Cher Public

Perder quell’angelo?

Our own JJ (not pictured) received a belated birthday present in the form of an excerpt from last night’s concert in Vienna in which Anna Netrebko spreads her wings for a performance of “D’amor sull’ali rosee,” assisted by the luxe Manrico of Jonas Kaufmann.

Netrebko sings Trovatore

and there was more Verdi on the program as well:

Trio from I Lombardi

  • ilpenedelmiocor

    Is someone getting warmer as to her actual Fach? I have long been an unabashed critic of her Nebs and the entourage of sloppiness that follows her around the globe. But despite the odd occasional note values and breathing choices and flatnesses (though to my ears, she was far less often and far less egregiously flat than usual in the Trovatore) already noted by previous posters, I was pretty much with her all the way on the Trovatore (thrills! trills!), and also found myself being reminded favorably of Leontyne Price at times. Definite progress. Until near the end, that is. Those wretched runs between 13:30-13:40 brought back evil Puritani nightmares to remind me what I hate most about her attempts at coloratura. Well, at least she’s consistent as to what she can’t do. Please step away from the bel canto and graze in the welcoming Verdian pastures instead (and try some Tchaikovsky while you’re at it). I’d much rather listen to her sing marginally compromised dramtic Verdi roles than massacred Bellini and Donizetti heroines.

  • manou

    A very wise person (with excellent modern furniture) on the Saturday chat advised me not to book for the Netrebko/Schrott/Kaufmann concert here in London in (June 2012).

    So of course I went ahead and booked -- glad I did.

    • Clita del Toro

      Manou, I advised you not to go because, personally, I don’t like those kinds of concerts. They are not very satisfying to me. I’d prefer to hear a complete opera, (concert or staged) a Lieder concert or a carefully chosen recital rather than a mishmash of arias and duets, even with singers I like.

      That’s why I don’t especially like the Millennium Park LOC concerts.

      • manou

        I fully understand your point of view -- but I am greedy and go to everything. It can be a lot of fun sometimes.

        You are obviously un homme sérieux, and I am an undiscriminating flibbertigibbet.

        • Clita del Toro

          Moi, sérieux, are you kidding! LOL

  • FragendeFrau82

    La C, you are like a hobbit, giving us presents on your birthday. Happy belated birthday, and thanks for the lovely wakeup tunes!

  • mercadante

    Just lovely

  • the other leonora

    I have the impression that for some of the fans of Netrebko her biggest merrit is that of being alive while others like Rethberg or Milanov are dead.
    I’m curious to know whether her performances, especially those of difficult pieces like D’amor sull’ali rosee or the whole Bolena role, will become references and classics as those of the poor dead prima donnas are even today. I personally have a big doubt about that.

    • I better stop enjoying her singing, then, because it’s my own damn fault that I like hearing music live but am not old.

    • In fact, La Cieca is this close to instituting a new variant on the “don’t bore me” rule, which is that the dismissal of anything as “not as good as [insert definitive recording from 50 years ago]” will earn temporary moderation.

      Life goes on, ladies and gentlemen, and you can live along with it here on parterre or you can lock yourself in a room with your CDs of Destinn (than whom nobody ever sang a better Gioconda, so why does anyone bother?) and Tamagno, who is the reason that every performance of Otello in the 20th century was a big fat mistake.

      Now, try me.

      • the other leonora

        Thank you for the answer. I did hope for something more substantial, but apparently moderating comments is the only solution here. There won’t be further comparing anymore for my part. Apparently I had too much trust in the intelligence and polemic spirit of some persons.

        P.S. Dear Zerbinetta, I’m just 24 years old. So, no Zinka-fan from the Old Met here. :) It’s just that I have rather high standards and if I see that today there isn’t really anyone who is as great as to deserve total admiration, I prefer admitting that the general level is low and criticize it than force myself to like it only because it is live and contemporary.
        All the best,
        the other leonora

        • Okay, you’re moderated, you annoying snob.

        • I don’t force myself to like anything. And I am in fact around the same age as you. I just prefer to find things enjoyable and interesting for what they have to offer, it makes life more fun.

          • PokeyGascon

            I am often glad to be an ignorant neophyte as it allows me to listen to things that I should know better than to allow myself to enjoy.

