Cher Public

  • -Ed.: Ah! My latest earbug is from the Gardiner Figaro.. and now it can be yours too! Perfection. httpv:// com/watch?v=Ua7... 10:03 PM
  • Batty Masetto: Ivy, Daniel Barenboim doesn’t quite see it that way: Whoever wants to see a repulsive attack on Jews in Wagner’s... 9:42 PM
  • Poison Ivy: A lot of Beckmessers music sounds like a parody of cantorial traditions, and certainly not something Wagner normally wrote for... 8:56 PM
  • grimoaldo: I’m a proud Episcopalian! Doesn’t stop me kvetching about anti-Semitism, not in Wagner generally, but in... 8:38 PM
  • armerjacquino: Well of COURSE a Venetian would say that… 8:33 PM
  • lorenzo.venezia: dear quoth, then there are us Jews who kvetch about other people reading anti-semitism everywhere in Wagner ;-) although... 8:32 PM
  • Batty Masetto: Sorry, quoth, I’m not buying. Possibly some day somebody will unearth a letter where Wagner says “I really... 8:24 PM
  • lorenzo.venezia: @armer– an old friend in Venezia assures me that there never was (which we know) and never would have been a... 8:21 PM

Fools rush in

A member of the cher public writes La Cieca suggesting that parterre readers attending the first night of the Met’s Parsifal might want to meet and/or greet. Who among you will be there? And what be shall the meeting place, or Bühnenweihfestspole?  

Meanwhile, here’s a hint of the onstage action.


  • Hippolyte says:

    The PDF of the Met’s program for Parsifal posted on the Met website says that both intermissions with be roughly 40 minutes each, leaving a lot of time to meet and greet.

    • Satisfied says:

      Are you $h%tin’ me? Will the performance get out in time for Saturday’s matinee?

      • Hippolyte says:

        Well it DOES begin at 6 (and is scheduled to conclude at 11:35).

        • La Cieca says:

          My prediction is that we’ll be leaving the theater right around midnight.

          • mandryka says:

            That sounds about right. The final dress went a shade over five hours and fifty minutes.

          • Uninvolved Bystander says:

            Given that it’s an prima of a new production of a Wagner opera I can see why this is. I attended a midweek MEISTERSINGER with Maestro Levine that begin at 6PM on the dot and it was 12:15AM when I left the Met.

    • scifisci says:

      Look in the thread under the review of the new walkure recording. A few of us posted about the final dress.

    • fidelio101 says:

      The backdrop looks like a screensaver from an iMac. If you didn’t know the story, the location of Act II would be undistinguishable unless a flower garden is watered in blood and castles are embedded in rock. This was my first production ever, so I can’t compare it to a naturalistic one. I’m not saying it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but it made a very big assumption: You’ve seen the opera before and know the story well.
      The singing and the orchestra were SUBLIME!

    • Claudia4Ever says:

      Final dress was stunning and intense! Singers -- all of them include chorus (which has been awesome all season) were ON! The production works and let’s the music be the star. Looking forward to a great run :-)

  • reedroom says:

    Damn, he looks and sounds stunning. Too bad about the shaved chest--I suppose they think it makes him look more youthful.

    I do wish I could be there for this (and for the Meet-and-Greet!). Enjoy!

    • Salome Where She Danced says:

      Like that worked so convincingly for William Holden in PICNIC.

      • papopera says:

        Damn , thought he had a smooth chest. He’s so magnificent. Disappointed that we don’t see a bit of pubes, shaved too?

    • Bluevicks says:

      The hairy chests disappeared from opera stages many years ago. In the fifties however *real* men didn’t shave their chests or their armpits for that matter (special mention to the background picture of the channel):

      And I naively thought that undressed singers was a recent subject matter….

  • Salome Where She Danced says:

    Looks like somebody’s been reading Susan Sontag’s “Wagner’s Fluids.”

    I am especially looking forward to seeing the “living deads” zombie-lurching in Act III.

  • Ilka Saro says:

    Where’s that comic from? Looks like a must-read!

  • shoegirl says:

    Nice idea. Should become a regular thing.

  • kashania says:

    What moobs were people going on about? Yes, he’s got a bit of flab on him and even the best bodies sag when leaning over like that.

    • Gualtier M says:

      Kashania this brings up a topic of current expectations of physical fitness we have of contemporary actors, singers and dancers. The pervasiveness of body consciousness and gym toned perfection is a recent phenomenon.

      If you look at old Hollywood films very few actors are buff -- Holden, Brando and Victor Mature were exceptions -- not the norm. I remember two things -- my dear late friend Barbara and I were seeing Matt Damon in “The Talented Mr. Ripley”. Barbara mentioned that one period detail was wrong in the film (set in the early fifties) -- Matt Damon in trunks in the beach scene was way too buff and toned. “Men weren’t that buff then” she said. Also Scott Thompson of “The Kids in the Hall” talked about this in a comic monologue. “When our grandmothers saw Clark Gable take off his shirt in ‘It Happened One Night’ they were like ‘Oh my GOD!!! Now the queens look at Clark and say ‘Get that boy to a gym’.”

