Cher Public

And that’s when I clicked “close gesamtkunstwerk”

A sharp-eyed spy at tonight’s performance of Die Walküre at the Met notes that, while there were no malfunctions of the Machine per se, there was an unexpected moment of levity during the third act.

In the midst of the Wotan-Brünnhilde colloquy, “guess who made a guest appearance? The Microsoft logo… as a projection on The Machine during a technical glitch (about 1/2 a second) on the mountain.” The informant adds that this brief, almost subliminal moment “won the evening’s biggest laugh.”

So: the Machine runs on Windows. Suddenly everything makes sense. (Image based on a photo by Ken Howard.)

  • CruzSF

    “Pound for pound, ton for ton…”

  • Erdgeist

    This story could only get better if the Windows start-up music had played over the orchestra:

  • Nerva Nelli

    Maybe the Met is now selling subliminal advertising and product placement spots. I *thought* the clock face suddenly said “Grecian Formula” when Dima walked in the door the other night

    Perhaps Bart Sher’s BARBIERE anvil will sport something like this:

    If this concept sounds like a challenge to you expert Photoshoppers out there… it is.

  • josephine

    It didn’t seem so subliminal to me! I’d say 1 second vs. .5. The singers and the orchestra must have been wondering what everyone was laughing about. It left me worried a dialog box would pop up in the final moments.

  • Bianca Castafiore

    The glitch was worse than that. The projection of the snowy mountains failed to appear on cue, so the duet went on with the two characters against the unlit background. It went on for several minutes, with the stage almost dark (spotlights on the two characters). Then the Windows logo flashed right before the snowy peaks projection.

    Skelton the great revelation of the evening (a future Siegfried?); Westbroek much improved from last season, much more even; Blythe in poor form, top strained but rich low notes; Terfel tireless, very fine; König solid; Voigt a total disgrace, sounding worse and worse, like an 80-year old woman, now even the top is going…

    • suzyQ

      Bianca, I was there also and I loved Skelton, Westbroek & Terfel too. The only good thing about the Windows mishap was that it was perfectly centered!
      Hope Gelb was there.

      • Bianca Castafiore

        suzy, I overheard one of the staff say “Mr. Gelb wants to see so-and-so…” so yes, I guess he was there.

        The machine was creaky as heck, even from the rear orchestra section where I was, so I guess my ears are better than some douchy Met apologist.

        • sterlingkay

          Oh dear, name-calling doesn’t become you Bianca. Just because I don’t feel the need to indulge in hyperbole to try to demonstrate how smart I am….and next time try sitting somewhere else, the sound in the rear orchestra under the over-hang is the worst in the house. Good night! :)

          • Bianca Castafiore

            You should talk about name calling. You forgot about your comments? And I was in the rear orchestra, but not under the overhang, and yet I heard the machine creaking, and you didn’t, so what does that tell you?

            Buonna notte!!!!

          • sterlingkay

            Funny…I met some friends there who got the VARIS tix and they complained they were under the over-hang. You must have lucked out! :)

    • sterlingkay

      I thought it was a wonderful performance tonight. They’ve obviously done something to minimize the sound of the MACHINE-- no audible creaks or moans. The above-mentioned blip was the only hiccup I noticed. Skelton was indeed superb— what a voice!! Definitely the next great heldentenor— much better than Simon O’Neill, Torsten Kerl, Christophr Ventris or Lance Ryan. I may even prefer him to Jonas in the role, though he doesn’t look as good. The rest of the cast was top-notch. Voigt was one level below the others— comparable to her performances last year…she’s not great but hardly a “disgrace”. She was fine.

      • sterlingkay

        Ooops….and lest I prove myself a “douchy MET apologist”: the orchestra has not sounded like its usual resplendent self in the Rheingold and Walkuere this week. Again, many problems with the brass tonight but the strings did not cover themselves in glory either. I don’t know how much of this is due to Luisi or lack of adequate rehearsal but it is quite noticeable….and worrying. But the singing more than made up for it (including a fearsome set of Walkiries).

        • Bianca Castafiore

          Harmer among the best of the Valkyries, I thought her Gutrune in GD was fantastic, and a future Brünnhilde perhaps. Such a strong bright tone, perfect for the role (and a great contrast with the dark hued Dalayman).

          • sterlingkay

            She’s great. Liked Molly Filmore’s Helmwige too…but they all sounded damn good, which is rare…it’s usually a pitchy scream-fest.

          • warmke

            Of our two Valkyries mentioned positively, this older recording of Molly Fillmore singing Wagner would seem to put her on the darker Brunhilde side:

      • Clita del Toro

        It’s too bad that Skelton will not sing a Siegmund on Sirius, Was that his only one?
        Perhaps Kaufmann will cancel one??? I’d love to hear Skelton’s Siegmund.

