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The girls of summer

The Met press department wisely isn’t waiting until the last minute to start announcing cast changes for autumn 2012: “Janai Brugger [pictured], a 2012 winner of both the Met’s National Council Auditions and the first place winner in the recent Operalia competition, will make her Met debut as Liù in Puccini’s Turandot on October 30 and will also sing the role on November 2, 5, and 9. Brugger replaces the previously announced Takesha Meshé Kizart, who is recovering from recent abdominal surgery. Guanqun Yu, the second-place winner of the Operalia competition, will make her Met debut as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore on October 17 and will sing the role on October 20 and 25.” Apparently TBA is having abdominal surgery as well!


  • 1
    Clita del Toro says:

    That’s all well and good, I guess, but, WHERE IS LATONIA MOORE?

  • 2
    Mario C says:

    It looks like Latonia Moore is booked for Aida in Dallas the end October and early November.

    Speaking of TBA’s, does anyone know who will be Amelia in the last Ballo in Maschera? I read somewhere that Amber Wagner was making her Met debut in Ballo in December, but it is not on the Met website.

    • 2.1
      La Cieca says:

      My information is that it is Amber Wagner.

      • 2.1.1
        RosinaLeckermaul says:

        Now if only some miracle could happen re the tenor in the BALLO performances. And the TROYENS performances. And the FRANCESCA DA RIMINI performances.

      • 2.1.2
        Mario C says:

        Thank you La Cieca…. I need to plan accordingly.

    • 2.2
      Clita del Toro says:

      Mario, Amber Wagner has already sung at the Met in Nabucco, 2011 (not Abigaille). If she will sing a major role at the Met, well it’s about time.

  • 3
    Tamerlano says:


    Ms. Brugger sounds pretty fabulous in the climatic phrase of “Depuis le jour”…it’s a gorgeous voice.

    • 3.1
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      Lovely opportunity. Apart from Liu’s arias, good luck in the Act I concertato !

    • 3.2
      louannd says:

      Her song to the moon:

      • 3.2.1
        OpinionatedNeophyte says:

        *side eye* There are quite a few Renee-isms in her singing, some of that white tone feels croony. I am, however, thrilled to hear another girlish, bright timbred LYRIC soprano (something Ms. Moore shares, and that Ms. Kizart doesn’t). And as happy as I am that they replaced a sister with a sister what I’d like to see is a season where Kizart, Moore, Brugger, Brownlee and maybe even two other black singers were cast in different operas. Or even where such a schedule wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

          Maury D says:

          Well, but the problem with Renee was never that there were Renee-isms. It was that they came to seem like a lazy habit, and in some roles it felt like they came in every phrase. De gustibus and all, but I find this account of the Song to the Moon extremely appealing, and I really don’t hear the crooning.

          Bosah says:


          I couldn’t agree more regarding bright-timbred lyric sopranos. I’m thrilled that Brugger will get her shot. I’ve only heard videos until now, but I really do love her voice and presence.

      • 3.2.2
        Mme. Euterpova says:

        I give her 2 years. That halted then fast vibrato is a dead give-away.

          la vociaccia says:

          Could you please elaborate on that very general speculation? “halted then fast vibrato” is not descriptive at all, nor does it appear to be a good reasoning for how this voice will not last two years

          I hate to make rush Judgments, but I think you wrote that comment before you saw the video, if you know what I mean

          • Mme. Euterpova says:

            Her vibrato sounds controlled to my ears and not natural. Yes, I saw the video.

          • la vociaccia says:

            Would you please give some examples off in singers who hurt their voices singing with “controlled” vibrato? I’m sorry, but it really sounds like you are making it up as you go along. You said it was a dead giveaway- bit of a silly claim to make, no?

          • picchiettati says:


            I won’t comment on JB’s performance (having heard merely the first phrase), but if I may elaborate on the general topic:

            A healthy operatic vibrato is the consequence of various physical checks and balances all relating to the use of air, from intake through release: and repeat. When one’s vibrato is at a consistent rate and «speaks» immediately, that is a product of 1. all one’s «singing parts» being healthy + 2. all one’s «singing parts» being used in a healthy (i.e. physically efficient) manner. Should any part of that equation be amiss, it more often than not makes itself heard. In my experience, «halted then fast» means that one is enabling the voice to come out with direct assistance from the throat musculature (major NO-NO). Very often, the air onset is held back (the «halted» part) and then the delayed air comes out too much at a time (the «fast» part).

            Listeners’ disapproval of such sounds often reach beyond aesthetic opinion into the realm of sympathetic/empathetic discomfort. That is sheer human animal response (since we’re all members of the human animal species), regardless of the acculturation of one’s listening faculties or one’s ability to articulate their perception of the problem: we see/hear one of our own doing something and feel «ooh…»

            A long (or even just brief-yet-intense) period of detrimental vocal habits can wear down the singing mechanism, yes. But singing technique depends so much upon reflexes acquired then ingrained, so if the old information isn’t so useful, then one can acquire new information—better information—deeper information! A lot can be done by singers, teachers, coaches, even managers (who do the choosing and booking of artists) to confound expectations of «vocal expiration date»—and not a moment too soon.

          • la vociaccia says:

            ” I won’t Comment on jb’s performance ( having only heard the first phrase)”….

            Then why are you commenting at all? I’m talking about jb,and mme euterpova is taking about jb, and I’m well aware what healthy vibrato is (no need for a vocal pedagogy 101, you arent the only person here who knows about the voice). You can believe mme euterpova is ‘concerned’ about jb, and I can believe she’s full of shit.

            But again, why would you comment if you didn’t watch the video? That’s what we’re talking about!!!!!

  • 4
    la vociaccia says:

    Any ideas why they gave this whole bunch of Leonoras to Yu, and Meade still only has one?

    • 4.1
      Clita del Toro says:

      Perhaps Gelb thinks that if the public hears too many truly good singer like Meade, Wagner and Moore, they won’t accept the other cuties that he puts on stage.

      • 4.1.1
        armerjacquino says:

        I just don’t get the ‘Gelb won’t cast Meade’ myth. She’s been given real prominence for someone so early in her career.

          Clita del Toro says:

          That’s true, but we need more of her. Why only one Trovatore?

          • Maury D says:

            Another question that might be asked is “why would one immediately concoct absurd but apparently serious conspiracy theories about casting when the answer may very well be ‘Ms. Meade has another commitment’ or ‘Ms. Meade is not leaping into a full run of a challenging role in a large house’ or any number of things?”

          • Gualtier M says:

            Well, according to Meade’s schedule she is singing Donna Anna on October 10 & 14, so maybe she isn’t in town to rehearse it to step in on 10/17 to 10/24.

