Cher Public

Bringing up baby

La Cieca hears that Diana Damrau has withdrawn from the Royal Opera’s production of Robert le Diable (due to open December 6) because of pregnancy. [Royal Opera House’s Twitter via Intermezzo]

  • ardath_bey

    I have yet to be convinced that Damrau isn’t an industry fabrication and agree with whoever said that her Martern aller Arten is substandard, goes off pitch at 3:05, falters at 5:04 and it’s unfocussed and sloppy. It’s amateurish compared to so much that’s out there, Gencer, Deutekom, Callas, even Elisabeth Schwarzkopf who does a respectable job, but *especially* to this, which’s nothing short of breathtaking:

  • Camille

    Have the effete knives in the Chatroom done away with the entire Parterriat? Very quiet here today and where is lLa Mamma Cieca???

    • bluecabochon

      What was the chat like?

      • Rory Williams

        You were missed, blue. I’m afraid we were even less able than usual to stick to the opera and ranged way afield. But Little Rory learned lots of non-opera stuff (as well as some opera), as always. And Brooklyn Punk incurred a Tippi Hedren “The Birds” home invasion when he left a window open (but thankfully he didn’t suffer a Suzanne Pleshette fate and lived to go to the market for fab provisions for dinner for guests). Only thing missing was you!

        • brooklynpunk

          ROTFLMAO,…. (BIG) RORY…!!!

          ..”MOMMY, are the birds gonna eat us…?”

          : )

          • bluecabochon

            Thanks, Rory! I’m sure that it was a fun group, as always, and I’m glad that it was educational as well.

            I’ve had birds and bees fly in, and I am so glad that I have screens up now, so I don’t have to deal with that trauma.

          • oedipe

            Many years ago, the inhabitants of a bee hive decided to move into my house in upstate NY: they came in through the electrical sheaths and lodged inside the spherical ceiling lamp in the living room. Hundreds of them! Then they slowly started invading the living room.
            The house was near the woods. At night It was surrounded by bats. In the space of a few months I had two other invasion waves: ants and crickets…

          • oedipe

            I had a few spiders too. They got very fat. I did not consider them invaders, they were my pals.

  • La Valkyrietta

    What was the chat?

    My fondness for Wagner overcame my hate of the machine and I went to see Siegfried. I loved Luisi for the most part, and the singers in general, but Debbie ain’t what Gwyneth was, unfortunately. I would be curious to hear comments about the last hour or half hour of the opera. Whose fault it was that it felt so underwhelming? Was it really Luisi’s? He was marvelous in other parts. It must be too much of a responsibility to conduct Siegfried.

    • bluecabochon

      I was there too, Valkryrietta, and couldn’t decide where to post my review, so I went with “Intermission Feature” -- linked above.

      I know! I went with a friend, and we wondered if it was just us, thinking that the last act took FOREVER, especially that last scene with Brunni & Siggy.

    • mrmyster

      Valkyrietta, if I may comment in the wake of your pointed question above: yes, among other things, I found (listening on Sirius Radio, excellent sound), that
      Mo. Luisi was a good part of the problem today.

      I think it is time to start wondering out loud and maybe putting into ink, that Luisi is not really what so many had hoped he would be. The characteristic of his conducting that I have by now noted through several performance is the absence of what one might call ‘tension and release.’ I don’t hear those little touches of accent, stress, dynamics, playing with tempi — ‘shaping’ of the music that we who have cut our teeth of Levine, or Solti or Leinsdorf or many another of the grand tradition of dramatic theatre conducting, have grown used to and find essential to a rewarding opera performance. I noted the same in Manon. So, it’s not just Wagner it’s not just French rep., it’s simply the way the man hears it, and I refer to Luisi. I do not discount his many strengths and his honesty; I do sense a lack of excitement and theatricality in his work. But he’s also a work-horse, who shows up when he says he will — and that counts for a lot.
      Levine is obviously gone; so how about the Met bringing in some other star quarterbacks to run the field for a few years while Luisi holds the orchestra together? Just a question, and there are many here better qualified than I to
      discuss this topic, so I hope that is forthcoming. Sorry I missed the chat today.
      Meanwhile, I do want to say that I found Hunter Morris stronger than before;
      his stamina has improved and now and then there was some nice tonal work, if too rarely. I think the fellow is a Helden Comprimario, pushed in way out of his depth as Siggie, and while we admire and appreciate his heroic assumption of the role, the Met also needs to find some new star players for the true helden tenor sweepstakes.
      Miss Vogt was herself, and I was glad to hear her final phrases ofAct III pretty much in tune, even the concluding C. We’ve talked this to death, so no more needed. To continue this casting through the 2013 season, as in the Met’s recent announcements, is very perplexing — and again one says: the Metropolitan Opera badly needs a new Music Director/Artistic Director. Even the New York Times agrees.

