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Spy-jo-to-ho!

You really didn’t think your doyenne would let a top-secret dress rehearsal at the Met slip away without getting an exclusive on-the-scene report for you, the cher public? Now, did you? Well, if you did, you’re wrong, because La Cieca’s mole (pictured) has filed the following report:

The Machine worked very well; a few lighting problems, but nothing unsolvable. The set has many more possibilities than one would have assumed from Rheingold. Many striking images.

Westbroek and Kaufmann will bring the house down, not only for their superb singing, but for their total immersion into their respective roles. Example: when they first look into each others’ eyes early in Act 1 is a moment of true magic. Kaufmann is not the biggest voiced Siegmund we’ve ever heard, but he may be the most musical. Köing is also most impressive.

Terfel succeeds on some levels and not on others. He blusters his way through the full forte sections, sometimes impressively, sometimes pushing for all he’s worth. It’s the quiet moments he’s not equipped to deliver. The part is too low for him to have much projection in much of the big scene with Brünnhilde. His “Das Ende” moment went for nothing. He looks much better than he did in Rheingold. The hair covering half is face is gone, replaced by a traditional eye patch.

Voigt – what can I say! She should not have undertaken this role. She does not disgrace herself on the battle cry, but she doesn’t come close to covering herself in glory in the rest of the role. The unknowing public will accept her because she looks good and moves well. It’s just the singing that’s lacking.

Blythe was a force of nature as Fricka. Her entrance is spectacular. She never moves from the “throne” on which she enters (she’s harnessed into it so as not to fall forward).

I felt Levine was accommodating to both Voigt and Terfel in helping them get through passages they weren’t equipped to do full justice to. He seemed quite energetic from my vantage point (naturally sitting the entire time) and got his usual fine playing from the orchestra.

The Valkyries were a mixed lot, as usual. They certainly were loud!

I can already hear your chat room on Friday night. The usual shredding of everything will occur – some deserved, some not. One really needs to see this production to be able to accurately evaluate it.

La Cieca has also heard vague rumors about at least some portion of the rehearsal being recorded covertly and uploaded to the internet; she will try to track down this mysterious (possibly apocryphal) sound file.

169 comments

  • Cuban_Stallion says:

    OT -- Jennifer Larmore singing Lady Macbeth in Geneva next season. Discuss.

    Magdalena Kozcena reprising Carmen in Salzburg Easter Fest 2012 despite the 2010 attempt in Caracas (both under hubby’s baton). Discuss.

    • phoenix says:

      Those girls might want to consider trading roles with each other. Kozcena could make an intersting Lady M. & ol’ Larmore could belt out that Carmen!

      • Cuban_Stallion says:

        Close your eyes and imagine: Kozcena floating a high D flat at the end of the sleepwalking scene? Draw an image based on the images that come to mind.

      • kashania says:

        I think Kozena’s voice is far too light for Lady M. Larmore has two things going for her as Lady M. She has a “buzzing” quality to her voice that will help carry her voice in the heavy passages. Also, being a mezzo, she’ll have more heft in the mid-voice while presumably still having the high notes (though I’d say she should opt of our the high D-flat).

        • Gualtier M says:

          Okay, I heard, or I should say tried to hear Jennifer Larmore sing the Santuzza-like role of Tigrana in “Edgar” at Carnegie Hall. The voice was painfully slender and hollow. She also sounded weirdly empty but was pretty galvanizing onstage as Gertrude in “Hamlet” at the Met. The voice seemed to have plenty of cut at the top though, helpful for Lady Macbeth. Larmore also has florid technique. However, I would say this smacks of late career desperation -- you need to sing something hard and flashy and uncastable to keep yourself working. It could work out brilliant -- especially if the hall isn’t large.

          As for Kozena, she sounds like a washed out lyric soprano with no high notes to me. Perfect for Melisande and recital work, problematic for anything else (her Cherubino at the Met supposedly was good if sopranoish). Also being a slim good-looking woman who can move well and has a decent sized mezzo voice or semi-mezzo voice doesn’t automatically spell success as Carmen. Many are called upon to sing the Gypsy, few really make the role their own. Larmore has done Carmen before and was one of the those good-looking mezzos who didn’t have the esprit du diable for the part.

