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Demimonde

La Cieca has just had the news confirmed that Natalie Dessay canceled after Act 1 of La Traviata earlier this evening at the Met, leaving the second half (or more like two-thirds) of the performance to Hei-Kyung Hong, who name, incidentally, means “Nerves of Steel” in Korean.

145 comments

  • MrGuy1804 says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the tradition of booking singers 4-5 years in advance is a little unnecessary at this point? I thought that tradition was started with Domingo and Pavarotti because companies thought if they didn’t go ahead and book them, they were never going to get them. There aren’t any singers who generate the kind of frenzy those two could in their prime, and the only one who comes close is Fleming who is assuredly in the late autumn of her career. If anything, in what appears to be a drought of star singers, you would think the MET would take this as an opportunity to discover truly undiscovered talent. Any by truly undiscovered talent, I mean singers other than those who win the Richard Tucker award after having sung at international opera houses for five years or more. It would be risky of course, but it would pay off in the long run to create homegrown stars.

    • MrGuy1804 says:

      To be fair, I would include Netrebko, JDF and Kaufmann on the “star” list.

    • kashania says:

      I think that when it comes to big stars, the Met is stuck. If it doesn’t book the Netrebkos and Kauffmans five years in advance, other major houses will. But I think that there needs to be a smarter, more mixed approach. I think it would make greater sense to have a small list of “must-have” stars who they book five years out. But I think they should be more flexible outside of that list. And yes, more imaginative and hard work is needed in terms of finding those singers who are peeking and who will be able to deliver the goods by the time of the production.

      Part of the problem is that it’s not just the established stars who are booked five years in advance. As an example, Piotr Beczala was being booked five years out well before he had his breakthrough at the Met. There were houses out there that were booking him based on his potential and talent.

      So, the five-year system may be inescapable but it depends on where the priority is placed. If you’re only looking at established stars, you run the risk of booking them past the “best before” date. By the time a singer becomes a genuine star, he or she has been on the scene for quite a while. But if you take the same five-year formula and put the emphasis on proven singers who aren’t quite stars yet, you would catch them earlier.

      • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

        Good point, kashania -- and didn’t Jummy Jonas give an interview not long back in which he explained his relative absence from the Italian houses on the basis that most of them book mere months in advance? This suggests that the artist management companies, and not just the opera houses, buy into the five-year plan, too.

        BTW I hear that Anja Harteros’ replacement at ROH, Celine Byrne, is herself now unwell and out of the Tosca. [Damn and blast.] She got her chance based on a well-received cover as Rusalka for one show only last month, ROH not being quite in the same star-cover league as the Met. Depending on the circumstances, so, a new name may get a break -- and with three star sopranos out of the ROH’s plans in the last week alone, there may be opportunities ahead for a few new names to make a splash.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Boheme, not Tosca. We’re getting Carmen Giannatasio instead.

          • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

            You’re dead right armerj -- that’s enough Condrieu for one evening, so!

        • Cocky Kurwenal says:

          How much time was there between Nylund cancelling her Rusalka and Byrne going on? Just interested in your comment about the difference in the cover systems- the norm, at the ROH just as it seems to be at the Met, is to find somebody more experienced than the likes of Byrne or whoever the rehearsal cover might be if there is time. Though granted, it’s usually Ermonela Jaho.

          • hagenschmagen says:

            Ermonela Jaho was supposed to be in Philly singing Manon Lescaut this week, but she withdrew due to medical reasons. AVA’s Michelle Johnson was hired as the replacement and has been getting standing ovations.

          • Bluessweet says:

            Michelle Johnson is getting well deserved ovations in Philly- I was there last evening and can tell you she’s great but I already knew that. With Radvanovsky, Latonia Moore and Michelle now in the field, we have no problem casting Verdi sopranos.

            BTW—“ Soprano Michelle Johnson will sing the title role in this summer’s new production of Verdi’s Aida, directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by Nader Abbassi. Michelle was a Grand Prize Winner of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. (From Glimmerglass)

  • operaassport says:

    I see it in about a week. I hope to God I don’t get stuck with dull as dishwater Hong.

  • tytonius says:

    Michael Todd Simpson has an awful vibrato and his figure is very weird. His arms are too long. How can anyone like it? He sounds like a goat! You said fresh and clean voice???!!!!! hahaha …..It’s exactly the opposite!!!! HOw could you even compare to Szot?
    I really miss Paulo as Lescault. He was in great shape, vocally and acting wise.
    I heard he spent 3 nights at the hospital due to a horrible flu.
    I wish I could do something to help.

