Cher Public

A shot in the dark

Which diva, oblivious to the open mikes of the theater PA system, recently fired off this immortal line at her impresario: “You run this place like the Gestapo!”

  • J. G. Pastorkyna

    Immortal… Makropoulos?

    • spiderman

      well, if it was Karita she most likely would have said “OH MY GOD… you run this place like the Gestapo” :)

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    The possibilities are endless. Does the intendant’s last name begin with a G (but not Gelb)? a “B”? I hope the correct reply can be made known.

    More importantly, could someone with access to the UK TIMES please post the article with the news of Toby Spence’s thyroid cancer? I hope he has been able to have it controlled. \

    • David
    • manou


      [Please do not post complete articles, even if they are behind paywalls.]

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Thank heavens they found it in time and that his frame of mind is focused on healthy singing. I pray that this gifted singer has speedy recouperation.

      • grimoaldo

        Oh, no.
        I find this quite distressing. He is a wonderful singer and artist I have seen live many times. Poor guy.
        All best wishes to him for a full recovery.

      • bluecabochon

        I am assuming that he has papillary thyroid cancer, the most treatable kind, and will live to be an old man. :)

        I wish him strength in the face of any future treatment required, good health, patience, good adaptation to synthetic hormone, and clean ultrasounds from now on!

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          do they give beta blockers for thyroid surgery while waiting to determine the right doe of synthroid?

          • bluecabochon

            If one is hyperthyroid before surgery they often do. Not everyone is.

      • Porpora

        I’m sorry. This is bad advice, that is, performing Vere in a matter of months from a vocal condition where the voice is not stable and working at full power. he should be singing scales over and over and over in a controlled matter until he can expand and consolidate his abilities, then apply this acquired ability to repertory. Singing a big opera is not like jumping into the pool and making a go of it. This speech therapist doesn’t know what he/she is talking about.

        • Camille

          That’s what I was thinking but dare not say it as I am not a maestro di canto, as you certainly are. Isn’t Captain rather fatiguing emotionally as well? Shouldn’t he take some months off and very gradually start in even with the vocalising? Poor man is probably pressured to prove himself.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          We don’t know all the ins and outs or exactly where he’s at. We also don’t know what other advice he has received from people who have examined him and heard him. The article pretty much does say that he’s started gently and is seeing constant improvement -- we don’t know how much, or how rapid. Let’s just leave it to him shall we, wish him well, and not get judgemental about bad advice when we’re not in posession of all the facts.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        His performance in Meistersinger really was fantastic -- best thing I’ve ever heard from him, and really engaging acting too. It implied a whole new set of repertoire might be open to him than I’d ever imagined before. I hope he’s back on the same form soon.

  • brooklynpunk

    All my deepest, best wishes and thoughts to Toby Spence, for a swift recovery..!

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Returning as Capt. Vere may not be the best balsam for the voice under any circumstances.

      • Camille

        Omg, I do not want to think about it--it stresses me out so!!!
        He does need to jump back in the saddle but one doesn’t just “bounce back” from such a thing. One has to go slow and cooperate with one’s body and have patient calm. I hope he will be advised by and surrounded by others than those who want to push his career.

        This brings to mind another tenor, Giuseppe Filianoti. Wonder how he is doing now? Such a lovely man.

        May they hasten cautiously….

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          Filianotti is in Peru for Don Carlo -- lots of good gigs for him coming up.

          • Porgy Amor

            Among them the Met’s CLEMENZA with Frittoli and Garanca this fall.

          • Camille

            Yes, one of two or three things I will be sure to attend next season and I have my fingers crossed for both he AND Frittoli. I heard both of them in Don Giovanni at the Scala prima and have my concerns. And I hope Filianoti has licked his problem!

          • DonCarloFanatic

            I can’t believe my bad luck. I’ll be in Lima the same week, but not the days he’s singing Don Carlo. And I couldn’t go to the Houston Don Carlos because I’m going to Lima.

