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New York has neon, Berlin has bars, but ah! Caramoor!

This summer at Caramoor, Will Crutchfield (not pictured) will conduct two Verdi operas written for the Paris Opéra.

On July 6 the festival presents Les vêpres Siciliennes featuring Angela Meade, John Osborn, Marco Nisticò and Burak Bilgili. Two weeks later Don Carlos takes the stage of the Venetian Theater, with a cast boasting Jennifer Check, Jennifer Larmore, Arnold Rutkowski, Stephen Powell and Christophoros Stamboglis.


  • 1
    Hans Lick says:

    You mean they’re NOT going to build a new Jerusalem on Katonah’s sacred ground?

  • 2
    Sanford says:

    Wow. I can already tell I’m going to need to rent a car….twice.

    • 2.1
      Gualtier M says:

      There is bus service from Manhattan Sanford -- I think $35.00 round trip.

      • 2.1.1
        Sanford says:

        I’m really just looking for an excuse to rent the car. I love driving, I love Verdi, and I love John Osborn and Jennifer Larmore.

          louannd says:

          John Osborn is my latest crush after hearing him sing Hoffman in Paris. Loved that performance.

          Buster says:

          Never heard Osborn, but he will be Arnold Melcthal in the Audi Tell soon.

          • louannd says:

            Do you know of any upcoming broadcasts we may hear and/or see in the states? I would love to listen to this opera on the internets if possible.

          • Sanford says:

            buster, thanks to the House of Bobolink, I have recorded broadcasts of both Hoffmann and WIlliam Tell with Osborn, and he’s terrific in both. I also saw him live in Armida at the Met. Personally, I think he blows JDF out of the water.

          • Buster says:

            Thanks Sanford! He already did a Tell in Amsterdam a few seasons ago, in concert, with Popsy, a huge succes for both of them, apparently. Looking forward hearing him a lot:

            louannd: it will certainly be on the radio, most dno productions are. TV much later, I think, and limited to Europe, as I have found out the pst weeks….

    • 2.2
      papopera says:

      What no Amtrak, New York Central, New Haven, Pennsy service ?

  • 3
    Tristan_und says:

    I’m assuming they won’t play the ballet from Vepres, just like they don’t play the ballet from Don Carlo. I loved Les Troyens and went 3 times (counting the HD Broadcast), but I could REALLY have done w/o those stupid ballets!!!

    • 3.1
      Camille says:

      No longer recall if they played the ballet, or maybe a short section therefrom, in the Guillaume Tell two years ago. Go to look up John Yohalem’s review “Do, Tell” (I think that was the title) from July/August 2011. That should give a clue.

      When I saw Les Vêpres Siciliennes with New York Grand Opera a dozen or so years ago, e. g., the ballet was cut. Pity. I was just humming the Summer theme to myself yesterday, as I just love it.

      Anyhow, not that much room in that Venetian pup tent to turn a tour-jetée, come to think of it!

      O joie extrême!

      • 3.1.1
        Avantialouie says:

        They played the first of the two ballets and skipped the second at Caramoor two years ago--which was a shame, because Rossini obviously expected his audience to compare the two ballets and considered them complementary.

          Camille says:

          Merci Avantialouie. I thought it was something like that and would not have minded at all if the whole ballet had been played, for I didn’t want it to end, for all its beauty.

          Jack Jikes says:

          Presumably, at Pesaro this summer they will do ALL the ballet music.

    • 3.2
      Jack Jikes says:

      At NYCBallet ‘Ballo della Regina’/Balanchine (Don Carlos) and ‘The Four Seasons’/Robbins (Vepres) are repertory staples. They are both delightful and follow the initial narrative intention. I would love to see them included in staged productions.

  • 4
    DonCarloFanatic says:

    I am gnashing my teeth because Don Carlos is the same weekend as Comicon and I finally broke down and made plans to attend. Ha.

    • 4.1
      Camille says:

      DCF—if you do not attend you will just have to hang up your moniker, or hand it over to moi!!

      We both missed the broadcast from Houston for good reasons, so it only follows suit that this is our make up exam. Please try!!!

      Your fellow fanatical DC fan

  • 5
    la vociaccia says:

    yes yes yes yes yes

    Larmore as Eboli yesssss

  • 6
    Camille says:

    A long-awaited dream come true!!!! Either one of them would have been good enough news but having a chance to hear BOTH, only a short way away, is too good for words!!!

    Thank you Mr. Crutchfield! You are my new hero. I am making that donation to Caramoor after all. Thank you, thank you, et GRAND MERCI!!

    P.S. --loved the Bellini vis-à-vis lecture, too!

    Ciechissima, you have MADE MY DAY! Hooray!

  • 7
    redbear says:

    Funny. At the ONP they sometimes actually do the French version and always cut the ballet, even though they have one of the world’s greatest (the world’s greatest?) ballet company in the same building! At the Comique by contrast, the French opera ballets are often performed with amateurish results.

