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New flame

Elena Manistina will make her Met debut as Azucena in the Saturday, January 19 evening performance of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, replacing Stephanie Blythe, who is [obviously] ill.


  • 1
    kashania says:

    As I mentioned in another thread, Matistina’s recent Azucena in Toronto was excellent. A great get by the Met.

  • 2
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    She’s going to need a hell of a lot of makeup to be Azucena.

  • 3
    manou says:

    Sorry to be a pest, but isn’t that a picture of Julia Novikova?

  • 4
    Feldmarschallin says:

    Buying my tickets tomorrow for her Azucena here in June.

  • 5
    Cocky Kurwenal says:

    I seem to have completely lost the ability to post youtube clips of late, but hope springs eternal. Here is(possibly) Manistina being AMAZING in a Tchaikovsky romance -- what an incredible voice!

    Here’s the link to watch on Youtube if that didn’t work:

  • 6
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    I know her sister Manistina Halaila-Hazeh.

  • 7
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    With the exception of a few notes, methinks this is rather vulgar and commonplace. She’s consistently flat and the accaciature are very strange. Standards have diminshing so much over the years

    This is much more interesting, but it’s a small studio with microphones and a very small grand. Wonderful Russian sound

    • 7.1
      Will says:

      Given the distant microphone placement and the generally muffled sound, along with a conductor who seemed as if he wanted to get the thing over with as quickly as possible, I would not want to judge her work only by this. I think the grace notes get smudged by the acoustic. Personally, I don’t hear her as flat although I have learned over the years that I detect sharp much more easily than flat unless it’s disastrous (last Saturday). In any event, it seems like a pretty good voice and I wish her very well in her debut.

      • 7.1.1
        Feldmarschallin says:

        exactly my thoughts when I heard that clip. The sound was awful and I won’t judge her by that.

  • 8
    perfidia says:

    I wonder if Blythe will go back to the high flying mezzo parts. The way she sounded was such a vocal collapse that I wonder if her voice is just going to settle where it has always sounded more comfortable (that is the Ulrica, Quickly, Orfeo, Handel, lieder repertoire). It might be too late, but I wish she would do more Rossini, where lines can be re-written (although her coloratura in L’italiana was more than a tad sketchy).

    • 8.1

      I don’t think Blythe was ever a mezzo. If she was, it was by virtue of her youth. I thinks she has always been a contralto and with the scarcity of them, I am surprised she has not marketed herself as one for a while.

      I agree with you, there is still plenty of work and roles for her to do. All the roles that you mention, plus the 3 characters in Trittico (hitch she did wonderfully), The auntie in Grimes (and the old bitch as well), Erda and Fricka, Cornelia, Baba the Turk, I am sure there is plenty more roles that she can do and be a sensation in.

      As far as I am concerned, Blythe can do no wrong, and I hope this is not a vocal crisis, but just the product of sickness and over reaching.

      • 8.1.1
        Cocky Kurwenal says:

        I’ve said this many times. However, I’ve always said that I don’t find it the least bit surprising that she doesn’t market herself as a contralto -- it would have quite probably ruled her out of consideration for quite a lot of the work she has done. Casting directors are fond of pigeon-holes and the term ‘contralto’ is extremely limiting. The dramatic mezzo repertoire is actually pretty small, but the contralto repertoire is smaller still.

        As a younger singer beginning to get a foot hold in the profession and get noticed, she was probably discouraged from using the contralto classification. However well she had sung, the managers would have been scratching their heads wondering what on earth they would do with her. As a mezzo, there were far more possibilities, including contralto roles (which more often than not get cast with a mezzo in any case).

        Borodina seemed to manage the Princesse de Bouillon well in Adriana Lecouvreur, so presumably it would be within Blythe’s capabilities too, as well as the other roles you and perfidia mention. And let’s not forget La Cieca!

          schweigundtanze says:

          I heard Blythe in concert in October. She sang from Trovatore, Samson and Delilah, and maybe something else I’m forgetting. She was absolutely wonderful, and I do certainly think her condition lately is just from a respiratory problem. I didn’t hear any of these issues whatsoever back in October.

          kashania says:

          Agree completely. It’s amazing how a word can make such a difference but it’s true. Billing herself as a mezzo (especially considering that in her younger years, she had the high notes for it) probably got her a lot more work. Bill yourself as a contralto, and you’re limited to concert work, baroque opera and a few mainstream opera roles. I think she and Borodina are sort of in the same camp, regarding their high notes. They’ve both lost their high notes over the years (though Borodina had better high notes early on). Pricipessa di Bouillon would be a great role for Blythe, methinks.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Exactly Kashania. They are in similar predicaments and maybe Borodina, in truth, was always more of a contralto too. Certainly when I saw her twice in fairly quick succession at the ROH last year (Amneris and Princesse de Bouillon) it was astonishing how full her middle voice was, and how smoothly integrated it was with the chest. High notes were kind of ‘managed’ -- skirted round where possible (although she still had the gumption to stare the top c-flats in the face in the triumphal scene, and drown out even Monastyrska in the process). But certainly for Borodina, gone are the days where she could integrate a top c-flat (or anything near it) into a phrase. For me though, the key difference between Borodina and Blythe is that I’d tell my figurative grandchildren about seeing Borodina, for the sheer lustre, size and presence of the voice, and her implacable demeanour on stage. Blythe I think is a first rate voice but she has never been able to modulate it as well as I’d have liked -- the frequent straight tones in the middle betray a sort of ‘shoving it out there’ vocal production that makes it hard for her to actually produce a supported sound that isn’t forte. I have, though, enjoyed Blythe in Semele, Rodelinda, Rusalka and Ballo.