        • bluecabochon

          Well, he didn’t mention it, but if he had spread to lymph nodes then he will most probably need radioactive iodine, if he hasn’t had it already. I’ll bet that he is in good shape physically and will probably recover more quickly because of that, but you’re right, he should not be influenced to take on more than he can handle.

        • Neil Funkhouser

          Thanks for asking about him. He’s doing well, and I hope Toby Spence will also be as fortunate. (And I know of two other singers who have had thyroid cancer and who have resumed their careers.) Here’s a video of his first encore from his American Recital Debut this past weekend on the Harriman-Jewell Series in Kansas City.

          Neil Funkhouser

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

            WOW! Pizzetti would be thrilled that his songs were performed in Kansas City (or anywhere for that matter)
            Tre sonetti del Petrarca: In morte di Madonna Laura

            Levommi il mio pensier

            La vita fugge e non s’arresta un’ora

            Quel rosignuol che sì soave piagne

          • Camille

            Thank you very much, Mr. Funkhouser. It makes me happy to hear him doing so well and here’s hoping he will go from strength to strength, making those Clemenza di Titos upcoming in December a real entry into the Pantheon of the Met.

      • That’s an interesting observation because my impression if the role (and given what I know of Pears’ voice) is that the role does not have a lot of high notes and while it sits in the passaggio, it is not strenduous.

        Can you or someone clarify why this role is a bad idea for a comeback? I do not know the opera all that well…

        • mrmyster

          I remember how beautifully Richard Croft sang Tito at Santa Fe some years ago. It’s a perfect role for Filianote -- helluva lot better than Don Carlos
          just now. I was pleasantly surprised by his sound in the Kansas City clip.
          Wishing him well and especially so Toby Spence who is a delightful artist. He surely needs to build back his voice more slowly and in smaller roles at first than the demanding Vere. Let’s hope common sense prevails, and from what I know of Toby and have seen of him, that should be the case.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Returning to the topic of the “shot in the dark” above, if true, I wonder how the people who heard the diva’s rant to the impresario reacted and what actually happened?

  • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

    I didn’t want to read a review in a year’s time that said: ‘Toby Spence doesn’t sound as good as he did before the operation’.”

    Surely even an opera critic wouldn’t write anything so crass?

    No, though a few inhabitants of the blogosphere might. Ask Debbie.

    Get Well Soon, Mr. Spence.

    • operaassport

      Apples and oranges. Or in Voigt’s case, steak and potatos. She didn’t have cancer. She was morbidly obese and rather than put the fork down and deal with the psycological issues of her overeating she had radical surgery and then went on 60 Minutes and yapped all about it.

      She’s fair game, no pun intended. Toby Spence is not.

      • Nerva Nelli

        “She was morbidly obese and rather than put the fork down and deal with the psyc*h*ological issues of her overeating”

        But we’ll bet YOU can pride yourself as being just as thin, and just as nastily unhappy and contemptuous of others, as you were back in high school when everyone made fun of you for being gay!

        The dregs…

        • operaassport

          I was never thin and I’ve been out and proud since I was 12. And no one made fun of me for being gay because I was a jock and wouldve kicked their ass. But I certainly would have joined the straight jocks and helped shove your prissy face down the toilet.

          • Nerva Nelli

            Not that I drag it into conversation now, I also did sports as a student and was in zero danger of hazing.

            But again: the dregs.

          • Clita del Toro

            Opera and Nerva, you are both too butch for words! lol

          • lorenzo.venezia

            wow, opera ass, we’re all really impressed. if I were La Cieca I’d moderate you for Hate Speak.

          • marshiemarkII

            Conquest of the Universe or When QUEENS Collide!

