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Housekeeping


La Cieca (pictured, right) would like to take this opportunity before jumping on this afternoon’s Aïda chat to address a site issue or two.

The problem with the links in the “recent comments” section not going to the correct comment is a known issue, and the hard-working parterre tech myrmidons are trying to find a workaround. In the meantime, please note that if you go to the comments feed page and find the relevant comment there, the link provided on that page will, in fact, send you to the proper place in the comments thread.

Moving forward, we will try to find a way to link correctly from the Recents Comments items, though to tell the truth this functionality is not something WordPress seems very eager to provide. (The former plugin we were using to generate the Recent Comments was apparently defective and seemed to be causing the slowdowns and crashes you remember from the early of this year.)

We’ll get the “next post/previous post” links back shortly.

Now, on another subject, La Cieca is seeking a regular and reliable parterrian who a) is already planning to see Monday night’s Met performance of L’elisir d’amore and b) is confident he or she can write and file a review of this performance by noon on Tuesday. Anyone interested should email La Cieca at their earliest convenience.

57 comments

  • m. croche says:

    OT, but…

    It’s a good day for Anna Netrebko -- Putin wins the election with 61 percent of the vote.

    • DurfortDM says:

      61%, huh? A well chosen number. Convincing yet, given the conditions, almost plausible. If all those people looking for a fair election outcome are dissatisfied with this judicious selection they are indeed hard to please.

  • Clita del Toro says:

    OT: Eaglen in Met Götterdämmerung, 2000, on Sirius. I saw her in the Ring twice, once at the Met and once at LOC. I thought that her Met Gott. Brunnie was the best had I heard from her: it was excellent and pretty exciting. I also sawyer Isolde with Heppner.

    Her LOC brunnies were not good.

    Now listening to her in the scene with Gunther/Siegfried, I have to say (never thought I’d say this) she is very good, aamof, much better than Voigt in this opera, both vocally and dramatically. Act II coming up.

    • reedroom says:

      Yes, Clita, I agree--once upon a time she had the goods. She did several Rings here in Seattle, as well as her first ever Isolde with Heppner in his salad days. she has/had a long history with this company (made her US debut in Norma, I was in the pit!). Exciting voice but rather boring dramatically, IMO.

      Voigt could have been great in those hoch-dramatisch parts but sadly the voice is ruined now.

      • Will says:

        As a veteran of three Eaglen Ring Cycles And her early-U.S. career act 3 of Gotterdammerung with the Boston Symphony, I can say that in all three Ring Cycles, Gotterdammerung was her best Brunnhilde. She was more animated and more dramatically involved than with either of the other Brunnhildes. Vocally, however, she never equaled the Boston Act 3, which amounts to the Immolation with a few lines to warm up on.

        There’s a 1986 BBC TV series called Lost Empires that includes a Music Hall scene in which a young and relatively svelte Jane Eaglen knocks out an impressive “Rule, Britannia!”

        For what it is worth, I thought Voigt’s Gotterdammerung was significantly better than her Walkure or particularly her Siegfried, at east in the performances of each that I attended.

        • Clita del Toro says:

          I totally agree about Gott. being her best of the three. She really got quite animated in Act II, and I think it was Gunther she pushed and almost knocked him over LOL

          Btw, just heard her Immolation--excellent!

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Or, it could have been Siegfried. But it gave me a chuckle.

          • derschatzgabber says:

            I saw several Eaglen Ring Cycles in SF and Seattle, and agree that Gotterdamerung was the Ring opera that brought out the best in her. I was also very impressed with her first run as Isolde in Seattle (much better than her singing on the MET DVD).

            I was looking for old articles on the current Seattle Ring production, which featured Eaglen for the first couple of presentations, and came across this article in the Seattle Stranger (a local weekly). What do others think of this author’s take on Eaglen’s voice?

            “Question: Jane Eaglen is supposed to be one of the great living sopranos. She’s sung Brünnhilde for Seattle Opera’s world-famous Ring Cycle since, like, forever. But she isn’t on the cast list the opera just sent out for its 2009 Ring. What’s the deal? Is anyone shocked by an Eaglen-free Ring?