            However, to be fair I sometimes do catch myself feeling superior to those who are enraptured by jugglers or Jersey Shore. It all comes down to a matter of taste, and there is no disputing that taste does develop and become more refined with experience.

        • armerjacquino

          In my experience, when someone says ‘it’s just that I have high standards’ what they’re thinking is ‘I’m better than you’.

      • luvtennis

        Are we allowed to compare? He asks meekly (meek is a difficult look for me, so please some sympathy).

        • I don’t see any problems with comparisons; it’s the dismissiveness that raises my hackles. To say that, for example, Netrebko has certain aspects in common with Caballe (and then to enumerate these) can be enlightening. I certainly don’t have a problem with “this is not my cup of tea at all; Netrebko sounds wobbly and the high notes are flat.”

          What does bother me is to act as if there is only one way to sing an aria, and therefore any other attempts can simply be dismissed with “but you obviously haven’t heard Frances Alda, and that my dear, is what a soprano is supposed to sound like, so stop bothering me with your talentless latter-day nobodies.” That, it seems to me, is the nadir of nasty opera queenery, with “opera” only a pretext for striking a superior pose. This sort of thing might have been excusable when gay men were on the margins of society, but even so elderly a specimen as La Cieca postdates The Boys in the Band.

          • rapt

            Another problem with the Platonic ideal view of opera is the resulting impoverishment (word?) of experience: only one version can be truly loved--and love itself must be bleached of all complexity. Am I the only listener who can be driven crazy in both senses of the word (carried away and agonized) by the very same qualities--the wanton stretching of a line for the sake of an endless pianissimo, the squealed high note, the disconnected chest voice, etc., etc.?

          • luvtennis

            I saw that movie for the first time in college long after the world it described had become a part of our nation’s history. I laughed my ass off (at the parts I understood), loved the music, and ultimately felt that the whole thing was one big cop-out.

            That said. Why no OPERA based on the movie? Seems like it would be perfect. Are you listening Nico -- David Daniels would be a perfect anchor for the cast.

            Think how much fun the Parterre flock would have casting some of the parts!!!!!!!

            Anna appears as a Cabaret-style cross-dressed singer (!!!!!) at that Bar in the beginning of the movie.

          • jatm2063

            Cara La Cieca, you are ageless!

    • Being alive does confer certain advantages. I cannot deny it. The other reason I like Netrebko, though, is that (keep up with me here) I like her singing. I note its flaws and forgive them on account of its glories. And yes, I know and love the work of rather a lot of dead singers, and no, I’m not some moron who likes what PR people tell me to like, so we’re just going to have to agree that you prefer people whose singing you’ll never actually hear and I don’t always, and I’m going to secretly conclude that being dead, for you, is their biggest “merrit.”

      • I agree, Maury, I love Netrebko too, the life-death thing just jumped out at me first. But I can’t say I know the world of dead singers that well myself, because collecting old recordings is just not really my thing (just like watching four different Regie Onegins in close succession is not many other people’s thing). And I resent the occasional accusations that this means that I am deaf and/or a PR victim.

        • I grew up not particularly near an opera company and recordings, many of them of singers of an earlier generation, were wonderful for learning the rep and learning about singing. I still enjoy them but it’s all a matter of taste. I’ve never been able to locate any fondness for Milanov but I feel my life would be much poorer without, oh, Rose Pauly and Frida Leider and the like. And no, I’ve never heard anyone sing the Corelli rep the way Corelli did, but I don’t let it shut me off to any new experience. Antonenko is (cf. Met Futures thread and final pdf) pencilled in for Pollione in a couple of years and who knows, he might kill it.

  • mercadante

    An interesting point. For many of us, opera is a recorded or broadcast art-form as there is little ability to actually see a production. If Netrebko sings Leonra at the Vienna Staatsoper, I, for one, will never be able to see it; so saying she’s a viable or good current exponent of the role is a moot point for me. And since I can listen to Milanov, Callas, Price as often as a recorded Netrebko performance, comparing her to previous as well as current exponents of certain roles is valid for me. For those who just attend live performances (lucky them to have the ability), I can understand that this type of comparing and contrasting may seem frustrating, but for those of us for whom a performance is something we put in the cd player or listen to on the radio, choices, and thus comparisons, will be different.

