Cher Public

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Swiss you were here

The Pierre Audi production of Guillaume Tell has opened at De Nederlandse Opera, and the staging (destined for the Met* circa 2018) has been pronounced a “triumphant success.” There’s a glimpse of the show after the jump.

* “Vermutlich das passende Konzept für die MET in New York, die diesen Rossini mitproduziert hat und die kulinarische Oper liebt.” — Opernnetz


  • bassoprofundo says:

    Attractive looking production.

    But at the Met in 2018? are they shipping it piece by piece or something?

    I suppose the only good thing about that is that by then Hampson will be filibustered out of singing these roles!

  • Buster says:

    According to Audi, the Met will do it in 2016. Osborn, who would love to sing Arnold at the Met, said it was 2018. He got great reviews, as did the chorus. There will also be new Tells soon in Antwerp (Michael Spyres would be great there!), Munich, and Covent Garden.

    • Feldmarschallin says:

      Marina Rebeka will be doing the Mathilde here and it is suppossed to be the Festspielpremiere 2014.

      • Buster says:

        Rebeka got great reviews too. I am hearing it on Sunday. Missed Osborn last time he sang it in Amsterdam (with Poplovskaya, Pertusi, and Paolo Olmi), so I am happy he has returned for a staged version.

      • itrinkkeinwein says:

        Great news (assuming you mean Munich)!

    • semira mide says:

      Spyres is singing Arnold this summer in Wildbad.

      Any mention of who might conduct the Met’s Tell?

      Not sure why Osborn would love to sing it at the Met. Tell is really tricky because it straddles the line between bel canto and “grand” so singers need all the support/musical direction they can get. Of course if Levine…. nevermind.

      There should be money for a world class conductor because it doesn’t look like they invested much in the costumes for the Audi production. Did they buy NYCO costumes before they went on auction?

      • HiCsAPlenty says:

        Let us then, state the obvious:

        Arnold is one of the most difficult roles to cast in the operatic repertoire!

        That said, if the production is to go up at the MET in 2016 it figures to have pretty short list of possibilities for the role:

        1. Juan Diego Florez (we’ll all see/hear how his “test runs” go in Peru and Pesaro this year.

        2. John Osborn (my first choice for the role… the voice has a clarion ease in the upper extension and I think his overall demeanor fits the temperament of this role well)

        3. Michael Spyres (did admirably well at Caramoor a few summers back… think the voice is better suited to the Nozzari roles…)

        4. Antonino Siragusa (I know he’s done it… I just can’t recall if it was a staged or concert version. That said, don’t know if the MET would venture this far out of the box for casting)

        5. Lawrence Brownlee (I think he could be really successful in this role, given the right conductor)

        Did I forget anyone? The conductor list may be even smaller!

        • Camille says:

          What about Brian Hymel?

          • HiCsAPlenty says:

            My dearest Camille,

            As always you are able to shine light into the darkest depths of the oeuvre! Hymel would be another wonderful choice and after his heroics in Troyen, I would hope he would be getting his due consideration!

            But dare I ask… has the well of possibilities run dry at 6?

          • Camille says:

            Hi C’s!

            It makes me glad to hear from you again.

            To take up an old refrain, and forgive me if I nag, but did you still want the copy of the ‘Mario Aria’ from my 1850′s score ( there is according to. Hris Mereitt, also a cabaletta, which, of course I do not have included ). If you shoot over an address to La Cieca, I would be only to happy to send you a good facsimile.

            Or if you want to meet @ the 72nd Street subway station, I will wear my funniest hat, dark glasses, with my master spy Raincoat from the sixties.

            Just let me know, dear boy, as it would make me happy to have a copy of something I love passed on to another who loves as I do and who is attempting this perilous, fraught career path.

            Viel Erfolg!
            Camille 007

          • Camille says:

            That’s Chris Merritt, so sorry sir!

            Bugger my fingers!

        • manou says:

          Well I saw Osborn as Arnold at the Proms (Pappano), and he was very very good:

        • bassoprofundo says:

          Have you ever actually seen the opera? NONE of the voices on your list, except maybe, MAYBE Osborn, are suitable for singing Arnold, let alone at the Met.

          • HiCsAPlenty says:

            I’ve actually covered the role, so when I speak of this, I do so with INTIMATE familiarity.

          • bassoprofundo says:

            Your lack of understanding of it is probably why you only were a cover (allegedly).

          • HiCsAPlenty says:

            If believing that helps you sleep at night, I’m happy for you.

          • bassoprofundo says:

            It does! I’ll sleep wonderfully tonight, thanks.

          • manou says:

            bassoprofundo has the rare gift of absolute conviction, unencumbered by any consideration of elementary courtesy.

          • La Cieca says:

            Basso, ease up on the personal comments.

          • bassoprofundo says:


          • HiCsAPlenty says:

            My deepest thanks to you both, dear Manou and La Cieca!

            I would love to know if either of you (and I’ll even include Basso in this if he would like to join the conversation) have other thoughts as to whom the MET could cast in this most difficult of roles? Camille was so kind as to mention Bryan Hymel, who should obviously be in consideration for the role. However, aside from those 6 gentlemen mentioned above (and I’ll just say that I am merely bringing them to the forefront of thought… I completely understand if you disagree with there ability to perform the role… hence, conversation) is there another tenor who could perform the role?

            I, as always, welcome all to consider the possibilities.

            Many thanks again to you both!!


        • Jack Jikes says:

          I heard Siragusa in ‘Sigismondo’ at Pesaro. The experience was thrilling -
          if he has the stamina, he’d make a great Arnold.

