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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

  • 1
    irontongue says:

    Ohman.

    I hope San Francisco buys out her Hoffman contract before it’s too late. I wonder who’s covering.

    • 1.1
      CruzSF says:

      I think I’m ready to agree with you, irontongue, though it does make me sad.

      • 1.1.1
        louannd says:

        You got to see Peter Mattei in Paris in Don Giovanni. No reason to be sad dearest Cruz. ;)

        • 1.1.1.1
          CruzSF says:

          True, louannd! Plus, Petibon rang my bell as Anna, Gens impressed me as Elvira. And the beautiful Nahuel Di Pierro (the Masetto) is now a Facebook friend. Things aren’t so bad, after all. :-)

          • ianw2 says:

            A lot of people on here seem to find Petibon too hammy, but I like her. How was she as Anna? Perhaps you could give us an Intermission Feature reviewette.

          • CruzSF says:

            Oh, do they? Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me. I’m often out of sync with prevailing opinion here. Its almost Intermission Feature time, so maybe I will post something. (I actually wrote about my impressions on the production and performances a couple of weeks ago, so I’ll just write a few words about Petibon…)

          • louannd says:

            From the broadcast, Petibon was MIGHTY impressive.

          • ianw2 says:

            Cruz, just remember the immortal words of Dolly Parton (who, incidentally, could sing the pants off EVERY LIVING SINGER attempting Azucena today):

            “I would never stoop so low as to be fashionable.”

          • CruzSF says:

            Sage words from the incomparable Ms Parton.

          • Camille says:

            I do not find the Cinnabon too hammy if one gets a fruit-filled one instead.

            What was all the noise about her Scala debut. Now I have forotten what the brouhaha was about. Read it on Opera Chic.

          • oedipe says:

            Yes, and what about the great sounding and lovely looking Zerlina of Gaëlle Arquez? Though of course, once you’ve heard (and seen) Mojca Erdmann, you don’t need to hear anybody else!

          • CruzSF says:

            You’re absolutely, right about Arquez. I’ve never heard anyone sing so beautifully after being stripped to her bra & panties. She did infuse the torn nature of Zerlina with sincerity. (I thought the Erdmann portrayal made Zerlina merely fickle. I hope it’s years before I have to hear or look at Erdmann again. why isn’t Arquez singing in US houses?)

          • CruzSF says:

            Forgive the misplaced comma, please.

    • 1.2
      derschatzgabber says:

      Irontongue, you are probably right. I’ve wondered whether she would be up to Hoffman since the 2012-13 season was announced. And I consider myself a fan. I saw her as Zerbinetta at the MET in 1997, and was thoroughly impressed. Even her Lucia in SF in 2008 was good (the voice showed signs of wear since 1997, but still was pretty impressive considering the surgeries in the intervening years). San Francisco tends to have some very promising apprentices in the Merola and Adler Programs (e.g., Heidi Melton, who was the 3rd Norn in the MET’s GD). Hoffman might give 3 or 4 of them a big break in 2013. Of course, it would be great if Natalie could get it back together.

    • 1.3
      Rowna says:

      I saw that she was singing all the roles -- YIKES! Absolutely impossible at this stage.

  • 2
    tinhtraiviet says:

    It was a very sad evening for Dessay (and her fans, among whom I count myself). Her voice sounded ragged and almost inaudible in the middle and lower ranges from the get go. Only the upper middle part of the voice showed some sheen and support in louder dynamics (otherwise she was mostly crooning her way through the notes). Going higher and you notice problems with pitch. She wisely avoided the E-flat, and even then much of Sempre Libera was so labored it was a pain to sit through). Her agonized acting couldn’t carry the day when the voice was in such perilous condition. It was a relief when Hong was announced to take over the last 2 acts. “Star” she might not be in the opinion of some, but Hong once again saved the day -- she was vocally secure and dramatically alert -- and to this disappointed Dessay fan, I was ultimately not disappointed in the evening as a whole, only disappointed about Dessay’s sorry vocal estate. I hope things will get better for her with the remaining 3 performances.

    • 2.1
      irontongue says:

      Thanks, tinhtraiviet; sad, sad, sad about Dessay.

    • 2.2
      papopera says:

      Thank you, merci, for telling what really happened that evening with Natalie, after all the nonsense above. Désolé about her.