    • OpinionatedNeophyte

      Is anyone recording Westbroek in her non-sick voice? How has she been sounding?

      • sterlingkay

        As Bianca said, Westbroek sounded great— much better than last season— the first act was quite thrilling.

        • Bianca Castafiore

          Ah something we agree, act I was the best of the evening, it was thrilling.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Forgot to thank St. Agnes of Varis for my ticket tonight.

            Camille!!!! Why are you up so late??????

          • Camille

            I am one of the ladies of the night, BC.

            God bless the soul of Our St. Agnes.

            I hope Westbroek continues to improve and am sorry to miss Skelton. A good friend saw it tonight and I’ ll get all the dirt from him.

            Are you going to another lousy Traviata, BC??

            Late nite Camelia

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Camillissima, well, you know I love Dessay and Hong, but no one can sing Violetta like I did back in old Milano, so I don’t know if I’ll get to the Traviatas this season. Btw, it’s spring so my allergies are unfort. back, but not as bad as last year, so for that I’m grateful. Hope you are well and recovered. Mille baci a te, carina.

          • Camille

            Try Zyrtec

            Do you have a neti pot? I know they are weird but you might try that and/or ear candling.

            Have you tried Bach Flower Remedies?

            Of course there will never be another Traviata like you. Even Maria was jealous, or so I have heard.

            Buona notte e statti bene!!!
            Apothecary Camilly

          • Bill

            Walkuere last evening -- the best overall performance surely was that of Stuart Skelton -- a strong voice, beautifully modulated (think way back maybe to the unsung but gorgeous voiced Lorenz Fehrenberger in Munich -- just listen to his Rossini Stabat Mater on Preiser). This new Siegmund bodes well for a brilliant future career (I found Skelton’s Siegmund to be vocally even superior to Kaufmann in this role, more variation in tone) -- Skelton’s is a baritonal tenor with absolutely no difficulties with the top notes (Tannhaeuser might be a bit of a stretch for Skelton with its higher tessitura but he does sing Lohengrin and Parsifal). Westbroek somewhat improved from last year though
            her vibrato at times intrusive leaving some notes rather unfocused. Koenig very solid.
            Terfel does push his voice to extremes at times
            (almost barking) but at the end of the third act
            had some lovely moments. I am not a fan of
            Blythe as Fricka -- no nuance in her vocalizing, little attention to text. As for Voigt -- despite alot of scratchy tone, at least this year she was singing pretty much on pitch (which was so diastrous to the ear last season both as the Walkuere Bruennhilde and as Minnie) so at least in that aspect of her assumption of the role, much improved. The applause after the opera was quite fervent but extremely short lived. Best in this production is to ignor the scenery altogether and concentrate on the music. But Skelton’s excellent Siegmund, even from his first utterance, was the positive surprise of the evening.

          • Nerva Nelli

            “Blythe as Fricka – no nuance in her vocalizing, little attention to text.”

            Thanks, Bill. Blythe has become a TIMES shibboleth, always lavishly praised whether excellent or not so hot — and not just by Tony.

            Did anyone see honest reviews of her Met Amneris?

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            He’s been having a brilliant career for at least 10 years already by the looks of things -- he doesn’t seem to have looked back since Florestan at the Wiener Staatsoper 10 years ago.

          • Clita del Toro

            Nelli, Right. I feel exactly the same way about Blythe’s singing. As I wrote here a while back , I much prefer singers like Schawrz or Ludwig in the role. Big, booming voices are nice, but they only go so far. That coupled with Blythe’s amusement park ride is a bit too much.

          • Clita del Toro

            Sorry, it was be Bill who wrote about Blythe, not Nelli.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            In Blythe’s defense, in last season’s perf. of Walküre, she was in very good form.

            I saw Skelton twice last season in Wozzeck, and my recollection is that he had some brilliance and a good extension up top. I was surprised last night at how low the voice sits, as Siegmund. Yes, it is dark and barytonal, but very different from Kauffman’s. I also found Skelton preferable to Jonas — the latter’s very covered and throaty tone can sound sometimes a bit weird. Skelton sang so much more beautifully than either Gould or Morris, the two Siegfrieds I saw in GD this season, and had plenty of power for the “Walse!!! Walse!!!”

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Cocky, I only heard snippets of your favorite Opolais in that Rusalka with Vogt (Munich?), but she sounded a lot like Westbroek… but a bit more covered and vibrato-laden. Last night, Westbroek seemed to have worked her some issues, and her tone straightened out a lot as the evening went on. All of this to say, Westbroek sounds better than your girl, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see the Baltic singer in person.