            Personally, having heard and not been at all convinced by Pat Racette as a Verdian soprano two seasons ago in “Trovatore” (I love ya’ Pat and Beth too but not in Verdi…), I am gunning for Meade to replace her in all the later performances of the run. Forget about “why no Meade?” -- she is doing fine at the Met and elsewhere, where is Julianna di Giacomo? I want Tamara Wilson too -- and Jennifer Wilson! (The Met is behind the ball on Latonia Moore -- they were surprised by her triumph but lots of others weren’t including major intendants in the U.S. and Europe. They hopefully are booking her now for 2016…)


          • picchiettati says:

            Gualtier M,

            JdG has no lack of work on the horizon. Earlier this month she finished up her debut engagement at the Terme di Caracalla, which was also her role debut as Norma. Late September through early October, she has LAO performances as Donn’Anna, followed a few weeks later by Suor Angelica (role debut?) at Madrid’s Teatro Real, followed a few weeks later by MESSIAH in Ann Arbor, MI. That’s just wrapping up 2012; 2013 is going to be a very full plate.

            May I say that that is a LOT of stuff in quick succession. Whatever «down time» there is between sets of performances has to be taken up with travelling back home, gearing up for the next engagement, travelling there, getting used to the new setting (jetlag, climate change, different language etc.), and—particularly in the case of opera—however long/intense the rehearsal period is. But the human body/mind/psyche/BEING needs time to recuperate from the agita that is part and parcel of the operatic career. (I shudder to contemplate the «otherwise»…)

          • la vociaccia says:

            Gualtier, I want more Tamara Wilson too. I wish I could have seen her elettra at ravinia.

          • Enzo Bordello says:

            Tamara Wilson was a stunning Elettra at Ravinia last weekend. The voice is huge but capable of incredible delicacy and refinement. Her breath control is amazing, allowing her to phrase confidently and artistically. She has an easy command of all three registers, from gleaming high notes to cutting chest voice. Finally, she is expressive, knows what she is singing about and seems eager to communicate that to us. I also thought Ruxandra Donose was magnificent as Idamante. Why she is not the reigning lyric mezzo of the day is beyond me. What an Adalgisa, Romeo, DAMNATION Marguerite, Charlotte and Octavian she must be! I like Joyce DiDonato but I think Donose has more voice and comparable artistry without the short, very tight top voice of JDD. Susanna Phillips was pretty in both voice and appearance but I would never be able to pick her out of a vocal lineup. Richard Croft earned the lion’s share of the audience’s applause. He was eloquent but I don’t care for his aspirated coloratura and reliance on straight-toned attack. Great work from Conlon and the CSO. Overall, a magnificent rendering of IDOMENEO.

          • I adore Donose’s Cenerentola. Super clean, super musical and super articulation without an aspirate in sight. And she can act!

          • oedipe says:

            Super clean, super musical and super articulation without an aspirate in sight. And she can act!

            Nowhere near enough if you want to become a superstar and/or sing at the Met, you also need a super powerful and super connected super agent! Who are Michael’s and Erdmann’s agents, BTW?

          • armerjacquino says:

            I’m not sure it’s fair to lump Michael and Erdman in the same category. Michael has been making hideous noises in parts she has no business singing for years now. Erdman’s reputation on this site stems back to one run of Zerlinas at the MET which admittedly were rather underwhelming (and perhaps she remains front of mind thanks to a rather relentless campaign by one particular poster). But it’s not as if she was incompetent, like Michael. And she’s done some lovely singing elsewhere, including (as C-F first pointed out) in the Salzburg ZAIDE.

            I think it’s desperately unfair that she’s constantly used as an example of ‘what’s wrong with opera’ on the basis that her ‘Vedrai Carino’ was a bit shrill.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Erdmann is the kind of singer who is really never to my taste, but she did get good notices for her recent Lulu in Berlin, for which I guess she deserves some Kudos. (I am looking forward to Nadja’s Schigolch -- the perfect role for her at this point in her career.)

    • 4.2
      armerjacquino says:

      Well, a debut’s always exciting, isn’t it? If she’s that promising of a singer then three performances doesn’t seem that excessive. Better now than in a couple of years when people are all saying ‘WHY WON’T THE MET GIVE YU A CHANCE’ etc!

      • 4.2.1
        Clita del Toro says:

        A debut is exciting if the singer is good; if not, it’s depressing.

          messa di voce says:

          Well, that’s the most insightful comment we’ve had here in a long time.

          Let’s just eliminate all bad debuts: problem solved.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            I am just speaking from my own experience. I was NOT advocating the elimination of debuts—what a silly a notion!

            Insightful, inschmightful to you too!

          • Clita del Toro says:

            PS Messa,
            As I was at the Met debuts of, among others, Price, Corelli, Bergonzi, Stella, Nilsson, Sutherland, Gedda, Söderström, Rysanek, Dalis and too many others to name, why would I be against debuts? I was also at a number of less exciting debuts. I am sure Nada Michael’s debut was a revelation to you, exciting and nauseating at the same time?? lol

          • armerjacquino says:

            Clita, I think you may have misread/ misunderstood the gag in messa’s post.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Jacquino, I guess I missed the joke??/ Dumb moi.

          • messa di voce says:

            Just a playful tweek: no offense intended.

            I envy the debuts you heard.

          • Krunoslav says:

            “the debuts of Price, Corelli, Bergonzi, Stella, Nilsson, Sutherland, Gedda, Söderström, Rysanek, Dalis”

            Wow. I don’t think

          • Krunoslav says:

            “the debuts of Price, Corelli, Bergonzi, Stella, Nilsson, Sutherland, Gedda, Söderström, Rysanek, Dalis”

            Wow. I don’t think many among We Who Are (ahem) Young[er] could match that list.

            My positive Met (singer) debuts, however, include Kasrashvili, Rolandi, Jerusalem, Salminen, Estes, Norman, Winbergh, Ramey, Connell, Alaimo, Daniels, Donose, Palmer, Stemme, Stoyanova, Florez, Chilcott, Mehta, Massis, Brewer, Kozena, Henschel, Abdrazakov, Youn, Angela Brown, Silvasti, David Walker, d’Intino, Denoke, Iveri, Milne, Marlis Petersen, Beczala, Brownlee, Kim, Markov, Gubanova, Rhodes, Brenciu, Antonenko, Persson, Mosuc, Lee, Matos, Iestyn Davies, Costanzo, Cargill and McKinny.

            Of these, the debuts of Salminen, Ramey, Norman and Brewer were the most spectacular events.

          • kashania says:

            Krunoslav: That’s a lot of debuts! What role was Salminen singing? He is one of my favourite bassos. And how I envy you having been at Jessye’s Cassandre — talk about making a high-profile debut!

          • Krunoslav says:


            Salminen came to the Met as King Marke, and he entered in glory after several hours of horrendous off-pitch screaming from Gwyneth and (another debutant) Spas Wenkoff. Troyanos and (especially) McIntyre were off-form. It was a pretty dreadful night save for Salminen.

          • Hippolyte says:

            I’m never quite clear where these comments will “insert themselves” once a thread gets quite long but after Clita’s and Krunolav’s fascinating lists of MET debuts, I scrolled through my chronology of MET performances and see that I attended the MET debuts of: McLaughlin, Schunk, Summers, Zajick, Donath, Welker, Benackova, Straka, Chernov, Rolfe Johnson, Voigt, Groves, Goldberg, McNair, Pollet, Gorchakova, Alagna, Shimell, Keenlyside, Pittsinger, Daniels, S. Andersen, F. Palmer, Lipovsek, Brewer, Roeschmann, Harteros, K. Youn, Connolly, Pisaroni, Scholl, Dumaux, Aldrich, Beczala, Bardon, Zazzo, I. Leonard, Kuehmeier, Garanca, Zapata, I. Patterson, Margita , Dasch, Archibald, Smirnova, Groissbeck, Matos, Royal, Westbroek, DiBiasiot, along with a surprising number of important conductors: Tennstedt, Kleiber, Slatkin, D. Robertson, S. Young, Salonen, Muti Wm. Christie, Rattle.