    • 2.3
      mrmyster says:

      It is so sad to read this, tinhtra; N. is such a nice person and has served the art form well. I am sorry she is putting herself through this. She has often said when in SFE that she feels well, relaxed and does her best. Maybe she should drop all that other stuff and come here sing her first Marschallin! :)
      She has said that she will next sing at SFE in 2014 in her conductor’s new
      opera (Wuthering H.), but all bets may now be off. There is an art in knowing
      when to quit. Just ask Geraldine Farrar!

      • 2.3.1
        louannd says:

        Since Santa Fe has long since announced plans to do the Oscar Wilde and Cold Mountain operas (with the Philadelphia Opera) and are also going all in on Miss Fortune, I am guessing Wuthering Heights would be quite far off in the latter part of this decade, if ever, since these three *new* operas will begin with season 2013.

  • 3
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Now the MET is hyping Mattila as “The greatest singing-actress in the world” (sniped from the WSJ) !

    • 3.1
      Liz.S says:

      “The greatest singing-actress in the world”

      Ah, “singing actress” became another phrase I hate to see in articles. It made sense for people like Dessay and really with Mattila, but this expression has been used too often recently with people who can act but has vocal problems -- like Popsy or Nadja perhaps.

      Whenever I see this expression nowadays, it makes me suspicious -- if they have to use this, perhaps she can’t sing but looks good on stage? It’s a stupid expression -- since when opera singers were not supposed to be singing actors in the first place?

      • 3.1.1
        Camille says:

        It makes me cringe…it is a red flag that something is wonky.

        • 3.1.1.1
          mrmyster says:

          Mme Zinka said: “When you hear ‘singing actress,’ vatch out!!! It
          means ‘no voice.’ Z. had a point.

          • La Cieca says:

            There is no more unbiased authority on “singing actress” than a bitter ex-diva who can no longer sing and never could act.

          • poisonivy says:

            It’s weird but when “singing actress” comes to mind I think of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. I never “got” her until I saw footage of her recitals and the video of her Der Rosenkavalier. I think Schwarzkopf had a problematic voice — throaty and husky in the middle, harsh on the bottom, hit or miss on top. It just wasn’t to these ears a beautiful timbre. But the videos are very compelling, and when I watch them, it’s as if she could give her voice an illusion of beauty as well.

            And that illusion of beauty extended to her appearance as well. I don’t think she was beautiful offstage — the frumpy short perm, the gapped teeth, the harsh expression. But onstage she was a beauty.

          • MrGuy1804 says:

            http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2012/04/breaking-peter-gelb-is-savaged-by-mets-house-magazine.html

            I’m sure this has been posted somewhere already, but I was curious as to the thoughts of the Parterrians.

      • 3.1.2
        Clita del Toro says:

        For years, Callas’ detractors always called her a “singing-actress” meaning she was a great actress, but couldn’t sing for shit. That meme went on for years. Whenever a certain someone on the NYT Opera Forum brought that up, it made me furious. The idea was that you had to see her to appreciate her.
        Grrrrr!

      • 3.1.3
        Clita del Toro says:

        As to Matilla, the first time I saw her was in London in the late nineties (?) as Elsa. Winberg was the Lohengrin. I thought she acted and sang wonderfully. I think she is dreamy on the Met Meistersinger DVD. I also love her acting/singing in the Paris Don Carlos with Alagna.

        I am not so sure about her later Salome or Tosca (her mannerist phase)--at bit too much--or her Manon Lescaut. But she, imo, is a better actress than… a few “you know who’s.”

        • 3.1.3.1
          grimoaldo says:

          Lohengrin -- 8 February 1997 Evening 6.00pm
          Company: The Royal Opera
          Venue: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
          Conductor Valery Gergiev

          Cast
          Herald Anthony Michaels-Moore
          Heinrich I
          Duke of Saxony and German King René Pape
          Friedrich von Telramund Sergei Leiferkus
          Ortrud Gwyneth Jones
          Elsa von Brabant Karita Mattila
          Lohengrin Gösta Winbergh

          http://www.rohcollections.org.uk/performance.aspx?performance=6983&row=12&person=gosta%20winberg&searchtype=performance&page=0

          It was superlative, unforgettable, one of the great great opera performances.

          • Camille says:

            Mattila WAS superlative as Elsa van Brabant as she did for me what was impossible, make a living, breathing, sympatisch character of Elsa, the character I most love to hate in all of opera. A miraculous feat, in my book, and never to be forgotten. Thank you, Karita.

          • manou says:

            I was there too -- as soon as Gergiev fluttered his fingers to begin the wonderful overture, magic happened.

          • bobsnsane says:

            MrGuy --

            I will vote my pocket book
            and renew my subscription…
            maybe “Opera Snooze”
            no more?

