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Sensational

Juan Diego Flórez made an untraditional Nemorino, his small but diamond-bright tenor unlike the luscious lyric voice usually heard in this part. But he made the role his own, stopping the show when he rocketed up to a high C in his Act 2 duet with his rival, the hunky soldier Belcore. Later, he spun out the bittersweet aria ‘Una furtiva lagrima’… in a slow, dreamy tempo like a sigh of bliss.” [New York Post]

124 comments

  • iltenoredigrazia says:

    Well, I was there on Monday night and loved it. Other than the ugly sets, the whole thing worked just fine for me. That’s what should be on HD if they want to get young people to get interested in opera.

    JDF and DD seemed to be enjoying themselves. He’s a natural for comedy. For me the singing was A+ for three out of the four leads.

    • macartney says:

      I’m a “young” (and also a relative opera-newbie), but I totally agree. Besides the set, the production was charming--which endears you to it, heartfelt--which connects you to it, and musically powerful --which cements you to it. This was my third time at the Met this year and, by far and away, the most enjoyable. The most challenging or artistic? No. But the most enjoyable? Yes. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

      I brought a friend who, in her seven years of living in NYC had NEVER been to the Met, and she loved it. Maybe it’s cotton candy, maybe it’s crack. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that this revival is good and should be enticing people into opera. It’s dismaying to read people nitpick away everything. Vultures are not called vultures for no reason; but still! Must every production be met with bile? I and my opera partner may be naive, I grant you, but has everyone else lost the joy that came in youth and new beginnings? Smile and breathe. Maybe take a shot. Because this WAS amazing.

      Also, methinks this was inadvertent genius casting that caught even the higher-ups unaware. There’s been no pre-press build-up for this, but I’d wager it will likely end up being one of 2011-2012′s success stories.

      • sterlingkay says:

        Beautifully stated! Welcome to the wonderful world of opera…and don’t let the nit-pickers and vultures dissuade you. They’re living in the past and they like nothing better than convince all the newbies that everything today stinks and you don’t know what you’re talking about. You had a great experience and more power to you!

      • armerjacquino says:

        Very well said. In the last analysis it’s pretty sterile to harp on about how singers were better in days gone by. Whether it’s true or not- and it’s arguable either way- it doesn’t actually get us anywhere.

        In one sense, I’ve only had one generation of operagoing. Singers who were making their debuts when I first started going are now coming to the latter part of their careers (eg Mattila, Hampson, Von Otter, Zajick). I haven’t seen any decline in those years- Aidas were thin on the ground then, too- and in some areas, notably Handel and the baroque, there has been a distinct improvement.

      • derschatzgabber says:

        Hi Macartney, I’m so glad that you and your friend enjoyed Elisir. I can’t comment on the merits of this particular performance (since I didn’t even catch it on Sirius), but I think Elisir is an amazing opera, with more emotional depth than many opera fans give it credit for.

        One of the debits of becoming a seasoned opera queen, is that we can forget the thrill of excitement we experienced as we discovered each opera for the first time. My first live Walkure was a mess. The Siegmund lost his voice hafway through Act I. The replacement tenor in Act II didn’t know the Porter translation, so he sang in German, while everyone else sang in English. And in Act III, the Wotan forgot the English translation and the performance came to a brief halt, while the conductor fed him the lines he had forgotten. But I was still enthralled, because I had never encountered the music in a live performance before. I am so glad that a seasoned opera queen did not grab me on the way out of the opera house that night and start listing all the horrible things that had happened during that performance. That would have been a serious buzz kill.

        I think all veteran opera queens should take a pledge to be careful to not stifle the joy of new opera fans.

      • kennedet says:

        Let me begin macartney, by stating that it is always heartening to hear that young people are attending and enjoying opera. However, I resent earnest analysis being called “bile”.I teach young people every day and it’s unfortunate that many of the students don’t respect EXPERIENCE and CREDENTIALS. I think some of your comments smack of ageism. Perhaps we comment because we have EXPERIENCED decades of what you are beginning to witness and can EDUCATE you to new possibilities and horizons. Don’t be dismayed……LEARN.