    I happened to have liked her performance a lot. The tone was lovely from top to bottom, phrasing was musical and she was technically adept at trills, legato, florid passages and diminuendi and pianissimi in the “D’amor sul’alli”. Beautiful perfromance.

    • Comparison is one thing, treating two performances as separate entities and saying, this soprano does this and that soprano does that, and I prefer, etc.

      What revolts La Cieca is “it’s not as good as Milanov, so it’s not worth listening to.”

      • armerjacquino


        Although you don’t even need the dismissive ‘not worth listening’ clause for it to be annoying. My personal bugbear is the sterile comparison- ‘dead or retired singer is better than current singer’, made just for the sake of saying it.

        We had it recently with ‘Florez isn’t as good as Rockwell Blake’. As I said at the time- ‘Ok, cool. What shall we do now?’

        • Clita del Toro

          My problem is that having seen (and heard) so many good or great Leonoras over 56 years, I am not going to jump up and down just because Trebs sings a pretty nice D’amor. If the aria were outstanding, I might be more excited. Clap, clap..zzzzzzzz
          I guess I am jaded.

          • Clita del Toro

            BTW, Radvan’s D’amor IS outstanding--just wish she sang the rest of the opera that well.

          • luvtennis

            Don’t you mean 56 months, I refuse to believe that anyone as feisty as you could be a day over 25!

            Are you related to the Hollywood Del Toros? OR is that you are fantasizing about Benicio (everytime I look at that guy, I am amazed that anyone thinks he is good looking!)

            I haven’t listened to the Anna/Leonora snippet, but I will and I am pleased that she is finally moving her voice into a rep that might just possibly show it to best advantage.

            I just wish Lee could help Anna learn to float the voice a bit more. She tends to sing THROUGH everything. Sometimes you have sing above, and around. (never underneath!)

          • Camille

            Clita del Toro--not jaded.
            You have a great treasure trove of experience which has matured your opinion. I depend on your opining.

            Don’t let up, por favor.

            Yours truly,

        • OpinionatedNeophyte

          I co-sign any position which declares snobbery and dismissive attitudes as tiresome, boring and unpleasant. But to suggest that there’s nothing productive about saying “Rockwell Blake is better than JDF” is to suggest there IS something productive about typing “brava!” on a webforum. Yelling brava in an opera house, that might actually be productive, its a means of engaging in emotional exchange with the performers. But if one is going to contribute to a web forum I feel like its a false distinction to say “those who compare singers are boring” and suggest that those who are merely uncritical fans are somehow less boring.

          Rather, uncritical, overly simplistic and (subjectively) unfunny contributions should be scorned in favor of fair, reasoned and warranted opinions of all sorts, even if they compare dead/retired/zombified singers to the fully functional ones.

          • armerjacquino

            ‘But to suggest that there’s nothing productive about saying “Rockwell Blake is better than JDF” is to suggest there IS something productive about typing “brava!” on a webforum.’

            Um, no it isn’t. How on earth do you work that out?

          • OpinionatedNeophyte

            Basic logic and common sense? I haven’t seen that much negativity directed at uncritical affirmative statements about a given singer.

          • armerjacquino

            Need a screen for all that projection? The only way logic is involved in your characterisation of my post is in the huge leap you take. The point isn’t about positive vs negative, it’s about useful vs sterile comparisons.

            Say that Florez could learn from Blake’s ability with coloratura, or his ease at the top, or his shaping of legato. All helpful. ‘He’s not as good’ isn’t.

          • OpinionatedNeophyte

            If you read the post you responded to you would know that “it’s about useful vs sterile comparisons” was my very point. My other point, about which you seem to just be in a state of denial over, is that this sort of discussion rarely comes about when people post simplistic positive responses to a production or a singer. That is a fact.

          • armerjacquino

            I’m not in denial about your other point, it’s so obviously true as to merit no further discussion. The only thing I was objecting to was the 2+2=5 from you that I quoted above.

            If you can show me where I suggested that saying brava on a forum is productive, I’ll give you a whacking great apology. But you can’t, because I didn’t.

        • ‘Ok, cool. What shall we do now?’

          Exactly. Because the implication of the Golden Age Lament is never that the lamenter should just stay home and listen to records evermore, which is probably true, but that we all should, and that we should feel very bitter about it indeed.