          • marshiemarkII

            All joking aside though Lorenzo, aren’t you overreacting a bit muchly? Granted operassport evoking violent images of antigay bullying in and of itself may be censurable, but you have to understand the context here. You have a professional provocateur, namely Nerva, throwing totally unwarranted and untrue shit in the other direction, projecting her own phobias on a person she knows nothing about, at a personal level (as far as I know they are not friends). This is something she does regularly and unwarrantedly with other people, getting “personal” much more often than others. Operassport reacts in an over the top “camp” manner with a “to the jugular” attack, a fight among queens, Stinging Mad Queen Bees, hence no hate speech. I think operassport is fully absolved of this accusation.

          • CruzSF

            You recently called Wagner the “greatest man who ever lived,” so your Hate Speech barometer might need recalibration.

          • lorenzo.venezia

            MM: I”m not over-reacting. I found opera ass’s comment repellent any way you look at it and nothing anyone said ever “deserves” such a response.

          • marshiemarkII

            Cruz my hate speech barometer (sic) is calibrated just fine. Legally speaking the figure of “hate speech” occurs when a member of the majority uses hate language against a member of a minority group inciting violence based on the very condition that creates the minority group as an entity, in this case it would be the condition of being gay. Since in the case at hand both victim and victimizer are members of the same group, it is tautologically impossible that the victimizer can be using “hate speech” against the victim since he shares the condition with the victim. In reality, this is a case of one queen trying to outcamp the other in outrageousness using ever more inflammatory language with the intention to offend, rather than to incite hatred for THE ENTIRE minority group. Capisce Caro?

            Now I don’t know why you’d bring the holy name of Richard Wagner into a silly fight among queens, it demeans you and decreases the respect I once had for you……….
            I’ll just ask you this, if “the greatest man that ever lived” had not been born and lived the 70 extraordinary years that he did, do you think that humanity would be better off? A world without that music would be better off?

          • CruzSF

            You know that I adore Wagner’s music, as I’ve written many times at how surprising and eternal it is. But great art can spring from repellent people, and Wagner is an example of that, IMO.

          • brooklynpunk

            I actually thought lorenzo was commenting more on the “hate-speech” aspects of operassport’s rather VERY smarmy comments concerning DV, rather then on Nerva…

            As to whether “humanity” would have been better of , without Wagner..well-- we would have missed his MUSIC, perhaps--but I don’t think HUMANITY would have been in any better-or worse- shape then it is, now

            (Wagner , and “humanity” seems to be as much an oxymoronic notion, as Wagner being the world’s greatest man is)

          • rapt

            Though lorenzo can speak for himself, I shared bp’s assumption that the offense was oas’s original comment on DV, an example of the weird and weirdly judgmental (and, as others have pointed out, misinformed) fixation on body size that occasionally surfaces here. Sorry for all those initials--perhaps a sign that our thread is getting too long!

          • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

            oas, it does not matter what the reasons for the operation are. It does not even matter whether the operation directly relates to vocal production or not. And if, lordy me, we get into judging people who end up on the operating table, I see no moral difference between an obese person who does not stop eating and a never-hazed jock who refuses to quit overtraining and thus requires hip and/or knee replacement at the same age as Ms. Voigt had her procedure carried out.

            It sounds to me that lorenzo values self-censorship, certainly over the other kind; so do I.

          • Nerva Nelli

            The Marsh Gas Extruded:

            “You have a professional provocateur, namely Nerva, throwing totally unwarranted and untrue shit… ”

            Have our own agenda, do we?

            So it’s “untrue” that Behrens’ middle register was comparatively empty and inadequate? Nice that someone thinks so.

            BTW, do I have to pay professional dues somewhere???

      • Attributing obesity to personal “psychological issues of overeating” is overly simplistic and ridiculously dismissive.

      • Bosah

        I love that mentality -- a human as fair game for attack regarding their health. How kind. And how very compassionate and good-hearted.

        So Debbie is fair game, despite obviously working hard to get her life in order. As are divas who have the audacity to age and -- HORROR -- not sound exactly the same as when they were 35. Or GASP gain weight!

