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O fatal “Don”

“The Met’s performance of Don Carlo Friday night was a tragedy, but not for the reason Verdi intended. . . . Under conductor Lorin Maazel’s limp baton, the gloomy tale became a slow-motion nightmare. Scene after scene trudged by in an unvarying dirge tempo.” [New York Post]


  • phoenix says:

    Frittoli -- particularly at this juncture in her career -- was an ill-advised choice to begin with. Is she still scheduled to do it at La Scala?

  • Salome Where She Danced says:

    “Harsh and shrill” Fritto Misto was just as harsh and shrill a coupla months ago at the Kennedy Center as Mozart’s Elvira.

    • MontyNostry says:

      I’ve always thought Frittoli sounds like Carol Vaness on a bad night.

      • Camille says:

        Ha! Thanks for nailing down and defining that one for I’ve long tried to sort out that sound she makes and it has vaguely klingt on the ear as something familiar. I heard La Frittoli as Donn’Anna, when she had still the voice under control and she had the most extraordinarily long-breathed phrases in her arias, much to be admired.

      • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

        What to do, what to do? I am headed à deux for NYC for the second time in my life, and first since 2006, from 13-19 March; staying midtown where we overlook the St. Patrick’s Day parade and are mulling Carnegie Hall later that day (whether the afternoon Vampyr or the two Requiems that evening). But it looks like we can forget about sinking money into Don Carlo that might be more pleasurably spent on other things. La Traviata clashes with other commitments; and it remains to be seen if we are free for Eva Maria Westbroek in the Saturday matinee.

        Crikey. Hard to believe that we might spend almost a week in New York and miss out on the Met. The prospect of Les Mis on Broadway doesn’t really get me dreaming a dream…

        • Camille says:

          Well, BV, if you want green beer on St. Paddy’s Day, make sure to make haste to McSorley’s -- -- where it doth flow freely on that sainted day.

          If your tastes are more highfalutin’, I recommend parking yourself to see the parade in front of the American Irish Historical Society -- -- which is at 991 5th Avenue, a block or two south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which, it goes without saying, always has something worthwhile going on. The sound of those Scottish Highlanders and their bagpipes always feels me with deep pride and nostalgia for the land of, well at least one, my forefathers.

          Love and ERIN GO BRAGH!

          in Celtic Pride,

          • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

            Thanks very much, or Go Raibh Míle Maith Agat, a Chamille, a chara!

            I am currently on my annual sabbatical from alcohol but will allow myself alcohol on vacation -- some Finger Lakes/Long Island wines (never seen in Dublin) with food at La Grenouille, close by Olympic Tower where we’ll be staying; or a beerenausese at Café Sabarsky. Beer, maybe not; though we will end St. Patrick’s Day at a friend’s bar, Clandestino, at the east end of Canal Street. Home-made brown-bread scones (baked by her husband, a good old school pal of mine) are threatened, so oysters and Guinness seem the obvious companions.

            Thanks for the aihs link; we are seeing some Irish events elsewhere but I will be sure to check this out and report back to you.

            Le dea-mhéin, is mise,

            BV x

          • Camille says:

            You are more than welcome, my Gracious Vinaigrette.

            McSorleys, to give you an idea of the place, is where Frank McCourt of “Angela’s Ashes” fame. used to hang out to hold court after school hours. My husband was fortunate to attend a high school where he taught English, and can tell tales on him, but won’t! I can say that all those stories in Angela’s Ashes he rehearsed on his students first!
            It is a “scene” and that day it reeks of cheap emerald beer. It is fun to take a look at but for the older and more sedate, not probably a congenial environment. I mention it for fun’s sake only.

            As you are quite correct about the scarcity of proper scones — I ask you to eye one of those things Starbucks sells and give us your opinion — I will someday wend my way down to Canal Street to sample your friend’s wares. I will tell them that Baltsamic Vinaigrette sent me! That way I will get only the best!

            GREEN PRIDE!

            Camille go Bragh

        • Batty Masetto says:

          Dear Baltsamic V., I share your lack of starry eyes at the prospect of Les Mis. Being hopelessly behind the times and provincial in any case, I just discovered this the other day and laughed myself silly (well, sillier than I am normally):

          • Batty Masetto says:

            Oh lordy, there’s a Part II. If I was silly before, I’m just about delirious now:

          • Camille says:

            I strenuously object to you labelling yourself as a provincial, Batty M.!!

            You are retired to your country villa, much as an ancient Roman would have out on the Appia Antica, that’s all.

          • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

            Batty: what a hoot! Thanks a lot for putting these clips up. Now, if this ran on Broadway I might just give it a go.

