Cher Public

He, Avgust! Bringt mir unser Sänger her!

Avgust Amonov will make his Met debut in the title role of tomorrow evening’s performance of Verdi’s Otello, replacing Johan Botha, who is ill.

  • Luonnotar

    Long time lurker, shy to comment in such a knowledgeable and brilliant company. But now, we have a singer I’ve actually heard, very recently too, on a stage production. Avgust Amonow was Radames in a Finnish National Opera production of “Aida” in August. I think that night at least he was easily outsung and outstaged by the female leads, Claire Rutter and Tuire Knihtilä, whose Act 2 singing was easily the most impressive vocal performance I’ve heard on that stage ever.

    • Vergin Vezzosa

      Welcome Luonnotar. As one of a number of fairly recent first time Parterre participants, I am happy to see yet another face cut upon the mega-multi-faced brilliant diamond that is this site. Happy un-lurking.

    • louannd

      A nice Finnish name for me. Thank you.

    • Camille

      A very interesting piece of music as sung by your illustrious countrywoman, the wonderful Mme. Mattila, to make you feel at home here

  • Camille

    Good luck to you sir! Look for a bent nail now!

    In bocca al LUPO!!!!

  • Clita del Toro

    I listened to a few of Av’s youtubes. Not that impressed. But, he may be great for all I know. Hope he will sing next week on Sirius (on the 16th).

    • Camille

      Clita, c’mon—after that debacle we listened to the other night, he’s a big relief. No one expects the second coming of Vickers. Let’s just be grateful for small favors.

      Where might Alexandrs Antonenko be hiding out is what I’d like to know. Only having heard him in concert it is hard to know what he would be on stage but reasonably certain he would be a viable stage figure.

      I do hope Botha gets better, but ships out on the SS Tristan for a vacation a fach away.

      • Bianca Castafiore

        Cammillisima… too bad Antonenko canceled or was removed or whatever happened to his Marios at the Met last season, he was supposed to have sung with Racette’s Tosca. Instead we got Alvarez and Dean Smith.

        Antonenko has a huge voice and was one of the bright shining lights in the Boris Godunov I saw (Nikitin and Semenchuk being the other two, Nikitin taking over a sick Pape in BG’s death scene).

        • DurfortDM

          I was at that Boris too. Pape bailed at half time. Nice catch by Nikitin.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Durfort, the amazing thing that night was that people in the audience didn’t even notice the switch! I asked someone because I wasn’t sure who it was that appeared as Boris in his last scene and they looked at me, “it was someone else?” Since the switch happened after the intermission, no announcement was made. To me, it was just so odd to see someone who was not Pape come out and sing BG’s last monologue. I didn’t recognize his face as Rangoni since he looked so different with the hair all wild and anyway, I knew it wasn’t Pape.

            Wasn’t that a wonderful evening? Those beautiful tableaus, and great singing (Sementchuk and Nikitin — smoldering and both so sexy in their Act III scene, Antonenko and Markov, even the minor parts)…

        • Camille

          Yes, BC, I heard him sing Otello in Carnegie with Muti, so I know dat, very well.

          After checking with Operabase, I see that he is busy in November singing Samson in Geneva, then listed from November ’12 to Jan ’13 for Cavaradossi in Wien, while simultaneously being listed Dec ’12 -- Jan’13 for Des Grieux (Manon Lescaut), in Hamburg. Busy little bee.

          When are all the Otellos and when is the broadcast, however? In a week or two? He just sang his Otello in London in July and has sung it in Paris as well as the Carnegie concert last year with Muti. So, not exactly a neophyte.

          Well, I am hoping for a miracle. Which I know won’t come my way, but I’ll go on hoping, anyway.

          Where are you and the Captain going for dinner tonight?
          Best for the weekend from C.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Let’s have faith that Botha will recover. He’s a good singer and has a much more pleasant tone than Heppner and many others.

            I have not seen the Captain in a while, cherie, I don’t know where he is, he goes on these trips with that Belgian boy and he never tells me much, do you think I should be suspicious?????

            Dinner tonight, I’m afraid, will be just me and Irma. We are having beef bourguignon, which she has been slaving over all day.

            Tootles, carina.

            P.S. Where’s that Charybdis, er, I mean, tu cara amica Nerva, have not heard her ejaculations for some time now…

          • Camille

            You had better be suspicious and had do your best to stomp that out, BC!

            Go visit Dalila’s Corsette Shoppe for some interesting lingerie, is my suggestion.

            Men are wayward animals, and that’s just the way it is! Defend thyself!

            Yours truly in solidarity,

          • Camille

            Nerva is at a spa, having her beauty rituals done.

