Cher Public

Over the moon

Mariella Devia will augment her already vast bel canto repertoire next year with the role of roles: Bellini’s Norma. Her debut in the part is scheduled for Bologna in 2013.

  • The hype has started. Check out this picture in Vogue of Suzanna Phillips, Kate Lindsey, and Isabel Leondard:

  • Bianca Castafiore

    Who’s is this fellow Berti? He’s in everything next season!!!!!

    • grimoaldo

      I saw him in SF in Trovatore with Radvan, Blythe and Dmitiri H. He was the weak link in a great cast. Marco Berti is a more or less OK tenor, nothing very exciting or interesting but competent I suppose, which is an improvement over the totally NOT OK Giordani, who is flat out awful.

      • I have noticed that Fabio Armiliato is now out of the picture. I am going to see him in Tosca in Florence is a few days, perhaps I can ask him….or perhaps I shouldn’t…..
        Last week we were talking about Giannattasio not singing at the Met, and I see that she is actually going to make her debut in Il trovatore, a perfect fit for her. Finally the Met is catching some real talent in her very prime in the right role (I would have hated to see her wasted as Mimì).

      • Baritenor

        Marco Berti is an Italian tenor with a very fine voice, easy production, ringing top notes and a lot of stamina. Unfortunetly he also tends to sing everything at a comfortable mezzo forte and has the dramatic power of diced grapefruit.

    • Based on some reports and a video of his Calaf, Berti has a big, Italian spinto tenor. But as Baritenor has said, he’s the opposite of exciting. Still, the voice itself could offer rewards in a big house like the Met.

      • oedipe

        I have heard/seen Berti at the Bastille. I confirm that he has a big, pretty pleasant spinto voice and an Italianate tone, but he sings always forte, with little color or nuance; and he does not believe in acting.

        • lorenzo.venezia

          there was nothing pretty about what I heard in Berti’s Calaf in San Francisco, but you’re right about the loud, louder, loudest.

          • oedipe

            I should have used the Parterre fav expression ‘rather’ pleasant.

  • danpatter

    Isn’t 65 rather old to be singing Norma for the first time? Madame Olive Middleton comes to mind. To be fair, I did see the telecast of Devia in Maria Stuarda and she was excellent, though that was a few years ago. I like Devia quite a bit, and I wish her well.

  • Nerva Nelli

    Well, I would hear Devia sing anything.

    “Gruberova, June Anderson are still growing and still singing and still inspiring adoration…”

    A friend and I witnessed Gruberova’s DEVEREUX recently. She was JUST AWFUL, despite being received as if a revelation. Some lovely soft singing and a few bel canto niceties remained, but most of the night she sounded tired, pressed and ugly, with hideous tone in Act II and minimal meaning derived from--oh yeah, right-- words.

    I saw end-of-opera-career performances from Sills, Norman, Ewing and others that were scary — but none more devoid of interest than this rather sad one. Yet the Munich queens would have dragged Gruberova’s carriage home by hand, as in the old days before (like Barioni unwisely hoisting gold pro Dottie K) a crowd in Limassol tried to fete la Castafiore after her revelatory title role debut in MUETTE DE PORTICI-- and found that they couldn’t *budge* the carriage, so *pesante* were her fake jewels.

    • Bart

      Late career Gruberova really does totally escape me. In her prime I even considered her a poor man’s Sutherland. But now it is really sad.

      I actually think Gruberova and Devia are too light for Norma, although arguments have been made against stereotyping Norma as a heavy dramatic soprano role.

      The three great Normas of the late 20th century (Callas, Sutherland, Caballe) took on Norma early or in their prime. I think you either have a voice for the role or you don’t. It is not the type of role you grow into at the end of your career. The sopranos who “grow” into the role might be able to hit all the notes, but they won’t ever be a Norma people talk about in the role after they are long gone. I think truly great Normas can sing the role in their prime. Those are the ones who are more likely to be great Normas people talk about throughout history.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        I’ve never seen Gruberova in opera, but I did go to a recital a couple of years ago. It was filthy, but I’m very glad I went because it showed me how much more beautiful and affecting the basic voice is than I had understood from records, and there were flashes of former brilliance among it all. Experiencing the sheer beauty of the sound enabled me to understand why she was such a huge star in certain countries, something I’d never got before.

