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Sous le ciel tout étoilé

“FINAL RSVP REQUEST: La Boheme from The Royal Opera – This Sunday, Jan. 27. Starring Dmytro Popov, Maija Kovalevska, Stefania Dovhan, Audun Iversen.”

77 comments

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    Boy it doesn’t get starier than that does it?

    • MontyNostry says:

      Well the production might be old and hoary, but I guess at least you can say the singers aren’t. It’s in residency for another couple of months at the ROH (what is this, RENT?), with Parterre favourite Yontcheva taking over Musetta.

      • oedipe says:

        Monty,

        I don’t believe Yoncheva is a Parterre favorite AS YET, because so far she has sung mainly in France and Eastern Europe, places which for most Parterrians are on a different planet.

        But you have a point, the new Bohème cast coming up at the ROH -and which the ROH management didn’t deem worthy of filming- should be dynamite: Hartig, Ilincai, Viviani, Yoncheva. A young, attractive, and very talented cast.

        • MontyNostry says:

          Well, Yoncheva is hotly tipped by certain Parterrians (and no doubt a certain beneficent operatic doyen I can think of would also like to have her hotly tipped!) I expect the only reason the ROH wanted to HD the Boheme this time round was because of the presence of a straining tousle-headed superstar Muppet tenor.

          • oedipe says:

            The beneficent operatic doyen has some tough competition, though: Minko would like to cast her in everything!

          • MontyNostry says:

            With the aid of a couch?

          • oedipe says:

            And since you mention it, I’ve noticed that only 3 stars have sold out the ROH so far this season: the operatic doyen, the superstar Muppet tenor, and Jonas. (By comparison, no one has sold out a whole run at the Met so far.) Any thoughts about this, any conclusion to be drawn?

          • oedipe says:

            Can’t answer, I have no idea.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Tenors and ex-tenors with curly hair are the biggest draws? So JDF should sell out too -- and Hymel will in due course.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Interestingly, I saw that the Don Carlo peformances with Jonas have sold out, but not the two with Aronica. I was thinking of buying a ticket, because I’d like to see Harteros, but I saw Furlanetto as a splendid Filippo 7 years ago and I really think Eboli requires more firepower and personality than La Rice could possibly muster, while somehow Kwiecen doesn’t grab me.

          • oedipe says:

            No, JDF is NOT selling out, even with the help of JDD. Could hype be what the 3 have in common?

          • armerjacquino says:

            Monty: your decision probably means you’ve missed seeing Ermonela Jaho’s Elisabetta.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Well, I’ve caught Jaho twice as a substitute (for Harteros and for Netrebko) and, fine artist and valiant vocalist though she is, I wouldn’t fancy her chances as Elisabetta. (And this from a man who saw Cotrubas battle her way through the role.)

          • FragendeFrau82 says:

            Don’t believe that Jonas has sold out the Met for Parsifal. And I think the opening of La Donna del Lago @ ROH (JDD and JDF) is sold out now, or it was when I was trying for a ticket.

          • messa di voce says:

            I remember Cotrubas in those performances. She did a decent job of faking it up until “Giustizia, giustizia,” when absolutely came out.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I still don’t know how casting directors think a lyric soprano can do ‘Tu che la vanità’ justice. Spinto amplitude is just built into the lines and orchestration -- the final return of the main theme is one of Verdi’s BIG moments and full justice needs to be done to it.

          • Gualtier M says:

            Did the charming but teeny Nuccia Focile ever sing her Elisabetta di Valois for Welsh National Opera? Freni I think was sui generis as a basically lyric soprano who could sing that music. But she sounds rather stretched on the 1983 Met filming -- like a piece of lovely silk pulled tightly over a frame that is too large. BTW: Rodrigo is another role that casting directors think can be cast with a Silvio/Count Almaviva/Marcello lyric baritone -- i.e. Mariusz, Christopher Maltman and others.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Quite, Gualtier.I don’t see the vocal demands of the ensemble in Don Carlo(s) as being very different from Aida, which is seen as a bigger-guns opera vocally, for some reason. (Christine Rice as Amneris???) Freni was too light, but at least there was a consistent fullness to her sound. And I expect Scotto got away with it because she was such a canny interpreter. I’ve posted this on here before, but this performance of the big aria, by a soprano who has rather slipped through the net, impresses me:

          • armerjacquino says:

            Amneris and Eboli are surely not as comparable as all that- nothing in Amneris calls for the lightness and delicacy of the Veil Song.

