Cher Public

The chat with nine lives

Thanks for your feedback, cher public. La Cieca has implemented the new chat software with your suggestions at La Casa della Cieca, which will officially relaunch Thursday, January 17, at 7:25 PM for Le Comte Ory from the Met. And don’t forget Saturday, January 18 at 12;30 PM, the premiere of Operavore (featuring a certain little-known doyenne) followed by Maria Stuarda!

  • zinka

    How could anyone not think she was the LAST of the great verismo ladies?????

    • zinka

      Sorry…I thought it told the name..Diana Soviero from Madrid….

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1898 baritone Carlo Tagliabue

    Born on this day in 1903 tenor Charles Kullman

    Happy 77th birthday baritone Renato Bruson

  • Ilka Saro

    We have the terms cavatina and cabaletta to refer specifically to music featuring a soloist. Sometimes the cavatina is seen as an “aria”, sometimes the two together are seen as the “aria”. I have a question about the musical structure behind this.

    I’ve been aware for a while that this structure wasn’t just used for arias in Italian operas in the first half of the nineteenth century. It was also used for duets, trios and ensembles. Most of the ensembles in Maria Stuarda follow this structure. Slow part emphasizing long legato phrases, followed by a part in a quicker tempo, often requiring more coloratura are bravura style singing. But the terms “cavatina” and “cabaletta” are never used when the same structure is used for a duet or a trio.

    Is there no term for this? I know I can’t say “in the cabaletta of the Maria/Leicester duet”, or “the cabaletta of the concertato section at the end of Act I of Ernani.”

    • Here’s a first, tentative answer, which bel-canto and/or Verdi scholars may elaborate upon (or contradict).

      As substitutes for “cavatina”, which does imply a solo singer, you can use “cantabile” or “adagio.”

      “Cabaletta” still works for duets or trios where the quick-tempo final section follows the strophic cabaletta structure.

      For act finales where the slow-section was a concertato, use the term “finale” or “stretta” for the final, quick section.

    • marshiemarkII

      Isn’t stretta more used in German opera like the classic are Ich folge in Abscheulicher and the equivalent in Ah Perfido (can’t remember the words but after Per pita of course) or the end of Non mi Dir? I haven’t heard it used in bel canto where it seems to be always recitative, aria (cantabile, cavatina) and cabaletta. Cabaletta can be in duo, the most memorable I can think of is Si vendetta in Rigoletto!

      Cavatina is also used in German opera with Leise Leise the classic example.

  • Nerva Nelli

    ““Cabaletta” still works for duets or trios where the quick-tempo final section follows the strophic cabaletta structure.

    For act finales where the slow-section was a concertato, use the term “finale” or “stretta” for the final, quick section.”

    Interesting, However, I have heard the term “stretta ” applied to the (awkward) “Si fuggiam” section of the Radames/Aida Act III duet, and that is not directly leading to the finale. Was that usage incorrect?

    • Oh, hopefully I won’t get myself into trouble here. All cabaletti are stretti. By the time we reach Aida, most would be more comfortable with the more generic term stretta. But the strophic he-said/she-said/they-said form of traditional duet cabaletti is still clearly discernible in this case. Use whichever term you think will be understood with the fewest problems.

    • No, that is a cabaletta, though in a slightly modified structure from the classical form for duets, in which the “paragraph” is heard three times, e..g, he sings, she sings, they sing a due, perhaps with the soprano on the melody and the tenor singing descant. This is the structure of “Gran dio morir si giovane” in Traviata (though generally conductors take a cut that omits the final repetition) and, in fact, the last pages of Aida which is a slow cabaletta in almost pure classical style. (The only innovation here is in giving the third statement to both singers in unison and the descant and coda to a third voice — Amneris.

      Ordinarily when we speak of a cabaletta in this context, it is as part of the “gran duetto” pattern of introduction/cantabile/tempo di mezzo/cabaletta.

  • vilbastarda

    Just returned from the NYC trip, and I’ll give my 2 cents on the performances on Saturday. I saw them both, to maximize on my rare trips to the big city.

    First Il Trovatore. I’ll start with the good parts first. The most surprising was the conductor. That was indeed true to the verdian spirit conducting. Everything was in place: rhythm, dynamics, accents… I’ve never heard before of Daniele Callegari, but he should be one of the major stars of any opera house. I’ve never heard such good conducting from more prominent conductors such as Luisi, or Benini, or Armiliato. Plus, Callegari had a confidence that orchestra picked up upon, and delivered. The second good thing, but not less impressive was the chorus. This Met chorus seems to improve season after season in the last years. Another nice surprise was Ferrando of Christophoros Stamboglis. He has a big and very pleasant voice, very well produced, and delivered consistently throughout.

    Now, things that could’ve been better. First Angel Meade, isn’t she a dear… She truly possesses a beautiful voice, warm, round, very pleasant. Unfortunately she almost seems to not be aware of it’s beauty. I’m saying this because at time she produces this underdeveloped sound, almost white. I guess this is what others said as being bright, shrill. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was a problem just yesterday. I saw her in Bolena last year, and had the same impression. In my opinion Leonora requires a more dramatic vocal presence than Bolena does, and this is why her shortcoming was more evident. In a way she reminds me of Ruth Ann Swenson: beautiful voice, but somewhat underdeveloped. I really hope that Meade will evolve, and learn how to produce her voice for a stage like the Met, she has all the goods, she just seems immature for it yet. I believe this is a fault of voice teachers too, I have witnessed numerous times how voice teachers encourage this kind of “white” sound, as being healthy. The idea being that a “child like” sound should be natural, while a more mature sound could be manipulated and over darkened. BS, a “child like” sound will not lead you anywhere.

    I think enough was said about Blythe. I really felt bad for her, it must’ve been horrible to be on the stage, and realize that the voice is not working, not even to hit the pitches. To her credit, she improved in the second part, but it wasn’t long lived. At the beginning of the 3rd act she sounded like the glorious Blythe that we all love, but it didn’t last. This just shows that even a consummate artist like her cannot just open their mouths and sing, it is still hard work, and there are days when the voice simply is not working. We should even more appreciate the artists that give us great performances, or even OK performances, as it is not easy by any means.

