Cher Public

Scent of mystery

La Cieca has been sniffing around her generally reliable (and fragrant) sources, and she thinks she has pieced together a list of the dozen operas to be featured in the 2013-2014 season of “The Met: Live in HD.” Details are, naturally, after the jump.

The process of ratiocination leads to the following conclusions:

Naturally, pride of place will go to the season’s new productions, of which five out of seven will be represented.

1. Eugene Onegin (Netrebko, Semenchuk, Beczala, Kwiecien, Furlanetto; Conductor: Valery Gergiev; Director: Deborah Warner)

2. Falstaff (Meade, Oropesa, Blythe, Vassallo, Maestri; Conductor TBA; Director: Jack O’Brien)

3. Die Fledermaus (Phillips, Schaefer, Szot, Costanzo, Fabiano; Conductor: Adam Fischer; Director: John Hall)

4. Prince Igor (Abdrazakov, Dyka, Semenchuk, Kocan, Ognovenko; Conductor: Valery Gergiev; Director: Dmitri Tcherniakov)

5. Werther (Garanca, Oropesa, Kaufmann, David Bizic; Conductor: Alain Altinoglu; Director: Richard Eyre)

Note that there are, or rather were, two more new productions planned for next season.  Nico Muhly‘s Two Boys is not scheduled for a telecast.  A projected new staging of I puritani will almost certainly not happen, with Natalie Dessay presumably relieved of all further bel canto duties, and the men in the cast—Lawrence Brownlee, Mariusz Kwiecien and Michele Pertusi—rolled over into other projects in spring 2014.

Four returning productions are said to be locked in for HDs:

6.  The Nose (Szot, Ognovenko)

7.  La Cenerentola (DiDonato, Florez)

8.  Tosca (Radvanovksy, Alagna)

9.  La boheme (Grigolo or Calleja)

Despite the fact that there are three Strauss operas on the roster for next season (Arabella, Der Rosenkavalier, Die Frau Ohne Schatten), none will be presented on HD. Neither will be A Midsummer Night’s Dream, even though 2013 is the Britten centennial.

Now, the next two require a bit more guesswork, but here’s where La Cieca will go out on a limb:

10. Rusalka (Fleming, Magee, Zajick, Beczala)

11. Andrea Chenier (Racette, Alvarez)

That leaves one slot to be filled, and the candidates are Norma (Radvanovsky, Aldrich, Antonenko), Cosi fan tutte (Phillips, Leonard, de Niese, Polenzani) and… now here’s a wildcard indeed! A projected return of Parsifal has apparently been canceled in favor of a revival of Wozzeck. The Berg is rumored to feature a very fancy cast indeed, including Karita Mattila, Thomas Hampson and Simon O’Neill, and there are even whispers of a comeback to the Met podium by James Levine!

So, if most or all of the rumors about this Wozzeck are true (and that is a huge “if”), then it’s definitely number 12 of the HDs. Should all those fabulous elements not come together, then I would lean toward Cosi as a stopgap, if only because the company’s current Norma production is so utterly risible dramatically. And so:

12. Wozzeck (or Cosi)

Eh bien, cher public: your thoughts?

  • What exactly, do you suppose, is the mission of the HD broadcasts, or more importantly what should be the mission? I think it likely started as a loss leader designed for outreach and primarily marketing focused. Is it primarily a revenue generator now? Should its success demand a re-think of its artistic mission? Is it unreasonable to think it should be curated and given more consideration and prominence when planning future seasons? For better or worse it is the world wide face of the The Met.

    They do need to consider the HD broadcasts when they design the schedule and set the Saturday matinee slots. This season there are huge gaps between operas and also times with operas three weeks in a row. Spreading them out would improve sales I think.

    Eventually, I am sure The Met will be streaming all productions online but being featured on the big screen in cinemas will still be an important and profitable tool.

    Come to think of it, what is The Met’s mission? A quick google and a look at their web site did not enlighten me.

  • PushedUpMezzo

    Merci bien, oedipe.

    Wonder if they might try Karine Deshayes for Adalgisa (or Joyce DD?).

    Hope it happens anyway.

    • PushedUpMezzo

      And the same has happened to my reply!

      Maybe our chaperone La Cieca wants us to keep our distance.

  • kennedet


    Times and voice classification have really changed, if you can have a tenor sing Siegmund and Faust. This in the past would be considered a freak of nature. Yes, i know there are exceptions to the rule but I find this almost idiotic!! I’m almost glad these composers are not alive to witness this.

    • steveac10

      You mean like Jean de Reszke who freely moved between the two extremes for years? I don’t think the composer’s would be appalled at all. Domingo made similar switches (and successfully) over the last 30 years and the likes of John Alexander moved freely from Mozart to Walther/Bacchus to the heavier French roles and back again, yet somehow managed to sustain an admirable career almost at the Met and elsewhere literally until the day he died. Look to the archives of almost any repertory house over the last 100 or so years and you’ll find thousands of similar feats of fach defiance -- by both sexes. It’s the jet age more than anything that has pigeon holed singers to the point of ridiculousness.

