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The sound of two hands clapping

If it’s in the New York Times, it must be true, right? “To this day there is no applause at the end of a Parsifal performance in Bayreuth.”  

72 comments

  • papopera says:

    Why not applaud? Its not a funeral, its an opera. WTF!

  • Signor Bruschino says:

    Is the dress rehearsal next week one of the ‘closed’ dress rehearsals like Siegfried & Gotterdammerung had last season?

  • louannd says:

    Corinna da who?

  • operaassport says:

    Lyric Opera of Chicago today announced the most boring season imaginable — and that’s saying something for them. Also a continuing collaboration with Rodgers and Hammerstein. Does someone there think it’s 1956? Well, based on that season it might be.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Here are more than 6,000 clapping hands and screaming fans for Leonie’s last performance at the MET. It looks like a first generation video from a camera in the wings on stage right. The solo bows for Rysanek went on for more than 25 minutes.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      By time marker 7:03, the camera has moved to the other side of the stage and Leonie’s second husband Elu Gausman appears onstage with her. They embrace. I wish that someday the many private movies and videos Elu took of Leonie in rehearsals and performances would be made public. The cheers of “Le-o-nie!” were similar to how we behaved for her first performances at the old MET, when long after they had closed the asbestos curtain Leonie’s ardent fans forced it to rise again so we could see her one more time. Our cheers fro her then were even louder and longer. She will always be in our hearts and here: http://www.euxus.de/wien-ehrengraeber.html

    • Buster says:

      Very moving, thanks. I did see her last performance at the Lyric, as Klytaemnestra, there were thunderous ovations there too, but nothing like this. Unbelievable!

    • Signor Bruschino says:

      Quanto- thank you for posting this! I was there that night (and two days later we had an insane blizzard if i remember) but this ovation, this performance was just magical.

      the clapping should still be going on 16 years later!

    • perfidia says:

      And the Met didn’t think Rysanek’s last role with the company was important enough to preserve on video. No. We had to wait for next year because the world was dying to have have Domingo sleepwalk his way through Herman.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        Despite his pronunciation of the Russian lyrics, I think Domingo was a wonderful Herman and Leonie crawling on top of him after her coup de théâtre entrance crashing through the floor boards of the Met stage should have been preserved on video.

        • DonCarloFanatic says:

          I heard native Russian speakers throughout childhood and they don’t all sound the same. Not everyone says “Mahskva” for Moscow, for instance. I am not sure why there is this prejudice that only Russians should sing Russian language operas. It’s not a difficult language for an English speaker to pronounce properly because we have a similar hardness in our way of talking. You might say our sounds come from the same part of the mouth and with similar tongue positions. (Undoubtedly, there is a technical term for this.)

          I’ll grant you that Domingo, with his innately soft Hispanic voice, is not ideal, but he was acceptable in various German operas where more hardness to the voice also would have been “native.” I don’t think it should matter all that much.

          I understand why people are concerned with singing in French because the ligne de chant of the French language is actually quite foreign to English speakers. I have an audio download of a Hoffmann I can barely stand to listen to because the words are distinctly pronounced instead of elided.

          • phoenix says:

            DonCarloFanatic is correct. Regional accents in Russia are extremely varied in that vast country.
            - Was Tchaikovsky looking for a specifically 18th century St. Petersburg dialect for his singers in Pikovaya Dama? Perhaps such an accent could have been verifiable in his time, but I doubt if it could be so now.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Interesting … I always thought that Anglo-Saxon singers would tend to lack that ‘soft-palate’ element that seems to be so strong in Russian. I’ve always noticed that, when native Russian speakers are making a particular effort with an English accent, they place the sound as far forward as they can, talking with the tips of their tongue and teeth, as it were.
            A British singer who (as far as I can tell) sings excellent Russian is Joan Rodgers -- I believe she has a degree in the language. Margaret Price always sounded quite comfortable in Russian to my ear too, perhaps because of the nature of her sound.

          • oedipe says:

            Yes Monty, you are right: Russian (Slavic) consonants are “softer” than their English (Germanic) counterparts. Also, Slavic languages have both hard and soft vowels, whereas Germanic languages have no soft vowels.

            More generally, language speaking and understanding require the mastery of three elements: pronunciation, diction and intonation. Arguably the most important characteristic of a language is its intonation (its melodic/prosodic structure). For instance, trying to speak a foreign language with an OK pronunciation but with a poor intonation will result in failure to make oneself understood.

            Whereas pronunciation and diction are acquired skills, it appears that the capacity to distinguish among the intonation patterns of different language families is innate. Upon learning a foreign language, one can learn to imitate an intonation structure; but newborns can already tell that, say, English is not French (whereas they cannot tell the difference between intonation structures within the same language family, e.g. they cannot differentiate between English and German).

            Most singers seem to think that it’s sufficient to approximate correctly the pronunciation of words in a foreign language, and they don’t bother to work on their intonation. This may not be such a big problem between languages that belong to the same family (so that they have the same rhythmic/prosodic structure), such as English and German, or Italian and French.

            Slavic languages have a different intonation structure from, say, English, but they are accent based languages, like English or German. On the other hand, Italian and, especially, French are not accent based (Spanish intonation is somewhere between accent and “melody” based). The French “ligne de chant” refers specifically to that melodic structure of the French language that foreigners have such a hard time learning. So, it is easier for an English or German speaker to imitate the Russian intonation than the French intonation, even though the Russian pronunciation may still be difficult to master (but so is the French pronunciation).