          • MontyNostry says:

            And Eboli’s top notes are that much more exposed, but ‘O don fatale’ does need big guns, surely.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Forgive me, AJ, but part of it is just that I think Christine Rice is a perfectly decent singer (and I get the feeling that she is probably a veryb spirited and spunky person, though that has nothing to do with anything), but her performances are somehow a bit faceless. And Eboli needs a diva! (Preferably one who can sing very loud top and bottom B’s.)
            In a similar vein, this Veil Song is generally exquisitely sung, but really a bit dull. It’s like an exercise

          • Camille says:

            Mr. Monty—
            Would you mind revealing the name of the soprano in TRIAL VERSION—extremely annoying to have that flashed repeatedly throughout and never to have mentioned her bloody name! Could it have been a rather depressed Marina Shaguch, whom I once heard sing very adroitly, as Iolanta? Can’t really recall her looks now.

            And, yes, la Scottissima was quite a bewitching Elisabetta, of whom I had once the privilege hearing/seeing in long ago 1979, when you were doubtless in nappies. She pulled it off — with a majestic slight-of-hand — and a heaping helping of Grandezza. One in Camille’s Hall of Hallowed Performances.

            thank you, Luv.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Camille, dearest, it is indeed Shaguch. She is not especially subtle, but the voice is all there, and has a lovely texture, and there is great honesty in her singing. She reminds me a little of AT-S in looks and performing style (though AT-S is prettier and more lovable and extrovert), but Shaguch’s attack is cleaner. I saw her once in recital and thought she was going to be a big name, but she never quite happened. Not diva material, I guess.
            Scotto, of course, was definitely diva material and I can imagine that her Elisabetta was totally compelling -- very clever comment about sleight of hand there! And I was already moderately grown up in 1979.

          • Camille says:

            I see. Remembered more than I remembered of La Shaguch.

            Yes, a sturdy and respectable instrument to be sure but there is a notable lack of allure, without which it doesn’t much matter how meritorious a woman’s efforts may be. Such is the way of the world. In fact, at first glamce I thought she was SuBo….

            Relief is mine to know M. Monty is not that much younger so I am not robbing the cradle, as it is always so edifying and pleasurable to speak with you.

            Also, please note, the tessitura of Elisabeth/Elisabetta is set rather more low than Aïda, and she needn’t worry about those damn pesky C’s! Somewhere or another I have read about Teresa Stolz’s training as Elisabetta, as a sort of rigorous test of her worthiness as a future Verdian heroine (this in the beginning, when she was still attached to that conductor fellow whom she left) and it was only after passing the test of singing this role to the satisfaction of the great Maestro that she went on to her other glorious accomplishments as Aïda and in the Requiem and others. So, no, much as I loved Cotrubas, I would not have wanted to have heard her flaming out in Don Carlo(s). Just my thoughts, forgive me.

        • messa di voce says:

          “don’t believe Yoncheva is a Parterre favorite AS YET, because so far she has sung mainly in France and Eastern Europe”

          A singer can be a Parterre favorite if and only if she has never sung in New York, and preferably any other major house.

          • MontyNostry says:

            No, a Parterre favourite can sing once or twice at the Met, preferably as a brave, late substitute for a petulant diva, but after that (s)he goes on the blacklist.

          • But only after weave examined thoroughly the3 YouTube clips that are available for her, and compared to every callas one, and Gencer, and Sutherland. Only after such exhaustive research will she be allowed to be a favorite here, and only for 3 weeks. After that she will be cast aside because she will be vocally done in 2 years and will have to switch to mezzo, at which points he might get a second chance.

          • messa di voce says:

            Pretty Yende is on schedule to be officially designated as filth by next Monday.

          • MontyNostry says:

            … and will be replaced by Angela Meade when she cancels.