  • Camille

    Speaking of comparisons, and the futility of making such: yesterday on Classic Arts Showcase, I happened to see a cut of Nadja Michael’s Dance of the Seven Veils (Lucinda Childs, choreographer). It was not nearly as good as the one I saw LIVE @ SFO (choreographer, Unknown).

    You either like something or you don’t. Basta.

    De gustibus non disputandem est.

    • armerjacquino

      Maybe not quite basta…

      Sometimes you can like or dislike something with qualifications, a point which seems to be lost on some of the more categorical posters. Radvanovsky is a great example. I am aware she is not as good in her rep as Leontyne Price was. I am also aware that she has some technical shortcomings. The fact that it’s possible to recognise these facts AND STILL LIKE HER is apparently mindblowing for some people.

      • Clita del Toro

        Liking singers while admitting their shortcomings: No problem here in that regard. If that were true I wouldn’t adore, Callas, Jones, Rysanek and Mödl.
        Depends on the shortcomings!

  • DonCarloFanatic

    Speaking of live performances, I’m feeling a strong urge to brush up on my German and go check out all those exciting events in person. All summer, I about die of envy as people report in from one fascinating place after another.

    Does anybody here have an opinion about the Rosetta Stone course? It’s big on hype, but also on price, and I wasn’t terribly impressed with the free sample one can access online.

    • Camille

      Ha! An old Rosetta Stone I bought for my husband has been sitting in his studio for three years now…he didn’t care for it much but says it would be very useful if you are about to go be immediately immersed in a foreign country, for survival skills. It may work if you like that type of interactive thing; he didn’t, perhaps because he needed something more scholarly.

      E.g., if you are a cast member of “Jersey Shore--Season IV”, I’m sure it will come in handy, calling for a taxi. This week, Snooki plows into a police car…not to be missed (“I’m a Good person!”)!!!!yeay, go Snooki!!

  • chacowhacko

    In short, I think that sounded A-fucking-mahzing ! I want hear in more Verdi!

  • This is lovely. What’s most admirable about Netrebko is the fact that she has continues to improve technically. The improvements were noticeable in her Anna Bolena excerpts as well — better breathing, a surprisingly good trill, floating of pianisimi… What surprised me is her chest voice in the “Misere”, which was more generous that I expected.

    She sings with musicality and feeling and keeps her voice beautifully even throughout its range. Also, the ease of the last high C should be noted.

    I agree with the Caballe comparison, except that I like Caballe more than Clita, so the comparison is more positive in my book.

    I’d like to hear more attack and verve in the singing. Right now, it’s a bit too languid for me.

    For what it’s worth, I never thought that L. Price’s coloratura in the role was quite flawless either, and she’s one of the benchmark interpreters of the role.

    • Batty Masetto

      And even the benchmark interpreter had her serious off nights (or years). If people can forgive another blast from the past, here’s another letter from my late buddy, about the opening of a “Golden Age” Trovatore at the Met (dated March 10, 1969):

      “… I walked into the house for the first performance of the new production of Trovatore … designed by Colonello and staged by Nathaniel Merrill. Mehta conducted. The production was given some advance publicity as a return visually to the real Spain (i.e., heavy on the Moorish influence – after I saw the sets I would rather say Moorish influenza). … As I ran to my standing place, I sort of noticed that the curtain was open and that the lights were on onstage. In positions reminiscent of [our college summer stock] were several guards who were sort of dozing waiting for Ferrando to say “Alerta! Alerta!” or something. Anyway Mehta arrived right after I did and then Ferrando did, and the sleeping guards looked properly abashed when jolted awake by John Macurdy’s rather spread reprovals. The only people not surprised by all of this were those of us in the audience, but we didn’t count.

      “The set for the first scene was done in Early Moorish Ruins or was it Sturdy Early Moorish in abstract? Well you couldn’t really tell what it was because every wall, every rock, in fact every surface had been covered with irregular scraps of wood to give an extremely rough texture… It was blatantly overdone with stylized Spanish ornamentation and musty and overabundant overgrowth of crawling vines. All of this garbage was done in a gray-beige spectrum which never managed to look more than dusty or at most bleak. The stage floor was covered with a million little levels and platforms which ranged in height from 6” to about 6’ in a way which was supposed to indicate either awfully orderly rocks or a bunch of retarded stairs. I think the former was intended. These were also the color of chewing gum stuck under the counter for two years, and stayed on stage all night.

