Cher Public

Notte e giorno criticar

“Imagine if someone left Vermeer’s masterpiece ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ out in the rain. That’s what it felt like Wednesday when the Met wrecked Don Giovanni: an act of criminal negligence.” [New York Post]

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    If true that the conductor did such a bad job it may be due to the orchestra’s reaction to him. They hated Pappano too. So much for Gelb’s elevation of the ENO music man to the podium of the MET. Better he should just let his wife conduct something.

    • armerjacquino

      It’s certainly surprising. I’ve heard him conduct many times and have always been hugely impressed. It’s such a shame that he should suddenly crash and burn like this.

      • RosinaLeckermaul

        I”m surprised, too, at the reaction to Gardner. The TIMES review, even harsher than the POST’s is also unkind to him. I’ve heard a number of fine ENO performances from Gardner, though usually in late romantic music.

      • atalaya

        There must be something challenging about conducting at the Met. There are some other decent conductors who seem to have trouble here. Frizza (Armida) and Benini (Barber) weren’t particularly impressive and I was under the impression that bel canto was their strengths. Christie too had trouble.

        I’m not sure if it’s solely lack of rehearsal time either.

        I do wonder if there is occasionally some recalcitrance among the pit due to personality/respect issues. QPF mentioned Pappano (I don’t know that story). I don’t think the orchestra will intentionally play poorly but it’s possible (probable even) they won’t go out of their way to help a conductor they dislike or don’t respect.

        Or perhaps the Met pit is just very, very unforgiving and conductors are exposed for their actual abilities? Muti did brilliantly here with Attila. Rattle with Pelleas. Neither with much Met experience. I’m going to guess the orchestra was very excited for both of them though.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Bychkov’s Otello was surprisingly unsuccessful too, given his record albeit predominantly in different repertoire.

        • messa di voce

          Pappano got panned when he conducted the new Oenegin. Many thought the problems were due to the poor acoustical qualities of the set, but plenty of other conductors have made it work since then. I don’t know what the problem was.

        • Liz.S

          I find Atalaya’s theory very interesting and plausible -- indeed these phenomena -- heard with esp. Bychkov and Gardner this season -- are very strange. At Nozze opening night even the orchestra and banda on stage were so much out of synch -- that’s just too basic and a conductor like Gardner shouldn’t have failed to coordinate -- unless the banda was following somebody else’s lead instead of Gardner’s.

          • Liz.S

            Sorry I meant Don G., not Nozze…

        • … and of course, look how they treated poor Slatkin…

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

            Poor Slatkin my ass! He was simply unprepared to conduct La Traviata. He got what he deserved. Unfortunately, Verdi, the artists and the audiences were the ones to suffer.

      • Nerva Nelli

        Edward Gardner led a splendid CLEMENZA at Mostly Mozart with Spence and Coote (and the totally mediocre Sarah Tynan as Servilia) in 2008. His 2010 Met CARMEN, praised largely by those who hear with their eyes, was certainly not very good, but I am sure he could lead a good DON G too. Maybe there was insufficient rehearsal time? Maybe the Met orchestra took against him for being young and handsome, as they did with Yves Abel years back at his debut?

        But I have heard enough dire reports not to be much tempted to go, and Herr Schrottum’s antics onstage these days make me want to throw things.

        For those bemoaning the lost days of Met Mozart, go hear CLEMENZA under Bicket, which is excellent-- for once (in NYC at least) Garanca comes through.

        • Often admonished

          You must remember that in orchestration, format and timing “Carmen” is a TANK -- the classic conductor-proof opera. Press the start button and it will run.

          Don Giovanni is pretty much the reverse. A minefield even before you get to the Act One finale.

        • RosinaLeckermaul

          The Met orchestra only plays well for homely conductors? Interesting.

    • ianw2

      One day Keri-Lynn will actually conduct something at the Met and I fear you may just explode from the excitement.

  • Camille

    Relief to know my decision to not listen was not a regrettable one.

    Well, at least Nerva should be happy that Erdmann is no longer playing the pleasant peasant. That’s something.

  • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati

    By coincidence and out of curiosity I happened to be looking at the DON GIOVANNI cast on the Met’s site and discovered that all this first-rank magnificence is available at a top ticket price (Parterre Box, no pun intended) of $430!!!!! Even allowing for massive inflation I paid a lot less and got a lot more bang for my buck back in the days of Siepi, della Casa, Bohm, etal. I’m aware there are still relatively inexpensive seats available today but am still feeling sticker shock for what basically sounds like a dreary, substandard evening.

