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Richard is better

The Tucker Foundation will be the subject of a special event on Wednesday, June 27 at 7 pm, when WQXR’s Naomi Lewin (not pictured) will host an exclusive concert of arias and duets performed by sopranos Ailyn Pérez and Angela Meade and tenor Stephen Costello in The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR.

As if that’s not exciting enough, the evening  “will include an intimate conversation with soprano Aprile Millo, winner of the 1985 Richard Tucker Award,” and what’s more, you, member of the cher public, might be there too! 

Your doyenne has been asked to bestow a pair of tickets upon a parterrian who will attend the event while the rest of us listen in.  If you’d like to win these tickets, you can enter the competition by leaving a comment below this posting discussing a favorite performance by a  Richard Tucker Award Winner.

The most entertaining comment (as judged by La Cieca’s blue-ribbon panel) left before noon on Monday, June 25 will win its author these coveted tickets. All decisions, as usual, are subject to La Cieca’s iron whim.

119 comments

  • 1
    Maury D says:

    It’s not especially entertaining, so I won’t hold my breath on getting intimate with Aprile Millo, but the thing that springs to mind as far as performances on the gala itself is Rockwell Blake 15 years after winning the Tucker award himself (the winner that year was Ruth Ann Swenson) singing “D’ogni piu sacro impegno” from Rossini’s Qualche Opera Irelevante che non Conoscete.

    It’s prime Rockwell Blake in its way--the voice in full flower of ugliness, the technique flabbergasting. Flights of sixteenth notes up and down to make “Martern aller Arten” look like “Ombra mai Fu.” He sounds like a foghorn, but an extremely nimble and well-educated one, and then he gets to the last note, a b-flat, takes an inconspicuous breath, and then proceeds to pummel that b-flat for just under 20 seconds with a slow diminuendo and an unworried return to full voice.

    It’s a terrific piece of singing. Oh and it’s on youtube, so you don’t have to take my word.

    • 1.1
      kashania says:

      That is amazing!

    • 1.2
      MontyNostry says:

      That last note is indeed stunning. I don’t find his tone especially ugly -- it actually sounds quite heroic at times -- but the attack on the notes can be ugly, the way he pounces on them aggressively. And he doesn’t sound Italian for a moment. But he’s twice as exciting as JDF.

      • 1.2.1
        luvtennis says:

        I have never understood that complain about his timbre. I prefer his sound to JDF -- believe it or not. And the technique is unreal -- not just the flexibility, but also the legato, the dynamic control. The guy was a master singer. The most virtuosic male singer that I have ever heard.

    • 1.3
      missconstrued says:

      you see the work -- you cannot relax -- it is a voice but it is like you have to watch the inner-workings of a clock to get the time

    • 1.4
      rapt says:

      Isn’t something or other described as the most fun you can have with your clothes on? I think this qualifies.

    • 1.5
      armerjacquino says:

      Winner.

    • 1.6
      Sanford says:

      I’m pretty sure that Rockwell Blake is Joyce Di Donato in drag. And I’m pretty sure that someone’s cat died on the conductor’s head.

      • 1.6.1
        ilpenedelmiocor says:

        I think it’s early Natalie Dessay in a fat suit, with a voice and a head cold.

        “Sing out, Louise! Grimace, baby!”

        (Seriously, that is the most technically astonishing fugliness since Cristina Glugathon)

    • 1.7
      Camille says:

      I think this thread went so haywired and off-topic.’cause we all read Maury D’s article and decided he already had won. At least I did, for coming up with “Qualche Opera Irelevante che non Conoscete”!!!

      I look forward to its prima mondiale staging at Caramoor under the swaying tent of the teatro venexiano, some summer soon!

  • 2
    Tamerlano says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB4EH3h0YXw

    Because Madame Price makes me believe every word…and I hate that song, for the most part. I love the turban, the strange diction that allows her to fake the lower stuff, and the way she triumphs at the top with a high note that could melt steel. It’s an iconic moment.

    • 2.1
      Mrs Rance says:

      Maybe even better:

      Almost goes off into FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN towards the end of the intro.