    • 7.1
      ianw2 says:

      I doubt they would be released for an operatic divertissement ballet or that the opera would be allowed to bring in session dancers.

      • 7.1.1
        redbear says:

        They are not only in the same building but are an integral part of the Opera National de Paris. The ballet is called the Ballet of the Opera National de Paris. They all have one boss.

          oedipe says:

          Yea, but they have different Conventions de travail and different labor unions, so they don’t work together and the “corps de ballet” does not appear in staged operas.

  • 8
    grimoaldo says:

    Excellent news.
    I am glad *somebody* is celebrating the Verdi bicentenary
    The John Dexter production of Vespri, presented at the Met, ENO, Paris and other houses, did not include the ballet.

  • 9
    papopera says:

    The ballets were only performed to please the prurient vieux cochons of the Jockey Club.

    • 9.1
      Will says:

      Maybe during the Second Empire that was true, but the integral role of ballet in French Opera goes back to the seventeenth century. The French, who adore classifying anything and everything, even had a category called opera-ballet. It was a tradition that was very important to them.

      • 9.1.1
        ianw2 says:

        But by the time Verdi was doing it, it was to fulfill a convention, not an artistic requirement of the work. Verdi’s music often drops to B-grade for the conventional ballets and they rarely add anything more than some colour, movement and overtime.

        Am I right in thinking though that Vespers is considered one of his better ballets? I don’t know it at all, but for some reason think that’s the received wisdom.

          Camille says:

          Jerome Robbins choreographed it for New York City Ballet where I once had the pleasure of seeing it and could possibly be features on YouTube? I dunno, but worth a look.

          Mr.B. also choreographed the ballet from Don Carlos for the prima ballerina Merrill Ashley, entitled “Ballo della regina”, which I saw her do in one of her final performances of same. A real tour de force!!

          Well, coming from Camille it may not be such a great recommendation as what else can you expect from me? FWIW.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Verdi’s ballets of the Four Seasons was often performed at the Royal Ballet years ago Cmmille.
            I could not find a danced video of it on youtube.
            “coming from Camille it may not be such a great recommendation as what else can you expect from me?”

            haha I nearly said something identical to that Camille along the lines of “but what do I know? This is from the guy who admits to enjoying Meyerbeer and hates Les Mis and I was told the other day here that it is not even allowed to *think* that Les Mis is no good and if you don’t like it you forfeit any right to call yourself a human being.
            But let’s just keep sharing our opinions and knowledge cher Camille and if some people don’t like what we say they don’t have to pay attention.

          • Camille says:

            Tee hee hee, old boy — I saw the trailer to Les Miz and wanted to BARF!

            I have a film of Les Misérables from some time ago with Liam Neeson and Uma Thurman which is okay.

            If only some day the Met would produce a Huguenots with all stops out, maybe people would change their minds? I don’t know as everyone’s consciousness -- musically that is -- has been thoroughly “wagnerized”, I do mot think many people can “listen” to these works in a manner they would have been heard, back in their day. If you know what I mean.

          • quoth the maven says:

            Don’t undercut yourself, Camille. Ashley was absolutely astonishing in Ballo della Regina, and it’s a fabulous ballet.


          grimoaldo says:

          “Verdi’s music often drops to B-grade for the conventional ballets and they rarely add anything more than some colour, movement and overtime.”

          I don’t agree with that. In my opinion the music in Verdi’s ballets is wonderful. Of course it is mostly intended to be light and entertaining and there is nothing wrong with that.

          “Am I right in thinking though that Vespers is considered one of his better ballets? I don’t know it at all, but for some reason think that’s the received wisdom.”

          You can judge for yourself:

          Ballet of the four seasons from Sicilian Vespers-

          Prelude and winter:




          The great Charles Mackerras made an arrangement of Verdi’s ballet music into a ballet called The Lady and the Fool. Here is an excerpt with historical ballerina Svetlana Beriosova:

          During most of Verdi’s career large scale ballets were only performed in operas in Paris. If Italy had had a tradition of ballet performance Verdi might be remembered as one of the great ballet composers.

          • Indiana Loiterer III says:

            I’m not so sure that there was no tradition of ballet in Italy in Verdi’s time. I keep finding hints in scholarship about the period that there were separate full-length theatrical ballets in theaters like La Scala (for one thing, the Nabucco libretto is partly based on a ballet). I don’t know about the music they used, though. I’m sure our M. Croche can tell us more.

          • Indiana Loiterer III says:

            Well, look here--even given the tendency of official institutional history to exaggerate one’s importance, this is very interesting:


          • grimoaldo says:

            Yes I have seen the source of Nabucco referred to as a ballet, but wikipedia says it was a play.
            “Nabucco (short for Nabucodonosor, English Nebuchadnezzar) is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, based on the Biblical story and the 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornue.”