    • Bill

      Gelb does not wish to book Soile Isokoski (still
      an exquisite Donna Elvira vocally) perhaps because he figures Isokoski isn’t sufficiently physically glamorous and then hires dreadful Mozart singers at a time when Mozart is supposedly easier to cast (nowadays) than the Wagnerian or dramatic Verdian roles. It does not make sense. The recent Figaro at the Met, particularly on the ladies side, was vastly inferior to the Figaro casts I heard this year
      in Vienna and Budapest. There was a time when a Boehm for example could just dip into his ensemble in Vienna and come up with a della Casa (Anna), Jurinac, Seefried, London, Kunz, Dermota, Berry,
      Ludwig Weber Don Giovanni (the recording is superb without a weak link in the cast though the opera is sung in German). Now according to Wolfe’s review in the NY Times this morning the Don Giovanni reviewed did not have even a single (not even one) strong link in the cast and the conducting was abysmal. Plus we all know how dreadful this new
      production of Don Giovanni was last season -- the set looked like a prison ward. It is really tough to collect a superb cast for Don Giovanni at any time with 8 major roles to cast (and yes, Zerlina is a major role -- or used to be until Erdman and a crop of unsuitable Mezzos got ahold of it). In the past, the Met has often produced stirring Don Giovannis (my first in 1952 had Siepi and Kunz -- worth the price of admission for them alone though Zadek was also very effective). Subsequent years at the Met almost always had at least a few wonderful casting aspects in almost every Don Giovanni I heard. Should one bother to see this current Don Giovanni at all this season? Will the opera be revived at the Met in the next years at all or do we have to wait for a new production a decade hence? What has happened to the days when Krips, Karajan, Boehm, Furtwaengler, Fricsay, Muti, Levine as well, conducted stupendous performances of Mozart Operas with well intricated casts of stars attuned to each other in ensemble and shining brightly in their individual arias?

      • It seems possible to me that Gelb doesn’t book Isokoski because she was truly not good in her met debut, Marguerite in Faust. I went expecting great things on the basis of her VLL recording and found her utterly disappointing.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          I find the basic tone slightly shrill and the general demeanor kind of inert, so it doesn’t surprise me either that she isn’t being actively sought out.

        • Krunoslav

          But, *dorogoj* Maury, FAUST was not Isokoski’s debut. She came in as the Countess Almaviva and was excellent. Gelb’s recent hires in the role, the babe-alicious Annette Dasch and Maja Kovalevska, both crashed and burned *miserably*. [The Met roster does have a still-fine Countess in Hong, who got one (1) performance of it this season.]

          Isokoski’s next Met role was Rachel in LA JUIVE, not exactly type casting or a barn-burner dramatically, but very well sung.

          Then came the FAUST, which was indeed quite disappointing, just as Fleming had been in the part a few years earlier. The Met’s standard Marguerite now, Poplavskaya. rivets attention onstage and gives a moving dramatic performance but can not begin-- and certainly can not *finish*, she runs out of steam at every show-- to sing the music with accuracy or proper style.

          So maybe Bill is right in saying Isokoski might have been considered for Elvira?

          • messa di voce

            It seems that, after the initial runs, the Met casts the Mozart operas on the cheap and uses them as try-outs for singers new to the house, most of whom are never seen again. The exceptions being something like Clemenza that is planned for Levine or another major conductor.

          • Gualtier M

            Susanna Phillips has a slew of major roles at the Met in the future including Fiordiligi and Rosalinda. I am not upset about this -- she is likeable and has a warm, lovely voice. So this is hardly a “try-out” and “never seen again” doesn’t apply in her case. Mojca Erdmann has some Sophies in her Met future and Kovalevska I suspect will be back too although hopefully not in Mozart. DeNiese also has a bunch of future projects as does Christine Schaefer (shrugs). Annette Dasch had a contract for something last season (Donna Elvira and a miscast Ellie Dehn took over) but bowed out due to pregnancy. She hasn’t been back. Siurina is an established artist worldwide and I hope will become a regular. Emma Bell I think can be discarded unless she fixes that upper register and maybe moves into heavier repertoire -- the voice seemed constrained in Mozart.