    • Clita del Toro says:

      Michael Todd Simpson is GORGEOUS and hot. “Weird figure”? I wouldn’t worry about his long arms--you should be so lucky!

      As far his singing, have never heard him.

      • oedipe says:

        I heard Michael Todd Simpson in the house and I much preferred him to Szot. Simpson is a better fit stylistically and he acts Lescaut with subtlety and charm, as the role should be acted. Why does Szot sing French opera?

        • tytonius says:

          Totally disagree!

          Simpson’s high notes were always difficult, his voice has this fast awful vibrato and he is very stiff on stage. His french was awfully american ( maybe americans can’t hear it, but it is pretty bad).
          Lescaut played with charm?? Are you mad? He is a corrupted and ridiculous soldier, he is to be played as a joke! not with charm. His music is almost comedic, he sings about Sultans in India( there re no sultans in India) he is ridiculous.

          oedipe you are very far from knowing what’s the role is like.
          Lescaut cannot be played with sublety and charm!!! ( maybe in your dreams) but not in this story.
          Read! get informed before writing nonsenses.

          • Camille says:

            I heard Mr. Szot last night in the Hd repetition. I hadn’t seen him before and have no way of knowing how his voice carried in the house as the voices sound as if they come from a swimming pool at times. Or from Rusalka’s watery realm.
            I thought he was an agreeable looking chap who made the most of a lousy part. Lescaut is a sleazeball, after all.

    • bluecabochon says:

      I didn’t care for Paulo Szot AT ALL; he was never more than adequate imho. He forced his voice and there was no character there…Lescaut is rather icky but something can be made of the role. I heard Simpson on the radio and he sounded a lot better, but I don’t know hoe he sounds in the house.

      Maybe Paulo was unwell at the performance of Manon I attended, but for The Nose I also felt that his voice was too small for the house. He often couldn’t be heard over the orchestra, which was also the conductor’s fault. I was so disappointed, as I LOVED him in South Pacific, though he seemed too young for the role.

      I’m sorry that he had to go to the hospital with the flu, if that’s the case, and I hope that he recovers quickly. There are some nasty bugs going around now, for sure.

  • tytonius says:

    Totally disagree!

    Simpson’s high notes were always difficult, his voice has this fast awful vibrato and he is very stiff on stage. His french was awfully american ( maybe americans can’t hear it, but it is pretty bad).
    Lescaut played with charm?? Are you mad? He is a corrupted and ridiculous soldier, he is to be played as a joke! not with charm. His music is almost comedic, he sings about Sultans in India( there re no sultans in India) he is ridiculous.

    oedipe you are very far from knowing what’s the role is like.
    Lescaut cannot be played with sublety and charm!!! ( maybe in your dreams) but not in this story.
    Read! get informed before writing nonsenses.

    • ritazetti says:

      Agree with Tytonius,
      I saw the last show and Michael Todd Simpson was a good cover. That’s all!!
      Because he has no stellar power at all. He might have some good pics but onstage he’s like a “walking nothing”. His technique is weird( he sounds like his throat is tight), no muscle support at all, the voice shakes producing an unpleasant vibrato, the high notes are weak. I mean, really??
      The role of Lescaut is really boring and hard to play but when I saw it with Paolo Szot (05/11) it was absolutely different. He has a solid technique, a beautiful timber and he knew how to bring Lescaut alive onstage.
      There’s no room for comparison here such different moments in life, career and voice. Please!

      • Clita del Toro says:

        Well, Leonora da Pin-Yenta saw MTS in Manon and thought he was much better than Szot in every way. And she had never seen him without shirt.

      • bluecabochon says:

        Tytonius/ritazetti, everyone is entitled to their opinion here without being insulted.

        Szot didn’t play Lescaut in the way you describe, either. He didn’t do much of anything except run up and down stairs all night long and fiddle with his costumes. Mostly I blame the director for this.

        You are right in that his music is comedic, so playing him with depth given what he is really about is a challenge for a singer.

        • Camille says:

          Brava, Blue!
          Hear, hear!
          And thank you for defending the rights of all.

          • bluecabochon says:

            Merci, Camille!