          • itrinkkeinwein says:

            Heard him too but felt his tonal production was uneven. (And “Sigismondo” is no lost masterpiece, obviously.)

        • itrinkkeinwein says:

          Eric Cutler.

        • itrinkkeinwein says:

          … don’t actually think Florez is right for this role; the Fach has shifted, versus early and middle Rossini.

      • itrinkkeinwein says:

        Why not Carignani?

    • Camille says:

      Buster— please report back to us with all the details. It makes me so unhappy to be missing this and Die FrohSch.

      Hoping the performances will be wonderful––

    • MontyNostry says:

      Nicola Alaimo is a very classy baritone. Elegant phrasing, trenchant Italian diction and a touch of Cappuccilli in the tone, though the voice is more ‘big Donizetti’ than ‘big Verdi’ at present

  • Will says:

    I’ve been waiting for Tell to arrive in NYC since seeing it in a handsome San Francisco production in 1992 (Vanness, Merrit, Noble). This production does look good. The opera itself is overwhelmingly great.

    • Belfagor says:

      The final chorus is one of the most overwhelming pieces of music -- Wagner must have had it in mind when writing the end of Rheingold.

      I think fashions in tenor singing are moving on -- judging by the quality candidates listed above it will soon be easier to cast Arnold, Aeneas and Robert le diable than Forza, Aida and Otello………….

      I saw it a couple of times at the ROH in the early 90′s -- but I forget who conducted. I think Jane Eaglen was a so so Mathilde, and then maybe Lella Cuberli. Awful production -- but the breadth of the piece was a real surprise to me.

      • Often admonished says:

        At the ROH the very good (but not exactly charismatic) conductor was Michel Plasson. Cuberli and Merrit did well, though Merrit was so excoriated by the London press that he missed some of the run and never returned AFAIK

        He wasn’t exactly missed.

        • Belfagor says:

          That’s it -- well, Plasson is a very good opera conductor.

          Obviously Pappano will conduct it at ROH, as he has said in interview it’s a pet piece of his. Maybe he’ll do it at the Met as well.

        • grimoaldo says:

          Merritt appeared in Henze’s Boulevard Solitude at ROH in 2001, that was unforgettable, and as Tichon
          in Kát’a Kabanová conducted by the great Mackerras in 2007.

      • Camille says:

        Jane Eaglen as Mathilde? I am mildly surprised to hear of that.

        The ending of Tell was an indelible experience, the first time I ever heard it. Riccardo Challly was the conductor and I was greatly impressed by his conducting of same. I wonder what he is up to these days?

        • luvtennis says:


          If I am not mistaken, it was one of her earliest successes. Note that Marton also scored an early triumph in the role for Muti back in ’72. What an unusualy role, we have had Carteri, Caballe, Marton, Cerquetti, Zylis Gara, Gencer, Eaglen, and of course all the recent performers.

          It is my favorite Rossini opera and still the greatest of all French grand operas -- I prefer it even to Don Carlos.

          • Camille says:

            Yes, and there is Freni in the all’italiana version as well.

            My, I do not understand how that Eaglen Mathilde has escaped my attention. Always had the intention of listening to Marton’s version, as I have understood she was then in prime voice. Pity how it all went to Wobbles City too soon.

            Yes, Guillaume Tell is the most fabulous of all works and akin to a HUGE Thanksgiving turkey that every composer carved off a piece therefrom, munched on, and then expelled something all his own as if he had all along originated it himself.

            Whatever the reason(s) put forth for Rossini’s subsequent retirement feom the scene and they are countless, I wonder if it may have just been that he knew that it would be impossible to top himself. He kept tacet for thirty-five+ years and that’s a lot of Tournedos Rossini. Just sayin’.

            Wonderful to hear you again, sir!

          • and here is another unexpected Mathilde:

          • Sheldon says:


        • Regina delle fate says:

          Eagles -- during her very brief slim-ish period -- did the revival, no? Surely it was Lella Cuberli first time round at the ROH. Osborn is the Arnold in the new RO staging, but surely the Met will go for Hymel. Osborn’s voice is quite thin and pinched for the part, ditto Florez, Siragusa and Brownlee, IMHO.

      • grimoaldo says:

        The conductor was Michel Plasson. The first cast had Cuberli as Mathilde, Chris Merritt as Arnold (booed by idiots in the amphi the night I was there, which I seem to recall was the first night although I am not sure), Ewa Podles as Hedwige and the utterly dull Gregory Yurisich, who ROH had in many great baritone roles in those days and was dull as ditchwater in every one, as soon as he appeared onstage and for the whole time he was participating, you sort of zoned out and thought about something else because his singing,”acting”, whatever, could not hold the attention for a microsecond.
        Yes it was a stupid production.
        The revival had Eaglen as Mathilde, gagggggg, what a thought, I did not see that one.

        • Camille says:

          Grimmy—would that not have been an ideal role for Junie? I have heard her recording of the aria—just wondering why she was not singing the Mathilde?
          Perhaps elsewhere she did.

          • grimoaldo says:

            AFAIK adorata June did not sing Mathilde onstage, though I stand to be corrected. She would indeed have been ideal for the part.

        • Regina delle fate says:

          Oooops sorry Grim -- didn’t see your post. I should’ve known you’d remember!

        • Nerva Nelli says:

          Gregory Yurisich-- he was a Bonynge “discovery”, no?

    • itrinkkeinwein says:

      Muti has said it ranks alongside “Moise et Pharaon” as Rossini’s finest work.