          • Camille

            Speaking of Ellie Dehn, last week she was on the Hairy Prom Companion aka Prairie Home Companion, of Garrison Keillor. The second time in the last few months. It was not an altogether lovely experience--the lowpoint being a less than adroit accounting of Susannah’s “Ain’t it a pretty night”. Nice lady, though. Thoroughly nice in a middle western way. Nice voice, too, but doesn’t seem to flow or have an effe tive enough legato. I know naught of her MET appearances and how that went.

          • scifisci

            I’ve never been excited by Phillips’s voice or interpretations…i’m not sure what warrants her getting such plum assignments. I have this feeling that the casting people at the Met think that Mozart should be boring or bland or something. It certainly comes across that way with some of these casts, the exception being the pet projects i.e. Clemenza this year or cosi when levine did it a while back with a splendid frittoli (now that’s a fiordiligi!).

          • DurfortDM

            Yes, she was an excellent Countess and while the Vienna cast Bill mentioned are not likely to be repeated the Mozart casting at the Met 15, 10, even 5 years ago was routinely excellent. In fact the very strong Figaro cast with Isokoski and Mattei was followed immediately by a second outstanding cast and this was more or less the matter in the course of things. Recent revivals have been especially atrocious, the odd individual performance or 2 aside.

            Isokoski had been schedule to sing Elvira in the spring of 09 but cancelled and was replaced by Frittoli. (Stoyanova was the Anna earlier that season -- in what I found to be by far her most disappointing appearance at the Met -- though the reviews were anywhere from positive to positively fawning).

            Dasch is generally considered babeolicious but thats a matter of taste and vocally she leaves TONS to be desired. Kovalevska, not to put too fine a point on it, sucked.

            Speaking of Frittoli, though hardly the model of consistency her Countess would have been a huge improvement on the last 2. Malin Hartelius would be good if a bit light and Genia Kuhmeier should also be excellent.

          • Buster

            Dasch is doing very well in the current Neuenfels Finta Giardiniera, apparently, in which she has the prima donna part of Sandrina. Alex Penda sings Arminda (“a virtuoso performance”). The Frankfurter Allgemeine points out the audience connects to Dasch because of “the thruthfulness of her portrayal.” Kunst!


  • The Vicar of John Wakefield

    Sir, you are writing of an OBE recipient adjudged One of Our Finest Young Conductors!

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    Unsurprising re Emma Bell. I heard her massacre Elvira at the ROH a couple of years ago -- not pretty at all.

    In her earlier ROH days in Nielsen’s Masquerade I thought she was absolutely lovely, and reminded me a little of Kiri. Ever since, all she seems to do is try to be a bigger, more tempramental singer than her voice will really allow, and the results are flaily, messy and ugly.

    • Already her substitute Elettra for La Scala 5 years go was a mess.

  • Slightly OT but since it’s a Mozart topic, here is the very recent Mozart gala from Salle Pleyel, marking the 30th anniversary of Les Musiciens du Louvre. I particularly admire Minkowski’s infectuous love of music and the encore, a fabulous one-per-part performance of the Qui tollis from the C minor mass.

    Gens is past her best and she’s not really up to Non piu di fiori, but there’s plenty of magic, restraint and nobility in her singing and appearance.

    • oedipe

      And here is one of the highlights:

      • Tamerlano

        Glamorous woman with an equally glamorous voice…I think she’s really wonderful and I get the feeling the voice is going to move into bigger stuff as she grows. Is it just me or does Minkowski kind of leave her out in the cold a bit? It lacks propulsion, or something.

        • oedipe


          Yoncheva’s career is moving VERY fast, she is already a diva in high demand. Tomorrow she will be singing in concert, for the second time, the 4 women in Hoffmann. Last season she sang Cleopatra in Versailles, very well apparently. Last spring she sang a much praised Leila at the Opéra Comique. This season she will be singing Musetta, Violetta and Juliette. I think she will be a fabulous Juliette.

          • sorella

            I was at the first performance of Hoffmann and she was a sensation. Her Antonia was sublime. The Olympia not quite on that level. Within the constraints of the ‘concert’ presentation she acted sensitively and with subtlety to differentiate between the roles. And boy, oh boy can that girl trill.

      • louannd

        I think I’m in love.And it’s only coming into one ear on this clip.

    • And why the *&(*&^!%@!# do we have another completely unnecessary recording of Don Giovanni, courtesy of the exasperating Nezet-Seguin, when Minkowski hasn’t done it? Ugh.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Would Minkowski’s somehow be necessary?

