Cher Public

Curtain going up, or whatever it is curtains will do in the future

Will robots replace prompters? Will random number generators replace stage directors? Who knows what the future will bring? Well, La Cieca’s informant has a few ideas, so take a look after the jump for some possible things to come at the Met.

The futur-o-scope hints at the following opening nights, all theoretically new productions:

2012: L’elisir d’amore [Netrebko ,Polenzani, Kwiecien, Gavanelli, d. Sher, c. TBA]

2013: Eugene Onegin [Netrebko, Semenchuk, Beczala, Kwiecien, d. TBA , c. Gergiev]

2014: Le nozze di Figaro [d. Grandage, c. Levine (?)]

2015: Der Rosenkavalier

2016: Tristan und Isolde

2017: La forza del destino

The cher public are invited to make educated guesses as to casting and artistic personnel.

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    Forza could well feature Urmana as Leonora, no? It’s a role she seems to do a lot. Not that the notion will get anybody terribly excited.

    • manou

      Sadly, whatever her vocal qualities, Urmana is one great lump with the charisma of an Edwardian mahogany dresser.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Quite. And those vocal qualities aren’t what they were, either.

        • Gualtier M

          I need to know -- who is Urmana’s understudy for Aida at the Met? And when is Urmana going to get sick?

          Also why has Angela M. Brown been dumped by the Met and every other major company? She isn’t even fat anymore but looks quite good.

          Also, I love Lisette Oropesa but I also liked Lyubov Petrova who did a lovely cover Sophie at the Met. What happened to her Met career?

          • Bianca Castafiore

            How does Brown sound like these days?

            I really wish she had gone on stage the night the Met gave us the voiceless Gruber… Nobody in the world couldda been worse than Gruber that night.

  • I’m going to guess Stemme as the Marschallin. I get the sense that she doesn’t sing the really big dramatic roles at the Met. They might be too taxing on her in a 3800-seat house. Her last role at the Met was Ariadne, no? I’ve seen her as the Marschallin in the Robert Carsen video and she’s excellent in it.

    • Regina delle fate

      Not the Robert Carsen -- that’s Adrianne Pieczonka -- it’s the Sven-Erik Bechtholf staging from Zurich!

      • You’re quite right. Don’t know why I thought it was Carsen.

  • Juding by the Met’s over-reliance on her, Urmana might be the Isolde in 2016… I’ve always thought that her steely high notes are better suited for Wagner than Verdi.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      Isolde was one of Urmana’s first soprano roles, in Rome I think, or another Italian house that isn’t La Scala, around 10-ish years ago, and she doesn’t seem to have done it much since, aside from in concert, unless I’ve missed a memo. I would suppose that if she were up for it in 2016 at the Met, it would have been more of an active staple in her rep all along -- sopranos who sing Isolde tend to do so most seasons. Not impossible though. As long as it isn’t Matos…

      • Feldmarschallin

        Am I the only one who cannot get excited over Urmana? I find her very boring actually. I have heard her on different occasions in different houses and never ‘got’ her. She is a horrible actress and vocally there is no glamour either IMO. But I guess New Yorkers must like her since she sings there quite a bit.

        • Clita del Toro

          I can’t imagine anyone who gets excited over Urmana. I didn’t know her as a mezzo, but she was apparently better at that time. Some liked her Kundry, but the thought of her in that role ( one of my favorites) gives me a yucky feeling. Didn’t she sing Gioconda at the Met. Who needs it. I am not a big fan of Ghoulagina, but rather hear her in any of Urmana’s roles.

        • I don’t think many people get excited about Urmana. I think she has been lucky at the Met, having the right-sized voice to sing the big Italian spinto roles. But even when she’s vocally on, she’s not a terribly interesting artist. I will say, though, that what I heard of her Odabella was very exciting, perhaps a case of the right collaborator (Muti) bringing out the best in her.

