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Eyes wide open

It appears that tenor Stephen Costello, whom some of you guessed was a subject of a recent blind item, is not so centrally involved in the controversy as was imagined.

In a statement sent to La Cieca, Metropolitan Opera Press Director Peter Clark declares, “Lord Percy’s Tower of London scene in Act II of Anna Bolena has been cut from this production for purely dramaturgical reasons. Stephen Costello was ready and willing to sing it.”

And now that’s all cleared up, there’s room for another mystery, and—what do you know, it’s another tenor aria landing on the cutting room floor!

(Photo: Adam Leigh-Manuell)

277 comments

  • 21
    operaassport says:

    Costello was always a little too thin so it’s nice to see him put on some weight. I only hope it’s muscle and not fat!

    The bigger question is this … If a director can find a “dramatalurgical” -- or however it’s spelled-- reason is it okay to cut any scene or aria in any opera or is there a special list of sacred works that can’t be touched?

    For the record, I’m grateful when arias are cut in Act 4 of Figaro. It’s my favorite Mozart opera but I find it interminable if Act 4 is uncut while I wait for the glorious final 10 minutes.

    • 21.1
      ianw2 says:

      Yeah, I’m being facetious. As much as I love Figaro, it really starts to slow down after Dove sono, so those arias absolutely should be cut.

      In answer to your question, Wagner is the Uncuttable. Which is vaguely stupid, but such is the power of Wagnerphilia. Strauss, maybe. I don’t know enough about Straussian performance practise but I can’t imagine anyone being brave enough to trim half of the diverti in Rosenkavalier.

      I would also be quite happy to see 95% of opera ballets cut, since they rarely add anything to the story except the chance of a B grade soft porn floor show.

      And I know this is practically heresy, but I’ll put my head on the line and say that Butterfly could wait for about five minutes less.

      • 21.1.1
        armerjacquino says:

        Rosenkavalier is a case in point. One minute everyone saying how it’s two hours too long, the next everyone’s saying that to lose even a semiquaver of Donizetti is to rebuke his genius. It’s awfully hard to keep up sometimes. Are we saying that Strauss didn’t know what he was doing but Donizetti did? Only I need to update my chart.

        • 21.1.1.1
          Nerva Nelli says:

          This is not a semiquaver, it’s an entire scene. The Met under Levine has shown zero respect for bel canto and baroque works, cutting lavishly beyond the normal permissible nips and tucks-- but giving Wagner 100% uncut and every damn word of ZAUBERFLOETE…

          • kashania says:

            Zauberflöte — Now there’s an opera in needs cuts. Every time I see it, there comes the moment in the middle of Act II where I wonder if I’ll ever get out of that damn masonic temple, with all the boring and righteous trials.

          • Camille says:

            Yes, but that new family version does do a number of cuts and I now can sit through it without twitching as much. Otherwise I get lost in that Masonic maze as well with kashania, not a bad companion in the temple.

          • kashania says:

            Camille darling, with you as companion in the masanic temple, I could even endure Papageno’s inability to stay quiet for two minutes. LOL

        • 21.1.1.2

          Don’t go by time period. I think the general opinion of the Met’s Armida (which is bel canto adjacent) was that the score was all too complete and would have benefited from a considerable number of cuts?

      • 21.1.2
        louannd says:

        So, wait a minute, in Figaro, Prior to the finale in Act 4, everything should go after Dove Sono (which is in Act 3), and that would include the *insipid* Susanna/Countess duet, Barbarina’s little ditty, Figaro’s jealousy bit, and, of course, Susanna’s inconsequential “Deh Vienni Non Tardar?”

        • 21.1.2.1
          ianw2 says:

          Don’t get me wrong, I adore Figaro. But I do think after Dove sono, the story is really just chugging along to its conclusion and the more prompt its arrival, the better. Deh vieni is fab, of course, and although Barbarina’s little moment is pretty but is pretty inconsequential in the scheme of things.

          The only way to drag it out even more than chucking in the two B list arias in Act IV is by putting an intermission between III/IV which, fortunately, I’ve only seen done once.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Aw, c’mon. Barbarina’s arioso is less than a minute. And you couldn’t start two acts running with recit.

          • ianw2 says:

            Yeah, I suppose it serves a practical purpose but you could just as easily live without it, and barring some kind of complicated scene change, flow the two acts without pause.

            AJ- every minute counts!

            Has anyone heard Dove’s reduced Ring he did for Birmingham? It was something like two nights and 30 instruments.

