Headshot of La Cieca

Cher Public

  • bluecabochon: Klinghoffer director Tom Morris will answer questions live today at 1 PM EST at the Guardian:... 11:40 AM
  • Buster: Thanks for that story, Zinka. He seems to have a lot of fun here: httpv://www.youtub e.com/watch?v... 11:06 AM
  • Cicciabella: Absolutely, MdM! The interpretation is sweet without being cloying. And such a beautiful,... 10:45 AM
  • La Cieca: Never mind that you think it would be cute assign to a mob of political opportunists the absolute... 10:32 AM
  • La marquise de Merteuil: Cicciabella is there ANYTHING more wonderful than La Battle in Scarlatti’s Il... 10:27 AM
  • Cicciabella: …that would be Baroque Duet. 10:27 AM
  • La Valkyrietta: La Cieca, manou, sorry and thank you, respectively. No intention of getting out of line.... 10:26 AM
  • Cicciabella: I haven’t seen this documentary (hope I find time to do so), but Baroque Duets is one of... 10:23 AM
  • alejandro: hot pic. *swoon* 10:05 AM
  • manou: Oh I don’t know – I find it quite witty. 10:02 AM

None so blind item

Which mechanism devised by which Canadian theatrical savant—the subject of a full-page advertisement purchased by which fucking genius in the Sunday edition of which newspaper that publishes “all the news that’s fit to print”— well, anyway, that mechanism, remember, it malfunctioned tonight during which New York opera company’s performance of which music drama named after which Teutonic hero?  Wait, don’t guess until you’ve read what’s after the jump.  

An eyewitness reports “throughout the entire second act, the far rightmost plank… was out of position. It should have been essentially vertical, like all the rest. But it was raised about 45 degrees from vertical, sticking out toward the audience.”

57 comments

  • brunettino says:

    I saw the Gotterdammerung in HD, and what struck me about the machine and the planks is that there is a constant series of parallel lines you have to look at -- they never go away, which felt very confining visually, and conceptually you felt like each scene was trapped within that structure. To me, the Ring should suggest infinities of many kinds, and all those regimented ceaseless lines make any sense of such expansiveness impossible to see, feel or imagine. Maybe it is different in the house.

  • grandtier says:

    I wonder how much aluminum is bringing at the scrap yards these days?

  • Clita del Toro says:

    The idea that the Ring needed a some sort of unifying set element for all four works and in every damn scene is ridiculous. There is something called the music with its leitmotivs that has worked very well to do that. The Machine to too limiting in many ways--I don’t care how many twists and turns it makes or how many projections are used to visually alter it. To the scrapyards is right!

  • Clita del Toro says:

    And to those who say that they dislike the Machine at first, but are getting used to it. What an endorsement!

    Maybe Gelb can put the following on the sides of NYC busses:

    “Go enjoy the Ring; and don’t be afraid of the Machine, you’ll get used to it.”

    ;+)

    • kashania says:

      “The Machine. It grows on you… sort of”.

      • SacredMonster says:

        So does Cancer…and I don’t want that either.

      • Porgy Amor says:

        “Without noticeable problems…worked just fine, it seemed, and even creaked a little less.” -- The New York Times. Put that in bold type over a WALKUERE production photo of Terfel and Voigt with the “eye” displaying the Windows logo.

    • 98rsd says:

      I think a certain portion of the audience is afraid to say they like the production because of the loud, negative voices (like the ones we find here).

      For me, the Schenk production, with it’s fire of foil strips under red light and other underwhelming effects was wildly overpraised.

      While I’m disappointed that the direction of the new production is no more inventive than the Schenk, I prefer the magic the machine conjures up.

      So sue me.

  • tannengrin says:

    It may have been intentional -- as a tribute to the tower at the World Trade Center site receiving the beam that makes it higher than the Empire State or whatever the hubbub was. Kind of an acknowledgement that elsewhere in NYC even more metal is taking center stage… Or maybe it was to welcome the Space Shuttle? I’m sure some spinmeister at the Met can have some fun with this.