      “Soon but not soon enough the midnight bell sounded and again everyone was surprised onstage and ran off in all directions – several choristers fell and did themselves harm methinks due to the dim lights, the trick footing and the incredible lack of contrast onstage. But this time the audience was surprised because Zubie … whipped up an absolute pandemonium musically which I could really call exciting – imagine – excitement – Verdi – at the Met??? …

      “The lights dimmed and walls shuffled vaguely as we all squinted and as the lights came up there was Leontyne being chased onstage by an obviously late-sliding staircase. It finally reached its position but it was all over for her entrance as she had sort of hopped out of the way as it glided by, blowing her cool. She sang in a hideously labored voice with huge hollow-sounding middle and chest ranges. The top was still OK as long as she didn’t try to float anything. But she couldn’t resist trying to float Tacea la notte and several of the notes actually cracked. Almost all of her phrases ended with a little glottal catch which at a distance sounded like a hiccup but was more like a crack. Very disturbing to listen to her sing. Watching her was worse though – she was constantly opening her mouth as wide as a snake to get tones out. Often she would over-brighten a medium high soft note like Ta…CHE…a la notte placida and produce a mouse-itura, all-but-comic sound. She was once really a great singer … a great lyric soprano. I was saddened to hear her struggle so. She did not improve a bit throughout the opera and like a fool she managed to push out two mostly irrelevant high D-flats instead of saving what’s left.

      “Colonello did what generations of costumers have tried to do to people like Milanov: he made her look great! Don’t ask me how. Most costumes were very traditional and well done in regal fabrics. One exception proved to be Manrico’s Act I rags which turned out to be twenty miles of rag strips tied together and then wound around his tunic and tights with a big lump of rag (maybe a free-form shawl) on his back. Total effect: like a Rigoletto whose hump was slipping off had taken off his coat and run onstage before he had it fixed. U-G-L-Y.

      “Manrico turned out to be Placido Domingo … who stepped in for Corelli who has cancelled the past two months or so of performances due to his father’s illness in Italy. Corelli has not really been missed though because Domingo has been developing from sounding like an NYC Opera star to a new Bjoerling in the flesh from all of his extra singing. He is most impressive. … Anyway he was in great form for this Trovatore, and though he didn’t reach his peak until Act III, he really gave it the stuff for his two biggest acts. He is very musical … His acting is ardent, very honest, and most refreshing. His appearance is chubby but handsome and youthful so he has the enthusiasm of the entire house. … Really fine.

      “The Count di Luna was Sherrill Milnes who is probably the top Italian baritone at the Met these days. He is a fine singer slightly reminiscent of Bastianini, a Merrill or Warren type voice with a good dramatic edge and solid and ringing G’s and A-flats. I have heard him in better voice, but he is a fine Count, probably the best around today. His acting was limited, probably because this was his first Trovatore anyplace. He is most intelligent though and made the most of the situation by being formidable at least.

      “Act II produced nothing more than a shrieking ladies’ chorus and Grace Bumbry as Azucena. She sounded over-rehearsed (much chesting of notes and a bit abandoned on top). Whatever the reason, she was tired vocally and spent the night in battle with her voice… Too bad, I bet she has a fine Azucena in her. (She did show off her vocal muscles once, by inserting a neat high C into her duet with Manrico in Act II.) Unfortunately for her she was not a strong enough personality [ed. note: !!] to offset her costume … She possessed a hideous combination wig and headpiece… Her dress had long and square sleeves which looked like a cape when her arms opened wide. This in itself is fine except that the entire gown was made out of a dark-blue SEQUINED material which made her rather conspicuous in a group of gypsies.

      “The staging was straightforward but quite dumb. I agree that as a classic Italian pulse-bumper the opera must be staged in the classic Verdi, La Scala tradition: over-broad gestures, static ensembles, stock crosses, etc. BUT you should have seen the garbage which Merrill used to keep things flowing. Every duet or trio was choreographed with sweeping crosses for the soloist of the moment. Most of these tended toward the embarrassing or at least – BRAZEN. Oh yes – there was a fake fire in a fake fire pit center stage toward the front, which everyone in every scene had to make a huge gesture to… It was easy to get Azucena to do this but sometimes the staging would have Leontyne go over to the fire and rub her hands to warm them … somehow – somewhere – everyone managed to get a fire-reference into the scene no matter how far-fetched it was.

