Cher Public

Fit to print

La Cieca (pictured, right) invites you to peruse what’s making headlines today: the conclusion of Zachary Woolfe‘s analysis of the HD telecasts, an interview with former blogger Brad Wilber, and a peculiar take on the Met’s Ring from dance critic Alastair Macaulay.

  • MontyNostry

    Just listening to the Makropoulos broadcast. Purely vocally, Mattila is only just getting away with it in this ‘singing actress’ role. I keep thinking of a term applied in the late 70s in a review of Rysanek’s Elisabeth: “fluffball of tones”. What the hell is she going to sound like as Amelia next season -- a role that even Margaret Price, not really a ‘singing actress’ considered dramatically thankless?

    • Camille

      Monty —
      you and I are alone on this one, it seems. Everyone else is impressed. She just barely sang the top notes at the end — dramatic choice, I’m sure — but it just sounds like the voice is sung out.

      She looked absolutely marvelous in the part, however. I would have gone twice had I liked it enough, and anticipated doing so, but after hearing the broadcast again today, and having seen it once in the theatre, that is enuf.

      About the Amelia, I’m sure there will be a flurry of “illness” substitutions………………..

      • suzyQ

        So who will be Matilla’s cover next season?

        • messa di voce


          • Camille

            Make that Matos!

      • DurfortDM

        I am most distressed to find myself in discord with Camille. I still look forward to the performance next Friday. As for Amelia, I suppose we’ll have to keep our finger crossed.

        • Camille

          My dearest DurfortDM.

          I have the memory of the Malfitano Marty dancing in my head.

          Go and enjoy. I am an old woman. Don’t listen to the old, as they are moldy. Go and experience for yourself, as she is wonderful to look at, and memorably transfigured physically, in the final scene.

          yours in faith,
          Madame Camille
          Huntress of fine fashion and
          good theatre

          • DurfortDM

            Quite on the contrary, most discerning and invariably insightful. Indeed I am more inclined to question my own judgement when it is conflict with Cher Camille but there is, I suppose, some element of subjectivity here which cannot invariably be avoided.

            In any event I wish Camille the happiest of hunts.

            Warmest regards,

          • Camille

            “Du bist der Lenz, nach dem ich verlangte”

            Honey, it is only my opinion and it only good for me. I don’t believe in caca-ing on another’s joy.

            Catherine Malfitano’s Emilia Marty, in 1998, was a revelatory experience for me, and I shall never ever ever forget it. Ask Renata Scotto, she was there!!

            Love and enjoy, my dear Sir.
            mme. X

          • marshiemarkII

            Achtung Camilllissssima Belle, Durfort ist MEIN Lenz. Just kedding …. I hope to see both of you on Friday. I’ll be there too for the last night!

            I am still in the clouds from having attended a workshop yesterday with the Lindemann artists, and Luisi and about two thirds of the Met Orchestra, inside a small space at the DiMenna Center, simply AMAZING, what glorious singing from all the young artists, and hearing that miraculous orchestra from about 2 meters distance was not to be soon forgotten.

          • Camille

            MarschallinaMII dear,

            I had no idea you had an attachment to Mr. DurfortDM--when did THAT occur? My word, you certainly DO leave a trail of broken hearts, don’t you…?

            NO, I will not be there on Freitag--I have had it with the MacK Case.

            Don’t worry, it’s only platonic with me and Mr. DDM!


          • Camille

            oh, und Lieber MarshieMII,

            I forgot to mention that I thought your Miss Savoy did very well in her part. Lovely voice and presence. Much better than Marie Plette was back when I saw it before.

            In fact, she and Leech, were the two big improvements in this Mack Case.

            Have a pleasant time next Friday, and until we meet again,

          • marshiemarkII

            Wow Camilisssssima Bellisssssima, Caro DDM is a real Wagnerian, loves you know who, and makes very intelligent posts, what else do I need to have fallen in LOVE? and a little WaldVogelin tells me that it just might be corresponded…… :-)

            Seriously though, that is great news that you enjoyed Mlle Emalie Savoy, as I think she is really remarkable in holding her own next to that Monstre Sacre. In fact I saw her Friday at that event, and she sang a sublime Leise Leise with great skill in the stretta, and of course a gorgeous top middle voice for the Leise. And then she sang a gorgeous Mir is so wunderbar…. that was superb from all four and she was the Leonore!!!!!. She is fabulous and definitely going places. Luisi was very taken with her from the comments. I have great hopes for her, would make a sensational Sieglinde (huge gorgeous middle) and eventually all the Jugendlich, very Rysanek-like, fabulous fabulous girl!