      • Orlando Furioso

        I’m not much of a believer in “growing into” roles or a new Fach in general. It may happen sometimes that a singer discovers additional potential with experience, but plenty of voices remain what they originally were, to the end.

        But to my ears (and admitting that I’ve not had the good fortune to experience her in person) none of that applies to Devia. I think she could have undertaken Norma long ago, and I’d been wishing she had. I don’t know why she didn’t (has she spoken on the matter?) — maybe for the very reason that some now consider a voice like hers “too light” for the part, and would criticize her for not being Callas or whoever. It may indeed turn out that she left it too late, but my hope is for a true success that will help redefine our ideas of the “proper” voice for the role. (My other hope, that she would collaborate with Mackerras on the opera, obviously isn’t going to happen.)

      • iltenoredigrazia

        Well, Sutherland did say that Norma should be sung by a singer after she turns 40. She tried it earlier and decided to delay her return to the role. Probably a wise choice, at least for her.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Sutherland would have turned 40 in 1963. How much opportunity would she have had to sing Norma prior to 1963, given that she was an ROH house soprano when she had her breakthrough in Feb ’59, and wasn’t in a position to pick and choose her engagements until some time then or thereafter? It’s not like she was covering Callas when she was singing Clothilde.

          • rapt

            Wasn’t Sutherland born in 1926, ergo 40 in 1966? And it was my impression that Norma was considered for her Met debut, several years earlier.

        • I honestly think Sutherland was trying to spin an uncomfortable situation there. She was definitely scheduled to sing Norma in a new production at the Met in 1964. First she scheduled the part in Vancouver in 1963 and recorded the part for Decca presumably so the LPs could be released at the time of the Met performances for maximum cross-promotion. Then, rather late in the game, someone balked. It may be that Sutherland and Bonynge were not quite ready to unveil the part on a major international stage. Just possibly there was some hesitation because suddenly it was announced that Callas would be returning to the stage as Norma in May 1964, which would have taken some luster off Sutherland’s Met performances only a few months later. Or I have also heard that Bing was trying to get Victoria de los Angeles to return to the Met as Adalgisa in this production and Bonynge was opposed to the casting, wanting Horne instead — a singer Bing didn’t at that time think was Met material.

          At any rate, the bit about not singing Norma until after age 40 is a convenient excuse, particularly since Sutherland debuted the role in Vancouver shortly before her 37th birthday.

          • iltenoredigrazia

            Good points. Also Varviso was the conductor for that new production of Lucia. I wonder if there was a requirement for Bonynge to conduct the Norma…

        • I may be stating the obvious, but every voice is different and matures differently. Hard and fast rules are not useful.

          Some singers are born to sing bel canto and may grow into Norma by their 40s. Other singers dally with bel canto early in their careers before their voice changes and settles in a different fach. Some singers have the gall to make their professional debut in a lead Wagnerian role while still in their 20s while others wait 15 years before even singing a note of Wagner.

          Aside from La Cieca’s insights into why Sutherland may have delayed her Met Norma, there’s the issue of timing and circumstance. Had she started her career with a focus on bel canto instead of spending the first 7 or 8 years as a more typical spinto heading into Wagner, Sutherland’s first Norma might have come several years earlier.

          As a final point, I’ll give the obvious example of Varnay and Nilsson. Born a year apart, their careers as Brunnhilde, Isolde and Elektra hardly crossed over at all. Varnay was singing lead Wagnerian roles in her 20s and early 30s while Nilsson didn’t really come into her own until her late 30s.

          Every voice is different, develops at a different rate, and is subject to different circumstances (training, opportunities, etc).

    • Camille

      Nerva Altissima,
      ‘Dottie K’, as you have charmingly styled her, MAY have had as much GOLD as Alberich and was, natuerlich, the Golden Girl of the West to great reclame, but in this instance could you be referring to Dottie’s fame as an outstanding GOLFER?