  • Nerva Nelli says:

    Speaking of “who will conduct”, I just noticed that the Met’s May CARMELITES revival has no listed conductor any more.

    Is Gelb planning a Spring surprise with Maestro Levine?

    • Nerva Nelli says:

      Oh, sorry , Louis Langree is listed in the text but not with the cast or production team.

  • pavel says:

    Can someone enlighten me as to what exactly is meant by “culinary opera” (in the quote from Opernnetz}?

    • grimoaldo says:

      By saying they love “culinary opera” at the Met, they are disdainfully saying that there the audiences enjoy pretty costumes and sets and high notes, approaching an evening at the opera as if they were enjoying a nice meal instead of as a serious aesthetic experience.

      • Regina delle fate says:

        Yes, so that suggests from a German critical perspective it was anything but a triumph, but would go down a treat at the Met. A bit condescending that and I wonder if this writer was aware of the fate of the Audi Attila at the Met…that doesn’t seem to have gone down a treat with anyone, but I’m prepared to be corrected as I didn’t see it, not even Live in HD (if there was one)

        • itrinkkeinwein says:

          The “Audi” Attila was ruined by the handbag lady and the inept Swiss architects, all hired for the wrong reasons.

          I think Audi, a talented mover of character, was nearly as embarrassed as Muti!

    • La Cieca says:

      “Culinary” is a term coined by Brecht to refer to theater (and by extension any sort of art) whose purpose is solely to give transitory pleasure, that is, to entertain. An extreme example of culinary art would be a summer popcorn movie, though on the other hand the argument could be made that since an action flick clearly labels itself as a “thrill ride” or “mindless,” there is at least truth in advertising there.

      What Brecht I believe found more pernicious was theater that posed as serious art but was so luxurious that the spectator was seduced into experiencing the piece in a culinary way. For example, the music dramas of Wagner were not primarily intended to be “entertainments,” but because they featured such sensuously beautiful music, romantic stories and sumptuous visual presentations, any intellectual or deeply intuitive response to the works was muffled by the surface pleasure.

      The use of “culinary” to describe this sort of experience is very useful, I think, because most people can understand the difference between eating for subsistence or good health vs. eating for pleasure. So in effect Brecht was saying that a theater should not be a sort of artistic restaurant, tempting the public with high-calorie goodies whose only function is to taste delicious.

      • Camille says:

        Thank you for defining that so precisely, as this term was not quite entirely clear to me and I’ve heard it thrown about rather carelessly.

        I enjoy “buffet opera”.
        There is also “smorgasbord opera”, and some may even prefer “brunch opera”, or the even rarer still “aperitifs opera”.

        • Camille says:

          And come to think of it, if only Our Own Batty Masetto would act as ‘Chef de Cuisine’, why what a fine dining experience we would be afforded!

          • MontyNostry says:

            Ach, Brecht’s views on opera, they aren’t worth threepence.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Brecht was a good librettist for Kurt Weill. Those plays he wrote by himself are not “culinary” in the sense of being enjoyable, that’s for sure, they are a form of torture that anyone with any sense who has sat through an evening watching actors pretending to be members of rival communes in the 40′s Soviet Union pretending to enact a parable about a peasant girl rescuing an abandoned baby will thenceforth avoid like the plague.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            A. We’re not sure these days how many plays Brecht wrote “by himself” because we don’t know how much was contributed by Elisabeth Hauptmann et al.

            B. I can’t speak to “Caucasian Chalk Circle,” never having seen it performed, but anybody who’s seen the movie of Brecht’s own production of “Mother Courage” has witnessed a simply astonishing piece of theatrical artistry. Even “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” which I had always considered a real dog of a play, turned out to be an absolute wowzer when the Berliner Ensemble brought it on tour a few years ago.

          • grimoaldo says:

            You’re right Batty, I don’t really know what I am talking about with regard to Brecht’s “straight” plays, apologies for my flippant remark,I shouldn’t have said that, I suppose I will never recover from seeing “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”, the one time in my life I experienced boredom so excruciating that it felt like a physical pain.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            There’s also a common misconception, especially in English-speaking theatrical circles, that somehow Brecht meant the “alienation effect” to eliminate all identification and turn everybody into shallow caricatures. That often makes for really crappy theater, for sure.

            Instead what he wanted was an additional layer of interest and identification. During rehearsals the Berliner Ensemble actors would work through plays entirely in the Stanislavskian mode, identify thoroughly with their characters and create them from the inside, and then add a further level of understanding that would lead the viewer to consider the character’s actions within a larger context.

      • m. croche says:

        Yes, the sneering at the “culinary” is indeed Brechtian. It’s a useful word for signaling one’s own, Brechtian, point of view, but I think it’s a problematic idea to accept wholesale.

        First, the metaphor: I like restaurants. They can do things there that I can’t reproduce in my home, perhaps because they are cleverer, perhaps because they have better equipment or ingredients, perhaps because they have better man-power. Our lives are bound up with tastes, tastes of childhood, memorable tastes. Any immigrant will tell you that taste is an important part of who they are. Enjoying taste is a significant part of being human. Taste is an experience that is not so easy to explain in words, though, so for that reason it is often regarded by the literate as a lesser form of aesthetic experience.

