Cher Public


“The stage production of Rigoletto contains very brief partial nudity, which will not be shown in the Live in HD transmission of the opera.”

  • Camille

    Could that bodacious babe possibly be La Cieca Herself in her chorine daze back in Vegas?

    Just wondering.

    I do seem to recall “Jiggoletto” as a suggested opera for June Anderson, back in the early day of parterre box, n’est-ce pas?

    • Donna Carlo

      The rumor that you refer to, Camille, that she used to sniff chlorine, and in the resulting daze, fell off the stage whenever she tried to take a bow, has been firmly denied by our Doyenne. She claims that it was all part of her act.

      • Camille

        If it smells like La Doyenne, it was La Doyenne.

        Now that she sloshes down her brunches with Cindy Adams, she is inclined—and whom among us could blame her?—to dis-remember them good ol’ daze.

        Ah yes, la jeune Doyenne! No one else could quite strut her stuff in six inch heels as she once did…!

  • mifune

    The partial nudity was booed (and applauded) heavily last night. It got me to thinking: did the perfunctory booing of new productions at the Met start with the Bondy Tosca, or did it go on before?

    • Camille

      Um, Lohengrin~March 1998—Robert Wilson, e.g.??

      Just for starters.

      • And Carsen’s Onegin before then. March, 1997.

        • Zambello’s Lucia, 1992.

          • operadent

            AH, yes! I remember it well!

      • RobNYNY1957

        John Dexter’s Aida, 1976.

    • mifune

      I haven’t been living in New York long enough to have seen any of these, but I had heard about the Wilson’s Lohengrin and Carsen’s Onegin. But was the booing of these productions mechanical, or did the booers boo with passion? And is it a new development that it happens several times a season now?

  • Feral Colin

    Dowagers on the list may remember a well-booed J-P Ponnelle production of Holländer in 1979. I think it had flying spinning-wheels.

    • Will

      What it had that got the boos was the Fliegende Hollander as The Sailor’s Dream production concept. The MET was still locked in the strict pictorial realism mode back then.

    • Bill

      Heavy booing (also from the dowagers in their box seats) at the Barrault(?) Carmen before all
      the others here mentioned -- the one which had
      wonderful singing from Bumbry, Pilou, Gedda -- must have been around 1968 or so. The production was utterly stupid with idiotic staging and did not last too long as we had another Carmen some seasons later at the Met with Horne (and Bernstein).

      The Ponnelle Fliegender Hollaender, as Colin says,
      was also heavily booed at the end of the performance which, if I recall, had no intermission -- one of the very few Ponnelle stagings I did not like -- the Senta did not move at all much.

      • Jack Jikes

        Apropos of Dutchman, the booing started -- loud and lusty -- at the apparition of the spinning chorus.The ladies had elaborate ghoul makeup as part the steuermann’s nightmare concept. While music was playing, I have never heard such an acrimonious uproar before or since.
        Barrault was one of the very great theater directors of the twentieth century.
        “Cristoforo Colombo” -- unforgettable. After the “Carmen” debacle it was a battle to make that fact convincing. I didn’t boo, I wept.

      • Jack Jikes

        Apropos of Dutchman, the booing started -- loud and lusty -- at the apparition of the spinning chorus.The ladies had elaborate ghoul makeup as part the
        steuermann’s-nightmare concept. While music was playing, I have never heard such an acrimonious uproar before or since.
        Barrault was one of the very great theater directors of the twentieth century.
        “Cristoforo Colombo” -- unforgettable. After the “Carmen” debacle it was a battle to make that fact convincing. I didn’t boo, I wept.

    • Camille

      This dowager missed those spinning wheels, dammit, but remembers the OUTRAGE and the sturm und drang in the newspapers.

      Didn’t go ‘cos I couldn’t take La Niblo seriously then.
      Wrong decision.

  • zinka

    QUESTO E INGIUSTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Except for photos/film, and helping my beloved ma in her illness late in life..i NEVER saw a nude woman LIVE…
    I DEMAND that I should be permitted to join the human race.

    By the way, I have to ask Piotr if the Pole enjoyed the pole…….