      As for la Diva Castafiore’s ‘paste’ jewels, why, I do believe she errs on the side of caution. As for the emerald, well, Madame Nelli, would you venture out with such a chewell, amidst that rabid, clutching, hysterical mob of fans? Who needs a claque? Not La Castafiore!

      • Bianca Castafiore

        Camillissima!!! So sorry to hear about your respiratory problems. I myself am having some issues due to allergies.

        Carissima, don’t listen to Nerva, that Fafnerette from hell. She’s bitter because nobody would ever (or could) lift her up (except Godzilla).

        I’m taking a break from live opera these days as there’s not much interesting at the Met these days. Hope you are doing well in your villa, smooches!!!!!!

    • grimoaldo

      “She was JUST AWFUL, despite being received as if a revelation. Some lovely soft singing and a few bel canto niceties remained..”

      “JUST AWFUL” is how I would describe Nino M in Fille du Regiment but without the qualifications of “lovely soft singing and a few bel canto niceties” and she was not received as a revelation either. She will be back in Comte Ory to make that at best a bore. Also Erdmann’s Zerlina gets into the “JUST AWFUL” category for me and back she comes to star as Susanna and drag that down to mediocrity. Why these young singers who cannot do their parts feature at the big international houses is inexplicable to me, they must have the right agents or something, but it is sort of disgusting that they can travel around the world being bad and boring. The older divas Gruberova Devia and Anderson are not flawless but have more to offer than those other two.

  • And for those who want to find out her secrets, Madame Devia is soon giving her very first master-class ever

  • Gualtier M

    Very bad ideas:
    Nino Machaidze in Comte Ory
    Mojca Erdmann as Susanna in Nozze
    Mattila, C. Alvarez and David Alden in Ballo
    Poplavskaya again in Faust
    Racette again in Trovatore -- get Meade to do all her shows.
    Francesco Meli as Leicester in Maria Stuarda? After those from hunger Dukes in Rigoletto?
    Alan Oke as Caliban and David Soar as Masetto in Don Giovanni -- yes this is Britcasting and we have U.S. singers who would be better in these parts.
    Voigt as Cassandre
    Domingo as conductor and baritone in major assignments in Otello and Traviata
    Falk Struckmann as Iago -- I loved him but his Scarpia was nearly voiceless last year.
    Cura as Otello -- I am curious but not hopeful
    Daniele Gatti conducting Parsifal is weird. Hasn’t he had some mental health issues recently? This was probably a Levine replacement late in the day but still…
    Marcello Giordani who has given me some fun times in the past is having his share of bad nights these days. He has three big assignments Paolo, Calaf and Aeneas. I wish him the best.
    Much else is simply boring or people who were better 10 years ago hanging on. Susan Graham probably has a good Didon in her but Giordani is more off than on these days. Ditto Dessay who would have been a dream Cleopatra 10 years ago. If Guleghina could continue in the improved form she showed as Abigaille this past Fall her Turandot could be something to look forward to. Other castings are just repetitive and boring -- Smirnova as Eboli for example.

    Tempting shows: Parsifal, Clemenza, Dialogues and maybe La Rondine. Otherwise…

    • grimoaldo

      “Very bad ideas:
      Nino Machaidze in Comte Ory
      Mojca Erdmann as Susanna in Nozze
      Mattila, C. Alvarez and David Alden in Ballo
      Poplavskaya again in Faust
      Racette again in Trovatore – get Meade to do all her shows.”