      • MontyNostry

        Camille, good to know I am not a voice in the wilderness. I’m sure she looked fabulous and acted up a storm, but she sounded like a woman who has lived more than the appropriate proportion of 300 years. Let’s hope the Met will have Sondra or maybe Latonia on standby when it comes to Ballo.

        • Camille

          Yes, it would be wonderful for Miss Moore to get a break there, but I believe this has already been touched on, and she has a scheduling conflict at the time of the Ballos.

          Her voice is fluent in Czech, at least to my non fluent ears, and that really helps. It also really helps that this is just so much set speech to music in sing-song imitative fashion.

          However, anyone who has heard her fling out some of those big old high notes, and heard the breadth and amplitude of her voice in its prime, knows that this is not what the voice was. Sorry, but we all get old, and she has had a very busy career for a long time. Also, the dread word, menopause, must rear its ugly head in this case. Menopause is an UGLY thing.

          As always, Monty Nostry, you are right on the money. She did look absolutely magnificent, especially in the last scene. Truly a legendary looking, out of time and ordinary place, diva assumption.


          • MontyNostry

            Of course, Debbie used to sing Amelia … ;-)
            When Stemme did it at Covent Garden, a lot of people liked her, but I can’t imagine her in Verdi, since the voice — which I find a bit thick, though striking — doesn’t have enough buoyancy for the big, high phrases.

          • Camille

            Just head Debbie’s Amelia a week or two ago from late nineties. It was pretty good but not as good as I thought at THAT time, when I heard it live. Much more her vocal territory, however.

          • MontyNostry

            Even at her peak, when she had those magnificent big top notes, Debbie couldn’t do that Verdian ‘lift’ as the voice got higher and she couldn’t float a phrase above the middle register. Odd, really, considering how glorious the voice was in many respects. (Oh yes, and her Italian has always been a bit Anglo-Saxon.)

          • Rory Williams

            I heard that on Sirius, too, Camille, and I was struck by how some of the things that bother me (esp. that sort of cackly “witch” sound in the middle) were there in germ form.

          • oedipe

            I heard Debbie as Amelia live at SFO in the late nineties (I think it was the late nineties) and I thought she was pretty good.

      • mrmyster

        Camille, you are far from alone. I was struck (again) today that Makropoulos is really a play with music. It calls for the kind of quasi-sprechstimme that K.M. at this point can get away with, but that does not really cover up her eccentric vocal style — very little vibrato, a very held tone with quite imprecise edges, breathy and affected. On Sirius Radio the upper notes sounded surprisingly good, but then the pressure required at the top often will take a kink out of a tone -- or, it may bring it to grief. Over all, K. M. gave a satisfactory performance, but she still does not erase the vocal performance of Marilyn Niska decades ago at NYCO — though campy and edging the vulgar, Niska was the best E. M. I have seen. Prime Silja and Benekovejc (sp?), no doubt would have been the more definitive.
        I wish K. M. would pull out of Ballo next year in favor of Ms Brown. Any agreement on that? And what a conductor we had today! He is the Real Thing and move over Mo. Luisi!!!

        • sterlingkay

          Ms. Brown??? I think you mean Ms. Moore, no?? You know…the other black soprano….

          • Camille

            NO, he meant Miss Leontyne Price.

          • mrmyster

            Yes, Sterling, thank you, I do mean Ms. Moore. There was a Ms Brown somewhere along the way, but I think she is doing a lot of Porgy and
            Bess these days! :)

          • hagenschmagen

            Ms. Brown just sang Tosca in Pittsburg in March or April. Did anyone see it?

        • Camille

          Yes, sir, I remember that production and all the talk it created and the spark it lit here in the States for this opera no one had ever experienced before. I wish there was some surviving video of Niska, but probably not to be expected. Maybe I shall look on the internet.

          Why in the world this opera, which REALLY needs to be seen as well as heard, was not committed to HD, especially with someone as visually appealing and as capable as Mattila is really beyond my ken. Another lost opportunity for this work to become better known.

          I don’t know that Benackova did this role — does anyone know for certain?