    • 8.2
      perfidia says:

      And it is too bad that, given modern standards, she doesn’t have the look (and given the way she’s been singing lately, the finesse) for Carmen. I heard her do the Card Scene on youtube, and it sounded amazing. But then, there are no Jose’s around who would dare stab that Carmen. Maybe if we could bring back Vickers.

      • 8.2.1
        derschatzgabber says:

        Stephanie Blythe did sing Carmen at Seattle Opera in 2004. Did any Parterianni see those performances? And if so, please give us your review.

        I have liked her as Fricka, GD Waltraute, and one of the Norns in the Seattle Ring and in the 3 Trittico roles. The only time I have been disappointed by her was when she sang Azucena in San Francisco a few years ago. I went twice (hoping the first night was just an off night). I think Azucena is just not the right role for her.

          reedroom says:

          I played in that production and she was stellar. A lot of people I talked to then said she was actually quite sexy in the role…just sayin’.

          • derschatzgabber says:

            Hi Reedroom. Thanks for the review. I am very happy to hear that Blythe was stellar as Carmen. Do you also play in the orchestra for PNB?

            And are you playing in the Ring in August? I have my cycle 1 tickets and am very much looking forward to it.

          reedroom says:

          Hey derschatzgabber: The ballet employs its own orchestra, completely different personnel than the Symphony and Opera. Yes, I’ll be playing the RING (Speight’s last…)

          • derschatzgabber says:

            Hi Reedroom. I don’t envy the search team looking for Speight’s successor. He has done wonderful work in Seattle.

            In 1998 I met Speight at a performance of Elektra in Berlin. My partner and I had dinner with him after the performance. Talking to him about opera was an incredible experience. His passion for the art form is amazing.

    • 8.3
      Joe Conda says:

      And it took her how many performances to decide she couldn’t sing it?

      • 8.3.1
        Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        Why doesn’t she just sing “Di tanti palpiti” in front of the MET and save a lot of people a lot of time and money.

  • 9
    hagenschmagen says:

    Rumor has it that Blythe’s trying to find a house to mount Tancredi for her.

    • 9.1
      bassoprofundo says:

      First she needed a stage to mount her.

      Now she needs a house to mount her.

      If she keeps eating there won’t be much left capable of holding her up.

    • 9.2
      Gualtier M says:

      Why doesn’t she perform “Tancredi” in concert for Opera Orchestra of NY? Eve might be willing to return to the podium to conduct it for her.

  • 10
    almavivante says:

    Having attended the Wednesday evening perf, allow me to say one positive thing about Stephanie’s Azucena. Yes, I heard the broadcast, too, and was very dismayed. Although she wasn’t that much more vocally secure on Wednesday, even though she took many phrases down an octave, she did communicate a truly tormented aspect to Azucena’s personality. It wasn’t the full-out frenzy of Delora, who sings the role as if a thing possessed (and is quite amazing at it), it was more a sense that Azucena is in the grip of a horrible obsession that wracks her soul and makes her life a living hell. I found this a very intriguing take on the character. It doesn’t compensate for the singer’s vocal difficulties, but it deserves mention.

    Now if ONLY Barking Berti were to withdraw too, I’d be at next Thursday’s (final) perf in a shot.

  • 11
    Dolciamente Pipo says:

    I saw the Carmen and liked it a lot. The Card Scene was especially great…right in the sweet spot in her voice. I was not particularly bothered by her size at the time. She has always been a remarkably committed performer with a compelling presence onstage.
    Way way before that, I saw her sing Malcolm in La Donna Del Lago with OONY. It seemed pretty mezzo-ish to me, but maybe that counts as a contralto part. I recall her vocal agility was impressive. This performance really made me a fan.
    Also saw her in “L’Italiana” in Seattle and thought she was great…great comic presence, great agility and line.
    Then there was an Aida in Seattle (I’m hopeless at remembering dates) where she was easily the highlight of the production…again the higher mezzo reaches didn’t seem to be a problem at that time.
    I didn’t hear her recent Met Azucena, but did hear her in a radio broadcast from Lyric Opera of Chicago about 2 or 3 years ago and was shocked at the state of her voice in the role…ragged, out of tune, unable to sustain a line. Everything people are saying about her now. I remember at the time wondering if she was sick. She sounded like different singer. I’ve seen her sing well since then, mostly in Wagner, so maybe it’s just a role she took up too late and she just needs to retire from her rep.

  • 12
    grimoaldo says:

    To tie into another current thread, Blythe could sing Lady Blanche in Princess Ida, if anyone put on Princess Ida, if Blythe can still sing anything at all, that is.
    The Azucena was so excruciating that I would not be rushing back for her in anything else for a while.
    The “old ladies” in the G&S pieces are true contralto roles. Blythe has done Katisha, I know.

  • 13
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    The Kardashians are more interesting that this quy’s supposed talent.

  • 14
    Clita del Toro says:

    I had a ticket for the HD today, but was to lazy to go to the theater, so I am listening on the radio.

    • 14.1
      MontyNostry says:

      It makes decent listening, but I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat. Joyce has been going sharp at the top consistently.

  • 15
    Drelnis says:

    Heard Manistina last night, the voice just around the top of the staff is very appealing, the chest voice is of course nowhere near what Blythe could produce. Fell really flat on her high A, but it was overall not a scandalous performance.