          • almavivante

            But Muti really likes her, doesn’t he? I guess when that’s the case, a singer’s stock goes up, no matter what the audience thinks. At last Thursday’s Aida, she once again demonstrated that she can do a passable Ritorna vincitor but an woeful O patria mia, and in her Nile duet with Radames, she simply dropped out in the rising phrase that ends with “brillerano”--considering what kind of sound might have been emitted, a merciful decision.

            A mournful but honest question to all Parterreans: Who can really sing Aida now? Sondra, perhaps? (I didn’t hear her in Toronto or Chicago.) Any ideas?

          • MontyNostry

            Latonia Moore was terrific as Aida in London last year. The voice is rich and beautiful and has enough metal in it to manage a spinto role convincingly. She was also genuinely moving. The only minus was that the top C in ‘O patria mia’ was at least mezzo forte, but it was a good strong top C!
            Lyudmila Monastyrska, who preceded her in the run, certainly has a real and impressive spinto voice and it’s well under control, but I don’t find the tone colour very appealing and her phrasing and diction were a bit stodgy. (Her Lady Macbeth worked better — she could certainly get round all the notes, which is impressive in itself.)

          • Putting aside her continued problems with pitch, Radvanovsky can definitely sing Aida. And she can knock certain sections (especially in Act III) out of the park.

            RE: Urmana. It should be said that when she sang the role a couple of years ago at the Met, she wasn’t having the problems that seem to be occurring this time around (I haven’t heard it myself). Yes, the lack of excitement or charisma were an issue but she had all the notes, including the high C in “O patria mia”. And she sang a beautiful “O terra addio”.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            But in all seriousness, how CAN you put aside those problems with pitch? It’s far too big an issue to let go, surely? It’s what one would call a hygiene factor, before getting on to such concerns like whether or not the high c in O Patria Mia is dolce, or her O Terra Addio is legato or her diction is good or her style is Verdian, etc.

          • I think if she wanted to, Anna Netrebko could be a good Aida. She has a secure top, enough volume, and might bring some excitement back to an opera that for some reason has become an opera people just don’t get that excited about anymore.

            Only thing is I doubt Anna would sing it.

          • grimoaldo

            “But in all seriousness, how CAN you put aside those problems with pitch?”

            Consensus seems to be that no one is excited by Urmana, at least not these days. There are those of us who are excited by Sondra. Some people hear way more pitch problems than I do when I hear her sing Verdi. Other singers who had technical problems but I didn’t care include Dame Gwyneth. Then we have Popsy who I cannot stand because to me she just cannot sing consistently but that does not bother some.

          • Cocky: I don’t meant to suggest that one should disregard La Rad’s pitch issues. In Toronto, they weren’t enough to ruin what was in many ways a thrilling Aida. They were mostly in the upper-mid register and mostly in the first couple of acts. Also, I think the severity of those issues are debatable.

            When she sang her first Tosca at the Met, the reactions were all over the place. Some people thought that she was out of tune most of the time whereas others didn’t have that impression at all. I know from a member of the Cher Public who was in-house for that Tosca that he felt that her pitch problems were severely exaggerated by some.

            Also, whenever I’ve heard her sing arias live in concert, pitch has been a minor issue at most (if at all). So, it strikes me that her problems are mostly in music that is new to her. When a piece (like an aria) is really in her voice, the pitch issues pretty much disappear. Even in that much-debated Tosca, her “Vissi d’arte” was in tune and rather splendidly sung.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Who can really sing Aida these days?

            Well, I posted this lady before, but I think she is pretty good. The Patria mia is a bit shakier than the Ritorna vincitor, but then whose isn’t?

            Hui He

            For a while, the Met kept pushing Hasmik Papian in this role. I never heard her so I have no opinion, but what’s happened to her?

          • armerjacquino

            Hui He has sung Aida at the Met, I think.