            Camille: yes, McSorleys is indeed the old McCourt haunt -- often mentioned in pieces about him. He came in for a lot of stick on Irish TV’s top-rated chat show following the blockbuster success of the book. In particular some fellow natives of Limerick accused him of peddling sensationalist, grossly-distorted misery-porn. I know we Irish can (or certainly used to) be a right shower of begrudgers when one of our own does well, but that was quite a night even by our standards. [For the record, I thought he told great stories, and his brother Malachy is no slouch either].

            If you ever come to Dublin, rock up to McSorleys pub in Ranelagh, south city, on the LUAS tram line and close by any number of eateries. And yes: I will advise Clandestino to roll out the carpet for Camille, and who knows -- maybe we will see you for a late-evening jar on the 17th…? x

          • Camille says:

            Please accept my apologies as I would just LOVEd to have met you there — probably a once in a lifetime opportunity — but I shall have left New York a few days previous to the parade, alas!

            I have kept the name of your friend’s place in mind and shall pop in there sometime in the future and tell them Baltsamic Vinaigrette sent me.

            With my very kindest and bestest regards,
            Camille go Bragh

    • Bianca Castafiore says:

      I read years ago that Frittoli was abandoning this role because it was just too much of a stretch for her. I guess she went back to it.

      Btw, is she shacking up with Ildar these days? Did he sing Escamillo last week?

  • Not deterred by Mr. Jorden’s warnings, I too braved the flames of the Inquisition. Review on Superconductor.

    • bassoprofundo says:

      I suppose you wouldn’t have gotten any advertising money if you had just posted your thoughts here, without the hyperlink. Oh well.

      • rapt says:

        bp: not that it will probably matter to you, but LaC has posted this note on another thread:

        [Note to the cher public: please do not copy and paste an entire article from a source available online. Please paste the URL instead and interested readers can go to that link. - La Cieca]

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

      Superconductor, are you sure La Cieca warned you beforehand…

      “All written content © 2012 by Paul Pelkonen”

      … and not vice-versa?

  • Camille says:

    Camille’s @ Lincoln Center having her pre-DonCarlo café. How many should I have? Ten…? Twenty…? Maybe intravenously?

    Just wondering aloud.

    • bluecabochon says:

      Enjoy, Camille! I had a little repast at Avery Fisher Hall last night before Parsifal, as did number of others, who loaded up on cookies and bananas and water for later on.

      It’s always fun to meet Parterrians in the flesh, and I had the pleasure of meeting Operacat and Opercat’s friend! That makes a nice number of Parterriat whose faces I can put to names.

      I have never heard so silent an audience -- the coughers were few and far between (maybe cold season is over), but incredibly, there are still a few people who don’t know to the tradition of holding applause until the last note is played.

      I don’t know how it sounded on the radio/interwebs last night, but the performance in the house was even better than last week’s.

      • Camille says:


        Relatively little coughing, sneezing, hacking, strangling, spewing, or getting up dramatically and marching up the aisle in desperate physical distress.

        I have not been in such a relatively quiet auditorium for quite some while. THAT was a treat.

        Instead, tonight I was victimized by a silent farter nearby me. It was tortura indicibile!!! No sooner did I think it was over than a new wave would wash over me!!!!

        That’s why I love my Sirius connection so much!!

        bye blue,

        • bluecabochon says:

          “Instead, tonight I was victimized by a silent farter nearby me.”

          Hilarious! (thinks I, a safe distance away.) Condolences for the assault on your senses, dear Camille. I hope that Feruccio was worth all of that.

        • La Cieca says:

          There is surely a crown in heaven waiting for you, Camille, for what you have had to endure just to go the opera like normal person.

          • Camille says:

            If crowns there be for such as we fallen women.

            Thank you for the sweet thought, Cieca dear.

        • oedipe says:

          I have not been in such a relatively quiet auditorium for quite some while.

          Nah! At least half the house was surely dozing off.

    • Vergin Vezzosa says:

      C. -- Hopefully you took it easy on the caffeine. On Monday, even with the calming influence of a pre-show vodka/rocks, I felt like screaming out loud because Maazel was so frigging slow and lifeless for most of it. On caffeine, I probably would have done so. With the added insult of the two women (Frittoli sadly pretty consistently shrill now, Smirnova just crass), this was my least favorite show a quite a long time, kinda ironic because, like many, I have always loved DC and believe that it is one of the towering masterpieces of all time. Only Furlanetto and Halfvarson in the Act IV aria and duet made me feel like the evening wasn’t a TOTAL waste of time and money. I was so demoralized by the time of Dima’s last scene that I was barely listening. Vargas, who I usually like, was blah. JJ was so right with his “swimming in jello” comment in the NYP review.

      • Camille says:

        Hi VV! — that swimming in jello remark I had completely forgotten -- ! I felt like it was swimming underwater with an ear infection. Some many things wrong that I won’t even start. Very, very happy to hear about the CAROUSEL working out so well!

  • Camille says:


    Having trouble extinguishing the flame of love? Well, that’s what happened tonight in Act I of Don Carlo and it necessitated the on stage appearance of a burly stage hand equipped with extinguisher.