            High on my list would be Benackova’s radiant Kat’a, Rolfe Johnson’s wonderful Idomeneo, Donath’s long-overdue Marzelline, Rosechmann’s Susanna, Matos’s fine Minnie and two from ladies who sang just 2 performances and have so far never returned: Brewer’s Ariadne and Guhmeier’s lovely Pamina.

            And, of ccurse, that amazing Kleiber Boheme in 1988 with Freni and Pavarotti (in only their second ever (!) Met Boheme and first since Pavarotti’s debut performance in 1968), Daneils, Summers, Hampson (as Schaunard), etc.

      • 4.2.2
        la vociaccia says:

        To be fair, I got carried away referring to Yu’s performances as a “whole bunch” of Leonoras. You know me, being a Meade fanboy and all…..

        Now for Brugger -- I wasn’t familiar with her, but based on the videos posted here I am definitely going to one of the Turandots. I had no intention whatsoever before, but an excellent Liu is enough to carry the even worst lead cast (and this is a rough year for Turandot)

  • 5
    Maury D says:

    This is really good news. Of all the singers at last year’s council auditions concert, Brugger certainly made the biggest splash with a very accomplished reading of “Depuis le Jour.” The only downside is that if the Met doesn’t mount several new productions for her within the next two years, everyone is going to start barking incessantly about Peter Gelb and Danielle DeNiese.

    • 5.1
      armerjacquino says:

      Hurrah! Glad to hear she’s good, as I’m seeing the TURANDOT on the 30th. For some reason I always expected I wouldn’t be seeing Kizart.

  • 6
    arepo says:

    Janai Brugger made a wonderful impression in the Met finals auditions.
    Frankly, I am looking forward to seeing her in-house.

  • 7
    chicagokok says:

    I got to hear Brugger when she was still in school here in chicago. I went to several student performances and of the 2 i saw her in she always stood out. I am glad she has accomplished so much and also glad to know i can pick a winner!

    • 7.1
      Clita del Toro says:

      I have listened to this aria twice. Nice, lyric soprano. Why is she singing Leonora? I am not dissing her, but with Radvan, Latonia and Meade voices around, why another lightweight singing the role? She may be okay in the role , and we will see. But…

  • 8

    Well, I am not seeing why the hatred. It might be a little early, but she seems to be well schooled, has a nice handle of the language and the style. Acually, I think that she is the reason to go see an otherwise dreadful cast.

    • 8.1
      la vociaccia says:

      • 8.1.1
        Clita del Toro says:

        The role Leonora, imo, requires, at least, a good spinto or heavier. Think Milanov, Stella, Price, Gencer, Varady, Callas or even a Tucci + Meade, Radvan and Moore.
        And keep me away from lovely lyrics who sing the music well, but have no balls. Stay with Depuis le jour, ,Janai.


          You know what? I am not sure I completely agree with that, Clita.

          Price was never a spinto, she herself called it a “juicy lyric” and that seems to be a great description. When she actually ventured into Spinto territory (Amelia, Elizabetta), she was actually not all that effective because her top disappeared.

          Genger was a “dramatica d’agilita” with a heavy emphasis on the d’agilita part. She, had a good size liric soprano with exceptional mobility, which is the reason why she was able to do Lucia, Constanza, Donna Anna, Bolena and Leonora. Did she actually ventured into Spinto territory (Ballo, Elizabetta)? How much did Aida figure in her rep?

          Meade is working her way through some d’agilita roles but I would not call her a spinto. I have yet to hear her do an actual spinto role (Elvira is not a spinto role). Let’s not forghet that one of her AVA roles was Lucia.

          Caballe, who did a hell of a Leonora was also not necessarily a Spinto either and the times she went there, she was also not very effective. Her Ballo was not one for the ages, I don’t this her Aida was either and her Maddalena di Coigny was not very memorable.

          I believe that Leonora is not necessarily a spinto role, although it can be sung successfully by a spinto. I see it as one of those transitional roles that can be sung effectively by both because it is lyrical enough for a full lyric (like Caballe, Price) and lyric enough for a spinto to keep it in the rep because it is good for the voice (like Milanov, Millo, Stella, Angela Brown).

          Leonora is lyrical enough for lyric coloraturas to grow into: Sutherland, Anderson, Freni (she learned it for a recording but it fell through), even Mary Dunleavy is on the record as saying this is a role she wants to do.

          I think ultimately Leonora has been served best by either Spintos on the lyrical side (line Milanov and Tomowa), Juicy Lyrics (like I need to say who)and bel canto specialists like Caballe, La Rad, Gencer, Meade, and Callas.

          • grimoaldo says:

            “Genger was a “dramatica d’agilita” with a heavy emphasis on the d’agilita part. She, had a good size liric soprano with exceptional mobility, which is the reason why she was able to do Lucia, Constanza, Donna Anna, Bolena and Leonora. Did she actually ventured into Spinto territory (Ballo, Elizabetta)? How much did Aida figure in her rep?”

            Ballo complete 1961 Bergonzi/Gencer; Mario Zanassi -- it’s fantastic

            The incredibly beautiful and moving “Morrò, ma prima in grazia” from the above for anyone who may not want to listen to the whole thing but would like to hear the stunning Gencer rendition

            Don Carlo 1968 Bruno Prevedi/Gencer/ Sesto Bruscantini/ Ghiaurov/Cossotto complete, it’s amazing:

            Aida, Ritorna vincitor, 1966, this one with video as well as audio

            Truly amazing Trovatore from Orange 1972, Montserrat Caballe, Ludovic Spiess, Irina Arkhipova, Peter Glossop, anyone who has never seen this should try to watch

          • picchiettati says:


            You asked about three of Gencer’s Verdian spinto ventures. (For comparison, bear in mind that her career total of Norma was 34 performances.)

            Amelia in Ballo: 11 performances
            1961 Comunale di Bologna
            1962 Arena di Verona
            1962 Wiener Staatsoper
            1973 Scala

            Elisabetta in Don Carlo: 32 performances
            1958 San Francisco in house and on tour in Los Angeles
            1961 Scala
            1962 Covent Garden
            1962 Wiener Staatsoper
            1962 Comunale di Bologna
            1963—64 Scala
            1964 Chicago
            1968 Roma
            1970 Scala

            Aïda: 45 performances
            1963 Scala
            1963 Arena di Verona
            1966 Scala
            1966 Arena di Verona
            1969 San Carlo di Napoli
            1970 Terme di Caracalla
            1973 Macerata

            She did sing «Tutte le torture» (Martern aller Arten) in concert but never sang the entire role of Costanza. (Pity; one wonders how she would have sounded in the character’s first aria!)