      • kennedet

        In my defense, I stated that there would be exceptions and I would not argue with your knowledge of archival facts but but some rationale must be made for common sense. If you examine any score and know anything about orchestration you would see that the instrumentation is composed for a certain type of voice quality. The composers were aware of this. It is inconceivable that the orchestration composed by Gounod can be compared to the orchestration by Wagner. Therefore, why would you use the same type voice quality or classification?? The fact that managers employ singers of every fach defiance (as you labeled it) does not mean they know about these musical facts.

        Incidently, I don’t think Domingo is a good example. His jack-of-all trades history almost makes a mockery of opera. What’s next after tenor,baritone,manager, conductor??….counter-tenor ??!!

        • Krunoslav

          Faust and Siegmund

          At the Met before Domigo and Kaufmann, the tenors to do both were Andreas Dippel, Julius Perotti and Ernest von Dyck [ya know]. I was astonished to learn that de Reszke never sang Siegmund at the Met, though he did so elsewhere.

          Whereas Walter Hyde, Albert Niemann and Paul Althouse sang Siegmund at the Met and Faust elsewhere.

          Tenors who sang both parts elsewhere: Alberto Remedios, Paul Franz, Ivan Ershov, Giuseppe Borgatti and Eduardo Ferrari-Fontana.

          • Buster

            jacques Urlus sang both roles as well. Saw his painting last night….

    • oedipe

      Times and voice classification have really changed, if you can have a tenor sing Siegmund and Faust.

      I think the pigeon holing was directed exclusively at Alagna, who doesn’t have the right voice, it seems. I think Kashania is saying Kaufmann can sing anything and do no wrong.

      • Just to be clear, I said that I don’t think Alagna has the right voice for Otello though obviously I’ll be interested to see how he fares in the role in 2014. But I never suggested that Alagna should just sing lyric roles. As I said earlier in this thread, I would be excited by the prospect of his Chenier. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his work as Don Jose and Don Carlo (both French and Italian versions).

        Kauffmann’s versatility is remarkable but I don’t think he can sing everything. He has made a gradual transition from lyric roles to spinto roles (he’s still in the transition). I think it’s terrific to have a tenor who can sing both Faust and Siegmund. But in a few years’ time, I doubt he’ll be singing more Fausts, whereas I think he’ll be continuing with the heavier roles. Incidentally, I’d rather hear Alagna as Faust than Kauffmann.

        • oedipe

          OK. I must have misunderstood you, at least in part.

          • RE: Alagna. One of our French TV stations just played a video of Massenet’s Le Cid with Alagna. He was great in it, clearly the star. What impressed me was how lovely the entire opera is. The role Chimene is quite interesting and she and Rodrigue (Le Cid) have a great climactic duet in the latter stages of the piece. It struck me as much more than a “one-hit” opera.

          • oedipe


            If the planets align, the Paris Opera will mount a new production of Le Cid during the 2014/2015 season, with Alagna, Karine Deshayes and Annick Massis.

          • Camille

            I saw a little bit of that Cid and I must say that Alagna was really on and doing his best. Certainly hope those stars align as I would love to see a Cid before I perish.

            Please keep us posted, M. oedipe, and thanks a million again and again for putting out the announcement about the Tristan und Isolde from Salle Pleyel on Saturday. Yoo-hoo!!!

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Cammiyushka! Just for you then:

            And look what I found,

            A little bit too mature and a tad eccentric rendition, but still… she looks and sounds good for a 64-y.o.

          • Camille

            oh THANKS, Bianca, that was so beautiful.

            Is that the KQED logo that I see at the bottom of the page to the right?
            I had forgotten about their version, or did not realize it was filmed. Will go look for more of it. KQED is San Francisco, no?

            It just makes me furious that I can’t get to Roma and the Teatro dell’Opera’s production of LA GIOCONDA, due to open on 23rd of October. Both Matos and Jennifer Wilson will be alternating and the sets are by Pier Luigi Pizzi (I believe) and dammit I wish I could see it!!!! Too bad our willym is no longer there or else he might be able to report on it —-- but maybe paulo will???

            As for La Grâce, what can I say but that she is still GRANDE. One little slip up after “O chers ensevelis”, but godalmighty, them high notes are all right there and shot out like cannon balls. She even opted for the high ending, which she could have putzed out on, anyway.

            I love Le Cid and am so sorry it has been so cast to the wayside. After that Carnegie Hall performance with Grace and Domingo back when, I would have thought someone would have figured on doing it. Oh, it was done in San Francisco, that’s right, with Neblett and Domingo, around 1980. Oh well. Maybe I’ll get my ancient hide to the Parisian one, should I still be breathing.