          • Nerva Nelli

            Gabriela Benackova sang Emilia Marty in the State Theater at Brno-- there was an OPERA NEWS piece on her some years back and she was between runs of it, or some such… I believe the production was also brought to perform in Prague, they still did that ( inviting “provincial” theatres in for guest stints) back then in the Czech Republic. Not sure that still happens. Anyone know?

          • Camille

            As I suspected, Madame Nelli.
            Thank you for being on your toes and reporting in on this matter.

            Mme. Benackova was just a little too cuddly to be an effective Emilia.
            What happens in Brno, should probably stay in Brno, in this case.

          • Camille

            Now here is Elizabeth and Essex:
            [includes some great parterrian dialogues]:

            When I have time I am going to listen to all of these, and compare to see if there is any truth to the assertion that the provenance of music in the “Deception” cello concerto is from “Between Two Worlds” and “Elizabeth and Essex”. So far I have not been able to discern much other than a general similarity, but then I have not heard the entire scores of any of these works, either.

            Perhaps someone knows something factual more than a casual dismissal.

            Very interesting, bluecabachon, about the story of Paul Henreid having his hands tied behind him(!)—--it does look like someone is playing who knows what they are doing, but I cannot imagine how this was achieved.

          • messa di voce

            Don’t miss Nanett Fabray in this trailer.

        • Clita del Toro

          Well, this was my first time hearing the opera. I am a fan of KM and loved her the role. I also liked the opera a lot. I don’t think she was that “breathy,” and I didn’t hear “affected” at all.

          I am however afraid for KM in Ballo.

          • Camille

            Then this one is for you, Clita darling:

            we can only pray that the reason there was no Met HD is because the one from Frisco will eventually be released, assuming more than these bits were filmed?

          • Clita del Toro

            Thanks Cammiest. I like her costume in the clip. Who is that handsome man in the last part? I want him!

            Joan says hello, she is now on the beach in Hawaii.

          • Camille

            Yes, I am returning to the beach in a few days time, as well. All us old broads land up on the beach, wondering which man would have been the right one, but just got away. Better to shoot them, as Bette Davis did so thrillingly to Claude Raines in the movie in which she is a pianist and Paul Henreid is her long lost lover!! What was it, “Deception”? I have to go looking…..

            Happy Saturday Night to my Clita and don’t forget to get out and take a long constitutional walk tomorrow. Spring is sprung!!

            love you a bushel and a peck-

          • derschatzgabber

            Hi Camille and Clita. I’m pretty sure that SFO has a film of the complete opera. When Gockley arrived from Houston, he managed to get funding from donors to set up a media facility in the War Memorial Opera House. At about half of the performances of each opera, projection screens are placed above the balcony seating section, and the live performance is projected onto those screens. SFO edits the assembled footage from about a third of the operas performed each season, and they are offered for showing at various movie theaters. The program isn’t as successful as the Met’s HD program, but it has preserved some very good performances. No word yet on whether or not SFO will ever market DVDs of the performances , but I would snatch up the Makropulos as soon as it was offered for sale.

            It may sound strange to broadcast a live performance within the house, but sight lines in the balcony at the War Memorial Opera House are atrocious. Many years ago, a dear friend of mine had season tickets in the balcony, while I stood at the rear of the dress circle (an option that is no longer available, helas). After several performances, I had to tell him what had happened, since much of the crucial action was invisible from the balcony (e.g., “the screams you heard came from Katerina pushing Sonyetka off the bridge and into the river, and then throwing herself into the river”).

            I’ve tried the balcony on a few nights when the projection screens were in use. It’s a bit strange, hearing the music live (the balcony has great acoustics) , while looking back and forth between the stage and the screen. But it does provide some compensation for the bad sight lines.

          • Camille

            yes, schatzie, it IS a bit strange to see the ‘live’ performance in house and see it simultaneously on those screens. Actually, kind of a fascinating game to watch and then look away. I tried not to look at Nada Michael, however, so as not to put out my eyes nor make them bleed from sorrow.

            Let’s hope that those bits and pieces of Mattila’s Makropoulos will be pieced together and put on the market. I do so love the San Francisco Opera book/cd/dvd shop, on the Mezzanine and managed to score quite a number of interesting and unusual opera books there, the like of which are unlikely to show up in similar venues.
            Totally off topic, but since the memory of “Deception” has sent me down a Youtube rabbit hole and to find this, I just share and post it.