  • 3
    Tamerlano says:

    • 3.1
      Camille says:

      And may God Bless and keep the one and only Leontyne Price, forever and ever, Amen.

      Thank you,Tamerlano.

      She is about 80 y.o. here, isn’t she?

      • 3.1.1
        danpatter says:

        Amen, Camille! (She was 74 at the time, born 1937). Price was the first soprano I fell in love with, and time has not diminished my ardor.

        • 3.1.1.1
          danpatter says:

          That should be 1927. I’m old, I can’t type anymore.

        • 3.1.1.2
          MontyNostry says:

          Wouldn’t it be nice to fall in love with a new voice, though? Sigh.

          • oedipe says:

            Falling in love with a new voice? I think I have found one, though I may need some additional dating: Sonya Yoncheva in the French rep -a rep so depressingly mauled in many places these days.
            I have just heard her in Opéra Comique’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles and, although still work-in-progress, it is a thrilling voice, ringing, warm, expressive. And what an amazing French diction! I think in a few years’ time she could be THE new Manon (among other French roles).

          • MontyNostry says:

            I will follow her up on YouTube. The name is not new to me, but I know little about her, apart from a review in Opera magazine saying that the voice is exciting, but still a little wild.

          • oedipe says:

            That’s a correct description: exciting, but as yet a little wild.
            She will be debuting at the ROH next season, doing some Musettas.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Norina by Yoncheva: delightful and fun (I don’t get the “wild” bit).

          • luvtennis says:

            Last one for me was probably Luba O. Love Gauvin, but the rep is just too limited for me. I think I adore Jennifer Wilson, but there are just so few opportunities to hear her!!!

          • MontyNostry says:

            Leontina is even more lovable in that aria (which can be deeply irritating in the hands -- or vocal cords -- of certain sopranos.) What a shame that she faded off the international scene.

          • MontyNostry says:

          • Camille says:

            Absolutely adorable.

            You are so right. As always.

          • louannd says:

            The voice is very impressive --

          • luvtennis says:

            The Yoncheva cip is encouraging. She is really singing.

  • 4

    There has been many memorable performances during the Tucker awards. For some reason,I always cherish and respect Gheorghiu’s “Pace” from Forza. The finale was so intense that even she was beautifully amazed. The woman became the character.

  • 5

    There has been many memorable performances during the Tucker awards. For some reason,I always cherish and respect Gheorghiu’s “Pace” from Forza. The finale was so intense that even she was beautifully amazed. The woman became the character.

    • 5.1
      phoenix says:

      I don’t get exactly what Cieza is asking for -- is it a performance at a Richard Tucker Gala, as you Macbeth’s Honor have mentioned above, or is a performance elsewhere -- or, like most things around here, it doesn’t really matter?

      • 5.1.1
        phoenix says:

        I would just as soon look at the marvelous picture of Tucker -- who is that German-looking woman next to her?

    • 5.2
      Camille says:

      Here you go, Macbeth, as I wouldn’t want your honor to be sullied:

      Spectacularly and come scritto ending, which one hears but seldom. Cotrubas does end it this way as well, perhaps wherefrom she gained the example. No matter, in this instant, Ange lived up to her hype.

  • 6
    manou says:

    L. to r. -- Betty Hutton, Sophie Tucker and Tallulah Bankhead.

    • 6.1
      CruzSF says:

      Thanks, I recognized Hutton & Bankhead immediately, but not the apparent cousin of Richard.

      • 6.1.1
        manou says:

        “I am a mother pheasant plucker.
        I pluck mother pheasants.
        I am the most pleasant mother pheasant plucker
        who ever plucked a mother pheasant.”

        and that’s how Sophie Tucker got her titfer.

        • 6.1.1.1
          phoenix says:

          Thanks manou! I knew who Tucker was -- her image often appears on this site and elsewhere -- and of course I knew Tallulah, the most unforgettable of the 3 -- but Elizabeth June Thornburg (Betty Hutton) is something I would have passed by and not even noticed.

      • 6.1.2
        armerjacquino says:

        If you’re not all careful, I’ll post ‘Murder, He Says’ again.

      • 6.1.3
        papopera says:

        hardly cousins, Tucker the tenor was a Ticker, and the fat Tucker was a Kalish.