            Price did record and perform in concert «Tu che le vanità», but never sang the entire role of Elisabetta in Don Carlo. (Grace Bumbry recalled that Price felt that the opera was about Eboli!)

          • Enzo Bordello says:

            Beverly Sills voiced a desire to sing the TROVATORE Leonora in a 1975 interview for Opera News. She thought the role was more related to the bel canto repertoire than the later Verdi works. Obviously, she never realized her wish.

          • Enzo, Sills was right. Trovatore is bel canto, plain and simple. Verdi might’ve been tweaking with the art form but he did not stray too far from the aria-cabaletta that is one of the roots of bel canto.

            I think that because we are talking about Verdi we are getting confused in some things here. All the way up to Vespri, all Verdi operas are either strictly bel canto works or, as in the case of Rigoletto and Trovatore (Rigoletto more so) hybrids or transitional works. Verdi’s first official foray into a non bel canto work is Ballo, if you do not count the very small cabaletta for Riccardo, since it is interrupted after a few bars.

            Why am I saying all this? Because singing Foscari and Ernani is not far fetched for a bel canto specialist like Meade. I think that applying the “Verdi soprano” label, with all the baggage that comes with it, is premature in Meade’s case; specially considering how she has not vested from the bel canto path she seems to have chosen (or her voice has chosen, if you want to think about it that way)

          • luvtennis says:


            Your post reminds me that vocal categories can be very misleading things. Frankly, I would absolutely define lyrico-spinto with Lee’s voice. She had the ability sustain a high tessitura, great flexibility in legato, and the ability to darken the voice so as to provide dramatic emphasis when expressing passionate or profound emotion. For me that is a spinto. Listen to the live performance of Sur Mes Genoux. Early in the aria she sings a crescendo that virtually defines the vocal category.

            And I don’t think she ever sang Elizabetta. I have also listened to the ’66 and ’68 Ballo’s where she sounds fine (’68) and sublime (“66”).

            As for Millo, I believe she too was a lyrico-spinto who unfortunately beefed up the middle a la Tebaldi and paid for it with an inconsistent and occasionally forced top.

            Milanov, I would classify as a lyric dramatic. Ditto Ponselle. Why? Because they could sing with great force in the roles from the late 19th-early 20th century “post-Verdi” roles, like Gioconda and Maddalena. I don’t think that ANY of Verdi’s soprano roles are necessarily lyric dramatic roles, although modern tastes lean in that direction for Abigaille, Lady M. and Amelia.

            Fun topic.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I was think about the classifications too, and I still have this sneaking suspicion that the Divine Leontyne would not have been called a spinto in a previous age, even though she has come to define perceptions of spinto since she made roles like Aida and the Leonoras her own. The voice was, of course, sumptuously gorgeous, but it never had a real ‘push’ in its timbre. In her later recordings, where she does try and add edge to the sound, she makes the tone go raw. What she really **did** have was an amplitude the way she sang. For instance, in the big final reprise in her studio recording of ‘Tu che la vanità’ there is a grandeur that cannot be matched by the straining lyric sopranos who now tend to be cast in the role. (Yes, I know she never sang Elisabetta on stage, but that aria makes a point about the miscasting of the role over the past 25 years or so -- ie the post-Price era.)

          • Well, I lost the response but I’ll try to make is short, since I am at work.

            With the understanding that i’ll ruffle some feathers, in my opinion, to my ears, Price was a Mozart sopraso who also sang Verdi. There is no shame in that, Lorengar, Tomowa and M. rice were also Mozart sopranos who suceeded in verdi.

            I think that when Price sang Mozart, her voice took on colors that (to me) scream “I’M HOME!”

            I think a quick look at her mozart performances available on youtube should give enough evidence of my assertions (minus a disastrous d’Orece, OMG)

          • armerjacquino says:

            I’d take Price’s spectacular Aida or Leonora over her pretty horrible Fiordiligi every day of the week.

          Tamerlano says:

          She’s NOT singing Leonora, she’s singing Liu…a whole different animal.

          MontyNostry says:

          Well, as I’ve said on here before, I have a feeling she would have done more Strauss if she had come on the scene today. (And her complete Thaïs must have been pretty fabulous too.)

          Aidas in the B.P. period (Before Price) tended to be a bit steelier, didn’t they? I guess Gencer was also representative of a softer-grained Aida.

          • luvtennis says:

            Depends on just how far you go back, Monty.

            Recall that once upon a time, Verdi praised Patti’s performances in the role.

            I get that many folks want an Aida that can dominate ensembles with ease. I respect that preference and acknowledge how thrilling that sort of voice can be, but for me the Nile scene and the many preghieras in the role require an ease in the upper register and a lyricism that many lyric dramatic/dramatic sopranos struggle to encompass, singers like Arangi Lombardi notwithstanding.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Well, I guess Sills’ Aida was in the Patti tradition!

            From the little I’ve heard of Arrangi Lombardi, I tend to think that she has the kind of voice that an Aida really ought to have, even if she now sounds rather old-fashioned. This doesn’t stop me from loving Leontyne, of course. She was the Aida I grew up with! (If you can call that growing up.)

          • peter says:

            It’s funny that people need to defend Price’s Aida as if it was a role too heavy for her. She sang it at the Met from the late 60’s to the mid 80’s. She was the reigning Aida at the Met for many years. I heard her in the role in the late 70’s. I never had any problems hearing her in the ensembles. While I am not the biggest Price fan out there (that’s another story), I have heard more dramatic voices sing it since but I can barely recall any of them. They’ve all had their issues, mostly at the top of the range. How many singers since have sung Aida sp consistently well over such a long period of time?

          • luvtennis says:


            I know that many folks feel the same way about GAL, but I think we have too little recorded evidence of her over time to say for sure. Remember she retired in her early 40s. And who knows what she might have sounded like a few years after that Columbia recording -- made when she was 37-38 years old. I mean there are a lot of sopranos who can sing the role with that sort of lyric-dramatic voice (bigger, fuller at the bottom than Lee and larger and more dramatic in the upper register): Tebaldi, Milanov, Millo were all terrific in the role early on in their careers, but only Milanov kept the role in her rep after her 30s -- and I have heard reports that the Nile scene could be a real problem for her even as early as the ‘mid-40s.

          • luvtennis says:


            Not to be pedantic, but she actually sang the role at the Met from the early 60’s to the mid-80s.


            On a point closer to home, I wish I could forward to you the reviews of her Covent Garden debut in the role (at age 31). I recall that they were ecstatic. “Not since Rethberg in the 20’s has the role been so exquisitely sung.” “The house sat in breathless silence during the Nile scene.” etc.

            I think it is easy to forget just how great and revolutionary some of the singers of that generation really were (and no I am not just talking about golden age nostalgia either), particularly in their early years. And not just great, but at least in the case of Birgit, Joan and Lee -- nearly revolutionary in a anachronistic way. I think that is why critics typically reached WAY back into the early years of the century for compares.

            I mean really -- they were incredibly gifted singers, and the ease and supreme assurance of their singing in those early years is still quite remarkable. Today it is far too easy to take that for granted because they left so much recorded evidence of their singing -- much of it recorded after their initial primes (which lasted a long time in each instance).