            Features a cello concerto by Korngold, which he apparently patched together from two previous films, “Elizabeth and Essex” and “Between Two Worlds”, and in which Paul Henreid really manages to pull off impersonating a cellist in a convincing manner.
            Wonderful film, with outsize performances by all three wonderful principals, Messrs. Rains and Henreid, and the indomitable, inimitable Bette.

            “DECEPTION” -- Warner Bros. — 1946

            [n.b. — La Cieca was the understudy for Bette’s part]

          • Henry Holland

            Features a cello concerto by Korngold, which he apparently patched together from two previous films, “Elizabeth and Essex” and “Between Two Worlds”

            No, he wrote the piece specifically for Deception and it became a concert piece later. He was going to add two more movements but never got around to it.

          • Camille

            Then, HH, this information is incorrect?

            DECEPTION (1946) -- Performance of Hollenius’ Cello Concerto
            ByPeterAndres18Mar 24, 2010
            7 likes, 0 dislikes
            Here is one of my favorite scenes from DECEPTION (1946), starring Bette Davis, Claude Rains and Paul Henreid and directed by Irving Rapper. For this performance scene of the cello concerto, film composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold lifted some material from two earlier film scores--the ravishing main title music from BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (1944) and a theme from THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX (1939)--into the second subject and Adagio section, respectively.

            The concerto’s cadenza features a passage impossible to realize on the cello, when the soloist Karel Novak (Paul Henreid) plays rapid consecutive 10ths. It was achieved by having cellist Eleanor Slatkin record a double track in post-production and later, at a Hollywood dinner party, famous cellist Gregor Piatigorsky asked Paul Henreid how he managed to do it!

            This concerto was later published in an expanded form as Korngold’s Cello Concerto Op. 37.

            This clips are only samples. If you wish to watch the whole movie, please be good enough to watch it on television or borrow, rent or buy it on VHS or DVD!

          • @Clita -- I believe that is Gerd Grochowski.


            Also seen in The House of the Dead:

          • Camille

            “BETWEEN TWO WORLDS”:

            Now I do recall seeing this movie about four years ago and loved it, so, happy to reencounter it. Will have to consider the themes tomorrow as I am too tired out now. In the seventies I had an album of all his movie music themes, or that which was out on disc at the time, and I fear many of these themes run together and bleed into one another.

            Korngold, a wonderful composer. Wish Renee Fleming had done Die Tote Stadt at the Met sometime in the last decade….

          • bluecabochon

            I think that Paul Henreid is rather wooden in this film, but it’s a tough kind of part to pull off sandwiched in between those two determined scene-stealers.

            I read that Henreid couldn’t play the cello at all, and in close ups had his arms tied behind his back and a cellist on either side of him, doing the fingering and bowing, what a sight that must have been. It has to be him in the long shots though -- I don’t think CGI is good enough even today to fake that.

            The fantastic apartment that Bette’s character lives in is supposedly based on Leonard Bernstein’s apartment. The wonderful film design is by Anton Grot, and I also love his design of Claude Rain’s overdone digs. I can’t emphasize enough how much fun it is to watch him chew the scenery in this movie. :)

          • bluecabochon

            THAT’S Gerd Grochowski? I can’t believe that’s the same guy who sang that sad-sack schlub of a Gunther in their Ring last year.


          • bluecabochon

            I mean that he “looked” like a sad sack -- not sounded like one.

            These posts are not landing anywhere near their intended locations!

          • Camille

            Here is the “Hollenius” Cello Concerto from the movie “Deception”, in discussion, with a really accomplished performance from an actor who probably never played the cello. The thematic material does ring a bell from my old recording…possibly Elizabeth and Essex….? Now I have to go to bed. Buona notte, as Desdemona says.

            Paul Henreid playing the ‘composer’ Hollenius’s (Claude Rains) cello concerto in the film “Deception”, (a late Korngold movie work)

        • Nerva Nelli

          Benackova was not REMOTELY the actress Silja or Mattila is-- not even as good an actress as the flamboyant Niska. Benackova was all about VOCE; if the role fit (Rusalka, Desdemona, Jenufa), great.

          Hard to her imagine doing much dramatically as Elena M. Eva Urbanova, on the other hand…

    • Liz.S

      :D I was there at the house. I was thinking the same thing as Monty – how will she pull it off next season… or she’s a sore throat only today?…
      She was occasionally interesting vocally during Act II and at the very end. Acting-wise, to me it was a very interesting Emilia Marty. She looked more of a warm, down to earth, “eternal mother to all” like figure, than extremely mysterious yet curiously attractive woman like Denoke.