    Berti was adequate, but constricted at times. Markov has a beautiful voice, but the placement feels very back, sort of like Hvorostovsky few years ago.

    Than the evening belonged to Stuarda and JDD. Even though there was a lot of bitching around here that her voice is ugly, and bleaty, that she committed sacrilege by transposing, etc, etc, she almost single handedly made this production glorious. Yes, her voice is not the most beautiful there is, she sounds constricted on the top (though much less than few years ago), her vibrato becomes caprilo when she seems to try to hard, but non of these matter too much. She is a complete artist and delivers. Everything is put together: perfect musicianship, and respect for the music, deep understanding of the character, intelligence, and ability to communicate all of these. From the moment she enters the stage, to the last beat of the opera, she breathes and exhales Stuarda and Donizetti’s music through every pore. I can only imagine that this is how it must have been at a Maria Callas performance. Now, Joyce’s voice is not Callas’, Joyce has a rather modest instrument, but she knows how to make the most of it, unlike some singers with big and glorious voices that rest on the laurels of it, and deliver mediocre performances. She also seems to have limitless breath. In the prayer, she held that note longer than anybody I heard (on recordings).

    Elza Van Der Heever was an adequate Elisabetta. Somehow I expected a bigger voice. On the radio sounded almost Wagnerian, but in house was surprised to find it rather modest. The top is big, but the middle and low are not. It might be another case of “too young” for this role/stage. But she sang with character, and delivered a believable Elisabetta.

    Polenzani was good, very nice voice, just rarely a bit pushed. He is what I call a “house tenor” not too memorable, but nothing to complain either, which at the Met is a big deal.

    Benini though was atrocious: rhythmically was all over the place. Poor Joyce had to speed up or slow down him several times (she was the one with taste here, he was not), I even spotted Elza signaling to him to slow down at one ensemble moment. Dynamics and instrumental accents were off many times. Plus I couldn’t sense the confidence that was present in the morning with Callegari, and hence the orchestra played a little more erratic.

    A bit of trivia. I noticed that in this production the codpieces were significantly less impressive than in Bolena. Was that on purpose, to show the reduced masculinity in this opera, was that the trend of the period?!? What will happen in Roberto Devereux? Anybody else noticed this?

    Overall, a very rewarding weekend, even with all the shortcomings, we are all human, and not everything is perfect all the time.

    • bassoprofundo

      “Yes, her voice is not the most beautiful there is, she sounds constricted on the top (though much less than few years ago), her vibrato becomes caprilo when she seems to try to hard, but non of these matter too much.”

      Perhaps not for you.

      • vilbastarda

        Picking nits. The total is more than the sum of it’s parts, in this case. Yes, there are shortcoming with the voice, but the singing is grand, and it sounds better in the house than on the radio.

        • vilbastarda

          “its parts” -- should not open my mouth before coffee.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      Interesting what you say about Meade. On the radio, to me the timbre was most unpleasant. She also seems to have lost a lot of facility up top, already at this relatively early stage. It seemed she could do a forte or a sort of detached mezza voce during which she had to tread very, very carefully, and sadly nothing in between.

      • grimoaldo

        Meade made her debut at Vienna in September in Vespri, a performance just broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and I thought she was terrific. Others who saw it live agree:

        “”Arrigo, ah parle ad un core” was as close to perfection as one could hope for, finely shaped throughout with effortlessly spun pianissimi and a fearless approach in the aria’s precarious chromatic scales.”

        earning an enthusiastic, prolonged ovation.

        “The best performance in the cast came from soprano Angela Meade in the character of Elena. She is a young singer who is destined to have an important career in my view: her voice is wide and attractive, she knows how to handle it and proves very reliable at both ends of the tessitura.”

        But on Saturday the voice sounded very fluttery and she cracked twice. Can she really have “lost a lot of facility up top” in the last couple of months?

        vilbastarda says:

        “Markov has a beautiful voice”

        Not in my opinion. That performance sounded like a competition between tenor and baritone as to who could make the uglier sounds, with a performance from the Azucena for the ages all right, but in a negative way. People here often mention Livia Budai as an Azucena who was booed off the stage, but she can’t have been worse than Blythe was on Saturday.

        Whole thing was atrocious.

        • vilbastarda

          It’s possible that the microphones for the radio broadcast were not doing full justice to the voices. In that case I don’t even want to imagine how Blythe sounded, as she was pretty bad in house as well.

        • Gualtier M

          Blythe was clearly sick -- please don’t extrapolate from one underpar performance that this is her current level. Meade I think sounded lovely -- I relistened to the BBC feed of the Met broadcast. She sounded unsettled and nervous and has a better Leonora in her but what she does have is so much better than what is out there currently. I mean if you want to talk about overbrightness, flutteriness and edge -- is Radvanovsky free of those qualities? I find Meade’s timbre much more conventionally beautiful. I think there is a backlash going on here. I am not buying into it. I give Meade a thumbs up, Blythe a pass while Berti sounded pressed, clumsy and ugly. But the biggest disappointment for me was Alexey Markov -- from his earlier work I expected much better.

          • Clita del Toro

            I don’t know that Blythe was “clearly sick,” but we might find out tomorrow evening when she sings Azucena again. I am not a big fan of her loud singing style--did not especially like her Amneris, Fricka or Ofeo either. Her voice may be “a force of nature”, but her singing/art is not, imo.

