Cher Public

Our own JJ plans a comeback

“I hate that word. It’s a return, a return to the millions of people who have never forgiven me for deserting the airwaves!” So says Our Own JJ (not pictured), referring to his reappearance on WQXR’s Operavore program tomorrow afternoon at 12:30.  Just before the Met broadcast of La forza del destino, JJ promises a discussion of “star quality,” and, after all, who better? Oh, yes, there will be chat.  

For those of you who didn’t catch Operavore live, here’s a streaming player for the show.

If you liked (or did not like) what you heard, cher public, La Cieca asks you to comment on the show. Your feedback will help JJ and his producer to continue to improve Operavore.

  • For “LL Coo”l JJ:
    “Don’t call it a comeback! He’s been here for years,
    rockin’ the opera he leaves divas in tears!
    Torn programs rain down like a mon-soon
    listen to the bass’s low D!
    Explosion, overpowerin’
    Other critics be flowerin’
    Press-room shocked when I drop these reviews that’ll make you plotz!

    He’s gonna knock you out! La Cieca said knock you out!

  • lucy brown

    Leave you? Leave you? How could we leave you? How could we go it alone?

  • zinka

    I refuse to chat until every member of the chatroom offers apology to Giordani….(just kidding…but he does know what you think)……..

    • Hippolyte

      I was at last night’s final “Francesca da Rimini” and based on it and the broadcast of the opening night of “Les Troyens,” it’s Giordani who should apologize and think seriously about retirement. I don’t recall him before being so utterly unengaged on stage--maybe he’s so concentrating on not falling apart vocally that he couldn’t bother to act. Very mediocre.

      • Belfagor

        Last word on ‘Francesca’ and then I promise I’ll NEVER mention it again (well, hardly ever): at least my underwhelming visit to see it resulted in picking up that 1988 studio recording (I’d never heard it) and Kabaivanska is sensational -- obviously modeled on Magda, it’s full of temperament, nuance and verbal felicity -- the conducting is brisk and manages the less inspired pages, and William Mateuzzi as Paolo (am I wrong, or was he better known as an early music singer?) is honeyed and sensitive -- a relief from the heldentenor bull bellowing one usually endures. And much as I adore piccola Renata, it’s wonderful to hear Raina’s secure vocalism in this music -- is it true that she was asked to substitute for her at the Met and imperiously turned it down? Anyway -- if only on CD -- THAT’S star quality…..

        • phoenix

          Hippolyte: I agree.
          Belfagor: I never heard Kabaivanska’s studio Francesca CD but I saw la Raina amata do it in the 1970’s at NY Carnegie Hall with Domingo as Paolo -- at that performance I became a fan of the opera. I was disappointed when I went to see Scotto & Domingo sing Francesca da Rimini at the 1980’s Met performances, but with all respect due respect to their indidivual artistry I can only say that at that point in their careers they were in a different league.

        • havfruen

          Mateuzzi is/was a splendid Rossini singer. Paolo must have been a walk in the park for someone of his talents and skills. I’ll bet it was great!

          • oedipe

            So maybe Florez or Brownlee should be singing Paolo.

          • Indiana Loiterer III

            Reminds me, then, of the story I once heard about Mascagni; he had a lovely tenor voice, and his tenor writing sounded exquisite when he sang it at the piano…even though it was notoriously murderous when sung by others with full orchestra.

          • Belfagor

            so presumably he had a microphone shoved up his nose…… however the illusion is complete and it’s very musical….

      • bluecabochon

        Totally agree! I was there too, and it was painful, painful, to listen to him. He was in trouble from the first moment. If there’s one opera where the leads have to have real personal charisma and chemistry together in order to carry the story, it’s this one, and they didn’t. Beautiful physical production and staging, but so what, if the two leads are dull and there’s no fire? Paolo doesn’t have that much to sing, and Giordani couldn’t handle it.

  • manou

    Come Back Little Cieca

  • stignanispawn

    My partner and I went to a Verdi Requiem performance at Rose Hall last evening -- a benefit to rebuild and plant cherry trees after the Japanese earthquake. Hyung Yun and Olga Makarina performed; both were excellent.
    Yun and Makarina are Met covers this season; they are better than many of the folks currently performing….Mr. Gelb, please consider moving them from cover to actual performance.
    Hyung Yun has a some Rigoletto perforances scheduled next season (Seattle and Colorado) — he is someone to be watching, preferably from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.

  • La Valkyrietta

    • Camille

      Suppose…If La Cieca plays the Gloria Swanson rôle—who should, from amongst The Parterrian Strolling Players be entrusted with the William Holden and Eric von Stroheim roles? For myself, It’s Hedda Hopper or nothing, even if I don’t care much for the hat.

      • Nerva Nelli

        The von Stroheim role, Max, needs the urbanity of marshiemarkII.

        Zinka can handle Anna Q. Nilsson’s cameo.

        Holden’s part, “Joe Gillis”, will be Walter Pondman; we can draw lots to play the swimming pool that he floats on.

        • Camille

          Why thank you, Nerva Divina, for the inspired casting idea of Walter Pondman. He would be a perfect choice even if, alas, he has now abandoned The Corelli Mold to follow the Billy Bigelow model.

          I forgot someone: there is also the matter of the little scriptwriter girlfriend, Betsy Wetsy. Or whatever her name was.

