Cher Public


The story is short, but to the point: this soprano has been “sacked” from a major opera house’s gala Puccini revival. And ya know why? Because she’s been “faffing and messing them about,” whatever that means.

  • Tubsinger

    OFF TOPIC: Lili Chookasian is reported dead by NY Times. 90 years old…

  • Tenorfach
    • Ilka Saro

      The complaint “faffing and messing about” is decidedly not American english.

    • sterlingkay

      Boy she does have a tendency to leave opera companies high & dry, doesn’t she? One wonders whether the MET will even bother anymore since she’s already backed out of three productions she had agreed to. We’ll see if she shows up for the Scala LOHENGRIN in December.

    • sterlingkay

      Interesting how that ROH press release is worded…they could’ve easily just said she’s unable to appear, but they make a point about her backing out of agreed-to rehearsals. This seems to be her M.O.— she agrees to a rehearsal schedule and then just wants to show up the day before to do the performance (which, of course, is what she gets paid for—singers are not paid for rehearsals). I know there are extenuating circumstances (aren’t there always??) but it does seem like she’s “messing people about” a bit.

      But would this BOHEME really be considered a GALA revival?? Maybe La Cieca is referring to something else…

    • grimoaldo

      Sounds like this is the one to me.
      “Faffing about” = wasting time, doing something trivial or other than what you ought to be doing, being disorganised.
      “I wish you’d stop faffing about on the internet and do something worthwhile”, for instance.
      Definitely a British colloquialism.

      • manou

        Anya faffed and lost.

        • Better to have faffed and lost, I think they say…

          • manou

            Faff Out Loud!

    • armerjacquino

      ‘The story is short’

      ‘La storia mia e breve’

      • Ilka Saro

        Well interpreted, o interpreter of blind items!

    • FragendeFrau82

      I am so sorry to hear this because I am a big Harteros fan, and everyone knows about her husband’s health problems and the fact that these contracts are arranged so far in advance but I do find it odd the ROH makes this decision AFTER public booking has opened and many tickets were sold on her casting.

      • sterlingkay

        Well…to be fair, they had no way of knowing Harteros wouldn’t show up to her contracted rehearsals. Sounds like one of those deals: “I’ll be in London tomorrow”…doesn’t show up…”I’ll definitely be there tomorrow”….doesn’t show up. etc. It’s clear they fired her from the ROH release.

      • Tenorfach

        Excuse me, I doubt very much the production is sold her name or mainly on her name.

        Firstly there were/are still tickets available to most dates and secondly, Calleja as Roldolfo is a big draw for many, too.

        If she looses out, it is her own doing, sadly.

        • armerjacquino

          Celine Byrne sounds lovely, from what I hear on YouTube, so here’s hoping for a ‘star is born’ moment.

          But I’m very aware that I’ve splashed out on tickets to see Harteros twice in half a year and ended up seeing someone else on both occasions.

          • April Mills:Aprile Millo::Celine Byrne:Csilla Boross?

          • ilpenedelmiocor

            The only reason I don’t hate on her is because they actually allowed refunds when she dropped out here, and I took it — well, that and the thing with her husband. But they will definitely never try to engage her locally again.

  • tannengrin

    Hm. What’s Angela up to these days?

  • Camille

    When was it that Bruce Willis last had that much hair??

    Well, “ya know” is being employed so I will take a wild guess and say it is La Racette? Perhaps in Tosca….

    • Very clever for you to latch onto “ya know,” but it’s not a clue. Or, rather, not all of is a clue.

      • So, either “ya” or “know” is a clue? Curiouser and curiouser…

      • Camille

        Depending on what the meaning of “is” is, I reckon

      • Hansel

        “And ya” = Anja … so I guess la Gheorghiu is still on for her anniversary performance.

        • Camille

          Tsk! Now I see that had it been ya know, it would have been set off by quotations. And ya = Anja.

          Too sly by half for me, all the blind alleys and regiementalteatro games.