          • kashania says:

            I agree, AJ. Not only is Barbarina’s arioso very short, it is also very beautiful. At that moment, I’m always amazed at the abundance of Mozart’s melodic gifts. He could have just given us a couple of lines of recit to explain the pin situation, but instead he gives Barbarina this inspired, touching number. But he keeps it short so as not to weigh the drama down. Real genius.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Figaro is a total drag, imo. I will NEVER listen to or see that opera again. Have never liked it, but now like it even less. And to think that Mozart is one of my very favorite composers. :+)

      • 21.1.3
        operaassport says:

        Except for most of the 20th century, it was standard practice at the MET to cut the hell out of Wagner. Even the Wagner tenor supremo Melchior thought that Wagner’s operas should be cut because “they were too long.”

        I’m surprised that no one has raised the possibility (stress that word) that the scene is being cut for a different reason: the diva is throwing her weight around. It wouldn’t be the first time.

        I can’t think of a single dramatic reason to cut the scene.

  • 22
    kashania says:

    Can anyone tell me if the Sills recording is cut? I have three Anna Bolenas — the Sills and the live Callas and Gencer recordings. I’m hoping the Sills is complete…

  • 23
    CruzSF says:

    I hope everyone upset about this cut is also writing to the Met and expressing their displeasure. Let them know.

  • 24
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Oh… the quiz continues. Another tenor aria to be cut? Who cares!!!! To deduce that one would have to know what’s being performed at the Met.

  • 25
    Maury D says:

    I don’t think Rosenkavalier has any standard cuts, no. Elektra has one big one and I think Frau has quite a lot, and I imagine that’s about it. Unless you count the standard cuts in Intermezzo, to wit: the whole opera.

    • 25.1
      Arianna a Nasso says:

      Rosenkavalier has lots of little cuts which add up to a ‘standard’ performing version. Elektra has a handful, not just one. Luckily *my* opera is never cut.

      • 25.1.1
        MontyNostry says:

        But I think there should be a few elisions once Zerbinetta has completed her aria, both in the comedians’ shenanigans and the final duet. Love the piece all the same.

        • 25.1.1.1

          Sehen Sie zu, dass er dem Bacchus einiges wegnimmt; man erträgt es nicht, diesen Mann soviel singen zu hören.

        • 25.1.1.2
          ianw2 says:

          I agree that Prinzessin could be about seven minutes shorter. The whole aria and the subsequent fetishisation of it make it one of my most disliked moments in opera.

          Of course, if we’re talking cuts to Ariadne, let’s talk Prologue…

          But thanks for all the illuminating education on Rosenkavalier cuts. I genuinely had no idea!

      • 25.1.2
        Straussmonster says:

        Elektra has two; one in the climactic monologue where she confronts Klytemnestra, and one in the “won’t you help me?” scene with Chrysothemis. I think.

        • 25.1.2.1
          Camille says:

          And there is another one, most unfortunately as it has some of the most tragic and pathetic poetry of Hoffmanstahl’s, in the conversation with Orest, after the great “Recognition” piece. I always rue that bit as it explains a lot of the pathology of Elektra.

          What a magnum opus. What an orchestration.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Is that the bit that some take as implying that Elektra might have been just a little too close to her daddy?

          • Camille says:

            “Die Toeten sind eifersuechtig”, et seq., Monsieur Monty. I can’t recall off the top of my cap the exact wording right now,and already hear the reprisals of “Camille, you’re wrong”, but it has much to do with the loss of her maidenhead and the fact that her, shall we say “relations”, are unsuccessful as she seems to feel/see Daddy hovering at the edge of her bed. Batty Masetto will know, bless him. She refers to her maidenhead, “milch” and/or moonbeams are used in a metaphor (again, see Herr Hoffmanstahl) and it is depicted with the most exquisite music, the loss of which is considerable at least inasfar as coming to terms with Elektra’s nature. In that moment, Elektra ceases to be monstrous and becomes the pathetic victim she truly was, and no more than that. Every monster usually has some heinous misdeed against him/her at its heart’s rotted core. Few are born bad.

            Surely Birgit sings it and am I imagining that the wonderful Inge Borkh does, on that old Reiner recording--or am I making that up like I’m making up the Enchanted Island aria cut, too?

            Old aged daze.

          • stevey says:

            IMHO the worst cut in Elektra is in the wonderful, vicious monologue detailing her Mother’s death. The prose is absolutely brutal, and makes the climax all the more shattering. As far as I know, there are only the three absolutely complete recordings of Elektra around- the Nilsson/Collier/Resnik (Solti), the Marton/Studer/Lipovsek (Sawallisch), and the Polaski/Schwanewilms/Palmer (Bychkov). Of the three, Nilsson’s is the most towering performance (of course). I’m not sure who has sung the role complete, live, but I believe that (the somewhat overparted) Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet did recently under Gergiev… anyone else know of any others??