      • grimoaldo

        I listened to the broadcast, on and off, and deliberately stayed out of the chatroom except for the last half hour partly for the reason that I did not want to be putting a damper on people’s enjoyment by repeatedly saying that the conducting was not very special. So it is interesting that others are saying the same. It was all very tame, no great excitement anywhere. Just sort of meh. At least the brass played better and with far fewer flubs than they did in Rhinegold.
        I thought Luisi’s conducting of Traviata and Manon was very, very poor. In Traviata he could not even keep the soloists and chorus in sync with him and the playing was raggedy. He did not show any affinity with Massenet’s music and made it sound sort of like a tacky film score.
        I don’t like to be negative, I wasn’t going to comment on today’s broadcast at all but as others have raised the subject I have added my thoughts on the matter.

        • ianw2

          In his effort to prove he’s Levine’s natural successor, he’s allowing himself to be overworked- and its starting to show.

        • peter

          No, Luisi was not terribly exciting today but the fact that Voigt is singing Brunnhilde at the Met this year and next is an absolute scandal. Absent an HD telecast where all the voices are evened out and you might be taken in by what some would call stage presence, the state of her voice is simply alarming.

      • messa di voce

        “the Met also needs to find some new star players for the true helden tenor sweepstakes.”

        If you’re so sure they’re out there, names please.

        • Bianca Castafiore

          Torsten Kerl. He already sings Siegfried.

          Stewart Skelton did a fantastic job as Siegmund last week. He’s possibly a future Siegfried.

          Not surprised JH Morris got tired — he also tired at the end of GD. I admire him for jumping in for this challenge, but the voice is nothing special. Sorry.

          • Arianna a Nasso

            Torsten Kerl’s voice is not large. I’d be surprised if it satisfies as Siegfried in person, especially it you’d put him in the Met.

            A success as Siegmund does not mean one can sing Siegfried -- the tessitura is very different. Think of acclaimed Siegmunds like King, Vickers, Hofmann, Domingo -- none ventured Siegfried.

            The Met did engage a “star” for Siegfried -- it’s not their fault that Heppner dropped the role from his repertoire fairly late into the planning process.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            I’m aware that Siegmunds don’t always graduate to Siegfrieds, but Skelton has good top notes, and he sang in a much higher tessitura in Wozzeck ( granted it’s a much shorter role). It’s a very large voice, and he was tireless last week.

            Anyone know why Siegel dropped the role?

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Did you sày Hoffmann didn’t sing Siegfried?

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Btw, just remembered. Kerl did sing Menelaus at the Met; inaudible he was not.

      • Arianna a Nasso

        “so how about the Met bringing in some other star quarterbacks to run the field for a few years while Luisi holds the orchestra together? ”

        I know many people here think an artist should drop whatever they are doing in order to help the Met, but I imagine most conductors who have established music directorships with important theaters and orchestras -- Barenboim, Thielemann, Pappano, Gergiev, Rattle, Muti, even folks like Welser-Möst, Runnicles, Jordan, Petrenko, Jurowski -- will put those companies ahead of the Met, no matter how much money Peter Gelb were to throw at them.

        The Met has been lucky to get someone of Luisi’s experience under these circumstances. And wasn’t there a lot of love going around for him before he got his recent promotion -- Lulu, Tosca with Kaufmann and Terfel, Hansel, Elektra, Aegyptische Helena, etc. I find it hard to believe his conducting has changed that radically in 18 months. Are we just so ingrained to hearing Wagner and Mozart as Levine conducts them that we don’t want to accept a different approach? Are those composers not Luisi’s strong suits? Is he just getting exhausted?