    • 6.2
      Camille says:

  • 7
    Buster says:

    Tatiana Troyanos in the most moving gala performance I know:

    • 7.1
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      • 7.1.1
        Loge says:

        Thank you QPF for allowing me to start my morning with this wonderful rendition of this achingly beautiful duet. One of the goals in my life is to go to Tunisia and listen to this duet while gazing at the Mediterranean (or Lake Tunisia or something).

      • 7.1.2
        oedipe says:

        I would take this one any day over the rather generic Domingo/Troyanos rendition:

        • 7.1.2.1
          Camille says:

          Moi, aussi, m, oedipe! Superbe!

          • oedipe says:

            Unfortunately, Camille, only excerpts of this performance exist, the whole thing has never been recorded, apparently.

          • Hippolyte says:

            The Youtube clip of Crespin/Chauvet is from the EMI excerpts; however, there are two live recordings of them in the roles: the entire opera (although cut to bits) from Buenos Aires 1965 in good sound and just the Troyens a Charthage from the Cincinnati May Festival in 1977 (sadly rather late for Crespin) conducted by Levine, with baby Battle as Ascagne. I believe there’s also live Troyens with Crespin from Boston but I’ve never heard it.

            She did sing Troyens with Vickers in SF in 1966 and there’s a recording of one of the three performances as well. Mme Claggart during one of her recent farewell tours of Parterre claimed that there’s an even better recording of a Crespin-Vickers-Troyens from a visiting SF Opera in LA but unfortunately the SF archives reveal that no such performance occurred--when Crespin sang Troyens in LA in 1969, her Enee was--Chauvet.

            There’s also a wonderful Faure Penelope with Crespin/Chauvet from Buenos Aires, as well as a NYC Herodiade with them both, along with Gorr and Massard!

          • kashania says:

            Hippolyte: Do you know where one might be able buy that Buenos Aires recording? Crespin had the ideal Didon/Cassandre voice in my mind. It’s a great shame that Les Troyens was such a rarity during her time that she never made a commercial recording of the opera(same with Jessye).

          • Camille says:

            Hippolyte, thank you for noting there is a recording of that Hérodiade as I had not known about it. One of my favourite of all time recordings was the EMI selections of same, with Crespin and Gorr. It was played out, and now is not in currency. Maybe I shall redouble my efforts to find it, but I should also love to hear the live version!

          • Yes of course, wrong voices and all that, but very beautiful nevertheless

          • Camille says:

            Not wrong at all, merely unexpected, and beautifully and suavely rendered!

            C/F, I recently saw Anitone in “Love’s Debris”, and she was sublime and deeply moving, in miming herself. Thought of you, too--
            Camilly

          • Jack Jikes says:

            Camille -- I agree -- I’m swooning!

        • 7.1.2.2
          Clita del Toro says:

          Everything Domingo sings is generic including the rests.

        • 7.1.2.3
          Quanto Painy Fakor says:

          I agree, but the first was in tribute to Tatiana. I adore the Crespin recordings of Le Troyens.

  • 8
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    • 8.1
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      • 8.1.1
        Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        • 8.1.1.1
          Quanto Painy Fakor says:

          reviving these or experience them for the first time helps to keep your standards high

          • Camille says:

            Cieca, perdonami! Further and further OT I go, but I just discovered THIS! Not the Chicago one, but probably just as good, sauf an errant B flat or two.

          • phoenix says:

            Oh Camille! The sound on this very old Aix-en-Provence Ariadne is unbearable, but until Chicago Lyric Opera decides to release it’s audio broadcast archives, it’s the only one around.

    • 8.2
      Clita del Toro says:

      Divine Regine! Gorgeous Je vais mourir.

      • 8.2.1
        Hippolyte says:

        The Chicago Ariadne with Crespin, Seefried, Grist, Cox and Jochum conducting has been around for years (I’m listening to it right now) and is easily available as a simple web search will reveal, as is the Buenos Aires Crespin Troyens.