        • 3.1.3.2
          bobsnsane says:

          1998 was a great year music!

          Karita brought her Elsa
          to the MET with Ben Heppner
          in the Robert Wilson production --
          which I loved…
          I saw 5 of them!

        • 3.1.3.3
          dgf says:

          I will see Matilla’s Emilia Marty this Friday night, and I have read only great things from her San Francisco performances last year. Clita, I agree on your opinions of her later Salome (the first incarnation years back was stunning, both at the Met and in Paris), as well as her Tosca. I didn’t care for the Tosca or Manon Lescaut either, although I think she might be a great Minnie (certainly better than Debi). I was lucky enough to see Matilla’s Elsa, Senta, and Fidelio at the Met when she was in her prime. They were superlative. I wonder how she will fare as Amelia in Ballo next season?

    • 3.2
      irontongue says:

      That’s all bizarre. Callas is one of the great singers based on what she does with her voice. Yeah, a problematic instrument -- but what a singer!

      Mattila is a great singer, period. She was spectacular in all ways as EM in SF, so I’d suggest ignoring the Met hype and just buying a ticket to see her.

      • 3.2.1
        Clita del Toro says:

        irontongue: well, that is what many people thought of Callas in the good old days, and the idea lingered for decades. It’s not as bizarre as you think. You had to be there. Btw, she is my fav soprano in the Italian rep.

    • 3.3
      La Cieca says:

      What’s the problem here? It’s a pullquote based on one journalist’s opinion. The Met’s website properly identifies the source of the quote: The Wall Street Journal calls Karita Mattila “the greatest singing actress in the world.”

      The purpose of that section of the website is to tell tickets to the production in question (and Makropulous Case historically is not a huge box office opera at the Met) plus the broader effect of making the Met in general seem exciting and “can’t miss.” Even if a production is selling well (e.g., the Manon, the advertising, including pullquotes, helps create the public sensation that something very exciting is happening at the Met, and, damn, I should have made plans earlier, so let’s take a look at next season’s subscriptions…

      First people complain that Peter Gelb’s Met isn’t selling enough tickets, and then, when the company does something to boost ticket sales, you complain about that. I realize that the only “right” way to run the Met is for them to present your own personal obscure diva singing your pet repertoire 50 nights a season, and then send a complimentary town car to fetch you to the performance (having previously confirmed with your social secretary which dates are most convenient for your attendance). But failing that perfectly reasonable effort to appeal to the company’s core audience of one, I don’t see how a little PR for the rest of the world is directly causing you personal butthurt.

      • 3.3.1
        Liz.S says:

        LaC, I think our friends reacted to my comment on the expression “singing actress” in general.
        You’re right, looking back, in this context, it could sound like we were complaining about Met’s marketing strategy. Apologize.

        • 3.3.1.1
          La Cieca says:

          La Cieca has the same reaction when people use cant words like “technique” as in “she doesn’t have the technique to sing Marguerite.” What they really mean is “she doesn’t sing it like that record of Joan Sutherland I’ve been listening to since I was seven years old.”

  • 4
    Angelo Saccosta says:

    Someone needs to tell Natalie and Peter Gelb that her career is over. What is it about the Met that it needs to allow erstwhile great singers to continue long past their time and so to tarnish great memories of them ?

    • 4.1
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    • 4.2
      Lady Bracknell says:

      Money, my dear Angelo, it’s money that is prohibiting them. In all liklihood, Mlle Dessay was contracted for this engagement in 2008 or so when her voice was in much better shape. Assuming she’s a top fee artist at the Met, plus finding a suitable replacement, buying her out of a contract would be in the $150,000 to $200,000 range. Since money stopped growing on trees, M Gelb doesn’t have the luxury of sacking every artist whose voice isn’t up to snuff.

      And let’s not pretend that Mlle Dessay doesn’t know how she sounds. The look on her face at the end of Act I and Acts II/III on the HD were painful. She was just as disappointed as we were.

      • 4.2.1
        Angelo Saccosta says:

        Thank you, Lady Bracknell. You’ve given another answer no less plausible.

      • 4.2.2
        papopera says:

        Its Madame Dessay, not mademoiselle which is a redundant old-fashioned word.

        • 4.2.2.1
          Lady Bracknell says:

          When one’s avatar references a character from 1895, one does not pay much mind to accusations of being old-fashioned.

          • manou says:

            But, Lady Bracknell*, does that mean that Bianca Castafiore should post in speech bubbles (font: Comic sans MS)?