            Nonsenses! I think I may use that in future. :)

          • Camille says:

            BlueCab--i was thinking of you last night when Anna had the earring incident! I can’t imagine where it ended up but I could see you out there looking everywhere

            The tinfoil Easter bunny thing was a scream!!

          • bluecabochon says:

            I don’t know what the easter bunny thing is, Camille…? It sounds like something that happened in chat.

            I worked at home today and watched “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” on TCM. I’ve never seen the whole thing, and was quite mesmerized by it. Too bad Lotte Lenya didn’t have the film career that she deserved!

          • Porgy Amor says:

            bluecabochon: Lenya just walked with that movie. She didn’t have a lot of screen time, but I remember her more than anything else about it.

            During the HD of MANON, Netrebko did an intermission interview (conducted by Voigt) with a chocolate bunny between her breasts. She mock-whined when the wardrobe lady took it away.

          • Camille says:

            Oh good, Porgy I loves you! My response to Blue got lost in cyberspace. Yes, that’s the bunny story.

            Yes, i have sern part of Roman Spring but Lotte and Vivien scared the hell out of me and Warren Beatty as an Italian was too risible to watch, so I don’t know how things turned out!

      • louannd says:

        Beautiful *timber*, indeed!

    • grimoaldo says:

      “there re no sultans in India”

      “Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a former slave (Mamluk) of Muhammad of Ghor, was the first sultan of Delhi” (Delhi is in India btw)
      “List of Mamluk Sultans (“rule(d)India’s Delhi Sultanate from 1206 to 1290″)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamluk_Sultanate_(Delhi)
      “The Khilji dynasty were the second Muslim dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate.”
      “Khalji Sultans of Malwa”(that’s in India too) (1436–1531)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malwa_Sultanate

      Just a little sample of the, I suppose, hundreds of sultans in India.

      “Read! get informed before writing nonsenses.”

      What excellent advice!

    • oedipe says:

      Well, I didn’t really want to argue with one excitable person, but since several people have got involved, here is my take on Lescaut.

      Actually, Lescaut is a VERY complex character: he belongs to the army -a very powerful and prestigious institution in 19th century France, but where the pay is low. He is an individual without scruples, a gambler, a corrupt schemer; but he is NOT a boorish brute. He is ambitious, a shrewd and charming manipulator who succeeds in being very close to Manon (too close for comfort, probably) and eventually befriends Des Grieux too. He becomes the ‘confidant’ of both Manon and des Grieux.

      None of this came across in Szot’s interpretation. Oh, and did I mention his appalling French?

  • Clita del Toro says:

    Cotrubas’ Violetta (1981) now on Sirius. She is a very affecting singer, but very sloppy at times-and not only with the coloratura. She does some strange things????

  • Camille says:

    Youth wants to know: who sang just another lousy Traviata last night? Or was it a twofer special?

    • Clita del Toro says:

      Cammie dear, I looked up the 25 April Traviata on the Met Archives. Dessay apparently sang????

      • Clita del Toro says:

        Speaking of twofers, I was at a threefer performance of Tristan years ago.

        • Camille says:

          O my goodness, Clitissima, was that the famous one which Birgit blasted down the three tenors in one evening??? Clita, you are like an operatic Zelig--you were omnipresent at all great events!!!

          That is why
          I love you,
          Camil toe

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Yeah, Camil-toe--lol, between 1954 and 1971 I saw a lot of stuff. And to think that today, I hardly ever go to the opera. My friend Leonora da Pin-Yenta thinks that I a crazy for that.
            I talked to her yesterday. She saw the Makropulos dress with Mattila and said she was FANTASTIC.

          • Camille says:

            Very excellent news, Clita-toe, as the Mak Case is the one thing I’ve waited for the entire season. Why they are not making an HD out of it beats the hell out of me. I am hoping that Karita will have a total rebirth after the ill-advised Manon Lescaut and unfortunate Tosca. If Leonora AND MMII both approve it mist be a humdinger!

            Going for a walk on the beach today. On the lookout for Joan and Drummy.
            Camomile T.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Oh Camilllissssima Belllissssima long time, let me tell you carisssima, Karita was beyond sensational, everything is working for her perfectly, she has voice, voice, and more voice. Starts out strong and goes from there to the heights to a final scene that was OVERWHELMING in every way. And she looks more gorgeous than God, the height, the elegance, the hauteur, the slim fashion-model/Hollywood 1920s look, a faggot’s dream come true…….. It really is a quantum leap in her career, and will immediately erase the horrid memories of that nasty Tosca. It is probably the BEST the Met will offer this season hands down. And all of this happening when the greatest music ever written is also going on on alternate nights, but so ill-served at least from the ALL IMPORTANT point of the dramatic soprano…….