    • Krunoslav

      Wikipedia confirms that erotic pole dancing came in about 1980, so that image is a real anachronism--as well as a guarantee that Met clapping and guffawing audiences will not hear Verdi’s wonderful atmospheric Act III prelude for as long as this staging sticks around.

      BTW, the extraordinary thing about that booing at the Ponelle HOELLANDER back when I was a mere student was that it continued, savagely, at later performances (I heard e fifth show, with William Wilderman and Isola Jones in for Paul Plishka and Jean Kraft) — not true of most of the other incidents mentioned. The booing was for the production, clearly--but also for Neblett. Van Dam was magnificent, Wm. Lewis worked hard pretty well but and Wildermann remained quite suited to a role squarely in his Fach.

      There was a performance apiece with Johanna Meier (wish I head seen that) and Teresa Kubiak.

      • operadent

        I saw the perf with Meier -- she was wonderful -- I believe I heard she was given that perf as a reward for her saving the Ariadnes when Price got sick. I only remember slight booing -- but it was close to the last perf of the run.

  • Marcello

    Macbeth with Scotto, ca. 1982

    • DonCarloFanatic

      If I hadn’t walked out in disgust after the first act, I would have been sorely tempted to boo, too.

      • perfidia

        And so many people thought Scotto was the nadir, but God said “Ha!” and created Nadja.

    • RobNYNY1957

      That production had partial nudity, too: The dancer who portrayed Hecate was topless.

      • Krunoslav

        Unlike the other main top-challenged woman onstage, the dancer (Christina Kumi Kimball) could not retreat into what the *real* Zinka termed “pale rehearsal pianissimi”.

        • RobNYNY1957

          The Sleepwalking Scene actually worked pretty well, because Scotto could sing the whole thing pianissimo. The rest of her singing was disastrous. I had heard her in the same role in concert a couple of years earlier at Ravinia, and the deterioration of her voice in the meantime was remarkable.

          • Porgy Amor

            I have the ’81 live ROH recording with Muti conducting, and with Bruson as Lord M., and she was still good there too. It’s not the most sumptuous voice I’ve heard in the part, but she had it under good enough control to make something vivid of the means she had.

      • operadent

        And Bottomless!!

  • Will

    Partial nudity, pfui! Fifteen years ago NYCO mounted (perhaps not the best choice of word on this subject) a new production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. The Martha Clark Dance Company was invited to perform completely naked at several points in the opera where dance was called for or might add something to the proceedings.

    The effect was quite beautiful, the dancers very fine performers. There was no sniggering, nobody felt called upon to boo, the dancers were given a very nice hand in the curtain calls.

    If people at the MET are having the vapors and booing PARTIAL nudity, I would say that they need to grow up.

    • DonCarloFanatic

      Sorry, I’ve never been to Vegas, but as I understand it, many of their dancers perform topless. So if the Met has faithfully reproduced that to go along with the Vegas theme, what’s the problem?

      • grimoaldo

        The one time I was in Las Vegas a couple of years ago I did not see any posters or ads for topless dancer shows or nude reviews, maybe you have to look them out. All the big hotels seemed to be doing cirque du soleil or Parterre fav Robert Lepage type extravaganzas. Those showgirl type things with girls dancing with fans seem to be a thing of the past. Did they have topless dancers in Vegas in the 60’s?

        • Camille

          Topless started, if this dowager recalls correctly, in the mid-sixties in San Francisco’s North Beach. At least, that is the first instance of this phenomenom I now remember, and do not know when it may have reached Vegas.

          • aulus agerius

            Carole Doda who actually put her tit prints in the sidewalk in front of the Condor on Broadway. Weren’t they doing topless in Paris at Moulin Rouge earlier than this?

          • man0man0man

            Las Vegas? Folies Bergere (Tropicana version, 1973-74) featured topheavy topless women in several tableaux (not exactly “dancers”… they only had to step-point-step-point while not falling over). There was a good deal of athletic dancing by other more streamlined (and more clothed) women in the cast. Sequins flying all over the place. Not a problem for your average sax player, but the piccolo doubler bitched a bit.