            As far as who can sing the role these days, Monastyrska and Moore have been mentioned in this thread (and Carosi can certainly sing the part, whatever people might think of the results). I’d love to hear Radvanovksy in the part- I think her last couple of TROV Leonoras at the Met represent the best Verdi soprano singing I’ve heard in the last few years. The ‘pitch problems’ don’t bother me at all- if it’s not an insane thing to say, you have to listen quite hard for them. She certainly doesn’t struggle as hard with pitch as, say, late Tebaldi or later Jones.

            I saw Papian as TROV Leonora at the Met, and that is all I’ll say about that performance, because I’m a gentleman.

          • oedipe

            Hui He will be singing Aida at the Met next December, if Brad Wilber was right.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            How one reacts to Radvanovsky’s pitch problems depends on what else is going on about her that one likes, and one’s tolerance for different types of pitch problems, I guess. I find Rad pretty consistently flat all through her upper middle- exactly as Kashania says. The result is entire phrases which are uncomfortably under pitch. This, to me, is a bigger problem than flat top notes, which afflicted late Tebaldi, or random flat or sharp notes all over the place which afflicted late Jones. I also find Rad’s timbre unattractive, which isn’t the case re Jones or Tebaldi for me, and I find Rad dramatically unconvincing and unmusical I’m afraid- again, not the case for me with Jones or Tebaldi.

          • MontyNostry

            I basically like Radvanovsky, though I understand why people have issues with her singing. Funnily enough, it’s not the pitchiness that bothers me most with her, but rather the sense that she does not always ‘own’ the phrasing, especially in Verdi, where that individual ebb and flow is so important. Sometimes one can feel that she is simply getting through a phrase rather than bending it to her interpretative will.

          • oedipe


            Out of curiosity: in your opinion, who among today’s most ballyhooed singers OWNS the phrasing in Verdi?

          • MontyNostry

            You know, oedipe, it’s difficult to say. There is such a difference between ‘owning’ a phrase and fussing about with it to show what a sensitive singer you are. I’ve never thought that Furlanetto had the greatest voice in the world, but you know he’s the real Verdian thing when you hear him. We all know authority when we hear it.

          • oedipe

            I agree with you 100% about Furlanetto; but he is an old man now. Anyone you can think of among the younger generation?

          • almavivante

            For the record, Urmana had pretty much the same difficulty with O patria mia during her first perfs of the role two years ago, though the Nile duet wasn’t that bad. This year, after Act III, I was expecting the worst for O terra addio, but to my surprise she reined in her voice rather nicely. It wasn’t one for the annals, but it was acceptable.

            Hui He, by the way, came to grief in her Met broadcast of Aida two seasons ago, again in O patria mia. I heard her one night in the house, too, and I don’t think I would go out of my way to pay her another visit.

            As I’m not one of Sondra’s detractors, I anticipate with pleasure her bringing her Aida to the Met, which I’m reasonably sure she will do soon. Also for the record, the only thing I’ve heard her sing that made me raise my Vulcan eyebrow with displeasure was the Com’e bello in Lucrezia Borgia, but that’s only because Caballe forever spoiled me, and nobody can sing that aria like she could. (As for the rest of that wacko production of L. B. in DC, I must admit I loved it. Sondra’s last-act entrance garbed as a vengeful gold-jumpsuited Amazon… well, camp like that comes once in a lifetime.)

        • Camille

          I don’t know that we “like” her so much as we have her imposed upon us.

          Her Kundry was good, possibly because her traumatized trance-like state was fairly appropriate to the role, but I found her Odabella in Attila WRONG — just plain hollering --, her Eboli decent over the radio, but this last Aida, just wretched.
          I can no longer recall the Tosca I heard in Los Angeles.

          As madame manou stated elsewhere, all enacted with the allure of an Edwardian mahagony dresser; spot on.

          • Gualtier M

            Urmana was born in 1961 so she is 50 now. She needs to transition into lower lying declamatory German roles where her inability to float the upper register won’t matter. Isolde, yes. Add Ortrud and the Walkure and Goetterdaemmerung Brunnhildes. She will make good money and can retire with dignity.