    It temporarily set the house into laughter and the principals on stage had a bit of a time controlling their own. Mo. Maazel’s GERITOL sponsored tempi somehow kept the show back on its track.

    A night of many sorrows. Had it been my first Don Carlo, I’d have headed for the exit sign before the auto-da-fe got lit up. Which did seem contained this time around, compared to the conflagration I saw two years ago.

    Not going to comment on singers other than to say that POPPY does really light up this role. I missed her a lot in “Tu che le vanità”, a scene she realised even more successfully than La Scottissima did, back in 1979.

    Somebody buy the maestro a metronome!

    • La Cieca says:

      Oh I am so sorry I missed this. Or, even more so, I wish there had been some Regie-sophisticated European opera tourist in the theater who would have said, “How brilliant! The metatheatrical moment so aptly foreshadows the announcement of the Conte di Lerma which figuratively quenches the flame of their love! A moment worthy of the young Konwitschny!”

      • Camille says:

        It was more like straight out of La Gran Scena, Cieca cara! I was laughing so hard I had to not watch for a while — and poor Frittoli/Elisabetta had to stand there and sing about her tragic destiny whilst the extinguished flames and puff&stuff wafted into her face and throat.

        One of those wonderful and all too rare moments that make an otherwise ghastly four and a half hour evening worth the pain! You would have loved it!

        • Krunoslav says:

          Other than the Act IV Scene One aria and bass duet, the techie fire guy’s intervention was the liveliest moment in the show. Vargas cracked up and turned away.

          Maazel deserves a Gianfranco Masini Medal of Lassitude for what he perpetrated tonight. A snoozefest, from that wonderful score!

      • njshoreman539 says:

        Last night was the second near real-conflagration I have seen on the Met stage in the past 4+ years. When I noticed Vargas breaking “twigs” and putting them into the flames last night, I pondered what inflammable material could these props possibly be made of…and voilà they were not. At that moment I thought of the December 12, 2008 Tristan I attended at the Met, when Waltraud Meier flew in from Germany the day of the performance to cover for Dalayman. She sang a surprisingly compelling Isolde given the circumstances. But not having had time to rehearse the production she failed to completely extinguish the torch (the signal to Tristan) stage front and center at the start of Act 2. I think she then tossed her cloak or something over the smoldering material. With the performance fully underway, a very distinguished lady from backstage walked halfway across the front of the stage, picked up the smoking materials and carried them with great solemnity offstage without a murmur from the audience. To my subsequent amazement, last night’s fire also proceeded to burn beyond its mandate. But by comparison to Tristan the hilarity of last night’s fire suppression exercise was worthy of a Marx Brothers or Gene Wilder opera scene. Definitely unforgettable as was the olfactory and visual realism of smoke from burnt “twigs” wafting about the forêt and theater.

        • Camille says:

          You know, njshoreman, I had completely forgotten about that “fire”, the night Waltraud lit up the stage! In fact, I have now only the slightest recollection of something having transpired, but I do remember that woman and it was almost as if she were Brangäne’s assistant or something of the ilk.

          It shows how there can be an invisible way of covering up, I suppose. My esteemed spouse told me this morning, as we were trying to recall more effects, that he once say a very slight sort of conflagration in an AïDA, but the person with the fire extinguisher was in this instance one of the extras dressed up as an ancient Egyptian.

          Yes, indeedy, A Night at The OPERA!

        • DurfortDM says:

          I was there too. Waltraud is awesome.

          • Camille says:

            Waltraud was in excelsis, with a side of awesome sauce on that night.

            I just don’t ever know how she does what she does except to say she must be the head of some Wiccan coven. She was so convincing in that first scene when she is invoking the elements that it was as if I’d never seen that scene before, and I had, about four times with good ol’ Jane. It was the first, and only time in my paucity of experience with T&I, in which I understood, “Oh, she really IS a sorceress”. Rest of them just look like fat ladies with a bad case of GERD.


    • Bianca Castafiore says:

      Up there with the Windows logo being projected into the Valkyrie rock last year…

      • Camille says:

        Oh i think that was even dunnier, BC. Sorry i missed it.

        Are you giving Master Classes lately? What’s up with U & Cap Haddock?

        • Bianca Castafiore says:

          Camillerrima, the captain is off somewhere with that little Belgian boy. Chad? Mali? Vanuatu? Somewhere exciting…

          I’m often at home just giving private concerts with my accompanist, Igor Wagner, to a few of my friends. Last night, we did “Casta diva” and a few other pieces, “Merce dillette amiche”, “Depuis le jour,” you know the usual…

          That was a great evening, Cammyushka! In spite of abuelita Debbie, it was Skelton’s role debut at the Met as Siegmund and he was in great form, and Westbroek, recovered from her illness, was in great voice as well…