Cher Public

  • Sanford: Sills had such an, um, interesting body. She was like a size 8 or 10 up top and an 18 on the bottom. 2:38 PM
  • Ilka Saro: It seems a bit unfair, doesn’t it? 2:34 PM
  • antikitschychick: Happy Birthday to the late-great Beverly Sills (and yes wonderful pic of her!) AND Happy birthday to another Diva (born... 1:56 PM
  • m. croche: …mostly watched time pass while Glass and Wilson became contemporary icons in Europe. Yes, I was just sorting through all... 1:17 PM
  • PCally: Nice photo of sills, very sexy. My sills completism is not but her cleopatra and manon are quite lovely, even if there are others... 1:15 PM
  • whatever: Prince was supposed to direct a new musical (“The Band’s Visit”) for Atlantic Theater Company this Spring but... 12:58 PM
  • Signor Bruschino: Broadway won’t put money & a theatre behind a retrospective of Hal Prince’s work, so he is revitalizing... 12:45 PM
  • NPW-Paris: Yes that was it. What I didn’t like, though, was that it was miked and amplified. 12:17 PM

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

  • 1
    il_guarany says:

    Very interesting contrast to what was written here last night, especially wrt to the conductor. Can’t wait to listen to the broacast now.

  • 2
    Cyrano says:

    Yes, LaC, I would love to hear a bit more elucidation regarding your feelings toward the conductor, if you care/have time to share them. Even the Times mentioned the miscommunication between the pit and the stage (although not the miscommunication that seemed to me to also be there between the conductor and the orchestra at times). Did I, speaking only for myself, just hear things that weren’t there? And I mean that with ALL seriousness and respect. I am very much a newbie compared with most here and always appreciate differing, more-informed opinions. Although this seems different from a lot of the discussions of tone, etc. when it comes to singers. I thought it was just audibly evident that several times throughout the night there was very poor communication/leadership from the conductor, musicians coming in late, singers/chorus coming in late or getting left behind, etc. Was that really not the case? Or was it just a rehearsal issue that shouldn’t detract from the overall performance?

    • 2.1
      Don_Dano says:

      I was listeding to opening night on Sirius, and I too had the impression that timing between the pit and the stage was a bit off.

  • 3
    poisonivy says:

    Great review JJ! We agreed on so many points.

  • 4
    TShandy says:

    James Jorden’s awesome review precisely echoed my hunky ex’s. I have always liked Juan Diego Florez, despite what Anthony Tommasini might spew. As a matter of fact, in the Anthony Tommasini article about amazing technical abilities being “a dime a dozen,” I knew he was going to zing Lang Lang and Juan Diego Florez. I wrote Anthony Tommasini and accused him of “finding a sheath for his betters” in those artists. He responded that he simply didn’t like Juan Diego Florez because he thought his voice was nasal and too light. I think La Cieca should write for the Times.

    • 4.1
      TShandy says:

      My above brilliant take on Shakespeare should have read, “finding a sheath for his dagger in his betters.” Something like that was said by Juliet when she “found a sheath” for Romeo’s dagger in her heart. Oh, how tragic!

  • 5
    Baritenor says:

    Cieca, I’m a little confused. When you sent out the call for a parterrian to review Monday’s performance, I took that to mean you couldn’t be there. And yet here is JJ’s byline…if you were going anyway, why did you need a review for Parterre?

    • 5.1
      La Cieca says:

      For the purposes of the Post‘s reviewing, La Cieca and JJ are two different people who live on either side of a Chinese wall. This is particularly true of the Met. There are occasions when JJ attends the Met as a civilian (i.e., paying for his own ticket) and on those occasions La Cieca feels free to shoot off her pretty mouth.

      • 5.1.1
        Bianca Castafiore says:

        But do JJ and Cieca speak to each other ever?

        • 5.1.1.1
          louannd says:

          It’s like JJ is the candidate and La Cieca is the SuperPac. They cannot possibly seem
          to be coordinating anything, much less speak to each other.