            The problem with Urmana isn’t that she lacks the soprano notes. The high C may be dodgy now but the real problem is high-lying legato phrases. She has to muscle them out without legato. That is really fatal in Verdi roles like Aida. The other problem is that she is a rather matronly reserved personality. If the voice is outstanding and has emotional projection that isn’t a fatal demerit in a lot of operatic roles. But if you no longer have the vocal means, then there is no compensatory dramatic fire (i.e. Maria Guleghina or in days of yore Gwyneth Jones, Anja Silja et al.).

          • Belfagor

            I seem to remember Scotto saying in an interview -- and she did sing most of Verdi’s big heroines, whether nature intended her to or not, that she could do Acts 3-4 of Aida, but not Acts 1-2, as for her it was the middle register declamation and very heavy orchestration……….

            this is interesting, as the orchestration in Aida doesn’t seem heavier from Don Carlo (which I’d have thought was thicker, with those Meyerbeerian impasto textures)……

            I’ve never heard Aida sung well live (unfortunately just missed the Caballe generation do it) -- I’ve always seen these poor people stretched to the outer limits of their resources, sacrificed to it, terror struck………..

          • Clita del Toro

            The less said about Hazmat Papian, the better.

          • Feldmarschallin

            Well there is one the Milanese don’t think is a good Aida. Oksana Dyka got massivly booed as Aida at La Scala. Just read a few reviews and it wasn’t pretty.

          • Nerva Nelli

            “Dyka, ya know…”

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Feldmarschallin -- as others have confirmed, nobody gets excited about Urmana, at least not anymore. I did get excited about a concert performance of Lady Macbeth she gave in Edinburgh years ago, because it was just so jaw-droppingly virtuosic (c.2000 or shortly thereafter), even and effortless from top to bottom. She also gave a recital with piano a day or 2 later that was equally virtuosic. However, I also saw her as Eboli, in which she was impressive but not exciting, Verdi Requiem as a mezzo, again impressive but not exciting (although it’s not a particularly exciting mezzo part), a concert Gioconda in which I did find her again hugely impressive, a Forza Leonora which was just so-so vocally and boring from all other points of view, and 2 staged perfs of Lady Macbeth at the ROH which were neither impressive nor exciting. Unfortunately, post-Fach change, I think she lost her unique selling point pretty quickly, which was this incredible vocal security and lustre, rather along the lines of the younger Voigt. These days, she is only OK.

          • Feldmarschallin

            Well I heard her as Kundry in Bayreuth and wasn’t overwhelmed. She did nothing with the role. Nothing at all. Of course I heard Meier many times who is perhaps the opposite of her.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Oh yes -- saw her as Kundry too. That I completely forgot sort of says it all.

      • Bianca Castafiore

        Cocky, must you be another of the countless Brit twits? You can have your Monarstyrska, Urmana, Ghuleghina, or whoever, since you apparently have no taste or ears.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Different taste rather than no taste, Bianca. That’s sort of the point, so it’s a bit silly to attempt to insult me about it. And I’m pretty sure it has precious little to do with my nationality.

          Also, if you’d read a little more closely, you’d have noticed that I don’t want ‘my’ Urmana, thank you very much- the last performance of hers about which I got excited occurred c.10 years ago- everything since has been dreary and disappointing.

      • Regina delle fate

        She sang it at the Wiener Staatsoper with Rattle conducting a couple of seasons ago. And then in Birmingham and London in the touring Sellars/Viola/Salonen semi-staging with the Philharmonia. In London she was quite impressive.

        • Regina delle fate

          Ooops -- the above was a reply to Cocky’s post about Urmana and Isolde -- I seem to be the Johnny-Come-Lately in this Urmana thread. Sorry. I agree with most that she is boring and was more useful as a mezzo -- I heard her as Eboli and Amneris in Amsterdam, both more than acceptable -- than as a soprano. The Isolde surprised me, though it was in a semi-staging so the singers didn’t have to do much except stand-and-deliver while actors on the Viola videos took their kit off and did what T & I just think about doing in the opera.