        • 8.2.1.1
          phoenix says:

          All knowing Hippolyte, the currently available audio copies that I have heard of both the Chicago Aridane and the (badly cut) Buenos Aries Troyens also had bad sound -- but of course we all have different standards as to what ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sound is, don’t we dear? If you want to plug these recordings -- perhaps sold by you yourself as well as other web vendors -- go right ahead. All I can say is BUYER BEWARE. Buenos noches, my dear!

          • Hippolyte says:

            Sounds like you need to get your story straight, Phoenix. You just said, the sound on the Aix Ariadne sucked but we had to grin and bear it because “it’s the only one around.” Now you’re saying you’ve heard Chicago and it too sucked.

            My perspective is that I presume that most people who read this site are grown-ups and have heard a couple (or more) live recordings from the mid-60s or before. From THAT perspective, the Troyens (a broadcast) sounds perfectly fine to my ears and the Ariadne (an in-house) while less good is listenable. If someone would be so naive as to expect the sound quality of a studio recording, of course he should by all means avoid them.

            Thank you for your permission to “plug” these recordings. Yes, my interest in discussing these recordings and their existence is purely pragmatic: it’s all well and good to rhapsodize about a performance one attended of which there’s no aural document, but I propose there’s more value to discuss something that someone could possibly also hear and enjoy (or not). I would like to think that many (or even most) treasure the chance to hear Lehmann’s Fidelio (Act 1 anyway) or moments from Ponselle’s and Schipa’s Donna Anna and Don Ottavio or Callas’s Alceste despite the less-than-ideal form in which they have come down to us.

            Some of us weren’t alive to hear Crespin — or others — lucky those of you who were. Someone specifically asked about how to obtain the Troyens--although I always find it hard to imagine in 2012 that people seem to have no idea how to use a search engine, I offered that as my response. Presumably “buyer beware” goes without saying but since I haven’t patronized any “pirate” for decades, I have no personal experience there to offer. But in these days of file-sharing there’s not always a need to resort to them.

          • phoenix says:

            My apologies Hippolyte if I have misunderstood and miscommunicated.
            -- In 1964(?) in San Francisco we tried to tape the Chicago Lyric radio broadcast (not a house tape) of the Crespin Aridane, but the FM reception marred the recording. Still, most of her music came out quite well. I didn’t save the recording. The copy of the Buenos Aries Troyens I heard as a pirate tape was somewhat blurred and heavily cut.
            -- As regards file sharing. I have tried file sharing but unfortunately have not had good luck with it. Out of the approximately 14 attempts, I only got one good sounding performance (Salome with Nina Stemme from Liceu a few years back)- the rest of them had flawed (or sometimes even what I would consider abysmal) audial quality.
            -- I thank you for your experience & advice -- you sound sincere about it -- still, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sound is very much an individual personal matter and opinion.
            -- If you would be so kind as to sort of put your mouth where your advice is, please recommend to me your favorite (commercial or non-commercial) file sharing sites and the approximate fees for downloading them. If I am being too demanding, well it won’t be first time (and hopefully not the last). I would be very appreciative.
            -- Best wishes from the flaming bird

    • 8.3
      Camille says:

      Simply glorious and never to be surpassed, at least for me.

      Thank you so much for having posted this, QPF, as I would never even suspected its existence and had gone looking.

      • 8.3.1
        Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        Very welcome. It would be nice to meet you in person sometime.

        • 8.3.1.1
          Camille says:

          That would probably be an honour I am not worthy of.
          Very touched, QPF.

      • 8.3.2
        marshiemarkII says:

        Speaking of meeting in person, I go by that chocolatier every day when I go for lunch Carissssssima Cammie. So maybe we could meet for coffee there, or therabouts? It’d have to be before July 14th, or after August 1 ( and you could wish me happy birthday :-))

        • 8.3.2.1
          Camille says:

          Marshie, Marshie, Marshie!!!

          Once and for all, you guys, this is Camille in 2012:

          Are you really sure you’d want to accept sweets from this snaggle toothed old wretch of a witch???? Can’t say I didn’t give fair warning!

          • manou says:

            Surely you mean Camille at 3.12 -- in the video?

          • Camille says:

            Hélas, madame manou, the lady at 3:12 was a friend of mine.
            She was paid between eight to nine hundred dollars for her vocal work on a film that made how many millions???