        • 25.1.2.2
          Harry says:

          The two Electra recordings that are fully uncut are the Solti/Nilsson (Decca) and the Marton/Sawallsch (EMI)

      • 25.1.3
        Maury D says:

        Hm, I think this is one of those occasions where I answer offhand and am wildly incorrect. There are some cuts in Ochs natterings in act I aren’t there…

        I thought the scene between Elektra and Chrysothemis was the only big cut in Elektra but it sounds like not.

        I would not be heartbroken if they cut the Jews arguing in Salome, and of course the first millenium of Rosenkav Act III.

  • 26
    kashania says:

    Personally, I don’t have hard and fast rules about cuts. Nor do I like the idea of “standard” cuts. To me, cuts should be allowed and made based on a number of considerations, like the singer’s ability to sing a piece, or the director’s staging and how a particular cabaletta fits or doesn’t fit within it. Sometimes, cuts are made for purely financial reasons — to prevent the production from going into overtime and beyond the company’s limited budget. These can all be valid reasons and it is up to the company to make a case for it in how they present the work.

    Now, the cutting of an entire scene, and thus a major characters’s only aria, can seem like too much on the surface. But ultimately, we will have to see the staging in question before we can decide whether McVicar made the right choice.

    The only time that I have anything resembling a zero-cuts policy is in studio recordings (which are rare anyway). When committing an opera to recording in the studio, I think every reasonable effort should be made to record the work note-complete.

    • 26.1
      armerjacquino says:

      Kashania, I couldn’t agree more. The common sense approach is (a) to avoid absolutism and (b) to wait until one has seen the production.

      I’m a little tired of everything stage directors do being an ‘insult’ or a ‘disgrace’ or ‘thinking they know better’. Opera is a living medium like any other. As Ian said, this is only one production.

      • 26.1.1
        Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        There is genius and malarkey. Nowadays, most of the people running opera companies don’t know the difference

      • 26.1.2
        Nerva Nelli says:

        Yes, and the director is British so any criticism of him would be RACIST.

        Never mind that this is the first-ever Met ANNA BOLENA and, via HD, the only ANNA BOLENA production that millions will see. Armer’s going to stand up for principle! Why don’t they cut Smeton’s music entirely and replace the mezzo with a nude teen male hottie?

        • 26.1.2.1
          armerjacquino says:

          If you truly think the opinion I expressed above has anything to do with where the director was born then your weird, pathetic obsession with nationality has finally spiralled out of all control.

        • 26.1.2.3
          ianw2 says:

          Yes how dare they hire a hack like McVicar when they have their own Sher, Zimmerman and Wadsworth who could be working.

    • 26.2
      figaroindy says:

      I don’t know that I agree that a singer’s ability to sing the aria should justify a cut….why not find another singer who can sing it?

      • 26.2.1
        Clita del Toro says:

        Figaroindy, I agree. If a singer can’t sing an aria or section of the opera well, it should not be cut. If that were the case, I have been to too many operas where they could have cut out entire roles, or even the entire opera.

        If the conductor is bad, should they cancel the performance

      • 26.2.2
        kashania says:

        It all depends, doesn’t it? A singer’s inability to sing an aria might not come to light until the rehearsal process begins. Or the singer could be the star around which the production has been built.

    • 26.3
      OpinionatedNeophyte says:

      Considering this is Costello’s star-moment, and that he is a popular tenor in demand, I wonder why he accepted this cut. Was he given a black-dress style ultimatum? “Its the cuts or your head.”I wonder if the next step is to cut all of Act III of Lucia…

      • 26.3.1
        Arianna a Nasso says:

        I disagree. This is Netrebko’s star moment. If Garanca hadn’t cancelled, she’d get any remaining attention. Gubanova might steal that spotlight, leaving Costello coming in third. Did anyone talk that much about how the tenor in Vienna did?

        Costello may be popular on here, but he’s no Kaufmann, Alvarez, Vargas, etc. with enough clout to make demands of a leading opera house.

        • 26.3.1.1
          CruzSF says:

          It’s certainly a star-MAKING moment for Costello if he does well. I don’t think anyone is arguing that the young tenor has the professional stature of Kaufmann, Vargas, or even Alvarez.

          • Arianna a Nasso says:

            I’m not sure this role can be star-making for anyone. Just the nature of the role. I feel the same about Pollione. Unless both Anna and Giovanna (or Norma and Adalgisa) are lowsy, it’s hard to emerge with anything other than “Oh, the tenor did a very nice job.”

      • 26.3.2
        OpinionatedNeophyte says:

        I know the evening is Anna’s, but I would think any divo worth his salt would balk at their major aria being cut. Also, as much as I’m a diva-focused opera queen I am a bit upset when anyone’s blaze of solo glory is prematurely put out. Poor Stephen.