      • I’m no expert on regulations on these things, but I believe there was a sort of special accommodation for topless performers who appeared as part of an established show or revue. There was a special license that had to be applied for, and there were very strict guidelines about what could be exposed, what sort of movement and so on.

        On the other hand, a woman going topless in a strip club or, as Sparafucile’s establishment seems to be, a sort of dive lounge, would be very clearly and obviously against the law. Of course we are talking about Sparafucile here who is not exactly a Boy Scout, but his main trade is murder-for-hire: the roadhouse or whatever is just a dodge to get the victim alone and off-guard so he can be whacked. As such it seems illogical for him to be encouraging activity on the premises that would attract police attention.

        • ianw2

          Strict guidelines still exist. In DC, full nudity is prohibited.

          Which is why the boys at Secrets always wear socks.

          • manou

            …on their feet?

          • ianw2

            Indeed. On their feet.

            It also is somewhere handy, at bar level, where patrons can show their appreciation with a dollar bill.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          Were Gilda’s knocks at the door of the strip joint made with a big knocker?

    • Camille

      The problem is not quite that they haven’t *grown up* but rather that they have—look around you next time— grown *quite old*.

      They last had sex in the previous milennium, if you follow my train of thought….

      • perfidia

        …and probably early in the last fifty years of the millennium.

    • No Expert

      Maybe they were booing because it was only partial?

      • “”No, sir… they’re saying boo-oobs.”

  • operaassport

    Seriously? Who cares? Are they going to put fig leafs on things? This is about as reactionar and immature as it gets.

    • Gualtier M

      Well there must be some kind of prohibition from the HD outlets or perhaps public television. The nudity in “Salome” and in the Venice act of “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” was also excised or covered over for the HD and later television broadcast.

      • bluecabochon

        When I saw FRANKENSTEIN in HD from the National Theater last year, neither Jonny Lee Miller nor Benedict Cumberbatch performed the “birth” scene nude as they had live, nightly. Must have been some kind of regulation.

        • manou

          Something to do with movie ratings perhaps?

          Interesting to consult the list of prohibitions in the defunct Hays Code (starting with “Pointed profanity – by either title or lip – this includes the words “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus,” “Christ” (unless they be used reverently in connection with proper religious ceremonies), “hell,” “damn,” “Gawd,” and every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled”:

        • I thought that was a result of the extreme close ups that are part of the HD filmed experiece. It is one thing to perform nude on stage for an actor, something else to know it is being broadcast in extreme closeup. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed, but I saw Cumberbatch as the monster and rumour has it I did not miss much.

      • bluecabochon

        I watched RIPPER STREET last week on BBC America, and they thoughtfully blurred the nipples whenever there was female nudity. Violence, yes, Nipples, no way.

        • oedipe

          Violence, yes, Nipples, no way.


        • aronocity

          Wait a minute!… Nipples aren’t naturally blurry?!

  • La Valkyrietta

    Perhaps they do not want young kids in movie theaters to see tits. I don’t know if they ask for IDs at Bally’s to see Jubilee or at NYNY to see Zumanity. Puritanism, what can you do. It all reminds me as a non sequitur of “La conga, Saraghina! La conga, Saraghina!” Every age is good for sex.

    • operaassport

      And what will happen if the poor kiddies see tits? Most kids have seen tits — very up close — since they were born.

      • kennedet

        Interesting comments. A friend and I are taking a group of children from a Performing Arts School to see Rigoletto next month at the HD showing. Obviously, we won’t need to explain the nude scene because there won’t be showing the partial nudity. Thanks for posting this. We would have never known otherwise.

        I wonder if someone wisely told (probably their lawyers) them that if children were coming to see a production with partial nudity that some parents might strongly object to the contents. This would mean an explanation sent home to inform the parents and protect the school against any accusations. Also, I agree that young people are probably overexposed to nudity and especially violence in this day and age but you might understand why the Met is protecting themselves. Who knows?

  • tannengrin

    When does that abhorrent piece of shameless pandering to the masses occur? Is it during La Donna e mobile, providing the Italo-illiterate members of the audience with salacious but misleading visual illustrations for that little ditty?