      • Actually I found the Nézet-Séguin quite good, energetic and with a “giocoso” point of view. The singing is solid international quality, and even VIllazon who would likely not make much of Ottavio in a staged performance, is recorded well.

        Nézet-Séguin has just signed with DGG, and thus the project on that label. So this was hardly an either-or, was it?

    • Tamerlano

      Ah…I love Bontitatibus :) And what a gloriously intimate aria this is. Mozart clearly loved Storace.

      • It’s a bit high for her but she sings it like the great artist she is.

        • Tamerlano

          Yes, the ending is rough going…but there is something in her singing that seems intensely human and very intimate. I think she sounds ravishing in this clip:

          • MontyNostry

            I’d rather listen to her than a certain, much, muich more celebrated Italian mezzo who sings this kind of repertoire … At least the singing is honest and not tricked-up for the mic.

    • Often admonished

      merci -- Gens est vraiment le feu sacreé

    • oedipe

      And let’s not forget the “Minko babies”, whom he has nurtured and who are indeed not half bad:

      Julia Lezhneva
      Marianne Crébassa
      Florian Sempey

      • louannd

        Lezhneva is no Fiordiligi but I adore her when she sings Vivaldi:

  • phoenix

    I shouldn’t even be commenting here about Mozart -don’t listen or attend to them anymore -- but I once did -- memories crop up: Cheryl Studer one night and Cheryl Milnes’ wife another night (I forget her stagename) as Donna Anna. Teresa Zylis-Gara IMO is the most beautiful Elvira you can get on Sirius broadcast (at the price of having to deal with Martina’s Anna). By the way, who was the Anna in the performance reviewed above -- I read it twice but both times I guess I went off the sprectrum. Anna is my favorite -- although I don’t have Pity for her, at least she gets her temper up in a much puffier grander style than the others (something I admire in people).
    -- BTW, has Nuestra Señora Directora de Casting (alias Alteza Cisne de la Firth of Thames -- you may have seen her foto advertised on the Police Record ads while perusing the right side this screen) received her OBE (whatever that is) yet? She most certainly will receive it when she manages to cast a Don G. with La Bullock as Anna along with Emmas Bell and Kirby as Elvira & Zerlina (I can’t tell the difference between the 2 Emmas, so who sings which role isn’t that important).

    • Clita del Toro

      Phoenix, I feel the same way about Mozart’s operas. I just don’t listen to them any longer. My Mozart memories are of Della Casa, Steber, Siepi, London Valletti. I even saw Leontyne Price as Pamina (and in English).

      But it is sad that the current DG is so crappy.

      • phoenix

        Clita: wonder if it’s a generational thing -- when I was young I went more to Mozart than now, but as you say the Mozart casting was much more vocally opulent in those days.
        -- El Pretencioso that I am, I remember going to see Zylis-Gara as Pamina with Lucia Popp as the Queen of the Night; Victoria de los Angeles as Contessa Almaviva (nobody else liked her in that one but me -- she was a tad long on the tooth, but the voice was still large & tone reflugent even if she had difficulty singing it); Sutherland, Johanna Meier, Elinor Ross, Deutekom, Tomowa-Sintova as Anna; Lorengar, Te Kanawa as Elvira. Would they be able to cast Mozart with such voices nowadays? Oh, we had our share of vacant voiced tidBrits even in those times: memories crop up of Anne Howells as well as Elizabeths Harwood & Vaughn. Once inawhile on Sirius we are punished avec le trio suivant du Québécois dames:
        Metropolitan Opera House
        December 20, 1975 Matinee Broadcast
        COSÌ FAN TUTTE {78}
        Fiordiligi…………..Clarice Carson
        Ferrando…………….Enrico Di Giuseppe
        Dorabella……………Huguette Tourangeau
        Guglielmo……………Lenus Carlson
        Despina……………..Colette Boky
        Don Alfonso………….Fernando Corena
        Conductor……………Kazimierz Kord
        Rebroadcast on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio
        -- BTW, Lenus Carlson is still singing -- where I last saw him at Deutsche Oper Berlin.

        • Camille

          Why say you that, my man, that few cared for la Contessa of the adorable Vicky of the Angels, even if a bit ‘long in the tooth’? Don’t see how anyone could NOT like her and was she not a little famous for the role?