    • MonCoeurSouvreATaVoix says:

      I agree with you. The four leads were great. I knew about JDF, Damrau and Kwiecen; I did not know anything about Alessandro Corbelli and I have to say that his Dottore Dulcamara is the best I’ve ever heard.

      Really, really enjoyable except for the sets and costumes, but I’ve been told we’re getting new, different ones next year. Does anyone know who is going to be directing? Who will be responsible for the sets?

      I say that beautiful, minimal sets and this cast, and the whole thing can indeed be sent around elementary and junior high schools. We’d have opera-loving youth.

      • grimoaldo says:

        MonCoeurSouvreATaVoix says:”I’ve been told we’re getting new, different ones next year. Does anyone know who is going to be directing? Who will be responsible for the sets?”

        The new Elisir will open the season this year:

        L’Elisir d’Amore – Gaetano Donizetti
        Premiere: September 24
        Conductor: Maurizio Benini
        Production: Bartlett Sher
        Set Designer: Michael Yeargan
        Costume Designer: Catherine Zuber
        Lighting Designed By: Jennifer Tipton
        Cast: Anna Netrebko (Adina), Matthew Polenzani (Nemorino), Mariusz Kwiecien (Belcore), Ambrogio Maestri/TBA (Doctor Dulcamara)

        Unfortunately the cast is extremely unlikely to be as good as the current one comprising as it does a Russian soprano who used to be stunning in Russian opera and might be stunning in the Verdi spinto roles but is fundamentally miscast in these bel canto parts she seems to be determined to waste her great gifts in, a Mozartean tenor nowhere near as suited to bel canto as the great Florez, one of the best opera singers of all time imo, and Maestri who was a dull characterless lump in the recent Munich production streamed online. Only Kwiecen repeats his role.

        • MonCoeurSouvreATaVoix says:

          Omigosh, Grimoaldo, I see what you mean.

          Anna Netrebko is not a coloratura singer, which is what is called for with Adina. I wish they’d stayed with the current cast, for they truly work this opera.

          Bartlett Sher? Now that’s good news — at least to me. I’m a big fan of his stagings of the “Barber” and “Hoffman.” I saw a picture of Netrebko in a top hat in the Met’s web site; I’m assuming that’s one of the costumes for “Elisir.”

        • Nerva Nelli says:

          “…the great Florez, one of the best opera singers of all time imo…”

          Yeah, never mind Patti, Battistini, Melba, Caruso, Chaliapin, Lehmann, Leider, Schorr, Ponselle, Melchior, Flagstad, Bjoerling, Hotter, Christoff, Callas, Sutherland, Nilsson, Vickers, Verrett, Ludwig and the rest — that little Peruvian guy in his Lederhosen is *seriously* cute!

          Sorry, but what can such a statement POSSIBLY mean?

          • Clita del Toro says:

            It means he sang better than the dinosaurs!

          • La Cieca says:

            Well, to be fair he does say “IMO.”

          • kashania says:

            Fairness is boring, La Cieca.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Thank you La C and would it make you happier Nerva if I said “the greatest Rossini tenor imo since recordngs began?” or quoted “Plácido Domingo voiced his admiration for Juan Diego Flórez, whom he considers “the best leggiero tenor of all time.”’
            http://www.exploretaca.com/eng/article.html?id=1826

            But what does he know, anyway.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            Don’t worry, grimy, Nerva would know about dinosaurs, since she was around to hear their songs.

            :-)

          • kashania says:

            Grimoaldo, throwing Domingo into the mix ain’t gonna help your cause! LOL

          • sterlingkay says:

            I think it’s ridiculous to compare JDF to Vickers and Nilsson for God’s sake. When you talk about all-time greats, you’re talking about all-time greats in their vocal categories…that being said, I don’t think it’s ridiculous to claim JDF is one of the all-time great leggiero/Rossini tenors ever.

          • sterlingkay says:

            It’s interesting to think about which current active singers might be considered all-time greats…there aren’t many…I would say JDF, Placido…some would say Gruberova (I would not)…I think Netrebko, Calleja and Kaufmann have a chance but the jury is still out about where their careers are heading.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            In my tremendously humble and effacing opinion, Podles and Borodina.

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            The phrase used was “one of the best opera singers of all time “,not one of the best leggiero tenors or Rossini tenors.