            Bye, and this is Be Kind to Nerva Day. No more toilets in Ajaccio, PLEASE!

            love and gratefully

          • Bianca Castafiore

            I guess this was transmitted by KQED but it was performed in DC, I gather 10 years ago, with your favorite, Mingo Senza Do…

        • kennedet

          I’ll take Gedda and Kraus,as my favorite Fausts. Let the lyric baritones with the ability to master the tenor range, misinform the public and masquerade as true tenors sing the Wagnerian roles.

  • efrayer

    This may be off topic but is it because I’m in the second row dress circle at the Met or is Elisir being amplified by mic?!?

    • atalaya

      You have the voices shooting right out at you. The effect is even greater if you’re in the Grand Tier.

      • Vergin Vezzosa

        I noticed the effect when I saw L’elisir in the same row at a previous performance but also noted that it occurred only when the singers were standing on the very sides of the stage, particularly stage right, in front of the sides of the false proscenium. Thought that the proscenium “wall” behind them was accentuating their projection.

        • efrayer

          Great, thanks for the feedback! The spikes in the sound were so odd.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            I was at the Elisir last Friday (Oct. 5), and what I noticed was during Dulcamara’s aria in the banquet scene, there was a strange whistling sound, almost like something was caught in his throat. Did anyone else notice that?

          • manou

            Bianca -- I read somewhere that Maestri is trying a different effect for “Senator Tre Denti”, maybe that’s what it was.

            Or he could of course have swallowed Mojica Erdmann.

          • Maestri’s inspiration?

          • Camille

            @madame manou!

            Wait until Nerva Nelli hears about Erdmann! She will certainly sob with joy at the great news.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            manouesque! When I saw Maestri, I thought he had swallowed up Nervosa! He was just Gargantuan!

            Btw, it’s Mojca, right? (Moy-tsa?)…

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Btw, during that banquet scene, I was shocked that L’Anna Adorata was actually eating the roast chicken, chewing and swallowing it… I’d thought during performances that singers would just pretend to eat. She didn’t have any lines to sing but still… I was surprised.

          • manou

            It is indeed Mojca -- it seems I have given her the evil I.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            The evil I is what Nervosa is giving me about now… Camille!!! Shield me from il malocchio della Nerva Cagnotta!!!!

          • Camille

            Il malocchio esiste tutt’oggi ancora! Guai e facendo le cornee!!!

            I actually did know an old lady with the malocchio in Italy. Very scary and very real. No schite.

            Look, if you just tell Nerva, YOUR SISTER, that she really IS the Prettier One, why, ALL will be Forgiven!!! She is just jealous because you were younger and prettier and wanted to have kinder, but, she is the primogenital, so give her some credit, huh? Won’t cost you anything and Nerva really is as smart as a whip!

            Just Pretend!

            Love and keep on gamelaning,
            Mamma Klytie

          • manou

            For Camille and Bianca:

          • Camille

            Okay Bianca, here’s what you gotta do;

            get down to Mulberry Street or thereabouts, (you shoulda gone at San Gennaro, but that was last month), and get yourself a big HONKING piece of coral and hang it around your neck —- see how to guide:


            Maybe if you salt Nerva’s fish heads, too, that might work.

            In bocca al lupo!!

        • There is a very noticeable and strong acoustic effect of singing downstage of the proscenium arch at the Met. Just a couple paces closer to the public, and suddenly the voices seem much larger and more present. This phenomenon is quite obvious in the handful of productions that extend the stage area out over the pit, e.g., Barbiere, Ariadne, Nabucco. I honestly don’t know why the Met doesn’t take greater advantage of this “sweet spot” by permanently extending the front of the stage by three feet or so.

          • Ilka Saro

            There were moments in the Don Carlo from two seasons ago where the acoustic shifts as singers moved around the stage sometimes happened mid-phrase.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Which makes the staging of the final scene in Carmen even more idiotic… Don Jose’s final lines are delivered as the turntable is moving him to the back of the stage (and thus his voice fades) to show us the tableau of Escamillo standing over the dead bull… totally negating the effect of his final exclamation…

          • You will also notice singers shifting their way to that sweet spot when it’s their big moment.

          • Ilka Saro

            Good strategy! Give ’em what they pay for.

          • efrayer

            Thanks for this! Here are our final thoughts on the matter. :)


  • Buster

    Dortmunders are in for a treat. Anja Harteros just gave a great concert with the Concertgebouw Orchesta and Alexandre Bloch, who replaced Mariss Jansons at the last moment. She sang six Strauss songs, finding different colours for all of them, matching those in the orchestra to perfection. The highlight was a totally unsentimental but very moving Morgen, and Die heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland, which really needs a top orchestra to make it work. She ended with a very slow Zueignung, with fully sung out climaxes that still sounded as being part of the orchestra. Stunning! Repeated tomorrow in Dortmund.

  • MontyNostry

    Hampson as the most self-consciously cerebral Wozzeck in history? No thanks.