            Answer: In a word—whether you hear it from gossipy opera queens or vocal technique experts—no. Jane Eaglen has become a sad symbol of excess and ignorance in the opera world, a casualty of bad thinking about bodies and voices.

            The increasing pressure for perfection in opera has had plenty of mainstream press. There was soprano Deborah Voigt’s gastric- bypass surgery, tenor Jerry Hadley’s suicide, and reports of drug abuse—steroids, cocaine, opiates—to cope with overextended schedules and demand for “star quality” (read: hot bods). Opera is an increasingly image-conscious industry, and Jane Eaglen’s is a name that conjures a certain size as well as a certain voice.

            Even by passé fat-opera-lady standards, Eaglen’s girth is problematic. It limits choices for directors (she gets winded just walking on stage) and puts unnecessary strain on her body, which compromises her singing.

            Seattle Opera General Manager Speight Jenkins said in a Seattle Times interview that the decision to recast Brünnhilde was not based on Eaglen’s weight but just “to make a change.” So, we’re left to infer, her voice is the problem—except that Janice Baird, the thin soprano chosen to replace Eaglen, has a voice that is uneven, uninspiring, and blowsy, and not any better-equipped for the challenges of the role.

            More importantly, Eaglen’s voice has shown signs of wear for some time; hints of ungainliness have been ignored for over a decade.

            Eaglen simply isn’t a dramatic Wagnerian soprano. She never built her lower register, which is key to having a full and beautiful voice. Even her upper notes are becoming erratic and pinched. At best, hers is a lyric soprano, pushed to its outer limits. Nature cannot be undone, and it will invariably humiliate those who try to work outside its laws.

            It isn’t just Eaglen, though—the late 20th and early 21st centuries have seen a boom in singers who can negotiate the florid writing in baroque, classical, and bel canto opera, but a steep decline in the quality of dramatic Wagnerian and verismo singers. There are several reasons why: impetuous young careerists who fly all over the globe and stretch their voices thin, the decline of critical listening and quality training, and the anatomy of current beauty standards—casting tends to favor small, pretty women with small, pretty features that which often correlate with small, pretty voices that are completely unsuitable for stentorian sounds. (Ironically, this is also a problem for Eaglen: For all her girth, her throat and facial structure are average sized.)

            The mystery isn’t so much why Eaglen was cut from the 2009 Ring, but how she got this far in the first place.

            It was a series of fortunate events: Seattle Opera launched her into divadom with her American debut in Norma in 1994; she sang on the Sense and Sensibility soundtrack in 1995; critics raved about her first Brünnhilde in Chicago in 1996, which, of course, caused a stir. The opera world had been looking for a new Brünnhilde since Birgit Nilsson, the last of the great dramatic sopranos, retired in 1984. In recordings from the early to mid ’90s, Eaglen’s voice isn’t great but it does the job. She became, wrongly, the new It Girl of the dramatic soprano repertoire.

            Now the masquerade is over and Eaglen finds herself in a peculiar spot: a major artist whose body and voice have been pushed beyond their capabilities and usefulness to the stage. Eaglen is getting less work—her schedule lists nothing at the Met and just a few regional houses and concerts—and has devoted more time to teaching at the University of Washington and Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program. Teaching is always a dignified way to bow out.

            The opera houses that have employed her in the past won’t get off so gracefully. They won’t hire her but they can’t explain why—they’re too polite to say it’s her weight, but they are not going to suffer the embarrassment of admitting they were wrong about her voice all along.

            Janie will be fine—perhaps even better off than the gals who are crazy enough to stick around in the biz. I’m waiting for someone to crack under the pressure and become opera’s first Amy Winehouse—cutting herself and shooting up in the dressing room between acts. Which is fine with me; she just better be able to sing the shit out of some Wagner when it’s her cue.”