      • Camille

        I do recall after the Don Giovanni that you were enthused about his possibilities, as I was also.

        What I am wondering now is HOW MUCH of this is due to physical/nervous/mental and psychological exhaustion? Come on, three operas in 24 hours last weekend--that is, at the end of the season, way too much!

        Why do I get the sensation of seeing an orange squeezed of all its juice and then having its rind tossed?

        • mrmyster

          Yep, Cam, that thought passed thru my so-called brain, and Just do not know the answer. But — we don’t know who would accept the Met. I kinda suspect that if Gelb were not running it there would be a much better chance of the Met attracting a Thielemann or a -- who? I just don’t know.
          I think the way the Levine matter is being handled is very fishy, don’t you?!!
          At the moment Gelb is playing it to his advantage, but that can’t last and we all know it. So as the man on the radio says, “stay tuned!”

          • Arianna a Nasso

            Gelb actually has brought more big-name conductors to the Met than Volpe -- think Muti, Barenboim, Rattle, Salonen, Maazel -- so why would there be a better chance without him present?

      • bluecabochon

        From my seat, I was able to discern that whoever plays the bear in Act 1 needs to wear something on his bottom half other than black shorts; I could see a white T-shirt, shorts and bare legs under the upper part of the bear costume from my seat in 2nd row Grand Tier. If I could see it, everyone above me in the Dress Circle, Balcony and Family Circle could see it as well -- kind of takes you out of the moment!

    • Rory Williams

      On Sirius, it seemed like Voigt was a mixed bag but that Morris, though valiant, was just getting a bit exhausted (wonder why?). In Act I some posters said they weren’t sure he could sing that energetically for the whole thing, and I think they were right. “Underwhelming” was the impression a lot of people had at the end, plus some mistakes and miscues toward the very end. But Luisi must be EXHAUSTED. Not slamming any of them (well, maybe Voigt a bit) but it ran out of a gas a bit. Several people thought Morris was, in a way, more of a Mime voice than a Siegfried, esp. because of his style of declamation. Although having a Siegfriedy voice like Siegel as the Mime was sure a luxury ride!

  • mercadante

    I’ve noticed that some here get exasperated with comparing today’s singers with those of the past, but when it comes to comparing today’s conductors with those retired or deceased, narry a ord.

    • ianw2

      Probably because comparing conductors is quite difficult, and not as easily illustrated with youtube clips.

      I admit to getting exasperated with the Parterre truism that the only good singers are dead singers, but, hey, that’s part of Parterre, god bless it. What I’ve found particularly irritating in this thread is that a clip from a live performance of Damrau (3-4 months pregnant no less) is being used to beat her around with recordings made in optimal studio conditions with perfect acoustics, a microphone and multiple takes.

      • mercadante

        Yeah, but her studio stuff aint all that polished either.

    • armerjacquino

      That’s because we’re not constantly and tediously told that today’s conductors are SO MUCH WORSE than the conductors of the past.

      • mercadante


        • ianw2

          Well, look at this thread. Not one of the singers presented as being so obviously superior to Damrau is still active.

          • mercadante

            And none of the conductors presentednas superior to Luisi are either; Levine is currently out of commision, Solti and Liensdorf dead.

          • ianw2

            But at least when talk turns to Levine’s replacement, a lot of us start gushing about composers like Nezet-Seguin or Nelsons, or even Conlon- i.e people who may actually have a chance at taking the position. When it comes to singers, the general vibe is exhumation.

            But yes- conductors are often neglected on Parterre, which is very much Diva Town, which is why we love it.

          • La Valkyrietta

            Interesting comments. Well, the orchestra sounds well. There are conductors. Leinsdorf is no longer, but I remember the wonderfully conducted Walküre by Maazel. I do like Luisi generally, but I can’t hope for something as nice next Saturday. I remember not everyone was as happy as I with Maazel. Miss Levine too. Luisi might be overworked. Anyway, I’m glad I went. I even liked Terfel better than last year, but I liked the Wanderer’s hat in the old production better than the current brown fedora type headgear. The breaking of the spear was too blah, and I saw the sword shine after hitting the anvil, but this did not break in two, I did not think. I also did not understand why the Wanderer has to tie his boot laces after the Mime questions. Minor things, I know. I do like the ending, but it was deficient. Well, it was nice to get a Wagner fix. Wala was sort of weak too, what can you do.