  • marshiemarkII

    Just came back to reality from a breathtaking concert at the Morgan Library. Emalie Savoy demonstrated once again that she is one of opera’s greatest promise at the moment and what a pleasure to see her development from almost exactly a year ago. The voice is simply gigantic when she unleashes the full glory of her magnificent instrument, but she can also scale to a gorgeous thread as she did in the sublimely beautiful “Sanglots” from the 5-set Banalites, as well as a gorgeously vocalized “Hotel”, as if I needed persuading that Francis Poulenc has to be the greatest composer of the 20th C (well the greatest Richard Strauss is really 19th C right? :-) ). Those two songs in particular, with such strong reminiscences of the glorious vocal lines of Blanche and Madame Lidoine of course! Ahhhh that French vocal line…..She was memorable! Then came a stunning “Bella mia Fiamma, addio” from Mozart, that displayed her huge and very broad middle, almost Varnay-like (and showing all the potential for the big Wagner parts), and yet she had no trouble nailing a stunning high D (in-alt). The girl has everything!!!! She repeated her Armide warhorse “Le perfide Renaud me fuit”, even more rounded and beautiful than she had done in the full opera last February. She is definitely both subtly elegant and incredibly dramatic, the audience gave her a prolonged ovation at the end.

    It was meant to be a duo concert with Matthew Polenzani, but he withdrew and instead we had the magnificent Anthony Dean Griffey. What a beautiful and also immense voice, and what a great artist he is, giving a heart-wrenching, devastating account of Jimmy Mahoney’s aria that was also breathtaking, and two gorgeous songs from the Schwanengesang, in particular a glorious “Staendchen”, and here we come to the glue that held all of this together: the most magnificently great Ken Noda. Few words can describe how great his playing is!!! Is there really a greater pianist in the world today? And what a luxury!!! these young artists get to play with an artist of the stature and scale of Ken, he really has no equals!!!!!!

    The concert ended with a marvelous account of Gershwin’s “Let’s call the whole thing off”, Emalie showing her best comedic skills, what a grand girl she is!

    The audience went nuts, it was packed with movers and shakers, and le tout New York, and last but not least, the good housekeeping sign of approval, Lois was there!!!!!!!

    • Nerva Nelli

      Griffey and Noda were indeed excellent and Lois was indeed there.

      Behrens Foundation favorite Miss Savoy clearly has talent but--let’s be honest-- her voice today often sounded shrill and even screechy (the D flat was just TERRIBLE) and the bottom empty. (Softer middle register stuff was quite lovely.) Granted the Morgan’s acoustics are not ideal for large voices, but Griffey’s tenor sounded warm and appealing.

      Next to Griffey, who made every syllable come to life, her failure to make the French “lived” in the Poulenc-- *not* a good choice for someone not an expert diseuse-- was not flattering. The Armide was better but still not exactly accomplished by professional standards.

      The people I spoke with after agreed with me-- several were even harsher on Savoy. If MM II actually heard her as sounding the way he describes her in his might-have-been-penned-before-the concert *parti pris* raptures, I can now understand the disparity in his descriptions of his GREATEST BEST EVER GLORIOUS idol and what the rest of us heard for all those years from the comparable Hildegard.

      • oedipe


        I didn’t attend the concert so I have no opinion about it. But I am curious: who would you consider an expert diseur/se in activity today (taking into account the fact that you haven’t yet come across a living French singer that you didn’t hate, or so it seems). Marion Cotillard maybe?

        • Nerva Nelli

          Oedipe, I know not “seems”!

          I-- seems politer than saying ‘You”-- have no idea what you’re talking about.

          I like Piau, Gens, Uria-Monzon (who has improved her diction in recent years), Dumaux, Jaroussky (like his singing, not his cult following), Beuron, Degout, Tezier.

          Among *canadiens*, I like Gauvin, Labelle, Antoun…

          Enjoyed Delunsch, Dessay and Alagna before their vocal declines.

          As for Poulenc: Dessay should be doing him, also the Italian-born Ciofi and Antonacci. Our Own Flott has the diseuese thing going.

          • manou

            There is a Lott of disease going around, it is true.

          • oedipe

            Well, I stand corrected and I am delighted to see I was under the wrong impression. But if my memory isn’t playing tricks on me, your remarks about Dessay, Alagna, Uria-Monzon, or Tézier have always ranged between hostile and dismissive, and I can’t recall even one mot (positive or negative) you might have said about Dumaux, Degout, Beuron (really?), Piau, Antoun, etc.

            But yes, in France we LOVE Flott!

          • oedipe

            For your info, in March 2013, l’Opéra Comique is doing an (almost) one-woman show of La Voix Humaine, coupled with Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Segreto di Susanna for Antonacci.

          • Nerva Nelli

            Well, in the last 5-6 years, there has been a lot negative to say about Dessay and Alagna, no?

            I may have noted that the French press carries on about Tézier (I recall more than one French review citing him as the finest Verdi baritone in the world, which is nonsense). Nor is he always an enlivening actor. But he sings very well indeed.

            Beuron is or at least was (have not heard him in some time) very good at what he does.

          • oedipe

            Well, in the last 5-6 years, there has been a lot negative to say about Dessay and Alagna, no?

            Well, you present things as if “a lot negative to say” were an objective truth. I, on the other hand, believe it’s all a matter of fashionable, consensus-creating opinions. There has been “a lot negative to say” about JDD and Meade lately; does it make it an objective truth? Actually, there has been a lot of negativity about Dessay and Alagna for the last 15 years or so, and some people have ALWAYS hated their guts.

          • Nerva Nelli

            Speaking as an individual and not as part of a publicity survey, I can state that I have witnessed both live and on broadcast and telecasts much worthy of negative comment from the very gifted and once very successful Dessay and Alagna.

            I was initially a big fan of her work; never loved his persona ( or body or whatever it is that still gets him a largely free pass here) but he was excellent in CARMEN, ROMEO and the like and still -- witness last year’s OONY NAVARRAISE- is capable of good work, I am not sure Dessay is in her wonted field, but I’d love to see her do VOIX HUMAINE.