          • phoenix says:

            Sounds like Larmore (whom I haven’t heard in many years — since she did that Charlotte at Theater an der Wien years ago) has an aging voice with diminished overtones. I don’t know what to discuss about that. Felicity Palmer, who is my age, sings on & on; they praise & praise her; but she sounds like the abominable snowwoman to me.
            -- Kozena is another thing entirely. Obviously she is a soprano & Rattle & Co. are not pulling the wool over our ears.

          • Cuban_Stallion says:

            Dear Gualtier M, please define your terms: “good-looking woman” and “who can move well.”

          • DurfortDM says:

            But she looked good doing it.

        • MontyNostry says:

          Larmore couldn’t be worse as Lady Macbeth than the egregious Nadja Michael. At least Larmore is a singer of professional finish.

        • Regina delle fate says:

          Kozena’s voice is far too light for Lady Macbeth’s Lady-in-waiting! Her ROH Cenerentola was a joke, she was outsung by the Tisbe.

        • luvtennis says:

          Kozena’s voice is a bit like cotton candy. A thing made using hot air, pointless twirling and a tiny bit of high-calorie sugar. The resulting fluff can be quite compelling amid the noise and bustle of the midway, but shrinks into yucky little chunks and crystals after only a few hours.

          Not that Kozena is an unattractive performer. It’s just that I see nothing about her to justify her current high-profile success.

          • MontyNostry says:

            What I really dislike about her singing is the way she does that bulgy ‘Early Music’ legato when she is singing composers like Massenet. Her performance of that sexy wicked aria from Cleopatre on her French recital was horrible.

          • Harry says:

            It is amazing what you can get cast in……..if your hubby is big and has a lot of clout. Just float along on the clouds of musical meringue being Mrs…. the pretty wife of….. the doors automatically open.
            Lady Macbeth for Kozena??!! A role that needs true dramatic heft with coloratura thrown in. April Fool’s Day is gone.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Harry, you’ve read the thread, right? Of course Kozena isn’t playing Lady M anywhere. So the casting clout or otherwise of her husband is pretty irrelevant.

          • Harry says:

            Amerjacquino: I am ‘in’ on the joke. Frankly I find Kozena is a non event.

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        Kozcena would be an excellent 1st apparition. Beyond that, I don’t see her in Verdi, let alone Lady Macbeth.

        • armerjacquino says:

          You mean you haven’t heard her as Eboli?

          • MontyNostry says:

            … and soon Ortrud.

          • phoenix says:

            I haven’t heard her as Ortrud but I am looking forward to it. But she couldn’t compare to our own overwhelmingly authoritarian Harryette in her recent performance as Ortrud (pictured below in the final curse)!
            [img]http://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/zz1abcd.jpg[/img]

          • armerjacquino says:

            Actually, having sneered, I have now listened to Kozena’s Veil Song on YouTube and it’s terrific. She obv couldn’t sing the whole part, but she does a great job on the one aria.

          • luvtennis says:

            Phoenix:

            No one COULD ever hear Kozena as Eboli or Ortrud. She would be drowned out by the coat rustling and air-conditioning hum.

            Actually, the mere thought of Kozena as Eboli in any theatre bigger than a bathroom is pretty mind-boggling.

    • spiderman says:

      and she (larmore) will sing kostelnicka next year in berlin!

      so, in about 2 years she sings: gertrud, valencienne, kostelnicka and lady macbeth… what a rep!

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        I’ve seen her as Countess Geschwitz within that time frame too.

        Never thought she had a Lady MacB or Kostelnichka in her, but will be very happy to be proved wrong.

        • spiderman says:

          if i am not mistaken, ALL of that except gertrud is under the direction of chritoph loy

        • A. Poggia Turra says:

          It’s a shame that no American company ever produced a Mathilde di Shabran -- her singing of Eduardo’s two arias on her “Rossini Amore” C was very good indeed.

          [img]http://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/511bNB1qTRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg[/img]

      • operacat says:

        she sings Charlotte with Filianoti’s Werther with the Concert Opera of Washington DC toward the end of May. Should know more after that about the state of her voice.