        Baltsamic is exactly right. Many opera critics and/or bloggers most certainly would and WILL say that about Spence. Mark my words. It’s a part of the “game” which I’ve never found to be particularly “fair” in many respects.

        • Howling in Tune

          Well, suppose (God forbid) that a year or two from now Toby Spence doesn’t sound as good as he did before the operation.

          Should a critic really just pretend that isn’t the case and he sounds as good as he always did?

          Granted, there are polite ways and crass ways of wording it, but if it happens, isn’t it a journalist’s job to be honest about it?

      • justanothertenor

        Wow. Why such hate speech? My heart has been braking in the past few weeks as the vitriol here seems to be getting more and more prevalent. Are we all not united in our love of opera? Can we not focus on the goos, just a little bit?

        Voigt needed to have that surgery. The weight might have killed her. The situation between her and Spence is not entirely dissimilar. His surgery had much more urgency in our minds, because we all know how quick cancer can be to strike. However, Voigt’s heart was at serious risk and could have given out at any time. She made the right decision, because she decided to live, and for that I admire her. She took a gamble with her career, and that is why we resent her. She decided her life was more important than her voice.

        • justanothertenor

          the good, not the goos

        • operaassport

          I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous. Millions of people go on diets, get psychological treatment (yes, overeating is almost always a mental issue), and succeed. They don’t choose radical, elective surgery. To equate fighting cancer to an obese person who has bariatric surgery because they don’t have the willpower to change their behavior is an insult to all the people who bravely face cancer. To then milk it for publicity, as Voigt did, is crass. There is nothing to be admired here.

          • armerjacquino

            There is nothing to be admired here.

            How self-aware of you.

    • oedipe

      C’mon y’all! Everybody (critics, bloggers, facebookers) should be polite and compassionate when talking about singers’ misfortunes. Just reserve all your bile and crassness for Natalie Dessay, ’cause there you have a REAL monster!

  • Nerva Nelli

    “Which diva, oblivious to the open mikes of the theater PA system, recently fired off this immortal line at her impresario: “You run this place like the Gestapo!”

    If not for the word ‘recently’ one would suspect it was Schwarzkopf praising Wieland Wagner’s Bayreuth in 1951!

    • messa di voce

      Brava, Nerva!

    • justanothertenor

      Yes. Saturday morning WIN.

  • aulus agerius

    My big brother used to say: “Overweight comes from lack of exercise -- pushing the chair away from the table!”

    I wonder what has become of Andrea Gruber. I fervently hope she has not relapsed into old behavior patterns due to the end of her career. I didn’t think her last Aida broadcast was THAT bad -- not as bad as ND’s last Traviata, which she couldn’t finish.

    • Bosah

      Your big brother didn’t know much about obesity.

      • He also didn’t evoke too much esprit de camp in that statement either.

    • turandotti

      i saw Grubers last aida and it was sad no top barely middle and no bottom to speak of isaw dessays last violetta and it was a tremendous improvement over the broadcast no e flat but much of the the role had real beauty and intense committment only marginally hoarse happy i went not happy about the memory of grubers aida

    • justanothertenor

      Dessay was SICK at her last Traviata, which is why she didn’t finish.

  • Clita del Toro

    Das Rheingold from Wien with Thielemann, Cond. starts now on OE1.

    • cosmodimontevergine

      Thanks -it sounds great.

  • operaassport

    Marshie: exactly, spot on.
    Lorenzo: grow a pair.
    Hate speech? Oh, c’mon. Applying that term to this discussion simply devalues the phrase like those mental midgets who refer to everything as a “tragedy” even hangnails.

    • lorenzo.venezia

      repellent, plain and simple, and yes, as hateful as Rush Limbaugh.

      • operaassport

        Darn, I was going for Keith Olbermann.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    I don’t get it. If it WAS Mattila who said that why would she use the image of Gestapo to describe how the Met is run? What in the world would have caused such a terrible statement in the first place?

  • Maria Malcontent

    Going back to the lead story, is Schwarzkopf dead?