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Successor

Now that the retirement of James Levine is basically just a matter of patiently waiting out 18 months of inaction, it’s about time you, the cher public, were heard on the subject of the appointment of a new music director for the Met. A couple of polls for you after the jump.  

First, the way things should be.

Now, the way they will turn out.

And a discussion question for you. Since the Met can’t name a Music Director for at least a year (barring further and more disturbing announcements from Levine), what’s Peter Gelb‘s top priority between now and May 2013?

192 comments

  • CwbyLA says:

    I was confused by a ton of things in this production. What was the point of the reaction of the soldier to the flash of the camera? Was it somehow supposed to represent post traumatic stress from serving in the world war and remembering bombs? Why was there a camera there in the first place?

    • manou says:

      “Faut-il donc savoir tant de choses?
      Que deviennent les plus beaux jours…
      Où vont les premières amours,
      Où vole le parfum des roses?”

    • Rowna says:

      I was confused by more than that. The whole production was a mass of confusion. However -- good music, and great singing trumps directorial missteps.

      • bobsnsane says:

        Rowna -- I found method in the madness -- see this week’s intermission feature @ comment 3 and below.

  • Don Rose says:

    Liked the Faust HD -- but back to topic.
    YNS gave a quite lengthy interwiew on German radio during intermission on Saturday.
    A few hints on his future plans. For the next four years or so he will conduct mostly in Rotterdam, Philadelphia, Montreal and London. Guest performances in opera are scheduled for the MET, Vienna and Berlin. He says it’s not easy to combine both. After that there are plans to do more opera on a regular basis, a step forward in his career. One of his dreams is conducting Wagner, but he still wants to wait a few more years.

  • Nerva Nelli says:

    “Exactly! All this hand wringing about the emphasis on telegenic skinny minnies is shot down by the work Blythe gets at the Met”

    Bullshit. Blythe was a popular star before HDs and Gelb and co. mention her every time this issue comes up. She is the Permitted Exception and a few other such are tolerated from time to time ( how cenbtral Meade will be remains to be seen).

    An *emphasis* is not categorical. It is a pronounced tendency. If you can’t see that tendency in re this issue, you’re being wilfully blind.

    Armer, I have read several reviews of Erfmann in French and German magazines that were contemptuous. Th efact that she had a success at Salzburg is no guarantee of anything ( so did Machaidze). She came here; she sang; she was utterly mediocre.

    • Bill says:

      Krassimira Stoyanova will be singing Marguerite in
      Faust in future years in Paris and Berlin -- she
      should be good. Other roles she is planning to sing 2012-2015 include Desdemona in Vienna, Munich, the
      Met, Luisa Miller in Berlin, Don Carlo Elisabeta
      in Vienna, Ariadne in Vienna, Giovanna d’Arco in Bilboa, Tatiana at Covent Garden, Amelia in Simon
      B. in Munich, Rusalka in Vienna, Anna Bolena in Vienna, Amelia in Ballo in San Diego, La Wally in Geneva, Maria Stuarta in Munich plus lieder recitals, Bruckner Te Deum, various Verdi
      Requiems here and there and Dvorak Stabat Mater.

    • Feldmarschallin says:

      Erdmann sang here a few weeks ago and then a few days later in Wien. Mozart mostly I believe and the reviews were quite favorable. I did not go and the little I heard didnt impress me so far. I dont think she is horrible but she isnt the next Schwarzkopf or Seefried either.

    • messa di voce says:

      So it’s not that Gelb doesn’t like fat singers, he just doesn’t like fat singers who weren’t popular stars before HDs?

      And who are these plus sizes that PG refuses to hire?

      • ianw2 says:

        Johan Botha, maybe? In which case I’m with Gelb. A dude sitting in a chair for all of Parsifal is not a riveting night in the theatre. I don’t need a supermodel, but a performer has to have the basic physical capacity to perform.

        • kashania says:

          Botha is a regular at the Met and even got the HD broadcast of Aida.

        • sterlingkay says:

          Botha is singing OTHELLO with Renee next year-- he’s got contracts with the MET for the next few seasons including, maybe, a new TANNHAUSER. You could make the argument that Gelb is actually friendlier to obese singers than other elite opera houses. I know a couple of opera houses in Europe that won’t touch Blythe, Botha or Meade with a ten-foot pole. And they don’t even do HDs!