  • Asta Bilis says:

    You guys crack me up!! Your schadenfreude over the MET/Gelb/LePage is very tiresome. Give it a rest. When the Otto Schenk ring came out it was criticized for being “old-fashioned”, having “no point of view”, “trite”, etc. The LePage staging does some things well, other things not so well like most Ring stagings have done over the years. Quoting from a review when the Schenk Walküre was new: “The company’s last cycle was a troubled venture shaped by Herbert von Karajan … leaving behind semi-abstract sets filled with swirling galactic images. This new “Walkure” directed by Otto Schenk with sets by Gunther Schneider-Siemssen is a traditional item that looks like a holdover from the “Ring’s” premiere in 1876…. — this production nudges neither mind nor imagination. … At the Met there is no sense of ritual, no sense of passing to another realm.” By the time the Schenk Ring was retired, many hailed it as a masterpiece.

    The LePage Ring possibly relies on the technology too much at the expense of digging deeper into the characters psyches but it doesn’t denigrate the work or trash it. I prefer to rejoice in what it does well and hope that the things it doesn’t do well can be altered in future revivals. On a purely aural level, last night’s performance of Siegfried was very fine. The first act was one of the finest I can remember and Dalayman’s Brünnhilde (except for the top B’s and C’s)in the third act was beautiful and expressive.

  • zinka says:

    Here is how we destroy the MACHINE…and bring back the old production…….

  • zinka says:

    REMEMBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I always cried!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • marshiemarkII says:

      Brava Zinka, now THAT is how you handle the tessitura of the final pages! Pure liquid incandescent gold!

    • kashania says:

      Ah yes, my first timing hearing or seeing the Ring was as a teenager watching this telecast. Fortunately, my parents let me stay up to watch this though it was a school night and it went past midnight. I knew nothing of the opera and so was completely unprepared for the overwhelming effect Immolation. And I remember excitedly telling my mom all about it they next day (“She kept singing and singing. It was amazing”) Thank you, Hildy!

    • Lalala says:

      A little trivia—and someone correct me if I’m wrong (and I’m sure you will). This is, I believe, a spliced performance. In 1990 when this was taped, there were 3 Gotterdammerung performances. The first, a Saturday matinee, Siegfried Jerusalem and Hildegard Behrenz were both ill but performed anyway--they were not in the best of voice and announcements were made. It was obvious they weren’t at their best but it was good for them to perform so that good video footage could be obtained for the broadcasts that were to follow in June. At the second performance, Hildegard sang (Jersualem, I believe, cancelled). However, it was in this performance where she was hit on the head by the falling set pieces at the end of the Immolation Scene (which was in clear view of the audience). You don’t see that happening in this clip. The third performance, Hildegard did not sing due to her injuries. What this means is that I believe the audio is from the 2nd performance (or a rehearsal before the show ever opened) and the video (at least during the demolition) is from the first performance. Hope that makes sense.

    • marshiemarkII says:

      Lalala, you have the sequence of events EXACTLY right, the rest not so much. This is the story exactly as it happened. The video that you see here, and in the DVDs (obviously), is indeed the first performance in which both Behrens and Jerusalem were announced as sick. Stunning as this video is, is what Behrens sounded like even sick. The Immolation on the night of the accident was a million times better than this, the voice working perfectly in all registers, and she fully in command and feeling free and ready, and rearing to go for the third performance, which was to be the “official” telecast. The trauma of the evening would have been enough to make me forget every detail (let alone twenty two years alter), but I happened to listen to the complete Immolation, at her attorneys office in 2005, and it was indeed a staggeringly sensational performance, every phrase longer, with more note value, and completely free. It could not have been used to splice into the video telecast for at least two reasons, first the 1990 technology was not good enough to do the synchronization (not even to change one single flubbed high C from Jerusalem which is left intact), and second by the time it was broadcast in June 1990, the complete tape of the second performance was already a subject of litigation, so it most definitely could not be used in any part of the released video. And unlike some idiotic rumors spread at the time by her then manager, and later through a well-known book writing polemicist, there was NO FOOTAGE of the dress rehearsal. The first performance was the “video dress rehearsal” and so on as you describe. I know all of this with absolute certainty, because it was ***I*** MarshiemarkII herself who had to do the monumental effort needed to persuade her to allow the release of the tape for broadcast. It was scheduled for US nationwide broadcast on the last week of June and she was scheduled to make her San Francisco debut in a complete Ring (stunning!) in early July. She served notice to San Francisco that she might not be able to sing at all due to her remaining trauma with the Immolation music. And she would not know until a concert performance at the Vienna Musikverein in early June, if she could sing the Immolation at all. She did! and had a great success. Immediately after she notified San Francisco she would sing after all, and I taking advantage of the euphoria of the moment, was finally able to persuade her that the first Gotterdammerung was more than good enough for release, and she finally relented and agreed to the release for broadcast only a couple of weeks later. The Met had been on pins and needles all that time not knowing if they would or would not be able to show it in public. That is the truth and the only truth!!!!
      If you care you can compare the video with the radio broadcast, and you will find that they are one and same note for note, including Jerusalem flubbed high C in Act II. So that stunning DVD is indeed Behrens sick!

      • kashania says:

        Marshie: Do you know if they used the exact same performances for the PBS telecast that they later released on video?

      • Lalala says:

        This is all well and good but indeed, if this is the first performance, splicing had to occur. Jerusalem ended up basically marking much of the performance —there wasn’t much voice left. He struggled in all three of the performances as I remember. I was in the house that day (in fact, was at the theater for all three performances). In addition, an extra rehearsal was called to do some taping of portions of Act 3. I strongly suspect that some of that was indeed spliced in (that was the reason for the extra rehearsal in the first place)—I’m not saying this was any of Behrenz music. Indeed, it was possible to splice in those days. That the Met didn’t do more of it is a surprise to many.

    • marshiemarkII says:

      Yes absolutely Kashie Adorato, the PBS release IS what I described above. It was a very traumatic time, as she was still suffering the physical effects of the accident, and psychologically she was inconsolable that she had been robbed of the third performance, when she expected to really deliver her big thing, as she always built up to the last performance in any given sequence, and this one in particular! The thought that they would use the first, when she knew she had been sick, would make her very angry, as she felt her reputation would be tarnished with a product that was less than her best. I listened to the broadcast over and over, and would tell her, it is more than fine, it is glorious, other than a very short patch of roughness in Zu Neuen Taten, the rest is glorious vintage Behrens, etc. But she would not relent, “No, I do not want to have what I consider inferior product to be released for posterity”. There was a lot of pressure from the Met, and her management that she had to agree to the release. It was too late to pull it off the air, in such a short remaining time left, and so on. Even if patches could have been made, there was no time for that either, hence the Jerusalem flub remaining. So finally when she had the great experience at the Musikverein, she was so excited when she called, and I said “what about the Met tape, will you please release it, it is glorious, I have heard it a hundred times and there is nothing wrong, it will be a disaster if it is pulled back in the last minute……”. The next morning she called again, and said I have called the Met and given my verbal OK for the release. I was of course in heavens!!!!! But Kashie Aodrato, if you could only listen one day to the night of the accident, the final pages are simply the most glorious singing she ever did probably, pure distilled gold…………
      Anyway, after the telecast they started to prepare the home video release on VHS and Laserdisc and eventually the DVD, all exactly the same original PBS tape. The litigation was not settled until 2005……..

      • kashania says:

        Thanks, Marshie.

      • eric says:

        mmII: Very interesting. Thanks for the stories.

