Cher Public

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Nile, be seeing you

Well, that didn’t take long: “Danielle de Niese will sing the role of Cleopatra in this evening’s performance of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, replacing Natalie Dessay, who is ill.” (So says the Met press office.)  

Note that this performance will be broadcast, and La Casa della Cieca will be open at 6:55 pm.


  • MontyNostry says:


  • Rowna says:

    Ok -- I am listening to the radio bcast and can’t hear all because I have a late night rehearsal, but so far DdN is just fine. I know that Alice Coote doesn’t feel well but her Cara Speme was so wonderful -- musical and filled with emotion. Now hearing Daniels -- he has sounded better in the past. Just my opinion.

  • smarterthantheavgbear says:

    Come on, is this really surprising? DeNiese has been sitting in New Jersey for more than a few days on the DL and paid by Gelb for this very reason. Waste of the Met’s money when they had a capable cover in house? Or why have her? Or at least be admirable about it and buy Dessay you -- since it was his dumb casting call -- in advance, if he really wanted DeNiese.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      The video of Niese in the original production is here

    • SilvestriWoman says:

      This production came to Chicago a few seasons and I loved it. No, de Niese does not possess s particularly beautiful timbre but, as mentioned above, she’s one helluva package and has incredible stamina. When I saw this production on the calendar, I was stunned to see Dessay cast instead, and expected Gelb to arrange a substitution. Now this…

  • shoegirl says:

    Just back. De Neise was great, Daniels warmed up as how went on, Coote was wonderful. Dumaux kinda stole the scenes he was in and Bardon was at her best. You’d have he no idea de Neise didn’t have rehearsal time, she’s so comfortable with the whole setup. Impressive.

    • Nerva Nelli says:

      De Niese was “great” visually and in terms of dancing, and you have to hand it to her for professionalism under the trying circumstances. But the costumes were obviously hers, not Dessay’s. This was no last minute substitution. The voice is a soubrette, hard on top (she got right off of highish notes) and weak in the lowest notes. Just one color. Hardly a “great Cleopatra”, but she made sense in this staging and probably should have been the one doing it all along here.

      For what it’s worth-- hearsay--one of the orchestra told an acquaintance of mine that she--and not just she--was miked.

      GLAAD should be after McVicar for the characterization of Nireno. Not a singer worth importing. The bass TT was slavering over sounds arresting in recits and poorish in song.

      • ianw2 says:

        Wait- you, like, sat through, like a whole DdeN performance and weren’t, like, a hostage?

        Are you secretly hiding your location as a desperate cry from help from some Sussex basement within your words?

        • Nerva Nelli says:

          I had the tickets and went.

          I’ve seat through DdN before. She was really good as Barbarina.

          • ianw2 says:


          • Camille says:

            Ian, it is impossible to determine if you are funnier than Nerva or she is funnier than you.

            If you both ran for Miss America, I’d crown you both queens.
            On second thought, there is no conflict here as you could be crowned, first, as Miss New South Wales, and then on to triumph as Miss Australia.

          • luvtennis says:



          • Camille says:


      • minerva says:

        I really do not agree.
        Nireno was my favorite character served by a great singer Rachid Ben Abdeslam. he was extremely convincing , as a singer and as an actor . He came from Morocco where Opera singers are so rare . GLAAD should be after him .

  • Vergin Vezzosa says:

    Sorry, call me cynic, but I have been around the block. This whole thing reeks of a set up and as a ticket buying patron I am offended. My condolences to the next Met person soliciting a donation from me.

    • Bosah says:

      Why is it something that would offend? Honestly. I don’t understand.

      So what if they had de Niese waiting? I’m sure she was in NJ because Gelb didn’t know if Dessay would show up and be able to do the run. I’m sure he told her to be ready to take over. That doesn’t mean, once Dessay showed up and opened, DdeN was expecting to go on. She probably figured she was in the clear.