  • Clita del Toro

    OY: Gramophone’s “Hall of Fame” lol

    Gramophone Hall of Fame

    Conductors Claudio ABBADO ? John BARBIROLLI ? Daniel BARENBOIM ? Thomas BEECHAM ? Leonard BERNSTEIN ? Pierre BOULEZ ? Wilhelm FURTWÄNGLER ? John Eliot GARDINER ? Nikolaus HARNONCOURT ? Herbert von KARAJAN ? Carlos KLEIBER ? Otto KLEMPERER ? Simon RATTLE ? Georg SOLTI ? Arturo TOSCANINI

    Singers Janet BAKER ? Cecilia BARTOLI ? Jussi BJÖRLING ? Maria CALLAS ? Enrico CARUSO ? Joyce DIDONATO ? Plácido DOMINGO ? Dietrich FISCHER-DIESKAU ? Birgit NILSSON ? Luciano PAVAROTTI ? Elisabeth SCHWARZKOPF ? Joan SUTHERLAND

    Pianists Martha ARGERICH ? Claudio ARRAU ? Daniel BARENBOIM ? Alfred BRENDEL ? Glenn GOULD ? Vladimir HOROWITZ ? LANG LANG ? Murray PERAHIA ? Maurizio POLLINI ? Sviatoslav RICHTER ? Arthur RUBINSTEIN

    String/brass players Dennis BRAIN ? Pablo CASALS ? Jacqueline DU PRÉ ? Jascha HEIFETZ ? Yehudi MENUHIN ? David OISTRAKH ? Itzhak PERLMAN ? Mstislav


    Producers/record label executives John CULSHAW ? Walter LEGGE ? Ted PERRY

    • You seem to disagree with most of these. Or are just indulging in a little uptalking?

      • Clita del Toro

        No, the dots in the original appear to have become question marks when I copied it?? I hate uptalking. Don’t only women to that?

  • Clita del Toro

    Singers Janet BAKER (?) ? Cecilia BARTOLI (OY!)? Jussi BJÖRLING (YES)? Maria CALLAS (YES)? Enrico CARUSO (YES)? Joyce DIDONATO (Not really) ? Plácido DOMINGO (never)? Dietrich FISCHER-DIESKAU (OY)? Birgit NILSSON (aybe) ? Luciano PAVAROTTI (?) ? Elisabeth SCHWARZKOPF (?) ? Joan SUTHERLAND (YES)

    This is totally ridiculous.

  • Liz.S

    My initial thought was Pappano vs Nebs, but can this be about Ms G. (Rondine) @ the Met?

    • Liz.S

      Ah, I was so off -- left the page open for a while and didn’t see the entries… sorry!

  • Seriously? Operas singers at her level aren’t paid for rehearsal time? Genuinely curious to know how these things are negotiated.

    • FragendeFrau82

      Makes all that arriving ‘at the last minute’ more understandable, to me.

    • sterlingkay

      Nope….they’re just paid for performances. I just read an article with Jonas Kauffman in the New York Review of Books and he pretty much says that he will be doing more revivals rather than new productions since the rehearsal periods are shorter and he only makes money on the performances.

      • grimoaldo

        “In her prime, (Adelina) Patti demanded to be paid $5000 a night, in gold, before the performance… Her contracts also insisted that while she was “free to attend all rehearsals, she was not obligated to attend any”

    • justanothertenor

      Actually, I believe ROH is under obligation to pay a rehearsal fee, albeit small. It is one of the few companies in the UK to operate under the rules of Equity, and therefore they must pay something for rehearsals…

      • CarlottaBorromeo

        I’m quite certain Madame Harteros’s fee would be several thousand pounds above the cut-off level below which, under the union agreements, weekly rehearsal money is obligatory. The Royal Opera does negotiate rehearsal payments for higher-fee artists depending on the length of the rehearsal period. For a thrown-on revival like this Boheme I very much doubt any rehearsal fee would be offered.

        Interestingly Covent Garden is not yet saying publically that the Russian import Colline, Yuri Vorobiev, will not be appearing -- he failed to get a visa!

      • anninadondevieni

        All the main opera houses in the UK pay a rehearsal fee, and it is generally comensurate with the performance fee.

  • brooklynpunk

    Is “faffing” around something done by, or to, a giant who then turned into a dragon??…

  • Porgy Amor

    Many of these people are not favorites of mine, but only a few stand out as objectionable on some level beyond personal taste. Barenboim as a HOF pianist? Lang Lang…really? Among the singers, I’m not sure what Bartoli has done to merit being in that company, and DiDonato (whom I love) seems premature — no more or less HOF-worthy, yet, than many others on the scene today.