  • 6
    ardath_bey says:

    Tommasini is clueless on Flórez, to me he’s the best thing that happened to opera in the 21st century, I don’t hear nasal or small, just brilliance and virtuosity. I agree with this review except for the conducting. Damrau’s sound is too small for the MET, not Flórez’. She did sing well on Monday, much more focused than I had heard her.

    • 6.1
      sterlingkay says:

      Well I suppose Tony T. is entitled to have favorites—like everyone on parterre does. We all hear voices differently, after all. However, I do believe he needs to be held to a higher standard and he loses all credibility when he refuses to see the obvious flaws in singers he likes like Voigt and Fleming. His review of Latonia Moore’s AIDA is a perfect example-- he nitpicks about things in her performance but refuses to admit that Blythe just does not sound comfortable as AMNERIS, becauae she’s one of his favorites. He is so god-damned predictable. I don’t think he’s EVER given Levine a bad review-- now I think Levine is a wonderful conductor but I have heard a few disappointing performances from him— but not Tony T.!!

      • 6.1.1
        almavivante says:

        I’m no great admirer of Mr. T either, but who is the gal who reviewed L’Elisir for the Times, one Vivien Schweitzer? It’s such a blandly positive piece, it reads as though it could have been written by anyone with the proverbial “little learnin’.” The word “anodyne” is a term I’m never quite sure how to use in conversation, but I suspect it can be applied correctly to this insipid article.

        • 6.1.1.1
          Bianca Castafiore says:

          Well, she did say the production was not particularly good.

          From what I’ve read, she seems to be more of a concert/symphony critic, since TT is the chief opera critic, she and others get the less plum assignments.

        • 6.1.1.2
          brooklynpunk says:

          http://vivienschweitzer.com/

          Ms. Schweitzer has been a “second stringer” on the Arts pages of The NYTimes for quite some time

        • 6.1.1.3
          sterlingkay says:

          The NY TIMES review basically agrees with what the NY POST and POISON IVY wrote so I don’t see why you would dismiss it. She is actually more on the mark about that hideous production than the other two reviews. Those Beni Montresor designs are hideous.

          • almavivante says:

            Anyone with eyesight knows those Montresor sets are awful. (What a strange lapse of taste from him. Regret speaking ill of the dead when he was usually quite an artist. Does anyone recall, for example, the shimmering sets for NYCO’s Magic Flute?) The review tells me nothing I don’t already know or could have reasonably assumed about the performance. Well, well, who’d have thunk it: I never expected to read on Parterre a defense of a Times critic! (And by the way, reviewing a starry revival of L’Elisir strikes me as a plum assignment indeed.)

          • sterlingkay says:

            I guess I’m just happy to read anyone else writing about opera in the TIMES than Tony T. I wonder if there was something else of import happening that Tony T. preferred to go to. Usually the first-string critics at the TIMES choose what they want to cover and then the editors assign what’s left to the second-stringers.

          • La Cieca says:

            The oddball combination of John Copley and Beni Montresor (for a Pavarotti project yet) suggests that this production must have been another of the myriad “quick, let’s throw together something at the last minute since Uncle Joe has just gone and fired the production team again” stagings that were such a constant of the Volpe era.

          • Regina delle fate says:

            But isn’t the Met’s Copley/Montresor Elisir just a slightly more lavish version of the earlier Copley/Montresor production for Covent Garden now replaced since the last time Pav sang it here? I’ve seen JC’s Giulio Cesare at the Met and that’s a more glitzy and expensive replica of his old ENO production.

          • bluecabochon says:

            Hold on a moment -- this is an old production; the designs were lovely originally. I worked with Beni and he was a master of color, and I saw this production maybe 20 years ago, and it was charming. The esthetic is considered passe, and I will see it for the last time before it’s destroyed, just to honor a talented designer and gentleman. I get a little hot under the collar if anyone uses “Beni Montresor” and “ugly” in the same sentence. Mea Culpa!

            If you do a google search for his work you’ll see how he excelled at drama, color and texture. I am hoping to see his sumptuous “Esclarmonde”- I just missed it by a year when I first started going to opera at the Met, and pray that it will be revived in my lifetime. It may be the only production of his left in the Met repertory…maybe somebody here knows.

            In 1979 there was an exhibit of his costumes at the Paris Opera that was so beautiful it made me cry. I didn’t know who he was yet, and I ended up working with him years later. He was knighted by the Italian Government, lived just above Greenwich Village, and had an entourage of fans who would travel wherever he went, just to see his work! Not the singer, the designer!

          • sterlingkay says:

            Beni Montresor was a wonderful designer but no one is perfect. This is, and has alway been, an ugly production. Check the video with Luciano & Battle.

      • 6.1.2
        Camille says:

        Exactly so. Because he is the chief critic of the Grey Lady, he should necessarily be held to the highest possible standards of objective criticism.

        Long ago lost any respect for him, although I must acknowledge him as an intelligent and well-meaning person, in his way. Never pay attention to him anymore at all, much in the same way as how I discounted everything Bernheimer had to say about Sills back in the late ’60’s and all through the ’70’s.

        • 6.1.2.1
          sterlingkay says:

          I can’t abide Bernheimer. He is so in love with his own cute turns of phrase that he has been happy to recycle them for years. He’s another one who has become hopelessly predictable when writing about opera. When writing any review of a MET performance he always has to get a dig in that shows how much he actually hates the MET. Even generally positive reviews of Khovanschina & Elisir have to be peppered with snide remarks about Gelb, the fact that JDF doesn’t sell out the MET, the fact that many of Khovanschina’s audience “fled” during the performance.

          • mrmyster says:

            sterlingkay: it’s too bad that you can’t abide Bernheimer, for
            he is most often 100% on target in his evaluations. Compared to
            Anthony Tommasini of the NYT, MB is Socrates!!
            Get over the style, if you don’t like it, and read for content. I
            find MB the master of the short form, he has to be to fit within
            FT’s limitations, and anyone who has written newspaper
            criticism will know how difficult it is to say a lot in a very
            few words. I admire what he can do!!!

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            I agree with Mrmyster about Bernheimer -- he’s one of very few critics globally who really does just tell it like it is without apologising or beating about the bush. Yes, I find him witty and amusing, and I can understand how that might grate on some people, but at the end of the day what he says is generally true. One of my favourite lines from him, re Satyagraha: Did I like it? Minimally.

          • iltenoredigrazia says:

            Just for the record, there were quite a few empty seats at the beginning of last night’s Khovanshchina and more and more after each intermission. I thought the singing was terrific but overall there was very tepid applause.

          • sterlingkay says:

            I have a theory that if you’re snide, snarky and negative in print, people automatically assume you are an intelligent critic who “tells it like it is” and has high standards. He must know what he’s talking about because he doesn’t like anything!… John Simon anyone?

          • iltenoredigrazia says:

            Just like here? :)

          • Henry Holland says:

            Y’all should count your lucky stars that you have people like Tony T. and Martin B. as regular critics. Here in Los Angeles, we’re stuck with the ghastly Mark Swed at the Times (though further south, Tim Mangan still does a great job for the OC Register and online). Swed doesn’t write reviews, he writes program notes then throws in a few sentences about the actual performance he’s attending.

            I wouldn’t have thought it possible but there’s a bigger John Adams apologist than Alex Ross and it’s Mark Swed. According to Swed, Gustavo Dudamel can do no wrong, he’s already in the pantheon of great conductors (Me: hahahahahahaha, Venezuelan please). etc.

            Come back Martin Bernheimer, Ernest Fleischmann is dead. Please?

  • 7
    il_guarany says:

    That’s what I wondered too, but the end effect of us having two very different takes on the same performance was thought provoking.