    • La marquise de Merteuil

      Kashania, I’ve heard Urmana twice and I have to say I don’t remember what she sounded or acted like. Her voice has no face. I remebmer technically she hit all the notes but the effect of it was just who cares. I think in Parsifal and Forza …

  • Clita del Toro

    I am sure that Sondra’s Aida is okay--didn’t go to see it at LOC. I think Meade should sing it in the future. She has a good, loud top, good pp’s and a feeling for Verdi’s music. Does anyone who has seen her in person think she could do it now?

  • MontyNostry

    Why does such a good (and nice-looking) mezzo as Semenchuk seem destined to remain the top houses’ Olga of choice when there are so many other things she could be heard in?

    • Hippolyte

      I agree. Semenchuk sang a superb Didon in Berlioz’s Troyens at Carnegie with Gergiev several years ago. I can imagine she’d be wonderful in any number of roles, besides the inevitable Olga and Marina.

  • MontyNostry

    .. and her voice seems to have gained in depth and lustre over the years. I first saw her when she broke through internationally in 2001 and I wasn’t that impressed, but her (yes) Olga at Covent Garden three or so years ago was luscious. She is doing a recital in a couple of weeks in London, but I’m not sure I’m up for solid Tchaikovsky.

    • Bianca Castafiore

      Semenchuk’s Marina was one of the best things in the Met’s BG last season; she made act III really the center of the opera.

      • Baritenor

        Not to mention a stunning Walkure Fricka in the LA ring.

      • Agreed about Semenchuk’s Marina. I must admit that I find Boris a mighty bore, despite some very attractive and impressive music. Her time on stage as Marina was the only time I was dramatically engaged. Even as superb as Pape was in the lead, I couldn’t care much about Boris.

        • Belfagor

          Well actually that ‘Boris’ was rather boring, because of some idiotic edition choices -- the extraordinary scene in the Tsar’s chambers with the conflict of Boris and Shuisky was performed in the initial version -- which has no clock, no apparition and sounds like an underscored first sketch that Mussorgsky’s rightly rewrote.

          Of course none of the experts/ critics even seemed to NOTICE!!!

          For me, Pape has the wrong sound for that role -- best I ever heard do it was a Bulgarian Nicola Ghiuselev who crackled with presence -- we had to but up with Robert Lloyd endlessly in London who was frightfully genteel…..

          Marina and Rangoni at the Met came to life because of the performers, Semenchuk and Nikitin……

          • Bianca Castafiore

            And the night I attended, Nikitin, not only looking and sounding sexy and manipulative (he and Semenchuk really played up the possible connection Marina and Rangoni might have had), he also saved the day by jumping in Act V (?) for a sick Pape. Antonenko was also impressive that night.

            So I do love me some Semenchuk — wish the Met would get her more often. Maybe offer her Amneris and Eboli as well as Dalila.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            And maybe Cassandre and Didon.

  • zinka

    YEAH???ROBOTS have ALREADY replaced most sopranos…..My suggestion is to get a modern-day Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi and TRANSPLANT (while they still live the vocalism of Licia (hurry up),Magda,Raina, Soviero,Zeani, and La Cieca into some divas..maybe then they will not make us so bored….

  • Bianca Castafiore

    Well, I have said this many times, you know I love Matos among the dramatic sopranos, but I also love this lady, and I wish the Met would get her, she’s already done Isolde and the Bruennhildes. Lots of samples here:

    Why do we get the likes of Urmana and Voigt when we could have Matos and Baird, or Wilson?

    • Bosah

      It’s been a bit perplexing to me why Baird never broke through in the US and UK. How is she viewed in Europe? I don’t know, but I’m curious.

