Cher Public

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]

  • bassoprofundo

    Just some housekeeping: the diacritic on Ella giammai m’amo’ isn’t working for me, on any browser. Don’t know if anyone else has the same problem or not.

  • DurfortDM

    And there I was thinking something was wrong with my live stream. That it couldn’t possibly be that bad. Yikes!

  • Maria Malcontent

    I agree this was a tremendously dispiriting revival. The biggest disappointment almost was the production, which now looks shambolic. I suspect that there was very little stage time, because the singers new to the production were most obviously at sea and relied on stock gestures even more than usual. Seeing Vargas (again) reminded me of why he has never really reached first rank -- not just a matter of a slight (now more than slight) weakness at the top, but he is just one of the least comfortable and most hackneyed performances I know on stage. There is little in the production that seems coherent dramatically. A disappointing evening and not one in this production much likely to be improved.

    • Regina delle fate

      Pity about Vargas -- a good, not especially charismatic singer, but insane casting for this role at the Met. Might work in Zurich or the Staatsoper, Berlin. Same probably goes for Frittoli, although the attempted Freni-isation of her rep seems to be a bit of a flop. I read an interview once in which Tebaldi claimed that she never sang Elisabetta in the theatre because it was too heavy for her! Who sang the part at the Met in her heyday? Rysanek? Milanov? Farrell?

      • Feldmarschallin

        I do wonder what made the Met decide that they had to do Don Carlos when they didn’t have the cast. Wouldn’t it be wiser in general if opera houses would cast operas which can be cast instead of picking the opera and then trying to find some singers. What singers except perhaps for Furlanetto made the Met think that they just HAD to do Don Carlos. Vargas isnt bad just very dull as an actor. There are nights when Kaufmann, Calleja and Beczala are elsewhere and has given some decent if not thrilling evenings in the opera house. He is doing Gabriele Adorno here in June but then again that character is also a bit of a stick himself so it will be ok.

      • Maria Malcontent

        That was the Opera News interview with Tebaldi, I think, where she said about Desdemona that even with her volume she had reservations about it.I am not sure if she also said that about Don C.. Vargas is VERY good imho in 2003 from Vienna in the staging that gets terribly booed (Konschitsnky (sp).

        • messa di voce

          In the Rasponi book, Tebaldi said that Don Carlo, Ballo, and Trovatore were too heavy for her to do in the theater. It was another world, back then.

          • I’m sure all those high C’s had nothing at all to do with her decision.

          • Feldmarschallin

            Something doesnt add up. She sang Gioconda, Aida, Forza and Minnie. Those are certainly heavier than Trovatore. The Trovatore was too much belcanto for her and she knew it. Nice try though.

          • Feldmarschallin

            Oh and with the Trovatore, Ballo and Don Carlo there was a certain certain who especially in the first two had huge successes in places like La Scala and Naples and Chicago. Perhaps that also influenced her. I just cannot recall her name but it is on the tip of my tongue. :)

          • Camille

            But La Gioconda and Aïda were light enough, eh?

            Doesn’t make a lot of sense but then that is what is known as ‘Soprano Logic’.

          • Camille

            Gnädige Feldy!

            I am reasonably certain the certain someone you are thinking of has the initials “M. C.” Applying soprano logic to this equation it works out to be—bella sorpresa!—Mariah Carey!

          • La Cieca’s right. To my ears, Tebaldi, had one of the biggest lirico-spinto voices around. She had a big enough voice to sing anything in the Italian rep (Minnie being a prime example) so long as the rest of the role’s requirements (tessitura, coloratura, etc.) were within her abilities.

            Reminds me of Vickers cancelling plans to sing Tannhauser because he had second thoughts about the nature of the character (read: tessitura).

      • Mario C

        Wasn’t Radvanovsky the originally scheduled Elisabetta? When she took over the Ballo run, I remember them putting Frittoli in Don Carlo. I would have rather heard Radvanovsky Friday night.

        While I normally like Vargas in Mozart and Donizetti, he was way out of his league as Don Carlo in a house the size of the Met. His bio in the program said he is singing Manrico in Canada… yikes.

        • His Manrico was very good. Aside from “Di quella pira”, most of the role should be sung lyrically which he did with a lovely tone and legato. Mind you, Toronto’s opera house is half the size of the Met.

          • Mario C

            Thanks for the info Kashania. I’m not familiar with the size of Canadian Opera Company house. One thing he always does well is sing lyrically, which most Manrico’s can’t do. Honestly I can’t imagine him even attempting Di Quella Pira….but I have Corelli on the brain for that one.

