Cher Public

Pain and suffering

A woman unhappy with the Bolshoi Opera’s controversial staging of Ruslan and Ludmila was denied a one million ruble compensation bid by Moscow’s Tverskoi court on Monday. Muscovite Svetlana Voronina demanded a million rubles and a ticket to a traditional staging of the opera in compensation “for the moral agony experienced when watching the performance.” [The Moscow Times]

  • CruzSF

    I guess there’s no law there making her pay for wasting the court’s time. :-(

    • m. croche

      In Soviet Russia, you don’t waste time. Time wastes you…

      • Batty Masetto

        Unfortunately, time wastes me no matter where I am. :(

  • Nero Wolfe

    What’s a million rubles in dollars? Because I have seem a few productions that caused me moral agony.

    • CruzSF

      Today, it’s $33,547.478

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        I hope she will appeal and settle for 30 thousand.

      • whatever

        using this woman’s logic, i wonder how many rubles we parterriani would owe wenarto? :)

        • Batty Masetto

          Our debt to Wenarto is beyond price or measure.

  • Clita del Toro

    one million rubles = $33,544.10

    • Clita del Toro

      sorry, i didn’t the the other post

  • Belfagor

    Does anybody remember Edna Welthorpe (Mrs) who was the alter-ego of UK playwright Joe Orton (Entertaining Mr Sloane/Loot/What the Butler Saw+ biopic ‘Prick up your Ears’) -- he would write letters in her name, mostly haranguing his own works, and unsuspecting newspapers would publish them: my fave was ‘My cat has boils because of the FILTH on the telly’…………

    Are we sure this is not Cherniakov’s mother?

    And ‘moral agony’. My, my -- she should try immoral agony -- its more transient, and tends to become addictive….

    • MontyNostry

      I think it was Galina. After all, she wasn’t too keen on the ‘oligarch’s dining room’ Onegin.

  • Harry

    Let’s not forget the fella that went to Court and got his ticket money back from Opera Australia for a vile production of Verdi’s Nabucco. Complete with piles of victims’ shoes left all over the stage, as a certain WW2 reminder. Directed by that ever try-so-hard pupil of the regiemental school, Barrie Kosky.

    • Feldmarschallin

      Kosky did a superb production of Die Schweigsame Frau here with a high pregnant Diana Damrau. Pity that they only did 3 performances but it is due for a revival in a few years.

      • Nerva Nelli

        “Die Schweigsame Frau… is due for a revival in a few years.”

      • Regina delle fate

        FM -- why in a few years? I thought it was a huge Publikumserfolg as well as a critical success. It seems bizarre that Munich of all places should mount a new production of this now very rare piece, have a stonking triumph and then hide it in storage for “a few years”. Astonishing.

  • I saw this online and rather liked it. It was particularly beautiful in the first act with glittery, traditional Russian costumes worn during the wedding, which turned out to be a bit of bait. The photographs released prior to the show apparently reflected a more traditional production, but it was in fact far from traditional. Here is the Operacake blog post:

    Nothing but spy videos on YT, but it was available on Arte for awhile.

    • m. croche
      • m. croche -- Well you got me- I want my traditional chinese opera!

        • m. croche

          How can you not love “Lusilan yu Liudemila”?

      • brooklynpunk

        MANY MANY THANKS, fer that, m.croche….!!

        ..I had only been able to watch half of this production, before it “disappeared ” from ARTE.. so I am very greatful to get to see the whole thing…!!

  • m. croche

    Silly woman! Every Russian knows that if you want pain and suffering at the opera house, you buy a ticket for …

  • grimoaldo

    Shortly after the Italian premiere of “Aida” in 1872, Verdi received a letter from a dissatisfied theatregoer who complained that he had heard a lot about Aida so he thought he should go to see it and made a special trip to Milan to do so, but he did not enjoy it. However he kept reading in the press how great the opera was so he thought he should give it another try, so traveled to Milan to see it again, but he still hated the opera, he thought it was all “media hype” as we should say today that it was so well-known. He said he couldn’t stop thinking about all the money he had wasted on these two trips to see Verdi’s terrible opera, and sent the composer an itemised bill:

    Railroad, going: 2.60
    Railroad, returning: 3.30
    Theatre: 8.00
    Disgustingly bad dinner: 2.00

    Twice: 15.90

    Total: 31.80

    (This is quoted as an example of how bad inflation can get on an economics page
    “This is all in lire. When Italy adopted the euro the exchange rate was 1,936.27 ? to 1 €. That’s some inflation!”)