          I imagine Zylis-Gara was very fine in Mozart aa well. Lovely singer.
          You were fortunate, fenice!

          LaDonna Summer Traviata

          • phoenix

            I don’t think de los Angeles was known that well for her Mozart -- in those days they seemed to prefer their Mozartians hailing from north of the Alps. I found her singing to be as elegant as Gencer but you must remember de los Angeles, no matter how she sounds on recordings, had a much larger voice (in spite of it’s soft textures & overtones); it was a full voluminous spinto tone, much larger than Gencer’s.
            -- de los Angeles’ Carmen was my favorite -- I stopped going to Carmen after I saw her do it. She was overweight and plain to look at, but she radiated an incredibly warm, maternal persona. She sang the role with the most grace and dignity it went beyond sheer beauty, it was like -- I don’t know, I think the only that came close to it was visiting the original statue of Queen Nefretiti (it was at Charlottenburg in those days when I saw it).

          • Camille

            Where did you hear her Carmen, phoenix?

            She was one of a kind and truly one of the angels, in my way of thinking and forever to be cherished. Without her I should not have made the acquaintanceship I have of Spanish music, a great debt I owe this true marvel of an artist.

            Thanks for the memories, phoenix.

          • Clita del Toro

            Cammiest, right, Vicky was divine. I loved her Mimi, Manon, Melisande, Marguerite, Martha (all those M’s??) and Desdemona as well as her lovely concerts.
            Phoenix is right, her voice was bigger than you might think. No problem hearing her in Act III of Otello. I also love her on the Gobbi Simon B recording.

          • Camille

            O fortunatissima Clita!!

            I have always intended to listen to her Mélisande, that reminds me.

            A friend of mine introduced me to her recording of Manon, about twenty years ago. It was a big surprise to me as I could not have imagined how well she sang it!

            James McCourt, lord love’em and Erin go Bragh, was right about her!

            Love from

          • rapt

            There are a couple of clips of what I think is her first staged Carmen--in Newark in ’78--on Youtube. For me, in the theatre--abject an admirer though I be--she only got through the role; the intentions seemed there, but the voice no longer had its earlier plushness. I wonder if, rather than a permanent deterioration, this was just a bad period: her other operatic performances at this time (Werther, Vida Breve, Carmen at NYCO) were reviewed as disappointments, but in a couple of later recitals I heard (admittedly, different circumstances), the voice seemed healthier, and in live recording of a later Pelleas on YouTube she sounds better than in this Youtube Carmen. Hard to be objective about this admirable and enchanting artist, though.

          • Camille

            Yea, rapt, indeed hard to be objective about her. Weren’t those latter dates occasioned by the fact her husband had mismanaged her money or some other problem with him? The only time I ever saw her was in 1978, and only in recital. It was a bit of a letdown but I understood that all was not well and that a lot of water had gone over the dam, as it were.

          • phoenix

            Correction: it was at War Memorial in 1962 and de los Angeles sang Donna Anna, not la Contessa in Figaro -- it was my first Mozart opera -- a long time ago, my dears, I apologize for the error -- I was a teenage runaway and a high school dropout. She also sang Mimi and Desdemona, but I didn’t go because this was before I worked at War Memorial and before I evolved into a devoted operafreak -- in those days, I preferred to play around on the streets rather than sit in the operahouse, but I do remember I liked de los Angeles. My close friend from South America -- who spoke fluent Spanish (although I never did) was the one who told me that she was a bit over the hill for Mozart -- Ha! in spite of what he told me, I remember him going backstage and fawning over her con adulación en español. I believe Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sang Elvira with de los Angeles -- Schwarzkopf also sang the Marschallin that season, but I didn’t like Schwarzkopf at all and walked out after Act 1 -- unlike the elegant de los Angeles, Schwartzkopf futzed around and overacted with quick, jerky ungraceful movements of her body and arms and she sang with an ugly, thin, strident & colorless tone -- must add that I did like Schwarzkopf later on when she sang a Mahler orchestral lieder concert at Carnegie Hall (I think it was her final NYC appearance). Back to SF 1962 -- my adopted parents eventually caught up with me and took me back to Arizona for awhile, but by 1967 I made it back to SFO to see the greatest Marschallin for me, Crespin.
            -- I saw de los Angeles’ Carmen at Newark in the 1970’s. I don’t know why (maybe it was because I had heard her when I was a teenager, I’m not sure) but her performance totally knocked me out like no other. There used to be a painting down in the lower lobby at the Met of a famous Carmen (I don’t remember her name now) that I used to go and stare at for several minutes every time I went to the Met (you would have thought I’d have remembered her name) -- I can see it right now -- that reassuring expression of loving acceptance on her face -- her demeanor the painter had captured -- always brought back memories of de los Angeles’ Carmen in Newark -- she radiated the same magnetic motherly warmth in her voice, interpretation and persona. She was like Inge Borkh, Tebaldi and Cruz-Romo -- the minute she walked onstage, the proscenium fell away and it was like she was talking to me alone together with sincerity & understanding. I think her card scene in Newark was the most revealing moment -- she sat down and all of a sudden her voice changed and sounded incredibly beautiful, youthful and lyric.