            French wikipedia (translated) says
            “Nebuchadnezzar , a drama in four acts, theatrical Store, Paris, 1836. In collaboration with Francis Cornue. First given at the Ambigu-Comique on 17 October 1836”


            If anyone knows more I would be glad to hear it.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Yes that is interesting Indiana, the ballet Excelsior was very famous.
            But they generally did not put ballets in operas in Italy.

          • Camille says:

            Along with Ponchielli—his I Due Gemelli is considered an excellent piece. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t seen it but read about a production in Italy while resident there which deplored the fact he hadn’t been solely a ballet composer, for such was the great effect of his ballet above. Besides poor ignored Leo Délibes, how many other 19th c. Composers were so proficient in both art forms?

            OOPS, forgot old Piotr there for a minute!!!!!

          • Camille says:

            And La Sonnambule/a was first a ballet with music by Hérold. And Beatrice di Tenda, too!

            I saw the La Sonnambule in Rome in 2008 (as did our own willym—where is he?) and just loved it. Wonderful and unapologetic recreation of the style and period. I was in HEAVEN! Sigh

          • ianw2 says:

            Actually, Sonnambula is one of those opera plots (I’d also include Lakme, maybe Thais) which probably works far better as a ballet than a libretto.

          • m. croche says:

            Indiana: I keep finding hints in scholarship about the period that there were separate full-length theatrical ballets in theaters like La Scala (for one thing, the Nabucco libretto is partly based on a ballet). I don’t know about the music they used, though.

            I’m probably duplicating other people’s replies, but some Italian names to play with:

            At the beginning of the 19th century, the choreographer-composer Francesco Clerico continued a run of successful work begun in the 18th, with such ballets as Cleopatra (1801), Macbeth [!!](1802), Zemira ed Azor (1805), Il tradimento di Semiramide (1813), and La Morte di Ettore (1821).

            A number of Viganos and one Giovanni Battista Giannini were also composing during the first couple decades of the century.

            Dancer/choreographer Antonio Monticini followed suit, racked up impressive numbers of ballets -- so far as I can tell, he was also their composer (and/or composer/arranger?) My favorite title: 1822’s “Violenza e costanza ossia Il castello degli spiriti : ballo tragicomico in tre atti ”

            Giovanni Galzerani composed the music to several of his ballets, though the 1827 Maria Stuarda had music by Vincenzo Schira. “Violenza e Costanza ossia Il castello degli spiriti”,

            Cesare Pugni spent the early part of his career in the land of his birth -- he was subsequently in demand in London, Paris and St. Petersburg. His popular ballets like Esmerelda made their way back to Italy for performance.

            Another vagabond, Paolo Giorza composed several ballets before emigrating to Australia. Ianw, this is your cue.

            Yet another mid-century worthy was Francesco Ramaccini.

            Romualdo Marenco, composer of -- among other things -- the above-named Excelsior, seems to have been more substantial figures in late 19th-century Italian ballet.

            As for Camille’s question: Besides poor ignored Leo Délibes, how many other 19th c. Composers were so proficient in both art forms?

            Well, I’d say that Adolphe Adam was equally proficient in opera and ballet. Your mileage may vary.

  • 10

    This is exiting news. Larmore is getting that reinvention in place. Lets hope it works for her.

  • 11
    Krunoslav says:

    Great news, yes indeed.

    Stephen Powell as Rodrigue is the most exciting news to me; Nistico is a clever and stylish singer, but I wish Powell were singing Montfort as well!

    BTW, papopera: Metro North’s Harlem Line trains (leaving from Grand central, passing through Harlem/125th Street) can get you to Caramoor via the Katonah station. Then you can arrange cabs; best done in groups , I think:

  • 12
    grimoaldo says:

    And on the subject of Sicilian Vespers, I once again recommend this performance from Vienna, which you can listen to on BBC i player wherever you are, not just in Britain:

    I have heard the first three acts so far, it available for five or six more days.
    Angela Meade is very good, also the baritone is excellent, Gregory Kunde is terrific and omg Furlanetto ROCKS, magnificent, a performance for the ages.

  • 13
    Angelo Saccosta says:

    Amen to Camille’s comment. Heaven indeed to have them both within two weeks. One question : which version of Don Carlos ? Original or revised or combination thereof ?

  • 14
    redbear says:

    Speaking of French, the Paris Opera Awards Friday had a big win for American coloratura Jennifer O’Loughlin. Both first prize and audience prize. Panel included Arroyo and Milnes. Anybody know her work?

  • 15
    Angelo Saccosta says:

    Naturally it will be the French language. But will it be the 1867 original version or the 1886 Modena version sung in the original French ? There are huge differences all over the opera.