          • grimoaldo

            Stuart Skelton is one of the best examples I can think of of how this “cast everything five years ahead” policy at the Met is not working. I saw him give a glorious performance in the long and arduous title role of Dvorak’s fantastic grand opera “Dmitrij” at the Proms eight years ago.
            He could have been thrilling Met audiences all this time in the heroic tenor parts almost impossible to cast today. Many singers, like athletes, only have a short period when they are at their peak. The Met’s casting policies could almost have been designed to guarantee to miss the best singing talent at its best and instead to present a series of “stars” in roles they were good in ten years ago.

          • sterlingkay

            I totally agree about how ridiculous this whole “5 years ahead” planning is, but all the big houses do it—hey, at least this is Skelton’s third season at the MET yet he still hasn’t made his Covent Garden review. What’s their excuse? Skelton has been singing brilliantly right down the street for a number of years and ROH prefers a mediocrity like Simon O’Neill??

          • sterlingkay

            I should’ve specified that Skelton has sung at ENO for years— and quite brilliantly too. Why ROH ignores him is a mystery…

          • CarlottaBorromeo

            And will continue to do so… he’s jumping in to replace the sick Julian Gavin in ENO’s new Dutchman and I believe he has long-term plans with ENO…

          • MontyNostry

            sterlingkay, it is indeed weird that the ROH has not used Skelton, especially considering he has sung in Zurich and Hamburg … I always suspect that the ROH’s casting director doesn’t think a singer is real unless he or she is a regular in German-speaking houses.

          • sterlingkay

            But ROH inexplicably tries to push Simon O’Neill down people’s throats!! I wish Skelton were doing the RING Cycles at the MET next season but, alas, it will be O’Neill.

          • Now that Stuart Skelton is being engaged by the Met I guess the days of his appearing in the outskirts of Taiwan are over.. For what its worth, you can check out a recording of his Florestan last October here:


    • papopera

      Thanks for the tip re Skelton. Shall watch for him. Hungry for a real heldentenor. He looks like a real blond nordic aryan hunk.

      • Bianca Castafiore

        Uhmmm… I don’t know if I would use the word hunk, but… Well, he did look better last year as the Drum Major in Wozzeck, short cropped blond hair and beefy. As Siegmund, he’s just lumpy on stage, with awful greasy long hair (sorry to bitch, but the design of this Ring is just ugly sometimes).

        The Ring of the future: models and bodybuilders will act on stage and sound will be piped in from a studio… lots of special effects and 3-D… Nerva will have a heart attack.

      • enzo

        Is this the Stuart Skelton who sang Siegmund?

        • Boris Sarastro

          This this one….

          Australian singer, lives in Florida these days mostly.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            One last thing about Skelton; he was genuinely happy with and moved by his success and the audience’s reaction, pumping his fist, and then shaking the hand of the prompter. Very moving. Good for him.

          • Hoffmann

            Staurt Skelton’s Peter Grimes is the one of the best performances of any role I’ve ever heard, live or recorded. I saw it 5 times in Sydney in 2009. He is an incredible singer!!

          • Camille

            What a beautiful sounding and clear voice this man has, a pleasure.

  • cosmodimontevergine

    For a very different take on The Ring I suggest at St Mark’s on 2nd Ave.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    The choice of Windows is really the culprit. Thank heavens so many overseas flights are goverened by Macintosh computers !

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    If Dessay crashes during the HD I wonder if they will cue the scratch tape for the audiences in theaters or show Hong coming onstage for the duet with Alfredo at Flora’s. With a 6 second delay, Hong could be in the booth with a mic and provide sound to patch every gap when Dessay’s voice stops phonating.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor
  • Right, if The Machine ran on Mac OS, they’d have to replace all of Wotan’s monologues with endless, unsolicited rants about how lame Windows is.

  • Ilka Saro

    Then onto Walküre. Lotsa laughs in Walküre!

  • whatever

    this story reminds me of a boheme at washington opera several years ago (before it became the washington national opera) … domingo was conducting.

    the laptop projecting the supertitles apparently ran critically low on power, and instead of projecting the next line offered up the customary warning … something along the lines of: your battery is critically low and you should switch to an alternate source of power — DURING MIMI’S DEATH SCENE!!!

    the audience howled; domingo, who of course could not see the projections, was shocked and outraged — yet more proof that washingtonians were hopeless boors.

  • La Valkyrietta

    I would do away with the machine but, if not, then replace Windows with Mac, where you could perhaps briefly see Maria.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Théâtre Shoshana presents:

  • people:

    Turandot from Austin going on right now: