Headshot of La Cieca

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Scarred for life

“This, after all, is opera, opera in New York, not some dainty pastime like professional hockey, and the stage is crowded with grumbling members of the old guard who aren’t renewing subscriptions, disenchanted reviewers, vendors of vitriol on blogs like Parterre Box…” [New York Times]

235 comments

  • redbear says:

    About the “Lyon” Parsifal… This is the opening paragraph of John Allison’s review of the Lyon production;
    “Since his operatic debut with the Canadian Opera Company in 1997 (Symphony of Psalms and Oedipus Rex) and subsequent Siegfried there, the director François Girard has made Opéra de Lyon something of a second musical home. His new Parsifal unites both houses, adding in the Met for good measure in a co-production that travels to New York next, in February. There are distant echoes of that 2005 Siegfried in his second engagement with Wagner, and though his style has perhaps become simpler he still uses human bodies en masse to create sculptured pictures on stage.”

  • Hans Lick says:

    wonneweibchen: Good call!

    No Gelb doesn’t talk about singing, but I’m not sure I want to hear what he has to say about it. I don’t think he really notices.

    That’s a big difference between him and Bing. Bing wasn’t always right (by a LONG chalk), but he did love the art and knew something about it. And was interested in getting hold of hot new numbers who could do it.

    ALSO: When Bing sought directors from the theater, he found directors who knew opera and cared about it. Margaret Webster, Alfred Lunt, Tyrone Guthrie. And he had a regular house team in O’Hearn & Merrill who knew the pieces they were doing. No Bart Shers or Mary Zimmermanns here — or who was that oaf who did the Peter Grimes?

  • Hans Lick says:

    La Cieca’s List:

    1. Madama Butterfly

    Haven’t seen it. Waiting for a soprano who can sing it.

    2. Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    Passable.

    3. The First Emperor

    Didn’t see it. Found a tape of the Chinese film it’s based on. Hot!

    4. Die Ägyptische Helena

    Passable. Damrau was great.

    5. Il Trittico

    Overblown. Worst staging of Tabarro EVER.

    6. Orfeo ed Euridice

    Lousy. Hate the chorus setup.
    The whole production is about the Mizrahi costumes.

    7. Lucia di Lammermoor

    Replace, please! Unmusical, undramatic.
    Hate it more every time I see it.

    8. Macbeth

    Passable. If they ever get a decent Lady M, I might to back, but I’d prefer a new production when I do.

    9. Iphigénie en Tauride

    Acceptable. Except why is Clytemnestra’s ghost (not a character in the script) consoling her murderer? And why is the altar facing the goddess’s buttocks? And why is nothing in the production distracting me from those things?

    10. Hänsel und Gretel

    Lousy. I’m told it scares children.
    The old one was so good I couldn’t believe it.

    11. Peter Grimes

    Awful. They don’t dare bring it back and they can’t afford another. This production has killed a favorite opera, with me and much of the audience.

    12. Satyagraha

    Knocked me out. Loved it!
    Didn’t expect it.

    13. La Fille du Régiment

    Passable. Gosh, Dessay is annoying.

    14. Doctor Atomic

    Production passable, orchestra score attractive, libretto atrocious. Why is this being given in an opera house? Why are singers involved?

    15. La Damnation de Faust

    Annoying, overactive, inhuman. (Lepage!)

    16. Thaïs

    Passable.

    17. La Rondine

    So lovely to look at you might think it was an opera.

    18. Il Trovatore

    Acceptable, especially after the last one.

    19. La Sonnambula

    Atrocious. They stomped all over this exquisite, delicate little antique. Next time, just don’t open the curtain. Perform in front of it in concert. Much better.

    20. Tosca

    So ugly I never want to see it again.
    And I didn’t like Zeffirelli’s much either.
    Schenk! THAT was a Tosca!

    21. From the House of the Dead

    Very good.