      There was a lot of concern Dessay wouldn’t make it through the rehearsals, if I’m remembering correctly. Of course, Gelb would have had a contingency to do the run if Dessay crashed and burned in rehearsals (or didn’t show) -- that’s his job.

      Of course, de Niese didn’t rehearse with the orchestra or cast -- Dessay was there. That would have been incredibly rude.

      But even if Gelb told her to be ready for today, why is that so offensive? That he had someone ready?

      • Bosah says:

        Forgot to add -- The Met can’t very well say, “We told DdeN to wait in NJ because we weren’t sure Dessay would make it through rehearsals.” I mean, that would have been horrible.

        • la vociaccia says:

          Because, she already had a cover, that’s why. It’s a waste of money and a valuable talent.

          • Bosah says:

            Realistically, Gelb has to sell tickets. If there was a possibility that Dessay wouldn’t open, DdeN was the best second option. Not to have prepared would have been criticized just as much as not using the cover now. Ignoring De Niese also would have been criticized.

            She may not be popular here, but the Met public always seems to love her (and I thought she was terrific in Enchanted Island).

          • Bosah says:

            And, really, how much money is it wasting? $2000? $5000? Did de Niese bring in any ticket sales? The notice went out very early in the day. I don’t think the money argument holds up against scrutiny.

          • la vociaccia says:

            I don’t really want to argue, but I think Petrova is a far better singer than DDN, on any given day, in any repertoire, and I think that enough should qualify her to perform, regardless of *star* quality.

          • m. p. arazza says:

            Since there are ten performances scheduled, Petrova may very well yet have her day…

          • MontyNostry says:

            Maybe it was all part of some Gelb masterplan. I mean, it’s not as if anyone believed Dessay was going to be a surefire hit in her current vocal condition.

          • bluecabochon says:

            This happens all the time at the Met. Gelb would rather have a star step in than use a cover, if he can, no matter how good the cover is, or how prepared they are.

          • messa di voce says:

            The Met usually has a second cover for a role like this, so I doubt if it cost them any more than business as usual. But, go ahead and enjoy your tantrum.

          • kashania says:

            As has been said, Gelb’s preference for star replacements is well known. And on the whole, it’s a good policy IMO and one of the welcome changes of his tenure. Met audiences have enjoyed surprise appearances by the likes of Alagna, Giordani (when he was still good) and Radvanovsky (singing her only Met Aida so far) in the last several years due to this policy.

            Now, De Niese is not a great singer by any means but, like it or not, she has a certain star power at the Met and audiences do respond to her. Added to the fact that she pretty much jump-started her international career with her Glyndbourne Cleopatra (see, not all “star is born” moments happen in NYC!), this was a smart move by Gelb.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Cara Voci et al, the policy of flying in a “star” to replace another star predates long before Gelb, and certainly was the practice under Volpe also. I hate to bring these examples but they are the ones I know best, so I’ll swallow hard and share.

            When Behrens had the big disaster with Elektra in 1992, the cover, one Penelope Daner, sang the second performance, and had an apparent success. Behrens expected to sing every “next” performance, and then sadly realize that she still was not ready. After every performance there would be a call from the Met, asking what certainty there was she would sing the next, as otherwise they needed to fly a star. Elektra was too big an opera to hand over just like that to the cover for the long term. I know that at least Dame Gwyneth was contacted. In the end Behrens sang none of the remaining performances, and evidently the Dame was not available for the all important broadcast. Later in 1997, again Behrens had a small crisis with the last Ring, sang a very sub-par Walkure and cancelled the Siegfried (sung by a now horrifyingly bad self-same Ms Daner). Most nasty queens thought she was “saving” herself for the Gotterdammerung. But it was definitely not so. The Met flew in Jane Eaglen just in case, and I went with Behrens to the Met at 2PM on that Saturday, and only then she vocalized and decided that she was OK, and would go. It was a gigantic triumph, her very last Brunnhilde at the Met, but the Met was worried enough to waste the money on Eaglen. So do not blame the Met for doing right by the paying public when they can do right. It doesn’t always work but they always try, it seems.