  • perfidia

    Get a time machine. Bring back Isola Jones circa 1986. Who needs nudity?

  • auracentral

    Peter Hall 1982 Macbeth

    • calaf47

      LOTS of boos opening night of TROVATORE with Sutherland/Pavarotti and also boos the opening night of the Zeffirelli TURANDOT too.

      • Camille

        Was that booing for Budai? Or was she only in San Francisco.

        Booing for the Zeff sets? I cannot imagine Marton nor Domingo being booed at that particular moment in time and space.

        • Ilka Saro

          There was booing for Budai, definitely, but the really thunderous booing at the opening of the Met Trovatore in 1988 was for the designer. You know how there can be a jump in the volume of the ovation when a much admired diva comes out for her bow? Such was the jump in the volume of the booing when the designer came out. The booing was like an ovation.

          • Camille

            More like a boo-vationmaybe?

      • Gualtier M

        Forget about the 1988 “Trovatore” -- how about the Graham Vick “Trovatore” circa 2000? That was a true disaster. The Met audience is less eager to boo individual performers though -- unlike Italy where they will personally attack people.

        A note about Nadja Michael -- she actually got an enthusiastic response at the end of her Met “Macbeth” performances (I actually went two times -- to hear George Gagnidze’s fine Macbeth). I don’t remember hearing booing. In fact Scotto was one artist who attracted booing -- this was in the late seventies and early eighties. She was heckled (by one Gaston a demented Callas widow) during the telecast of “Luisa Miller” and at the “Macbeth” and “Norma” premieres. Leonie Rysanek also had dedicated booers at the Met. Once there was a bomb threat if she was allowed onstage as Desdemona for a matinee broadcast with McCracken I believe.

  • Signor Bruschino

    The real warning about the production should be about the ‘translation.’ A suitable warning about be ‘what is sung onstage is not what appears on the seat in front of you’

  • phoenix

    Amazing! First Rigoletto premiere thread here and no one is offering any opinion about the musical/dramatic values of the performance itself???? Cieza’s regie band play on!

    • Amazing! First Rigoletto premiere thread here and no one is offering any opinion about the musical/dramatic values of the performance itself???? Cieza’s regie band play on!

      I hear ya, phoenix.

      “Staging tends to take precedence over music and singing, at least if critics are to be believed”

      “Has the pendulum swung too far? Are opera and its critics focused too much on staging and dramaturgy at the expense of the music?”

    • aronocity

      From most reviews I’ve read, it seems that most everyone sound good or great. You have to remember that it’s much more fun to focus on the bad things than to focus on the good things.

      • grimoaldo

        Bernheimer doesn’t like the production very much:

        but praises the performers:

        “Michele Mariotti enforces useful sweep in the pit. Despite occasional pitch problems, Željko Lucic balances power and sympathy in the title role. Fresh from maternity leave, Diana Damrau looks a bit matronly yet sounds generally ethereal as the teenage Gilda. Piotr Beczala rings the rafters as a Sinatra-esque Duke, and sustains surprising finesse in the process.”

      • bluecabochon

        Well, the effete knives were out in chat last night, so some of us got our critical ya-yas out already.

        • phoenix

          much safer to do it on the chat where the public [apparerntly] can’t search the archives of your comments …

  • ianw2

    This bodes ill for the Dave St Pierre Boheme I’m assisting on in 2017.

  • I am reminded of a friend of mine who worked for a marvelous show back in the 1960s called Les Poupées de Paris. Created by puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft it was a marionette version of the Lido de Paris and Folies Bergère right down to “les nudes”. Like their real life sisters the puppets wore elaborate headdresses and feathered trains but with bare -- wooden -- breasts. When the show was playing San Fransisco the “showgirls” were topless for the evening performances but, by city ordinance, had to wear pasties for the matinees. Sally said the strangest thing she ever did in her life was to put tiny pasties on wooden boobs to cover the nipples.

  • louannd

    Does anyone remember a Magic Flute in Santa Fe where the three ladies and their Queen were, well, dressed like Las Vegas show girls? I remember few things from 30+ years ago but that production was one of those things I cannot forget.