Cher Public

“Say that La Cieca leaves her loge in disgust at the travesty they call Art in this opera house!”

Actually, Lohengrin at La Scala wasn’t all that bad, so the reports go. though at the moment there’s no video proof this side of the Atlantic. Your doyenne will continue to work on that little lacuna whilst you, the Cher public, enjoy your weekly discussion of off-topic and general interest subjects as you view the video after the jump.

  • zinka


    Hey Charlie, what’s this about feeling crabby about the state of opera today? Let me tell you that I was so thrilled with the singers in the Tucker Gala, a kind of “capsulized” array of the very best of today, although several of them are not currently at the Met, and they BETTER GET THERE SOON!
    The only “downside’ was the dumb audience that kept interrupting the music with stupid applause. I do not expect them to know Attila, but if you have a brain, you can see that singers are not ready to take their bows. If you do not know opera, wait for the “cognoscenti’ to tell you when it is time.
    Let’s go by voice type: Who is this matvelous baritone Quinn Kelsey? Wow! Where has he been? That is some voice!! Except for two unpleasant vibrato-less tones at the beginning of the Argante aria, Gerald Finley was masterful in his fioratura; Dmitri sounded like the greatest baritone who ever lived, largely because his medium-size voice, when miked, emerges as better than it is live, but the man is still magnificent. I am not attracted to the quality of Abdrazakov or Schrott’s (baritone) voice, but they are fine artists.
    Another new star in the firmament is this mezzo Jaime Barton, a combo of Blythe and Zajick. What a fabulous sound.I hope she sounds like that live, because you know how I am about live vs.recorded,but she was sensational. Likewise,the great Borodina sang music she could handle, unlike last night’s Judgement Scene,that might be very embarrasing on HD all over the globe.
    Marcello Giordani sounded as brilliant and bright as always, and hopefully Giuseppe Filianoti, a courageous man who beat thyroid cancer, will continue to sound as fine as he did.The voice is not sizeable,but the coming Rondine will tell the tale.
    My new LOVE, Liudmyla Monastyrska, who is causing me to have to write her name 100 times to remember the spelling, sounded as magnificent as she did last night in the Macbeth, and again, she showed on ONE WORD,”Immota,” that there are low tones in her voice, if she would just use them a bit, especially in Lady Macbeth. She was just wonderful!
    I have followed the career of the superb Stepehen Costello for a few years, and have met his lovely wife, winner of the Tucker award this year, Ailyn Perez. The lovely married couple can boast of having been Tucker award winners, and they surely deserve highest priase. I wish some opera company would do Fritz, and I found their Cherry Duet the highlight of the show. Stephen has such a beautiful style, and I noted that in the Traviata Brindisi,the little notes in the phrase that begins, “La vita…” were so clean. Mme.Perez has a simply gorgeous voice, with warmth and feeling, so she better get to the Met fast,dear Mr.Gelb, who seems to allow a lot of mediocrity these days,leaving out singers like Mme.Perez.
    Overall, it was a fine tribute to my favorite tenor (of those I have heard live), and I am so glad that they came together and sang so well. BRAVI!!

    As ever, Charlie, who knows when to clap.

    • Nerva Nelli

      “Marcello Giordani sounded as brilliant and bright as always”

      Yes, his Enee Thursday confirmed the truth value of your continued reports on Giordani’s glorious singing.

      (Even late-career William Lewis sounded better in the part.)

      • Yes, Nerva, but was he as good as Edward Sooter?

        • Clita del Toro

          “brilliant and bright” as a load of sh** is my take on the tenor.

        • Nerva Nelli

          I heard Mr. Sooter as Florestan (perfectly solid), Tannhaeuser and Lohengrin but not as Enee. Missed also John Horton Murray and the 2/3 performance by Paul Frey opposite Carol Yahr’s Didon-- ponder that, lest any “Golden Age” memories start to flow hereabouts-- that ended Frey’s Met career (Gary Lakes sang the end of the show).

          Surprising that Robert Nagy never went on for Vickers. William Lewis must have been covering him that first run, as he went on twice in 1974, as well as for Domingo ten years later.