          • sorella says:

    • Regina delle fate says:

      They’ve HD-ed “starry” casts like this before. Last time round when Beczala was ill -- they beamed Teodor Illincai, Hibla Gerzmava and an unmemorable secondary pair to the cinemas and put it out on DVD. I can’t imagine who’ll buy it. They seem to think that they can put on Boheme with any old Tommaso, Riccardo or Arrigo and people will go. Looking at the number of tickets available for the present run, with or without Villazon, it looks as if they are right to think that.

  • Cocky Kurwenal says:

    Excellent tags, La Cieca.

  • Gualtier M says:

    Just a quick question: did Rolando Villazon do all his scheduled performances in this production last December and how did they go? Did he improve or decline?

    Also Robert Conrad (pictured above) and his incredible buns in the tightest pants ever to stride the old West:

    Mr. Conrad and his tug of war:

    • manou says:

      Sorry to say that Villazon cancelled most of his listed performances at the ROH. Popov took over (HD as well).

      • Regina delle fate says:

        He cancelled the HD? Things must be worse than we all thought. This, surely, must be the end of the line for him as far as the world’s leading opera houses are concerned, except possibly Vienna, Salzburg and Baden-Baden where the name will suffice. Doubtless he’ll continue to do “celebrity” gigs alla Carreras/Bocelli because too much has been invested in making him a star. DG has discs to flog -- and there are all the complete Mozart opera recordings he’s planned.

        Presumably, he was toing and froing between London and Salzburg for rehearsals of the new Lucio Silla opening this week, during the Boheme run…..

    • Camille says:

      Huuuuuuuummmm….it seems I paid FAR too much attention to Ross Martin and his various disguises. Thanks for revealing what I’d missed, GM.

    • MontyNostry says:

      Not to be confused with William Conrad, then …

      • Gualtier M says:

        For many impressionable adolescent boys hitting puberty in the sixties it was Julie Newmar and her incredible metallic spray painted on bodysuit as the Catwoman in “Batman”. For certain other young adolescent boys it was Robert Conrad and those tight, tight spray-painted on pants. They still talk about that posterior on Datalounge -- they are a kind of Proustian madeleine summoning the suppressed desires of early youth. BTW: Mr. Conrad was represented by superagent Henry Willson who also discovered Nick Adams (who discovered Robert Conrad), Rock Hudson, Troy Donahue, John Saxon and Tab Hunter. Mr. Conrad may have spent his time on the casting couch.

      • Regina delle fate says:

        Wasn’t there a Bonynge-promoted called Richard Conrad, too?

        • Regina delle fate says:

          grrrrr Bonynge-promoted tenor

        • Regina delle fate says:

          …tenor

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            The chap on The Age of Bel Canto who sounds more like a girl than Marilyn Horne, yes.

          • Camille says:

            Any excuse at all will suffice for me to post this and so I thank you for giving me one.

          • Camille says:

            And here is proof he was not, indeed, a girl. As I’d nevee seen him sing nor known of the existence of this, I am happy to have found it. At the very least, vintage Sutherland.

            httpv://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=bDgVmNvwiVo

          • Camille says:

            Encore—

            httpv://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=bDgVmNvwiVo

          • Camille says:

            Now I wonder if it works without the “v”?

            http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=bDgVmNvwiVo

            Well, at least here is the address. A tv film of Conrad and Surherland singing “Prendi, l’anel ti dono”. Mi dispiace tanto!

          • Camille says:

            Oh Good, it came through this time.

            And there is also this wonderful realisation of the Don Pasquale duettino which is generally always sung in too heavy a manner

            httpv://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=DdRS7JFEUFI

            It always seemed to me this was a fairly true picture of how this music was su g in the 1830-40′s, or so I was fond of imagining. Pardon if it is too felicitous for some.

          • Camille says:

            Maybe this will also work w/o “v”.

            http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=DdRS7JFEUFI

            Sorry if it doesn’t!

          • kashania says:

            Camille, you have to remove the “m.” before “youtube”.

          • Camille says:

            Oh thank you, my prince!

            Must have missed that latest instruction somehow. They keep changing it so as to thwart persons such as myself, I fear, as they seem to want faithful subscribers, no?

            Much obliged and please keep us advised on that Tristan…I am so much hoping ro hear some good news on Big Ben.

            C.