          • Henry Holland

            But yes- conductors are often neglected on Parterre, which is very much Diva Town, which is why we love it

            Someone in Australia using the royal “we”, interesting. For me, that this place is Diva Town is such a lost opportunity, all the knowledge about opera in all its aspects around here and yet it often feels like a sports board, where people spend pages arguing “Manning is better!” “No, Brady is better!!!!!” “No, Manning” etc. etc. or “Yankees rule!” “They suck, the Red Sox are the best” etc. etc.

          • ianw2

            Forget it, Henry. Its DivaTown.

  • La Valkyrietta

    To add something else in favor of old times…I loved the dresses for Manon Steber and Albanese wore on past productions shown on the Dress Circle…beige.

    Please Mr. Gelb, vanish the red, burn the pink and bury the fucsia, from now on…bring beige, bring beige…

    • mrmyster

      Valky, dear, “beige” is not the word ! “Champagne” might do, and those costumes were generally covered with sparkling little things — glitter of some kind. Oldest thing in the world, that kind of coloring. But on Steber’s Manon costumes — the only one I remember was Cours la reine and it was silvery white and very shiny. All the rest are forgotten; it was half a century ago! Alabanese never failed to look stylish, even if she brought her own gowns (it was allowed), and Miss Kirsten frequently brought her own costumes — I even remember her at Lincoln Center wearing green -- yes, green! -- as Tosca Act I; it was the night Castellano-Tadeschi (how was it spelled?), made his debut and his voice was gorgeous but he was badly nervous and Dorothy kept soothing him; we could see her just behind the scenery hugging him and patting him on the back. Now, that lady was a trooper, yes there are some today no doubt.
      If I may be allowed, yes there are reasons that singers today are often not as ‘good’ as singers (vocalists) of yesteryear. Nilsson famously named one reason, which you all know. Harshaw agreed and said “today’s singers should sing better and the reason they don’t is that they and their teachers have not attended to the basics.” And she was right, very right. I could go on, but you’ve heard it before. Someday a new Nilsson or Flagstad or such will appear, and even some good strong Siegfrieds. We are just in a dry period; if there is money at the end of the rainbow, sooner or later the Heldens will show up.
      But in voice culture and opera the wheel has constantly to be re-invented, if I may be a tad cryptic. That is, with each new generation you have to keep going back to GO and start over, for one is not born with an operatic voice. It has to be learned and developed from ground zero, and the underlying physiology has to be there. And the teachers have to know what they are doing.
      Conductors? I’ve heard Runnicles conduct as good a Tristan as you would ever want to hear; and that fellow who conducted Parsifal opening year of the ‘new’
      Seattle opera house was excellent — he really had it! Sorry I forget the name; there ARE conductors -- even Conlon can be fine. It is true that the generations of conductors who learned their trade as apprentices in European opera houses long long ago, played rehearsals on the piano and were just steeped in the culture, they are not much around any more. I heard Fritz Reiner make that point and also Stiedry (who did a good Ring); being trained as an opera conductor in a conservatory is not the same as being well trained by the experience of years of work in opera houses. That time is over; yet, smart and effective young conductors (Gilbert) can and do perform well in opera. I am recalling Gilbert’s Falstaff in Santa Fe — it was spectacular; he brought the orchestra up to a entirely new level. You know, to develop new talent you have to let old talent get out of the way. Sorry Mr Domingo, sorry Jimmy etc etc. Example: once John Crosby finally stopped conducting at Santa Fe, at long long last suddenly musical values much improved; new conducting names appeared every year and many of them were and are excellent talent! Chaslin at SFE is doing well. His Faust last summer was exactly right. Will the Met have him? Hmmmmmm. Let the old conductors go; build the new opportunity and they will come. Sound familiar? There are singers also to whom the same rule applies, hence my great puzzlement that D. V. continues to be announced for the big Wagner roles. Whoever said, above, that it is a “scandal” is exactly right; an even bigger scandal is that the mgmt. that does this is left in place.
      LePage proves he cannot do a Ring, so Gelb hires him to do something else.
      It’s just like George Bush being re-elected in 2004: utter madness. Now, now
      that is quite enough from me. Thanks for your indulgence.
      That’s enough for now.