        Music, for a long while, had a similar problem to taste. Kant ranked it lowest among the arts because of its lack of verisimilitude. Since music has no corresponding object in the natural world, it cannot be the basis for serious reflection or edification. The rescue mission came in the 19th century with Schopenhauer (and later Wagner), who argued that music was indeed mimetic, but not of the phenomenal world -- it’s force was drawn from the ideal “numinal” world otherwise not available to direct perception. This mystical two-step permitted music to be regarded once again as a serious art, indeed the highest of them all. Though I don’t think Brecht would be convinced -all of our symphony concerts, all of our quartet recitals, could likely be considered “culinary” under his definition.

        What both cases illustrate is the difficulty modern aestheticians have with beauty. Though beauty was praised by the ancients, its transience, its apparent lack of demand on others, its very abnormality, has caused it to be viewed with suspicion, particularly in the 20th century. Beauty blinds us to the ugliness of the world, they might say. The resources required to produce that gastronomic delight or visual spectacle are wasteful, creating art only available to the moneyed. Most damning, beauty has no ethics.

        And yet people love beauty and feel nurtured by it. So it is an aesthetic problem that cannot be waved away with a derogatory epithet such as culinary. Some philosophers nowadays have worked to reinvigorate beauty as an aesthetic concept -- one who comes to mind is Elaine Scarry and her “On Beauty and Being Just”. To coarsely restate her argument: when confronted with beauty, we are transported from our own parochial concerns, we are fully seized by the sublime otherness of the object. Such experiences make us more capable of empathy in the everyday world andconsequently make us more ethical. By an indirect route, that beautifully-composed, ridiculously delicious plate of food can indeed make us a better person.

        A lot of critical theories nowadays still have blind spots where beauty is concerned. But things which are beautiful in themselves mean too much to people to be shunned.

        • antikitschychick says:

          great post m.croche! A very satisfying read for the theoretically inclined ;-)

        • luvtennis says:

          M. Croche/La Cieca:

          Great posts.

          Frankly, I think the distinction intended by Brecht between culinary art and, er well, the other kind to be specious. For instance, does an artwork’s status depend on the intent of the artist or on the finished product or both? Movies like “Empire of the Sun” or “Vertigo” are certainly high calorie visual spectacles that are highly entertaining. Does that mean that they are “culinary” art. I don’t think so. By contrast, I can think of a number of art films that would certainly not be considered culinary (as attested to by the express intent of the filmmaker and the finished product) bad-tasting and poor nutrition.

          In the end, I think Brecht’s term tells us more about his biases than anything else.

          • luvtennis says:

            The last sentence of the first paragraph is totally garbled. The point is simple: serious intent and harsh flavor don’t guarantee high nutrition.

          • La Cieca says:

            Well, the thing is, Brecht was relying on what is in fact a time-honored technique that has so often been employed by the Young Turk: “Your art is old-fashioned crap. Now, here’s my non-crap art, which is great because it reforms your crap art. Prices upon request.”

            And yet I think there is a very big kernel of truth in what he says. Theatergoing by the late 19th/early 20th century period had in large part evolved into a bourgeois pastime, and that meant that there was a bias in selection of texts, performance styles and design toward what might best please that audience and therefore tempt them to part with their hard-earned wages.

            Brecht had a sort of narrow political and personal interest in rebelling against this system, but I think that possibly by accident he hit on on something important aesthetically. That is, if a spectator becomes deeply emotionally involved in a performance, his ability to think critically gets muffled. If the play is philosophical or political, the spectator isn’t considering and pondering those ideas; rather, he’s weeping or smiling or sighing.

            It was Brecht’s idea that deliberately disengaging emotion would somehow re-engage critical thinking, sort of wake the spectator up from his dream world. In practice, that doesn’t mean that every show has to be done with folding chairs, naked light bulbs and singers who can’t carry a tune. But in a broader sense, say when considering a production of Guillaume Tell, it suggests that a modern director approaching a production is tasked with finding a balance between entertaining spectacle and the very important political content explicit in the text and implicit in the music.

        • For some reason this thought piece remains in the back of my mind whenever the topic of beauty and taste come up:

          ”In a gathering of today’s elite, it is perfectly acceptable to laugh that you barely passed Physics for Poets and Rocks for Jocks and have remained ignorant of science ever since, despite the obvious importance of scientific literacy to informed choices about personal health and public policy. But saying that you have never heard of James Joyce or that you tried listening to Mozart once but prefer Andrew Lloyd Webber is as shocking as blowing your nose on your sleeve or announcing that you employ children in your sweatshop, despite the obvious [un]importance of your tastes in leisure-time activity to just about anything”

    • Regina delle fate says:

      It’s an insult coming from a German, that’s for sure!

  • Gualtier M says:

    I think Hymel was scheduled for a Met debut as Arnold Melcthal but fate and necessity brought him to the Met earlier. BTW: his name has been on the lips of every opera fan young and old, effete knife carrying and otherwise for months now. I believe the Met has also scheduled him into some “Boheme” performances before 2016. Wouldn’t Luisi be the obvious choice of conductor? I just hope Poplavskaya is not the Mathilde at the Met.

    • ianw2 says:

      Allow me then to get a jump on Parterre in 2016:

      Hymel has a terrible top and obviously lacks proper training for the role. He should still be doing Basilio in provincial houses. Why does the Met force these sub-par singers into such wonderful pieces when they’re so rarely performed? He must be related to one of Billinghurst’s friends somehow. Youtube video from forgotten 1943 cinematic classic. His diction is terrible, why won’t the Met hire French speaking singers for these amazing French roles? I find the stage business distracting, why doesn’t anyone talk about singing anymore? It is fundamental that true opera lovers don’t actually attend the opera, but remain in contemplative score study. Not as good as the Cantonese original. Opera in Australia is terrible. Not as good as our own Peter Pears. C’est le mot juste. I can’t believe they staged this opera without the greatest Mathilde today, Nadja Michael.

  • Will says:

    I think one has to remember that the heroic tenor roles in French, Italian and German opera have different requirements. The MET (along with other opera houses) used Wagner tenors as Aeneas in its first production of Troyens which was wrong. German heldentenors require a lot of strength in the middle and lower middle but are not required to go very high. Italian dramatics need strength below but also strong high notes. The French guys require focused voices that can cut through the orchestration but not much in the way of darker tone in the mid and lower voice; they do have to be clear and brilliant on top and able to stay up there for a while. The brilliant French heroic roles die when cast with Wagnerians.

    I loved Bryan Hymel as Aeneas but was surprised at his strong, ringing top emerging out of a darker middle than I had expected.

  • bassoprofundo says:

  • All this talk of “Culinary Opera” brought to mind this tasty dish that has been aged to perfection:

  • Personally, in this opera I’d prefer a concert version over a staged one. No stage picture can compete with the variety, majesty and beauty of the music.

    As modern singers go, I’d opt for Tezier / Mattei; Hymel / Osborne and oh wow well what are we to do with Mathilde? Who will sculpt the unadorned, carrara phrases with the intelligence, honesty and limpid line they deserve?

    This is definitely NOT for Lezhneva’s voice, but at the tender age of 21 she gives a fair impression of what I’d like to hear in this aria. A beautiful spinning of the triplets, no bulges and no change of timbre. The ideal should be a clarinet here. There is breadth and elegance in abundance, even though it’s arguably easier to do that with a lighter voice.

      • luvtennis says:


        I don’t know how you felt about La Luba O., but I think she would have knocked it out of the park in her prime. The long line. The soft attack on the high notes. The turns would have been easy for her. The shine on her high notes!!!! Think of her Agathe which was wondrous! (A very similar role in my humble opinion).

        • luvtennis says:

          There was a time when Ciofi might have been effective in the role, even if she never had the middle voice solidity that some of the role requires.

      • luvtennis says:

        One thing is for sure -- a great Mathilde must have an absolutely even, settled line -- a juddery tone, however exciting, ruins the great aria for me.

    • Camille says:

      Well honey, I’ve heard a concert version and I want to see all that MET hydraulic equipment IN ACTION and in the Alps, tout court.

    • Camille says:

      She looks like Poppy2.

      I’ll have to give it a listen.

    • operalover9001 says:

      Crocetto or Rowley as Mathilde would be fantastic!

    • Buster says:

      The dream Mathilde? Charlotte Margiono was to sing the role for Chailly, but she gave it back shortly before rehearsals. At the Cristina Deutekom 80th Birthday Gala she sang the act IV trio (in Italian), with two of her pupils, a bittersweet reminder of what we could have had. Pollet sang the Chailly concert in the end, and Camille was there!

      I’ll report on both the Tell and the Frosch, Camille -- very sorry to miss you too.

      On Chailly, whom you mentioned earlier, he will finally conduct the Concertgebouworkest again, for the first time since he left in 2004. Mendelssohn Lobgesang, and Henze’s Elogium musicum.

    • Camille says:

      What a beautiful timbre of voice this young lady has. Only problem was a lack of clarity and consonants with the enunciation of the text. So nice to hear a young voice unencumbered by excessive vibrato due to a faulty registration, as one hears so often these days. Brava and encore, mademoiselle.

      • Encore…

        at 21. Such beautifully cultivated line.

      • One more. Yes yes I know, there are problems. The can’t (or won’t ever) bloom on top and sometimes the support fails, but she was 19 here and I’ve heard much more famous Manons in worse form.
        I’m talking about the musical and dramatic instincts. Of sincerity and honesty, and I’m glad such things still exist.

        • Camille says:

          Why, C/Fster, she is very good and, for her age here, exceptional.

          I do wonder how long she will be able to maintain that rather aristocratic, subdued and genuine manner and means of expression…in this slimy world. Such an even voice, so easily and well produced! And I do not hear any lack of bloom on top—I wonder what you meant? So very glad you posted this to make me aware of this young artist. So many are so disappointing on one level or another that I lose heart. Hearing Garanca’s Sesto a while ago gave me cause for believing, so one never knows, really.

          Thanks, dear.

    • Camille says:

      I just cannot thank you enough for posting the Julia Lezhneva videos. After acquainting myself further by listening to the other Rossini arias, I have concluded this: she is just wonderful. A beautiful and pure type of voice coupled with an unusual thpe of musical integrity and intelligence which one hears only once in a while…now I recall your having posted her videos a while back, but I thought to myself. “Why bother, one more disappointment”. Now I have someone new and young to look forward to hearing and watching develop for a long time. A gift! Thanks so much!! And thank g-d Minko is smart enough to “get” her and promote her as well. Shalom, sweetheart

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

  • As for Tell conductors -- the world has missed an opportunity when Abbado did not conduct this in the 80s, regardless of cast trouble. Now I guess the work is too long for him, and anyway he is past Rossini.

    Muti is a great Tell conductor but his official live recording is wrong in all kinds of ways, language being one of them. Pappano has done well in concert, but there are heinous cuts in his recording and the Mathilde is unacceptable. Maybe Minkowski or Antonini?

    • semira mide says:

      I couldn’t agree more that not having had Abbado conduct Tell is a big loss. Abbado’s understanding of Rossini is unsurpassed. Not sure about the work being too long for him, but it’s true that his heart is in “his” youth orchestra. It would be wonderful if he could train young conductors as well.