    Verdi had his publisher, Ricordi, write to the man and make him sign a pledge never to attend one of his operas again. Then he sent him a refund for the train and opera tickets but not the “two disgustingly bad dinners” because, Verdi said, he would have had to eat his dinner whether he had gone to see Aida or not.

    • grimoaldo

      To correct myself -- the complainer to Verdi did not say it was media hype, he said the only good thing about “Aida” was the scenery -- “the opera contains absolutely nothing thrilling or electrifying, and if it were not for the magnificent scenery, the audience would not sit through it to the end. It will fill the theatre a few more times and then gather dust in the archives.”
      Verdi to Ricordi:”please reimburse 27.80 lire in my name This isn’t the entire sum for which asks me, but… to pay for his dinner too! No. He could very well have eaten at home!!! Of course he will send you a receipt for that sum and a note, by which he promises never again to go to hear my new operas”.

      And it was the first performance of Aida in Parma, not Milan, as the receipt from the unhappy opera goer says:
      “I, the undersigned, certify herewith that I have received the sum of 27.80 lire from Maestro Giuseppe Verdi, as reimbursement of my expenses for a trip to Parma to hear the opera Aida. The Maestro felt it was fair that this sum should be restored to me, since I did not find his opera to my taste. At the same time it is agreed that I shall undertake no trip to hear any of the Maestro’s new operas in the future, unless he takes all the expenses upon himself, whatever my opinion of his work may be. ”

      Then Verdi sent all this correspondence to the newspapers, bringing much mockery and scorn to the complainer.

      • Talk of the Town

        Viewable here and in i>Aida: A History of an Opera in Letters and Documents. I don’t have it in front of me hand now but I seem to recall that publication might have been Ricordi’s idea.

        Seeing as Verdi had been paid the highest-ever commission for writing Aida, I guess he thought he could spare a few lire.

        When he signed the letter he also told Ricordi:

        ‘If Maestro Verdi reimburses me, this means that he has found what I wrote fim to be correct. It’s my duty to thank him, however, and I ask you to do it for me.'”


  • oedipe

    At the HD of the Met Faust, I sat next to a well dressed lady who, as a benefactor of the Paris Opera, got invited to Moscow to see the Cherniakov Ruslan. She told me she had hated the Cherniakov production because it did not “respect” the original. At the same time, she LOVED the Met Faust because of its “intelligence” and “respect for the original”.
    I could see where she was coming from: the Ruslan was biting satire, fiercely relevant to modern audiences, whereas the Faust was same old, same old shallowness, dressed up to look (ugly) pretend-modern.

    • oedipe

      P.S. For what it’s worth, she had HATED the disrespectful Martinoty Faust.

      • I definitely am lining up for that production.

    • Regina delle fate

      What do these people expect? Tcherniakov’s Onyegin has probably been written about -- and seen -- by more people than ever see an average Bolshoi production. Does anyone know if Ruslan was a co-production with anyone. DT is expensive so his shows are usually shared-cost, but the Musiektheater only really lends itself to collaborations with the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg and I can’t see them doing Glinka any time soon.

      • Belfagor

        I think this is all very funny.

        First -- the assumption that ‘Ruslan’ has traditionally been for kids, and that M Cherniakov has spoiled it and made it all dirty. That would have been news for Glinka and Pushkin -- Pushkin especially, as he had a filthy, scurrilous mind, and peppered his texts with all sorts of playful and off colour innuendo. Of course none of that survives in Glinka’s chaotic opera, which I suppose looks as if it should be a spangly fairy tale to cover up for the fact that not a lot happens.

