Cher Public

Comeback kid

After an absence of seven seasons, tenor Richard Leech will return to the stage of the Met on April 27 as Albert Gregor in The Makropulos Case. He replaces Kurt Streit (who withdrew because of illness) in the entire run of the Janacek opera through May 11. The Makropulos Case, conducted by Jirí Belohlávek and directed by Elijah Moshinsky, also stars Karita Mattila as Emilia Marty, Johan Reuter in his Met debut as Jaroslav Prus, and Tom Fox as Dr. Kolenaty.

  • This should be interesting….

  • operaassport

    Richard Leech for “strapping” Kurt Streit? Meh.

    • dgf

      Strapping!? I only know him as a big time jerk!

  • Cyrano

    Have I not been paying attention? When did Streit drop out? I’m interested in what the parterratti have to say about Leech because I don’t know him but I have been looking forward to this opera all (unfulfilling) season, and if this substitution makes yet another production unenjoyable/unlistenable, I will be pretty bummed.

    • operaassport

      This opera is all about the soprano. Don’t worry, you’re safe.

  • Camille

    Now THIS is good news.

    I wish him all the best ed in bocca al lupo!

    • Marcello Finalmente

      Great news. Someone please report back!

      • bluecabochon

        I’ll be seeing it sometime in May. I remember seeing him regularly in the 1990s and hope he does well.

        • bluecabochon

          A friend attending the Makropoulos dress reports that Leech sounds great, and Karita fabulous :)

          • Camille

            O Goody! Thanks for the heads up for this is the high point of my season and I don’t want them to muck it up!

            So happy to hear and thaks a bunch, bluesapphire!

          • peter

            If Mattila is anything like she was in the Makropolous in San Francisco last year, New Yorkers are in for a real treat.

  • Bianca Castafiore

    Wasn’t Leech a former Met “star” or at least a regular? I believe he’s been a cover artist in the last few years.

    • operaassport

      Just like Hong, Leech was a regular. Neither were ever stars as they both lacked vocal glamor and the “IT” factor.

      • I remember there was a moment, a brief moment, where Richard Leech was thought of as the next tenor, the one to replace Pavarotti, Domingo etc… His timbre was very appealing, and I remember thinking he was also technically savvy, but it never happened.

        • Camille

          Ercole, per favore, how did Signora Devia do last night?

          Her Lucia from the early nineties @ the Met was on Sirius today and I must tell you--her final E flat in alt gave me actual chills down my back. I was so amazed as I haven’t had that sensation in a long time.

          Ciao e tante belle cose—!

          • La Signora Devia was superb, as usual. I followed the opera with the score, and, as she always does, she religiously respected all the dynamics indicated. The roles lies at times a bit too low, and this is why perhaps she waited so long to sing it, but those pianissimo Bs flat! she made Tanto amor segreto a lesson in how to sing flawless legato.
            Turandot was Giovanna Casolla (born 1945) and boy, her top is still so big and secure…the middle shows signs of wear and tear, but especially considering her age it was a very good performance. This was the second time they were singing together in their careers. The first one was 35 years ago when the sang Nino Rota’s Napoli milionaria (where Casolla played Devia’s mother…)

          • Camille

            Grazie mille, caro Ercole!

            Spero che tutto ti vada bene--un bel dì ci revedremo!

          • semira mide

            Ercole, are you going to Devia’s recital in Pesaro this summer? I cannot believe that I am FINALLY going to hear her in person, and in rep which I love. A complete opera would have been welcome, but with Podles,Florez,Barcelona and others appearing in complete works this summer,I suppose one can’t be too greedy.

        • papopera

          He had a glorious voice at one time, just listen to his incomparable 1991 recording of Faust with Cheryl Studer and José van Dam.
          Could he be forgotten already ?

          • manou

            Completely agree about the Faust recording -- much loved and playing in my car for the last few days.

  • stevey

    I know that it’s been posted and re-posted here before (oftentimes, by me) but (because it’s now topical!)for those of you who may be curious and HAVEN’T seen it, here it is again:
    Vintage Richard Leech, and the late, lamented, wonderful Pilar Lorengar in the duet from ‘Les Huguenots’ (in German). CLASSIC performance!

    • Camille

      Very impressive, stevey dear, and thank you so much. Someone just mentioned this a few days ago. Is there any more of them singing Huguenots on UTube?
      You always have such good taste.

      Kisses from

      • stevey

        Hi my Cammie! So glad you liked it- it is some magical singing, isn’t it? I believe Lorengar was just shy of 60 when this was sung- pretty impressive.
        I couldn’t find any more clips of them singing Huguenots (alas), but did find some information as to the production that was undoubtedly the reason they performed this wonderful excerpt at the Gala featured here:
        Angela Denning (Marguerite de Valois)
        Pilar Lorengar (Valentine)
        Andrea Andonian (Urbain)
        Richard Leech (Raoul)
        Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Compte de Nevers)
        Victor von Halem (Compte de St. Bris)
        Jesus Lopez-Cobos (Conductor)
        (in German)
        Deutsch Oper Berlin / 1987

        Apparently, cd’s of a performance can be purchased online… but god knows what it’s like!!