            I saw Vargas sing Riccardo in Ballo a few years back in Houston and thought he did a good job… again very lyrical, but in a smaller house.

            For a house the size of the Met, he probably needs to stick with Mozart and Donizetti. I think he is back to Elixir next year at the Met, which is a much better fit.

          • Mario: One thing about his “Di quella pira”… he sang it in key. He didn’t hold on to the high C for very long but he didn’t transpose it down eventhough it would have been understandable if he had.

          • Camille

            Kashania chéri,
            I have a question for you which keeps slipping my mind but seeing you speak of COC, it brings it back up.

            In the eighties the Canadian Opera Company, which I assume is the one you work for and are speaking of(?)—let me know if not—did a series of good transmissions over television. My Mum lived in Seattle at the time and was therefore close enough to the stream to capture several productions, on those VHS tapes. I especially enjoyed a La Damnation de Faust, which I believe was with Vinson Cole. If I remember correctly there was a Rigoletto as well with Louis Quilico.

            What I’d like to know is: whatever became of those transmissions? I suppose they may be available of CD or something and I am just unaware of them. They were good productions and it seems like they would merit circulation.

            Just curious. Don’t bother about it if you don’t know or have the time.

            Merci buckets et
            Ciao -- C.

          • Camille chere, I’ll ask and see if anyone knows. I have those broadcasts to thank for my initial exposure to opera. One day, I turned on the TV and there was Don Giovanni with Gino and Louis Quilico (Giovanni and Leporello) and Carol Vaness. I was hooked.

      • peter

        I don’t think Vargas was insane casting at all, at least from what I heard on the broadcast. It took him a while to warm up but he did some beautiful singing. He still has a gorgeous legato, great breath control and beautiful phrasing. The top was never his glory but that is a given. I felt bad for Frittoli who seems to really understand this music but her voice is just too warn.

      • RosinaLeckermaul

        Actually Milanov wouldn’t sing Elisabetta. In her day the Met did the four act version and she felt her public didn’t want her in a role in which the big aria didn’t come until the last scene. Rysanek did sing it, as did Kabaivanska and Arroyo, among others.

  • perfidia

    For a 53 year old tenorino, Vargas’ transition into heavier repertoire hasn’t been so bad, but he should stick to singing parts that big in smaller houses. I actually heard him do Don Carlo on the radio (I think it was in Chicago), and I thought he was quite effective because the performance had a smaller scale (except for Beatriz Uria Monzon, who seemed to have wandered in, vocally speaking, from another production). It’s too bad. I thought he was quite fine in stuff like Nemorino and Edgardo, and after all this heavy stuff, I doubt he could go back to it.

  • papopera

    I’m praying for another Carlo for the broadcast. Find Vargas just a utilité.

  • bassoprofundo

    Even Met favorite Dmitri Hvorostovsky had an off night as Rodrigo.

    If JJ happens to be around, I’d like to ask him--how can this be considered an “off-night,” if this is how he sings all the time? He was gruff/underpowered/blustery in Boccanegra a few years back, the same in Ernani, pushing the entire time during Ballo, and now he continues in Don Carlo.

    How can it be an off-night if this how he always sings nowadays?

  • Camille

    Disappointing…but hardly surprising after that Alpensinfonie he conducted with the NY Phil a season ago. Talk about ‘glacial’.

    Oh well, the tickets are already purchased and I have got to see Don Carlo, so I stand advised. Maybe I’ll get lucky and Smirnova will be “ill” and there will be a substitute Eboli. At least the Grand Inquisitor vs. Re Filipo smackdown scene is always fun, and why I love that scene so much, I do not know. Too bad Filianoti is not singing Carlo—don’t know if he still does—and a shame about Frittoli’s fritto misto singing as she is so very good on the stage. At least usually.

    Have they rid the production yet of that annoying and superfluous recitation by the priest in the auto-da-fe scene?

    This is for bassoprofundo: “Ella giammai m’amò”.

    • Mario C

      Camille… I was in the audience Friday night, Smirnova was not that bad, I actually liked her. The voice is a bit out of control, but she had an exciting sound with big high notes. The Veil Song gave her some problems. but the Garden Scene and O Don Fatale were exciting… in a campy kind of way.

      I thought the best thing all night was Ella giammai m’amo and the Grand Inquisitor/Filipo duet. Nothing like two big voiced basses going at each other! Really fun.

      I love Don Carlo and try to see it whenever I can, but I was not a happy man during the performance Friday evening. Very lackluster, terrible conducting, two weak leads, and a poor production.

      • Camille

        You wouldn’t be Mario Cavaradossi by any chance?

        They all have trouble with the Canzone di Velo. I always have my ear plugs on.
        I’ll give her a break but I doubt it will be much different from the orher time.

        • Mario C

          Camille… I love that “shabby little shocker”.

          You are spot on, they all have trouble with the Veil Song. But just a fair warning that you may want to have the ear plugs in for more than just the Veil Song…. and not just for Smirnova ;-)

          However, you must take them out for the beginning of Act IV.

          • Camille

            In that case I shall bring my Bose Silencer earphones and go down to List Hall to listen.

            And make damn sure, Mario, that you retouch these eyes from blue to black!!!

            Nostra villetta needs a touch up of whitewash ere and there and someone needs to look into that well to see what’s hiding down there. Gopher or something….

  • Camille

    Come now, let Montsy cheer us up:

    • CwbyLA

      Holy cow!

      • Camille

        Montsy = Monstre sacrée!!!!!

    • papopera

      was that a goat ?

  • Maria Malcontent

    Smirnova is scheduled for Abigaille somewhere in Europe next year. I’m not judging, I’m just reporting the news

    I had forgotten about the Rasponi, but he was very unreliable -- almost every singer speaks exactly the same way, and sometimes you wonder if these were real interviews or just the detritis of his reprentation of them over the years for press. Although I will happily agree the book is a lot of fun, every soprano seems to have reinvented herself as Adriana Act I, and while it may be that they all ‘said’ those things, I hardly would rely on the reasoning for much of it. It’s a commonplace in writing a biography that if you have the subject available, you do the first set of interviews and then ceremoniously throw them out in front of the subject, and say, essentially, “Now we start’ (kind of reminds you of Portnoy’s Complaint, no?) If they ever really said these things, Rasponi doesn’t show any evidence of interest to go below the surface.

    Incidentally, I agree on Dmitri. although I thought he was better than Keenlyside. I believe that is referred to as damning with faint praise.

    • There is a rather well known story in the opera circles that Bidu Sayao’s interview had some extensive bitching about how cruel Lucrezia Bori was to her when Sayao debuted at the Met, and Sayao also went on a rant about how VdlA was too fat to sing Manon. Rasponi edited those bits out. The whole book does have the feel of a series of fluff pieces. It’s fun but I don’t take it seriously.

  • Camille

    Very interesting to see what James Huneker had to say about the first Don Carlo. Surprising to see Act I included AND the ballet of La Peregrina, as well, as choreographed and danced by the future Mrs. Gatti-Casazza–--no surprise there, however. :


    [Met Performance] CID:76450
    Metropolitan Opera Premiere
    Don Carlo {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 12/23/1920.
    (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)
    (Debut: Gretel Urban

    Metropolitan Opera House
    December 23, 1920
    Metropolitan Opera Premiere
    In Italian

    DON CARLO {1}
    Giuseppe Verdi--François Joseph Méry/Camille du Locle

    Don Carlo……………Giovanni Martinelli
    Elizabeth of Valois…..Rosa Ponselle
    Rodrigo……………..Giuseppe De Luca
    Princess Eboli……….Margarete Matzenauer
    Philip II……………Adamo Didur
    Grand Inquisitor……..Louis D’Angelo
    Celestial Voice………Marie Sundelius
    Friar……………….William Gustafson
    Tebaldo……………..Ellen Dalossy
    Count of Lerma……….Angelo Badà
    Countess of Aremberg….Maria Savage
    Herald………………Angelo Badà
    Dance……………….Rosina Galli
    Dance……………….Giuseppe Bonfiglio

    Conductor……………Gennaro Papi

    Director…………….Samuel Thewman
    Set designer…………Joseph Urban
    Costume designer……..Gretel Urban [Debut]
    Choreographer………..Rosina Galli
    Translation by Lauzières, Zanardini

    Don Carlo received seven performances this season.

    [This production included the original Act I, the woods of Fontainebleau, and La Pérégrina, the classic ballet in Act III, Scene 1, a grotto in the queen’s garden. The interview between Philip and the Grand Inquisitor in Act IV, Scene 1, however, was cut. At the time of her debut, Gretel Urban billed herself as Gretel Urban-Thurlow.]

    [During its first three seasons, Don Carlo was presented under the title Don Carlos.]

    Review of James Gibbons Huneker in The World

    “Don Carlos”

    “Don Carlos,” grand opera by Verdi in four acts, was sung for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera House last night. The work was last heard there at the old Academy of Music in 1877 under the direction of Max Maretzek; therefore, it is a novelty for this generation. It was produced at the Grand Opera, Paris, March 11, 1867, during the period of the Universal Exposition, when the empire was literally dancing on the edge of a political volcano. The libretto, founded on the tragedy of the same name by Schiller, is by Mery and Camille du Locke, who wrote the prose story for “Aida.” In the original production the role of Rodrigo was assumed and sung by Faure, the famous French baritone, but even his participation did not save the opera, which is inchoate as to plot and the score of unequal merit, though interesting to the student of Verdi’s stylistic development. On the heels of “Don Carlos” trod “Aida,” and for that reason we ought to be grateful to Manager Gatti-Casazza for his production. Otherwise, it can, this huge, lumbering machine, only enjoy here, as abroad, a success of curiosity.

    The Schiller play is too old-fashioned and melodramatic for modern taste, but give it with a strong cast and the power and pathos of the plot, the vivid characterization, and the spouting “tirades” stand the fire of the footlights with brilliant results. It should be remembered that Schiller, notwithstanding his patriotism, was primarily a cosmopolitan. One idea possessed him from the cradle to the grave, liberty. It is the leading motive of “William Tell” as it is of the “Robbera” and “Don Carlos.” Thanks to the bungling libretto, this bubbling bosh of the romantic love of Don Carlos, the son and heir of Philip II of Spain, with Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa, plays an important part, in fact. Rodrigo is the true protagonist, not the rather weak and sickly sentimentalist that is the hero. But the liberty and brother love resolve themselves in a duo, stirring…

    One spice of novelty may be found in the story; the hero has fallen in love with his stepmother, to be sure, the pair had plighted their troth in France, in the Forest of Fontainbleau, upon which scene the curtain rises. Now in Blackstone’s Commentaries, beloved of all reasonable law students, there is an injunction to the effect that a man may not marry his grandmother, seemingly a needless warning, though you never can tell, in the Poe’s fantastic tales a young man narrowly escapes, leading his grandmother to the altar. But a stepmother. Is there any objection in English common law to a man making love to his stepmother, even if he can’t marry his sister-in-law? Certainly the temptation to do so is not always overwhelming. Elisabetta of Valois loves Don Carlos, but for reason of state is compelled to marry his father. She is resigned. Her lover rebels. Her love is chaste, though she appears to sizzle operatically; his passion takes refuge in tearful lyrics.

    Princess Eboli loves Don Carlos. She betrays the Queen to the King. Carlos, who had already outraged the august feelings of his father by demanding mercy for the thrice-oppressed Flanders, is judged guilty of incest and sent to a gloomy dungeon. The Marquis of Posa visits him and as he is suspected of sedition toward church and state the Inquisition has him murdered as he talks to his friend. This assassination is without dramatic meaning, because in the libretto the preparation of the event is summarily treated. Most of the characters are operatic lay figures, especially the women.

    There is much rumbling and futile attempts of the alleged guilty ones to explain. Don Carlos is whisked away in the awful arms of his royal ancestor, the ghost of Charles V. The Queen collapses, the King makes impotent motions. In the Schiller play Carlos is snatched by the Inquisition -- that first aid to desperate dramatists. Verdi, who set so many bad librettos, succumbed to this stodgy mess. Yet the enormous melodic vitality of the Italian coped with the unrealities of the tale and, in more than one instance, successfully. There is the celebrated “Don Fatale,” beloved war horse of contraltos and mezzo-sopranos, in which the Princess Eboli -- Margaret Matzenauer laments her gift of fatal beauty and not as is often fancied, Don Carlos. As it does not lie well within the range of Mme. Matzenauer’s voice, it was not altogether effective last night. But how dramatically she sang it. There are several duos, one trio and some solos that are dramatically intense, but the style is not homogeneous throughout. Verdi wobbles from the sublime to the trivial, though the dramatic accent is never absent.

    There are echoes of his earlier music, premonitions of his later manner. “Otello” is hinted at in the orchestration. You hear “Les Huguenots” and strangely enough in the first song of Princess Eboli, charmingly delivered by Matzenauer, “In the Lovely Garden,” “Carmen” is anticipated; possibly the source was Spanish; therefore common to Verdi and Bizet. The Marquis of Posa is well characterized and admirably realized by de Luca, while Didur made a superb portrait of the gloomy, bigoted, and jealous monarch, Philip II. His costume is a copy of the Titian at the Prado. Both these artists, Didur and de Luca, played with splendid results. Martinelli was the hero and sang with unusual spontaneity, though overweighted by his costume. He is singing and acting with fire this season.