        • 26.3.2.1
          kashania says:

          Costello is still in the “great-potential-on-the-brink-of-stardom” phase. I don’t think he has the clout to make demands. That’s not to say that he (and his management) didn’t object to the cut. But if I were Gelb (assuming the issue made it up to him), I’d stick with my established director over than my potential star tenor.

          • louannd says:

            I have seen Stephen Costello perform twice at San Diego, and he has a fine voice and fine technique but he appears somewhat awkward on stage, though less so as Romeo than as Faust. His wife has better stage skills, and when he is on stage with her, he is more confident. It was his first outing as Faust. He also did not have the best direction in that Faust IMO at San Diego. Here’s hoping that whatever McVicar decides to do, Stephen will sound, look, and act like a star that he certainly has the potential to become.

  • 27
    oedipe says:

    Next exercise I suggest we try at Parterre is: What do people think should be ADDED to various operas?

    • 27.1
      La Cieca says:

      Other than male nudity?

    • 27.2
      MontyNostry says:

      Some decent tunes would be nice in Les Troyens.

      • 27.2.1
        rysanekfreak says:

        I always thought that since Emilia Marty is an opera singer, why don’t we get to see and hear her sing? She needs to be seen onstage as Cleopatra singing a Romantic faux French aria.

        I wish Verdi had given Nabucco two verses for his cabaletta. I understand he thought the baritone was aging and wouldn’t have the strength to get through it that late in the opera, but still.

        I wish the added cabaletta Lucrezia Borgia sings after her entrance aria were in two verses. There was a time (haven’t checked lately) when both Sills and Ricciarelli could be heard singing the one-verse cabaletta on YouTube. (Caballe, of course, does it in her complete recording of the opera. And I always wondered why Bonynge never let Sutherland sing that half-cabaletta. (Because Team Caballe found it first?)

        I have seen lots of Attila performances. That final scene is just too short. It needs a tenor-baritone duet. And it needs a much longer trio.

        I have actually seen a performance of Alzira. It needs a father-daughter duet.

        • 27.2.1.1
          Camille says:

          Good idea. Emilia Marty should sing the aria from Citizen Kane that Dame Kiwi has so memorably incised.

          • Harry says:

            Emilia Marty’s final scene to me is the equal to that of Wagner’s Tristan. Both are similar death resignationscenes with the orchestra pulsing ‘for life’

      • 27.2.2
        Batty Masetto says:

        Monty, surely you jest. I can see (hear?) that the Trojan March might be too jumpy to qualify as a tune for some ears, but what about “Reviens à toi,” “Complices à sa gloire,” “Gloire à Didon,” and most very especially “Nuit d’ivresse?”

        Apologies if my irony detector has been blown out by too many weeks of Republican candidates’ expostulations…

        • 27.2.2.1
          manou says:

          [img]http://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/irony+meter.jpg[/img]

        • 27.2.2.2
          oedipe says:

          Monty would never miss an opportunity to kvetch about something French.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Cher oedipe, please don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of many things French, and have lived and worked in France, so I feel I know the country and its culture well enough to send it up a little!

            Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc — oui, oui, oui (plus lots of more minor figures) — and I would love to get to know Lully and Rameau better, but I find most of Berlioz somewhat intractable. Even the Symphonie fantastique has never appealed to me -- in spite of that great tune at the ball.

            Oh yes, and Crespin is one of my very favourite singers, possibly No 1. I hope you no longer consider moi a philistin.

            Andouillette, Johnny Hallyday and Barbara — non, non, non!

          • MontyNostry says:

            A fine example of French vocal (oral?) art

          • oedipe says:

            So la cuisine lyonnaise is not for you. Too bad! I am already salivating about the Lyon restaurants I will be going to in October.

          • MontyNostry says:

            it’s 10 years since I was last in Lyon — a very fine city indeed, and comparatively unknown to most tourists — but I had superb food there. I loved gateau de foie and poulet au vinaigre and had a hare dish at Poivre d’Ane that was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I gave tablier de sapeur a miss, though, and I don’t remember any really amazing patisserie, which is one of my obsessions!

          • manou says:

            I have just come back from Lyon (because we flew there en route to Orange to avoid the horrible Ryanair, the only airline flying to Nîmes). Had the gâteau de foie and the quenelles de brochet (in a bouchon, naturellement).

            So we are all agreed about the gastronomy -- but I must take issue with Monty about Barbara -- surely you cannot put her in the same category as France Gall?

          • manou says:

            Plus Johnny Halliday is Belgian

          • MontyNostry says:

            I like France Gall, though. (And that Sucettes song is completely outrageous.) I hate to disagree with you, but selon Wikipedia: “Jean-Philippe Léo Smet est né le 15 juin 1943 à la cité Malesherbes à Paris.”