      I think the Muti Tell DVD from La Scala is terrific. Listening to it one forgets how long the opera is. From the opening it is clear that he has a command of the arc or sweep of this enormous work.

      I really can’t see the problem with it being sung in Italian, although people who are attached to the French version would of course feel otherwise. Muti always makes the words mean something.

      • jd says:

        I too love the Muti Tell recording. i have listened to it over and over, finding new delights each time. Not so thrilled with Chris Merritt falsettos, but Cheryl Studer did a good job. Other women good too. Muti is unsurpassed in his grasp of the rhymthmic propulsion and melodic arc.

    • itrinkkeinwein says:

      I wonder if Muti could be lured back to the Met for “Tell”? It’s far enough into the future; he has never done the French and now surely would love to (as counterpart to “Moise”); and Rome probably couldn’t put the elements together. This might be the vehicle!

  • Camille says:

    The West Eastern Divan Orchestra broadcast from Carnegie Hall LIVE is just now commencing. The Beethoven Second Symphony followed by his Ninth Symphony.

    Over WQXR and Shalom and happy Sunday to all.

  • Buster says:

    The chorus was great -- best opera chorus in the world. John Osborn is a miracle. I also loved, loved Marina Rebeka, an uncommonly youthful sounding Mathilde, who nevertheless had no problems making herself heard over the orchestra, and the masses op people on stage. She was also the only convincing actress. Not much happens on stage, people climb on, or in, structures looking like houses, a boat, and rocks. The evil ones act sort of kinky, rather ridiculously so most of the time. The shooting of the apple was crap, Jemmy tilting her head, and the apple fell, that was it. The finale looks stunning, though. Paolo Carignani conducted it all very well, I thought.

  • oedipe says:


    Are you saying that, because fashions are changing, tenors who are presumably well suited to sing Arnold, also make great Aeneas? So in the future we will eagerly be waiting for the Aeneas of JDF, Brownlee and Osborn? And if Hymel is the ideal Aeneas (an opinion which I don’t share), why couldn’t he be an ideal Otello? After all, Vickers sang both Aeneas and Otello. And what about Osborn or Brownlee singing Radames? Couldn’t fashions change in that direction too? After all, the role requires a valiant high register; or, Hymel has a valiant high register, that’s his main claim to glory and that’s what people heard and liked in his Aeneas. Why not Radames, after all?

  • oedipe says:

    Very interesting conversation about the nature of sensual pleasures (beauty, good food). It reminded me of a little anecdote: I had a charming and witty British colleague who was married to a French woman, was living in France and enjoyed “la bonne chère”. I once asked him how he explained the huge difference in quality between the French and the English cuisine, after all these centuries of living next to each other, like (step) siblings. His reply: But my dear, chez nous one is NOT supposed to enjoy food, it’s only ther for subsistence.
    The conversation on this thread also made me conclude that Proust could not have savored his madeleine, nor the memories of eating it, had he been born in am Enlish speaking country.

    One of the most important events in the history of the world took place in 1520-50: the Reformation. The lands of the Reformation have been the most successful in the world, economically, socially and politically. But, what Max Weber so famously called the Protestant work ethic does not go together well with hedonism. Hedonists are busy savoring life’s pleasures for the pleasures’ sake, so they neglect concentrating on the ethic of salvation. Catholic countries (france in particular) are hedonist. They have a lousy work ethic. The only way hedonism is acceptable in Reformation countries is as a reward of personal success, as a status symbol: if you have succeeded in life you deserve to eat in expensive French restaurants, you buy antiques and you may wear expensive French or Italian clothing (if you are not afraid of looking too Latin, that is). As La Cieca and others pointed out (though they didn’t say it was a Protestant notion), beauy per se is mistrusted because it can make people forget the essential thing, which is the salvation of the soul. Actually, Adorno built his whole theory of modernism on the idea of avoiding beauty per se in art.

    But is this a “fundamental truth”? Is hedonism fundamentally wrong just because it interferes with the work ethic and the Protestant ethic of salvation? I remember an article that Philippe de Montebello published in the WSJ on occasion of his retirement from the Metropolitan Museum. he was talking about the importance of art in the world and gave as an example his feelings the first time he visited the marriage chamber in the Palazzo Duccale in Mantova, with its Mantegna frescoes. There is nothing religious about these frescoes, but still, he was so elated by their beauty that he told himself, for man to be able to create such extraordinary beauty per se, there MUST be something transcendental out there. I had seen those frescoes not long before reading the article and I had the same feeling of spiritual elation in their presence.

  • La Cieca says:

    And if Hymel is the ideal Aeneas (an opinion which I don’t share), why couldn’t he be an ideal Otello?

    Because the two roles are very different in tessitura, pacing, balance of voice to orchestra, and many other factors?

  • Belfagor says:

    Well, that’s a very complex one. I’m not talking ideal, I’m musing on what seems to get cast at the moment. There seems to be a tendency for a lighter, more clarion voiced sort of tenor, who has the agility for Rossini, and yet can negotiate the French style and language with more sense of the idiom. The French Grand Opera parts are hard to classify, as the genre itself is international -- many of its composers, and most of the composers we hear today, are Italians writing in French (Rossini, Verdi -- and also Donizetti.)