          My glance at the redoutable Archives also revealed something I had missed, along with everyone else, maybe: Susan Graham is the first Met Ascgane (she was WONDERFUL despite the Death Star, Lady Hall, casting shade as a truly despicable Didon) to graduate to Queen of Carthage.

          • J. G. Pastorkyna

            I remember thinking that Wendy White (Anna) and Susan Graham (Ascagne) would have done a better job than Pollet and Ewing. Ewing was despicable, as Nerva writes, and placid Pollet was no Cassandre.

          • I’m sure his Florestan was good. Enee requires too much finesse and lyrical singing. Jessye deserved better in her double-header broadcast.

      • zinka

        Glad you loved Marcello..,He is wonderful!!!!!(I get the joke.)

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1897 tenor Georges Thill

    Happy 85th birthday tenor Richard Cassilly

    Happy 71st birthday soprano Karan Armstrong

    Happy 62nd birthday baritone John Rawnsley

    • WindyCityOperaman

      Anyone notice how much actress Marion Cotillard resembles Tatiana in this clip?

    • Nerva Nelli

      Hi Windy

      I think you usually distinguish between living and dead artists in these fun tributes by using “Happy Birthday” and “Born this day” respectively.

      Mr. Richard Cassilly, an often exciting artist with a voice that changed remarkably over the decades, ending up non-bel canto but craggy but expressive, left us in 1998.

  • Feldmarschallin

    Here some pictures of the Rigoletto which has its Premiere tomorrow. Lets see who sings! Anyone else there? Will go again next Wednesday then in July when Ciofi sings.

  • zinka

    Yes, I have heard some fine Ballos at the Met, but many of them were flawed in some way.(Even my beloved Zinka screamed her way through the role sometimes). Tonight at the Met I sat there totally captivated by the flawless cast, especially since most of the Met shows this season thus far have contained at least one serious flaw.
    One huge advantage of this production is that the singers sound “miked’ befause of the kind of “closed set.” I wish they would do this more made me feel like they were next to me. As far as the production goes, I have no clue as to what these dudes are doing on those desks in scene one, and the gyrating was quite intrusive. It seems that Gelb is thinking of doing “How to succeed in Ballo without really trying.” His directors “entertain” us much like the rats in Lohengrin, and that is “enjoyable” on some level, but I find myself wondering if i am enjoying the novel touches for their artistic merit, or just because they are entertaining as Eurotrash.
    Well,time to review the singers: I once told Stephanie Blythe (who has to stay all night, since there are curtain calls only at the end) that she was the “ghost of Ebe Stignani.” Never mind…On her own,. she produces the greatest luscious sounds ANY mezzo ever did. What a fabulous lady she is!!!!
    I once loved Marcelo Alvarez, but when he did more dramatic material (Manrico),the voice got thick and leathery;however, he must have gotten himself together and tonight he was superb.The voice was brilliant, the voice was beautifully shaded, the acting (and a lot of it is needed in this production) quite exciting, and he impressed me no end.
    I thought it was Amber Wagner’s debut, but I guess she has sung something before;however,it was her first big role, and her name is surely appropriate, because she sounded like an Isolde, with an enormous voice, clear as a bell, a top register as close to a Crespin or a Rysanek as can be imagined, and (get this!!) lovely mixed CHEST tones….(about time someone used them.) She received a huge ovation, and I am [positive she will beo ur next Wagnerian…”Album cover” Wagner does Wagner.)
    Oh Dmitri…that set made you sound like Cornell MacNeil at times (like the interpolated,”Sangue VUOOOOlsi”e tu morrai.). He “never breathes,” and he represents the most elegant style imaginable in an artist with a voice of pure honey as we know.. The voice was smallish in Ernani, but here the set did help him to resonate better’still and all,he is a great singer in our opera universe.
    In the role of Oscar (why wings on her???) Kathleen Kim showed that you can have a smallish voice and yet project beautifully.She looks to be about 3 feet tall…adorable little thing, and quite fine.
    GREAT EVENING..and more like the way the Met SHOULD BE!!!!!