          • manou says:

            Zut alors! Jacques Brel I would adopt in a heartbeat -- but Johnny…..

          • MontyNostry says:

            A face that only an adoptive mother could love.

            [img]http://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/250px-Johnny_Hallyday_Cannes.jpg[/img]

          • manou says:

            Voici Barbara -- sporting the exact eye make up as preconised by our very own fashion maven La Maison de Camille:

          • oedipe says:

            I am with you, manou, when it comes to Barbara (though I like France Gall and loved her late husband, Michel Berger, who wrote all her songs AND Johnny Hollyday’s songs ).
            I saw Barbara on stage a couple of times and she was incredible. She would sneak in and sort of glide towards the piano, never alone, always holding somebody’s arm. She was suffering from agoraphobia, maybe as a consequence of the time she had spent in a concentration camp when she was very young. But as soon as she sat at the piano, any distance between her and the public just disappeared.

            As for Johnny, time has not been kind to him:

            [img]http://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/379.jpg[/img]

        • 27.2.2.3
          MontyNostry says:

          Not really jesting, I’m afraid. Berlioz can occasionally pull off a great tune, or at least a great tuneful phrase (and I love Nuits d’été), but whenever I hear anything from Les Troyens,which I admittedly don’t know well at all, I keep waiting for a tune to blossom as opposed to threatening to break out, and I find it never does — even in the most famous bits. My problems with the piece go back to the long-ago days when I borrowed the LPs of the old Davis set from the library and there was one big, complicated ensemble that just seemed to blather on aimlessly and endlessly. I do have the EMI highlights disc with Crespin and Chauvet, so maybe I should give it a listen.

          • stevey says:

            I understand what you’re saying about ‘Troyens’, Monty… it’s such a mammoth work and all and I kinda see your point about the ensembles. That being said, there are so many great moments in it- Cassandre’s duet with Chorebe is wonderful, and capped with the role’s only high C- a thrilling moment. Her narrative as the infamous horse enters Troy is high drama at it’s finest, and Didon’s extended death scene is absolutely gripping. Check it out (but go Davis II all the way)… you might be pleasantly surprised!

          • Camille says:

            Perdona, stevey, perdona. It may “sound” like a “C”, as it is so high in relation to the rest of the score, but it is, in fact, a “B natural”. It actually sounds like a Q sharp, it is so out of line with the rest. Just so’s you knows.

            I always like to singalong to “Gloire a Dingdong”, which is many times how it sounds, one of the fun parts.

            There’s nothing like a nuit d’ivresse, though. Best thing for the complexion!

          • kashania says:

            Monty: Troyens is one of my favourite operas. Berlioz did not have as natural a gift for melodic writing as, say, Mozart or Puccini, but they are there. They’re just less compact and take longer to seep in. Give the work more of a chance. It’s truly worth it.

            I haven’t heard the Davis II though I’m sure Heppner is great in it (he certainly was when I saw him at the Met a couple of years after that recording was made). But Davis I is really worth. Veasey is a great Didon and Vickers is practically unbeatable as Enee. I forget the name of the soprano singing Cassandre but she reminded me of a poor man’s Jessye (who never recorded either role commercially but can be heard, in magnificent voice, in both roles in the 83/84 Met broadcast with the most unfortunate Enee of Edward Sooter).

            Another recording worth hearing is a live recording (including a fair bit of cuts, which for you might not be a bad thing) with Verret, Gedda and Horne (as Cassandre).

          • stevey says:

            Kashie, Berit Lindholm is the Cassandre in Davis I and, while certainly commanding, she is rather thick and unwieldy. Petra Lang is outstanding in Davis II, as she seems to be in so much that she does… the more I hear her, the more I like her!

          • stevey says:

            And, speaking of Berlioz… am I the only one that absolutely LOVES ‘La Mort de Cleopatre’?? Probably my favorite piece of music- EVER!!

          • kashania says:

            Soeur d’Hector, va mourir, sous les débris de Trooooooooie! (wild syncopated chords in the orchestra — god, I love this piece).

          • Camille says:

            Camille LOVES La Mort de Cleopatre, stevey, and I always thought *I* was the only person to love it, too! It has such an interesting history, as well. I must have listened to it a thousand times over the last thirty years, no fooling.

            Did you see/hear Olga Borodina knock a homer out of the park at Carnegie Hall in 2003 when she sang it there? I hope so, because she was tremendous. There is a recording as well by her, about the same time, but it isn’t nearly as exciting as that performance which I’ll never forget.

            I listened repeatedly to Dame Granite singing it, for years, and am so glad Olga recorded it and have her as an alternative. In fact, I’d better go find where it is, I haven’t seen it in a while.
            ***********************************************

            Camille Also LOVES “Sous le debris de TROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIE!!! Always a hair raising moment!

