Cher Public

Steel me, sweet thief

La Cieca’s spies tell her that the New York City Opera plans an extremely ambitious season for 2011-2012, with vast expansions of repertory and number of performances.

Among the productions planned by George Steel are Armida, Der Vetter aus Dingsda, Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, Fidelio, Idomeneo, Kiss Me Kate, La Bohème, La Périchole, La Traviata, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, The Land of Smiles, Orlando, The Queen of Spades, Rigoletto, Rusalka, Salome, The Bartered Bride, Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Love of Three Oranges, The Marriage of Figaro, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and the U.S. premiere of Rufus Wainwright‘s Prima Donna. The season will open on September 24 with a gala new production of The Abduction from the Seraglio directed by Stefan Herheim and featuring, for one night only, David H. Koch in the role of Pasha Selim.

  • City Opera may also have a hot tickert on its hands featuring a line up of some of today’s most exciting female singers in a three week summer run called “Fach Off: It Be Wagner, Bitches!” A staged evening of Wagnerian heroines (with a singspiel script by J.D. McClatchy) featuring Anna Netrebko as Isolde, Tracy Dahl as Ortrud, Elina Garanca as Elsa von B., Nelly Miricioiu as Erde, Maria Guleghina as Elisabeth, Patricia Petibon as Venus, Heidi Grant Murphy as Mime (?), Kate Royal as Brunnhilde with a special appearance from Renee Fleming as Kundry (Act III only). Simone Young conducts in a production by Jonathan Miller. Bottoms up!

    • ianw2

      Miller sets the whole production in an episode of I Love Lucy, obvi.

  • brooklynpunk

    Angie,,,as Bonnie..( of Bonnie and Clyde)..? this an April Fool’s prank.? thinks--NOT…lol..!!

  • ardath_bey

    My April Fool’s prank comes 24 hours later, on April 2.

    Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena live from Vienna, where Donizetti was court composer, a position also held by Mozart decades earlier. The joke is not on the composer (whose works are still performed regularly 165 years after his death so why would he care) but on the Netrebko fans who think this Bolena’s remotely doing justice to Giuditta Pasta and the role that she created.

    I will listen to the broadcast at 1 pm Eastern of course. And I’ll be at the MET on opening night next season OF COURSE. But Netrebko’s a student of the bel canto style, nothing less, nothing more. She vastly proved it in Lucia, Puritani, Elisir, Pasquale, which doesn’t mean at all those affairs weren’t highly theatrical and entertaining.

    Notice that she mentioned that she studied the recordings by Callas, Gencer and (surprisingly) Sills, all good Bolenas but still potentially attainable by her technique, but was wise enough not to bring up Sutherland and Devia, who around 60 wiped the floor with Netrebko’s attempt at Bolena at the age of 40.

    I also want to thank and congratulate brooklynpunk and marshiemarkII for supporting me and the truth in that closed thread of yesterday :)

    • scifisci

      but who was actually expecting sutherland or devia-like perfection from netrebko?? She is an exciting and committed artist with some very well-known and well-documented flaws…just like scotto, caballe, gencer, callas, sills, modl, varnay, etc. who all had flaws either intrinsic to their voices (unlike netrebko) or not.
      In the 70s when bolena was performed by many now-legendary divas, i’m betting people said that Scotto/sills’s voices were small and wiry, caballe was sloppy and uncommitted, gencer was breathy and vulgar, and btw by the time joanie got to it, she didn’t exactly do anna bolena justice and her recording is frankly a snoozer.
      So please, there are many many “jokes” in the opera world today, but I don’t really think this is one of them, despite how badly you may want it to be.

      • I really hate to think of the day Joan Sutherland’s Anna Bolena is held up as the model of how to sing the role. I think even her die-hard fans will admit she took on the role too late, and offered little of the temperament needed for the role.

        I think if Netrebko has a parallel in bel canto roles it’d be Caballe. Caballe was criticized for about the exact same things Netrebko is criticized for — no trill, “laziness,” being careless with the notes, a certain dramatic inertness, bad diction. The people who loved Caballe said the exact same things Trebs lovers cite — the beauty of her voice, how unusual it was to have that kind of big, lush voice singing bel canto, etc.

      • And let me just say here I heard Sutherland sing Anna Bolena in the theater, and the effect was hardly “perfection.” The score was trimmed with several large cuts and a number of snips of a few measures here, a few measures there. Anna’s line heavily rewritten to avoid most of the lower passages, but the entire final cabaletta was taken down a whole step, using a bizarre and jarring new cadenza on “manca sol a compire il delitto” --and then the low and medium stuff there moved upward again-- all in the cause of allowing the leading lady to end the opera on a superb high D-flat.

        As for the singing, she started in cold voice, sang carefully for almost the whole first act before letting out the sound for the last few minutes of the finale, and then mostly stayed mezzo piano for the rest of the opera until the final scene, with Bonynge abetting her by holding the orchestra down to almost a whisper and the other singers tightly reined in during ensembles. The rondo finale she sang extremely well when you allowed for the slow beat that had crept into her tone with age. (Sutherland was just over 60 at the time.)