          • Bonynge-promoted tenor

            I am sure that was code for several things, and judging by the way he pranced his cute little ass in that Sonnambula clip, I can see how Ricky promoted him.

            The fact that he has “bottom” tattooed on his forehead aside, I do have to say that his singing stroke me (pun not intended) for his elegant use of the mezza voce and his expert use of his head voice. His Care selve on that Belcanto disc is one of my favorite moments ever, one that I like pretty much more than the Pavarotti version, and I think the Pav’s Care selve is pretty much untouchable. I also love his Tornami a dir Che m’ami with Sutherland, pretty special.

            In a bit more info about him, seems that he had a fruitful career. I didn’t know this, but he is from Biston. that Age of Bel Canto recording opposrtunity came to him while still a student (rRicky liked them young and pretty, didnt he?) Seems at one point or another, after singing tenor parts, he took on lyric baritone roles, and probably character baritone roles. Believe it or not, he shows up as the Doctor onn the Naxos recording of Vanessa.

            More information on his website: http://www.richardconrad.net/index.html

          • MontyNostry says:

            The visual relationship between little Richard and big Joanie reminds me of those medieval paintings where they hadn’t quite worked out how to do perspective yet.

          • kashania says:

            Camille, when your posting a youtube video from a mobile advice, there’s often an extra “m.” at front. Don’t know why…

            As for Tristan, the dress rehearsal is tomorrow. I saw the first two acts of the final rehearsal (before the dress) and what Peter Sellars does at the end of the first act gave me chills.

            Big Ben is sounding very fine. I’m amazed at how well his top has retained its brilliance and bronzen sheen. Any wear on the voice is more evident in the mid-to-lower parts of the voice (not surprising after a 30+ year career). And most importantly, he has lots of legato for that marathon act two duet.

            The big revelation for me is the King Marke of Franz-Josef Selig. Wow. What a voice!

          • Camille says:

            Gotcha, kashania, and thanks for the driving lessons as I qualify as a drunk driver, anyway, on the internet. Always careening around recklessly and bumping into things, knowing not the why or how.

            Keeping my fingers crossed for Big Ben. Those high notes, when first I heard him in Seattle in ’89 and ’90, were his glory — and have always thought he was shoved into Wagner because of his size when he should have sung more French stuff. Oh well, too late now.

            Merci autre fois et je vous rends un grand bisou. C.

          • rapt says:

            Speaking of the size of Richard Conrad (who completes our trifecta of Conrads beginning with Robert and William), can he really be 57″, as indicated on the site Lindoro directed us to, or is that a typo for 5’7″?

    • Cocky Kurwenal says:

      A trusted source who did see Villazon in Boheme in December said that the voice is even tinier than it was at his last comeback and has all but vanished down the vortex of its own disastrous making. High notes were either omitted or just completely covered by the orchestra.

      • manou says:

        I am far from being a trusted source, but I did see the dress rehearsal of Bohème and said at the time that I thought Villazon’s voice had decreased in the same proportion as his gurning and manic grimacing (not to mention unforgivable upstaging of his colleagues) had grown. I expect next time he can just mime the whole thing.

        It is very sad -- I remember his thrilling Hoffmann at the ROH and the high hopes that engendered.

        • Cocky Kurwenal says:

          You are a first class source, Manou. Thank you for the corroboration.

          It is sad, as well as agonising to watch. I saw a Don Carlo during which he was having a vocal melt down, it was a terrible experience seeing him go through all that.

        • oedipe says:

          Sad indeed, but I am still trying to understand why he sells out his runs, whereas JDF -just as an example that has already been mentioned- does not. In other words, what are audiences looking for?

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            I suppose one of the hottest properties in opera is the romantic lead tenor who can sing the well known popular later C19th stuff. They were able to make a plausible case for Villazon on those terms, to begin with.

            Florez has always had a specialist repertoire, and has been wise enough to stick to it.

            La Boheme will always sell well, and if there is somebody famous involved, it will sell out. Mathilde di Shabran probably sells a lot better than it otherwise would thanks to Florez’s involvement, but it remains relatively hard to sell out.

          • oedipe says:

            What is it that makes Villazon the archetypal romantic lead tenor?