            Her name was Adriana Caselotti and she came from a family of wonderful musicians. She inherited her mother Maria’s beautiful napolitana voice, as well as her breast cancer. She died in January or February of 1997, after fighting the cancer for years and a successful mastectomy. Her sister, Marie-Louise also died of the same malady a few years later.

            They were great ladies and I miss them still and always shall. Although she didn’t receive the remuneration her voice deserved, it will live a very, very long time and make many more children happy.

        • 8.3.2.2
          marshiemarkII says:

          It makes me want to meet you even more so Carissssima, afterall Marshie who once was a comely young queen is now also a decrepit old hag herself….. so we could have a wonderful “Que Tal” afternoon :-)

    • 8.4
      kashania says:

      Endless line…

  • 9
    phoenix says:

    So this Tucker thread miraculously morphed into a Crespin tribute … nice going! She was my favorite singer (even though she sang way too long).
    -- Is there anyone else who also saw Crespin’s Cassandre in Les Troyens in San Francisco 1966 (she also sang Dido in the same performance)? Surely there must be Eastcoasters still functioning who attended her Sarah Caldwell Boston Dido (1972?) with Niska as Cassandre? I don’t want to be the Last of the Mohicans.

    • 9.1
      marshiemarkII says:

      Crespin was a GODDESS and she didn’t stay “too” long caro fenice, would you rather she had not sung those breathtaking Madame de Croissy she sang in 1987????? Those six or seven performances I saw are etched forever in my memory as some of the very greatest!!!! actually all of them Norman, Ewing and the glorious conducting of Rosenthal will never be equaled in my opinion. Too bad it was in English, and why haven’t they released it.

      • 9.1.1
        kashania says:

        Premier Opera has a (poor-quality) DVD of the TV broadcast. Great shame that it was done in English, especially when you had singers in the cast who excelled in French! And no, I would not want to be without Crespin’s farewell de Croissy.

        • 9.1.1.1
          armerjacquino says:

          marshie/kashania, it was Poulenc’s wish that the opera should always be performed in the vernacular.

          • Camille says:

            That is so, and to the extent that the Prima Assoluta, at La Scala, was sung in Italian.

            While it is a shame Mme. Crespin didn’t sing in French for the cameras, it is just as well that she was captured in any language. Hell, I would listen to her in Urdu!

          • kashania says:

            I know that was his wish but that was before the age of surtitles and I have to wonder whether he would have still wanted it performed in the vernacular. All I know is that I’ve heard it in French and English and I much prefer the French.

      • 9.1.2
        phoenix says:

        You’re right -- in many ways Crespin was better as Madame de Croissy than she was as Madame Lidoine. She suffered from poor health the latter half of her life and that may have her Croissy that unforgettable dimension.

      • 9.1.3
        marshiemarkII says:

        Caro fenice, I worship Crespin and almost everything she did (but especially French oepra) became immediately associated with he sound of her voice for me, so of course I adore the Lidoine also, even though the As are already giving her a bit of trouble, but it doesn’t matter because her sound is so special and unique, you cannot take it off your ears. But those Croissys were beyond special. You had to be in the theater!!!! I saw some performances from the first row as they were not well attended, imagine one of the greatest things ever at the Met!

        Kashie, I still have a very good VHS tape of it, don’t know in what condition, since I no longer have a player. Premiereopera is not very good quality, right? Oh why why why don’t they release it like the Levine 12 DVD set?

        Armer, yes I know about Poulenc and the vernacular, but the words do sound so much more gorgeously in French though. Mes Filles voila que s’acheve notre premiere nuit… or My daughters, it’s been a long night??? No comparison right?

        • 9.1.3.1
          kashania says:

          Marshie: The Premier Opera DVD is NOT in good quality. It is obviously a transfer from a VHS taped off TV. The Met could still one day release it. I’m sure it would have been released as part of the Levine set had he been on the podium.

          Oh well, we might as well enjoy what we have.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            FABULOUS!!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you Kashie you made my day! What S_U_B_L_I_M_E Music this is!!!!

          • kashania says:

            I know. I just finished watching the scene between Blanche and her brother. It always destroys me, especially her farewell to him.