          • armerjacquino

            oedipe, I think a lot of the negativity towards Dessay has been based not on her nationality but on a certain interpretation (wilful misinterpretation?) of some of her interviews. ‘I wanted to be an actor when I was younger’ became ‘SHE ISN’T EVEN INTERESTED IN SINGING!’ , ‘Sutherland wasn’t much of an actor’ became ‘SHE THINKS SHE IS BETTER THAN LA STUPENDA!’ etc etc etc.

      • marshiemarkII

        “I can now understand the disparity in his descriptions of his GREATEST BEST EVER GLORIOUS idol”

        My, my my, some queens really think of themselves as people worthy of any attention. Let me tell you something girlfriend, I spend exactly 0.00000001% of my time worrying about what you are going to think of my opinion, oh did I say that much??????

        In the case of the great Hildegard Behrens, your opinion has the statistical value of exactly *one*, just that *one*. My opinion of her greatness was shared by the greatest conductors of the 20th C, in fact two of the very greatest ever, who fought over her artistic contributions for some of the most important projects of her generation, over her career span of exactly thirty years. You know, people like Herbert von Karajan, Dr Karl Bohm, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Claudio Abbado, Christof von Dohnanyi, Sir Georg Solti, Christof Eschenbach, Leonard Bernstein, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Bernard Haitink and Horst Stein, and of the younger generation like Peter Schneider, Christian Thielemann, Donald Runnicles, and Franz Woelser-Moest. So I am sure that her sterling historical reputation is not going to suffer because of your opinion of *one*.

        But your picking apart a great performance from a young singer, who is at the dawn of an incredibly promising career, just to settle scores with one of your parterre antagonists is a new low in what we have become accustomed from you, a vicious nasty queen with no ethical values. You want to express an opinion on the evening performance?, of course you are entitled to your opinion, however debased it might be, but to use this great artist as a hostage and victim to inter-queen diatribes is contemptible and reprehensible. Of course I am not the first one who has called you on that. Others have asked “are you as NASTY in real life, as you display here” and the answer has to be sadly, a resounding YES!

        • Nerva Nelli

          Well, this is precisely what I expected, down to the list of Behrens’ conductors.

          I did not comment on Emilie Savoy’s performance viciously. I described what I heard. Others heard her in less flattering terms than I; I fully expect she will get it together and have a career. And I CERTAINLY did not form my opinion in order to fling it at you. I have enjoyed aspects of her singing before and I went with open ears and high expectations.

          It is you, sir, who are doing her a disservice, writing about a promising but uneven performance as if it was the Second Coming that will soon find her Queen of La Scala and the Met. Savoy deserves time to develop; voices with big tops often sound awkward at the Morgan and at other small venues.

          But I believe in truth, not “flak” from interested parties.

        • marshiemarkII

          Look you want to review, fine you are entitled to your opinion like every American, but DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT use innocent artists that are trying to start a career for your pathetic silly fight in an internet blog, because THAT IS UNETHICAL!!!!!! I don’t give a damn what you think of me, as I can more than defend myself with silly ridiculous queens like you! But innocent bystanders are NOT fair game. It is vicious and nasty as you are accustomed, and I am demanding that you do not use MY POSTS to denigrate great artists. You do enough to denigrate yourself with your written record! but do not involve innocents!

          • armerjacquino

            This from our oil on troubled waters correspondent:

            ‘clearly has talent’ ‘I fully expect she will get it together’ ‘promising but uneven’ ‘she deserves time to develop’.

            I don’t think any of these really qualify as ‘vicious and nasty’.

          • marshiemarkII

            Did you read the original review a few posts up or is that too much to ask? and you will apologize once again for having jumped the gun, like several times before (hint: it’s better to read well before writing).

            In any case, Nerva’s opinions as opinions per se are what they are, and I could never object, let alone prevent them from being aired, that is beyond question.

            What ***I*** am objecting is his using MY POST to specifically get back at me, and criticize my effusiveness (do I need to ask for permission to be effusive?) while using an artist that has nothing to do with any of this to settle those scores!!!!! That is contemptible and reprehensible!!!! because the artist is caught in the cross fire unwittingly and certainly without even knowing. This vicious queen seems to live for calling on other queens on their opinions. This may be OK with a more established artist, but with a beginner that gave a sterling performance, that was greeted by a prolonged ovation by a very knowledgeable audience, is disgusting! and you are not going to convince otherwise.

          • armerjacquino

            MMII, your tone is a little aggressive given that I am trying to calm this argument down. Yes, I did read Nerva’s post- in fact, I quoted it- which says that Ms. Savoy is a promising singer who in Nerva’s opinion didn’t give a good performance.

            I don’t think that’s nasty or vicious and I certainly have nothing to apologize for (‘again’?). And with that I’ll leave the pair of you to it.

          • Nerva Nelli

            Thanks, Armer, but you cannot bring clarity to a closed and disordered mind.

            Miss Savoy is not an “innocent”; she is a promising young soprano on the Met roster who has been given major opportunities at Julliard. She was performing in a series of paid public recitals that pairs established professional singers with younger professional singers.

            No one (well, almost no one) expected her to be Christa Ludwig out of the gate. The younger singers at he London series are often more impressive vocally than interpretively. Savoy showed in one of the slow Poulenc songs and in parts of the Mozart aria that she can be an expressive artist. But to write about a glorious personal triumph (these events are ALWAYS full of industry people and are ALWAYS loudly applauded, and how BTW did MM II know the acclaim was exclusively for Savoy, and not for the three artists as a group?) and to deploy the overheated praise for what was in fact a notably uneven showing (that D flat was *scary*) shows a want of respect for the readers here-- and, I would submit, an eventual unkindness to the young artist involved. To be told you are sublime and fabulous by someone with some credentials as an authority when in fact much work is still needed can be detrimental with any kind of young artist.

            My take; I don’t expect MM II to see things that way. My point in roping in Behrens and his insistence on her having been THE BEST — even when she was *sometimes* the best but often quite bad — was to suggest that this is fundamentally the sensibility of a FAN, not of a reliable witness.