          • kashania says:

            Marshie: Certainly, the policy of flying in a star is not new or unique to Gelb (there’s that famous Tosca from the 60s with Tebaldi and Gobbi where the tenor was indisposed and Bing announced that Corelli would sing Cavaradossi).

            But generally speaking, Volpe was quicker to give the understudy a break. I can’t speak to what discussions went on in the background, but I don’t recall too many star replacements materializing during his tenure.

          • Camille says:

            Oh dear. Poor Penny Daner! I do recall that Siegfried performance so well as I wondered if the management had wandered on out to the fountain on the plaza and hollered “Hey, anyone here happen to sing Brünnhilde? There’s a performance going on inside and we’ll even pay you, too!”

            Sigh. I wondered about that poor lost, dazed and confused lady and where she came from. A few years after the fact, a nice informant filled me in on her…”…too MANY Elektras….”

            Sic transit….

          • marshiemarkII says:

            CammiBelle Cara where have you been all my life!
            I know I cannot replace our beloved Clita, but at least your Marschallinna Due is back!

            So was poor Penny THAT bad?

          • Camille says:

            Salve, gnädige MarschieDeux!

            I am hoping you have been well but just very busy with your arbeit and squiring around young divæ and busy with the HB Foundation. However I do worry a bit about you when you remain mute for a very long time.

            No, there is nothing to console me for the loss of my Godfather Clita. Irreplaceable.

            Well, as I said before, poor Penny. She appeared so dazed, so confused as to what opera she was singing—maybe she thought she was still under contract to do Elektra and when she awakened on Brünnhildenstein she got the shock of her life??? I don’t know. I will consult with my husband, the Ringknut, as he will remember as well. We both felt really sorry for her.

            Don’t get your knickers too much in a twist about what is going to transpire this coming Saturday. You already know the worst. I am interested, at least, to hear Martina Serafin, alfin!

            Well then, I have to return to the cloister for evening vespers. A part of my mourning for my Belovèd Clita del Toro.

            May all your diamonds be yellow, Marschie, and make sure to use retinol from Chantecaille—, as it won’t blotch your skin.

            Love and cordial greetings
            Camille Beauchamps

          • marshiemarkII says:

            CammiBelle, so nice to see you here again, as you and Clita are my main GURLS so without la Clitissssima, oh and of course my beloved Bianca too, and now fabulous Noel is also back!

            MMII WAS really busy, as she was filing 8 patent applications, that needed to be done before March 16, as there would be a significant change in the patent laws, and attorneys aren’t what they used to be, so the drafts needed a lot of work, three sleepless nights…… but back on the opera lovetrain!

            Saw Faust and La Traviata last week and loved the first and hated the latter one (imagine when the best singer is Coca Cola :-) ) Also there was a fabulous Lindemann event with the children in early March, a magnificent night of Zarzuela with the fabulous Eglise Gutierrez (best supported pianissimi since Caballe)and a gorgeous young Mexican tenor, Diego Silva, who was sublime, and the breathtaking Maria de Buenos Aires.

            And now MMII is helping with the planning for the annual fundraiser for the HB Foundation, which this year will be at the Metropolitan Club, in June. I was there today to check out the pianos. It will hopefully be a memorable night, but ufffff so much work. So we try to stay connected with parterre as much as possible.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Oh CammiBelle and Friday morning MMII is going to see a preview of the yellow diamonds of Consuelo Vanderbilt, fit for a “queen” :-)

          • la vociaccia says:

            Marshie! All this talk of La mia letizia made me think of this (and by association you :) )

          • marshiemarkII says:

            VOCI!!!!!!!! mille grazie, that is SO SO SO gorgeous. His care with the grace notes and overall long line is amazing for someone that young! he must have been 20 years old, WOW. As you know I have seen AMAZING development, since I first heard him in December 2011, and now this past March he sang the big aria from Il Duca d’Alba that was breathtaking!!!!!!!!