    Oh, it was a selection by readers’ vote. Never mind.

  • Tenorfach

    Guess it could be Angela G for the upcoming two-performance La Boheme with Hubby, at ROH. That wouldn’t be quite so much of a surprise although MANY will be disappointed and will Roberto still sing without Angela?

    Angela certainly has been both faffing about and messing more than one major opera house, about! LOL And yes, these are very English terms, so guess it is ROH one way or the other.

    • papopera

      Faff, to faff : doing nothing; wasting time, dilly-dally, doing stupid things. In other words in English North America, US and Canada: doing fuck all.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        faff |faf|Brit. informal
        “to spend time in ineffectual activity”:
        How much longer will Dessay be permitted to faff around the MET?

  • armerjacquino

    Just ‘cos it’s nearly the end of the week so we’re miles from the intermission feature (and because we’re on a theme of replacements, sort of- all right, I know it’s tenuous) during all the various speculations as to who would play Heidi in FOLLIES/replace Elias in LA, did anyone guess Carol Neblett? Because if you did- score!

  • Nerva Nelli

    “this soprano has been “sacked” ”

    • Camille

      Wie wunderbar!

      Thank you so much, Nerva Divina.

    • Donna Carlo

      Anent sacks: I’m wondering why no one has ventured Puccini’s Rigoletto.

    • papopera

      What an amusing gem ! An inoffensive production by Hitler’s UFA in 1938. It kept the mind of the German people away from the real drama in those years.

  • spiderman

    Well, rumour has it that Anja H is a difficult diva as you can get …

    • oedipe

      Well, rumour has it that Anja H is a difficult diva as you can get …

      In that sentence, substitute A G for A H and everybody will start foaming at the mouth and mumbling: “Why do opera houses persist in hiring that b**ch?” Just saying…

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Well, I think we’re getting to that point with Harteros too, Oedipe, at least those of us who try to see her in houses outside her 100km radius from her house, or whatever her rule is.

        I have a bad feeling about Otello at the ROH later this season, after the Suor Angelica debacle and now this -- the 3 productions I was most looking forward to this season. Between these and Netrebko pulling out of Traviata, they’d better hope Gheorghiu shows up for her Bohemes, or it will be a more or less totally starless Royal Opera season in terms of the sopranos, worthy though the replacements have so far been.

        • MontyNostry

          Well, at least there is no shortage of decent lyric and full-lyric sopranos who can einspringen, though I was disappointed when AH cancelled Suor Angelica. I liked Jaho (and had liked her as Violetta too, when AN cancelled in 2008), but there is no getting away from the fact that her voice isn’t really up to a big sing like Angelica in a house the size of the ROH.

          • armerjacquino

            I’m surprised that you should say that, Monty- I was hugely disappointed when Harteros cancelled Angelica, and went along expecting to be underwhelmed, but Jaho absolutely blew me away (and I was at the back of the Amphi!)

            While we’re einspringing, by the way, note also that the ROH has quietly replaced Harteros (with Opolais) for the new MANON LESCAUT in 13-14.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Armerj, good point -- I’d been assuming the Manon Lescaut cast change was down to Harteros deciding against adding the role to her repertoire, or reprising it if she’s done it before, and it’s fairly pleasing news -- Opolais is a much better fit for it. But I guess there could be something more sinister afoot if Boheme rehearsal wranglings have been going on behind the scenes during contract negotiations for a little while, on top of the Suor Angelica business. This is pure conjecture though.

            Totally agree with you about Jaho, but sort of agree with Monty too -- objectively, I felt it was too small and a bit beyond her, but at the same time I was totally swept away and moved to tears both during the performance and every time I thought about it afterwards for quite some time.

          • Nerva Nelli

            Question: I’ve only heard Opolais on her DVd of RUSALKA, where she sings well enough but sounds like a Musetta or Lauretta. Does she really have the body of voice for Manon Lescaut-- or just the body?

          • armerjacquino

            She was a massive hit as Butterfly last season- the kind of reviews you write yourself and even better word-of-mouth. I think CK saw her and was very impressed.

            I’m amused by the suspicion- almost an implication that slim and good looking= unable to sing.

          • Nerva Nelli

            It’s not a suspicion- as I said, on the RUSALKA she lacks the fullness of voice implicit in the music.