          • marshiemarkII

            You can backtrack all you want, but your posts are still there as an indictment. You state very explicitly at the end “the sensibility of a FAN, not of a reliable witness.” So your intention was very clearly not to review the performance, but to prove first that I was not a “reliable witness”, and hence invalidate (in your dreams) my entire critical opus here at parterre. If not, why didn’t you write your ***own*** independent review, without having to latch on to mine? Are you THAT obsessed with my posts that you do not mind sacrificing a great beginning-artist as road-kill (collateral damage they say in the military) just so you can satisfy your obsessions?

            Now you also make some very serious accusations that border on defamation:
            “But I believe in truth, not “flak” from interested parties”

            How am I an “interested party”? I am not a manager, nor a publicity agent. In fact I am not, nor have I ever been in the music business. I volunteer my time for the Hildegard Behrens Foundation, which has GIVEN over $150,000 in $10,000 awards to young musicians (sometimes multiple times to the same artist). You better believe I am interested in seeing those artists flourish, and blossom in their careers, and will always give them my wholehearted encouragement! But an “interested party”? I am GIVING instead of TAKING!, perhaps in your warped world it must be hard to see the difference!!!

            I am also not a musician, professional or even amateur, but what I am is a very passionate opera lover, with over 40 years of opera going experience (live), and even longer listening to recorded media. I also had the privilege of participating for 27 years in the process of opera creation, through rehearsals and the like, with some of the greatest musicians of the last quarter of the 20th C, in some of the most extraordinary operatic projects of that time. Do you seriously think that you can invalidate my opinions, with your feeble arguments?

          • Nerva Nelli

            I think MM II’s post speaks for itself so characteristically that virtually nothing more need be added.


  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1895 bass-baritone Ludwig Hofmann

    Born on this day in 1921 mezzo-soprano Grace Hoffman

    Born on this day in 1922 tenor Jean Cox

    Born on this day in 1929 baritone Louis Quilico

    Happy 73rd birthday Siegmund Nimsgern

  • Feldmarschallin

    Well yesterday at the superb Götterdämmerung I noticed that Nina Stemme, Kirsten Opolais and Anja Harteros all seem to prefer to wear the same ugly shoes on stage. Flat ballerinas with absolutely no heel. All have feet which are not exactly small and these shoes make their feet seem even larger plus look very ugly. They should take Varady or Schwarzkopf for a role model who always wore heels on stage. Varady very high ones even. I mean perhaps it is only a small detail but still one notices these things and one should care how one looks onstage even down to the footwear.

    • Gualtier M

      Marie-Theres’ -- the reason these ladies may wear flats is that they are tall or tallish or more to the point -- taller than their leading men. Opalais wore flats as Magda in “Rondine” which probably no courtesan wore in the 20’s when the Joel production is set. The reason is that Filianoti is about 5’8″ and she is about 5’8″ or 5’9″ so she wore flats so she wouldn’t tower over him in love scenes.

  • Feldmarschallin

    Should read Kristine instead of Kirsten. Sorry about that.

  • zinka

    You vant to know vy I vas the greatest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????? Leeesen!!!!!

  • zinka

    Gee.Thanks,Sir Rudy, for hiring 57th rate mezzos and never giving Regina a chance in one of her greatest roles…but at least Bayreuth approved!!!!!!

    • Nerva Nelli

      The WALKUERE Frickas Bing hired between the time Resnik became a mezzo (since in 1951, when he first did the RING, she was singing Sieglinde at the Met) and his retirement:

      Irene Dalis
      Mignon Dunn
      Christa Ludwig
      Jean Madeira
      Nell Rankin
      Blanche Thebom
      Josephine Veasey

      Which of these internationally ranked Wagnerians qualifies in your view as a “57th rate mezzo” in the context of singing Fricka at the time?

      (There was one 1965 performance by Gladys Kriese, surely as a cover--though she sang this part at the Deutsche Oper Berlin).

      • Bill

        Speaking of Mezzos, Agnes Baltsa at the age of 68 has just been completing a series of performances of L’Italiana in Algeri as Isabella in Vienna
        with reviews which were somewhat positive.
        She sang in the Premiere of this Ponelle production in 1987 and made her Staatsoper Debut (as Komponist) over 40 years ago. She is a Mezzo who pretty much stayed a Mezzo throughout her
        career. Feruccio Furlanetto was also in that 1987 production and refrained his well known
        Mustafa this past week with success.

        Edita Gruberova had heavenlike reviews for
        her concertized Anna Bolena in Vienna last week.
        She is 66 now.

        In my opinion, Domingo should be allowed to
        sing whatever he wishes to sing -- albeit
        Baritone roles even if the timbre is different
        from what we are accustomed. We do not have a plethora of superb Cavalier or Verdi baritones these days (though Nucci still has engagements in some leading roles and he will be 71 in April). Many many famous singers (particularly sopranos) have altered their roles and taken on lower parts
        with aplomb and success when the top notes have lost their bloom.

        Grace Bumbry (at 76) is returning to the Vienna Staatsoper after some two decades this month to essay the old Countess in Pique Dame (Shicoff is the Hermann).

        Garanca has cancelled (or postponed at least)
        her Didons (Les Troyens) in Berlin this March indicating she is not yet ready to perform the role. She is slated in future seasons do do Didon in Vienna as well.

      • The_Kid

        honest question, nerva (not being snarky):

        how would you compare irene dalis and mignon dunn with, say, christa ludwig, as fricka?

        • Clita del Toro

          I’d rather hear Jane Rhodes sing Fricka than Irene Dalis, Christa Ludwig or Mignon Dunn.

        • Nerva Nelli

          Kid, I don’t know what Clita’s problem with Ludwig as Fricka is, but Solti and Levine seemed to like her well enough! I have always enjoyed her in it.

          Never heard Dalis live. I understand why people didn’t like her in Italian and French roles, but in Wagner and Strauss she clearly had something to offer. Bayrueth used her as Kundry (even on a recording) and Ortrud ( in which she reportedly triumphed, and Zinka might note that these re roles which Resnik was wise never to attempt.