      Kaufmann would have been considered extremely slim and well-built up to about thirty years ago -- unbelievably so for an opera singer and even more for a Wagnerian heldentenor (jugend). He has beautiful shoulders, feet and a tapering waist. Classical proportions. But in comparison with Calvin Klein or Abercrombie & Fitch underwear models, gay porn stars, action stars in Hollywood films and chorus boys in contemporary musical theater he is soft and a little flabby.

      BTW: I saw Jonas Kaufmann entering the Met a few Saturdays ago early to attend a rehearsal downstairs. He rushed in without looking left or right but I did see that he was just as handsome offstage as he is in his retouched and carefully lit publicity photos. He did not look like a hobo though he had a bit of carefully maintained three-days growth of beard. Also his shorter wig in Act III (Schukoff was shaven-headed in Lyon) is very becoming and sets off his bone structure better than the flowing curls.

  • bobsnsane says:


    Sorry, but 2 my moobless mind
    there’s no excuse 4 not looking HEROIC
    (read, athletic)
    4 this role…

    I m baffled as 2 Y
    JK doesn’t @ least
    do some push-ups…
    Jeeze, Jonas.

    U don’t have 2 shave your head
    2 B a Bodhisattva…
    But nowadays (21st C)
    U gotta B the BUFF Buddha
    after all those re-incarnitive cycles.

    Just sayin’…

    • DonCarloFanatic says:

      My speculation is that all this sex symbol stuff bothers him on some level and he does not want to pay attention to it or feed it. He’s always been the awkward skinny college student type, and they don’t do muscles.

      • Bluevicks says:

        If the ”sex smybol” stuff really bothered him that much, he wouldn’t pose for a clothes label, wouldn’t do BMW commercials and wouldn’t accept heavily photo-shoped pictures on his albums. BTW, when journalists ask him about his (supposedly) good looks, he always answers that it doesn’t disturb him in the slightest if one also mentions that he sings well. Moreover, he always insists that stage appearance is really important nowadays, especially given the HD broadcasts. IMO, he embraces the ”sex symbol” status that the press (and some of his fans) have given to him without much difficulty.

        I think that the matter is much more simpler than you suggest. Kaufmann is far from being a sex-symbol and there is nothing in his body/face which really stands out. Arguably, this is not that important for a singer and tastes differ. It’s just quite difficult to promote something which isn’t there in the first place.
        What is important however, is how he sings. And in that regard, a flabby or a not flabby chest would not help matters.

        • bobsnsane says:

          FLABBio or not, Bluevicks (VAPO-rub ?)

          ‘this sex symbol stuff’ is essential 2 understanding the myth &
          recognizing it’s genius in Wagner’s hands…

          Hey, Freud was just on the horizon,
          (Interpretation of Dreams was 1899)
          returning 2 the past 2 understand one’s self…
          via the ‘talking cure’ would change everything -
          (as if the great authors
          hadn’t been poking around this ‘stuff’
          long B 4 Freud).

          Here love with a woman
          is seen as an echo of love with one’s mother
          (with all Oedipal overlay).
          Then the clarity of water ‘washing away’ &
          light & enlightenment
          birth & re birth
          menstruation & fertility
          with blood as source of life
          even the repetition compulsion -
          all of that richness is here …

          In this context,
          2 limit the opera
          2 a very, very clever geologic parable
          (as in the Opera Cake blog
          cited by Satisfied above)
          is 2 still under-estimate
          the power of the myth (the text) --
          not 2 say that THAT isn’t a crucial theme 2,
          but it is that,
          & so much more IMHO.

          Does this help?
          Does this make sense?
          I hope it does.

          I luv this work -- BIG time…*sigh*.

          • oedipe says:


            Nought easy 2 follow U, but you R right about all that which lies B-neath the surface of Parsifal. Don’t just rely on Opera Cake, go C the Met production, it’s well worth C-ing!

            P.S. My Mom/wife says Hi too.

          • oedipe says:

            Oops, sorry: …but U R right…

          • bobsnsane says:

            Hi oedipe!

            This is my favorite Wagner work -
            (as corny as that sounds)
            I m lovin’ how this production looks
            I will certainly see the Hd twice…

          • Bluevicks says:

            Of course this makes sense (though it took some time for me to decipher to it). But I don’t see how Kaufmann (or any other singer for that matter) could do justice to all that.

            I hope that you would like the production, at least on musical terms.