            Can you imagine how different the careers of Lee and Joan would look to us if they had stopped recording at 35 or 40????

          kashania says:

          I think Clita`s statement of `spinto or heavier` would find more favour if one replaced `spinto` with `lirico-spinto`. I think the original `spinto or heavier` limits the roles to a much smaller group of singers. But then again, it all depends on people`s personal definitions of vocal categories. For my part, I consider L. Price a lirico-spinto.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Kashie: I have always thought that “spinto” was short for lirico-spinto. That’s the way I have always understood the her,.anyway. As far as Leonora goes, I personally prefer a lirico-spinto or a bit heavier voice in the role (like Milanov’s voice). It is a bel canto role with lots of florid music (which I want clearly sung), but I wanna hear some gutsy chests and dramatic singing as well. Lyric sopranos may not provide the latter.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            … I have always understood the term…

          • Clita del Toro says:

            “Lirico-spinto,” I assumed means a “pushed” or “driven” lyric soprano. In other words a voice that is or is used in a more dramatic and heavy manner. (Tebaldi, Stella, etc.) Is Trebs becoming a spinto?

      • 8.1.2
        steveac10 says:

        Yes, Yu’s is lovely -- but the voice lacks the presence and color of Meade’s (plus…..trills, which Yu doesn’t even approximate). If I heard Yu do the role in Pittsburgh or Minneapolis, I’d think: Wow, pretty darn good.” At the Met I think more than pretty darn good is needed in such an iconic role. What they need to do is have her replace Popsy in Faust. That I’d sign off on (although….again….trills).

      • 8.1.3
        thenoctambulist says:

        That was lovely. I think her bel canto is half baked. She doesn’t have the technique or the temperament to pull off a Bolena or a Norma yet. But I have a feeling she would be ideal for some Verdi roles which require some agility: Trovatore, Don Carlos, Luisa Miller, Simon Boccanegra and yes, Traviata. The full lyric repertory which can showcase the beauty of her voice. Unfortunately, the Met establishment is trying to groom her into the currently vacant dramatic coloratura repertory. I hope houses other than the Met will hire her and give her some non-bel canto roles. San Francisco’s Figaro is a good start.

        I am also puzzled by her absence at other houses both American and foreign.

    • 8.2

      Well, not every Mozart role fits every soprano as much as every Verdi role fits every soprano eiter. But even that recording, with all the trouble, has moments of infinite beauty. The O guarda sorella is quite beautiful.

      Fiordiliggi is one of those roles that is hard to pull off because at one point or another the soprano will struggle (unless you are a freak like Steber, Tomowa or M. Price). te Kanawa had issues with the lower parts of Come scoglio (just like Price), Lorengar struggled with Per Pieta (at least in the Solti recording), Janowitz had some issues with both arias.

      In the case of the L. Price Cosi, we need to take a look at the totality of the role and not sctrictly at the arias because thse 2 arias challenged (and exposed) some of the very weaknesses that she was criticized for in verdi.

      How about her Pamina, her L’Amero, her Elvira, her Dove Sono? Many sopranos find a certain role does not fit while other roles by the same composer fit like a tailor made suit.

      • 8.2.1
        armerjacquino says:

        My point was it’s a real stretch someone who left two commercial recordings of Mozart roles, and sang one of them badly (and her ‘Non mi dir’ is pretty ropey, too, come to that) while building her career on Verdi roles as ‘a Mozart singer who sang Verdi’.

        With respect, I think it’s also kind of pointlessly over-categorical. Price sang Verdi very well. She also sang some Mozart very well. Why subcategorize in this way? Of course some singers are better with some composers than others, but does that mean we have to put them into boxes? Is Damrau ‘a Strauss singer who also sings Thomas’? Is DiDonato ‘a Rossini singer who also sings Handel’?

        I’m with Callas (‘A Bellini singer who also sang Wagner’) on this: ‘It is soprano, basta’.


          interesting, giving how we tend to box singers in all the time. Nobody had an issue when calling Price, Tebaldi, Milanov or Millo a Verdi soprano.

          The reason why they are called Verdi Sopranos, or Mozart Sopranos, Dramatic sopranos or belcanto sopranos is because that is where their voices like to live. It is like that because the specific composer/style brings the best on that performer. Rossini and bellini brought the best of June Anderson. Bel canto brought the best on Vaballe and Callas, Strauss and Mozart brought the best on Varady, Popp, Janowitz and Schwarzkoppff. Are we going to ingore that fact because they also sang other comosers and/or styles successfully?

          It might be a soprano, but this is not one case of one zise fits all. Leontyne Price retired how long ago for you to still have a chip on your shoulder over it?

          • armerjacquino says:

            It seems odd for you to say that calling Price a Mozart soprano will ‘ruffle feathers’ and then to object when somebody disagrees. Even odder to make such a point and then accuse someone else of having ‘a chip on their shoulder’ about the singer YOU chose to discuss.

            And I think your post above compares apples and oranges. We sometimes talk about, say, Millo as ‘a Verdi soprano’ because her voice was able to encompass the requirements of some of the most important Verdi roles. But I don’t think that description should be used to suggest that she was out of fach when singing, say, Puccini or Giordano. Some of the other categories you mention- dramatic soprano or belcanto soprano- are categories that span countless composers, not just one. That’s very different from saying that so-and-so is a ‘Mozart soprano’. And it’s always going to be hugely arguable anyway. You say that Mozart and Strauss ‘brought out the best in Janowitz’: what about those of us who feel that her Leonore and her Agathe were her greatest achievements?

            You think Price is better in Mozart than in Verdi. I don’t. That’s fine, isn’t it?

          • peter says:

            AJ, speaking of fach, do you think that Imelda Staunton will be able to sing Rose in next year’s rumored production of Gypsy in London?

          • You are welcomed to believe what you want sweetheart. Tastes are as varied as human beings. Your tastes are your tastes and you should not have to defend them or excuse them. they inform who you are and how you react to music and srtists that touch you.

            I knew I was going to ruffle feathers, but that does not mean that either your assertions (or mine) should not be challenged.

            The only thing I have said was: In my opinion Price was at heart a Mozart soprano. That composer brought the best on her voice. Does that mean that every Mozart role will fit her? No, but I did not say that every Mozart role did. I also did not say that her Verdi was unsuccessful; only that her voice seemed to react to Mozart in a way that made me feel her voice found that composer’s music congenial.

            You have not brought much evidence to the contrary, except for mentioning that in your opinion her fiordiliggi is not good and neither is her Elvira. I understand that there are struggles on both recordings in certain moments, and I have asked, besides the arias, how is her voice reacting to the rest of the music? How does her voice sound in the Ah guarda sorella, or on the Non ti sfidar o misera, or in the Ah tacci giusto core? How is her voice reacting to that Mozart music? There is more to the role and the recording than just the arias. I understand we tend to focus on those, I do too.

            I respect your opinion and I think we do have to be passionate about them; but it is high time we evaluate Leontyne Price and her many, MANY virtues as well as her shortcomings in a non emotional way. The days of getting all offended because “Callas never had a wobble” or “Tebaldi never lost her high C” or “What do you mean Price was not a verdi soprano?” are long gone.