          The pool has got to be the one at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Either that, or the YWCA on the UWS that La Jessye used to go swimming in regularly.

      • rysanekfreak

        I’m sorry, but as the oldest person who parterres, I claim seniority, and the Hedda Hopper role goes to me. I can supply my own hat.

        I have a suggestion for who can play the dead monkey, but it would probably get me placed on moderation.

        • Camille


          Oh all right! You can play Hedda. That hat isnot worth bothering about anyway.

          You know, ryaanekfreak, our beloved Leonie is now gone for fifteen years this month. In all this time—well, one wonders whether she has ever made an appearance à la Pikovaya Dama Countess—if anyone COULD, it would be her. At least, I wish it were so. Bless her in sempiternum.

          Please write one of your fab scripts again sometime, for they are real HUMDINGERS!

  • blanchette

    can’t stay for the bdcast but brava/o La C for using your journalist voice on Operavore. I for one loved it, and your comments

  • mountmccabe

    OT but I won the Met’s lottery and have a spare for Otello tonight. I am happy to give it away to anyone who can meet me at Lincoln Center around 7:30 pm.

    My email is my username here at gmail if you’d like to claim the ticket.

  • phoenix

    Back to Operavore. I would have liked to leave a comment on the WQXR Operavore site as you requested but I will not go through yet anothe3r “registerion process” for any site unless my life or my money depends on it. It is all I can do to keep up with the nonsense that goes on around here.
    -- First of all, I would like to know why Matthew Epstein (whom I knew when we were both in our 20’s) sounds like Rip Van Winkle as Brünnhilde in the awakening scene from Siegfried. I don’t remember him having any kind of a raspy tone in his voice in the 1960’s & 70’s, but I lost track of him over the years while he was impressarioing.
    -- Marilyn Horne was never a favorite of mine but I realize she deserves great credit for using her clout as well as her artistry (‘artistry’: someone else’s opinion, not mine -> I poached the term from some newspaper critic) in her revivals of the lesser-performed operas of Rossini & Handel in concert series at NY Carnegie Hall (which I dutifully attended in my younger years, but will no more). Yes, she did once have a beautiful voice (earlier, in the 1960’s) with a full, flowery bloom on it -- but unfortunately it didn’t last very long into the 1970’s.
    -- That leaves James Jorden. I don’t know how his singing is, but he wins the prize for tonal beauty: his speaking voice has a dry, but appealingly well modulated quality about it. I assume this program is geared toward an average American (specifically NYC area?) audience, not so much for us parterrianesque operafreaks. Due to my limited intellectual curiosity and even more circumscribed attention-span, I cannot judge the content of the discussion on the program, but it was a sincere pleasure to hear Jorden’s friendly, natural voice again.

    • Bianca Castafiore

      I loved Horne’s humility, when they broached the subject of Borodina’s “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix,” and Mr. Epstein said, “yours was great” and Horne interjected “oh, hers is better.” The one thing I didn’t like about that segment — too much Epstein, not enough Horne…

  • manou

    Am I the only one who has difficulty accessing the Comments section of Operavore?

    • phoenix

      manou, I was only able to access Comments on TODAY’s broadcast of Operavore -> and that took quite a while. I suppose the server is not that large or the general populace is accessing other subsites on it. I tried to access Comments on the previous Operavore broadcast programs, but I waited and waited and nothing came up, so again -> ‘due to my limited intellectual curiosity and even more circumscribed attention-span’ I gave up on the other attempts.

      • manou

        Thanks phoenix -- and were you able to submit a comment? Were there several there?

  • phoenix

    manou, I went on Operavore about an hour ago and I noticed only one Comment came up on my screen for today’s broadcast (there may have been more later on). I pressed “Leave a Comment” and the screen changed but there was was no instructions on how to sign-on in order to leave a comment, only a link to something like ‘RSS rules and regulations’ (not sure of the verbage for that link). Since I wasn’t interested in going through the hoops of another “registration process” I didn’t pursue the link. I tried again on that same today’s performance comments page, again pressing ‘Leave a Comment’ but the same non-informational screen popped up. I didn’t have the patience to deal with the previoius program comments on the site, but WQXR was broadcasting that live Pirata with Devia and the sound was very good, but I don’t care that much for Bellini (yes, I have seen Il Pirata but was not impressed) and Devia is almost as old as I am. To me, she sounds like it.

    • manou

      Thanks again phoenix -- I have finally cracked the Operavore mystery after going through the same hoops as you did. I have signed in (pretty painless exercise) and left a comment too.

  • zinka

    Happy 205th birthday to my dear dear dear friend,Maria Malibran…I am a bit angry at you for holding that last note of the Trovatore act four duet too long….especially since it was not written yet.

  • CwbyLA

    It is hard not to agree with James Jorden’s choice of Angela Gheorghiu’s voice as “star quality.” I went to her recital at the Broad Stage in LA last weekend. I immensely enjoyed it especially since it is a small theater and the evening felt very intimate. For me, the biggest surprise came at the end of the recital. I am pretty much sick of hearing O mio babbino caro as an encore piece from practically every soprano. Gheorghiu sang it too as an encore but with so much emotion and such beautiful phrasing that I fell in love with the aria all over again. I like her a lot, especially her musicality but my renewed sense of curiosity in that little aria made me respect her even more.