          • Camille says:

            Would you mind terribly filching a yellow diamond or two from Consuelo for me, MarschieDeux? She won’t mind as sie ist tot.
            I could use a new pendant.

            Buon divertimento and make a lotta moola, MarschieDeux [tm].

            Till happier daze, this summer.


          • marshiemarkII says:

            Carissssima CammiBelle if you gimme a way to contact you (Cieca has mine) I’d send you a personal invite from David Patrick Columbia for a breakfast, day after tomorrow, that will include a preview of all her gioielli della Madonna al manto that she diedi :-) , Ms Consuelo

  • Milady DeWinter says:

    Surprised! Call me that -- DnN did rather well -- better than I had expected, although I can’t hear her in anything from the mainstream 19th c. rep, she did better than Dessay, and everyone, including Daniels, was in better form than on the opening night.

    • Regina delle fate says:

      This production was made for Danelle DeNiese even though she was a replacement Cleopatra -- for Rosemary Joshua -- at Glyndebourne. She had a huge personal success in it for many other reasons than her voice, but she was simply sell-binding to watch and her singing wasn’t offensive. She was even better at the revival with David Daniels. That time they paid off Sandrine Piau because McVicar couldn’t contemplate the staging without her. He probably thought The show might work with Natalie -- although she is an even more self-conscious artist than DdeN -- but I bet it was McVicar that asked Gelb to ask her to stand-by in case Nat got ill, tired etc. She also had a big success with the production in Chicago, it seems. Yes she may have a Barbarina voice, but her persona projects. That’s why she is perceived as a “star” and Petrova, who may well be a better singer, isn’t. Susan Boyle is a better singer than Katherine Jenkins, but…

      • la vociaccia says:

        I don’t subscribe to the “package.” The “package” is for American Idol. I know this is boorish and bordering on Wistful Pelleastrian-ism, but I don’t think anyone should be singing if someone else can sing better. I don’t pony up to “Hey! It wasn’t offensive singing.” That, for me, is setting the bar unprecedentedly low. “Not Offensive” is not good enough for Cleopatra. In making CESARE fun and hip McVicar has lowered the musical standards severely. I heard the broadcast. She got through it. But I don’t want to hear a Barbarina “get through it.” I want to hear the very best singer available give a stylish and inspired musical performance, not someone who is “not great, but boy can she dance and is she BEAUTIFUL or what.”

        • RosinaLeckermaul says:

          I’m a bit surprised at all this outrage about having DeNiese as a standby in case Dessay couldn’t go on. At Met prices, many in the audience want star performers. That’s show business. The understudy may be better and it is possible that there could have been one of those “star is born” nights, but with an HD transmission looming Gelb went with a known quantity, partly as a rehearsal in case Dessay can’t do the HD. I’m sure anything goes after the HD. I’m going on May 10 and will be happy with either DeNiese (not likely) or Petrova.

  • atalaya says:

    According to this blind item from Feb 11, DDN as backup was planned a couple of months ago.

    Which artist who’s no longer in denial about waning abilities is about to withdraw (or be withdrawn) from the next (and probably last) Met project? La Cieca hears the company is already reeling in a replacement.

    Volte-face parsed it correctly in that thread.

    I’m very, very concerned that the “reeling in a replacement,” is a reference to Danielle de Niese’s Enchanted Island aria “Can You Feel the Heavens Reeling?” squealed to the tune of “Agitata da due venti.”

    MontyNostry was correct, earlier in this thread, to ask if Dani was being disingenuous with her tweet.

    • Vergin Vezzosa says:

      Aha. Like I said, likely a “set up” of some duration. BTW, “squealed” is a better description of her Enchanted Island singing than I could come up with. Bosah, it offends for not only for the reasons la vociaccia aptly stated but for the same reason that someone else mentioned with regard to the marketing of the upcoming SF Hoffmanns. That would be “bait and switch” -- continuing to represent that Dessay would be singing Cleopatra or all 4 Hoffmann roles after it was known that she wouldn’t or couldn’t. I’m sure that there are people like me who, even knowing the precarious state that Dessay’s voice is in, chose for whatever reason to roll the dice and hope for the best and shell out for tickets when we never would have done the same to see de Niese.