      “The only thing left to say about this disease was that the critics ate it up and drooled over it next day en masse. … The only two [really good elements] were Domingo and Milne. (Mehta was too erratic to be of value.) On the whole a C–…”

      • luvtennis

        Hmmm. And the point is?

      • armerjacquino

        These letters are fascinating. I hope there are more- and thank you for sharing them with us.

      • OpinionatedNeophyte

        Yowza! My ears (eyes?) are aflame, to think that La Bumbarina, Lee could combined have thrown in such stinkers. That they were human sometimes only speaks to how amazing it is that they were able to acheive vocal divinity on a consistent basis. Well semi-consistent basis for Grace. Thanks again Maury for these letters, you do your friend’s memory a great service by exhibiting his talent and wit for the enjoyment of many.

        I particularly love that your friend’s experience demonstrate that at least some people in the golden age found “Park ‘n Bark” stagings to be tiresome and ridiculous. Nor, it seems, did everyone treat the operas as sacred temples upon which no new ideas should ever be mounted. The sacrilige seems to be boring the audience with tired concepts. Of course, none of this means that Netrebko can trill worth a damn.

      • CruzSF

        Batty M, I too love these excerpts from your friend’s writings. They underline, for me, that even Golden Age singers, who made astounding recordings, were still humans who turned in bad nights, bad weeks, or bad years, before then going on to make more astounding recordings (or even amazing stage performances). This point is forgotten, I think, by people who interpret every off-night by a contemporary singer as the end of the world as we’ve known it.

      • MontyNostry

        Good thing Grace was still officially a mezzo in 1969 or she’d have been offering to help out by replacing an off-form Leontyne as Leonora.

    • luvtennis

      It is very difficult to sing Verdian coloratura completely accurately if you sing it up to tempo. Maria (although Maria’s version with HvK is so slow that the musics propulsion is lost) and Rosa are as close as you get. Lee is a very close runner up. All three always got the SHAPE of the line right even if the details got lost in the moment.

      • Clita del Toro

        In a live recoding of Trovatore, Callas sings it quite fast.

        • luvtennis


          HvK like to take Verdian and Mozartean coloratura slowly if he could. Listen to his various Di Tale Amor recordings, he is always very slow, whether with Maria or Lee. Both singers were more than capable of singing the music fast (Super fast in Lee’s case).

          But my basic point is that Verdian COloratura is often used to paint a character in a state of advanced crazy and the music mirrors that state of mind in pathetic fallacy kind of way. Hectic, crazy leaps, frenetic, and the effect is almost instrumental in effect, as if Verdi didn’t care that he was writing for humans. Bellini et al were usually more sympathetic to their poor singers.

  • Clita del Toro

    luvtennis, as Joan would say, “You are too kind.”

    • luvtennis

      Crawford, SUtherland or Didion.

      • Clita del Toro

        Crawford, of course!

  • luvtennis


    Sorry but your friend sounds like he has an axe to gring. THere are plenty of live recordings from this time period that suggest that Lee was in glorious form during these years, yet your friend declares her career over and done based on one performance? And Bumbry was not great.

    No. Sorry, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. But I have zero tolerances for grinding axes.

    • Batty Masetto

      I don’t really think so, Luvtennis. He certainly admired Price. He was a singer himself and heard her in such consistently bad shape that night that he thought it indicated a decline, that’s all.

    • oedipe

      No. Sorry, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. But I have zero tolerances for grinding axes.

      Good to hear! I was SURE grinding axes is what defines many Parterre comments about most CONTEMPORARY singers! (Do I need to name names?)

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      The letter was written over 40 years ago by somebody you’ve never met, about something at which you were not present. I don’t know how you can tell he has an axe to grind. It doesn’t come across that way to me- just an account of Lee having an off night. Batty tells us his friend basically admired Price, so I don’t see why we should doubt that. She came up with a lot of nasty noises on some of the recordings she made during the 70s, surely it isn’t that much of a stretch to imagine they could occasionally be in evidence on below par nights in 1969.

      • luvtennis

        Sorry, but you might have thought she made ” a lot of nasty noises during the 70s”, but I don’t. Indeed she made remarkably few nasty noises throughout her 40 year career in my opinion.