      • A. Poggia Turra says:

        Someone (perhaps on Opera-L) once told a similar story about a spliced telecast from the 1984 Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. That was the year of the premier of ‘Il Viaggio a Reims’, and there was a telecast on RAI (parts of which are on YouTube).

        Going from memory, the story teller stated that Francisco Araiza (Liebenskof) was ill and missed the performance from which the telecast was going to be taken from. They supposedly spliced in tape of Arazia from the fourth (last) performance of the run, the only one that Araiza sang (Dalmacio Gonzales did the others).

        Hopefully another Parterrian remembers the facts in more details, and corrections are requested and welcome.

    • danpatter says:

      Gosh, I loved that old production. Saw it several times, in various pieces and once as a cycle. It’s still my idea of a deeply satisfying production. I sure miss Levine.

    • marshiemarkII says:

      OK Lalala, you continue to make interesting points so I will try to address them. I think I made it very clear that Behrens’ music is unaltered from the radio broadcast of the first performance, and you seem to accept that. You also have amazing recollections of the time, it is true that they called for an extra take of the third act, your mentioning it brought back the memories of Behrens bed-ridden, as she was for 22 days as required for a post-concussion recovery, telling me about this. Obviously she could not participate. I don’t know whether it happened or not. My main concern at the time was to be at her side and worry about her suffering.

      Now, I carry no water for Jerusalem, and I think he wasn’t very good either in Siegfried or Gotterdammerung (God! Goldberg in the CD version is SO much better, without being glorious either), I was in the theater for all the performances, but I also don’t agree that “he was marking much of the performance”, other than sounding awfully tired at the end, and the now infamous ferociously flubbed high C in Act II. Since I was with Behrens at her home every day, and not at the Met editing studios, I have no idea if any of Jerusalem’s music was spliced of fixed, but if so why didn’t they fix the C? What I do know however, is that it was an extraordinarily chaotic and frantic time at the Met. The accident occurred on April 28th, and the last performance seven days later. At that point it was realized that all they were going to have of Behrens was the first performance, and most of the second was unusable because it had a different Siegfried, and the magnificent Immolation was off-limits. As I have said, shortly after the tape was “legally” off-limits to boot, so no chance. And Behrens herself, not in the most rational mood lying bed-ridden and upset, was not very cooperative either. The Met was quite desperate as the PBS broadcast was already announced to the world, for the last week of June. You get the picture? It was panic time really. The Behrens permission came at the end of the first or second week of June, so barely two weeks left for the PBS broadcast………. I really do not know how much splicing could have they done for Jerusalem, but I repeat I do not know for certain, and it’s outside of my scope of involvement.

      Now technically could they do splicing?, the answer is an emphatic yes!, they did it for Domingo in 1985!!!!! In Recondita Armonia, he took a horrific crack at the B during the live telecast, which was heard by the whole world, and yet the subsequent home video appeared with a resplendent B. Those tricks, however, were not available to everyone.

      I’ll tell you one more little story. The glorious Elektra video (just reviewed here a couple of weeks ago) was taken, again from the also radio broadcast, last performance. The stunning high C in jauchzt (at the end of the Mommy Dearest scene), if you listen in a really good stereo system, you can hear a tiny tiny sound drop-out of no more than a few microseconds. So since she had left me as her point of contact with Brian Large during the summer of 1994 to follow up on the edits (mostly of facial takes as the music was agreed with Levine that it would be the last performance), upon discovering that tiny drop I insisted that he replaced the C with the one from the previous performance, that was also taped, and in equally glorious shape. He said he would do it, and I went several times to the Met for edit checks, and he would always show me a different version with better and better facial takes, etc, but the C was always the same. Finally I was called to hear the final version in late August, and lo and behold the C had not been changed. I was very upset and made it clearly known, and he just said “Oh I tried but it was not technically possible, but don’t worry it’s a great C as it is” Of course knowing they had spliced the B for Domingo NINE years earlier I was skeptical at best that it was not “technically” possible, but that was the final tape, and there was no splicing to be allowed. So there, some people could get their splices, and some just couldn’t.