          I am sure that Resnik (a great artist in the right role, and *of course* she should have been offered Carmen earlier, but there the main problem-- as with Frances Bible never having come to the Met as Octavian-- was Rise Stevens’ clout) feels that *she* should have done the FRAU Amme at the met too, but her Covent Garden performance sounds less impressive than Dalis who is REALLY good, especially in the 1969 broadcast.
          I have never heard a souvenir of her Fricka, but given that she was accepted in Wagner roles (also Brangaene and Waltraute) in Berlin as well as Bayreuth, I doubt she woudl quaify as 57th rate as Fricka.

          I did hear Mignon Dunn as Fricka twice, in 1977 and 1984. She was excellent the first time and still very good the second time. This was a real “theatre voice”, quite huge ( Ortrud rocked the walls) and I don’t think it recorded well at all. I would not place Dunn in the same league as Ludwig for vocal beauty or nuance but she was a more than satisfying interpreter of Fricka.

      • zinka

        Of Course I am only really speaking of Rankin,Madeira, and dalis…but they at least gave the wonderful Barbro Ercsson a fricka..What I really mean (and KNOW) is that Regina was passed over in many many ways by Bing…He gave countless Dalis..and then he had those awful Carmens of Kerstin Meyer and Jane Rhodes.When Cernei bombed at Carmen..10 yrs.after Regina’s fabulous successes in the role..he then gave in..
        Regina’s tapes show her to be one of the greatest..but Bing denied her….and if you look at the annals, you see very little of regina in Aida,Trovatore,Ballo,Boris… each pretty much.
        Meanwhile she was triumphing in other lands….

        Of COURSE Thebom,Ludwig,Veasey were magnificent..but my comments really relate to Bing’s total denial of Regina as a mezzo..He told her not to become a mezzo..and she proved him wrong…that he could not take..and he saw her only as a “character” mezzo….
        You gotta trust me on this..i know her 50 yrs..and i do think she deserved much more..but he used Dalis and Rankin a lot..and they were inadequate in Italian opera.

        My best CH

        P.S.Listen to the Cg Boris with Regina…Bing gave her ONE..and in a few seasons wanted to have as the innkeeper..which she calls the “chicken plucker.”

        • Nerva Nelli

          In WALKURE, Rankin (of whom I have read good reviews for her Ortrud except late in the game in New Orleans!) sang 3 Met Frickas and Madeira just 1, in what sounds like a “cover night” (see below). Surely Madeira was better suited to Erda.

          Metropolitan Opera House
          March 10, 1958

          DIE WALK?RE {382}

          Br?nnhilde…………..Margaret Harshaw
          Siegmund…………….Albert Da Costa
          Sieglinde……………Marianne Schech [Last performance]
          Wotan……………….Otto Edelmann
          Fricka………………Jean Madeira
          Hunding……………..William Wilderman

          Conductor……………Fritz Stiedry


        • Nerva Nelli

          In WALKURE, Rankin (of whom I have read good reviews for her Ortrud except late in the game in New Orleans!) sang 3 Met Frickas and Madeira just 1, in what sounds like a “cover night” (see below). Surely Madeira was better suited to Erda.

          Metropolitan Opera House
          March 10, 1958

          DIE WALK?RE {382}

          Br?nnhilde…………..Margaret Harshaw
          Siegmund…………….Albert Da Costa
          Sieglinde……………Marianne Schech [Last performance]
          Wotan……………….Otto Edelmann
          Fricka………………Jean Madeira
          Hunding……………..William Wilderman

          Conductor……………Fritz Stiedry


        • Nerva Nelli

          In WALKURE, Rankin (of whom I have read good reviews for her Ortrud except late in the game in New Orleans!) sang 3 Met Frickas and Madeira just 1, in what sounds like a “cover night” (see below). Surely Madeira was better suited to Erda.

          Metropolitan Opera House
          March 10, 1958

          DIE WALK?RE {382}

          Br?nnhilde…………..Margaret Harshaw
          Siegmund…………….Albert Da Costa
          Sieglinde……………Marianne Schech [Last performance]
          Wotan……………….Otto Edelmann
          Fricka………………Jean Madeira
          Hunding……………..William Wilderman

          Conductor……………Fritz Stiedry


  • Bill

    Christa Ludwig was as fine a Fricka
    as any I have seen (first being Thebom).

    • Clita del Toro

      Blanche was a sexy Amneris as well.

  • zinka

    P.S. Domingo is the ONLY ONLY ONLY singer who sang baritone roles with a tenor voice..Vinay,really baritonal, did a few lower roles late…Bartolo,Inquisitor,Iago…but Verdi did not write for TWO TENORS..Placido’s voice is still quite fine..about up to A flat…BUT so what…He has no business in the wrong fach..but he sells tickets….so the “peasants’ do not care.
    I respect his career…especially his birthday..when both of us were born…Jan.21….but I never sang mezzo….

  • zinka

    In the words of Michele in The Saint of Bleeker Street, “I know that you all hate me,” but fearless as I still can be, here is my ENDLESS and FRUSTRATED diatribe against titles at the opera:

    1. We were kids..We did our homework..not to mention all the other centuries (if they had libretti in Gluck’s time).

    2. Stupid unsophisticated peasants laugh at “comedy’ in dramatic works, interrupting the music for us snobs.(e.g. Every time Mario says to Tosca, “Davanti alla Madonna,” I wait for the stupid laughter. It isn’t Elisir,dummies!

    3. If you are a TRUE opera lover, you MUST concentrate on every BREATH emitted from the artist, and not divert your attention. We do not come to a theatre to READ!

    4. Now they text during a show..I bet they download libretti so they can look into their laps and not have to strain to see the titles in front of them..or in most theatres, get a stiff neck looking above the stage.