            Yeay Team Hector! So crazy a guy he’s STILL misunderstood, almost two hundred years later, well, one hundred eighty.

            And Monty Nostry, I can’t ever sit and listen to the WHOLE thing either. The Regine/Chauvet is the best ticket. A wonderful role pour Notre Divine Regine.

          • stevey says:

            Camille, it’s so nice to find another ‘Cleopatre’ junkie!! I have 11 recordings of it (OCD, anyone??) and, surprising even to myself, my absolute favorite version is Diana Montague (!) taken from a live performance in Helsinki. The gradual descent into death as the poison overtakes her (which I think is sheer brilliance, with the low strings mimicking her heart beat fading to nothing) is wonderful here- the final ‘Caesar’ is a mere whisper. If you’re interested in hearing it, I’ll put up the link to download it! (If you haven’t used ‘Rapidshare’ before, just click on ‘download’- it’s safe!)

            http://rapidshare.com/files/329264710/MontagueBerliozHelsinki19IV02.rar

          • Camille says:

            So stevey!! You are an even bigger Cleopatra slave than I!!! Thrilled to know there is my soulmate out there somewhere and I will figure out this rapidshare thing and give it a listen. So very nice of you to share and I thank you!

            Au revoir!

            La veuve de Cesar--et--
            Camille

          • oedipe says:

            Has anyone here seen/heard all of Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini? I would love to have the opportunity to see that staged. It has good melodies too!

          • iltenoredigrazia says:

            oedipe: The Met mounted Benvenuto Cellini a few years ago. I saw it but don’t remember if it was shown on TV or HD. It’s probably been broadcast on Sirius. There is a recording with Nicolai Gedda.

            I like Les Troyens very much but will admit being sort of bored with Benvenuto.

          • semira mide says:

            Cellini at the Met was conducted by Levine. Unfortunately the performances were in the pre-HD days. I don’t believe it was ever released on DVD, but I believe the CD is part of the Levine set released for his anniversary.
            It has some superb music, but the narrative is less epic then Troyens.

          • semira mide says:

            Of course I meant to type “than”.

          • armerjacquino says:

            There’s a DVD of Cellini with Kovalevska, Naouri and Aldrich which was well received, although by the look of things regie-haters should steer clear.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            Cellini is one of my favorite operas, but it has a very complicated history well worth studying.

          • oedipe says:

            Thanks for all the Benvenuto Cellini comments. Upon further research I even found a version with Merrit and Netrebko (from Amsterdam).

        • 27.2.2.4
          Loge says:

          I have been concerned about the situation in Libya as I feared it would interfere with my dream of listening to “Nuit d’ivresse” overlooking the Mediterranean from there. Today I suddenly realized that that would have been in Tunisia and I was worried about the wrong country.

          • Loge says:

            That post sure looks selfish! Heaven forbid peoples rights and freedoms should interfere with my opera fantasies!

          • Camille says:

            Herr Loge,
            All the latest news reports out of that area are saying the same thing: Carthago delenda est.

            What a romantic and wonderful idea!

            Thank you for straightening out the node situation for me. It seems pretty clear now, or clearer than before. Just hoping they won’t rush him back into rehearsals, for the new Faust, for example.

            Regards,
            Camille

        • 27.2.2.5
          Regina delle fate says:

          And what about the most glorious line in the whole of Les Troyens: Didon’s “Tout conspire à vaincre mes remords, et mon âme est absoud” with its wonderful agitated accompaniment? Iopas’ and Hylas’s Songs? Les Troyens is full of great tunes.

    • 27.3
      kashania says:

      A mad scene for Erda.

      • 27.3.1
        rysanekfreak says:

        I’m pretty sure this was once an Opera Quiz question. Name an opera that needs one more scene so we can find out what happens to the characters.

        Someone wanted Trovatore. What happens to Azucena next?

        I wanted Rigoletto. He can team up with Monterone’s daughter and they can really get their revenge against the Duke.

        I wouldn’t mind Act V/scene ii of Don Carlos. Eboli in the convent. She gets one more memorable aria. Then the King shows up and they get a love duet. He is going to allow her to come back to Court. Then Elizabeth and the Grand Inquisitor burst in on them and all hell breaks loose. A huge final quartet and perhaps two blood-smeared bodies lying on the stage as…The Curtain Falls. Don Carlos definitely needs to be 35 minutes longer.