        Always great to hear from you… xo

        • Camille

          Oh thanks, stevey dear!
          You have my eternal admiration for the trials of Job which you endured during your first Met performance. I was so moved by that story as I know how it feels to go to X-treme lengths for lyric love
          Good night e sogni d’oro!
          Camille aux camélias

    • Camille

      PS--la Lorengar, bless her beautiful soul, absolutely sounds at her best here and it is obviously late in her career. Shocking to hear auf deutsch!!

      • CarlottaBorromeo

        Well Meyerbeer had the piece translated into German for the Berlin premiere (after which he was appointed GMD by the Prussian King) so it was perfectly appropriate for Deutsche Opera to have it sung in German for the highly-controversial John Dew production in 1987. Meyerbeer was one of those strange composers who actually wanted his audiences to hear his operas sung in their own language.

        The Dew production came, catastrophically, to Covent Garden in 1991 where it was sung in French with Leech the only survivor from the Berlin cast…

        I think the last time I heard Leech live was a Pinkerton at the Met in about 1995…

        • CarlottaBorromeo

          That should of course be Deutsche Oper

        • Camille

          Yes, that is well as it may be, for heaven’s sake, La Juive is translated as well into being Die Jüdin, but it still falls on my ear in a strange way since I am accustomed to always hearing it in French.

          Why was the Dew production a catadtrophe, and ehatever became of him, if you please?

          • Camille

            Whatever became of him?

          • CarlottaBorromeo

            The point of the production was to parallel the Catholic/Protestant conflict of the original with the terror campaign against Jews in Germany. It made sense in Berlin but not really in London. The brave thing to have done would have been to relocate the setting to Belfast (this was long before the Good Friday settlement)and adapt the text accordingly. But the Berlin setting, sung in French, in London was simply half-baked. Yet it was too radical even then for the ROH audience and the British press. Dew was supposed to do a number of new productions there but needless to say they never materialised.

            Dew subsequently became Intendant in Dortmund and since 2004 he has been Intendant in Darmstadt where he has recently been involved in a spectacular row with his GMD Constantin Trinks about the employment of Trinks’ girlfriend (a soprano) and Dew’s boyfriend (a tenor). Trinks has departed.

          • Camille

            Why thanking you kindly for that very interesting tidbit, Lady Carlotta. It

            Cerainly, it would have been daring and appropriate to have placed the action at Belfast but am supposing the patrons would have not appreciated that.

            Darmstadt may be a good place for Dew. I was just wondering why I had not heard his name now for quite some time but I had perhaps not been listening.

        • armerjacquino

          Wasn’t Leech the Pinkerton to Soviero’s (mindblowing and definitive, for me) Butterfly?

          • dgf

            Soviero was fabulous, in the true verismo tradition. I also saw her Butterfly, and a Liu, coupled with Marton’s first American Turandot in Denver, mindblowing on both accounts. Would that we had singers like Soviero today. I’ve also heard some recent Met Sirius broadcasts with Maliponte, Benackova, and Zylis-Gara, all equally fabulous. We don’t many voices or artistry like that today.

          • Enzo Bordello

            There were 2 Saturday afternoon Met radio broadcasts of MADAMA BUTTERFLY with Soviero and Leech: January 8, 1994 and March 9, 1996. I was in-house for the latter and yes, Soviero was “mindblowing and definitive.” She usually was.

        • papopera

          Indeed, it was a telecast on PBS but Leech had lost much of his voice then.

    • actfive

      LOVE LOVE LOVE this clip! Great singing, great chemistry between the two, just electrifying!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    This is GREAT for Ricky ! At this stage of his career perhaps he should consider singing the ARIADNE Bachus too, but I wonder if “illness” was really the reason for the substitution. It’s sort of like an Irishman becoming a great Spanish chef

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

      Crikey O’Reilly, and indeed faith, not forgetting begorrah, QPF -- Mullen sounds entirely North American to these north-eastern Atlantical ears, toora-loo, et cetera. Perhaps native born, but if so I’d say he moved stateside as a babe in arms. Still, it was very nice to hear Paolo Conte singing and playing in the background -- sure, why not add an Italian to this cosmopolitan mix?

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Yes, Mullen was born in Vermont.

  • Donna Anna

    We’ll be there on May 4 and I’ll report back in. He was a regular for Cincinnati Opera but what was once a lovely instrument (he was a great Romeo)deteriorated into loud and louder. A couple of years ago he tried doing a cabaret act that clearly went nowhere. If he spent the intervening time working on technique and studying with a good coach, then perhaps an Irishman can become a great Spanish chef. Or a Czech beermeister. In bocca al lupo.