      • Camille

        Very interesting, Liz.S. A bit of a Finn farm girl in her gait and that LEG over the sofa, but hey, she’s immortal and can do what she damn pleases!

        The voice was the same on Tuesday when I saw/heard it.

        Whatever, she is a treasurable artist.

        • Liz.S

          She is. It was a good afternoon for me :-)

          • bluecabochon

            I enjoyed it too, and I went in cold, with no experience of this piece. Leech was extremely loud, but sang well, and I hope he will be back before too long. It’s a striking production with some thoughtful imagery. Musically, it seemed perfect to me and is a piece I hope to study at some point. Mattila was wonderfully charismatic and looked very elegant in her ensembles.

            I also went to the Opera Quiz for the first time, narrowly avoiding being stampeded by the horde who knew it had to run, not walk, to List Hall. For those in the know, is the room behind List Hall where MJ and Ira/Will work from?

          • Camille

            I punked out and did not attend as I thought I would.

            Just wanted to tell you this: if you ever want to attend a List Hall intermission, make sure to leave your seat right before the applause starts, have your nearest exit door already spotted, head out and then start running down to List Hall. Best from orchestra, of course. That is how I got in the door to see Birgit Nilsson and Eileen Farrell, and that was quite a tussle. I wouldn’t have missed them for the world.

            Don’t forget, leave just BEFORE applause starts.

          • Liz.S

            Ooohhhh, I misses you then, Blue. I was too scared with that rush hour crowd (Camille, they put a slip today in the Playbill saying “attend!” so everybody rushed over there today ;-)

          • bluecabochon

            Camille, if I had been on the aisle, it would not have been a problem.

            Oh, did anyone else hear the shouting from backstage? Before the office set opened up there was some scene change noise and yelling, and there seemed to be a few seconds from the overture to the beginning of the act while technical difficulties were ironed out.

            Camille, “Deception” is one of my favorite Claude Rains films, and it’s fun to see 3 actors from Now, Voyager re-united in such a different kind of film.

          • Liz.S

            “the shouting from backstage? Before the office set opened up there was some scene change noise and yelling”
            :D Yup, that was very funny along with banging noise of whatever metallic object that was. Please don’t anybody mention what happened on premier night of this production, because I trust it was nothing to do with it.

          • Camille

            Wonder why there was slip urging to “attend”? Maybe the attendance was sparse as of late?

            Oh goody, I’m so glad another parterrian loves “Deception”, too. Just saw it for the first time a few years ago and was so delighted and impressed by it, not the least of which, the Korngold score and the plot featuring three serious musicians of a classical kind. I will have to buy it sometime.

            Glad you like it so much, too, blue.

    • The Vicar of John Wakefield

      A travesty. Where was Helen Field???

  • TShandy

    Hi Kashania! Can you give me an example where the HD transmission got in the way of your enjoyment of being in the house. No doubt there is a difference in the sound and visual effects and all that, but at least I get to see a live Metropolitan Opera performance with fabulous world renown stars, as do you. I think this whole ginned up argle bargle NYT Zachary Woolfe analysis is garbage. As far as I can see, every opera house in the world is now broadcasting their performances. It’s not going to stop, thank God.

    • TShandy: Hi back at ya. You keep changing the subject. I never said that the HD transmission got in the way of my enjoyment of being in the house, did I? I even praised them.

      • TShandy

        Hey there Kashania! “Opera can only be properly enjoyed when audience, orchestra and stage form a compact community.” Well, I find that a ridiculous statement. “Properly enjoyed” What a joke! I can enjoy opera any way I wish, as can anyone else. Opera productions will of necessity be lit for HD Transmissions and even “staged” for cameras and all that, but that’s been happening for years already. I’ll wager that when the Met first started Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts the NYT art critics experienced paroxysms proclaiming that listening to the radio is no way to properly enjoy an opera.