        • Loge

          A ghost of the past. Colette Boky was brought on the Met tour and seemed to be considered by the Met to be Birgit,Joan, and Leontyne rolled into one (for tour purposes at least). She was my first Lucia and even at that young age I realized it was ghastly. Very coquettish. She was also my first Sophie in Rosenkavalier and one of my first Susannas and she mugged for the audience like a bad silent movie actress.

          • Krunoslav

            As a mad 18 year old, one of my older opera queen pals sought la Boky out at backstage a Met FLUTE in which she had sung the Queen (believe it or not, see also did a Met Pamina, in 1973) and said, “My little brother is 15 and at his first opera--and you just sang him THE WORST QUEEN OF THE NIGHT EVER!” (Pauvre Colette.)

            Despina was indeed a mugfest; her pert manner suited Esmerelda in BARTERED BRIDE, though.

          • Krunoslav

            As a mad 18 year old, one of my older opera queen pals sought la Boky out backstage at a Met FLUTE in which she had sung the Queen (believe it or not, see also did a Met Pamina, in 1973) and said, “My little brother is 15 and at his first opera--and you just sang him THE WORST QUEEN OF THE NIGHT EVER!” (Pauvre Colette.)

            Despina was indeed a mugfest; her pert manner suited Esmerelda in BARTERED BRIDE, though.

    • Camille

      Nancy Stokes Milnes was the name of Sherrill Milnes’ wife, fenice.

      • phoenix

        She was a good singer if I can remember her after all these years (having forgotten so many others) -- la Stokes was exciting & unforgettable as Anna for me personally because she was one of the very few who interpreted the character à la Shaw’s great masterpiece ‘Man and Superman’: “Ann[a] herself, Shaw continues, was suggested by the fifteenth-century morality play Everyman. He had asked himself why there should not be an Everywoman. Ann[a], he concludes, is just that, but every woman is not Ann[a]. By this Shaw means that Ann[a], instinctively aware of her destiny as one upon whom the survival and future of the human race depends, is the pursuer in the love game; but imbued as she is with Vital Force and a high degree of perspicuity, she is not to be taken as the prototype of every woman.” -- quoted from a famous writer who translated Shaw in the vernacular -- I remember the quote but forgot his name.

        • Krunoslav

          Interesting. Where did you hear Nancy Stokes as Anna? She never sang at the Met at all.(Though maybe, like Niska, she did perform in the ill-fated “National Company”.)

          That ghastly “trois canadienne” COSI was actually my first cast Mozart at the Met! I loved the music, anyway…

          • phoenix

            Kruno, it was at NYCO in the State Theater at Lincoln Center.
            -- I always enjoyed the warm, full voiced Clarice Carson, but the other two didn’t have enough stimme for me.

      • WindyCityOperaman

        Point of clarification: ex-wife

  • almavivante

    I just read the Times’ review. Frankly, I’m amazed (pleased-amazed, not shocked-amazed) they allowed the review to run. (Having walked out of a performance of it last season after “Non mi dir,” feeling I was just wasting my time with this wretched production, I won’t be seeing this revival.) A production the Met should be “ashamed of”? These are very strong words, much stronger than any pan of the Met I’ve read in the Times for quite some time.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    On todays Stephanie Miller show, a caller mentioned that they were attending a performance of Aida the previous evening where an audience member had a heart attack and died, and the performance was not stopped. I note that Met had an Aida last night (unless there’s another North American company presenting Aida on Thursday November 29). Anyone know anything about this?

    • PushedUpMezzo

      Can’t help here, but I do recall the same thing happening many years ago at the Edinburgh Festival during Cleo Laine’s assault on Pierrot Lunaire.