  • 8
    Bianca Castafiore says:

    Speaking of the NYT, here’s the review of the Miller/Giordani concert:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/arts/music/marcello-giordani-and-meagan-miller-at-morgan-library.html

    Seems that Giordani’s bad patch continues.

    Very curious about Miller. She seems to get cast a lot in Europe but not in the US…

    • 8.1
      Camille says:

      Thanks very much for posting this review, as I had been wondering about this concert recital and there had been no reports.

      It IS curious that both Ms. Miller and Ms. Moore were winners in the Council Auditions at the Met and find more work in Europe. Maybe it’s because they are not the -ina types that fit into the smaller supporting roles? Just glad to know she is continuing to do well and to grow and hopefully one day we will hear her at the Met. I couldn’t make it to Bard last summer to hear her in Liebe der Danae, and am kind of sorry about that now.

      TA, Bianca, dear.

      • 8.1.1
        Gualtier M says:

        There is a real problem with the casting at the Met and that is that Billingsgate and Fiend have a limited range of radar on singers. They only found out that Latonia Moore was a wonderful Aida and fine singer when she triumphed as Aida at the Royal Opera House. Before that she could have scored in the part in major houses and they wouldn’t have cared or noticed. But a big success in London and they sign her up to cover for Urmana. The other big feeder is that Cardiff Singer of the World competition that produced Dima and Karita but also Tommi Hakala among other duds.

        This is the same duo who could only find a decent Masetto for next season’s “Don Giovanni” in England. Roles like Marcellina and Masetto used to be cast with local house singers -- Bing I don’t think flew singers over the Atlantic to sing those roles. Musettas were locally cast too.

        Anyway the Met didn’t follow meekly in the ROH’s footsteps. They used to have a better stable of singers and a much wider-ranging, longer and more elaborate season with bigger stars.

        • 8.1.1.1
          MontyNostry says:

          Well, in which case, let’s see when the Met catches on to Malin Byström.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            You bring this up a lot Monty, but apart from the fact that the Met already has engaged Bystrom in Faust, she’s only done 2 productions at the ROH so far -- you seem to imply that she’s another Katie Van Kooten or Poplavskaya rather than the impressive young guest artist that she is. I didn’t see her in the ROH Faust, but I thought her Fiordiligi was fabulous -- brilliantly sung and acted with a really distinctive voice and great personality -- a hell of a lot better than I was expecting after her OK Mathilde at the Proms. I think she’s got what it takes to be a leading full lyric soprano of her generation along the lines perhaps of Harteros.

        • 8.1.1.2
          OpinionatedNeophyte says:

          Can those who know more about this speak to the way in house casting people learn about new singers? If someone’s job is casting shouldn’t they spend all of their time, or at least a significant amount of their time traveling the country watching opera, attending vocal competitions? Spending their summers at Young Artists Programs? And how, on earth, can a company that puts on as many performances as the Met justify TWO casting people. Shouldn’t that be one of the more well staffed and funded departments of an opera company?

          • ianw2 says:

            I (obviously) don’t work in the Met’s artistic department but can answer a few of your questions-

            The Met doesn’t need to scour the competitions and recitals circuit (except the big ones like Cardiff) because by the time someone’s career is at the level acceptable for engagements at the Met, they’ve usually gone beyond competitions (and besides, they run their own pretty huge competition to find talent). The Met (and ROH, and Vienna, and Scala) are the apex predators of the casting world, and has rarely been in the business of finding new talent (the Met has long been criticized of being particularly slow in acknowledging ‘new’ singers- a criticism that pre-dates Billinghurst and Friend’s arrival on the scene).