    As ever Carlo (a former Sam,Tom,Silvano)

    • davidzalden

      Dearest Doyenne — I delight in the fact that (almost) anything goes in your glittering salon — and you have done SO MUCH to educate the Cher Public in the rocky road of regie — is it not possible to crown your achievements with the elimination from your brilliant blog of that stupid stupid stupid term Eurotrash? Total misunderstanding, vicious bile, threats on my life — all of this I accept as part of the game, but that term is just so… depressing.

      • Feldmarschallin

        Mr Alden please let me tell you personally how much enjoyment I have gotten from almost all of your productions at Bayerische Staatsoper. Just this season we had your superb Tannhäuser again and I cherish your Ring which I found much more interesting than the new Kriegenburg one. I also love your Rodelinda which thank God is also like the Tannhäuser on DVD. I am off to see the new Rigoletto later today and I already here from some who have seen the Hauptprobe that the Dörrie production was much better. Viel Glück im Neuen Jahr!

      • manou

        Well, here is what our old friend the Urban Dictionary says :

        Interesting and very varied definitions, the second of which is:

        “Post-modern, degenerate, trendy, or out-of-style European cultural phenomena masquerading as avant-garde High Art. Its origins are primarily German/Austrian but have extended to France, Scandinavia, and Italy with success.” Example given : “The director’s Eurotrash production of Hamlet featured lots of latex, swastikas, and a man wearing a diaper starring as Gertrude.”

        I certainly see that this is a complete travesty of some very serious and respectable “alternative” productions, and I understand your being depressed about the use of the term, but maybe we should refrain from banning words lest we end up burning books.

        • Camille

          Very well stated, madame manou, and thank you for having said so.

      • oedipe

        Mr. Alden,

        You shouldn’t take too much to heart the utilization of a word which says much more about its users than about the thing it is supposed to describe.
        For this loaded word is indicative of a philistine attitude towards art and a self-righteous conviction of the superiority of one’s own worldview. In this case, it is indicative of the baseless idea that the American culture is somehow morally superior to the European ones.

        • A. Poggia Turra

          oedipe -- I couldn’t agree more. It’s just another example of one side trying to set the language of a debate by inserting a perjorative term and acting as if that is the normal basis of discussion. For me, far better Euro-T than “Park and Bark”, “Mummified Waxworks” or my favorite, “Amero-Cadaver” styles of opera production.

          And to Mr. Alden -- I’ve been priveleged to see your, Mr. Bieito’s and Messers Wieler and Morabito’s “Ballo” productions, and yours is now my favorite. More, please :)

          • messa di voce

            I’ve sent a note to Mr. Gelb (first time ever) telling him about my enthusiasm for this production.

      • In the comment in question, That Word was used conditionally and in a general sense too, so I wouldn’t take it too personally. Zinka says (I’m paraphrasing here) he finds certain non-traditional productions entertaining, though he’s not sure why he finds them entertaining, that is, he’s not sure if he should take what he’s seeing seriously or to treat it as a joke. The strong implication here is that he perceives two types of non-traditional productions, those that make a serious attempt to communicate with the audience and those that are simply bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. And even the latter category is not, by this estimation, worthless, as examples of the “merely bizarre” do hold the interest as entertainment.

        I agree that if “Eurotrash” has any meaning at all, it’s misapplied here, because Alden productions generally have a strongly American sensibility.

        • zinka

          HYes..You know I never could watch a Peter Sellars Mozart work..but those productions were “mild’ compared to the present-day stuff. Maybe I have matured(???)…but as La Cieca says..I am not sure why I am enjoying a perf…Like the Ballo last night..I really loved it…..and it kept me interested besides the great singing…..Maybe I should not compare these productions to “putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.”
          But I still do not know WHY I like the rats……

    • Nerva Nelli

      “Oh Dmitri…that set made you sound like Cornell MacNeil at times (like the interpolated,”Sangue VUOOOOlsi”e tu morrai.). He “never breathes,” and he represents the most elegant style imaginable in an artist with a voice of pure honey as we know..”

      Truly a remarkable statement, as the great flaw in Dima’s fine singing for the last 23 years (at least) has been has huge, audible-from-Columbus-Avenue gaspy breaths in the middle of otherwise bel canto lines: a real paradox.