          • kashania says:

            While we’re wallowing Marshie, I thought you might enjoy this NYT article that came out in advance of this production, talking about the four leading ladies (Ewing, Norman, Crespin, Quivar) sharing the spotlight.

            http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/20/arts/four-divas-share-the-met-spotlight-in-carmelites.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Wow Kashie, that scene with the brother also KILLS ME, la petite lievre…. it’s a high point in an opera of only high points :-). Really the ne plus ultra in excelsis :-)

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Kashie you are so wonderful! that NY Times article brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me not only of the glorious Carmelites performances, but also a time when Behrens was at the absolute zenith of her powers, and such an overwhelming force in New York at the time…… and how fleeting it all was….

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            “a time when Behrens was at the absolute zenith of her powers, and such an overwhelming force in New York at the time”

            To what week are we referring? :)

            Behrens might have been fun as Mere Marie, no? Imagine her letting go at the big “Quivar Moment”, “Je vais vous donner une adresse. Retenez-la bien. Mlle. Rose Ducor, 2, rue Saint-Denis.”

          • manou says:

            Nerva -- pity that nowadays the Rue Saint-Denis is notorious for other activities. You would probably find a Rose Du Corps there now.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Nerva you might be onto something there, as Breslin wanted her to do Mere Marie (and the Marschallin !!!) right after the 97 Ring at the Met. It obviously came to nothing. Even later there were discussion in Toulouse for a Croissy…..

        • 9.1.3.2
          MontyNostry says:

          I think that Carmelites is a masterpiece — who’d have thought one could get so het up about a bunch of nuns? — but that ‘rue Saint Denis’ line is an outrageous piece of grandstanding. Why should there be a stonking great top note on the name of a street? That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the sound it makes though — and I guess it was Poulenc making absolutely sure that we know that Mère Marie was written for an Amneris voice. (“Anatema su voi!”, anyone?)

          • armerjacquino says:

            The end of CARMELITES is one of those pieces that absolutely stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it- it was whenever the Nagano recording came out and the Salve Regina was on one of those extracts CDs that come free with Gramophone magazine. I’d never heard anything like it- the thinning down of the harmonic language, the extraordinary guillotine sound- it’s still a thrilling memory. The same thing happened when I went to see a concert of some Mozart concert arias (which were the pre-interval bonnes bouches, as it turned out) and ended up being blown away by the first time I heard LES ILLUMINATIONS.

            I was brought up around classical music, so these heart-stopping moments of new discovery were few and far between; my parents weren’t, and my mother still talks about the time she and dad were lying in bed one morning in the early sixties with the radio on and both ended up transfixed by what she describes as the most beautiful thing they’d ever heard- which turned out to be the ROSENKAV trio in the Karajan recording.

          • MontyNostry says:

            That finale is indeed poleaxing. It ought to be outrageously manipulative, but there is a sincerity and even simplicity that shines out from it — while also being terrifying brutal. (I heard some choral music by Poulenc on the radio the other day -- can’t remember what it was, not a piece I’ve heard before, and it sounded disturbingly similar, though the singers weren’t dropping out one by one.) I love the whole opera, and that little prayer the nuns sing with the Aumonier (is it an Ave verum corpus) is shockingly sexy.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            Yes, “2 rue St. Denis” is very difficult to sing in English!

          • La Cieca says:

            I don’t credit myself with figuring this one out, but rather a very good mezzo friend who sang Mere Marie on a production of Carmelites I stage-managed many years ago. She said she thought the music for her scene with Blanche was very odd and out of character until she realized that it’s a quotation (including the big high note fortissimo) from the death of Mme. de Croissy — specifically the moment when she charges Mere Marie with the responsibility for the protection of Blanche. (“In the name of obedience, I now entrust to you Blanche de la Force. And you will answer for her before God.”)

            Thus Mere Marie’s forceful declamation at this point demonstrates just how deeply she has taken the late prioress’s orders to heart: in fact, it is almost as if the spirit of the dead Mme. de Croissy is speaking through Mere Marie.