            Now, now, be kind to your dear elder sister. She watched out for you in the beginning, you know.

            I like Botha just fine as Walther in Meistersinger but I don’t want to hear him in Italian stuff. That Canio I heard was something like 1997 or ’98, so this guy just wants to sing this stuff. Let him sing Tristan! Although the voice is a little too lyrical, but what the hey, everybody is fakin’ it!

            Boeuf Burguignon, eh? Julia’s recipe, I hope!
            luv from bad camille

      • actfive

        Camille, Antonenko is terrific opposite Westbroek in the TRITTICO DVD that I reviewed here recently (in Tabarro). Powerful voice, emotionally connected, fine actor. I would love to see him as Otello.

        • Camille

          oh thank you active. I missed that one and will refer myself to it for a review. A strong Luigi, not one struggling and cracking in the passaggio would certainly be nice for a change.

          Thank you for mentioning it, active.

          I assume you are of French origin, being a Five Acter?

          best from C.

          • Camille

            golly, I don’t know why that correction thing turned you from Act Five into Active, but it did! I’m sorry!

          • papopera

            complètement idiote cette Camille de mes deux.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          I sat less than 10 feet away (when he happened to be stage left) from Antonenko singing Otello in July this year and he was incredible.

      • Buster

        Camille -- Antonenko sang a splendid Otello in Rotterdam last month with the Mariinski. Always great to hear that orchestra, and he was by far the best singer of the evening. An unstaged performance, so it did not really totally get off the ground, but that was partly Gergiev’s doing -- although I liked him a lot better in this opera than in the ones he did there over the past years.

        • Camille

          Dank U, Buster!

        • oedipe

          I saw the Otello revival at the Bastille in 2011: Antonenko, Fleming, Murzaev, Fabiano. There was uniformly high quality singing AND acting from the leads.

          Antonenko was excellent, especially in the very chilling final scene, which was staged/acted as a ritualistic killing. But I would have preferred a more complex characterization, less uniform forte and some more nuance in the singing. I confess I missed Domingo. (Now duck!)

    • reedroom

      well, at least he can MOVE!

      • Often admonished

        Botha can MOVE too. It’s just that you wouldn’t want to see it.

    • Clita del Toro

      Oy, I couldn’t bear it. I hope he is better than this.

    • Not a pretty voice and the high notes are a bit weak (though I like that he went for the high C at the end of the confrontation with Desdemona) but it is effectively used. Also like the Desdemona. I wonder who she is?

      • manou

        YouTube says:

        Otello-Avgust Amonov.Jago-Atlan Karp.Dezdemona-Sandra Yanushaite

        (whole opera is there)

    • I did not care for that transition between Acts III and IV.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      WTF is all that foot stamping? Have I missed knowing about an original stage direction from one of the early editions of Shakespeare’s Othello? Is that where they got the expression SHAKE a leg?

      His esultate is here. Those chorus movements are a hoot.
      What theater is that?

    • Camille

      No description or more information available on these youtubes of his, but I kept on clicking until I found one which I identified the source as “Latvian National Opera”. Probably makes sense.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    I saw Antonenko in a Otello telecast, Muti conducting. Fantastic voice, delivery, and stage presence.

    • Camille

      Is this the telecast to which you refer, Dr. Papas?

      Salzburg 2008, Antonenko singing “Niun mi tema”.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Antonenko = sexy dude

    • Camille

      Agreed! Love him.

      I thought the foot stomping was just weird but maybe the director told him he had to and he couldn’t figure out a graceful way to stomp?

    • He’s definitely a good-looking guy. Too bad about his man-boobs.

  • Krunoslav

    Fund this in re the 2007 Mariinksy RING at the Met

    “The success of the tender moments were due in great part to the superb Siegmund and Sieglinde of Avgust Amonov and Mlada Khudoley, respectively, who along with Gergiev, opted for a lush, Italianate reading of their roles, filled with beautiful legato singing and scrupulous attention to dynamics.” -- Robert Levine

    “Avgust Amonov’s capable, middleweight Siegmund proved a pleasant surprise.” -- David Shengold

    “Avgust Amonov’s fairly baritonal tenor took a while to warm up, and the final moments of passion conveyed a degree of agitation as opposed to exultation.” -- Timothy Ball

    “Avgust Amonov and Mlada Khudoley were a compelling pair of Walsung lovers. Amonov brought heroic tone to the role of the doomed Siegmund”

    Not all Siegmunds are Otellos, but I hope it works out.

  • MontyNostry

    I’m being ignorant, but what’s the reference in La C’s no doubt eruditely witty headline?