            *In your case, Edwardian Script is mandatory.

        • 4.2.2.2
          DonCarloFanatic says:

          Wouldn’t it be Mme. Nouri? Or in modern French usage, does one append the married woman’s title to the maiden name? I’ve never heard of that previously.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Her professional name is Dessay, and we are discussing her in a professional context, hence Mme Dessay. Plus, of course, not all women take their husband’s name when they marry.

          • brooklynpunk says:

            Although--

            Haven’t I read that certain regions, if not the French Nation, as a whole, have recently attempted to do away with the “Mme” designation, ALTOGETHER…?

          • rapt says:

            BP, I think it’s the Mlle. some want to do away with (and maybe that’s what you meant to say).

          • brooklynpunk says:

            Rapt:

            MERCI…!!

            …OUI..!--I haven’t had my morning coffee , yet…!

            ooops…!

          • Camille says:

            If they want to do away with ‘Mademoiselle’ then where will that leave eleven year old virgins?

            Will they be called “Madame” as well. Come now!

            Call me
            Madam Camille

      • 4.2.3
        kashania says:

        Part of the Met’s (and other major houses) system of contracting singers 4-5 years in advance is anticipating the vocal state of a singer. While certain sistuations are impossible to predict (like Urmana’s Aida this season), the case of Dessay doesn’t fall into that category. Her voice has been gradually declining for years. Anyone with ears could see the trajectory. With each passing season, one could hear greater effort on high notes and more general wear on the rest of the voice. Violetta was always going to be a stretch for Dessay even in her vocal prime. So, this bit of casting could have easily been avoided. Some members of the cher public have been waving red flags about her upcoming Puritani Elvira ever since it was announced on Brad Wilbur’s Met Futures page. Yet, the Met artistic department seems incapable of this kind of foresight.

        • 4.2.3.1
          Camille says:

          In 2003, the Zerbinetta was ALREADY not at all what it had been when I heard it in 1997, when it was wonderful. That was NINE years ago.

          She sang Violetta’s big scena at that dreary “Gala” three years ago, and although it was not a debacle like the current one, it was already showing signs of what has occurred. It is a mournful shame that she has ended up like this, but it is wrong to submit her to the PAYING public as a viable Violetta, and at these prices. There are scores of other candidates, you name ’em, parterriani.

        • 4.2.3.2
          Maury D says:

          I have to admit that, at the time of the Lucia, it seemed like a perfectly valid idea to me.

          • kashania says:

            I thought her first Met Lucia (when she opened the season) was wonderful. By the time of the second Lucia, she was vocally less wonderful though still good. But I always got the sense that the good times weren’t going to last much longer and I never felt that Violetta was a good fit that slender instrument. Part of Dessay’s dilemma is that her voice hasn’t matured like some lighter sopranos do. Take Swenson. Putting aside whether she is an interesting artist or not, there is no doubt that her voice changed over the years, going from a lighter leggiero to a fuller lyric. (And on paper, a transition to Violetta seemed ideal though I’ve heard that it wasn’t a successful role assumption). Dessay’s voice has remained a light instrument but one that has gradually lost its beauty and become increasingly effortful on top.

        • 4.2.3.3
          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.

    • 4.3
      messa di voce says:

      “What is it about the Met that it needs to allow erstwhile great singers to continue long past their time and so to tarnish great memories of them ?”

      One can assume that you’ve never been to Vienna, Munich or La Scala?

  • 5
    Angelo Saccosta says:

    Thank you, Quanto Painy. You’ve answered the question.

  • 6
    operainsider says:

    I don’t know if I missed something but nobody seems to be talking about Paulo Szot missing the last THREE Manon performances. I remember when I saw Carmen a season ago and he was not there either. Is he known for being absent. Michael Todd Simpson was excellent when I saw him sing the role last week in Manon so at least I was treated to a new, fresh and clean voice. His voice suits the material better the Szots. I do hope he is okay though.

    • 6.1
      Nerva Nelli says:

      The main (only?) requirement of a camera-worthy Gelbstar is showing up for the HD filming. Who cares about the paying in-house customers???

      • 6.1.1
        Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        So does Dessay get her full fee for last night because she sang the first act?

        • 6.1.1.1
          operainsider says:

          yes, she does

        • 6.1.1.2
          brooklynpunk says:

          Why shouldn’t she?