    • MontyNostry says:

      Kozena’s ‘Chanson bohemienne’ from Act 2 of Carmen, under Minkowski, was on the radio the other day. Bloody awful. Peaky little voice, no depth of tone, no sex appeal. She has been a clever girl to make such a good marriage. And people say JDD would be a bit light for Carmen!!!

    • phoenix says:

      [img]http://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/fracas.JPG[/img]

  • perfidia says:

    I used to love Voigt’s voice. That gleam. Now she just sounds old and worn out. She’ll get thorugh the role but she is making some ugly sounds which, for a voice that used to have such sheer beauty, is just sad. Of course with Wagner there is always that glorious music, and Kaufmann and Westbroek indeed sound terrific. All in all, it won’t be a bad way to spend Saturday.

  • Lucky Pierre says:

    here’s the utter filth that voigt can offer these days:

    maybe you whores need to clean your years in addition to other body parts.

    • Lucky Pierre says:

      *ears*

    • MontyNostry says:

      She’s trying hard, at least. And the top C is not as flat as Tebaldi’s. But the voice has always been all wrong for Italian repertoire and the careful pronunciation is indubitably Anglo-Sassone.

    • Joe Conda says:

      God, her Italian is so awful.

    • Regina delle fate says:

      This hatred inspired by Voigt is baffling. She was surprisingly effective -- if not the last word in Minnie-singing -- in the HD broadcast and Monty is right that the Italian rep doesn’t suit her as well as the German. But what has this poor woman done to merit the bile directed at her? I’ve never been much of a fan, but I’m beginning to feel she is undeservedly reviled.

      • armerjacquino says:

        It’s not just the bile directed at Voigt, it’s also the bile directed at anyone who dares to say anything in her defence. Weird.

        • Lucky Pierre says:

          hatred and bile? because we dare to complain that this woman should not be singing in a brand new ring? because we resent paying good money for this? what are you, bitches, deaf and naive?

          • armerjacquino says:

            Yeah, exactly that kind of thing. As I said, weird.

          • sterlingkay says:

            Who’s making you spend $$$ for this?? Since you have already made up your mind about VOIGT…why subject yourself to her?? There will be plenty of opportunities to see this Ring in the next couple of years without her. Wait for Dalayman….

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            have you even remotely entertained the idea that we might want to go because we love wagner, we want to see the new lepage ring, we want to see the other singers in it (kauffman, mostly)????? so, yes, we reserve the right to bitch and complain about a singer who wrecked her voice and should have been replaced. if gelb had any musical sense, it’d been done long ago — but he’s a fucking moron idiot asswipe. like many of you voigt apologists.

            i only saw fanciulla with voigt because i won the raffle in the fall. it was a total disaster. i’m going to the walkuere in a few weeks because i was given a ticket. not that it is any of your business, you deaf morons.

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            here’s someone who should have been cast as brunni:

          • messa di voce says:

            Sounds like she’s stretched to her max, singing in Zurich.

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            i gather it’s a small theater???

          • messa di voce says:

            Bartoli is the reigning prima donna. Nuff said.

          • manou says:

            Lucky lucky Pierre -- master of understatement, restraint, irony and elegant language.

            It’s all in the subtext, folks.

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            did anyone here hear her recent elektras in vienna?

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            manou, you forgot class!!!!

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            (snort!)

          • manou says:

            …and class!

            (not forgetting refinement)

          • DurfortDM says:

            @Lucky

            Zurich is an absolute heaven. So small (1110 capacity), so neat. One cannot describe the pleasure of hearing opera there and then horror returning to the atrocious monstrosity that is the Met. (To be fair, the acoustics in Zurich are a shade dry and those at the Mer excellent for the size but still).

            One of the things I heard in Zurich was Baird as Elektra. Also heard her at the Met as Isolde and Voigt 3 days later. I have to say that, in that context at least, I’d have to give Debbie the edge but it was rathe close and she’s sounded much worse on subsequent occasions so I don’t know.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            ‘what are you, bitches, deaf and naive?’

            I think it was previously established that we were bitch whores, or something like that.