            A ludicrous statement, I repeat.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Nerva Nelli says:
            The phrase used was “one of the best opera singers of all time “,not one of the best leggiero tenors or Rossini tenors.

            A ludicrous statement, I repeat.

            —-

            Well you see when I said “one of the best opera singers of all time IMO” I thought it was a reasonable assumption that people would understand it to be meant “within the voice category he sings in”. Obviously I did not mean one of the great Wagnerian sopranos or heavy Russian bassos.

          • sterlingkay says:

            And my point is that if you are— for arguments sake— the best leggiero Rossini tenor of all time, then, by definition, you should be considered one of the greatest singers of all time. Or are the greatest singers only the ones that sing the repertoire you like??

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            How do you know what repertory I like?

            Um, Rubini? Who the hell knows…

          • oedipe says:

            Considering the sophistication of many posters here, I am astonished to read statements such as “one of the best opera singers ever”.
            In what fach? In what rep? In what roles, even?
            For instance, whereas I could see JDF as the best Tonio ever, or the best Almaviva ever -although “ever” is a very long time and I haven’t been around that long-, I don’t see how anybody can seriously consider him the best Rigoletto Duke ever. What about Pavarotti as Nemorino?
            Is there anyone who is (or was) one of the best ever in everything (s)he interpreted?
            IMHO, a more interesting subject of discussion would be: who was (or is) one of the best ever in a SPECIFIC role, e.g. Nemorino.

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            Thank you, Oedipe. Someone (else) is talking sense! Both Pavarotti and Kraus were better Tonios. Brownlee is in no way his inferior in BARBEIER, CENERENTOLA or ITALIANA.

            Bobolinka, bite your tongue-- why on earth would I work for Romney? Lifelong liberal Democrat.

          • iltenoredigrazia says:

            As a Rossini tenor, JDF is superlative and will probably be remembered among the best. His encoring the big aria in La Fille for one will assure him at list a footnote in future opera history books.

            That, of course, doesn’t mean that he’ll be considered better than Pavarotti, Carusso, Bjoerling, or anyone’s uncle. Louis XIV, Peter the Great, Plato, Lincoln, Madame Curie, Isaac Newton, Joan Sutherland, et al., were all great and are part of history. But no one suggests that one is better -- or worse -- than the other ones.

          • Camille says:

            The next great Nemorino:

          • Camille says:

            my favourite Nemorino:

        • louannd says:

          Did you not see last year’s Don Pasquale? It was one of the best productions of the year, and Polenzani was terrific as Ernesto. Netrebko sang beautifully and was a joy to watch. That being said, Florez is a wonder in Rossini but not necessarily Donizetti, IMHO. If you ask me, and I have stated this many times, Brownlee should be the first choice for Nemerino.

          • parpignol says:

            did see Don Pasquale last year; and just got back from L’Elisir, a quite wonderful performance; but what does it mean that here we are, well into the Gelb era, and two of the highlights of this season and last are these familiar Donizetti comedies in pleasant but hardly thrilling old productions with a few amiable stars and, inevitably, Mariusz Kwiecien. . .

          • manou says:

            Camille -- you should have posted this one too

            (insurance : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoCo7VWDUwc&feature=related)

          • Camille says:

            Madama manou!

            Grata io sono.

            Just one little persnickety question, though—-

            What GENDER is this sweet person?

            I am unfamiliar with the name “Bally”--might it be Welsh, Gaelic, or god know what?

            Merci bunches!
            Camille

          • manou says:

            Camille -- your guess is as good as mine….

          • Camille says:

            Bally High?

          • manou says:

            I now have it on the highest authority (Wikipedia), that she is a she -- with a tenor voice.

            In omaggio per lei:

            http://tinyurl.com/7q9ko3p

          • manou says:

            ….and so if she has a tenor voice, it should be Bally Low.

            (esprit de l’escalier)

          • Camille says:

            All things now become illuminated.

            Splendid! For I now have just the right role for this sweet littly lady:

          • Camille says:

            Noch einmal, the adorable BALLY PRELL! Feldmarschallin, please expain to us Auslaender.

      • MontyNostry says:

        Corbelli is a wonderful artist. He was Michonnet in London in the Adriana cast with Gheorghiu and Kaufmann and I felt he was the highlight of the show!