      Her schedule seems very light in ’11 and ’12.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      I like Baird a great deal too- saw her at the Met when she sang about 45% of Isolde. My impression of her since is that, like a lot of dramatic sopranos, her voice has got a bit less reliable but nevertheless I think it’s a stunning instrument and it’s a shame she mostly seems to pick up second cast stuff and covers. That said, she is to be Brunnhilde in Paris in 2013 and I might actually go- would be great to hear the role sung by somebody with such an effortlessly large voice for once (in recent years).

      • Bosah

        “it’s a shame she mostly seems to pick up second cast stuff and covers.”

        Do you have any idea why that is? I agree it’s a shame. I had wondered if maybe she felt stressed in large houses, but obviously not, given the Paris scheduling.

        • oedipe

          If you like Baird, and if you like Paris in the springtime (and/or summertime), come over to see the Ring: the Paris Opera will welcome you with open arms… plus champagne and petits fours (I’m NOT kidding!).

          • Bosah

            Ah, I wish! Love Paris… anytime. But, not possible this time, I’m afraid.

            I’ll be interested in reports, though.

            I’m also wondering who is doing the Met’s next cycle.

      • Didn’t the Seattle Opera also cast her as Brünnhilde? I saw her full Isolde when she stepped in for Voigt opposite Heppner’s first Tristan after being sidelined for the first two performances. I felt that both of them had something to prove and knocked it out of the park. It was one of my greatest opera-going experiences.

        • derschatzgabber

          Hi Kashania, yes Baird sang Brunhilde in the 2009 Seattle Ring. I had high hopes for her, based on some youtube clips (inlcuding a FROSCH excerpt posted on Parterre), but her performance was vocally inconsistent. Given the major dramatic and musical challenges faced by any soprano taking on Brunhilde, she gave a solid performance. But it wasn’t at the same level of achievement that Stemme attained in San Francisco in 2011. My biggest single dissappointment with Baird was with her singing of “Ruhe, ruhe du Gott” in the immolation scene. It’s usually one of the most moving moments in the cycle for me, but Baird’s voice sounded unsupported on that line. She does “look the part” more than most dramatic sopranos, and she sang most of the role well enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to see her sing it again.

    • Bianca Castafiore

      In these clips, who’s her Siegfried? He sounds more interesting than the Met’s two Siggies…

      • Bianca Castafiore

        How tall is Ms. Baird? Considering she’s a thin woman who can sing, you’d think Gelb would be all over her…

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          I know what you mean Bianca. I think she’s pretty tall- she struck me as tall when I saw her Isolde. Plus she sports long red hair- perfect for Brunnhilde and Isolde!

  • UpB7

    “Le Nozze di Figaro”:
    Figaro – Jonathan Lemalu
    Susanna – Kathleen Kim / Alexandra Kurzak
    Cherubino – Christine Schäfer
    Count – Lucas Meacham
    Countess – Hei-Kyung Hong / Nicole Cabell / Miah Persson
    Bartolo – James Morris
    Marcellina – Ruth Ann Swenson / Andrea Rost (Particularly for a new production, it’s time for them to do it uncut, with Marcellina’s aria. It would result in a nice supporting star turn for any veteran soprano [or any veteran coloratura soprano].)

    “Der Rosenkavalier”:
    Octavian – Joyce DiDonato
    Marschallin – Lisa Milne / Emma Bell
    Sophie – Marlis Petersen
    Ochs – Rene Pape
    Italian tenor – Stephen Costello
    Faninal – Michael Volle
    Valzacchi – Robert Brukaer / Greg Fedderly
    Annina – Meredith Arwady / Marie-Nicole Lemieux

    “Tristan und Isolde”:
    Tristan – Jay Hunter Morris / Jonas Kaufmann
    Isolde – Amber Wagner / Violeta Urmana / Lise Lindstrom
    Brangäne – Adrianne Pieczonka / Heidi Melton
    Kurwenal – Michael Volle
    King Marke – Kristinn Sigmundsson