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Kaufmänner

“Taking the libretto’s description of ‘panther-like’ literally, Bacchus appears in a shiny leopard-print suit (well, close enough) and proceeds to creep up to Ariadne like a shy housecat.”  Veteran blogress Zerbinetta (pictured, left) was right there for the Salzburg Festival’s gala Ariadne auf Naxos and the two-tenor version of La boheme, and reviewed both productions for the website bachtrack.

22 comments

  • louannd says:

    Thank you for your wonderful review, Z. I felt so confused and now I know why. Glad to see you back in Europe!

  • grimoaldo says:

    “Nino Machaidze’s tone is thin and sometimes out of tune on high notes, but she is an excellent actress.”

    Help.
    I enjoyed both reviews, thank you Zerbinetta and thanks La C for posting the link.

  • oedipe says:

    What does it mean for Bacchus to become a god? It’s not clear, but at least it looks like something special, and the extreme gaudiness of the staging—Bacchus at one point raises his hands and makes several gigantic chandeliers descend—is a decent visual analogue for the score’s blaring apotheosis. It also suggests that M. Jourdain may not have the best of taste, but it’s hard to tell if this was intentional. Irony is not this production’s strong suit.

    Brava Zerbinetta!

  • oedipe says:

    The other Bohemians were, like Cavaletti, all native Italian speakers, and one wonders if this linguistic comfort helped seem so spontaneous in their singing and acting.

    In the not-so-distant future, hearing native Italian speakers in Italian opera will probably sound downright exotic (outside of Italy, at least).

    • armerjacquino says:

      Why? Are they all going to retire?

      • oedipe says:

        Because opera audiences, increasingly accustomed to hear international stars with a generic style, are losing the familiarity with (and interest in) the italianate sound.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Whether this is true or not (I would disagree), the fact remains that Italians still sing Italian opera all over the world. The BOHEME I saw at Covent Garden earlier this year had Italians in all the principal roles except Rodolfo, which was sung by Calleja- who grew up within a short boat ride of Sicily. Frittoli is a regular in all the great opera houses of the world, and so, until her pregnancy, was Carosi. Nizza sings worldwide. Giannatasio has a Met debut coming up. Giordani, Filianoti and Grigolo are three of the busiest tenors in the world. Dessi sings Italian rep all over Europe, often with her husband. Antonacci, d’Arcangelo, Pisaroni, Gallo: all international stars. The evergreens such as Nucci, Furlanetto and Devia are still singing. In earlier Italian rep you’ll be likely to find Invernizzi or Mingardo or Bonitatibus or Bartoli. That’s not changing any time soon. All of that is just off the top of my head- I have doubtless missed more obvious examples.

          Your suggestion that, soon, ‘Italian speakers in Italian opera will probably sound downright exotic’ is an absurd exaggeration.

          • oedipe says:

            Granted, it’s reductio ad absurdum. Which does not mean it is absurd.
            Let’s just take a look at one of your examples: Rodolfos and Mimis at the top 10 opera houses. A few are Italian. Many more are not. Whatever preferences people may have (and I am ready to bet, for instance, that many around here would rather hear Kaufmann than Grigolo as Rodolfo) and whatever the houses’ selection criteria, an italianate sound is something that doesn’t seem to matter. That’s what I was talking about. Is it clearer now?

          • armerjacquino says:

            ‘That’s what I was talking about. Is it clearer now?’

            Well, now you’ve retreated from your initial position and replaced it with something else, then yes it is.

          • oedipe says:

            No I haven’t. You listed a number of starry (and less than starry) Italian singers, as if I had said there were none: I never did.

          • armerjacquino says:

            You said that ‘in the near future Italian speakers in Italian opera will probably sound downright exotic’

            I think that’s ridiculous. I gave you plenty of examples of the Italian speakers we currently hear worldwide.

            You then changed your argument to ‘Italianate sound doesn’t matter to opera houses’- a different point, equally unsupported by the facts.

            Need a hand with those goalposts? They look heavy.

          • oedipe says:

            Armer, I think you enjoy arguing much more than I do. I am NOT planning to list all the names of all the non-Italians who have been singing main parts on the top 10 stages in order to show you that the list is much longer than the list of Italians you have came up with.
            Here is what I suggest: in the future, let’s list all the instances when reviewers cite lack of an Italian sound in Italian opera as an essential criterion in a lead’s performance.

          • armerjacquino says:

            I totally give up. If you can’t see how outrageously you’ve changed the criteria of this discussion (and if you’re going to make snippy little remarks about ‘enjoying’ arguing) then I’ll leave you to it.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

          Wll that Schaunard in Salzburg was one of the loudest Shaunards I’ve ever heard -- what a horn on that guy -- like a Vuvuzela.

        • Nerva Nelli says:

          Metropolitan Opera House
          February 5, 1910 Matinee

          LA BOHEME {82}

          Mimi……………….Geraldine Farrar (USA)
          Rodolfo……………..Riccardo Martin (USA)
          Musetta……………..Lenora Sparkes (England)
          Marcello…………….Pasquale Amato
          Schaunard…………..Adamo Didur (Poland)
          Colline……………..Andres De Segurola (Spain)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          March 26, 1914 Matinee

          LA BOHEME {128}

          Mimi………………..Geraldine Farrar (USA)
          Rodolfo……………..Riccardo Martin (USA)
          Musetta……………..Lenora Sparkes (England)
          Marcello…………….Dinh Gilly (Algeria)
          Schaunard……………Antonio Pini-Corsi
          Colline……………..Leon Rothier (France)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          January 5, 1940

          LA BOHEME {339}
          Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

          Mimi…….Jarmila Novotna [Debut] (Czechoslavkia)
          Rodolfo……………..Jussi Bjoerling (Sweden)
          Musetta……………..Muriel Dickson (Scotland)
          Marcello…………….John Brownlee (Australia)
          Schaunard……………George Cehanovsky (Russia)
          Colline……………..Norman Cordon (USA)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          December 1, 1944

          LA BOHEME {375}
          Puccini-Illica/Giacosa

          Mimi………………..Grace Moore (USA)
          Rodolfo……………..Jan Peerce (USA)
          Musetta……………..Frances Greer (USA)
          Marcello…………….John Brownlee (Australia)
          Schaunard……………Hugh Thompson [Debut](USA)
          Colline……………..Norman Cordon (USA)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          February 8, 1949 Matinee

          Metropolitan Opera Guild Student Performance

          LA BOHEME {422}

          Mimi………………..Eleanor Steber (USA)
          Rodolfo……………..Richard Tucker (USA)
          Musetta……………..Frances Greer (USA)
          Marcello…….Frank Valentino (né Dinhaupt) (USA)
          Schaunard……………Hugh Thompson (USA)
          Colline……………..Nicola Moscona (Greece)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          February 26, 1954

          LA BOHEME {498}

          Mimi………………..Lucine Amara (USA)
          Rodolfo……………..Jan Peerce (USA)
          Musetta……………..Patrice Munsel (USA)
          Marcello…………….Renato Capecchi
          Schaunard……………George Cehanovsky (Russia)
          Colline……………..Jerome Hines (USA)

          St. Louis, Missouri
          Kiel Auditorium
          May 11, 1961

          LA BOHEME {595}

          Mimi………………..Dorothy Kirsten (USA)
          Rodolfo……………..Jan Peerce (USA)
          Musetta……………..Laurel Hurley (USA)
          Marcello…………….Lorenzo Testi
          Schaunard……………Roald Reitan (USA)
          Colline…………….William Wilderman (Germany)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          January 24, 1966

          LA BOHEME {650}

          Mimi………………..Lucine Amara (USA)
          Rodolfo……………..Richard Tucker (USA)
          Musetta……………..Heidi Krall (USA)
          Marcello…………….Mario Sereni
          Schaunard……………Robert Goodloe (USA)
          Colline……………Nicola Ghiuselev (Bulgaria)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          October 28, 1972 Matinee

          LA BOHEME {731}

          Mimi………………..Lucine Amara (USA)
          Rodolfo……………..Richard Tucker (USA)
          Musetta……………..Colette Boky (Canada)
          Marcello…………….Mario Sereni
          Schaunard……………Robert Goodloe (USA)
          Colline……………..John Macurdy (USA)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          February 16, 1974 Matinee Broadcast

          LA BOHEME {751}

          Mimi……………..Montserrat Caballe (Spain)
          Rodolfo……………..Franco Corelli
          Musetta……………..Maralin Niska (USA)
          Marcello…………….Dominic Cossa (USA)
          Schaunard……………David Holloway (USA)
          Colline……………..John Macurdy (USA)

          • armerjacquino says:

            *hat tip* Well illustrated!

          • RosinaLeckermaul says:

            You could add many more. If my memory serves me right, the first BOHEME I witnessed live back in 1953 had Hilde Gueden as Mimi, Eugene Conley as Rodolfo and Jean Fenn as Musetta. However, if I want to mention truly memorable performances, the Mimis were Tebaldi, Freni, Scotto and the Rodolfo was Bergonzi.

  • manou says:

    Match report:

    oedipe says there are fewer and fewer Italian singers (or singers singing in the correct Italian style) outside of Italy, and it may well be that at some time in the future there will be none.

    armerjaquino says there are lots of Italian singers and here are some names

    oedipe says he was pointing out that audiences and critics are becoming less and less exposed to genuine Italianate sound and will cease to appreciate it and require it

    armerjaquino says this is shifting the argument and it’s not fair

    oedipe says he is not going to start making lists but predicts that the critics will rarely point out the lack of Italianate sound in the future

    armerjaquino says he is not going to discuss it any more

    Nerva Nelli makes a surprise appearance from the sidelines and prints a list of non-Italian singers appearing in Bohème at the Met since 1910, showing that Italian singers are as scarce as hen’s teeth

    armerjaquino thanks Nerva Nelli for proving his point.

    The question is “Who gets the gold medal?”