            I hope I expressed myself clearly enough.

            Opera relies more or less heavily on language and its meaning -less for bel canto maybe-, so a good mastery of languages (pronunciation AND intonation) is essential for good singing, IMO. Unfortunately, most people don’t seem to give a damn, as long as long as the singers have good loud high notes.

      • kashania says:

        Rysanek’s Met farewell also had Heppner as Herman in primo voice. Shame.

        • kashania says:

          I should clarify that Heppner wasn’t the Herman for her final performance but sang the part in earlier performances of that run.

          And THANK YOU QPF for sharing this video — quite moving.

          • Feldmarschallin says:

            She is visably moved when she says thank you for 37 years. When I saw that I cried. I also wondered who today at their farewell would produce such a love affair from the public to the singer. I don’t think Fleming is loved that much, certainly not Gheorghiu. Perhaps Gruberova or Meier maybe. I do find it nice when a singer is given a proper farewell and not like della Casa or Grob-Prandl just stop singing.

          • Buster says:

            Juliette Gréco, perhaps? In opera, no idea.

        • kashania says:

          Matilla was also in the case earlier in that run. Hvorostovsky sang Yeletsky the whole run. A video of a Rysanek/Heppner/Matilla/Hvorostovsky performance would’ve been a treasure to have.

    • Tamino says:

      Those who are better informed can correct me, but isn’t it true that Leonie was diagnosed with the cancer that ultimately led to her death during this run of performances? That’s at least how I heard it--that a doctor in NYC either diagnosed or confirmed the gravity of her diagnosis during the time of these Pique Dame performances, but she told almost no one.

      That makes this scene all the more poignant and heartbreaking.

      So glad I saw one of the earlier performances. The sight of Leonie breaking through the floorboards and climbing menacingly onto Gherman’s bed to reveal the three cards is one of the most haunting things I’ve seen on stage. What a fitting coup-de-theatre with which to finish her career.

      May she rest in peace.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        Leonie’s disease was kept very private. Some of her closest friends in San Francisco knew what was happening -- not so much in NYC. On the dreadful day, late at night, I received a strange unexpected and unsigned email: “Leonie is dead.” Calls to her close friends in the wee hours of the morning yielded no confirmation. I phoned the Austrian press agency and they had no news of her passing. By the next day it was official.

    • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

      Thank you so much for posting this. It made me weep. Fond, fond memories of the unique Leonie.

    • rysanekfreak says:

      Amazing document of an amazing night! Thanks for posting!!

    • MontyNostry says:

      Was Leonie’s look there a model for Joyce DD in’Drama Queens’ mode?

    • Camille says:

      Quanto—ti voglio tanto, tanto benePainy Fakor—of all the wonderful things you have ever posted or ever shall, this is the most wonderful of all and I thank you with profound gratitude. It has always bitterly rankled me that I missed die Heilige Leonie’s last set of performances, as I would have loved to have been a part of that screaming Love-In. At least now I can see my beloved Leonie who was, and is, like no other singer in my entire life’s experience, and whom I love without reservation.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      Love,
      Camille

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        I understand Camille. I hope you have found a way to download those precious Youtubes before they disappear.
        It is a fabulous souvenir. I was one of a few people who were with her in her dressing room before she started receiving fans backstage that night. She was so relieved that it was over. It was not just another night at the opera. I too adored her.

    • perfidia says:

      Truly the end of an era. Wasn’t she pretty much the last singer of her generation to retire?

  • havfruen says:

    Anyone know if Verdi ever shouted “bravo” at a performance of one of his operas???

  • williams says:

    My Dear Quanto,
    I’ll be forever in your debt for posting Leonie’s farewell. We were lucky enough to be there and always regretted that there was no video.
    I was told years ago by someone who was employed there that the house videotapes every performance (for legal reasons?) and can only imagine, if true, what a treasure trove this would be. Assume this would be the closed circuit feed so no close ups but still…

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      I too was delighted to find Loenie’s ovation and speech on Youtube. There IS a camcorder video of the complete performance made from the audience that has nothing to do with any possible archival single camera made by the MET. As far as I know, it has only been shared by relatively few people who have sworn never to copy it. I have never seen the first generation and the dubs are diminished in video quality.

      • williams says:

        Hadn’t thought about it in many years but I wonder what the story is with those “archival” tapes. What happens to them and how far back do they go? One would have thought there would have been an outcry (or bribes) for access to them at some point.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Here are more than 40,000 hands applauding Bocelli tonight. The aplause was so long that an encore of the aria was demanded and sung

    • bassoprofundo says:

      “Dad, this is for you!”

      To think a family actually shares love for Bocelli.

      Cringeworthy.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      Here’s the Corelli encore of the same music (Monte Carlo, 1960)

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      Maria Aleida is quite good!

    • stevey says:

      Yes, and I understand that there was much bitter weeping among the 40000 when the rumored duet with Katherine Jenkins never came to be…

      Reading about that I can’t help but be reminded of the story of that fabled Emperor of a far off land somewhere, and his magical clothes made of fabric so rare and fine that only the truly enlightened can see them……