      I agree with most of this. When out friend Opinionated Neophyte went to see Nino M in Fille I remember he posted something along the lines of “what a boring opera, why do they put it on?” which is what Nino M will make thousands of people think about the lovely opera Comte Ory, a similar reaction thousands of people had to Armida with Fleming. Better not to put these kinds of works on than do them with people who cannot perform them with the razzle dazzle needed.
      It is Marcelo Alvarez with Matilla in Ballo of course not C Alvarez. I saw M Alvarez, Matilla and Hampson in Ballo at Covent Garden in 2005:
      “…. disappointing was Marcelo Alvarez’s Riccardo. A few nice phrases and ringing top notes aside, he sounded choppy and breathy, and feeble in the lower register. A rudimentary actor, he never suggested the airy aristocratic insouciance that is the character’s essence.”
      I saw him in lots of roles at ROH, it is sad the way he started off as quite a wonderful singer and then got worse (and went from pudgy to fat which did not help his “rudimentary”, ie non-existent “acting”.) Matilla certainly acted the part up a storm, quite a surprise to me in a role that I had never thought of as offering much in the way of acting opportunities beyond what G B Shaw hilariously described, reviewing Katerina Rolla as Amelia as “Her acting consisted of the singular plunge, gasp, and stagger peculiar to the Verdi heroine, whose reason is permanently unsettled by grief.” But Matilla’s singing, though gripping, was not very idiomatic or really suited to the part and that was seven years ago.
      An Alden production of Ballo could be quite interesting I think though I do not see what he can do with Alvarez or how anyone could make that opera work as a drama with him as the lead. One of the greatest tenor parts ever, full of light and shade, comedy,tragedy, dashing deeds, many different facets, Alvarez will not bring out any of that.
      Popsy again in Faust -- shudder. Thousands more people converted to “Why do they still put on this boring opera?” believers.
      Racette in Trov- yep, didn’t she do it last year? And was mediocre. Didn’t they notice, don’t they care?

      • thomas

        I don’t think you can always blame the singers for a boring opera. Sometimes it’s just the opera.

        I thought Damrau and Didonato were wonderful in Ory, but wild horses couldn’t drag me to see it again with any cast. Likewise, Armida was a long, boring mess (with an interminable ballet albeit some lovely music) that should have been performed with cuts. I’m sure Damrau will sing the shit out of it in 2015, but I won’t be returning.

        Same with Faust. I can’t lay the blame solely on Popsy. An awful production.

        • 98rsd

          Ory was a total snooze at the Met because the production and conducting were dreadful. I saw it several times at City Opera (with Ashley Putnam/Gianna Rolandi,Rockwell Blake,Faith Esham, David Holloway; Imre Pallo) and a young Samuel Ramey) and it was hilarious and the score sparkling and delightful.

          A bad production like the Met’s would ruin any comedy.

    • MontyNostry

      Magda seems a strange role for Opolais’ debut at the Met. She is clearly an exceptional singer (though I have not yet seen her live — I was supposed to see her as Tatyana, but the cast changed), but -- to judge from the broadcast of her ROH Butterfly, which was thrilling stuff -- it is not a conventionally pretty voice, and Magda is surely a pretty voice role.

    • I’m not terribly excited about that Troyens, one of my favourite operas.

      Giordani has been a more than useful tenor for the Met’s spinto roles but he’s past his best and Enee is a huge, demanding role. Those high-lying passages need to be sung with power but also with beauty. I don’t know if I want to hear Giordani’s wiry tone in some of that music. My ears are hurting at the thought of “Les nuits d’ivresse” already. I wish Kauffman were singing this.

      I saw Voigt’s Cassandre last time around when she was much more vocally suited to the part. Even then, the role sat a bit low for her and, despite moments of vocal splendour, she was rather uninteresting in the part.

      I agree that Graham probably still has a good Didon left in her but it’s not a moment too soon. Her top is starting to decline, and while Didon doesn’t have many big high notes, there are plenty of sustained high passages (for a mezzo). But she is sympathetic to Berlioz’s music and has the dignity to pull the role off with success.

      I guess if I had to choose which of the three leads I’d want to be best-cast, I’d pick Didon. So, there’s the silver lining.

      Can’t help but thinking that the last time the Met did this, they had a vocally-healthy Voigt, an ideally-cast Heppner, and the incomparable LHL (a replacement for a pregnant Borodina, who herself would have been splendid in the part).

  • Arianna a Nasso

    Anyone know which operas were to be Levine’s? One assume Troyens and the Ring, but what else? Francesca?