          But, of course, Gelb is the great Satan and hates opera! :)

          • ianw2 says:

            Yeah, Botha was fired by Vienna because he wouldn’t lose some weight. For some reason I’ve never absorbed that he’s sung a the Met a fair bit. How did he manage Aida? Othello kinda works for me for that sort of jolly-well fed-regal look. But it will be interesting to see how he’ll move for the last scene.

            Meade is still a very ‘new’ singer for Europe, and probably not worth the visa hassle just yet for someone who is unknown to your audience. Give her a few years. There was some speculation on a previous thread that Blythe doesn’t like to leave the US and doesn’t really need to.

            The big difference for me with someone like Bythe v Botha is that she can still move around the stage (though some were very concerned that she was losing this during Walkure) in a convincing manner. Botha, to me, always looks a few heaving breaths away from cardiac arrest.

            But messa’s original point is correct- there’s hardly a large neglected stable of plus-sized singers anymore. The next generation of singers are much more concerned with their appearance as part of the whole performing package.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            Maybe Gelb should hire some brilliant fat stage directors to replace the little flits he believes are so brilliant.

          • sterlingkay says:

            Quanto-- Now that’s funny! :)

          • kashania says:

            I saw Botha’s Radames in person. There was much to admire — the way his voice soared on the high notes (especially in the Act II ensembles), his gorgeous “A terra addio”, the game (though not entirely successful) messa di voce at the end of “Celeste Aida”. But it was not an Italianate performance — either in sound or phrasing.

            His acting was almost non-existing and he took an unfortunate fall at the end of Act I causing a backlog of choristers as the curtain came down.

          • louannd says:

            Kashinia -- “There was much to admire.” :)

          • kashania says:

            So very, very much!

          • sterlingkay says:

            Tons & tons to admire! :)

          • FAUSTUSAUFTAKT says:

            I suppose it does help Botha ..that his agent is also representing Mr. Gelb’s wife…Mrs. Gelb the contuctres……. ;)

    • armerjacquino says:

      You (deliberately?) misunderstand. I’m not saying that Erdmann sang at Salzburg and therefore is good; I’m saying that her previous work doesn’t make her casting as incomprehensible or as definitively looks-based as some are keen to claim.

      • Nerva Nelli says:

        Of course, Armchen, your each and every utterance is so crystal clear that *only* be dint of deliberate intent could one misunderstand your meaning here. (Jeez, do you moonlight as A. C. Douglas???)

        And how telling that so many PB queens equate “looks casting” with not hiring fat people, as opposed to not hiring people who don’t have television-type glamor. There are plenty of the latter who are not fat: Isokoski, of course. Someone in the House of Gelb *finally* seems to have caught on that Stoyanova is a major singer, but we’ve had her in musty revivals as Nedda and Mimi while she’s been singing major parts all over Europe.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Paragraph 1: ad hominem strawman
          Paragraph 2: seems to belong somewhere else in the thread

          Good work!

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            If you are accusing people of deliberately misunderstanding your posts, I find it hard to believe that you follow that up with complaints about “ad hominem” anything.

            And, if you notice, people here often respond to multiple issues in one post. I imagine you have done so more than once.

            Really, Armer, I know you must needs object to everything I say--but get over yourself.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Oh ffs. You misrepresented what I said and then popped up to be snide when I tried to clarify it. I had every right to call you on it.

            As for saying that *I* object to everything *you* say- well, words fail me. Take a look at the plank in your own eye, bullying alter ego and all.

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            Besides, the posts about Botha et alia were just above yours; that was exactly where my response could be put. Jesus…

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            Words do fail you — as so often.

            No one misrepresented what you said. Just your take on it.

        • The Unrepentant Pelleastrian says:

          Nerva,

          Jeez, do you moonlight as A. C. Douglas???

          To repeat, ACD is an excellent writer and is never turgid.

          Next example:

          Remember the Domingo/Midgette dust-up from October? I thought he gave the most precise take on the matter. And he closes with this:

          “Ms. Midgette could have used the term “sabotaged” properly and with impunity to say exactly what she wanted to say had she but given the matter a few seconds more thought and qualified its use by simply preceding it with the qualifier “unwittingly” the use of which qualifier in this context not diminishing one whit the uber-powerful censoriousness of “sabotaged”

          I still marvel at the clarity and concision of that sentence.