        • sterlingkay

          Well the young Mr. Woolfe loves to make definitive proclamations that don’t hold up under any kind of scrutiny (such as the whole “puppets are only interesting to children and have no place in adult theater”). What I find a fascinating spectacle is how his supporters twist themselves into knots/pretzels to explain what Mr. Woolfe “meant” to write. The NY Times gave the man an incredible amount of space ( two LOOOOONG articles) to write what he meant-- one would hope he wouldn’t need others to “clarify” his arguments. He basically uses all that space to come up with: “HDs mean the death of opera because people can’t applaud”. Huh? This is what passes for serious music journalism nowadays?? The same silly arguments about the death of opera were made when recorded sound was invented, with opera on the radio, opera on TV, DVDs etc. As someone else said, if the awful Bernard Holland or even Tony T. had penned such a stupid “thought” piece, they would be the subject of much ridicule here. But since ZW is the cute flavor of the month he gets away with it.

          Pity the Times that they gave him so much space and a significant expense account to travel all over the place to come up with: “it’s weird that people can’t clap”.

          • Okay, enjoy being smug on moderation for a while.

          • TShandy

            I clap and gasp at the HD performances all the time. My friend “Bobby” became hysterical during Satyagraha which might have been one of the most transcendent “theater” experiences of the past decade. And sterlingkay, I pity the Times for a lot lately, from the dominatrix of all time, silly Maureen Dowd, right down to TT’s infamous “Virtuosos Becoming a Dime a Dozen” spiel written to slam Lang Lang one more time.

          • Rusalka

            La Cieca,
            forgive me my ignorance but I do not know the rulles regarding “on moderation”. Would you be so kind to repeat them, please?
            Thank you.

          • MontyNostry

            When it comes to moderation, La Cieca is akin to Keikobad … Mein Richter(in) hervor!!!

          • Rusalka: a commenter is considered for moderation when he or she is abusive to another commenter here. Alternatively, I reserve the right to moderate anyone who is acting like a total asshole. While the commenter is on moderation I read each comment sent and approve or disapprove on a case by case basis. Moderation ordinarily lasts a week or two, though in the “asshole” case I sometimes let the offender stew a while longer.

            Only three people have ever been banned outright from commenting on parterre, and one of those was upgraded to “moderated” status after writing a thoughtful email of apology.

          • lorenzo.venezia

            Permesso, La Cieca. Regarding what constitutes being abusive to another commenter, I wondered then (26 April 2012) why this bit of toxic waste wasn’t considered worthy of moderation?

            >>operaassport says:
            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.<<

            The image it conjures is highly offensive, although I seem to have been the only person to have found it so. I am offended by the notion of straight jocks shoving anyone's prissy face down a toilet, let alone someone here joining in the action against someone else who posts here regularly…

  • Camille

    “…this whole ginned up argle bargle…”

    is my very best fave new phrase of the month. TY, TS.

  • CruzSF

    For me, the mediation doesn’t ruin the opera experience, exactly, but it is damn annoying to have all the voices flattened to the same level and the focus chosen by the director. One of the advantages of seeing opera live and in person (and this is true of any performing art or sport) is being able to view and focus on what you personally find interesting, whether that is the person singing, or the reaction of another singer across the stage.

    I still attend as many HD broadcasts as I can (about half of each season’s offerings) because I’m a sucker for opera and they help me get through the short season of SFO. But they are a poor substitute for the real thing, IMO.

  • Camille

    You know, when you are living in New York City, it is interesting to talk about these things, because there is always the possibility, the viability, of jumping on the nearest train and heading up to 66th Street. So, whether or not the HD’s are good, bad, or the Devil’s Spawn, becomes a truly interesting, entertaining and toothsome topic.

    As a person who has spent a good portion of her life and, indeed, grew up in an operatic desert, let me just say this: these broadcasts would have been manna in said, sad desert to me, growing up starving for any semblance of a professional opera performance. It led me into years and years of pernicious record junkie-ing, and my final release and twelve step programme of live performances has set me free of all that, at last.

    The HD’s are not perfect, but they are the CLOSEST a lot of people can get to, and/or AFFORD in today’s economy, to a big time opera performance, and as such and for whatever they may ultimately prove to be, are probably life-giving-and-preserving to persons out there in the vast reaches of not only this great North American plain but around the globe. I don’t complain about the quality of the Don Giovanni nor the Die Walkuere I was PRIVILEGED to have seen, direct from La Scala, e.g., as I was just too thrilled to have had the opportunity to hear them any old way. I have been to La Scala, too, but god knows when I will ever return.

    Who knows what lives are touched and changed by the opportunity of hearing AND seeing these productions?