          Regardless of everyone’s opinions of her singing, -isn’t it GENERALLY true , for MOST OF US, that if you had to leave work, in the middle of the day because of some indisposition, we would EXPECT TO BE PAID FOR THE FULL DAY- eh?

          (unless one is an ” hourly worker” at McDonald’s?)

          • armerjacquino says:

            There’s a suggestion which crops up here from time to time that some unwell singers will turn up, do the bare minimum necessary to get paid, and then go home- I seem to remember someone suggesting the same thing about some long-past Millo AIDAs a couple of weeks ago.

            I find this so difficult to believe. I don’t think a singer, vocalising in the dressing room and finding the voice not in its best nick, will be thinking anything other than ‘I hope my voice holds, I hope I make it through’. The idea that they might think ‘Oh, I haven’t got enough voice for this opera. I’ll just do the first act then run home cackling and take a bath in a tub full of dollar bills’ just doesn’t make sense for me.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Bklyn, Or unless one has sick time built up. Do they get 12 hours of sick time for each performance?
            When Callas was sick for her Lucia broadcast, Bing apparently begged her to go on. her singing was just okay until the Mad Scene, which was wonderful.
            I think, however, that in Dessay’s case it’s may be partly lingering illness and partly residual voice.

      • 6.1.2
        Maury D says:

        The main (only?) requirement of a camera-worthy Gelbstar is showing up for the HD filming. Who cares about the paying in-house customers???

        This is kind of a weird argument, in that you’re indignant on behalf of in-house listeners who you stress twice (“paying” and “customers”) are entitled to something on account of their monetary contribution, but the anger at Gelb seems to be on account of his having prioritized money-making in the form of HD broadcasts.

        It’s a separate conversation, and one I guess has taken place here a dozen times and isn’t going to be resolved that Gelb has also given HD broadcasts to such runway favorites as Guleghina+Lucic, Alvarez+Gagnidze+50-year-old Mattila in a frumpy-making wig, and supermodel Ramon Vargas. But the focus on people only showing up for the HD does seem to be a very isolated concern. Other than arguably Dessay, has anyone else done this?

        • 6.1.2.1
          kashania says:

          Not to mention Stephanie Blythe as Orfeo and the upcoming Botha Otello.

          I’m sure that most singers prioritse the HD broadcasts because of their reach to a wider audience and the fact that most of them are released on DVD. But I’m sure that was (and still is) the case with the radio broadcasts as well. But I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that Gelb only cares about the HD broadcasts. It’s nonsense to suggest that a GM of a company only cares about a dozen performances out of hundreds given in a season.

          There are legitimate criticisms to be leveled at Gelb but to resent the success of the HD broadcasts seems pointless to me.

    • 6.2
      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.

  • 7
    brooklynpunk says:

    Clita:

    I don’t know what the MET contractual obligations are, regarding an Artist feeling it necessary to leave in the middle of a performance,BUT-- the initial poster’s “inquiry” seemed so pointed and argumentative ( unless I have mis-read the intent behind it) , that I had to respond, in a “common sense/decency” manner..

    • 7.1
      Clita del Toro says:

      Bklyn, I was just joking about sick hours n my post.

    • 7.2
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      It was not argumentative. AGMA has definite rules about that and I don’t know what they are; hence the question.

      • 7.2.1
        brooklynpunk says:

        WELL, THEN-

        Forgive me, if your question was purely objective- although one could go on the AGMA website to discover the answer, I suppose…?

        It just seemed a pointed comment-- unless the money is coming out of YOUR own pocket, no??

  • 8
    justanothertenor says:

    I find unsettling that everyone just seems to be ganging up on her. Yes, I am a huge Dessay fan. Yes, I also realise the incredible decline of her voice in the past years. However, in this case, might it just be she is having trouble recovering from whatever sickness kept her out of the opening? It’s so fashionable to assume the worst and start lynching, but have a little charity fellows.

    I went to see Traviata last Wednesday, and found her more than commendable. It may have been the only night she did not seem to battle her way though the entire role. I was not expecting much from Act I, abut after warming up, she sounded quite exciting. Her Sempre Libera was quite good actually. The coloratura was clean, the sustained high Cs had shape and intent, and she delivered a vibrant and well-placed Eb as the curtain came down. Her act II was also very good, and it was not until Act III that she seemed to run out of steam, cracking repeatedly whenever she tried to “chest” the voice. However, her Addio del Passato was gorgeously spun, and phrased beautifully.

    I saw her do the role in Santa Fe, and even though the role was never a good fit, she had some stirring moments back then. This time around, she has confirmed that the role is not an ideal fit, but still has managed to deliver memorable moments.