          • Camille says:

            Well, Marschallin II, I am a tad aghast at your choice of words here, as here on parterre box we may burn with faggots, but are all queens!!!

            Now dear, would that Camille was still bellissima, as un bel dì she was. Alas, no longer, gone wie die Luft!

            Your reaction to the Dalayman seems very different than my own experience of her, on the third of February, in which performance I was most grateful to have escaped She-Who-Dare-Not-Be-Named! Perhaps I was grateful for small favours or, perhaps as I sat closer up in the orchestra, I could discern her facial expressions, which were subtle. She sounds mezzoidish to me no matter what she calls herself, so the high notes were catch as catch cannish. I did not think her a disgrace at all, though, and wonder if you got her on a sour night?

            In other news, what of the May 22nd nuptials coming up for you and your fiancé(e)???? Last evenIng I happened to be reading an old thread on Rodelinda (which I saw on TV past week, hence), when I spyed your proposal of marriage!!! Are the bans on or are they now banned???

            Will we all presently be humming happily the Lohengrin bridal chorus?

            Bis wieder allerschönstes MarschallinDue

            Vecchia Camilla

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Cammie, you might run into Joan Bennett on the beach--(the Renoir film).
            I guess Lady Joans like to walk on beaches as well as Cammies!

            Joan Bennett found her “Drummy” in the sexy, but scary Robert Ryan.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            BTW, Cammiest, if you don’t now it, the film is called *Woman on the Beach*. I guess if they made the film now, it would be… no, I won’t say it!

          • Camille says:

            If they made it now it would be “Byotch on the Beach”.

            Neither a Joan Bennett nor Robert Ryan I be. More the Garfield in Humoresque type. Or Zorro!!!

            Happy Rusalkaing!

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Cammie *Byotch on the Beach* starring Kim Kardashian and “The Situation.”

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Oh Camillllissima Bella you will always be BELLA in my heart :-)

            You know it’s very likely a case of “thank you for small favors” with poor la Dalayman, as I heard from any number of people that she was an “improvement”, so I cannot imagine what the other one was like then, because what I heard on Tuesday was pretty horrid. Oyyyyy I am still near a nervous breakdown from the shock of those horrifying final pages of the Immolation. I actually felt sorry for her for what she was doing to herself, and to WAGNER of course. Maybe it was a sour night as you say……

            Thank you for your wishes but I think you confused me with someone else, maybe our queridissssimo Cocky? he announced upcoming nuptials a while back, and we both congratulated him heartily on that, so maybe the messages got confused?
            I assure you that your Marschallina will forever remain SOLA SOLA SOLA (but not perdutta or abandonatta……) as nuptials were not made for her, as her eternal chastity vows would prevent that, law or no law :-) :-) :-)
            And her soul will always and forever remain for one and only one until we meet again.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Marshie La Belle, you are a true Lady..lol

          • Camille says:

            You know, we could do the Three Queens in the Tudor Trilogy!
            I’ll take Elisabetta, as she is old, ugly and BALD(!!!), and you two can fight over who will be Bolena and who will be Stuarda. Personally I think Clita should be Anna and Marshie, the Maria. You two try on the tiaras and decide which better suits you, respectively. La Cieca will make a special guest starring role in Stuarda, as Elisabetta, and boy! Will she ever crack that whip!!!! My revered Nerva Nelli will play Enrico VIII, thereupon making the tussle between he and Anna/Marshie all that more raw and real. Gualtier M, will sing the tenor lead in ALL three operas. The Giovanna Seymour I have not yet cast and am still sorting through possibilities if anyone should want to help!!

            Oh no, Marshie, it WAS you who proposed, back in December!! Go look at the Rodelinda thread under “La Scoopenda”!!!!

            Pax vobiscum!!!
            Love and best and kindest wishes from
            The Woman Who Strayed

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            We know that the Marsh Thing is going to trash anyone who’s not Behrens ( who frequently made UNLISTEANBLE, AWFUL noises in her empty middle register) so why pay any attention to what he says about Dalayman, who is (sometimes) deficient at the top but not at all in the middle range.