        • OpinionatedNeophyte

          Case in point,

  • luvtennis

    I don’t want to hijack the thread, Cocky. If you re-read my post, I simply noted that her friend was lamenting the decline of a singer who had at least to that point demonstrated a pretty remarkable consistency over one of the greatest ten years a singer has ever had. And on the basis of the performance he declares her over.

    I am sorry, but that sounds like an axe to grind to me. In the event, I wasn’t there. DOn’t know the fellow, and have already moved on.

    • Clita del Toro

      I don’t have an axe to grind, but Price and Tebaldi (before 1959) had such glorious, gorgeous voices early on that I didn’t see much of them in their second decades at the Met. I did move away from NYC in 1971, so that’s part of the problem.

  • I’d also like to mention that the only complaint I had about Trebs’ Leonora was the conducting. I found D’Amor too slow, but not only slow but leaden as well. There didn’t seem to be (imho) anything particularly Italianate about the conducting…there wasn’t any slancio, which I blame the conductor for, not Anna. I think she has it in her to be a wonderful Leonora, but if she does the complete role, I hope she has better luck with conductors.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      Can you explain ‘slancio’ in this context?

      • To me, the conducting lacked forward momentum and feeling. It felt a little four-square to me.

      • I always thought ‘slancio’ had much the same meaning as ‘schwung’? na?

        • Camille


  • luvtennis

    I think the term “slancio” is a broader term than “schwung.” While both refer to rythmically propulsive music-making, slancio has the added connotation of “passionate or emotionally uninhibited.”

    At least, that what I think.

    Tune-in tomorrow for more adventures with “Ask Doctor Stupid.” Starring me, of course.

    • Also, isn’t slancio sometimes used to describe when a voice has “thrust” — something in the quality of the delivery?

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Cheers Kashania, this is what I was thinking too- that it was a vocal quality present when a certain type of approach or delivery is employed. I guess one would need a conductor on side who is conducting with some sort of impetuts to muster it up though.

        News to me that it is a term applicable to music making in general, rather than to purely vocal performance. Good to know.

    • Camille

      You are not “Doctor Stupid”!!!!!!

      Just a while ago I finished listening(VIA
      SIRIUS) to a 1977 Forza del Destino with your gal Lee, PLUS Domingo, Big Mac, Talvela, et al. Levine conducting.

      Wish you could have been there, luvtennis!!!!!!

      It was very moving and very beautiful, with a minimum of what I call, “Swoop ‘n Droop”. Forza Leonora is just a shade too big for her voice, but it don’ matter at all. She was beautiful. The audience loved her.

      I always listen to LEE much more carefully these days because of you, Dottore Avvocato!

      Distinti Saluti!

  • luvtennis


    I have been trying all summer to listen to as much Cerquetti as I can get my hands on.


    Yes, she was capable of tremendous moments with a voice a great size and flexibility. But she seems so inconsistent! The Casta Diva in the Norma pirate is a case in point. SOme of it is sublime, as is the cabaletta, but some moments it sounds as if the voice is going off the rails.

    Now, there have always been inconsistent singers. But given her tremendous gifts as a singer, it amazes me that Cerquetti could be that consistently inconsistent, if you catch my drift.

    Am I being too critical?

    • No, you’re not. She could be, indeed, highly inconsistent, often within the same aria. The live Normas are a case in point. And the DECCA recital and Gioconda are problematic, as they somehow fail to catch the full spelndour of the voice, which I can certainly ‘get’ on her best live recs.

      I thought the Tell presented her at her superb best, also the Don Carlo (IMO the best imaginable Elisabetta) and of course the awesome Vespri. The Ernani (presumably the Mitropoulous?) has her past her best, ditto the live Gioconda. The Forza is mostly excellent, although she does seem to be straining fot the top, esp during the Padre duet.

      The Vespri couplets :

      The live Bolero

      Compare and contrast with the so-so studio effort, roughly 2 years later

      and the Elisbetta :

      Technical issues notwithstanding, her small recorded legacy, esp around 1953-1958, shows a consummate musician and a surpsssingly lovely instrument.

      did you get my belated replay re the Guillaume Tell? I posted something completely OT -- Varady singing So elend und so Treu’. I just fell in love with this opera(etta). It is a brilliant score, and Boskowski’s 1980s recording is magnificent. So here it is again. Tell me what you think (yes I’ve heard Bumbry and prefer Varady, second only to Cebotari in this extremely difficult solo).