  • Sanford says:

    I’m listening to this performance as I type and I’m terribly unimpressed. I can think of any number of smaller companies in NYC, among them Amore Opera and Regina Opera, not to mention Chelsea Opera and more, that could field a cast as good or better then this. With much cheaper tickets, too.

    • Sanford says:

      Let me add that it’s gotten better as I get further into Act 1. I don’t think I care for Ms. Damrau anymore, but JdF warmed up.

      • MonCoeurSouvreATaVoix says:

        Sorry you feel that way. I respectfully disagree. I find Diana Damrau very satisfying and went to see Elisir mainly because of her. Have you heard her Queen of the Night? Actually, I know I won’t sway you, so let’s just agree to disagree right now.

        • Sanford says:

          I used to like Damrau and I’m not quite sure why I’m less than thrilled at this point. I have heard her Queen Of The Night and it’s wonderful. But as her career has progressed, her voice has satisfied me less and less. But that’s the great thing about music: everyone hears and reacts to it differently. And everyone’s opinions are valid.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Sanford -- she might be superb as the Queen of the Night, but -- like you, I think -- I need a soprano singing lyric repertoire to sound warmer and more lovable. To my ears, her sound can be glary, nasal and somewhat charmless — but this is not to belittle her technical skill, her musicalityand her intelligence as a performer. But, then, I have never been a fan of Gruberova either, who is the mother of many of today’s coloratura-driven sopranos — though I think Damrau is a more generous-sprited singer.

    • Cocky Kurwenal says:

      Are you sure, Sanford? I’d be pretty surprised if there was anybody better than Juan Diego Florez languishing in obscurity picking up contracts for small companies like those you mention. Even Diana Damrau, who for me is less uniquely special is still a very class act indeed -- whether you like either of them or not doesn’t really matter, but to suppose that they are anything less than major international artists who represent the pinnacle of achievement vocally today is a bit far fetched.

      • armerjacquino says:

        I would doubt companies such as the ones Sanford mentions are full of Kwieciens or Corbellis, either.

      • MontyNostry says:

        Celso Abelo sounds like he’s a good bel canto tenor -- more elegant that the rather hard-edged JDF.

        • MontyNostry says:

          … and I’m sort of with Sanford. Both JDF and DD are very skilled singers, but I find them little pleasure to listen to. Neither of them has what I would call beauty or individuality of timbre.

        • manou says:

          Celso Abelo is far from bello and his recent Alvino at the ROH was a major disappointment.

          • MontyNostry says:

            … and La sonnambula is pretty, well, soporific anyway, until the last couple of minutes.

      • Sanford says:

        I never said that they weren’t international stars. I said that I knew people who sing as well or better than them at smaller companies. And a lot of big stars got their start in smaller companies. George Shirley, Neil Shicoff, and Mignon Dunn all got their starts at Amato Opera. One of the Orlovskis in Die Fledermaus in December of 2010, a wonderful countertenor by the name of Nicholas Tamagna, went on to win the Nico Castel vocal competition. Elizabeth Treat just sang in the American Premiere of Mercadante’s I Due Figaro, presented, I might add, by Amore Opera.


        • Camille says:

          And Jon Frederick West, a Wagnerian no less, also got some first gigs at the venerable and beloved, tiny little old Amato Opera.

          If these were small companies in Des Moines, Iowa, well yes, they would likely not be on par with the Met. However, his is New York City, with a larger and better talent pool than, most likely, any other American city. Not everyone who sings on the Met roster is necessarily of any better, or even as good as, these many fine young singers at the DiCapo, Amore, etc. et al. I’ve heard more than my fair share of utter mediocrity on the Met stage.

          Also, Sanford is here and in the midst of these singers, and. More able to judge.

        • ardath_bey says:

          can you please give us specific examples of “people” who sing as well or better than Florez or Kwiecen or Damrau, just give us 3 names, that are currently engaged by NY smaller companies? Not being sarcastic, I’d really like to know.

          You can praise small opera companies and their singers without putting down MET artists. I’ve traveled to Queens, Brooklyn, Westchester, Bronx, even Staten Island to hear friends with smaller companies and the overall quality of the performances have been consistently subpar, sometimes appalling. Starting with the chorus. It doesn’t mean that occasionally we don’t get good, even great singing from someone singing a lead role. Also I wouldn’t call George Shirley, Neil Shicoff or Mignon Dunn “big stars”, what term would one then use for Pavarotti, Sutherland and Price.

