • marshiemarkII says:

    Bill, one last poignant little anecdote, in October 2004, I flew to Toulouse to see what would be the last stage appearance of Behrens, a devastating portrayal of the Kostelnicka, that I still remember vividly for its shattering power. The Grandma Buryja was Helga Dernesch!

  • Lucky Pierre says:

    speaking of dessay: was anyone at the lucia tonight at the met? OMG, she was a MAD, MAD, MAD woman… it was amazing. in act I, i wasn’t sure she was going to make it through the evening, she was struggling with so many issues, intonation, pitch, volume… lots of dryness, and some really strained high notes. but no matter her diminished vocal resources, she came alive in act II and III — she’s an amazing actress and stage animal, incredibly intense and mesmerizing. she brought the house down with the mad scene, but even before that, she had won the audience at the end of act II, with her silent acting, after all that photographer business. a stunning evening at the theatre, even though i know you all hate zimmermann. at curtain calls, she was not a big diva, hogging all the aplause, but a genial colleague, and she was so happy at the audience’s roar, she was ululating back at them. BRAVA, NATALIE!!!!

    (i did watch the b’cast on tv with netrebko, and i don’t recall trebs moving me so much. btw, did netrebko debut this production? i recall all the posters featured dessay, but the HD went to trebs. i can’t recall the chronology of this production.)

    calleja sang as usual, gorgeously, seemingly effortlessly, what a beautiful instrument, with that distinctive fast vibrato, somewhat reminds me of pavarotti, but a darker, more interesting tone.

    i thought tezier was a bit too stoic for the part of enrico, and often, i just thought he seemed like a drunkard… strange.

    all in all, tremendous night of drama tonight — but whatever happened to the glass harmonica? it was substituted by a flute?