      • That live Bolero is truly a great example of legato singing. I never tire of hearing it.

      • luvtennis

        Anita Cerquetti reminds me a little of Grob-Prandl. Two inhumanly gifted singers who retained a certain provincial quality to their singing even after achieving international success.

        Grob-Prandl’s reputation has only grown recently (thanks almost entirely to me! ;-)) largely due to the continued dearth of truly heroic sopranos, and of course, she had the longer career. Cerquetti, by contrast, had some real contenders as competitors. Maria, Sutherland, PRice, Montsy, who were not only great singers in her roles, but most importantly were supreme RECORDING artists. Not creations of the studio like some of those who came after….

        As I think it about it, I think the impact of those ladies has not been wholly positive. Because they were the first singers who recorded all of their roles (sometimes on more than once) in high quality stereo over a pretty long period of time, the shadow that they continue cast is probably too long. Lee and Joan made their first big studio recordings in 59 or 60. They were still making major studio recordings 20 years later. I am not sure that was healthy.

    • Re Cerquetti and re-thinking my approach, I think I mainly like her because she represents for me a spark of the pre-WWII tradition, maintaining the aesthetics of a bygone age, which I embrace and delight in, esp in comparison with the ‘veristic’ 1950s style (no real legato, generalized phrasing etc). It’s really a question of preferences. As I don’t mind occasional lack of ease on top (or downright strain, if it’s not too prevalent) and can do without the more extrovert ‘exciting’ kind of singing favoured after WWII onwards.

    • Camille

      No, you are not, in my opinion as well.

      I used to LOVE her. About a year ago I put on a recording and I stood in slack-jawed amazement as I thought to meself: “WTF was I thinking all this time???” There is an awful lot of twitter in the sound and I don’t mean the kind you TWEET.

      When I have the time I will be re-examining Cerquetti. I’m going back to the Agnese di Hohenstaufen aria for starters, and then “Mare, o vasto mare”, which I used to just adore, IF I can ever find that recording again after my tumultuous move. Ahime, dove son?

      • Clita del Toro

        I saw Cerquetti once at Carnegie Hall in a joint recital with a tenor (can’t remember who). It was a very sad affair. She was past it and looked enormous next to the smaller tenor. And as I remember, she was dressed like a little girl.
        I was really disappointed as I had bought her LP recital and loved it.

        • Clita del Toro

          I looked it up. The tenor was Flaviano Labo. But I am not sure of the year of the concert.

          • Camille

            That is very interesting to me, as I had a very knowledgeable singer friend who also saw Cerquetti in a Carnegie Hall reital program.

            I wonder if it was the same one? She did tell me, and this was twenty years ago so I cannot recall all the details, that her singing was poor and “vitiated”, or dryed up. She blamed a part of Cerquetti’s problems on the coaching or advice she’d had from Serafin.

            I do not know where the truth liesI truly wonder if she gave up singing
            Not because of health problems, or her father, but because she could not bear all the tension any more.

            Wasn’t Labo about as tall as Piccola Renata?

          • Clita del Toro

            Camille, I am not sure about the date of Cerquetti/Labo recital—and I am not sure whether Cerquetti gave another concert at Carnegie before the one with Labo. One date I saw while trying to find the info was 1958.
            I am very confused.

            And yes, Labo was small, but had a nice, big spinto voice.

          • Camille

            Clita, the 1958 date sounds about right to me. I was told it took place toward the “end” of her career, so don’t worry yourself anymore.

            Anyway, you are not so confused that you would mistake a Pollock for a Rothko!

            Cheers and thank you to you, too.

  • manou

    You can hear the whole Berliner Waldbühne concert here :

    on August 16th at 22.10pm (you do the math)

  • FragendeFrau82

    I have just learned that the ROH cinema broadcasts of Tosca and Adriana Lecouvreur are NOT being shown at my local cinema, not even in my state (NC), or any neighboring states.

    According to the Opera in Cinema group, Carmike cinemas only show live broadcasts, not previously recorded ones.

    Any suggestions? I’m crushed right now. *insert operatic sob*

    • FragendeFrau82

      I am so sorry, I meant to put this over in Intermission Feature--please delete from here and I will move it. (tears were blurring my vision no doubt)