            Lot of singers can do a Cio-Co-San with lighter resources than are apt for a Manon Lescaut: Stratas, Pilou, dal Monte & de los Angeles all come to mind.

            Jaho did a superb Butterfly in Philly but withdrew from the upcoming MANON LESCAUT down there and is being replaced by Michelle Johnson , fresh out of AVA.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Nerva, as ArmerJ mentions, I saw her Royal Opera debut as Butterfly. I can’t imagine getting the impression that she’d be a Musetta or Lauretta, but I suppose that just goes to show how deceptive recordings can be. (Bianca will no doubt be jumping for joy at my admission there). The voice was pleasingly large with a lot of spinto thrust to it, but a refined enough technique for her to be able to float properly produced piannissimo top notes where called for. She didn’t tire audibly in this long role, and was really thrilling at moments like the sighting of the ship, che tua madre, and the end.

            Suitable roles I’d like to hear her sing, based on what I heard, would include Tosca, Senta, lots of Janacek, Minnie, Aida, Elisabeth, Elsa, Fidelio, Suor Angelica, Fedora -- you get the picture. Enough flexibility in the line for Italian spinto stuff, enough solidity for some Jugendlichdramatische stuff, plenty of volume and force in general.

          • MontyNostry

            Well, the acoustic in the Amphi at the ROH is probably the best in the house as far as orchestral/vocal balance goes, while I was in one of those side seats in the Balcony, where the orchestra is very present. In Tabarro, even Westbroek and Antonenko didn’t sound especially powerful (and Gallo doesn’t have much of a voice to start with), but Jaho has a fragility in her timbre (a bit Cotrubas-y) and not a great deal of amplitude — though she knows how to use her voice and it has some penetration when the going gets tough!

            I am really sorry not to have seen Opolais live. The Butterfly on the radio sounded fantastic (I saw La Nizza). I was meant to see her as Tatyana in Riga last year, but she got swopped for someone else. I presume she’s not singing at present since she had a daughter a few months ago and, sadly, the child has been ill — Andris Nelsons has been cancelling engagements, as you have probably also read.

          • Nerva Nelli

            Well, terrific! It would be nice to have someone that gorgeous in that rep who could actually sing well, given what’s out there now:


          • MontyNostry

            Here’s a clip from Opolais’ ROH Butterfly

            She has an unusual sound -- strong, but slightly smoky and grainy. Very visceral.

            And she looks great in a corset! (see cabaletta)

          • Regina delle fate

            Cocky -- I don’t think their is anything sinister in the Manon Lescaut substitute. I was told that Harteros has changed her mind about the role for the time being. The Munich production Kaufmann is doing is planned for Netrebko.

        • oedipe


          This is pure speculation on my part, but I would be VERY surprised if AG failed to show up for La Bohème at the ROH, considering how important it is to her on a personal level. After all, she must have worked really hard to be in it, just in order to get to sing alongside Bobby! You may recall that, initially, Alagna was supposed to sing with Frittoli in these two performances.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Funnily enough, it has vanished from Gheorghiu’s Operabase entry -- do they know something we don’t? It certainly was there before, but obviously it could just be an error. She’d be justified in pulling out due to sheer boredom -- it’s the only role she seems to be doing for an entire 10 month period in various places.

            While we’re on the subject of Gheorghiu’s future plans, I do find it interesting that she is doing Tosca in San Francisco -- isn’t that a Met sized house? Hopefully it’ll confound the nay-sayers about her suitability for the role, in which she was quite amazing in London.

          • grimoaldo

            “I do find it interesting that she is doing Tosca in San Francisco – isn’t that a Met sized house?”

            “What is the seating capacity of the Metropolitan Opera House?

            The opera house has 3,800 seats plus 195 standing room places, making a total capacity of 3,995

            San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center
            (effective July 1, 2011)
            Seating Capacity: 3,146

            The Royal Opera House seats 2256 people”

            So the Met is considerably bigger than the lovely War Memorial Opera House in SF and they are both quite a lot bigger than Covent Garden.
            I have seen Angela G and Dmitri H many times at Covent Garden and SF, the two houses I have been to most often, and find it baffling to see complaints when they appear at the Met that you can’t hear them. Doesn’t the Met have good acoustics? I never had the slightest problem hearing Angela or Dmitri at ROH or SF.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Fair enough Grimoaldo, but as you say -- substantially bigger than Covent Garden or, I presume, anywhere else she has done the role so far.