      • eric says:

        marshiemarkII:

        What do you mean when you say the tape of the performance with the accident was legally off limits? I don’t know why it couldn’t be used, as long as the participants concurred. Who objected to its being used?

        Also, it’s interesting to read your description that she was really injured and bedridden for several weeks. I don’t remember reading that at the time. The Times articles suggested that she was treated but released and OK afterward. I just checked again the Times archive and didn’t see any follow-up stories suggesting that her injuries were serious or lasting. Possibly I just missed some press reports … but I wonder why it was apparently not generally publicized at the time that there were serious after-effects.

      • marshiemarkII says:

        Eric regarding the use of the second GD tape, it was assumed from the very beginning that it could not be used. It was a given in all discussion that it was off-limits, because of the disaster (no pun intended) that no one wanted further publicized. The tape simply became radioactive. The idea that Lalala first broached here, of using the second soundtrack to the first GD video, brilliant as it sounds in hindsight, was never suggested by anyone as possible, mostly because people didn’t want to touch the tape with a ten foot pole. A couple of weeks later, a legal case had been initiated and all evidence was subject to “discovery”. I’ll leave it at that….. Quite frankly it didn’t occur to anyone “oh we can make an exception for this if we all agree, etc” for several reasons, first and foremost, Behrens’ obsession was “they robbed me of my third performance which was going to be the real one!, the second showed how good I was heading for the BEST”, etc, etc, she was not terribly rational, and at that point she felt the best was to not allow release of any Gotterdammerung, period. Twenty two years later, and knowing how GLORIOUS even the first one had been, it is easy to second guess, etc, but you have to understand the time and short time frame to make all these decisions……. I wish today, with case settled, and with today’s technology they would edit the Immolation with the second one, and re-issue it on blu-ray, oh we can dream…., it was such glorious glorious singing, even for HER magnificent standards……

        Regarding her injuries, well yes she was indeed far more injured than the impression that was made by the first press release, which indicated that she had been injured by “a Styrofoam beam”. Well the Styrofoam beam was a steel core surrounded by Styrofoam, and covered with hardened burlap to create the stone beam look! Each beam weighted 300 lbs, so you tell me what kind of injuries result after a head-on collision with that?

        She suffered immediately after a severe concussion, which was determined on Monday, after CAT scans and MRIs, and subsequently she had developed a herniated disk on her neck, and after the psychotic episode in the San Francisco Immolation scene, was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder by a Stanford psychiatrist. Do you think that qualifies as “light injuries”? A little bit like those “smart bombs” that kill only “the bad guys” by following perfect paths down the chimneys, but somehow end up with entire devastated cities (Shock and Awe ya’know) that nobody cares to imagine that were once inhabited by human beings, perhaps?

        • eric says:

          Wow. Thanks for filling us in on this.

          I knew that she was having issues after that -- heard the vocal difficulties and was sad -- but I had no idea of how it was related to the accident.

        • Lalala says:

          Gotta say, knowing Hildegard’s work, I can’t imagine that she “saved” anything in either performance that she sang or was going to give anything extra than she’d already given for the third. She was a committed singing actress and always gave a lot—even when she was under the weather in the first performance.

          The extra rehearsal did indeed occur—it was available for splicing. And Jerusalem had very little voice in the first performance.

          If you watch the video closely, it actually appears that a splice possibly takes place just as Behrenz heads to the fire at the end. When I first saw the video (and knowing the situation very well), I actually thought they spliced right then and there--I even thought, at one time, that it wasn’t even Behrenz on stage during that final clip (all the singing was over). I thought it was even possible to splice in the soprano who did the third performance just for that visual effect. The mechanics of the final scene worked perfectly in performance #3.

  • blanchette says:

    blue that was VERY funny