        —-
        As far as an extra piece of music, I have always wanted Gioconda to sing some kind of street ballad ditty right after The Dance of the Hours. Why is she in that Casa d’Oro for the third act? In the play, she is Alvise’s mistress and apparently has a key and knows where the secret passages are. She could be at the party with her troupe as another entertainment act. (insert your own joke here) She can sing her ballad and as she is starting verse 3, that’s when Barnaba rushes in with La Cieca (the other one) and we get that big ensemble.

        • 27.3.1.1
          Camille says:

          Gee, really want to see the rysanek version of Gioconda now, instead!

          I’m always wondering, myself, if Johnson and Minnie go to Las Vegas and start a casino there? Do they stay together, or does he get involved with the first Nina Micheltorena to come along and leave poor Minnie alone, impregnated and abandoned and penniless, to walk ALL THE WAY BACK over the Sierras to beg Jack Rance to marry her and make an honest woman out of her, as ol’ Dick didn’t bother much about getting a proper marriage license.

          Gee, this is fun.

          • kashania says:

            I think it would be fun if Johnson and Minnie came across poor Manon and De Grieux in the Louisiana dessert. You know, give ’em a drink of water and a ride to the nearest inn.

        • 27.3.1.2
          MontyNostry says:

          I had no idea that she is Alvise’s mistress in the play … So presumably he knows where **her** secret passages are.

          • Camille says:

            “Angelo, ou le Tyrane de Padoue” par M. Hugo will ‘splain all about those ‘secret passages’.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I was in a dreary lecture about Hugo at university once, and the only thing that cheered it up for me was recognising bits of the story of Gioconda when the lecturer mentioned Angelo etc. Apart from that, the hours danced very slowly indeed.

          • manou says:

            Victor Hugo is reputed to have written «Défense de déposer de la musique le long de ces vers». He was obviously ignored by Verdi and others (but apparently surprised himself by enjoying the quartet in Rigoletto).

          • MontyNostry says:

            Yet another anecdote of my student experience of Hugo … I was in the library one evening, ploughing my way hurriedly through some of his (operatic) plays in preparation for an all-night essay. One of the plays was none other than ‘Le roi s’amuse’. Some wag had defaced the library book, so that the title read ‘L’étudiant ne s’amuse pas’. The swotty types surrounding me didn’t appreciate my suppressed guffaws.

        • 27.3.1.3
          iltenoredigrazia says:

          What I have never understood is why La Cieca is in the Casa d’Oro. How does she get there without Gioconda leading her. She is blind, ishn’t she?

        • 27.3.1.4
          almavivante says:

          Having never read the play on which Gioconda is based, I always wondered how she got in the palace and knew so much about it, so thank you so much for solving that mystery.

          And you’re right: this was an Opera Quiz question years ago. I concurred then, and still do, with the panelist who asked what happened to Adalgisa after she ran off, never to be seen or heard again after “Mira, o Norma.” Norma does not lie, but she offers no further information about her renegade sister priestess.

          • Camille says:

            Norma non mente. I seem to recall the cause for the Big Burn denouement that Pollione had stormed the druidesses’ dormitory, in heat after Adalgisa, so perhaps her near rape sends her off into a Leonora-like grotto to repent her own pulchritude. Non so nulla. Nulla.

          • kashania says:

            Adalgisa has the only known off-stage mad scene in opera.

        • 27.3.1.5
          manou says:

          Well I always say I would like to know what happened to Dolore in the US when Pinkerton and Kate took him home and sent him to the local school.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Poor little bairn must be a bit post-traumatised, having been (virtually) witness to his adoring mum’s self-evisceration. I always wonder what it does to the kid playing the role, actually. And that lady with the painted face keeps screaming at him.

          • armerjacquino says:

            And whoever ends up married to whom, Fiordiligi and Ferrando TOTALLY pick up where they left off.

        • 27.3.1.6
          kashania says:

          Finally, a satisfying conclusion to Don Carlos!!

      • 27.3.2
        Camille says:

        hahahahahahhahaHA!

        She has a right to be mad, what with bearing all those brats and being abandoned by the Father!

    • 27.4
    • 27.5
      armerjacquino says:

      Zdenka should sing ‘Und ich will dein Gebieter sein’ to Matteo.

  • 28

    Wieland Wagner’s second production of the Ring, the one recorded with Böhm at the Bayreuth Festival, had a prominent cut in Act III of Götterdämmerung. The composer’s grandson trimmed the scene where Gutrune is alone in the palace and talks about Brunnhilde going down to the banks of the Rhine. The production cut from the funeral music to Hagen’s entrance with Siegfried’s corpse.

    When the production was recorded for Philips (a set currently available in a budget reissue from Decca, the cut scene was restored.

    • 28.1
      luvtennis says:

      How was it restored? Those were live recordings. There might have been bits from different performances used to cover problems in the main source performance, but does that mean they did the scene in some of the performances and not others?