            Sometime, for those of you who haven’t heard it already, I’ll tell the story of my operating the guillotine during the finale of the opera, and what went wrong at the second performance.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            I find “Look here, my stew is burning! It’s is your fault… stop it at once!” with a shriek on “once” is even more awkward. And yes, Mother Marie calls Blanche back to reality with the repetion of that music. Poulenc was wonderul in this opera.

          • kashania says:

            Sometime, for those of you who haven’t heard it already, I’ll tell the story of my operating the guillotine during the finale of the opera, and what went wrong at the second performance.

            I have a cup of coffee in hand and am all ears!

          • roseducor says:

            Je vais vous donner un conseil. Retenez-le bien: try to locate Régine’s live Desdemona (or Desdemone, they sing in French) from the Paris Opera 1955. Epoustouflant!! It used to be available on Malibran.

            Luccioni’s Otello (Othello) is quite something too.

            PS La Yoncheva was Poppea in the Lille production by Sivadier that was mentioned on Parterre.

          • Camille says:

            That Parisian Otello from the fifties I have a portion of, the Willow Song “Saule, saule, saule”, and I must second the opinion of Madame Ducor. Mine is not on Malibran but a cheap West Coast company called Laserlight. Also has the Pénélope duet. I prize it, particularly because It bears Madame Crespin autograph. The Desdemone performance was decisive in Poulenc’s decision to have her sing Madame Lidoine. Important to know the type of voice he intended.

        • 9.1.3.3
          Quanto Painy Fakor says:

          You’re right the French is much more beautfiful, but the authorized singable translation of that passage is “My daughters, we at last have come to the end of our first night in prison. Believe me, by far the hardest, and yet we’ve reached the end in spite of all. By tomorrow morning we will all be familiar with our new surrounds, and quite accustomed to the discipline, which at least I’m sure is not new to us.” I used to love it when Shirley Verrett would sing a huge open AH sound on the word master (Noble Mahster).

      • 9.1.4
        PushedUpMezzo says:

        I never saw La Regine Nationale in a staged performance, but I did get a glimpse of her Carmen and operetta arias in a concert with Scottish Chamber Orchestra way back when. She wore a figure-hugging fuschia pink sequinned number with ostrich feather or faux fur collar, cuffs and trim on the hemline plus at least three pairs of false eyelashes to assist the winking during Perichole, Ciboulette, etc. The chest voice (or should we say poitrine?) was formidable, but sensibly rationed, and upper register pretty much under control. The Prima Donna in Paris set is from this period, and it is in every way a gem.

  • 10
    auracentral says:

    Well here’s one Mohican checking in. My time with Crespin goes back to 1962 when she did a recital in Dallas that included When I am laid in earth, Divinites du Styx, and O ma lyre immortelle. In addition were Schumann, Wolf, and Poulenc. I turned pages for John Wustman (I missed the surprise coda to Divinites du Styx-- had never heard it before) Quite an evening for a 16 yo and from then on Crespin was #1 on my radar as I moved on to Philadelphia for college and was a regular in NYC as well. I did attend the Caldwell full length Troyens with Niska (originally intendedfor Bumbry), and though Ronald Dowd was only adequate, Niska was very thrilling as Cassandra and well matched with Louis Quilico as Chorebe. The Nuit d’ivresse and the Je vais mourir I remember like they were yesterday. Drove back to Philadelphia in an ice storm. All worth it. All three Walkure Brunnhildes at the Met and at least 4 Sieglindes (including one in Philadelphia with Vickers that was absolutely a “nut night”) I remember very fondly. Hearing this clip this morning sure made the evil heat go away.

    • 10.1
      phoenix says:

      Many thanks, Aura. I had a feeling that an Easterner like you would come forward with a Boston recollection. I remember we took the Greyhound Bus up from NYC and got fairly good seats upstairs. Yes, Niska had a great afternoon -- but Crespin could shape Dido’s phrases like no one else. I was surprised how well she did compared to the earlier SFO 1966 performances I saw -- Dido is not that difficult a sing, but to interpret it is another story …

      • 10.1.1
        Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        The problem with Regine’s live productions of Les Troyens (with the exception of Boston) is that all the others were heavily cut at that time. It is a great pity that the commercial recording of excerpts was not made complete, but thanks heavens we have the sound of Regine caressing every note of what was sung.