    5. Remember, how we are spoiled in so many ways by modern technology.It makes us lazy and when we have something new, we cannot be without it.

    A good way to discourage people from looking at titles, is to make them all in Sanskrit. I know a Jewish girl named Rosetta Stone who could do this.

    OK…Now you can battimi,insultami (again) Charlie

  • zinka

    Only 83….She turns 103 in March..I bet she can still do it!!!!!!!
    The MIRACOLO of opera……

    • Archaeopteryx

      I’m sorry to rise that issue again, but I stumbled across that infamous Stephan von Cron article on Sutherland and Bonynge some time ago and am now somewhat confused what to make from it. Dear parterre users, please tell me your opinion about this article which I found a rather amusing read, but doubt its credibility a bit. I mean, some things might be matter of facts -- eg Bonynge’s “preferences” -- but, on the other hand, the whole character of von Cron seems to be somewhat obscure -- does anybody know more about him and could say anything about his reliability? What ever happened to him after this year? And, a question which interests me because it might concern my person, do you think it might be helpful for a yong conductor’s CV to attend a masterclass by Mr. Sutherland, or would that make professionals rise an eyebrow about one’s concept of morality (even if he is innocent concerning Mr B’s reputation)? It would be very helpful for me to get some claritiy in this obscure issue.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Go to the masterclass. I’ve been conducted by him in 2 different productions and he has a lot to offer. His sense of priority is pretty different from many conductors but that, surely, is all to the good -- you’ll learn new things (hopefully -- masterclasses can be pretty useless, but can also yield gems).

        As for the article, do you have it available as a link? I’d be interested to see it.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1918 mezzo-soprano Vera Borisenko

    Born on this day in 1928 soprano Pilar Lorengar

    Happy 79th birthday mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne

    Happy 76th birthday tenor Kenneth Woollam

    Happy 48th birthday soprano Yelina Prokina

  • marshiemarkII

    And predictably, the STUNNING Emalie Savoy gets a sensational review in the New York Times:

    “Opera buffs had chances to hear the remarkable Ms. Savoy last year in two collaborative productions between the Juilliard Opera Theater and the Met’s Young Artist program. In November she was a vulnerable and vocally lustrous Fiordiligi in an imaginative production of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte,” directed by Stephen Wadsworth and conducted by Alan Gilbert. And early last year she sang the demanding title role in Gluck’s seldom heard “Armide.” That Ms. Savoy has the right combination of vocal allure, majesty and passion for this role she showed again on Sunday in her account of Armide’s intense final scene.
    She also gave an exquisite performance of Poulenc’s “Banalités.” During some climatic moments of Mozart’s dramatic concert aria “Bella mia fiamma, addio!” Ms. Savoy’s full-voiced singing sounded hard-edged, though that may have resulted from the close surroundings and bright acoustics of the Morgan’s intimate Gilder Lehrman Hall.
    The recital ended with a sort of programmed encore, a delightfully sung account of the Gershwin standard “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” ”

    • Nerva Nelli


      Just as predictably, MM II doesn’t notice the part about her sounding hard-edged, and more fundamentally doesn’t have the courage to identify the writer of the review as Tony Tomassini, of whose capacity to judge vocal performances many readers here will have their opinions.

      Doubtless MM II circulated xeroxes (remember them?) of Edward Rothstein’s (in)famous’ 1992 review of the Behrens ELEKTRA opening night:

      ” The singing was also almost always larger than life. Hildegard Behrens was in fine vocal shape as Elektra. Apart from a few slides into notes, she made this most demanding role seem almost easy: her pitch was sure; she easily rode the orchestra for all it was worth.”

      Thanks for a laugh to start our morning, Marshie!

      • Camille

        Nerva, talking about ‘xeroxes’ will put you into that same tempest in a teapot which your ‘Fotomat’ remark once did. Remember, you’re only thirty-nine.

        • Nerva Nelli

          Chere Camille--

          I was an observant child, and I watch THE TUDORS, MAD MEN and other historically based shows. :)

      • marshiemarkII

        When you have to resort to made on the fly LIES it just shows how PATHETIQUE you are!, poor thing, getting desperate? or going mad? remember the sad fate of those two HUGELY FAT (fat is no good for neuronal synapses you know) singers Bianca Berini and Elizabeth Payer-Tucci, you know where they ended up, and at least they had some talent. E tu Brute?

        • Nerva and marshiemarkII, you need to step back and calm down. Both of you are on moderation (in the sense of “return to your corners”) until I can review the situation.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1860 dramatist Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

    Happy 56th birthday soprano Nancy Argenta

    Happy 55th birthday soprano Agnès Mellon

  • Nerva Nelli

    Meanwhile, someone was asking about opportunities t hear Monastyrska. HGO just announced their season, which combines the unmissable (Ana Maria Martinez’ first Carmen) with the unspeakable (Andrea Silvestrelli as Fafner).

    Note the vital imports:

    King [AIDA]: Robert Gleadow

    Alberich: Christopher Purves

    Houston Grand Opera: 2013-14 season

    * HGO debut
    + former HGO Studio Artist

    Giuseppe Verdi: Aida
    Oct 18, 20m, 26, 29. Nov 1, 3m, 9, 2013
    Aida: Liudmyla Monastyrska*
    Radamès: Riccardo Massi* / Issachah Savage*
    Amneris: Dolora Zajick
    Amonasro: Scott Hendricks+
    Ramfis: Ain Anger*
    King: Robert Gleadow
    Conductor: Antonino Fogliani
    Chorus Master: Richard Bado+
    Original Director: Jo Davies
    Director: José Maria Condemi
    Choreographer: Dominic Walsh*
    Set Designer: Zandra Rhodes
    Costume Designer: Zandra Rhodes
    Lighting Designer: Michael James Clark

    A co-production of Houston Grand Opera, English National Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Norwegian National Opera.