          • armerjacquino says:

            peter- I didn’t know about this! She’s a terrific singing actor, although I worry she may not have the right kind of foghorn for Mamma Rose- ‘she’s at heart a Sondheim singer not a Styne singer’ ;-)

            Lindoro- Thanks for your response. I think you’re mischaracterising my position a little. All I’m saying is that (a) I prefer Price in Verdi to Price in Mozart and (b) to categorise singers by composer strikes me as restrictive. I certainly don’t see Price as some kind of monstre sacré who is beyond either praise or criticism, and I don’t know where you got that idea from.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Never mind Rose — who’s going to be Miss Mazeppa?

          • grimoaldo says:

            You can hear Leontyne sing Handel in the post I just posted over on the Brit star thread about Radamisto:

          • luvtennis says:


            I know we have very different opinions here. No beef with that at all. One point, statements like “Callas never had a wobble” or “Tebaldi lost her high C” are very different from the statement that “Price was not right for Verdi or a real Verdian soprano.”

            The first two statements have an objective component that the latter really doesn’t unless Verdi called you up last night with the 411.

          • luvtennis says:


            I know we have very different opinions here. No beef with that at all. One point, statements like “Callas never had a wobble” or “Tebaldi lost her high C” are very different from the statement that “Price was not right for Verdi or a real Verdian soprano.”

            The first two statements have an objective component that the latter really doesn’t unless Verdi called you up last night with the 411.

          • luvtennis says:

            Also, I am surprised that anyone finds her recorded Elvira anything but near-perfectly sung. I mean the only better SUNG Elvira that I can think of is Kiri’s. Just saying.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Has anyone criticised Price’s Elvira? I certainly haven’t.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Maybe it is because Price had the musicality as well as the voice to sing Mozart beautifully that she made such a magnificent Verdi soprano.
            My favourite “Verdi sopranos” Price, Caballe and Gencer all sang Mozart as well, unlike for instance Tebaldi Milanov and Scotto who never sang Mozart much and at least at times turned Verdi or whatever they were singing into a screech fest (ducking -well, this seems to be the “ruffle feathers” thread!)

          • Luvtennis:

            I didn’t say Price is not right for Verdi. What I said was the days of “what do you mean Price was not a Verdi soprano?” those are 2 different things. One is me saying something outrageous and the other one is the realtor I have gotten several times when I say (like I did here) that in my opinion Price was not a Verdi soprano (in the loaded sense) and that she sounded more at home in Mozart to my ears.

            Believe it or not there are still people around who believe that Price is this sacred monster who should not be touched, and I oersonally do not believe that. I hear what I hear, for all I care I could be completely wrong (and I do not believe that because I have discussed this with several singers and coaches) but it is what it is. Whenever I hear Price sing Mozart I hear something in her voice that I do not hear in Verdi. I am not judging either because I think she did quite well on both. I am saying, her voice seemed to like how Mozart laid a lot better than Verdi.


            I guess I did misunderstood you and I do owe you an apology. I did understand that you were believing that Price is untouchable and thus above criticism. I understand that You see some of these categorizations as restrictive, but I think I have made my point very clear: in my opinion Price was a Mozart soprano at heart because to my ears Mozart brought the best in her voice. I have not diminished her achievements in either because I think it would be pointless.

          • grimoaldo says:

            “What I said was the days of “what do you mean Price was not a Verdi soprano?” those are 2 different things. One is me saying something outrageous and the other one is the realtor I have gotten several times when I say (like I did here) that in my opinion Price was not a Verdi soprano (in the loaded sense)”

            Hmmmm. Sense is what that does not make to me.
            Days of what do you mean are two different things? Realtor?
            You can say what you like Price was a very great Verdi singer and she was often beautiful in other composers’ works too.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Lindoro- absolutely no need to apologise, you’ve done nothing to offend! In fact you’ve made me want to investigate more of Price’s Mozart.

          • Grimo:

            Let me try to do it without the autocorrect. In the past, when I say that I believe that Price was more a Mozart soprano than a verdi one, the reaction I have gotten is “what do you mean Price was not a Verdi soprano?” Me quoting that does not mean that I subscribe to that point, I am quoting it and I am saying the days of the pearl clutching while saying that are long gone. There are people out there (me included) who do not see Price as a Verdi soprano (in the loaded sense). Now sure what part of that was unclear, but if I did not make it clear, my apologies.

            Also, I agree with you 100% on the statement that Price was a good Verdi singer because she was so good in Mozart. For many years I have stated that Mozart and Donizetti are great training grounds for verdi if you are not naturally endowed. If you remember, back when we had the Verdi voice writing competition I was actually saying just that. That essay is actually still posted in my blog if you want to go there and read it.

          luvtennis says:


          Ropey singing of Non Mi Dir????

          Badly sung Fiordiligi.

          While you are entitled to your opinion -- no question -- I think it would be fair to point out that MANY informed listeners would strongly disagree with you on both accounts.

          As for Donna Anna -- I think we have enough recorded evidence of her in the role -- both live and commercial -- to support a very different opinion -- namely that she was one of the more important Donna Anna’s of the last half-century.

          Also, I don’t get the whole meta-argument thing you have going on here, Armer. It just seems -- well argumentive.

          But hey!!! It’s all good.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Also, I don’t get the whole meta-argument thing you have going on here, Armer. It just seems – well argumentive.

            Whereas that is… what? ;-) In all seriousness, any time anyone says ‘I’ve read what you say and I don’t agree’ that could be called argumentative, I guess, but isn’t the exchange of views what a site like this is for?

            I don’t know what you mean by meta-argument, really- I hope I’ve been pretty clear, and judging by your latest point we’re on the same page where Price in Verdi is concerned.

  • 9
    arepo says:

    I think you are a little mixed up (for a change!). :-)
    Janai is NOT singing Leonora she is singing Liu in “Turandot!” Hello??

    • 9.1
      Clita del Toro says:

      Touche, dear! Well, that’s another story. Better fit for her.

      Anyway, I can’t bear Turandot, so couldn’t care less. Non piangere, Janai.

  • 10
    Clita del Toro says:

    Well, I was at Price’s debut and saw almost everything she sang earlier on at the Met including her Tosca, Butterfly, Pamina, Donna Anna and the big Verdi roles, both Leonoras Elvira and Aida. Whether she was a “juicy lyric” or a spinto, I have no idea. Her voice was rich, velvety and pretty big. I don’t know of lyrics who sang Amelia and the Forza Leonora as well as she did.

    Have you heard Varady’s Abigaille--not exactly a lyric portrayal.

    I have no idea what Caballe was (was at her NY debut) never cared for her singing.

    PS Milanov was certainly not a “lyrical spinto.” She had a very big voice, great chests and a big top. I saw her in all the big Verdi roles + Tosca, Santuzza and Gioconda. Some even called her a dramatic soprano. Nothing lyric soprano about her voice.

    • 10.1

      well, I get she had a big voice, but what about the color? every recording of hers I have heard she has the color and the manner of a strong lirico spinto, with emphasis on the lirico, but I might be wrong. I was not lucky enough to see her in the flesh.