          The whole entry can be read here:

          http://www.soundsandfury.com/soundsandfury/2011/10/food-fight-and-other-items-of-interest.html

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            Concision?

            Any teacher anywhere would circle that and write “run-on sentence”.

            ACD has obviously ingested whole several 19th century manuals of style. That to me does not make his prose or attitude other than repellent.

        • The Unrepentant Pelleastrian says:

          Nerva,

          Any teacher anywhere would circle that and write “run-on sentence”.

          Ok I am not an English scholar but it does appear syntactically correct to me.

          “Ms. Midgette could have used the term “sabotaged” properly and with impunity to say exactly what she wanted to say had she but given the matter a few seconds more thought and qualified its use by simply preceding it with the qualifier “unwittingly” the use of which qualifier in this context not diminishing one whit the uber-powerful censoriousness of “sabotaged”

  • kashania says:

    As for Yannick vs Fabio, my vote goes for Fabio. YNS is a remarkable talent and I have nothing against a young music director. But I don’t think he has Wagner in his repertoire and the Met is the biggest Wagner house in North America. The next music director should (ideally) have Wagner under his/her belt.

    • La Cieca says:

      The current music director did not when he took on the post.

      • kashania says:

        Fair enough. Though one could argue that the musical standards at the Met (golden age singers aside) are higher now than when Levine took over.

        If YNS were to become music director, he could concentrate on non-Wagner rep (if the rest of his Verdi is as good as his Don Carlo then he has that side of things covered) while another conductor (Luisi continuing as Principal Conductor?) could take the lead on Wagner.

        • La Cieca says:

          And then we will never find out whether YNS can conduct Wagner or not — unless he did so someplace else first. Is it such crime to try to run an opera house proactively?

          • kashania says:

            You know what, La Cieca? You’ve changed my mind on the Wagner issue. When a conductor clearly has the skill and talent, then why should he not be allowed to take a high-profile risk? There’s an excitement to that.

          • sterlingkay says:

            I remember the excitement at the MET when Levine conducted his first Wagner in the house, four or five years after his debut…the new Everding production of LOHENGRIN with Kollo, Lorengar & Dunn. There were quite a few doubting Thomases in attendance who thought/hoped he would crash and burn. Then the next year he did the new Schenk TANNHAUSER with Leonie, Bumbry and MacCraken.

            Also, YNS just did a concert with his Montreal orchestra and Bryn Terfel that had a few Wagner excerpts…I believe from Meistersinger and the Ring. Terfel was apparently his usual effusive self afterwards and told a friend of mine that Yannick was the best young conductor out there (which my friend took as a slight dig at the Venezuelan boy wonder in LaLa Land.)

          • Rowna says:

            Music Directors don’t conduct every opera. After hearing YNS’s Faust, and Luisi’s Giovanni, I would take YNS. My opinion -- it is better to be great at something than good at many things. Many conductors can give a good rendering to Giovanni, and it was very impressive how Luisi did the accompanied recits, but the Faust was exceptional from a musical standpoint. Making Gounod sound great is more of an achievement than having Giovanni sound good.

        • Actually a music director focused excessively on Wagner could be a bad thing. It won’t ever be too difficult to find big name conductors to lead Wagner at the Met should the GMD decline. They’re the conductor’s show. It’s things like Faust--where YNS already excels--where you are more likely to hear crappy conducting, so might someone who cares about that rep improve the overall level of the performances?

          I guess Antonio Pappano is very unlikely at the Met but I wrote him in above in the “should” category.

    • FAUSTUSAUFTAKT says:

      sorry and Mr Luisi Does ? go ask the Stats Kapel. what they thought of his reading of the first RING !

  • Arianna a Nasso says:

    The Met should have a music director who knows more opera repertoire than YNS. He’s talented, but not precociously brilliant in opera like the young Levine or young Thielemann. The Met deserves better than a “very good” conductor learning almost all his repertoire on that stage.

    One may like or dislike Luisi’s interpretations, but he brings years of experience and understanding of many scores to the podium. Not surprisingly, I found much more depth to his Don Carlo than YNS’s. That’s the kind of artistry the Met deserves in its music director.