    • Camille

      Oh god, now I am afraid, Donna Anna.
      Nothing like the Chris Merritt Prince In Rusalka I saw in 1997. Nightmare. Hopefully, he’s worked on the voice.

      • bluecabochon

        I saw that Rusalka, too, Camille, and at the performance I attended, he was loudly booed during bows. It was shocking that he was allowed to sing that night, as he was struggling so much -- I felt awful for him, even though I should have been furious, as I had splurged on a front orchestra ticket.

        • Camille

          My husband has never forgiven me for dragging him to that performance, blue!!

          It was such a terrible pity, as he had been a very fine Rossini tenor. This, my only chance to have heard him, was such a terrible letdown. I am going to watch the Rodelinda in a few days, as well, and am very curious as to Iestym. From what I heard on Enchanted Island of the Damned, he has an exceptionally beautiful voice.

          Bye Blue!
          Best regards

          • bluecabochon

            I don’t recall that he was in Enchanted Island…it was David Daniels and Anthony Roth Costanzo, who I saw as Prospero after DD withdrew due to illness.

            Mr. Davies has an entertaining blog; he writes well:

          • Camille

            Perhaps I am mistaken, but I thought it was he who sang as a substitute when someone was ill. Maybe it was Roth Costanzo? I don’t know for sure but Nerva will. I have a hard time distinguishing counter tenors, one from the other, basically!

            Anyway, I did hear him somewhere and liked what I heard.

          • armerjacquino

            Jeffrey Mandelbaum stepped in for Roth Constanzo when Roth Constanzo stepped in for David Daniels- maybe that is what you were thinking of, Camille?

            The archive only lists Davies for RODELINDA.

          • Camille

            Okay, mystery solved and it would appear I have put Rodelinda and Enchanted Island together in the same bin in my filing system under a general category marked “Countertenors” and subsequently cross-filed them.

            Now I am wondering where I heard Davies, as I did not listen to Rodelinda, and Jesus H Christmas in a bunny suit, I have got to clear out the files.

          • mirywi

            Merritt may have been a very fine Rossini tenor but he also could produce an excellent imitation of a pig’s squeal on a bad day.

          • Camille

            I know, mirwyi, for it was that day I heard him.

          • Nerva Nelli

            Well, Davies and Costanzo sang together at NYCO in PARTENOPE. Davies was also in the rather wan NYCO KING ARTHUR.

      • Donna Anna

        It was very sad to hear how the voice deteriorated but it’s been three years since he sang Faust and one hopes he’s worked on the issues. He was always a fine Puccini tenor so he has the potential to be acquit himself with Janacek.

  • stignanispawn

    Rick Leech sang a great deal at the Met a decade ago. I saw him in Butterfly, Hoffman, Boheme, Tosca, Faust, Dr. Faustus and I’m sure some other things. He also recorded some — a Boheme, Rigoletto and CD of Italian arias come immediately to mind.
    My sense was that he was too accommodating to the Met and became another singer that they wrung out and abandoned. I have been waiting for his return after seeing him listed on the artist roster for the past two seasons. Toi toi, merde and in boca al lupo to him. Richard Leech is a lovely man who possesses a great voice, which I hope does well by him in The Makropulos Case. I look forward to seeing it on May 1.

    • Arianna a Nasso

      I enjoyed him very in much lyric roles like Rodolfo, Edgardo, the Duke and French roles like Faust, Hoffmann, and Romeo. I always wondered if all those Pinkertons, Cavaradossis, and eventually Don Joses were what compromised the voice.

  • Nerva Nelli

    Leech is perhaps the only tenor anointed by a dim critic as ‘a young Bjoerling’ that, for a time, sounded like a young Bjoerling.

    Then he blew it out with Puccini and BALLO; hope He has retooled and can make a niche in this new Fach. Alwa or Laca, maybe?

    • warmke

      Leech had an impressive instrumental color, but by 1990 he seemingly lacked the capacity to sing below f. The vocal difficulties weren’t far behind, shortening of top, lack of flexibility, pitch issues, etc. But the reality was simpler: having watched him bully around fellow singers, management, call a conductor a stupid motherfucker publically when they had a disagreement over a fermata length, shall we say there wasn’t much depth in the number of people who had his back when the vocal problems came? :) Your golden tones from the 80’s don’t carry much weight when you’re in the middle of a vocal crisis and you seem to have be up there for “the most hated man in show business” title. A big sigh of relief was let out when his career collapsed, believe me. And I really liked the voice.People have long memories. The entire business breathed easier when Marton’s voice blew out. Hate Fleming as a vocalist or not, her civility is much admired.

  • callasorphan

    In the 1990s Richard’s singing gave me much pleasure. Glad he is back. I wish him the best.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    According to the Theater an der Wien website, Kurt Streit has been replaced by Arturo Chacón-Cruz for the second series of HOFFMANN performances in July.

    • ritazetti

      This is fantastic piece, I can’t wait