      • 10.1.1
        Clita del Toro says:

        Well, I guess we all have different ideas of what those fachs mean and which singers fall into any of the categories. Voice size, color, vocal production, intensity of the singing vary so much in singers that I remain confused about fachs.

        Imo, Milanov had a darkish voice.

          Clita del Toro says:

          We should ask “Zinka” about Zinka, as she was a big favorite of his.

          la vociaccia says:

          From what I’ve heard on recordings, Zinka sounds closer to a dramatic soprano, in the Gina Cigna sense. I too find fachs confusing, especially when they throw in jugendlich dramatich as a synonym for spinto, which I think is makes no sense.

          For me, the greatest example of lirico spinto is the the stunning Dorothy Kirsten. A voice that is 100% lyric, whith just enough time to let it grow , still stays lyrical, even well into middle age.

          Zinka, to me, is Dramatic Soprano in the italian tradition (scuro, spinning) and she has contemporaries in her same fach such as Caniglia, Cigna, More than a Spinto, less than a heldensopran.

          la vociaccia says:

          From what I’ve heard on recordings, Zinka sounds closer to a dramatic soprano, in the Gina Cigna sense. I too find fachs confusing, especially when they throw in jugendlich dramatich as a synonym for spinto, which I think is makes no sense.

          For me, the greatest example of lirico spinto is the the stunning Dorothy Kirsten. A voice that is 100% lyric, whith just enough time to let it grow , still stays lyrical, even well into middle age.

          Zinka, to me, is Dramatic Soprano in the italian tradition (scuro, spinning) and she has contemporaries in her same fach such as Caniglia, Cigna, More than a Spinto, less than a heldensopran.

  • 11
    quoth the maven says:

    Why does this whole discussion remind me of the Five Jews in Salome?

  • 12
    oedipe says:

    Allow me to interrupt the debate of the Five (and counting) Jews with a special announcement of great interest to Parterrians, who, I’m sure, would not want to miss this event under ANY circumstances:

    Graham Vick’s Birmingham Opera Company will be streaming live, on August 23 at 11am EST, Stockhausen’s epic opera Mittwoch aus Licht. (Thanks, Intermezzo, for the heads up!)

    • 12.1
      m. croche says:

      I can only wish Godspeed to the members of the poor string quartet that have to fly around in those helicopters while yelling out German numbers.

      • 12.1.1
        Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        I downloaded the stream of the Helicopter String Quarter. It must have been just awful for the pilots. As a whole edited mix it was a lot of hype over a lot of very well-played noise. I think all the sewcond violinist wanted to do was get home to feed her baby. (At least that’s what she kept babbling about.)

    • 12.2
      Loge says:

      In a moment of extremely clear thinking I actually thought of heading 2 hours west of Atlanta for this incredibly surprising offering in Birmingham. Fortunately the fog in my brain cleared.

    • 12.3
      oedipe says:

      Well, however this turns out, I like to watch. Like Peter Sellers.

  • 13
    stignanispawn says:

    Have I just been rereading “The Last Prima Donnas” too often, or should I be worrying that Juliana DiGiacomo is too young to be singing Norma?

  • 14
    kekszakallu says:

    I can never work out how to get replies/comments in the correct place, so … probably out of sequence …
    My only thought when champion hurdler Liu Xiang crashed out in the Olympic 110m metre heats was “Non piangere, Liu”

  • 15
    Feldmarschallin says:

    Well yesterday Netrebko gave an interview in der Süddeutsche Zeitung in which she talks about future roles (Manon Lescaut, Trovatore, Tatjana and Elsa) and also how she supports Putin and thinks he is the right man for Russia at the moment. Much negativity in the German press about her political views.

    • 15.1
      Feldmarschallin says:

      It would have been nice had Netrebko given support to Pussy Riot like other famous musicians have instead of supporting the dictatorship of Putin. She lives in Wien and has certainly nothing to fear in that regard and in this day and age where one has plenty of information of all what is happening unlike in the past before the internet age and age of television she certainly cannot say she is unaware of what is happening in Russia and its corrupt system.

    • 15.2
      Clita del Toro says:

      Well, I am glad I will never see Netrebko in person. She won’t have any of my money! Moscow has banned the Gay Pride Parade and other such public events for ONE HUNDRED YEARS (now, I don’t accuse Netrebko personally for that, but) and good for the German press.
      And they will now put the girls of Pussy Riot in jail for years. The Russians will never get their fucking act together.

      Also Madonna is being sued by some russian assholes for supporting gays.

      • 15.2.1
          Signor Bruschino says:

          Now the grey lady would be smart about doing a Netrebko / Pussy Riot piece especially with her opening the season in NYC in just over a month… but if it doesn’t have to do with the potential artistic merits of the machine, I don’t think the Grey Lady will attempt it

      • 15.2.2
        poisonivy says:

        Not to defend Netrebko but Putin is EXTREMELY popular among prominent Russian singers and dancers. I follow them on twitter/facebook and many of them feature pictures of themselves posing proudly with Putin after receiving some sort of prize.

          Clita del Toro says:

          Ivy, what are the artists’ reasons for supporting Putin? Why is he so popular with them?

          • poisonivy says:

            I don;t know, I just know that he’s definitely “popular” in the sense that all their FB’s and twitters show pictures of them receiving prizes from him. What I suspect it is is that since the Russian ballet/opera companies are funded by the state no one wants to be seen as a political dissident.

            Of course that sort of doesn’t explain Netrebko, because she lives in Vienna now and has Austrian citizenship. But I could also understand if she wanted to protect her friends and family in Russia.

          dallasuapace says:

          Dmitri Hvorostovsky was recently quoted in the Mexican press saying that he agrees that Pussy Riot needed to be punished.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Well, there’s another singer I will not see! Not that I was ever a big fan. What can you expect from these people anyway.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Apparently a poll has said that 65% of Russians were in favour of imprisonment (29% were in favour of hard labour!)

          • Clita del Toro says:

            So, what else is new? Lovely people.

          • Liana says:

            I think you all forget one thing -- the religious element. In the eyes of many Russians the girls’ behaviour, as it took place IN CHURCH was blasphemous, and shows them to be spoiled young woment seeking attention much more than real dissidents. Plus, the Ukrainian Femen action of cutting down the cross commemorating NKWD victims as support (!) for Pussy Riot didn’t help matters. Actually I think that all this action was plain stupid and very handy for Putin, who can present himself as a defender of Russian national religion.Perhaps he’ll even end up pardoning Pussy Riot girls and being the good tsar. Ideal PR stuff for him. RE Netrebko and other artists -- I think the main reason of their support for Putin is rather obvious. They still feel Russian and want to be able to come back to Russia and perform there; criticizing Putin would make that difficult or impossible. Nothing as dramatic as “protecting family” I think, just conformity mixed with fondness for their own country. Not to mention another thing to remember -- Russia has never been a truely democratic country, and Putin certainly IS better than, for instance, Yeltsin was, in the eyes of most Russians -- he commands respect and doesn’t ridicule himself and the country.

          • Bosah says:

            Well, that’s a shame. It’s different from coming right out and saying Putin is good for Russia, though. He may believe that, but I’ve never seen him say it.