          • Indiana Loiterer III says:

            Well, he sings archetypal romantic lead tenor roles, and with a perpetual air of desperation that can pass for romantic ardor. If he stuck to the lower tenor roles (Monteverdi, Mozart) that his voice is actually suited for, he wouldn’t have nearly the career that he has.

          • oedipe says:

            So, since there are any number of tenors singing the main 19th century rep who DON’T sell out their entire runs, are audiences taken in primarily by the presence of a perpetual air of desperation, as in the case of Villazon?

          • Regina delle fate says:

            Oedipe -- he has also been picked up as a television personality. He was the classical expert on a terrible programme called Popstar to Operastar here in which minor pop singers sang transposed down and cut -- the difficult bits -- of popular opera arias. That an artist of Villazon’s calibre could even take part in such a meaningless charade -- needless to say, none of the winning popstars have gone on to sing Mimi or Rodolfo with a company you’ve heard of -- is a measure of how low he has sunk, but it’s made him a British TV star, so he is probably getting people into Covent Garden who think the Bocelli is the best Italian tenor since the Great Caruso. The night I went, he was cheered to the rafters, so clearly there is market for gurning muppets in opera if they can paid a lot for doing the same on telly. I’ve never heard him at the Bastille, but I guess from your question that he hasn’t exactly been a sensation there. He lives in Paris, doesn’t he?

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Why don’t you tell us what you think, Oedipe?

          • Edward George says:

            Regina, if Villazon is “getting people into Covent Garden” isn’t that a good thing, regardless of whether they “think the Bocelli is the best Italian tenor since the Great Caruso” or not?

          • kashania says:

            Villazon starring in a new production of Lucio Silla tonight in Salzburg.

            http://www.mozarteum.at/konzerte/mozartwoche/mozartwoche2013.html

          • oedipe says:

            Ah, television personality, that’s a more likely explanation! It is part of what I would call hype. It may well be that the stars that sell out whole runs (of just about anything) have this in common: the amount of hype generated around them. Because hype can be created through very different means, by very different groups of people, it can be bestowed upon very dissimilar artists and yet end up having similar outcomes.

            But you are right, Villazon is much less of a star in Paris than in London or Vienna. And this is an important point: international stars are not equally popular everywhere. Also, it looks like the priorities of opera audiences are different in different parts of the world. It seems to me that the London public is the most sensitive to hype, whereas the Met audience has as its first priorities the repertory and the scheduling (matinee and weekend trump all other times). Other audiences in other cities fall somewhere in between these two poles.

          • manou says:

            oedipe -- “what are audiences looking for?” ranks up there with Freud’s “What does a woman want?”

          • oedipe says:

            A Freudian answer would be fine with me. Could you suggest one? I would love to hear it.

  • Sempre liberal says:

    I loved Battle of the Network Stars. Can that be revived?

    I’ll be rooting for Shemar Moore -- CBS -- Criminal Minds.

  • parpignol says:

    any suggestions for an out-of-towner about how one might pick up a not-too-expensive ticket for one of those sold-out performances of Don Carlo at the ROH?

    • FragendeFrau82 says:

      Queue up for the small number of tix that go on sale on the day--although they are not necessarily inexpensive. Bring your tent. Or just keep checking the ROH website for returns.

    • Cocky Kurwenal says:

      It’s always worth checking for returns, they often become available. Call the ROH box office every so often and ask. Although it’s usually the higher priced tickets that get returned.

    • Edward George says:

      Many of the day seats are standing: either in the stalls circle or (with more restricted view) the balcony. A bargain at £15. Sitting at the rear of the amphitheatre is a little more expensive at around £45. There are 67 day seats. Try calling the box office the day before to check what time to start queueing. Any remaining tickets are then sold online.

      Otherwise, keep checking the website for returns: this has worked for me in the past. And remember, the ROH is quite good at exchanging tickets for a higher price (at a £2 cost) if you want to try and upgrade your seat after buying something cheap/restricted view and the physical ticket is still at the box office.

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        I felt sure they had a thing about restricted view returns not always going online -- you only hear about them if you speak to them.

        • Edward George says:

          I think you’re right, as they want to explain the restrictions of the view on the phone (even though they sell restricted view seats online when booking opens).