    Rosa Ponselle, upon whose big shoulders rested the ugly robes…Disappointing as she often is, we feel that the future is hers if she so wills it. She is in sad need of competent coaching. The native richness of her vocal and dramatic endowments -- for there is plenty of temperament, latent as yet -- ought to bear wonderful fruit sometime. A Caruso in petticoats? Who knows what she may achieve with labor rightfully directed (we repeat regretfully). She displayed emotional draught on this occasion, and with a role not nearly so “grateful” as Leonora in “La Forza del Destino” after all a top notch artistic achievement. But, as we said two seasons ago, this young woman has an arduous tramp before she attains the peak of operatic Parnassus. We hope she will succeed. In the interim she should reduce her too, too solid flesh. Matzenauer disfigured her majestic presence with an impossible wig at the rehearsal, but was raven black last night, to her great improvement.

    The court of Phillip II lacked distinction, with the exception of Maria Savage, who minded the Countess of Arenberg, exiled by the angry King for allowing the Queen to remain alone with Carlos. This lady, an accomplished actress as to poses and pantomime, was the exponent in the scene who looked and acted like an aristocrat. The chorus sang well, there were chanting monks who reminded the cowardly, fanatical King that all vanity ended in dust. The chief monk was ably impersonated by Gustafson. A newcomer, a Hungarian, Miss Delossy, proved a welcome surprise, vocally and personally. She has an agreeable voice and is an intelligent actress. The Voice from Heaven was the voice of Marie Sundelius, therefore heavenly. The auto-da-fe missed fire, though we saw the smoke. Mr. Urban, to our way of thinking, has been happy in some of his new scenic sets. The cloister is atmospheric, with its dim, religious lighting and mysterious loggia and the landscape that is in Part II of the same act, he secures a picturesque ensemble not unlike one of Segantini’s canvasses depicting the Engadine. The scale of greens and blues and browns are harmonious. To Mr. Papi goes the credit of an adequate performance. He has made cuts, he might make more; at least half an hour would not be missed. The official timekeeper of the establishment, Mr. Tom Bull, informed us that the dress rehearsal consumed three hours and thirty-six minutes. Too long, say we, for a composition that lacks a salient profile. However, it was received with enthusiasm by a large audience. Last but not least, Rosina Galli with the agile Bonfiglio, danced the Ballet of the Peasants, the music to which reveals little originality, but the convolutions and scene are gorgeous. “Don Carlos” as a transitional type in Verdi’s artistic evolution is well worth seeing and hearing.

    • MontyNostry

      … which just goes to show that even Rosa Ponselle got lukewarm reviews in her time.

    • MontyNostry

      … and how the reputation of Don Carlo(s) has grown over the years.

      • Camille

        Indeed, it does. Mr. Huneker seems to us, these days, a little shortsighted.

        Interesting that they did give the First Act, I felt. And poor Rosa! She had quite a rough time convincing those old codgers. I know W. J. Henderson could be quite stringent with her as well….sort of a Nerva Nelli of his/her times.

        We have Sir Rudolph to thank, I reckon, for getting us past the initial impressions of Mr. Huneker, a respected and long time critic. I am so grateful as it the magnum opus of Verdi’s entire output. Hoping for the best at the performance Thursday but resigned to realities, such as they are.

        Hope all goes well for you and the sun peeks through the clouds in London, for you, dear Mr. MontyNostry.

        • MontyNostry

          My feeling is that Don C is Verdi’s greatest opera. I was tempted to buy a ticket for the Covent Garden performances later this year, but there was only availability for a couple with Aronica rather than Kaufmann and I expect those are ones that Harteros has now cancelled. The production (same as the Met’s) looks rather tacky and Christine Rice as Eboli doesn’t fill me with too much excitement. Furlanetto is, of course, a wonderful Filippo, but I saw him do it back in 2006.

    • papopera

      Huneker does not mention that Carlos was a victim of the heavy inbreeding of his parents Philip of Spain and Maria of Portugal his cousin. He was deformed and insane. Died in prison. He was only 23. Far from the romantic hero of Verdi and Schiller.

  • phoenix

    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

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

    • MontyNostry

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

      • Camille

        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

        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

          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

            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

            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

          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

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

          • Camille

            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

            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

            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

      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

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

      • rapt

        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

      Superconductor, are you sure La Cieca warned you beforehand…

      “All written content © 2012 by Paul Pelkonen”

      … and not vice-versa?

  • Camille

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

    Just wondering aloud.

    • bluecabochon

      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


        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

          “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.

        • 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

            If crowns there be for such as we fallen women.

            Thank you for the sweet thought, Cieca dear.

        • oedipe

          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

      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

        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


    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!

    • 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

        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

          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

        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

          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

          I was there too. Waltraud is awesome.

          • Camille

            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

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

      • Camille

        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

          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…