    • Batty Masetto

      Our doyenne is nothing if not recherchée, Monty -- it’s from the Prologue to Lulu: “He August, bring mir unsre Schlange her.” At which point somebody is supposed to carry Lulu in. (If there’s going to be carrying, I guess it’s just as well they don’t have to carry Botha.)

      • MontyNostry

        If Botha were a Schlange, he’d be a boa constrictor that had just swallowed a small hippo. Thank you for the explanation. Hope I didn’t open a Pandora’s Box with my question …

        • manou
          • MontyNostry

            Perfect manou, but just spare us Rachel Portman’s saccharine operatic take on St-Exu!

          • oedipe
          • MontyNostry

            I prefer this kind of boa, even though it is threatening to consume the diva in question.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            Sorry, oedipe, that looks not like a boa, but more like a python. Let’s get our schlangen right!

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Indeed Bianca, a reticulated one by the look of it. Very slightly more likely to encounter a hippo though, as the boa constrictor would first have to cross the Atlantic.

          • manou

            Wouldn’t a boa on BA be constricted to just a reticule?

          • oedipe

            OK, OK! So let’s call it Monty’s Python.

          • manou

            …Monty’s Python Flying Serpent.

          • MontyNostry

            The erudition and wit of the parterrians never ceases to amaze and delight me. Not sure whether it’s Leontyne’s style of humour, though.

  • Sir Ferris

    I think you’ll find the headline reference in the Prologue to Lulu.

    For once, something I know!

  • Constantine A. Papas


    Yes; and thanks for posting it.

    • Camille

      Thank YOU so very much for having mentioned it as I was unaware of this being available on YouTube.

      It is just impossible to keep up with the cornucopia of wealth that abides therein.

      Things I have heard spoken of for, literally, decades--are now at my fingertips. It is a kind of wonderful consolation of my old age and am most truly grateful for it all.

  • Harold

    Since Antonenko is singing the new production of Otello at the Met, it might not be in the Met’s best interest to have him jump in, unrehearsed, into the old production.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    I was watching the new commercial about neti pots and remembering the famous Dr. Grabscheid, who used to care for all the leading artists at the MET. He had two glass globules that he had the patient hold while he forced liquid into one nostril and out the other. I had an appointment there once, and in the waiting room was Tatiana Troyanos and several other well-known singers.

    His remedies worked miracles for many congested artists.

    • bluecabochon

      Dr. Eugen Grabscheid! QPF, I went to see him too, as I often had bronchitis as a teenager. My Dad was a teacher of music to singers and sent his students there and I also I saw Troyanos Philip Booth from the Met. In fact I had to wait quite a bit once when Ms. Troyanos showed up at the last minuten just before my appointment time.

      He had a huge apothecary’s jar of antibiotics in his cabinet and for years I never had to go to the pharmacy across the street until the very end of his practice. Do you remember how he would walk around like Dr. Phibes with that thing on his head, belly first? What a character…and the dogs! How did he get away with that, I wonder. I remember stepping over them as they slept on the floor in the waiting room.

      He had some contraption that I woud sit under, like a hair dryer in a salon, when I had swollen glands. I sure hope that whatever that thing was didn’t contribute to thyroid problems I had later on. I was too young to question what the hell that thing was. Thank God I never needed the neti pot, but he was THE doctor for singers and daughters of other Maestri, back in the day.

      He was famously Viennese and had a lovely collection of Bohemian glass, which he left to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A few pieces were still there that last time I looked, in front of the Petrie Court Cafe and Wine Bar, in European Decorative Arts.

    • Camille

      Ye gods! I’m glad that thing lies safely at the bottom of a pile of junk and safely unwrapped! What a terrible way to die.

      Grabschied Institute ain’t what it used to be, either.

      • Gualtier M

        Let me put in a word for neti pots -- I have used them for years for chronic sinusitis and this winter I got a terrible case. The neti pot and a irrigation syringe helped me out. But I boiled the water in my microwave with a few tsp. of kosher salt and added baking soda later. Worked like a charm and no antibiotics.

        • manou

          Kosher salt??

          • Gualtier M

            Non-iodized salt.

          • oedipe

            Dead Sea salt.

          • manou

            It is true you learn something every day on Parterre -- even with a grain of salt.

          • armerjacquino

            We generally call it Maldon, over here. One of those category-killers like Hoover or Sellotape.

          • MontyNostry

            Kosher salt is specially formulated to take as much as possible of the flavour out of the meat.

          • manou

            Looked it up -- kosher salt is a vampire.