    22. Les Contes d’Hoffmann

    Passable, if you can forget the previous one.

    23. Carmen

    Passable. Interesting with good singers.
    (Kaufmann. Antonacci — oh wait, she’s not here.)

    24. Attila

    Ghastly. A barely passable opera performed atrociously by singers who sounded like they were the first four Gelb bumped into out on the Plaza. Worst sets, staging, costumes EVER.

    They won’t revive it, but the opera stinks, so who cares?

    25. The Nose

    Very good, but there’s hardly any singing in it, so why is it being given at the Met?

    26. Hamlet

    Hideous production and lousy casting killed what is, believe it or not, a fairly strong grand opera. The sets made me want to go back to Tosca. The edition, having the Ghost kill Claudius, made Hamlet’s presence in the opera pointless. Keenlyside didn’t sound very good anyway.

    27. Armida

    Zimmerman’s greatest Met success!
    Lousy production. Mediocre score.

    28. Das Rheingold

    Annoying.

    29. Boris Godunov

    Passable.
    (If you can forget the old one.)

    30. Don Carlo

    Passable.
    (If you can forget the old one.)

    31. La Traviata

    Haven’t seen it yet. Want to, now it has a decent cast.

    32. Nixon in China

    Okay.

    33. Le Comte Ory

    Lousy.

    34. Die Walküre

    Awful, the most criminally misdirected of the Ring.
    MTV opera staging: Something has to HAPPEN each bar, when in fact Wagner’s pace is deliberate and the music IS what’s happening. Too much high tech. (Lepage!)

    35. Anna Bolena

    Acceptable. Dull colors.

    36. Don Giovanni

    Didn’t see it. Do I have to?

    37. Siegfried

    Rather enjoyed this. Have the feeling someone told Lepage what Wagner was about, or he figured it out himself.

    38. Faust

    Passable. But pointless.
    Maybe they should sing this opera on a set of Las Vegas neon …

    39. The Enchanted Island

    Handsome production.
    Hope they never bring the opera back.
    That libretto! Gack!

    40. Götterdämmerung

    Rather enjoyed this. Have the feeling someone told Lepage what Wagner was about, or he figured it out himself.

    41. Manon

    A bed in the nave in case the priest wants to screw after confession?
    Passable.

    42. L’Elisir d’Amore

    Didn’t see it.

    43. Un Ballo in Maschera

    Interesting. More than passable. Maybe even good.
    Want to see it again.

    44. Maria Stuarda

    Passable.
    Slightly annoying in the insertion of ten years between two acts that (in the score) follow immediately.

    45. Rigoletto

    Haven’t seen it. In no rush.

    46. Parsifal

    Fabulous.
    Well, let me break that down:
    Production: Fabulous
    Sets, costumes, physical montage: Fabulous
    Casting: Fabulous
    Chorus: Fabulous
    Orchestra: Fabulous
    News that they’re not bringing it back because Levine wants to do Wozzeck instead: Deeply depressing

    General Trend: Improving, greatness still rare.

    And lord knows I remember Volpe mis-steps, usually due to hiring a director who was a nut.
    (Trovatore? The Serban Faust? Mazeppa? The Zambello Lucia? the Flimm Salome and Fidelio? the Tristan? the ugly Luisa Miller? Macbeth? the Del Monaco Fanciulla? Norma?)

    But I left the Met exhilarated more often than not, after things like Mefistofele, War & Peace, Billy Budd, Benvenuto Cellini, Frau ohne Schatten, Les Troyens, Forza, Lohengrin, La Juive, Lady M of Mtsensk, Capriccio, Jenufa, Rake’s Progress, Katya Kabanova, et al.

    Does he know why the Lepage Ring failed with so many people? He seems hurt when we don’t like it despite the fact that he spent so much money on it.

    Why has no interviewer asked Gelb how he feels about singing? Who he likes, personally? (Bocelli? Groban? Jenkins? Church?)