    I do see Berlioz at a tangent to that tradition, two removes from Rossini and one from Meyerbeer. I’ve never been that convinced by heroic tenors as Aeneas (Vickers conquered it quite idiosyncratically) -- many bigger voices do have the heft for the heroic moments, but bruise the much more delicate, bel canto moments. And it is a mistake to equate the Berlioz experience with Wagner, for, despite his massive orchestra, he orchestrates much more transparently (when accompanying singers) than the thick impasto of Wagner, or the brute excitement of middle period or late Verdi. Berlioz might be a bad example -- of course -- as his vocal writing does not quite belong to either tradition -- and it struck me, while listening to Hymel recently, that parts lie implausibly low. But I do think a lighter, more forwardly placed voice copes with it better than a heavyweight -- and a voice closer to the Rossini tradition may be the way to cast this role.

    Same thing happens in Verdi’s ‘Vepres’ -- the act 5 tenor solo, with its stratospheric end (taking in top C’s and D’s) is a nonsense for a heroic voice. Chris Merritt, when much younger did the rounds in these roles, and acquitted himself (mostly) well. Even if he did have his manhood noisily and thuggishly questioned by a La Scala first night audience, when Muti opened the season with him in it (late 80′s) and he essayed the killer phrase in a kind of falsetto.

  • luvtennis says:

    There are more considerations than simply volume!

    Verdi deemed Adelina Patti a wonderful Aida. I cannot imagine him approving of her for Forza or Ballo. But of course, there used to be many singers who excelled in both…. So Hymel might be the type of Aeneas who is totally unsuited to other roles in the heroic rep.

  • Regina delle fate says:

    I imagine that anyone who heard Georges Thill sing Aeneas -- presumably he never sang in a complete performance of Les T -- would have found Vickers less than ideal. Gregory Kunde was nothing like Vickers and certainly less than ideal but his performance in Paris was a success on its own terms and Hymel appears to have garnered high praise for the part at the Met. He probably shouldn’t be singing it just yet. His top seemed pretty terrific in Robert Le Diable in London despite a slight crack on, I think, a C. Again he’s young by today’s standards in tackling such an exposed role in a prominent theatre like CG. I wish he were singing Arnold in London.

  • Camille says:

    Let us recall the hard, cold fact that Le Comte Ory and Arnold Melchal (not to mention Eléazar in La Juive), were all written for the same person, the great ADOLPHE NOURRIT. He, the author of La Sylphide. And portions of La Juive, for hat matter.

    Now let’s all put that in the water bong and try smokin’ it.

    See: Henry Pleasants—The Great Tenor Tragedy, Amadeus Press, Portland, Oregon.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Because if Hymel sang the Verdi Otello now he would be an ideal has-been in 10 years.

  • semira mide says:

    I’m not so sure how much we should read into those operas being composed for the same tenor.

    Pavarotti was a superb and thrilling Arnold( the best I’ve heard, and I’ve heard many) but according to Pavarotti’s own admission he loved Rossini but Rossini didn’t love his voice type.

    I simply cannot imagine how compromised a Pavarotti Ory would have been had he been so foolish as to have tried it. Although I admit I would have loved to eavesdrop had he ever sung the introduction to the final trio in private!!

  • Camille says:

    For That matter, it is Arnold MelcThal.

    Dropped my t’s.

    Merci, Gualtier, for bringing out some of the detail of that book. He studied with Donizetti, no less, in bella Napoli, and the results were varied and not ALL bad. Who knows what really threw him off that rooftop? Maybe it was an accident? Who will ever know.

    A true tragedy.

    And yes, I do believe my belovèd Hector would have had his socks shocked off by the Vickers voice as Énée! Not what he imagined at all.

    I feel the most compassion for tenors of all singers. They have a torturous path, balancing and covering and pinging and getting the squillo squealed. It must be hell at times and I do wonder how they able to get it together at all.

  • Gualtier M says:

    Just a note: we don’t know what kind of voice Nourrit would have by today’s standards. He is known as the first romantic tenor and the first dramatic tenor but he might not have had a dramatic tenor voice in the Vickers mold. (BTW: I suspect that Berlioz would have been astonished and not in a good way by Jon Vickers’ voice and style as Enée.)

    What we do know about Nourrit is that he sang the high notes in a voix-mixte or falsetto tone. When Gilbert-Louis Duprez emerged and sang the “ut de poitrine” or high C from the chest, Rossini didn’t like it. He said it sounded like a capon with its throat being cut and felt that Nourrit’s mixed head voice approach was more musical and appropriate. Unfortunately, if you read the Pleasants book about Nourrit’s decline and death that Camille referred to, Nourrit tried to change his voice to conform with the Duprez approach and met with disaster. Nourrit went to Italy and darkened his voice (le voix sombrée) and encountered vocal difficulties. What was probably a long battle with manic depression and the cancellation of the premiere of Donizetti’s “Poliuto” triggered his suicide.

    Anyway, Nicolai Gedda sings Enée wonderfully on a 1969 RAI broadcast and also sang Arnold and Benvenuto Cellini (a Vickers role with Sarah Caldwell in Boston) in the sixties and seventies. This was contemporary to Vickers -- many felt his voice was a better fit for French opera than Vickers. My take on Hymel is that he has the pingy top of a Gedda but the middle is darkening and broadening in an interesting way giving it some Vickers-like solidity and color. Hymel’s selling point is his brilliant easy top -- at this point he would not want to compromise this by singing a lower heavier role like the Verdi Otello. (Rossini Otello might be interesting though). I remember Hymel from four or fives years ago when the middle was dry and wooden despite the ringing high notes, so clearly his voice is developing and growing. A friend who saw Hymel’s Enée at Covent Garden said that he had improved noticeably and was singing with less strain than he did in London.