    Johann Strauss II: Die Fledermaus
    Oct 25, 27m, Nov 2, 8, 10m
    Eisenstein: Liam Bonner+
    Rosalinde: Wendy Bryn Harmer*
    Adele: Laura Claycomb
    Prince Orlofsky: Susan Graham
    Alfred: Anthony Dean Griffey
    Frank: Michael Sumuel+
    Frosch / Bell Boy / Waiter: Jason Graae
    Conductor: Thomas Rösner
    Chorus Master: Richard Bado+
    Director: Lindy Hume
    Set Designer: Richard Roberts*
    Costume Designer: Angus Strathie*
    Lighting Designer: Michael James Clark
    Associate Director / Choreographer: Daniel Pelzig

    An original production by Opera Australia, owned by Opéra de Montréal.

    Mieczyslaw Weinberg: The Passenger (North American premiere)
    Jan 18, 22, 25, 31; Feb 2m, 2014
    Lisa: Michelle Breedt*
    Walter: Joseph Kaiser
    Martha: Melody Moore
    Tadeusz: Morgan Smith*
    Katja: Kelly Kaduce*
    Conductor: Patrick Summers
    Chorus Master: Richard Bado+
    Director: David Pountney
    Set Designer: Johan Engels
    Costume Designer: Marie-Jeanne Lecca
    Lighting Designer: Fabrice Kebour

    A co-production of Bregenzer Festspiele; Wielki Teatr, Warsaw; English National Opera; and Teatro Real, Madrid.

    Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto
    Jan 24, 26m, 29; Feb 1, 7, 9m
    Rigoletto: Ryan McKinny+
    Duke of Mantua: Stephen Costello*
    Gilda: TBA
    Count Monterone: Robert Pomakov
    Sparafucile: Dmitry Belosselskiy*
    Conductor: Patrick Summers
    Chorus Master: Richard Bado+
    Set Designer: Michael Yeargan
    Costume Designer: Peter J. Hall
    A co-production of Houston Grand Opera and Dallas Opera

    Stephen Sondheim: A Little Night Music
    March 7, 9m, 13, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23m
    Desiree Armfeldt: Elizabeth Futral
    Fredrik Egerman: Chad Shelton+
    Count Carl-Magnus: Mark Diamond+
    Madame Armfeldt: Joyce Castle
    Petra: Alicia Gianni+
    Conductor: Eric Melear+
    Production: Isaac Mizrahi
    Revival Director: Matthew Ozawa
    Set Designer: Isaac Mizrahi
    Costume Designer: Isaac Mizrahi
    Lighting Designer: Brian Nason

    An original production of Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

    Ricky Ian Gordon: A Coffin in Egypt (World Premiere)
    March 14, 16m, 19, and 22m
    Myrtle Bledsoe: Frederica Von Stade
    Conductor: Timothy Myers
    Director: Leonard Foglia
    Set and Costume Designer: Riccardo Hernandez
    Lighting Designer: Brian Nason

    A co-production and co-commission of Houston Grand Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia

    Richard Wagner: Das Rheingold
    April 11, 13m, 17, 23, 26
    Wotan: Iain Paterson*
    Loge: Stefan Margita
    Alberich: Christopher Purves
    Mime: Rodell Rosel
    Fricka: Jamie Barton+
    Erda: Meredith Arwady
    Fasolt: Kristinn Sigmundsson
    Fafner: Andrea Silvestrelli
    Conductor: Patrick Summers
    Director: Carlus Padrissa/La Fura dels Baus
    Set Designer: Roland Olbeter
    Costume Designer: Chu Uroz
    Lighting Designer: Peter Van Praet
    Video Designer: Franc Aleu
    A co-production of Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

    Georges Bizet: Carmen (new production)
    April 25, 27m, 30; May 2, 4m, 8, 10
    Carmen: Ana María Martínez+
    Don José: Brandon Jovanovich
    Escamillo: Ryan McKinny+
    Conductor: Rory Macdonald
    Director: Rob Ashford*
    Chorus Master: Richard Bado+
    Children’s Chorus Director: Karen Reeves

    • MontyNostry

      Issachah Savage seems potentially thrilling

      • I heard this singer in a competition last year. Fairly sizable middle voice, no evidence of a top (he sang “Nur eine Waffe taugt”). Mezzo-forte to forte dynamics, uninteresting phrasing, and he looks like he weighs easily more than 300 pounds.

        Of course he won the top prize in the competition: a tenor singing Wagner, however indifferently, always does.

        • marshiemarkII

          More than three hundred pounds!!!!! Now that is disgusting!

          • la vociaccia

            What was that thing you said Marshie, about using “innocent bystander” singers as a way to fling insults at people you are arguing with?

            With genuine love and admiration-xxoo

          • marshiemarkII

            You are right Carisssima, at least I wasn’t criticizing the singing, but still you are right. With much love back to you! and grazie, just because some decide to wallow in shit, I shouldn’t fall for it!

        • MontyNostry

          Sorry to hear he is not such a discovery.

        • bassoprofundo

          To be honest he doesn’t even sound that great in the video.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        He just seems to tank it out as accurately as he can, with zero sense that he is performing what can come across as one of the most magical moments in all of opera.

        I quite like the timbre but it seems to have a softness to it as well -- I though there was something very vaguely Araiza-like in amongst it all -- he doesn’t strike me as a shoo in for Wagner. Then again, maybe he does in the hall.

  • antikitschychick

    That was me asking about about M2 Nerva; thank you for your response and the info about HGO :-D
    Alas I cannot travel to Houston, but hopefully there will be some videos and audio recordings of her performances…does HGO offer radio broadcasts??
    would be interesting to see her in a different production…hopefully the Met will schedule her in future seasons for other roles.

    • la vociaccia

      I read a review that said she’s down for a santuzza at the met. What I’m hoping for is that her Turandot ( her fortunate kyiv audience had already been treated to it) will get here soon.

      • antikitschychick

        nice! Yeah those Kiev audiences are damn lucky!!

        darn,that second-to last sentence should have read “would be interesting to see her in a different production OF AIDA” :-P