      • Arianna a Nasso

        “Chaslin at SFE is doing well. … Will the Met have him?”

        Per the Met online archives, he has conducted 48 performances there since 2002.

        • mrmyster

          Yes, Herva, thank yoiu. Lamberti! I don’t know where I came
          up with that other silly name, which more or less means ‘German.’
          For a few years Lamberti’s voice was quite fine, but then, as I
          recall, he became over-used.

      • Nerva Nelli

        In re: “Castellano-Tadeschi”

        Metropolitan Opera House
        November 30, 1974

        TOSCA {577}

        Tosca……………….Dorothy Kirsten
        Cavaradossi………….Giorgio Lamberti [Debut]
        Scarpia……………..Robert Merrill
        Sacristan……………Richard Best
        Spoletta…………….Charles Anthony
        Angelotti……………Louis Sgarro
        Sciarrone……………Russell Christopher
        Shepherd…………….Paul Offenkrantz
        Jailer………………Arthur Thompson

        Conductor……………Alberto Erede

        [At the time of his debut, Giorgio Lamberti billed himself as Casellato-Lamberti.
        He shortened his name as of 12/5/78.]

      • La Valkyrietta


        Sorry, Champagne would be the word for the exhibited Albanese dress, and the Steber was indeed white with some glitter and be gay adornments, but it might be a little yellowing with antiquity.

        You cover a Wagnerian range of subjects in your post that I could not comment on in a million years, but among which you mentioned Nilsson. We only wish! We live in different times. Maybe next Saturday matinee we can close eyes on the first act not to be distracted by planks, and Luisi will remember his Leinsdorf, and the vibrations directly from Jonas’ heavenly throat will transport us to an era when opera was done. At least there is that, thank Wôdan. But the complete Wagner experience as Nilsson-Vickers gave us many times, tell me, is there a British Airways that takes you there?

        • mrmyster

          Valky, you must be an old darling! And you write so well. What ‘takes me
          there,’ if anything does, is that I don’t listen to as much opera as I used to; my listening now is to chamber music, solo piano, sometimes vocal recital.
          Opera is for younger nervous systems! It seems that by not listening now, the grander experiences of other times are not eroded.
          “A little yellowing with antiquity. . .” yes indeed. That’s why we cover the mirrors and keep the lights low. Drop by this afternoon, we’ll have a wee drop of Veuve Cliquot.
          A bonheur.

      • Camille

        Was it possibly Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s name that was back there somewhere?

        Helden Comprimario about sums it up for me. Nice man and good actor, I must add.

        I also turn to Beethoven streichquartetts more and more, myself, I do understand your feeling.

        Happy Sunnyday

        • mrmyster

          Yes, Cam, that must have been it.
          When you are my vintage ‘things’ tend to
          blend together. Happily I have this wonderful
          visual recollection of the quavering Lamberti
          being reassured by the voluminous green silk-
          clad Dorothy when she thought we could not
          see her at the edge of the stage. Marvelous
          memory. Imagine a diva thinking of someone
          other than herself!! Bracing thought.
          I just heard from UK that Miss Brewer’s
          Agathe last night at the Barbican, with 85 y.o.
          Colin Davis, was quite elegant — noble and
          rapturous, as several, including the Guardian,
          put it. Nice that she’s made a strong come-back.
          Thanks Cam for your appreciated reminders.
          (You are invited to come by with Val!)
          Oh, and seriously, why don’t you contact me
          about your summer. If you come to Santa Fe. . .
          who knows what may happen?

          • Camille

            That is, indeed, very kind and appreciated.

            It will depend largely upon Monsieur Camille’s work schedule. I would truly like to see the beautiful Land of Enchantment and hear Maometto, Roger and fish for pearls, but time, money and energy are all at a premium.