            The casting people do travel, and quite extensively. When Joan Ingpen formalised the casting system (which was much needed), she also made it very difficult to be more responsive to a hot new singer with their infamous five year contracting periods. So the Met may hear some bright new Verdi soprano, but the window of engagement is several years in advance- when she’s already made waves in Vienna, Paris, Munich, LA etc… and is not longer the hot new thing (which gives us at Parterre the deep pleasure of howling ‘why haven’t they hired Ethel Bloggs for Isolde!!!!’ when, five years ago, when the Met was casting such a major role, Bloggs was still singing Micaela in Nashville or Oviedo).

            Billinghurst heads a large artistic department, so its not just her and Friend. And of course conductors, directors, Levine’s staff and Gelb all have input into casting. And sometimes singers become persona non grata to an artistic department because they’re just not liked enough.

            Senior opera personnel do travel around to young artist programs (there was that book about the LOC program- Sacred Monsters, maybe?) and do cattle call auditions to hear who’s around. I would imagine, from the Met’s perspective, there is a limited field of programs worth their resources to follow, on the assumption that the expense and time to spend two days in an chilly Omaha rehearsal studio is not equivalent to two days in San Fran or Chicago in the likelihood of someone showing some Met potential.

            Plus, these people all talk to each other. Freud talks to Billinghurst with a “you should come and hear Alexander Baskets, I think you’ll like what you hear”. Maestro Flobbelgetts says to Friend one day over lunch in the cafeteria “have you heard Stefan Cuopio? He’s currently doing Fafner in Gothenburg”. Just like you’d trust the recommendations of a friend over what you’d read on Yelp.

          • ianw2 says:

            Oh, and I forgot to mention in that casting ecosystems the agents. So someone like Palant or Mastroianni at IMG would also be in contact with the Met, dropping hints and videos.

          • Camille says:

            Have you ever heard Ethel Bloggs’s Isolde, ian W from the future? I did so at Newcastle, and it was definitely not up to parterrian standards. She was hoarse the entire second act and a cover had to come on to sing the Liebestod.

          • ianw2 says:

            The cover I thought was quite good- Raquel Ladonna- but of course she’d never get hired at the Met as she’s just too fat for a HD and we all know how size-ist Gelb is.

          • manou says:

            Ian -- but nobody could sing Isolde like Anna Themasuvoy.

          • ianw2 says:

            I suppose Manou, but she was so often cruelly looked over in favour of fuckin’ Brit artist Honoria Llewellyn-Ffotherington Hall who has no business doing anything beyond the third cast of a regional tour of Pinafore, but of course went to Oxbridge with Friend’s former badminton partner.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Ian- then you get Ethel Bloggs making her debut, at which point she is hailed as the second coming, and everyone starts kvetching about the fact that she isn’t singing every lead in the following season, which was cast four years previously.

          • manou says:

            Ian -- that’s what Friends are for.

        • 8.1.1.3
          Nerva Nelli says:

          “Roles like Marcellina and Masetto used to be cast with local house singers – Bing I don’t think flew singers over the Atlantic to sing those roles. Musettas were locally cast too.”

          Usually but not always. Of course, Bing flew Famous Quickly back from her starry doings in Europe to “face” Marcellina, but usually it was a house mezzo role.

          He did bring in a few foreign Musettas, some doing a broad rep (like Soderstroem and Rothenberger) and a few not (Jolanda Meneguzzer, who actually recorded the part for DGG).

          And of course Joan Ingpen brought in Armer’s favorite (Dame Jo) for 4 inaudible performances of Musetta! The old dragon also gave her bridge buddy the mediocre Jocelyne Taillon *11* performances of Marcellina, including a NP and its telecast.

      • 8.1.2
        Clita del Toro says:

        Does Gelb ever listen to these singers? Does he know what he is hearing?
        I saw Amber Wagner sing a wonderful Elsa at LOC; at the Met, they put her in Nabucco as Anna?? What a waste!

        • 8.1.2.1
          Bianca Castafiore says:

          Obviously they don’t listen to their own perf., how else would you explain such mediocrity in some of their casts?