            I agree that it’s easy to ignore or dismiss the religious angle, which is apparently what is bothering Dmitri. I guess to him, free speech doesn’t extend to a church alter. Hmmm.

            I wonder if his opinions mirror most Russians -- they deserved to be punished for insulting the church but 2 years is too long.

            Of course, I don’t believe they’re really being punished for insulting *the church* but I guess it’s an acceptable excuse for Russians.

          • Liana says:

            Of course they are not really punished for offending the Orthodox church, but they made this interpretation very possible by the way they acted. As I said -- good for Putin, exactly the way to make him more popular in Russia.
            Re free speech: the conflict free speech vs protection of what’s called “religious feelings” (as well as, for instance, protection of the right to privacy) is a common one in Europe, at least in its central-eastern part. The freedom of speech is seen here in a much less absolute way than in the US. Which in turn means that some other “freedoms” are as important, one of them being the freedom of religion. In consequence, offending religious feelings (and that’s what Pussy Riot are convicted for, I guess), is seen as an attempt against religious freedom and punished. In Russia, all this freedom stuff is very expertly used by Putin to enhance his popularity, under the motto “freedom is not absolute”.

          • m. croche says:

            Hi there Liana,

            The mixture of religion and state power can be toxic, and the idea that the Pussy Riot ladies deserve a harsh(er) sentence because they interrupted church services rather than, say, an opera performance would, in my opinion, constitute a problematic government endorsement of religion. By way of comparison, when AIDS activists disrupted a Catholic service in 1989 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, those convicted received sentences of community service. Admittedly, the US now has “hate crimes” laws, which might apply to protests prompted by animosity towards a specific religion, but the idea that present-day Russia is a haven for the equal protection of minorities and majorities by “hate crime” statutes is ludicrous.

            Pussy Riot’s actions were perhaps “worse than a crime, they were a mistake.” This, I infer, is your position, and you may well be correct. But many feel that the conduct of the trial was not above-board and that the sentence imposed was disproportionate to the crime -- those who feel this way are not going to be persuaded by Russians who would justify the legal excesses by pointing to the wounded sensibilities of the politically-powerful, majority religious sect.

          • Liana says:

            Hi, m.croche :). State endorsment of religion may be problematic for you, but in Russia, there has always been an alliance of throne and altar, and Putin simply goes on with it. Of course Russia doesnt protect minorities and the trial was problematic; but the “protection against hate” rethoric can be easily used to justify what in fact is another authoritary action of an authoritarian governement.
            And I should admit that I also think that Pussy Riot deserved a fine. Freedom of speech is one thing, breaking a mass by an anti-religion-anti- governemnt happening is something totally different. It might have been connected with the pro-Putin position of the Orthodox church, but I still don’t like it. This is were I can understand the position of most Russians -- religion is not just something represented by a “majority religious sect”, and the church (orthodox for Russia, catholic for us) is certainly not seen as a sect; rather as the very center of their (and ours), national identity. Probably even more for Russian, since this identity had to be rebuilt after the end of communism, and one of the foundations was religion. Now, if you look from the perspective of someone religious, or at leaast fond of, and respectful of religious symbols, you’ll see why for many Russians such a happening is simply outrageous and deserves to be punished.

          • oedipe says:


            I think what Liana is mainly reacting against (and I am sure she will correct me if I am wrong) is this attitude that it is scandalous for people like Netrebko and Hvorostovsky to hold the opinions they seemingly hold. She was trying to explain that one should avoid as much as possible making definitive judgements about people who come from a different culture; rather, one should stop and try to understand what kind of worldview they are coming from.

            Hey, before we feel righteous, let’s remember that 69% of Americans approve of the death penalty and consider it well administered! How is that for a controversial point of view?

          • Liana says:

            thanks, oedipe :)

          • rapt says:

            Thank you, Liana, for your insights. I appreciate the education you provide, and I admire the skill with which you provide it, stemming from an understanding of your audience’s culture as well as your own--and from your formidable eloquence!

          • armerjacquino says:

            I’m kind of in the middle, here. I’m not going to condemn Netrebko and Hvoro for supporting someone I would never support. At the same time, and despite Liana’s eloquent explanation, I’m still unhappy that people can be imprisoned for singing a song, no matter where they chose to sing it.

          • m. croche says:

            Hullo there, Liana and oedipe:

            Yes, it is probably the case that a secular Jew in America has a much different opinion on the advisability of mixing religion and state power than an Orthodox believer in Russia. I’m not convinced that, in this matter, differing opinions are of equal value.

            A legal system worthy of the name ought to be something more than the expression of the majority’s id. The vast majority of Americans find flag-burning vile, but they are also comfortable with it remaining a form of constitutionally-protected speech.

            To be clear: anybody who commits an act of civil disobedience expects to pay a price, even if they might hope not to pay one. Civil disobedience aims to reveal the viciousness of the political or legal regime it opposes. Disproportionate punishments demonstrate the injustice of a system and its supporters. Alas, Pussy Riot has only been too successful in this regard.

          • rapt says:

            Liana can speak for herself, but I don’t think she expresses approval of this egregious punishment either. I myself don’t like the idea of a fine, but I take her comment as less an apologia, a defense of the appropriateness of a fine, than an explanation of the widespread Russian sympathy for the (even worse) actual punishment--and of Putin’s cynical manipulation of such situations.

          • Liana says:

            Thanks rapt, you’re very kind. M.croche, just one thing. I think there are a few separate issues here. One is the obvious lack of democracy in Russia -- here we all agree. Another is the artists’ support for Putin; I think the reasons are as I stated before, plus a reluctance to criticize one’s own country in front of western journalists with their often, forgive the expressions, arrogant “we know better how your country should be” attitude. And remember -- we’re talking of a country without any democratic tradition, not one when democracy has been destroyed by a tyrant.
            Yet another issue is the penalty imposed on Pussy Riot and the problem of freedom of speech. Croche, you still see it from the american point of view, whereas the european approach to it is different. To take the example you gave -- in quite a few European countries, including France and Germany, flag burning, as well as other offences to national symbols, are forbidden and punished with fine or prison. Same goes for offending the Head of state. And in both those countries, old democracies as they are, an act similar to Pussy riot’s action could end up with a couple months (France) or even 3 years of prison (Germany). Same goes for Poland. In other words, the very FACT of punishing the girls is not anything unusual in Europe, not only in Russia and wouldnt be seen as going against the freedom of speech; only severity of the punishment is the problem. This seems to be the position of Dima, with which I completely agree. Two years of hard work is scandalous, but a fine would be perfectly ok.

  • 16
    kennedet says:

    Netrebko is infamous for making controversial statements. Don’t agents or managers counsel these artists behavior, when appropriate. She once said she loved to scream. Not very good advice for aspiring singers who admire her. Making disagreeable political statements can be very dangerous to a career. It’s an incredible talent but history has taught us that famous artists can be their own worst enemy.

  • 17
    zinka says:

    YU, HE, LEE…Gee,the Met is starting to have a roster that reminds of my favorite food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 18
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    A totally amazing little boy!!!! If you wondererd where all the great singing went, much of it is here.

    Many women and future clowns have never sung with such beautify of tone

  • 19
    zinka says:

    I promised you some Tucker material…..