  • Camille


    I heard the wonderful Tristan und Isolde from Salle Pleyel thanks to your notice, for which I am so grateful!!!!!

    Wonderful Nina!

    • oedipe

      You are welcome, Camille!

      Just back from Pleyel. Stemme was fabulous, in amazing vocal shape. Now, if you could find a Tristan of the same caliber, we would be in business for staging T&I! Poor Christian Franz was the first spoken (or shouted) Tristan I’ve ever encountered. Peter Rose was excellent too, I thought. And Mikko Franck conducted much better than when I heard him in Tosca.

      • Camille

        Oh you were there, I was hoping so!

        The conducting I liked quite a lot. The Franz ‘Mark and Bark’ got a little wearying at times but he did get his high pitches accurately. I was a very happy old lady and long may Nina carry on!! Only if there was a tad bit more colour and shading in the voice but overall, a wonderful sing. Also, very impressed with Connolly’s Brangaene. Lovely singing by she whom I last heard as Bellini’s Romeo! Peter Rose is alwYs reliable but I always prefer a slight more basso timbre as Marke.

        What an enthusiastic audience and what a wonderful transmission all the way over the pond. I could expire happily if such a T & I would come to Carnegie Hall!!

        Thank you so much once again as I so dearly love this work, even if not une vraie wagnerienne.

        Enfin! Assez!

      • Walter von Holzhaufen

        I heard Franz sing the two Ring Siegfrieds earlier this year, and even allowing for the great difficulty of the role, I found his singing very, very disappointing. How does he continue to get these important bookings? Is there no one else available?

        • His Siegfried was very good several years ago (2005-06). And he actually *sang* the music (not much barking). But even back then, a wobble was clearly evident in the upper mid-register. I got the sense that the voice on its way down.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            kashy, isn’t about that time he sang those Siegfrieds at the Met? The year Brewer was fired and they had to bring in three sopranos to fill in those shoes (Watson, deVol and Theorin)? I saw one of the Siegfrieds with Theorin. Totally undistinguished effort, all I could say to people at the time was, “well, he got through it.”

          • Bianca, the Met gig came a couple of years after when I saw him in the Toronto Ring (first in the one-offs in 2005 and then the complete cycles in 2006). Both Franz and Bullock (the Toronto Brünnhilde) were at the end of their prime. As an audience member, I had the sense that I was getting the last of the best they had to offer. I think the much smaller hall in Toronto probably helped as well. Bullock especially was never suited to sing a role like Elektra at the Met. Even in Toronto, she was at her very limit with the role (though I found her riveting).

  • annv

    Just back from Othello. Ammosov was unimpressive. He sounded a little flat at the low notes. Worst of all -- does not have much of stage presence. Big flaw for Othello.

    • In fairness it’s not as if Botha really tears up the stage either.

      • Clita del Toro

        Wow! Antonenko is very impressive in that clip. A very masculine voice and good singer. I’d like to hear more of him.

  • I guess Antonenko was unavailable

    At least he can sing

    • MontyNostry

      I know Westbroek is a fine singer in many ways, and she is a sympathetic actress, but I do wish the voice itself were more interesting and bit less blowsy-sounding.

      • She has Top Problems now. Too many Chrysothemises? Yes I can hear issues with the voice, but her switch between Italian / German reps is VERY convincing and here the sound has almost a Tebaldi-like spinto warmthness, regardless of the question whether it is top drawer or not.

        • MontyNostry

          I’m afraid I find the voice lacks definition and I felt that when I saw the Tabarro in the theatre too. She is a game gal, and we should consider ourselves lucky to have someone who can sing this kind of role decently, but it would be nice to hear a voice that quickened the heart!

          • oedipe

            I am with you, Monty. I did not see Il Tabarro, but Westbroek’s Didon almost brought tears to my eyes: not of emotion, but of boredom.

          • The last time I heard her (Sieglinde), her top notes didn’t open up as I was expecting them to. Nevertheless, hers is a quality instrument.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Agreed Oedipe, that Didon was very dull. Her scenes were particularly unimaginatively staged and blocked though, which aggravated the problem.

          • Bianca Castafiore

            I think Westbroek’s latest Sieglindes at the Met were quite good. I don’t find her voice so undistinguished as you do.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Too much work full stop, I think. I agree with your Tebaldi comparison in terms of the warmth in the middle especially and the characteristics of the voice, although it doesn’t have the same sheer individuality or level intrinsic beauty.

      • I’m with you Monty. It’s an important voice, especially considering the scarcity of spinto voices these days, but it isn’t as interesting an instrument as one would like. Her Sieglinde was good but she never reached the level of special. The singing lacks personality.