    I close with the wise words of one Miss Grace Jones:
    “I’m not perfect, but I’m perfect for YOU!”

    pax vobiscum

    • ianw2

      Yes, but how much do you applaud?

      • Camille

        The same as when I am in the house — not a whole helluva lot.

        Except when I love it.

      • Camille

        ian of the antipodes--

        here I am (in voiceover) coaching the claque of parterrians getting ready for the next HD season!!


        You all may decided who the featured parterrians in this contemporary document on “Applause”.

        • Camille

          sorry, I was too stimulated by the video and typos happen, so--
          you all may DECIDE who ARE….etc.,

        • messa di voce

          I recognized ian at 0.16.

          • ianw2

            My secret is out :(

    • OpinionatedNeophyte


  • Liz.S

    HD transmission at movie theatres is a substitute like other one-directional media as record, CD, radio, TV, and DVD, period. Haven’t we already got used to compensate the difference between those and “live at the house” in our heads while listening/watching already?
    What bothers me most is this Guardian article -- “(Met) prefers to strike exclusive deals with cinemas, preventing other opera companies from relaying their work on the same screens”
    Is Met HD great when we can’t be there in person? – YES
    Is Met HD the best in the world so we don’t need to watch productions from other houses? – NO!!!
    It’s the same technology – we should get to watch more stuff from other houses especially from Europe at convenient locations also. I still don’t understand why we don’t get to see ROH summer cinema series or transmission from Bayreuth this Summer in the US. Not many of us can fly to so many houses across the world so often -- if technology is there, why can’t we?

    • oedipe

      I still don’t understand why we don’t get to see ROH summer cinema series

      Because the ROH has proved itself totally incompetent to set up technically and financially reliable deals with theater chains outside their home country, like the F.G. Gelb has done all over the world, that’s why!
      As for other big opera houses, the devil is always in the (specifically local) details. An example: the Paris Opera has been unable to set up long-term deals with cinemas for regular opera broadcasts because the movie producer associations have opposed any such deals. Why? Because the movie producers are afraid of the competition from opera HD’s, believe it or not! As if the lads and lassies who feel like going out for a movie would come to the cinema and tell themselves: “We thought of going to see The Avengers for 10 euros-a-piece, but we just found out that the live-in-HD of La Traviata is being shown here for 25 euros-a-piece, so we might as well go see that instead”.
      So the era of the pervasive global live in HD is not yet upon us and may never happen…

      • Liz.S

        Do you think we have better hope for the future over the Internet -- like what Glyndebourne & Guardian or Bavarian State are trying to do? I don’t mind paying to watch them, really.

        • Rory Williams

          Or maybe something like for opera. I happily paid to see the Tate/Tennant Much Ado About Nothing and would do the same for operas. In fact, I’d rather have stuff that way than have yet another piece of plastic in a box.

        • oedipe

          Oh, I do, Liz. I think there are less hurdles on the internet. And in some cases the quality of the transmissions is way superior to the movie theaters (Medici TV, for instance). it’s interesting too that the really smart smaller opera companies are by now very much into internet broadcasts: Glyndebourne, La Monnaie.

        • Henry Holland

          I was really happy that the Guardian/Glyndebourne made the 2011 Turn of the Screw available, it was a great performance, especially the Miles, Thomas Parfitt. Best of all was the “you have a week to watch each act” aspect (as opposed to “we’ll show it once, on Thursday, at some ungodly hour for people on the west coast of America”), I watched it in two parts.

          • Liz.S

            Aren’t they wonderful? They make it on demand for a while also -- so none of us all over the world don’t have to worry about time differences.
            They are going to show 5 day worth of productions this Summer -- including 3 new productions’m especially looking forward to Jurowski’s Vixen and Ono & Pelly’s Ravel ?

          • Henry Holland

            Great news about the extended availability, it didn’t really mention it on the Glyndebourne site. I’m especially looking forward to the Ravel double-bill, I’ve only seen one production of that, at NYCO in the early 90’s.

      • bluecabochon

        Maybe the ROH should have a chat with the National Theater of GB. I have seen “She Stoops To Conquer”, “King Lear” and “Phaedre” at 3 different movie theaters in NYC, and will see the encore of “Frankenstein” in June.

    • thomas

      Productions from other houses have been available for several years via Opera In Cinema. They don’t have the widespread distribution in multiplex chains that the Met has; most are shown in small art houses. Some of them are live and others are delayed by a few hours.