        Devia is a different matter, with her superb legato and clean idiomatic Italian, plus her scrupulous adherence to the score as written. But honestly I don’t think there is much to “learn” from Sutherland’s idiosyncratic and undramatic performance.

        • Seriously that’s one thing that always irked me about late-late Sutherland — the transpositions she always made just so she could climax on a “high note.” The lower she transposed, the more it exposed the least attractive and steady part of her voice (the lower middle). When Dessay sang Lucia I heard a bunch of people talk about the DVD with Sutherland. Well, Sutherland transposed “Il dolce suono” down so she could end on a high D. If a singer did that today she’d get raked over the coals on parterre chat.

          • Couldn’t agree more. For me, transposition should be about making teh music sit better in one’s voice so that one can do justice to it. For Sutherland, transpositions were all about allowing for a high note at the end, causing the rest of the piece to sit low in the less-than-attractive part of her voice.

            IIRC, in the famous Lucia telecast, she sings the cavatina of the Mad Scene down a whole tone for her usual key with the final note being a D-flat. She does, however, sing it like buttah!

          • Regina delle fate

            Did Sutherland sing Anna Bolena at the Met? Certainly neither the Decca recording nor the Covent Garden production showed Joan in her best light -- much too late, as poisonivy rightly notes. I don’t know the opera as well as La Cieca evidently does, so at the time -- it was my first Anna Bolena -- I wasn’t aware of the cuts and I had only ever heard the Suliotis recording which, according to reviews, is little more than highlights from AB. Is the Sills recording complete? I’m also assuming that Joan’s final performances of Lucia in 1985/6 were transposed down if what poisonivy says is true. Who sings Lucia in the original keys today? That is a genuine question, by the way. I’m not suggesting that no-one should because previous Lucias didn’t!

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Regina, pretty much nobody- there is a recording with Rost under Mackerras, and Caballe’s of course, which use original keys and pretty much just serve to demonstrate why it isn’t a great idea IMO. Some blond American coloratura was doing in Dallas or somewhere fairly recently I think, but she was very much a pip-squeak.

            Sutherland was doing the mad scene in D-flat by the end. In fact, d-flat/c-sharp appears to have been the highest note she was up for singing at big cadential points by the end, hence the reason her late ‘bel raggio’ from some Met gala was in f-sharp major, something I’m sure the strings were thrilled about.

          • richard

            Cocky, agree on that Sutherland Bel Raggio. I was in the audience, it was the Met Centennial Gala in 1983. Sutherland had missed about 5 seasons at the Met from the late 70s to the early 80s(that has been discussed very heavily on past threads)

            I opened my program at the gala, saw that Sutherland was going to sing the Semiramide aria and was really thrilled. It is perhaps my favorite of all her recordings and I thought it would be wonderful to hear it.

            What was I thinking? I had seen her return-to-the-Met performances of Lucia and Fille and was impressed but not really thrilled. In any case the aria at the gala was VERY disappointing. Because of the transposition, many passages went so low that her tone vanished and in general she gave the impression of growling her way through the aria. It was respectable, like most of her stuff from the 80s, but no more than that.

            If only she had sung the aria in key and omitted the interpolated final note, it most likely would have been much, much better.

            After that I gave Sutherland a miss for the rest of her Met performances during the 80s, they were all repeats of roles she had already sung. The exception was Trovatore, which she hadn’t done before and looked like her Met farewell. And so I went to see her and say goodbye in that role. La has already described it and I mostly concur except to say by the 4th act she had warmed up and was letting her voice out a bit more. Some of act 4 was really lovely but it really just amounted to a few very fine moments.

            I’m very, very skeptical of people who hold up Sutherland’s performances in the 80s. I really think they are mostly to be avoided.

  • zinka

    SHOCKED!!!!!! From practically nothing,City Opera is doing all that!!!I hope they get singers of the caliber of Welting,Poleri,Meier,Lo Monaco,Ludgin,Bayard,etc…because that is some repertory!!!!!!!!
    What about Rienzi and Huguenots??????

    P.S.Anyone note James Morris forgot almost every single word of the Tosca Te Deum on Sirius the other night???Even the great have blackouts….

  • zinka

    If they have any problem casting all those City Opera perf..La Cieca is available for “Flora,amici” or even for “Vo la tromba e i cavalli”..(Notice I did not say Queen of Spades)..I still can sing so I am available for the Battered Broad (or is it the Buttered Bread?) plus if my old bussy Paul Plishka can sing Alc/ can I…He was my first Colline,by the way,when he was 4.
    I also think that Steel should tap the resopurces of Parterre Mambers…I bet at least 2 of you can sing
    Monterone’s Figlia……
    Koch as osmin???He is a tea party dude….They should cast him as Blanche in the Carmelites…..

  • zinka

    Another Charlie old BUDDY,Paul Plishka…….but you know i type with onle half a finger.

  • Regina delle fate

    La Cieca, returning from the Regie-tour, was obviously suitably impressed by the repertoire offered in the current season by Berlin’s Komische Oper!

    • Regina delle fate

      Ooops Die Ungetreue Zerbinetta got there first! Sorry.

  • zinka