          • CruzSF says:

            “gods and goddesses”?

          • Sanford says:

            This will be my last response to the obvious trolling going on here. Not once did I put down the Met’s cast; what I said was that I was unimpressed. And then I pointed out that things got better. And I included two videos of singers who I think sing on a pat with what’s on stage at the Met. Ms. Treat, as far as I’m concerned, can sing rings around Kathleen Kim, for example. And Mr. Tamagna is as good a counter tenor as any other on international stages. As for Mr. Tamgagna, “THE NEW YORK TIMES: ZACHARY WOOLFE: FROM MILAN TO NEW YORK IN 240 YEARS (MAY 2011)

            “The countertenor Nicholas Tamagna, as the worse son, Farnace, was charismatic, vibrant in recitative and with full, rounded tone in his arias. He grew in force and stability…and he understood the most important thing about this repertory: that ornamentation serves a dramatic purpose.”

            Can you please tell me when I said that every singer was that quality? And can you tell me when I ever said that all the singing was even average? Of course, you can’t. I’ve sung with some absolutely wonderful colleagues and I’ve also sung with some colleagues who were absolutely wonderful at some point in the past.

            Everybody starts off somewhere. Domingo started off singing in his parents’ Zarzuela company. Caballe started off in Basel. Sills made her professional debut touring in G&S and made her operatic debut in 1947 as Frasquita with the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company. Please note that between her debut in 1947 and her Giuilio Cesare, which made her an international star, with NYCO almost 20 years passed.

          • ardath_bey says:

            Sanford I’m still waiting for the examples of better or at least as good singers as Florez, Damrau and Kwiecen currently singing at small NY opera companies. You were very specific addressing L’Elisir d’Amore, and said you “could field a cast as good or better then (sic) this”.

            Let’s have it.

            Also, that you “knew people who sing as well or better than them at smaller companies”.

            Their names?

            Your videos feature a countertenor (no countertenors in Elisir) and a soprano singing Der Hölle Rache, which happens to be Diana Damrau’s most watched video on YouTube, in fact the most watched Der Hölle Rache ever with almost 3 million hits (I prefer Luciana Serra’s by the way).

            I don’t think I’m being a “troll” when I simply ask for such sweeping statements as yours to be backed up by evidence.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Hmmm. That Holle Rache doesn’t really do your argument any favours- it’s one of Damrau’s most famous roles and the singer you’ve posted doesn’t get anywhere close to Damrau’s standard.

          • Sanford says:

            It’s all subjective, though, isn’t it? TO me, it’s as good as Damrau’s. It’s not the best recorded sound. I’ve sung with Ms. Treat, and I’ve watched her perform, and she sounds waaay better live.

          • Buster says:

            Edda Moser learned the Queen of the Night by studying Erika Koth’s recording. First time she sang it on stage, Erika Koth was her Pamina!

    • Batty Masetto says:

      With all due respect to the lovely and talented Sanford, I really think y’all are barking up the wrong tree on this Elisir business.

      Now here’s a cast of relative unknowns and role debuts that would really bring them in:

      Adina ……………… Angel Taormina
      Nemorino ………… Walther Pondman
      Belcore ……………. Wenarto (STAR POWER!! I know, he would have to be persuaded, but maybe if we had Walther perform in his undies?)
      Dulcamara …………Placido Domingo (cover: Nadja Michael)

      • Camille says:

        Batty! You are BAAAAD! You had me almost choking to death on my mouthwash from guffawing as I read this!! You Evil Genius, you!

        Hey, give Gualtiero a break, will you, he’s kinda cute! And Angel is now following la petite way--according to my husbo, St. Therese of Lisieux has a following of little lambs of the like.

        Bye bye Bad Batty!
        Bisou
        bad Camille

        • Camille says:

          I DO so hope the cover gets a chance to go on in this production!!

          Poor little duck needs luck!

  • bluecabochon says:

    Sterlingkay, I have seen the production and stated what I thought. You think it’s ugly and I don’t.