            If I do come out, we shall raise a toast of Veuve Clicquot to La Vally and Delores Gray!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Announded two days ago:
    New York City Opera’s Spring Gala: An Evening with
    Deborah Voigt, May 16 at Central Park Boathouse,
    Celebrates Company’s Bright Future

    “Deborah Voigt is the only diva who might carry on Beverly Sills’ role as
    ‘opera cheerleader’ in America.”-- The New York Times

    New York City Opera celebrates the company’s hugely successful 2011-12 season with New York’s civic leaders on Wednesday, May 16, with its Spring Gala: An Evening with Deborah Voigt. The sparkling event will take place at the historic Loeb Central Park Boathouse in Manhattan and feature cocktails and gondola rides on the lake, as well as a formal dinner and dancing to the Jazz Age sounds of the Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks.

    The spring gala will celebrate the revitalization of NYC Opera, and will support the company’s mission: to create innovative productions of new and classic work, to reach a wide audience with affordable ticket prices, and to bring music into the lives of thousands of students each year through education programs in New York City’s public schools. George Steel, NYC Opera’s General Manager and Artistic Director, says:

    “For this year’s spring gala, we’ve created a classic New York night in the heart of the city: Central Park in the full, magnificent bloom of spring as the backdrop for sunset cocktails, a fabulous meal, and even gondola rides on the lake. We’re thrilled to have as the star of the event Deborah Voigt – one of today’s greatest American voices, and an exemplary advocate for the arts. It will be the perfect way for the company to celebrate a groundbreaking season, and the city’s best and brightest have already stepped forward to support NYC Opera on this sensational evening.”

    The centerpiece of the evening will be a private concert by Deborah Voigt. Hailed as one of opera’s top dramatic sopranos – excelling in Wagner, Strauss, Verdi and Puccini – Voigt is also renowned as a performer of Broadway tunes, jazz standards and popular songs. Opera News has written: “Deborah Voigt comes to pop singing naturally. She creates each musical mood so perfectly and demonstrates such show-biz savvy.… If this were 1970, she would probably be given her own network variety show.” Accompanying Voigt at the piano will be Tony Award-winning theater artist and NYC Opera Artist Council member Ted Sperling. Voigt says:

    Whether you sing or listen to opera in this great city, we all benefit by the wonderful work that New York City Opera has done throughout the years for this art form we all love. NYC Opera is truly a New York institution, and I’m very excited to sing at its spring gala, which this year takes place at one of my favorite – and certainly one of the most romantic – places in the city: the Central Park Boathouse. It’s going to be a wonderful night.

    New York City Opera’s Spring Gala: An Evening with Deborah Voigt

    When: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 – 6:30pm: cocktails; 7:30pm: dinner and performance; 9:30pm: dancing.

    Where: Loeb Central Park Boathouse in Central Park, entrance at 72nd St & Fifth Ave

    Performance: soprano Deborah Voigt and pianist Ted Sperling

    Beneficiary: New York City Opera

    Table and ticket levels: Leadership tables: $100,000; Platinum tables $75,000; Gold tables: $50,000; Silver tables: $25,000; Bronze tables $12,500; and Young Patron tables: $5,000; tickets: $10,000, $5,000, $2,500, $1,250 (limited availability)

    Gala leadership: Caroline and Paul Cronson, Michael and Mary Gellert,
    Julia and David H. Koch, Mark and Lorry Newhouse, Susan and Elihu Rose, Annaliese Soros,
    Alice and Tom Tisch, Charles R. Wall

    Attire: Cocktail attire

    Gala sponsors: American Airlines, Bellavista, Cesari fine wines of Verona

    To purchase tickets or for more information: Call the New York City Opera Special Events office at 646-758-9469.

  • bluecabochon

    Does everyone know about this film, Wagner’s Dream?

    It’s impossible to find this film on the main TFF website, so here is the link:

    I purchased a ticket for the Tribeca Film Festival this coming Wednesday, where there will be a talk afterward with the key players.

    The film is about the making of the Lepage Ring, and it will be shown at other venues via Fathom Events:

    Should be INTERESTING.

  • Andie Musique

    This film is Gelb’s baby and a director he controls, Susan Fromke, is listed. Made before Alex Ross.?????