  • guy pacifica

    So when would this snoozy Met season have been planned? Probably during the economic crosswinds of 2008 and 2009? The season certainly seems like what a certain kind of administrator would consider “safe” programming. And it’s similar to the kinds of operas on offer this coming year at the major US regional opera companies — Seattle, LA, Houston, Chicago. Tedium. Just when some of us are feeling the clouds are lifting a bit, there’s no reason to travel for opera performances.

    But let’s talk about Devia. I am late to the Devia fair but what an exceptional performer! Her Maria Stuarda (via La Scala DVD) is astonishing. The thought of her singing Norma is very tantalizing. Perhaps a Parterianni road trip to Bologna (a lovely city) is in order?

  • I can’t recall… Wasn’t Terfel supposed to be singing the full cycles. Or was he always just cast for the individual productions?

  • sterlingkay

    Well…Terfel IS singing all three full cycles this coming spring.

    • Thanks. I was confused about how many cycles they were doing. At first I thought they were this season, and then, when I saw next season’s programming, I thought I was mistaken. So, they’re doing cycles both seasons. I thought it odd that Terfel wouldn’t be doing any full cycles.

  • deviafan

    In the end, Devia fans will love her Norma (although, I doubt anyone but a diehard fan will really care much one way or another). However, I am unsure if she has the voice left for this role. I think it is ironic that the picture posted here is from the 2010 Calgari I Puritani, where Devia struggled so badly in a role that at one time was one of her signature roles.

    This is a situation when the singer should know better the limits of her voice. Now, had she tried the role 10 years ago, then we might have witnessed a great thing.

  • Baritenor

    Can we have a talk about reality here? This seems like a natural place to do it. I suspect that I live in a very different universe from many of those who have posted on this thread, because when I see this list, I am actually kind of excited.

    Perhaps it is merely a question of volume. I live in San Francisco, and I can’t afford to go to New York on a whim. I can’t afford to go to New York at all, in fact. I’ve been there six times in my life, at no time longer than for a period of 5 days. So perhaps I just don’t get the privileges that come with being a New York-based opera fan, the privilege that at any given day there is at least one opera being performed somewhere in the greater Manhattan area. I’m more used to a ten or fifteen opera a year diet, and so the fact that a company like the Met is still at full operation, churning out 218 performances of 28 operas is, to a degree, mind-blowing. If I did my math right, and there is no guarantee that I did, considering I have a degree in Music, that’s 27 full weeks worth of performances, so this season announcement gives you New York or New York-accessible opera-goer the ability to opera-go every night for a little over half of a calendar year. Do you have any idea, any idea at all, how lucky that makes you?

    Now I am not saying that you have to be satisfied with the season. There is certainly stuff that I’m not a fan of (Maichidze in Ory, Erdmann’s Susannah, the return of Voigt as Brunnhilde) and I could and do roll my eyes at the absence of Strauss and Britten from the proceedings. Yes, there are problems with the casting. I suspect a lot of them can be blamed on the practice of booking singers 5 years in advance, which after several years in the industry still makes no real sense to me.

    However, the reaction here to this leaked announcement is completely out of proportion. The last page and a half of ranting comments would make one believe that in planning this season, Peter Gelb has committed a crime against humanity. Wait…. Not just a crime, a litany of serial operatic rights violations! Such as:

    The Wagner Bicentennial is being neglected for the Verdi bicentennial, not counting the momentous task that is putting on a Ring Cycle in addition to the rarely-revived Parsifal, which in itself means more chorus and orchestra rehearsals that would usually go into an opera production.

    No wait, it’s the right amount of Verdi but none of them are less popular that would be incredibly expensive to rehearse, relearn and remount and probably wouldn’t sell great and are hard to cast.

    It’s all the same old humdrum operas, forgetting of course, that we get Parsifal and Les Troyens and Clemenza di Tito and Francisca di Flippin Rimini for the first time in years.

    There’s not enough performances Post-Verismo, Slavic and Baroque rep, forgetting that the Met rarely does more than two or three Post-Verismo, Slavic and Baroque shows a year because Post-verismo, Slavic and baroque operas have the unfortunate side-effect of not selling very well.

    They’ve hired dastardly British singers like Alan Oke to sing a fiendishly difficult role like Caliban in the Tempest, while there’s excellent American tenors waiting in the wings, ready to go on, like…uh…well, it’ll come to me.

    They hired that singer who sucks instead of the ones who you like, y’know, like that one who generally sings only in Europe because the fees are better and she doesn’t have to travel as much.

    They’re daring to bring back that new production you hated so much, because of course Gelb is cheap enough to think that if he paid for an expensive new production he should at least give it a second mounting rather than mothballing it forever because it wasn’t a critical success.

    Worst of all, Peter Gelb has planned a deliberately boring season so he can safely reap financial rewards.

    This last one actually offends me as an artist, and I don’t get offended easily, especially in the vitriolic no-man’s land that is the Internet. But No one in this business, not Peter Gelb, not Placido Domingo, not Robert LaPage, not Fabio Luisi, not anyone anyone ANYONE in this industry all the way down to the guy singing the Customs Officer in a tiny production of La Boheme performed in a high school gymnasium in a town somewhere in Idaho with a population of about 12, sets out with the intent to bore their audience. That is the absolute worst-case scenario for any member of an artistic community, and to assume that people do not care if they bore us as long as they are financially solvent is anathema to the fact that they are artists.

    Is this season as exciting as it could have been? No. As someone pointed out, it was probably planned in 2008 when the financial outlook of the country was even more excessively grim than it is today, and companies were closing right and left. Are yet there are still enough exciting operas, exciting casting, exciting conductors, exciting productions both new and old and not to mention the excitement of going to Lincoln Center, where most opera fans only can dream of going live, and hearing what may be the finest opera orchestra and chorus in the country perform to make it worthwhile to go. I would LOVE to hear you explain to me why it’s not worth it. I’m sure you have all sorts of reasons why this season isn’t up to your exacting standards of the perfect opera company, but the reality is putting on opera? Not easy. It’s expensive and difficult, and if Peter Gelb managed to find the wherewithal to plan this season at a time when America didn’t know if we were facing another 1929 or not, I say more power to him.

    Mind, I’m not asking that you all nod your head and start chanting, “all hail Gelb!” There are issues with the season, and I gave my two cents above. But the entitlement here is getting to me. The feeling seems to be “There are a few casting errors. THE MET IS DEAD TO ME!” Well, then, stay home. I’ll be there trying to enjoy myself.

    I’d like to close this unnecessarily long rant thank Iphigenie for taking the unasked-for and for all I know dangerous step of leaking the Met’s entire season to us gift-wrapped in a bow for free. I mean, we were in serious danger of running out of stuff to complain about.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      I agree with you, Baritenor, and Armerj sometime earlier in the thread- there is actually stuff I would cross the Atlantic to see, despite being in the privileged position of living in London and being able to see any production I like at ENO or the ROH.

    • m. croche

      There’s not enough performances Post-Verismo, Slavic and Baroque rep, forgetting that the Met rarely does more than two or three Post-Verismo, Slavic and Baroque shows a year because Post-verismo, Slavic and baroque operas have the unfortunate side-effect of not selling very well.

      I think this is problematic both with respect to the facts assumed and the reasoning.

      I seem to recall that both From the House of the Dead and The Nose sold out -- both post-Verismo, both Slavic, so I call two-fers on them.

      I’ll grant that Khovanshchina may sell fewer tickets than La Boheme. But an artistic institution worthy of the name doesn’t just care about putting people’s butts in seats, but also about what goes on in the heads of the attendees. A balancing test is required, and the quoted paragraph above doesn’t provide one.

      If one decides to mount a season containing 7 mature operas by Verdi and 2 of Puccini’s, why, instead of filling in some of the resulting lacunae, do you stage Zandonai?

      The upcoming season is unbalanced in a way that suggests that the company (and I guess its audience, if we follow Baritenor’s logic) lack(s) musical curiosity and artistic flexibility.

    • ianw2

      Thank for you being a voice of moderation.

      I agree that its not the most thrilling of seasons, but the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments was getting a little silly (we’re hardly in LOC territory here).

      I can only assume that Sher and Lepage were both contracted (along with the revival of Ory) several years ago, before anyone realised exactly what they were dealing with. If you’ve got JDF coming all this way, may as well go ahead with it according to plan.

      Slavic operas are still a rarity in the US- so that the Met has done successful productions of the Nose and Dead in the last few years (and, from memory, has a Makropoulous and a Bartered Bride coming up) is nothing to sneeze at. And let’s not forget last year’s Boris and the upcoming toe-tapping crowd-pleaser Khovanschina. Of course there’s always room for more (Jenufa!), but when has the Met not been a big Verdi house? And I find it hard to stomach moaning ‘why aren’t they doing Lohengrin?!!’ in the season where they have three complete Ring Cycles AND an excitingly cast Parsifal.

      I could happily whinge about the lack of American opera (quelle surprise), or that terrible Rondine is taking up valuable space, or that the only new-ish opera is by another fucking brit (haha), or that I’m surprised not even one Strauss sneaked in (and let’s not even start on Erdmann) but I’m really not prepared to lose my shit over the leaked season just yet.

      I guess it comes back to how much leadership an opera company should demonstrate, amplified x1000 when you’re dealing with something as unwieldy (Croche- I think you’re expecting far too much in the way of ‘artistic flexibility’- I’m sure Gelb & Co would love a cost-free, easy way to jettison a stinker like Ory) as the world’s largest house. There’s not an awful lot I’d jump on the plane to see, but I’m still pleased I’m living in the world where one can say “we’ve just heard the mystical conclusion of Act I of Philip Glass’ astounding opera Satyagraha, in the revival production at the Metropolitan Opera”.

  • ianw2

    Re-reading your post, I see you also hit on the old favourite observation that so many Parterriat will say “of course there a no good Verdi singers nowadays” then in the next breath “why is the Met ignoring Vespri????”

    • grimoaldo

      “I suspect a lot of them can be blamed on the practice of booking singers 5 years in advance, which after several years in the industry still makes no real sense to me.”

      It seems to me that that just doesn’t work any more if it ever did. They miss a some new talent at its peak and end up with a lot of people performing roles that they would have been excellent in ten years earlier.

      “No wait, it’s the right amount of Verdi but none of them are less popular that would be incredibly expensive to rehearse, relearn and remount and probably wouldn’t sell great and are hard to cast.”
      This is referring at least in part to my comments and they do not appear in the order they were written so I will say that I did start out by noting performances I was looking forward to. However the Met has a long and noble tradition of bringing lesser-known Verdi works back to public notice and it is a shame they are not doing anything along those lines in the first part of his bicentennial year.

      “They’ve hired dastardly British singers like Alan Oke to sing a fiendishly difficult role like Caliban in the Tempest”
      What I wonder about here is why Ian Bostridge who I saw create this part at the premiere of The Tempest is not doing it at the Met. His performance is what I remember the best from the whole show, he was quite definitive I would say. Did the Met not want him or did he not want to do it?

      “They hired that singer who sucks instead of the ones who you like, y’know, like that one who generally sings only in Europe because the fees are better and she doesn’t have to travel as much.”
      I don’t think it is unreasonable to criticise a company for presenting singers or any kind of performers who suck even though you cannot tell them who they should have instead that would be available. They are supposed to put on good stuff not stuff that sucks or, even worse, present performers that they know are gonna suck because they sucked the last time or two (or twenty). As Dr Johnson said “You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.”

      • Camille

        Love a man who quotes Dr. Johnson, yes I do and thank you, too.

      • Baritenor

        I would consider Ballo in Maschera to be considered a “lesser known work.” It’s fairly popular, yes but it lags pretty far behind the popularity levels of, say, Trovatore and Otello. This may be ar reflection of my personal feelings, but I’ve never considered it Verdi at his A game.

        I suspect Ian Bostridge had no burning desire to return to the murderously high tesatura of Caliban after six years away from the role. Unlike Keenlyside and Cynthia Sieden, I don’t think he was involved with any of the productions and revivals. (In Fact, when was the last time he sang in staged opera?) what raised my eyebrow was the unexpected absence of Cynthia Sieden from the cast list. Frankly, I didn’t think there was anyone else who could actually SING the damn part! What is known about Audrey Luna?

        • Clita del Toro

          Baritenor: It’s okay for you to think of Ballo in that way, but I LOVE Ballo. It’s one of my very favorite Verdi operas, ever. And I know others like it too. It’s a great opera--so, it’s not as popular as Trovatore--neither is Falstaff>?>?>?>?

          • armerjacquino

            He said ‘lesser-known’, not ‘lesser’.

          • Clita del Toro

            amerjacquino--if you read further he states :

            “…..but I’ve never considered it Verdi at his A game.” That means “lesser” to me.

          • armerjacquino

            True: apologies.

        • I agree that Ballo is not as popular as Traviata or Trovatore but, in my books, it is certainly on par with those works in terms of quality. In fact, there’s far more humanity and depth of character in Ballo than Trovatore.

      • oedipe

        “They hired that singer who sucks instead of the ones who you like, y’know, like that one who generally sings only in Europe because the fees are better and she doesn’t have to travel as much.”
        I don’t think it is unreasonable to criticise a company for presenting singers or any kind of performers who suck even though you cannot tell them who they should have instead that would be available.

        The slightly scandalous question I would like to ask is the following: if, for a given opera, a company only has available ‘performers that suck’ , should they still go ahead and stage that opera?

        This may not be a big issue in the case of the standard rep. After all, a lousy revival of La Bohème or La Traviata will not hold a lot of sway over people’s opinions about these operas, since most opera goers will sooner or later get a chance to see better casts.

        But when it comes to rarer works, things are more complicated. Mauled by ‘performers that suck’, these operas will appear to the first time listeners as boring and devoid of interest, with the unfortunate effect of not selling very well and, even sadder, being put back on the shelf for the following decade or so.

        So here is my question: is it better to stage these rarer operas even with ‘performers that suck’, or is it preferable to do so only if you can cast them properly? This is not an idle question: for some reason, the cool ‘It-thing’ to stage these days seems to be Les Troyens. But good Berlioz singers are few and far between. Granted, one may find a number of singers who have all the notes; but the style and the ability to bring this music to life? Actually, I would say that it is at least as hard to find excellent interpreters of Berlioz -and of much of French opera with the exception of Carmen and Werther-- as it is to find excellent Verdi singers nowadays.

        So, maybe having a somewhat skewed rep is not such a bad idea after all. IMO, in addition to the standard rep, the types of rep that a house like the Met can -and does- cast properly these days are: the Russian rep, most of the German rep (though arguably not the Ring), much of the ‘Warsaw Pact’ rep, the modern, much of the belcanto, some of the baroque. Forget French opera (which many people dislike anyway).

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Bostridge couldn’t sing what Ades wanted, so it’s no surprise he isn’t part of such a high profile new presentation of the work. Sieden isn’t the only soprano with that kind of facility up top and having seen her do it 3 times I really didn’t find her terribly impressive. I do appreciate that the tessitura and awkward lines are simply crazy- what would have really made her exceptional and incontestably impressive would have been if the words had been clearer and the lines cleaner. It was a very respectable achievement, but I also don’t find it difficult to imagine it being performed at least as well by another singer.

  • I’m ok with next season. I’m glad that the first Parsifal I’ll see live has a good cast, excited to see La Rondine, Troyens and Francesca live for the first time. I’m also bummed about the lack of Strauss; I could have sworn Die Frau Ohne Schatten was happening in 2013, but maybe that’ll be in the 2013-14 season.

    All in all it’s not all that exciting, but there’s some stuff to look forward to.

  • Clita del Toro

    I love Troyens, but am turned off by the cast, especially Giordani. I’d rather hear a cracking Heppner any day!

  • Clita del Toro

    And, if they fuck up Parsifal, I will be totally disgusted.

    • FragendeFrau82