            Completely agree re her and Hvorostovsky -- both have projected splendidly on each occasion I’ve seen them, even if their voices are not ones that strike us as large.

          • CruzSF

            Like grimoaldo, I’ve heard AG in SF (but only twice), and have never had difficulty hearing her.

          • Andie Musique

            Re acoustic and houses, I really hate the War Memorial. When I mentioned this to Racette she said there was only one sweet spot for singers on the stage. AG is a singer who takes care of herself, as any one who watched her this fall at Carnegie would realize. She found a way to throw her voice off a stage wall. I wonder if this is what she needs to feel comfortable, and Met stage directors won’t accomodate. Perhaps she found the spot in SF. ROH is of course half the size of the Met and one of AG’s comfort zones.

          • derschatzgabber

            Hi Andie Musique, I agree with you about acoustics in the War Memorial Opera House. Its a shame (in a way) that the auditorium is attractive, since it means we are stuck with it for a long time. But I think the design is horrible for acoustics. And sight lines in the balcony are horrible (but great acoustics). I feel like I am further from the stage in SF’s balcony than in Family Circle at the MET (although I bet the distance is actually larger at the MET). There is something about the SF balcony that makes me feel like I am stuck in steerage.

            I think the MET auditorium was designed much better for acoustics. So its interesting that I’ve never had trouble hearing Dima or Angie in SF, but others report having trouble hearing them at the MET. Maybe something about their voices works better in the acoustic of the War Memorial.

  • Celine Byrne


    • Try again?


      If that doesn’t work --

      • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

        Thank you louann --

        Miss Byrne returns to Dublin next weekend where she performs at a gala concert as part of the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition. Last time out, Ronnie smartly had representation on the jury from Munich. As a result, it is good to see several Irish placements there today, not least Tara Erraught.

        Interesting to see that there is a link at the side to the Harteros version (not to mention a Jedward clip).

        While I’m being Irish, it’s time for a birthday shout-out to Nobel Literature laureates “Famous” Seamus Heaney [b.1939] and his now-departed compadre Samuel Beckett [1906-89]. Let us not be beastly to the French, whose own Jean-Marie Le Clézio [b.1940] celebrates today, too.

        All this, plus April 13 saw the world première of Handel’s Messiah in Dublin [1742]. Sometime Handelian Margaret Price was born on this day in 1941, and I am sure I may safely leave it to Windy City Operaman to embed a fitting tribute.

  • Celine Byrne, drafted in as Mimì in the Royal Opera’s La bohème is out -- health reasons.

    Next up? Si, mi chiamano Carmen…

  • MontyNostry

    Now, Carmen G I **would** want to see.

    • Tamerlano

      A beautiful woman with a well-grounded, Freni-esque timbre…perhaps a little generic?
      I can’t believe she sings Leonora and Salome!

      • Evenhanded


        Salome is hardly a stretch -- MASSENET’s Salome, that is. The Trovatore Leonora does seem a bit heavy, but she probably feels she can get away with it based on the dark color of her voice. She’s not the most distinctive singer, nor is her technique as polished as it should be, but she the voice is definitely beautiful and she seems to be building her career slowly.

        It’s a little surprising that Giannattasio was only second choice as a replacement since she does have a couple of high profile recordings to her credit. What are Ms. Byrne’s credentials?

        And speaking of Salome, it looks like Pendatchanska will be singing Strauss’ version soon. That seems a stretch, no?

      • MontyNostry

        Very nice. But I have to confess that Freni’s timbre was maybe also a bit generic, though we grew to know it and love it.

        • Clita del Toro

          Monty, I agree--was never the biggest Freni fan.

          • MontyNostry

            I only saw her as Mimi and Tatyana and in a couple of concerts. I remember enjoying the Tatyana very much, but she is never the soprano I choose to turn to for any particular opera or aria.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            I sometimes feel like this about her earlier stuff, but I absolutely LOVE her later work in bigger rep and definitely do go straight to her in lots of different things. I adore her Forza Leonora, Trittico, Queen of Spades, Tatyana, Tosca and Fedora, etc. I don’t find her generic in any of those -- really compelling and exciting, in fact.