          Other Americans who should be singing at the Met but don’t: Nagelstad, Wilson, Baird.

  • 9
    OpinionatedNeophyte says:

    Should be the Met’s next Nemorino.

  • 10
    Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

    I was in the house for Monday’s L’ELISIR. For me it had much the feeling of being at the final dress: some bumpy and awkward disconnects between orchestra and singers as well as scenery on rolling dolly’s rolling right into other dollys and having to be manipulated and unblocked by the human handlers in full view of the audience. Florez, whom I like very much, took a while to warm up, sounding the smallest and most nasal I have ever heard him (at the Met) for the first 15 minutes or so. He has a charming, goofy stage presence as Nemorino and his ‘Una furtiva’ was very well sung: beautifully phrased, musical, exemplary legato, the timbre and physical placement of the tone from emission of the very first vowel just right. ‘Una furtiva’ in the hands of a good tenor should cast a spell and silence the coughers, bracelet-janglers and candy-unwrappers. Florez did. Very nice, and I heard Gedda, Alva, Kraus, Bergonzi, Carreras & Pavarotti in this music. Damrau didn’t do a whole lot for me. Very nice, very professional but ‘Prendi per me’ and other moments were sort of perfunctory and not moving. This production has Adina being extra pert and perky with lots of swirling and whirling which I personally could live without. Kwiecien had some genuine oomph and stage personality and of all the singers you could hear him loud and clear. Corbelli is a pro, can knock out the patter (and in good Italian) but is kind of vocally threadbare and costumed unflatteringly and garishly in this production. For me, no one has effaced memories of Fernando Corena’s scene-stealing entrance, a la the Wizard of Oz, in the hot-air balloon of the old Merrill/O’Hearn production of my youth. Renzetti was sort of vin ordinaire (as Dulcamara says: “E’ Bordò, non elisir”) and especially in the beginning of the opera just sounded tired and lackluster. In music that should sparkle like prosecco Renzetti’s bubbles were flat.
    PS: I’m also in the Bernheimer fan club. Knowledgeable, straight-shooter, gets to the core and the point quickly.

    • 10.1
      iltenoredigrazia says:

      Yes, JDF’s is a nasal sound. We all know it. Must it be repeated every time we talk about him?

      Nemorino has been sung by very different kinds of tenors, but during the last 20 or 30 years Pavarotti pretty much made it his own and it’s hard now not to listen to Una Furtiva without hearing that round honey spinto sound of Luciano’s. But Kraus had also a nasal sound and his Nemorino was quite good. Tagliavini, Alva, and Valletti for example had small lyric voices -- possibly smaller than JDF’s -- and they all made their marks in the role. Bergonzi had a different voice from all of those and he was also a succesfull Nemorino. And so was Caruso a century ago. Similarly, Polenzani next year will offer his own version. Sweeter than JDF’s, smaller that Pavarotti’s, larger than Alva’s, etc.

  • 11
    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.

    • 11.1
      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.

      • 11.1.1
        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!

      • 11.1.2
        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.

      • 11.1.3
        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.

      • 11.1.4
        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.

    • 11.2
      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.

      • 11.2.1
        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.

        • 11.2.1.1
          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.”

        • 11.2.1.2
          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:

        • 11.2.1.3
          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.

      • 11.2.2
        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!

  • 12
    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.

    • 12.1
      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.

      • 12.1.1
        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.

        • 12.1.1.1
          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.

    • 12.2
      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.

      • 12.2.1
        armerjacquino says:

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

      • 12.2.2
        MontyNostry says:

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

        • 12.2.2.1
          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.

        • 12.2.2.2
          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.

      • 12.2.3
        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.


        • 12.2.3.1
          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.

        • 12.2.3.2
          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.

        • 12.2.3.3
          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!

    • 12.3
      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)

      • 12.3.1
        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

        • 12.3.1.1
          Camille says:

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

          Poor little duck needs luck!

  • 13
    bluecabochon says:

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