        I think it says a lot for the average attention span of the Russian child that they sit through 3.5 hours of something, that is usually extremely static. I guess it’s useful training for the food queues……….

        Have to say I think Tcherniakov is good news -- even when he misfires, he’s interesting…….

  • Camille

    Does this mean I can dun the Met on charges of “AURAL AGONY” , In re the recent performance of MacBARF I attended with Nada’s ululatory excretia???

    Please say yes Mr. Geld.

    • Nerva Nelli

      Demand a $200 rebate for each Zerlina aria one sat through:


  • papopera

    Bravo! there should be more Voroninas around protesting against the bullshit that is served to us by those omnicient directors.

    • Mrs Rance

      Yes indeed, and I’ve always thought these kind of productions should be billed as “Willy Decker’s La Traviata” and “Des McAnuff’s Faust” etc.
      At least “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” is pretty much what its creator intended.

      • armerjacquino

        Oh, this tedious argument again. Neither the TRAV nor the FAUST changed any of the music- they presented Verdi’s and Gounod’s opera respectively. Neither production even changes the story, particularly. The TRAV in particular is totally faithful to the plot as outlined in the libretto. If it were on a more conventional set it would be utterly uncontroversial.

        And how clever of you to know what the composer intended! We know what Verdi intended in the 1850s. Nobody can say with any authority at all how he would have wanted his opera presented in 2012 (although my guess is that such a consummate man of the theatre would have been baffled at the idea that it should be preserved as a museum piece and ignore the intervening 160 years).

      • Decker and McAnuff both have their names on the productions; what’s more, the Met (and co-producing companies) released in advance photographs, renderings and descriptions of the productions. For example, more than two months before Faust opened at the Met, the New York Post published this:

        McAnuff, who also mounted Berg’s “Wozzeck” for the Santa Fe Opera, is updating the story to the 20th century, inspired by the life of mathematician Jacob Bronowski, who witnessed the horrors of Auschwitz and Hiroshima and afterward devoted himself to the study of anthropology.

        In this “Faust,” the hero is an atomic scientist who escapes the horrors he sees by going back to his youth, circa 1900. McAnuff calls this “one of the primal fantasies of all people: If I could only go back, if I could recapture my innocence, jettison the cynicism I have built up over the years.”

        How much more label warning do you need?

  • Clita del Toro

    I want my money back from Sirius and $100,000,00 in cash for the nausea that Reneigh has caused me over the years. I might also sue SONY and PBS for her telecasts as well.
    I want to sue the Met for allowing Nada and Giordani to driving me up a wall.

    • Clita del Toro


    • Camille

      Good luck, Clita, with that litigation. I hope you win and leep us posted on your results!
      Love and luck
      Cammie von Courthouse

    • operadunce

      RF has caused you nausea for years and yet you keep going back for more evidently. Sounds like assumption of the risk to me.

      • Clita del Toro

        Dunce. Lol

  • oedipe

    I find it ironic (and pause giving) that these days one is more likely to see a controversial production at the Bolshoi than at the Met…

  • Clita del Toro

    OT: LOL Funny review from opera-l crazy, Walter Guitan: Alagna and Gheorghiu concert at Teatro Colon: Duets and arias from Adriana, Tosca. La Wally:

    This is the first time we listen the tenor and the soprano. We are all shocked and we cannot beleive the lie and the fraud that is Angela Gheorghiù . One can say it was a concert by students, that Gheorghiù voice is very ordinary which has no sound, etc but no history of a famous soprano who have no voice. We attended a trade show of the silent at the Colon
    Angela Gheorghiù is a soubrette the only thing she can sing (with a voice like hers) soubrette roles are over with a voice of crap.
    He was noticeable better but overall it was a shame and a scam and insulting to the opera.


    • Krunoslav

      I remain convinced that the fire-spitting Senor Guitan is a brilliant invention of Manuel Puig.

      For him, the ONLY soprano is Tebaldi — well, maybe Hina Spani existed before her, but that’s about it.