  • almavivante

    I can’t shed any light on an audience member dying during Aida, but I did notice on the Met’s archives that Carl Tanner has replaced “Barking” Berti in all perfs so far. Incredible that the Met re-engaged Berti for Radames after his previous poor performances in the role (in which he was also replaced after one or two performances). Has anyone heard Tanner in the role? Any reports?

    • phoenix

      -- no, I don’t Carl Tanner’s Radames (he wasn’t much better than Botha or Gould), but I am glad he sang it anyway so I could hear Liudmyla & Olga.

  • David

    I think that trans-Atlantic relations are going to descend even faster than the Don into Hell if this report in London’s Evening Standard is to be believed:

    • manou

      …and also

      “The king of the curmudgeons: How comedian, theatre director and artist Sir Jonathan Miller’s new biography reveals he’s the most hilariously grumpy and acid-tongued man in Britain”

  • ducadiposa

    Having read this review, and Woolfe’s in the NYT and having seen this in HD last season…I have to concur. I think it was the first time I’d walked out of an opera performance (albeit it was in a movie theatre). It was simply the most unengaging production of an opera I’ve had to sit through. All this is old news, but what really brought it to the fore was today’s Clemenza (also seen in HD). What a contrast! I was completely riveted from start to finish -- and all of this in a production which in most camps would be written off as hopelessly old-fashioned. I think this points up at least one thing -- that “good” productions come in all shapes and sizes. Certainly, I’m thrilled by the latest re-imagining [and I’m not including the Grandage Giovanni here] of whatever great masterpiece is on show…but, there’s no substitute for well-directed personregie (sp?) which was in ample evidence today. The singers all engaged with each other in meaningful ways, and the singing was fantastic. Filianoti seemed to have a few problems with nerves in his first aria (and strangely enough in the final bit he has to sing while pardoning everyone), but otherwise, I really enjoyed his singing and acting. His torment when trying to decide whether to condemn Sesto was quite something -- being a native Italian probably helped with all that recit. Likewise Frittoli. Sure, one could quibble with a flubbed high note here; a little trouble with coloratura there…but she was so dramatic, and sang with such commitment that they hardly need mentioning. The rest were simply superb -- Garanca, Crowe and Lindsey. I think that the Met was smart to spruce up this “classic” Ponnelle production. Even though he obviously wasn’t around to actually stage it, there’s something about the simple, grand sets and smart placement of the principals on it that makes this production seem almost timeless.

    • I could not agree more. If anyone of you is a fan of Mozart and missed it, go to the encore, it is worth seeing it.

      Frittoli sang the role and acted so well, that, for her I would say this was one of those times when the flubbing here and there did not matter. Her Vittelia was a fully realized character, a woman with passion and a real journey.

      Filianotti was very good. I have issues with the way he sings, but once again, it didn’t matter because he made a meal out of Tito. His passion, his torment, everything was there.

      Garanca as Sesto, wow; marriage of artist and role. For thgose who say that she is too cold, go see this and tell me what you think afterwards.

      Lidsey’s Annio was very masculine and boyinsh and her 2 arias were strongly sung. Once again, strong acting and committment. She certainly will be a great Sesto.

      At first I was a little miffed that Servilia had not gone to Oropesa. Crowe was superb in the part and she looked positively ravishing in her costume.

      The one thing that I will disagree until the day i die is the miserable cuts they took in the confrontation between Sesto and Tito. I’ll give them this, they gave us more than most and I was happy to see that most of the recits before the Se all’impero were there; but come on! The entire opera builds up to this confrontation and having cuts in it feels like cutting the big climatic battle scene in a movie.

      I kept thinking, how would the audiences liked if instead of the big battle sequence at the end of Return of the Jedi we see Luke depart and 30 seconds latter shoot the death star and it explode? That is how the confrontation felt to me, superbly sung and acted as it was.

      This is all a minor complaint. I can not say it enough. This is a must see for any Mozart lover. The whole thing was superb.

      • Batty Masetto

        An unsung hero in this production has to be Peter McClintock, who is listed as the stage director. No doubt Ponnelle left extensive production notes, but you can’t bring a show to life this way without a hands-on director to channel all the talent in the same direction -- and that was certainly done.

        We enjoyed it immensely too.

  • louannd

    The encore of Clemenza is December 19th!