          • mountmccabe says:

            The Opera Cake take seems very interesting but, from the little I have seen, also seems to be reading a lot into the production. My guess is that this production is both more and less than that interpretation.

            I am excited to be seeing it for myself tonight!

          • oedipe says:

            The mark of a great production is that it allows for multiple interpretations that can all hold their own. That’s why simply transposing a libretto to a different place and time, even if it “makes sense”, will never suffice to create a great production. Transposition per se is mere analogy: it projects whatever meaning was there in the libretto in the first place onto a new environment; it doesn’t allow for multiple new interpretations. Many directors transpose, it’s an easy cop-out; few directors are talented enough to infuse librettos with (multiple) new meanings.

          • bobsnsane says:

            A few more details…

            Opera Cake notes the facelessness of the women in Act 1…
            This is a crucial detail &
            it makes sense as Parsifal
            cannot yet ‘recognize’ a woman
            who is not his mother.

            She is still very much a part of him
            so much so that Kundry
            enrages him when SHE tells him
            that his Mother is dead.

            Parsifal must ‘work through’ (that is, end)
            his attachment 2 her in order to
            set forth on ‘the pathway’ 2 liberate others.
            He becomes through successive reincarnations
            as the Buddha -- a Bodhisattva.

            For Amfortas though, the surrender 2 this attachment perpetuates the Oedipal conflict.

            The taboo of incest wounds anyone without the insight(enlightenment)to resist its destructive force – as the Buddha stresses -- all attachment is suffering.

            Klingsor’s rage further underscores the Oedipal dilemma – he castrates himself, remember?

        • bassoprofundo says:

          Having met Kaufmann and thus seen him up close, he’s really not that attractive IMO. He kind of looks like a hobo actually. It’s sort of amazing, the transformations photoshop can do to turn him into an Adonis on the covers of his albums.

          Although I suppose all is relative. Kaufmann isn’t attractive, but compared to, say, Botha…

          • bluecabochon says:

            It all comes down to opinion, doesn’t it, basso?

            I met and chatted with Jonas in an electronics store when he was in New York for FAUST and found him incredibly attractive and charismatic. He was looking at TVs and was off-duty and casual, not looking to impress, yet he did.

            I’m not a fan of stubble generally, but he wears it well, imo.

            Your opinions masquerading as FACT just irritate the crap out of me.

          • bassoprofundo says:

            You must have missed where I said “IMO.”

          • louannd says:

            Well I once saw Jonas Kaufmann through a pair of binoculars in Berkley, CA. Very very sexy man.

        • DonCarloFanatic says:

          You could be right. Or we both could be right. He wouldn’t be the first artist to sign on for the career and financial advantage of the public’s inexhaustible appetite for cheese--but also feel conflicted about doing so.

          • Bluevicks says:

            Wether he’s conflicted about it or not, this kind of promotion has certainly done wonders for him. And I can’t blame him for that even if I throughly dislike his singing: after all, a singer’s career is relatively short, so he’s right to make the most of it while he can.

            It’s just that it takes some strange proportions at times. By reading some of his fans/press comments, one may be forgiven to think that Kaufmann is an Adonis of cosmic proportions. Well, I have seen him in the flesh and my impressions were rather different. I won’t dwell about it since each taste is different and mine is not particularly better than any other. Suffice to say that there were plenty of tenors before and after him (even in the Wagner’s rep) which looked as good if not better than him. And at times I have the impression that some of his most ardent admirers prefer to talk about his looks than about his singing, which I find slightly odd.

  • I procrastinated this afternoon by dredging up some reminiscence and rumination about shooting swans on the Fordham campus as a wee lad. (In other words, there’s a new post about Parsifal on <a href=""Superconductor.

  • La Valkyrietta says:

    What next? Kundry as Jane Russell in Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?

  • Jamie01 says:

    Is there a meeting place during the first intermission or do I just wander around until I overhear an exceptionally erudite and perceptive discussion of the performance, and then I’ll know I’ve found the group?

    • Jack Jikes says:

      Very top of grand staircase by the current art work?
      I will try to be apparent but not grand.

    • bluecabochon says:

      Maybe this could be a meeting place for every performance to Parterriat can meet during the run? I’ll be going on Feb. 21 and would love to meet anyone else there that evening.

  • Sneakeater says:

    I’m just a lurker, but I have to admit that I got really pissed off last night when, every time I tried to fill up time during the looooonnnnnnnggggg intermissions by looking at that painting, there was a group of men standing in front of it. Why do have to stand right in front of the painting, I kept asking myself.

    I should have eavesdropped. When I overheard the in-depth discussion of Jonas Kaufmann’s chest, I’d have understood.

    PS — Daniele Gatti!!!!!!!!!! Peter Mattei!!!!!!!!! And Rene Pape (who makes the almost miraculous seem so effortless)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!