    Vickers is sui generis and isn’t a model for the fort ténor repertoire. His approach is idiosyncratic and worked for him -- not for everyone else. Attempts to cast other Otello and Wagner tenors as Enée has produced unhappy results.

  • Camille says:

    A very mild and lovely rumination on a subject la beauté that I hold dear, for manifold reasons. Thank you for your gracious thought on the subject, and thank m. croche for having raised it in the first instance.

    There is, incidentally, a long paen to BEAUTÉ in Gustave Charpentier’s pendant to Louise, namely, his much later work from 1913-14, Julien. Rather late in the day for that type of aestheticism but there it is.

    I miss M. de Montebello. I adore that man.

  • Camille says:

    And here is the ADORABLE Lambie King Himself, as Arnaud:

    One thing is for certain: one need never worry about ‘what if the high C’s don’t come out’ with this muchacho guapo, he has them in spades.

  • Nerva Nelli says:

    Yes, and at the recent Met ORY prima they were next door to screams.

  • itrinkkeinwein says:

    Wrong voice type, imho.

  • Camille says:

    Oh dear, is that so, Nerva? Of course, as I was not there and only heard the opening aria on the car radio and could not really judge for certain, but it seemed that the voice was constrained in some way—was he ill? I would hate to hear of him going under.

  • Camille says:

    He was ill with a chest cold, Nerva, as was plainly heard in his brief interview at intermission yesterday.

  • Gualtier M says:

    Merci Camille. The first Arnoldo Melcthal in London was Giovanni Battista Rubini -- another tenor who produced his upper register in an extended falsetto. It was one of his most successful roles. I think by the end of Rubini’s career in the 1840′s he was something of an anachronism and audiences found that voice production really effete and strange.

    BTW: the first Otello in 1888, Francesco Tamagno was a famous Arnold in “Tell” -- one of his signature roles that showcased his stentorian high C’s and C sharps. These probably sounded very different from the high notes of Nourrit and Rubini.

    As for lambie-pie Florez -- I was really bothered by the loud C’s and D’s in “Le Comte Ory”. They were nasal and blaring and were wrenched out of the musical line and milked. The music needed lightness and float. Florez’s piano and voix-mixte dynamic is the most attractive aspect of his singing and he should have adhered to the older school of French singing and produced most of his high notes in voix-mixte.

  • Gualtier M says:

    Camille, Philippe de Montebello has become a television personality -- he is one of the regular correspondents on the PBS program NYC Arts that plays on Channel 13 Sunday around noon. He does a lot of interviewing museum curators, etc. and branches out as host from time to time.

  • semira mide says:

    It is most unfortunate that Florez is best know for his C’s. The most beautiful things he has sung at the Met were not those “C’s”, thrilling as they may be, but his exquisite “Una Furtiva Lagrima”, the trio from at the end of Comte Ory, among others.

    High C’s it seems to me have sort of become the opera equivalent of figure skating’s “Triple toe loop -double salchow quadruple lutz”, or whatever they call those things. They are expected, but they shouldn’t define the performance.

    I did not get to hear Florez live in this run of Comte Ory, so I have not experienced the unpleasant C’s and D’s. I venture to say that he hasn’t “tanked” ( his “off nights” would still be worth it to me) because I heard 3 performances of “Matilde di Shabran” last summer in Pesaro and his artistry,vocalism,and understanding of Rossini were stunning.

    But the Met’s Tell is still a ways off. JDF was interviewed somewhere ( don’t remember where) and expressed a reluctance to travel when his son gets older. It is something to keep in mind; he may not wish to sing at the Met when that happens.

    The Met will find a good tenor, I’m sure. It really is the conductor we have to worry about.

  • messa di voce says:

    They were much better in the house in subsequent performances compared to what I heard on Sirius opening night. I don’t think his voice broadcasts well.

  • bassoprofundo says:

    Where does he live? Peru!?

    I wouldn’t want to spend too much time away from that Barbie either!

  • bassoprofundo says:

    It’s not about high C’s. Arnold is not like any other Rossini tenor. It’s much, much heavier. For example, Arnold has to sing this duet, and then the trio right in succession. JDF can’t do it. Especially not at the Met. You can’t pussy out of singing like this:

  • Camille says:

    That Barbie already has her Ken doll so Hands Off, BP!

    Angela will be up for granbs soon—now that would be a challenge and a tale to tell.

  • semira mide says:

    I agree that Tell is not “about” the C’s. I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve heard Florez do Tell in Pesaro this summer.

  • Nerva Nelli says:

    I was in the house opening night and they were markedly unpleasant. Possible he was “off” but otherwise it didn’t sound like it.

  • Camille says:

    Thanks. It’s too bad my husband won’t allow a television in the house in New York.
    Well then, I’ll see Monsieur de Montebello in my dreams, instead. At any rate, I am so happy he has not retired into a splendid villa at Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in contemplation with his Muse and eschewing the outer world. He has my undying love for that Ingres exposition.

  • Gualtier M says:

    You don’t need a tv when you have a computer, Camille -- welcome to the 21st century. Watch NYC Arts here:

  • Camille says:

    Overthrow the patriarchy! Down with Barbe-Bleue! Sisterhood is powerfull!!

    I’ll never join the 21st c., Gualtiero-studente-sono-e-povero-M., though.

    Thanks for the link. I’ll drool over PdeM on my computer en privè.
    Mucho spasibo!