    Instead of harping on how “finished” she is, I commend her for at least trying to do the work she was hired to do, and in the case of the performance I witnessed, delivering on a promise. Her technique is compromised, her voice diminished, but she still left her mark on this production.

    • 8.1
      armerjacquino says:

      Bravo.

    • 8.2
      uwsinnyc says:

      Well said.

      It’s just one performance- singers have cancelled mid performance before.

    • 8.3
      oedipe says:

      But, Justanothertenor,

      In the minds of opera lovers, that’s what divas are there for! They are a vehicle for channelling obsessions, insecurities, frustrations. They are there to be torn apart and devoured, worshipped and hated. They are sacrificial beasts. Now that ritualistic sacrifices are no longer considered mainstream, this opera fan ritual fulfils a basic need…

    • 8.4
      OpinionatedNeophyte says:

      “However, in this case, might it just be she is having trouble recovering from whatever sickness kept her out of the opening?”

      Then she should have cancelled. But she didn’t. She wanted the exposure of being broadcast all over the globe in HD. She doesn’t get kudos for giving it a “good ol college try.” This is the Met, if you can’t sing then cancel.

      • 8.4.1
        brooklynpunk says:

        O/N

        Wow…that is a pretty ungracious comment!!

        Perhaps, ND believed she would be able to successfully get through the performance, after missing the Dress and first night?

        PERHAPS.. ND didn’t realize…until it was past the point of no return, that she was having an unusually hard time of it, last night?

        Unless you have had personal contact with her, YOU will never know-- but , i guess you prefer to spit out undeserved bitterness.

        Haven’t you EVER been in the middle of a task, and , for one reason or other, HAD to make a quick exit?

        • 8.4.1.1
          armerjacquino says:

          Spot on, BP. A performer’s default setting is to do the show. It’s an incredibly hard decision, sat there in full costume and make-up, to say ‘No, I don’t think I’ll get through this’. There is a great deal of hope and crossed-fingers involved in that process, and it’s not necessarily a logical one. I’ve certainly gone on stage (in MT, not opera) not knowing if my voice is going to do what I need it to and hoping for the best.

          I have no doubt that Dessay wouldn’t have gone on stage if she’d felt she wasn’t going to be able to get through it. This whole ‘she should have cancelled’ is up there with the equally unpleasant ‘(singer whose performances I don’t enjoy) should just retire’- such a cavalier attitude to someone’s life and livelihood.

      • 8.4.2
        Cocky Kurwenal says:

        She wanted the exposure? Or she was aware that thousands of people had bought tickets on the strength of her name, and that she also had a contractual obligation to fulfill if she possibly could have? Pretty mean-spirited slant you’re putting on it, ON.

      • 8.4.3
        bobsnsane says:

        “A performer’s default setting is to do the show.”

        Exactly Armer!

        Maybe recent political realities
        are getting dear Neo down…
        Cheers, thanks a lot.

    • 8.5
      dgf says:

      Left her mark? As in skid marks? I hear she decided to go out for an extended smoke break after Act One.

  • 9
    poisonivy says:

    Well I really hope that Dessay doesn’t have nodes again. Or that her voice is really that shot. Even when I didn’t like her performance, she was always interesting. Not just acting-wise, but her voice was intriguing. It was not large in size, but it had an odd echoing effect. It’d bounce off the walls of the Met and seemingly travel right next to your ear. I haven’t heard anyone else with that strange ability to make an echo effect throughout the auditorium.

  • 10
    mirywi says:

    Zylis-Gara could vibrate the walls of the hall too.

  • 11
    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.

    • 11.1
      MrGuy1804 says:

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

    • 11.2
      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.

      • 11.2.1
        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.

        • 11.2.1.1
          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!

        • 11.2.1.2
          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)

  • 12
    operaassport says:

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

  • 13
    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.

    • 13.1
      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.

      • 13.1.1
        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?

        • 13.1.1.1
          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.

    • 13.2
      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.

  • 14
    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.

    • 14.1
      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!

      • 14.1.1
        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.

      • 14.1.2
        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.

        • 14.1.2.1
          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!

      • 14.1.3
        louannd says:

        Beautiful *timber*, indeed!

    • 14.2
      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!

    • 14.3
      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?

  • 15
    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????

  • 16
    Camille says:

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

    • 16.1
      Clita del Toro says:

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

      • 16.1.1
        Clita del Toro says:

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

        • 16.1.1.1
          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

  • 17
    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