    Any conductor stepping into Levine’s shoes will be found wanting in one way or another. Let Luisi have this decade, then see if YNS has gained the experience and maturity to lead the Met in the 2020s.

    • sterlingkay says:

      Well..again…I’m old enough to remember the arguments about Levine “learning operatic repertoire on the job” and how the MET deserved better. Remember there were huge parts of the repertoire that Levine was not very experienced with when he became Music Director. There were many operas he conducted for the very first time at the MET. Remember that Levine’s main job after Juilliard was at the Cleveland Orchestra for 6 years where he basically worked on symphonic rep. As far as I know he never worked in a music staff of an opera house. YNS was chorus master, assistant conductor and coach at Opera de Montreal for four years after conservatory.

      I actually like Luisi..I’ve just never been THRILLED by anything he’s conducted (opera or instrumental). He’s fine…he’ll never be GREAT. He’s the safe choice, no doubt. Yannick would be the exciting one. And the MET will probably go the safe route…..

      • Arianna a Nasso says:

        You are correct, Levine did learn on the job. Do we have to go through that again at a house as prestigious as the Met? At least Levine was an opera geek from an early age. He may have been conducting rep for the first time and learning stage/pit skills, but he came in with an understanding of the operas that I’ve not heard of YSN having.

        I agree YNS would be exciting, but exciting doesn’t necessarily equal great.

        • sterlingkay says:

          As far as I know YNS had never conducted Don Carlo before doing it at the MET last year. I’ll take that kind of “learning on the job” anytime!

          But, again, I agree that Luisi will probably get the job— in which case you won’t get “exciting” or “great”, just “good”. Which maybe is good enough….

    • sterlingkay says:

      One more point: I actually think the protracted exit of Levine for the last few years and the next few (!!) will be beneficial for the successor. I think that person will be given a lot of slack after the limbo Levine has put the MET in (through no fault of his own). The sense of “big shoes to fill” would have been much greater if the new Music Director was succeeding Levine at the height of his powers. Just the fact that the next guy can get to the podium in less than five minutes will be seen as an accomplishment!

      • mrmyster says:

        But Gelb’s point is: there will be no successor!
        Gelb said last week that he feels he can handle the
        entire General/Artistic Director requirement, with a
        technical head in the person of a Chief Conductor.
        I think that is what lay behind T. Tommasini’s
        controversial essay about “too many hats.”
        I think Gelb is wrong, but that appears to the be
        the situation at the Met at present, and perhaps
        for some time to come.

        • sterlingkay says:

          There will be a successor to Levine as Music Director. Let’s be clear, Levine has not been Artistic Director since 2004, when he took over the BSO and was bumped down to Music Director at the MET. When Gelb took over as General Manager the division of labor was clear…Gelb was in charge in consultation with Levine, but the buck stops with Gelb. Gelb would never agree to have someone else make the artistic decisions at the MET-- that’s not what he signed up for. That will not change anytime soon. The Board is very happy with the job that Gelb is doing— they just want a new Music Director, and they’ll get one sooner rather than later.

          • auracentral says:

            On the point of Music Director, Levine used two other appointments-- Cincinnati May Festival and Ravinia to try out and refine operatic repertoire. If you look at his Met career after the first two years, almost every first time with an opera is a new production. He also has during his Cleveland years some sponsored concert operas that include a lot of big names (why do I think Wilford may have been part of this?) like MacNeil, Tucker, Tebaldi, Flagello for Simon and Don Carlo.

            On the matter of YNS vs. Luisi, I am slightly in favor of YNS. Luisi’s Don Giovanni was OK+
            I’m not surprised that Terfel was saying nice words about YNS. He has extremely good relations with singers (Alagna/Gheorghiu knew his work, America’s sweetheart RF loved working with him, and singers love hearing only good things which was a Levine specialty. My only beef with YNS was allowing the Hytner designed chanting (which Pappano allowed as well at CG) during the auto da fe. I wonder if Levine would have allowed that?I HATED it-- it directly interfered with the music. YNS’ Carmen and Faust were very much to my taste. The follow-up Carmen following season with Gardner was poor in my view. I do like Jurowski a lot, and though not for MD, Altinoglu has impressed me. We will see how he does with the Faust with Calleja and gang.