        • 10.1.1.1
          Quanto Painy Fakor says:

          The Niska was quite demented as Cassandra and Caldwell’s special effects for the sacking of Rome will never be forgotten by those of us who saw it.

    • 10.2
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      Regine’s Didon with Sara Caldwell was fabulous, but she hated working with Caldwell, for whom Regine had little patience. Fortunately she did not walk out on the production. Ronald Dowd arrived not having been told that the opera was being sung in French and he had only performed it before in English, so the rehearsals were tense as he tried to cram the French lyrics in just a few weeks.

  • 11
    Camille says:

    Back onto topic: Richard Tucker Award winning Scoopy.
    Her finest, or rather, most sincere hour:

    • 11.1
      rapt says:

      Heartbreaking in more than one sense. (Lest I get too maudlin, I’ll admit that her later choices haven’t exactly confined her to oblivion and penury.) Thanks for this reminder, Camille.

  • 12
    turandotti says:

    I remember sitting in front of Crespin in the orchestra at the met. we came to hear Tebaldi’s Adrianna with Corelli, Dalis and Colzani and Cleva. We both loved it.

    • 12.1
      phoenix says:

      Ah! If only Crespin herself had tried it, although probably she would have had more success as la Principesse than as Adriana. They could have taken the role of Adriana down a bit for Crespin (as they often did for her in other roles) so we could hear those pianissimos … and the grand fortissimos!
      -- She started to have trouble with Tosca & Gioconda in mid-career & that may have been the reason she didn’t take on any too many new verismo roles -- but oh what a Maddalena in Chenier she would have made in her prime.

      • 12.1.1
        Krunoslav says:

        Remember, Crespin also sang Santuzza, with (at the Met) not very happy results.

        Too bad in late career she never did the Zia Principessa!

  • 13
    Camille says:

    phoenix! Adriana is already a really low tessitura for a soprano what with a couple B flats, and sung with the tenor, too, who always bellows them out. Really, the highest note she has alone is an A. Mezzoid territory anyhow.

    Woulda been a contender, though, that’ s for sure.
    I didn’t fully recognise that Crespin was your favourite singer and I must say how very lucky you were to have those performances in S. F., back in the day. I am happy for you.!

  • 14
    phoenix says:

    Alright, “Back onto topic” as the prestigious Camille states above.
    I looked at that list of Tucker Award recipients. The singers are all excellent -- some more successful career-wise than others -- but they are (or were in their prime) all competent & qualified. I have to give special mention of Christine Goerke, whom I only saw once -- at Glimmerglass Cooperstown in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride -- no, I was not impressed with the opera Iphigénie en Tauride, but Goerke has more than proven herself as a favorite singer of mine in broadcasts as Madame Lidoine, Foreign Princess, Chrysosthemis, Ortrud, Elektra, Kundry, Ariadne, etc.
    -- But since I have to choose a single live performance that I witnessed myself by one of these recipients of the Tucker -- gotta be honest about this -- although I don’t really like the hype she gives & gets nowadays -- it has to be Aprile Millo as Maddalena in Chenier at Canadian Opera Toronto 1989. I went up to Toronto alone, but witnessing her performance was like visiting a very dear old friend. I was overwhelmed by her, the same way I was overwhelmed by Tebaldi as Maddalena in the first peformance I ever saw of Chenier (at San Francisco Opera). I felt that Millo was at the height of her vocal & interpretive powers, one of the greatest living exponents of the verismo tradition in that unforgettable performance.

    • 14.1
      Camille says:

      Word is:
      “incorrigible”, not “prestigious”, phoenix!

      It makes me happy you also saw Aprile in a good performance as Maddalena. In that solo bow of hers about ten years ago at the Met, she was beautifullly and deeply sensitive to the entire proceedings and only marred very slightly by Domingo excusing himself from the fourth act and those treacherously truth revealing high B’s and a last minute shake ‘n bake accounting from Barasorda.

      Lucky, that time, but that Tebaldi picture downstairs at the War Memorial tells a tale I can only imagine. Luckier still, were you that time before.

      I hope your visits in hospital are few and bid you a happy Saturday listen.