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            to amerj and regina,

            so far i have talked about voigt’s singing and acting — i have never attacked her personally, i have never said she’s ugly, unethical, dishonest, etc. my comments about voigt or renee are always about SINGING and ACTING. so where do you get hatred and bile? or maybe you brits are just so delicate — i should have known that from watching your parliamentary debates.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            I don’t presume to answer for ArmerJ and REgina, but I think maybe it might be the calling everybody deaf morons and such like all the time? Possibly? With a little light cultural stereotyping thrown in for good measure now and again.

            It’s the kind of thing that would have got you Metastasioed, back in the day.

          • Bluessweet says:

            Manou, Bosah, Aj and a whole haost of others: I’m surprised at all of you. I can only think you did not get the memo. The world, with a little gold fence around it, was created just for Lucky P. How dare you cast aspersions on so deserving a character? If he says the Met’s casting is not good enough and that certain singers should be exiled to remote and unhealthy realms, I’m sure that this is the best thing that could happen for Lucky P. No one else really counts anyway. How could you imagine that the productions that he wishes to see can be done in any other way than the way he wants to see them?

            Of course the language he uses and the references he makes are all splendid, as befits his status.

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            well, cocky et al, don’t ever accuse me of hatred and bile towards singers. i may be rude and crass, but i have never called a singer a whore, which is what many folks here do to trebs and gheorghiu all the time. i have always restricted my comments about their singing (or lack of), not their personal lives.

            bluesweet, did you get my other memo? the one that says, lick my ass, bitch.

          • sterlingkay says:

            Lucky Pierre--

            So you tell us you resent paying good money for Voigt’s Brunnhilde and then you tell us you were given a ticket. Which is it, moron?

          • Lucky Pierre says:

            sterlingbitch, i said i resent paying good money to hear filth like voight’s minnie or renee’s armida. capisce, puta sucia?

          • La Cieca says:

            Moderation for you, Pierre. Cool down.

    • mia apulia says:

      thank you for posting this so I now can hear that it is even worse than I remember it being

  • phoenix says:

    [img]http://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/00010.JPG[/img]

  • fistfull says:

    when will the miking stop ?

  • Nerva Nelli says:

    She sounds like Rethberg in her prime compared to the godawful off-pitch caterwauling perpetrated by Lauren Flanigan tonight at NYCO. Can’t her rabid admirers hear that she is now rarely if ever on a defined pitch? HORRIBLE.. and NOT “in a fantastic sense”…

    Melody Moore on the other hand was excellent, an artist improving all the time.

  • Claudia4Ever says:

    that “covertly recorded content” from the DR has been uploaded on the Met’s website as “preview clips”…

    • schweigundtanze says:

      Not sure if this is what you’re talking about, but there are three videos available now:
      http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/broadcast/template.aspx?id=16210&prodpage

      • steveac10 says:

        The three vids lead me to believe Terfel and Voigt are acceptable, Kaufmann and Westbroek are fabulous, and either Eva is really, really tall or Jonas is a bit on the short side. But whatever their heights: two of the healthiest, most appropriate voices essaying those roles in a long time -- plus they’re both hot.

        • operaddict says:

          Eva is quite tall, while Jonas isn’t too tall. I suspect they are the same height…or close to it. They sound and look amazing in the above clip. These two will steal the show…hands down.

  • Hans Lick says:

    Fascinating account of your Middle Eastern trip, Phoenix, but I think you have got the various Herods mixed up. Herod the Great was the one who built Masada, Caesarea, the platform of Machpela and the (second) Second Temple. He died in 6 bce. It was his son the Tetrarch Herod Antipas (ruler of Galilee) and Antipas’s wife, Herod’s granddaughter Herodias, who are credited with Jokana’an’s execution.

  • phoenix says:

    [img]http://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/xyz1Herod.JPG[/img]

    • phoenix says:

      HansLick, some of the kings shared the name Herod. I knew that before I went over there. If I mistakenly referred to Herod the Great when discussing Herod Antipater, I guess I owe you an apology. It was a long writ and I simplified it by just writing ‘Herod’ but as you say, Herod the Great was the founder of the dynasty, he built the palaces you mention.
      -- I don’t know if Salome’s stepfather Herod Antipater built that summer resort at the foot of Mt. Nebo I found or not… I haven’t been able to find any references to it. I first heard about that place in Jordan from the locals around that area, so I am not sure if it has ever been verified as archaeologically authentic. Do you know anything about it? Or is it just myth?