          • grimoaldo says:

            derschatzgabber, the funny thing about Eaglen was that she was a much bigger, if that is not an unfortunate word to use in this case, Wagnerian star in the USA than in Britain. Covent Garden never had her as Brunnhilde or in any Wagner, I don’t think, so I never saw her live and what I did see her live in I did not enjoy much. I did not like her singing or her voice. What I have to take issue with in the article you quote, though, is this:

            “The opera world had been looking for a new Brünnhilde since Birgit Nilsson, the last of the great dramatic sopranos, retired in 1984.”

            Ha! Has this writer never heard of Dame Gwyneth Jones?
            Certainly a very great dramatic soprano and a very great Brunnhilde. Marshie would say the same of Behrens. Also I saw Anne Evans and Deborah Polaski as Brunnhilde and although they may not be what people think of as the archetypal “dramatic soprano” they were both wonderful, superb, moving and beautiful.
            Then the last line of the article hoping that a Wagnerian soprano will come along who will emulate Amy Winehouse and cut herself and shoot up in her dressing room, though an original thought, is rather unfortunate, is it not, now that Winehouse managed to destroy herself.

    • DermotMalcolm says:

      OT, too. Just read a review in the Guardian of Tristan und Isolde in Birmingham. Lioba Braun is much praised in it.
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/mar/04/tristan-und-isolde-review-cbso
      Has anyone heard her live?

  • Youtube clips from yesterday’s Aida are up:

    • MontyNostry says:

      Indra Thomas is currently singing Aida at the Royal Albert Hall in London (amplified,sadly). Purely vocally, this is pretty impressive too, though the expression is less specific.

      • MontyNostry says:

        A link to Marina Schaguch as Desdemona came up alongside Indra. She might look a bit like Tony Pappano in drag, but I do like the way she sings. (Saw her once in recital in the mid-90s and thought she was destined for stardom.)

        • Camille says:

          After having heard la Krassimira sing it last year, I can’t hear anyone else!!

          Heard La Shaguch in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanthe about a dozen years ago and it was very, very good, indeed. Wonder what has happened?

      • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

        I’ve never been Indra Thomas’ biggest fan (Angela Brown either) both, to my ears, have unpleasant vibrato. Very little about the singing seems secure or genuinely warm.
        All unlike our dear Latonia. I feel as if Indra is asked to sing big dramatic soprano roles because she’s built like Jessye Norman…but maybe they are not for her.

        And dear Camille, it is wonderful to see so many warm to Latonia’s artistry, it really does beg the question, how many more deserving singers are out there who haven’t had the chance.

        • MontyNostry says:

          Latonia hasn’t not had a chance. It just the Met has taken a (shamefully?) long time to pick up on her. She was at AVA, she was in the Met auditions and she’s had successes around the place, including in concert in New York. Even Covent Garden, which isn’t the best house at grabbing young talent (apart from the egregious Popsy, of course!) has already cast her as Liu (2009) and Aida (2011), albeit in second casts. That Liu marked her out as a star for me, having read good things about her beforehand. Interestingly, her Turandot was Jennifer Wilson, another singer the Met has passed on to date.

        • Camille says:

          The important thing is, dear, that one of those singers was saved from oblivion yesterday.
          That’s something to be grateful for in the not so wonderful world of opera of today.

          This time my husband scooped me!! He had heard her sing in the Edgar and already knew of her--so has enjoyed this infrequent status and his I-told-you- so’s!!

          • MontyNostry says:

            Dearest Camille -- places like Covent Garden and even Hamburg and Trieste aren’t oblivion. There is life beyond the Met! But I’m delighted she has had a success at the US’s iconic house.

          • Camille says:

            OH NO, of course not, and that was not my implication. And thank god she had had the experience singing Aida in a house as large as Covent Garden, before this baptism by fire yesterday, for it probably saved her. Hamburg I don’t know about.

            MAH, as she is an American singer, and the Met is the most important American house, the one whose imprimatur marks an American singer out for bigger success in America -- what with the attendant publicity of the broadcasts and the HDs--shame there wasn’t one scheduled for yesterday afterall--it is very important for her career to get a break there as well. It is important to her as well, I am sure, to be known in her own country. That’s all I’m trying to say.