      I’ve seen a number of these European productions at various venues in Manhattan. The sound and video quality is quite good and the audience seems to be a bit more hard-core than at the Met HDs. There’s the Devia Anna Bolena coming up in June from the Maggio Musicale that I’m really looking forward to.

      • Liz.S

        “They don’t have the widespread distribution in multiplex chains that the Met has; most are shown in small art houses”
        is what I was complaining about Met’s exclusive deals with cinema chains. It shouldn’t be just for the people in the metro aria. It looks like less venues are showing Emerging Pictures stuff this Summer. Emerging Pictures doesn’t carry everything Rising Alternative, their counterpart, offers in Europe also.
        I think this is the last time I complain about movie chain issue. Oedipe and Rory convinced me. I just wait for the day when we have more options easily available for all over the Internet

  • messa di voce

    Parterre posters are discovering that arts administration is not all puppy dogs and rainbows.

    • Liz.S

      It’s a business and it’s the same thing everywhere I think. But if someone’s trying to monopolize the market against public interest, shouldn’t we complain?

  • phoenix

    The HD transmissions (and all video recordings of live opera performances, no matter how ‘straightforward’ they are filmed) allow us to view only what the video director wants us to see at any given moment; that in itself limits the creative visual experience of an audience member. I have never gone myself to see one of these HD transmissions because there isn’t any venue in my county that shows them (I would have to go to Ithaca or Syracuse, the nearest big cities that do carry them); but I have been to the multiplex mall theaters in Arizona and walked out on them every time because of the overly loud audio volume. However, I do have very fond memories of going to the beautiful Granada (Paramount) movie theater at 1066 Market Street in San Francisco to see the big screen projection of Karajan’s Rosenkavalier (in balanced audio) with Schwartzkopf -- actually I enjoyed the film at the Granada better than the live performance Schwartzkopf sang that same 1964 season at SFO because the film had the wonderful Sena Jurinac as Octavian instead of the more staid Irmgard Seefried (she of more ‘settled’ appearance & demeanor) I saw at War Memorial.
    -- I am not intrigued with the prospect of going out to a mall ‘theater’ complex (yes, one of those inglorious cardboard cutout video arcades) to put up with blasting volume. I prefer to attempt a more balanced listening experience on radio, television, ipod or computer at home -- but of course I am missing the monumental architecture and charming ambience of a cheap mall surrounded by parked cars.
    -- Today is the first time I have visited this site in quite a few weeks. It is a pleasure to find la Grande Inquistoressa, that most notorious issuer of fatwa moderation edicts, to be more verbose and communicative.

    • Rory Williams

      Phoenix, I have to ask, where r u? Somewhere on Cayuga? Aurora? Union Springs? Auburn? Loving the idea of Ithaca as the “big city.”;)

      • oedipe

        Loving the idea of Ithaca as the “big city.”

        Hi hi! Well, when one lives in that rarefied environment high above Cayuga’s waters (especially in Cayuga Heights), one can get delusions of grandeur…

        • oedipe

          P.S. Are you people familiar with Lurie’s The War between the Tates?

  • RudigerVT

    When Sondra Radvanovsky gets her act together, uses the best-possible technique, and *sings,* she makes the veneered walls of the Met seem to literally vibrate.

    This simply cannot be accomplished with digital sound. It is a physical impossibility.

    It may not matter to everybody. It matters to me. Greatly. It’s what takes me back to the Met, despite the potential for epic disappointment. Different strokes, I guess.


  • phoenix

    oooops… Rory Williams, I didn’t mean ‘big’ as in population. I meant ‘big’ cultural interest support from the community. I live in Binghamton, which has almost 3 times the metropolitan population that Ithaca has, but apparently there is not enough interest for an HD theater for Broome County (in spite of the fact there is an opera company here -- TCO -- that gives about 3 (usually dull) complete operas a year.

  • zcnuk

    speight Jenkins did 1st opera(Butterfly) last nite in Seattle’s arena on huge screen!!!Racette was stupendous with great cast and orchestra. it was FREE but the sound was harsh and agressive. Just imagine--in little old Seattle.

  • FragendeFrau82

    Argh! I wanted to say hojotoho to my friends in cat but does it not work in safari on iPhone?

  • FragendeFrau82

    That should be CHAT of course damn autocorrect