      • 28.1.1
        kashania says:

        Oddly enough, I’ve been listening to the Böhm Ring and have been wondering whether it’s a live recording or a “live” recording like the Böhm Tristan.

      • 28.1.2
        Harry says:

        With a lot of those ‘live recordings’ done around the late 60’s , early 70’s anyway, it was confided by some that a few rehearsal tapes and even post live performances ‘tidy -up bits’ were inserted if required. When engineers found a problem here or there with sound balances, noise, audience coughs etc -in the main ‘live recordings’ that had been made. No doubt the producers were progressively monitoring the quality of the material as they obtained it-performance by performance, during its run.
        The new era of ‘refined live recordings’ started with the Bayreuth Nilsson Bohm Tristan(DG)

        An entirely different requirement was the Otello film done with Domingo and Riciarelli. It had two deliberate totally differnet recordings made The film soundtrack was mastered to match image -- ‘visual close ups’ etc and with music cuts. The released CD ‘soundtrack’ recorded for audio -only listening, the score was totally uncut and balanced differently,

        • 28.1.2.1
          Byrnham Woode says:

          The practice can at least be traced back to the 1955 Keilberth/Bayreuth RING recently issued on Testament, but recorded by Decca in early stereo. “Makeup sessions” were held following live performances for at least the Forging Scene, where a percussionist substituted for Wolfgang Windgassen so as to get the hammering to match ‘Wagner’s requirements in the score.

          I suspect that the same was done a decade later when Bohm was conducting, though as I recall, Windgassen is pretty primitive with his hammer.

          I can’t think of any “live” recording issued by a major label that wasn’t compiled from more than one performance and/or dress rehearsal -- and that would include the celebrated Bayreuth PARSIFAL of 1951.

          The Domingo/Riciearelli OTELLO is a movie, filmed on soundstages and lip syched to the artists studio recording of the opera already in the can. Ditto the well-known CARMEN with Domingo and Migenes and many other movies (Syberberg’s PARSIFAL, the Joseph Losey DON GIOVANNI, the Powell-Pressberg TALES OF HOFFMANN. Why go on?)

          Regarding GOTTERDAMMERUNG and the cut Gutrune scene. Wieland Wagner did in fact prevail on Karl Bohm to cut that short scene when the production was new in 1965, and again the next year in 1966. But he died that autumn, and all future performances of the opera were complete. The recording was made in 1967.

  • 29
    Buster says:

    On the bright side: less music = longer intermissions!

  • 30
    zinka says:

    The Met shows their usual STUPIDITY…I have done a few Bolenas in small groups..and the “lesser’ tenors did the Tower Scene..it is wonderful for the tenor..Steven can do it so easily…..

    But who said the Met knows anything…CH.

  • 32
    Sanford says:

    I’m currently rehearsing for a Nozze di Figaro in which one of the producers wanted to cut La Vendetta (my big aria) and part of the Act II finale….one of the most perfect pieces of writing in all of opera. Fortunately the conductor ruled out those cuts, so all we’re cutting is some recit and Marcellina’s and Basilio’s arias.

  • 33
    Byrnham Woode says:

    ROSENKAVALIER has a number of standard cuts, all involving Ochs. Most fall in the third act -- for instance, a considerable shortening of the scene with the Police Comissioner.

    ELEKTRA has a major cut for her at the end of her scene with Klytamnestra, who also loses several phrases. The second scene with Chrysothemis is often shortened, and there is a cut that is generally taken in the Recognition Scene. I know of no uncut “live” recording. The studio recordings with Nilsson and Marton are uncut, but the ladies had to learn the restored material for the occasion.

    DIE FRAU was performed uncut at the MET in 2001-02 when Theielemann led a new production. A revival two years later restored some of the cuts that had become common..

    INTERMEZZO has a cut in the last scene that is taken even in Sawallisch’s fine recording. The opera is done so infrequently that I can’t imagine why it shouldn’t be given its full due.

    The purpose of Marcellin’as and Basilio’s arias was to reward the original singers by giving them their “moment’. If one wants top class artists in these roles, then give them their “moments”. Otherwise, cut them. They are available on many recordings.

  • 34
    Ed says:

    Might anyone believe it if I said it might be Ernani! I believe it’s the aria that was restored for Pav in his new production in the early 80’s, and has been sung ever since. Giordani sang Ernani at the Met a few years ago, and did this aria. Is he not being allowed to do it again? Surely he can do it. What about the other tenor, whose name escapes me. We shall see!

  • 35
    ardath_bey says:

    I haven’t read all 275 comments but from what I heard this weekend from someone involved, the number is back in, is that correct? Apparently it was Netrebko who demanded it, as she needs her rest before the gruesomely difficult music of the mad scene.