          • Camille says:

            O excusez-moi--
            I switched Marshie into the Bolena instead, because of the tantalizing prospect of pitting her against Nerva/Enrico. Apologies, as people are wont to say…you two sort it out!!!

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            I have to agree with mia sorella Camilletta, la dolce. I saw the two GDs months ago that Dalayman sang, and she was quite good, if not wonderful. I thought she very was good at conveying Bruennhilde’s womanly as well as heroic character, and while some top notes were a bit strained (in particular, in the opening duet at the 2nd perf., a Tuesday following her first GD on the previous Friday — she could be forgiven for being a bit tired), she was really good, and stupendous compared to her unnamed counterpart. She also had plenty of power for the final scene.

            Years ago, in the last Schenk Ring, they had 3 ladies sharing the role, no? Dalayman, Theorin and Watson. I saw Theorin in the Siegfried, and she was very good as well, with a much brighter tone than Dalayman; also a very youthful and athletic portrayal on stage.

          • Camille says:

            Bianca!! You appear in the nick of time for my casting woes!! Would you consider the role of Giovanna Seymour, or if not your “fach”, I would graciously cede the starring part of Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux, mind you, if you not object to looking like Bozo the Clown. I do not as it is a step up for petite moi!!!!

            Ciao sorella Dorabella!

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            Heavens, no, Cammillissima, you know my delicate and heavenly instrument is not made for those shouting matches, that are more apropos for that Sicilian fish monger, NN.

          • Camille says:

            Dunque, Signora bella, you would have part in the Tudor Trilogy? What, other than Faust and Traviata, are your roles?

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Oh my Gawd Camilllissssima adorata, you have really shown me for the old queen that I have become, not remembering what I wrote not more than four months ago. I went back to Rodelinda (THAT was a fun thread with Haydn and all)and found that indeed I had accepted a blind offer of Hochzeit for no less than May 22 indeed, and as destiny would have it, I ended up blindly inviting to Gotterdammerung (no less!!!!!) the subject of said offer. Now tell me there is not something truly COSMIC about all of this????????? And LA CIECA is atthe center of it all!

            I even answered the offer with this:
            Wie wär ich kalt, mich glücklich nur zu nennen,
            besitz ich aller Himmel Seligkeit!
            Fühl ich zu dir so süss mein Herz entbrennen,
            atme ich Wonnen, die nur Gott verleiht.
            ***Marshie blushing alegremente***

            We must find a way to put all of this into a new film script, that only luvtennis (of course) can come up with all the requisite intricacy, and eventually turn into the grandest opera ever written since Gotterdammerung!!!!!!! think Nico muhly might be into? it’s all about the internet afterall………….

            Of course you already started the thread of the libretto with the Three Queens, which is simply brilliant in every way, except that I need a far more worthy opponent than the intellectually puny Nerva, so I can really do a Vil Bastarda di Bolena that would rival Allrauner rachende Gott in grandezza. We already have all the elements, we only need ……….. MrsJC of course!!!!!!

          • Camille says:

            No old Queene art thou, fair MarschallinIi, nay, thou art a Busy Queene Bee!

            Strange synchronicity, no? As I said, I read it last night while researching the late Rodelinda, Regina di Longobardia, or somewhere like that.

            Marshie, Mrs JC is semi-retired--for her health. Yes La Cieca is in the middle of everything—La Cieca ci vede, La Cieca ci guada--ain’t no lie. What would we have done without her largesse.

            Yes, there is certainly a Mulhy opera in all this and I do shudder to think what role I would play.

            Enjoy la Mattila. I am doing my best incantations for her as she is a wonderful performer and I hope she utterly Triumphs!
            It’s allright to be old, but never die is a fateworsethan death.

            Remembering Gnädige Frau Hildegard, for being a true mensch, faults and all.

            Treulich geführt
            Kamille die alte Frau

  • turandotti says:

    Saw natalie last night She was wonderful The tone was beautiful most of the time. She did not go for the eflat but was much more secure overall than in the broadcast. dimitri was tremendous and matthew was great luisi followed the singers obviously. her voice sounded well in the house in the house which was which was packed and gave huge ovations I think the production is good for her I think it is designed so that the
    singers project well into the house

    T

    The performance is a hole was wonderful Matthew was tremendoushe eflat But she was much more secure Throughout. The Amami alfredo Made more of an impact And the alfredo alfredo de questo core was very beautiful