      • Camille

        Nerva non mente.

        • Clita del Toro

          Cammiest dearesse, bestest, so how was Amber? Charlie liked her but, hmmmm, I need another opinion.

          • Camille

            My dearest, brilliant and brightest Clita—
            Camille has to go to the greenmarket right now but will be back in about an hour and a half, or two, in the chatroom to help clean up. A very nice young lady with a very nice voice. More to be discussed later.

            Your devoted

      • zinka

        I know that in Ernani,for example, Dmitri was vastly underpowered..SO…Did i last night hear “The real Dmitri” or the Pretender…..His voice NEVER sounded like that…..It was like Bartoli singing in my shower…..

    • parpignol

      I agree with Zinka; great night at the opera, and better than earlier in the run; I’m a Radvanovsky fan, but thought Amber Wagner was even better, certainly better able to control her big sound, and an inherently more beautiful sound too, though less comfortable with Italian text and Italian vocal style than Radvanovsky; certainly a great night for AW; but Alvarez and Hvorostovsky have both gotten even better in their roles; Alvarez deserves special tribute for being great in this role, when none of us expected it; and DH has found the ways in which this role can work for his more lyrical baritone; Kim and Blythe both excellent,and able to dominate their particular scenes; and the production is not without virtues, I think; it does capture some of the lighter operetta-like aspects of the score; is worst in the middle act outdoor scene, and best in the last act with the claustrophobic enclosure of the room opening up into the big masked ball scene; that omnipresent armchair is certainly irritating! Luisi also led an even better musical performance now at the end of the run. . .

      • zinka

        Not because Parpignol agreed with me..but the STYLE…the over-all intelligence of the post….that is something I treasure…agree or not…The way people post often tells a lot about their heart and soul…..This is not to put down the anti-Giordani people..I am sure they are lovable too.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1891 soprano Lotte Schone

    Born on this day in 1917 soprano Hilde Zadek

    Happy 78th birthday soprano Raina Kabaivanska

    • Nerva Nelli

      …whereas, as has been noted in the discussion of Lisa della Casa’s death, Miss Hilde Zadek (ya know) is still alive.

  • I hope Olga makes it today. I’ve been concerned about this bit of casting (mainly Act IV) since it was announced (she was a great in the part when she still had her high notes).

  • zinka

    If the theatre was on my corner, I would NEVER go…..This Aida is a LIE..You get NONE of the overtones of Mme.Monastyrska’s wonderful voice..Nice for those who cannot be at the Met…but the radio lies like crazy..mostly NOT in favor of the singers/.
    Roberto is cute..but a falsetto note is CHEATING!!!!!!

    A shame most people do not hear what is really the correct sound on stage……

  • I thought Alagna sang a good “Celeste Aida” but am not crazy about the falsetto B-flat. I don’t mind the octave drop at the end. And the overall effect was lovely. But still, I’d much rather hear a proper piano than falsetto.

    Monastyrska sang a very strong “Ritorna vincitor”

  • omghahahalol

    It’s time for some Saturday seriousness. Pour yourself a 2004 Sassicaia, pare away at a wild boar salami, and absorb the apercus of our fave Welsh warbler:

    Love her reference to “a criteria”. I’m all for a previously unheard-of Tuscan wine, myself. Thanks for the tip, K-J!

  • zinka

    Since I just learned that ANOTHER STAR (Mr.Alden) is here…and that makes me worry..because I am now so afraid that some of the divas and divos i may yell at are reading me (It once happened..whre a diva said to someone,”Why does he hate me??? But I want to meet him…”)
    Seriously, I am still conflicted about modern concepts..but as La Cieca said to me, “Did you enjoy it?” and i LOVED it..but I think maybe there should be a special insert in programs that say something like,”Well,the reason that they are doing….is because………OR should I follow my mentor’s advice (La Cieca) and say..”No…it is healthy to be made to use your imagination!!”
    I did think last night of my ma in the chorus line in the 20’s when the act two scene one ended….
    Would Gigli approve?????
    I hope Mr.Alden understands I go back to the days when Nelly Melba and I dated…..