            What I am trying to decipher now is how, being a Councils Audition winner, she has not had more of a presence here before. Perhap she has, in a number of heart-warming roles like Vierte Magde in Elektra, or something of that nature and has gone under the radar. Or maybe I just missed her.

          • MontyNostry says:

            … and I even think she sang Aida even better at Covent Garden -- there wasn’t the tension around the register breaks that I sensed yesterday and the top notes and floats were freer -- but obviously there was less pressure on her in terms of both the occasion and the size of the house. I hope we still get to see her in Europe now she has had her big Met break. I somehow doubt Covent Garden has taken advantage of its slight lead in this matter. After all,who need Latonia Moore for Verdi when you can have Marina Poplavskaya (who has been announced for Hélène in Les vêpres siciliennes here, God help us!

          • Camille says:

            OH NOOOOOOO!!!!!! No Top Parts allowed in Les Vepres!

            I was considering hearing that one, so thanks for being my Brangaene!! Why is she such a fixture there? Has she some powerful advocate? I’m very sorry for you all to have to be repeatedly subjected to her Verdi ‘stylings’. I did like her take on the role of Elisabeth and the singing was passable there, but after that Traviata, I gave up. I cannot begin to imagine what she will make of Helene, a role that is at least twice as hard as Violetta.

            Maybe there will be a cancellation? Perhaps good old TBA, one of the best sopranos to listen to, wlll substitute instead??

          • MontyNostry says:

            Popsy was on the young artists’ programme at Covent Garden, so they feel some ownership of her, and presumably Pappano approves (and she makes a change from Malin Byström, I suppose).The Henri doesn’t seem to have been announced yet. If he’s going to marry her, they’d better find a tenor over 60 who can still sing a top D. Chris Merritt, maybe?

          • operalover9001 says:

            re: the ROH Vepres: Schrott is singing Procida, I believe, and Netrebko just sang the bolero in concert with Barenboim -- hopefully she’s singing it and Popsy is in the second cast??

    • Clita del Toro says:

      Olivero I just listened to the clips and am now listening to yesterday’s Aida, broadcast from Alaska. I liked her O Patria mia better the second time and am ready for a third.
      Latonia sings it her way, and makes one want to hear it HER way, not Leontyne’s or Tebaldi’s. The sign of a good singer.

      • Camille says:

        That is just what she said in the little backstage interview, Clita, that she went deep into the character and tried to find it out for herself, rather than trying to imitate the greats of yesteryear. This pleases me greatly. She does find her own way, and evokes for me a real sense of Aida’s hopelessness and longing, which is so many times lacking. Usually, what I hear, is just a big primadonna moment. Very interesting. The little technical things will smooth themselves out, with repetition and are trivial, in comparison to what this lady notably achieved, I feel.

        Thank you so MUCH for posting, Olivero, as I missed the Ritorna vincitor yesterday and was very chagrined with myself for having done so.

        Still, I am quite amazed at this entire event, and it gladdens my old heart. Thanks again to OpNeoPhd, for having brought her name up repeatedly in conversations, saying “where is she?” Yesterday, at least, she was where she belongs.

  • Earl Koenig says:

    Now if only we could have Latonia Moore as Aida and Urmana as Amneris! Here’s a fairly stunning judgment scene from 2000 with Urmana as Amneris:

    These kinds of roles always brought out a measure of temperament that I find lacking in her portrayals of prima donna roles (Aida, Leonora, etc.).

    • Camille says:

      Wow. That was an anatema su voi the way you want one!

      Whatever possessed her to fach-hop up to Aida, when this so perfectly suited her voice, I wonder….more money, more gigs?

      Kumdry and Co. (Santuzza, Eboli, Gioconda, etc.) are one thing, but Aida is a whole different ball of wax from these others, or at least the way I hear it.

      Thans, Earl Koenig, that was a pleasure.

      • steveac10 says:

        What else could it be besides the money? She could still be the go to Amneris, Eboli and probably even Carmen had she not decided to take the jump. She looks and sounds amazing in this clip.