  • OK so it may not have been as all “last minute” as it was presented, but here’s the review of last night’s <a href=""?Giulio Cesare on Superconductor

  • OK so it may not have been as all “last minute” (as it was spun to those of us in the opera house last night) but here’s the review (with the proper coding this time) of last night’s Giulio Cesare at the Met, on Superconductor.

  • sycorax says:

    “Natalie is one of the great artists, but she also is somewhat fragile,” said Mr. Gelb, who pointed out that she has talked about leaving opera and moving back to acting, her early training. “I’m always aware where singers are whenever we have a major new opening or production. Our practice is, whenever possible, when a star is ailing, to get another to step in.”

    • Camille says:

      While it is always heartening and heartwarming to be at the opera during a ‘Ruby Keeler moment’, it’s basically kind of rare.

      Gelb runs a AAA list house. Stars are expected and if he steps over the cover, well then, that’s all part of the game, non? They all know it when they sign up and at the very minimum they have coached a part at the Met and that experience holds them in good stead down the road somewhere–thinking of Jay Hunter Morris’s experience here.

      Clearly, well at least to me, Amber Wagner was really not quite up to the role of Amelia in Ballo in Maschera, talented and potentially as much as she could be someday—a more experienced, or “star” singer substitution would not have found my disapproval.

      Another case, the fabulous One Night Only of Waltraud Meier in Tristan und Isolde—after having seen Susan Foster walk on for the third act after Dalayman’s indisposition, all I have to say is Thank You, Mssrs. Gelb and Barenboim, for hauling that Isolde over the pond on short notice. A never to be forgotten performance.

      • la vociaccia says:

        But Camille… DDN is not waltraud. Meier isn’t a star because she’s exotically beautiful or can dance well. She’s a star because she was and is one of the great Wagnerian voices of our time. Likewise Alagna is perhaps the greatest living idiomatic French tenor, so him singing Faust is a real treat. Even DDN’s defenders admit her singing isn’t great.

        I don’t take issue with using “stars” if they are available. I take issue with using a singer who is one cut above Katherine Jenkins

        • armerjacquino says:

          I haven’t heard DDN recently but I think you’re overstating her poor singing. She sounds great on the Glyndebourne DVD of this production. The only other thing I’ve heard from her in the last couple of years is ENCHANTED ISLAND, where she sounded fine to me.

          I can’t see how her Cleopatra could possibly have been worse than what we’ve heard of Dessay’s.

          • Camille says:

            Armer, I only listened in in bits and pieces last night, in the car and then later on the Listen Live and can tell you that that last big number she did was just splendid, and the audience Roared its approval. I’m sure NN was mortified! The earlier arias, not so much, though.

          • MontyNostry says:


          • Batty Masetto says:

            Nomen Nescio. Just as well, too.

          • Camille says:

            on an Italian theatro manifesto would signify that the diva/divo had yet to be cast.

            Mah, here on parterre it means the Diva Is In and Her Name Is Nerva Nelli.

            Baci perugina a te!

        • Camille says:

          This is her Specialty Tap Dance Number, chère Vociaccia, and she is known around the operatic globe for this one thing and in this very production, infatti!

          I do understand your point of view and do sympathise but, alas! this is NOT the best of all possible worlds, no matter what Dr. Pangloss may reiterate. The world is greased by $ and Influence, and Mrs. Christie has got them. AND a rockin’ bod.

          In fede–
          Camille Beauchamps

          • Camille says:

            It should have read that the bodacious babe has £££.

            Pardon me, British Brigade.

          • MontyNostry says:

            To judge from her intro last year to the cinema broadcast of the Ravel double bill from Glyndebourne, she is also acquiring a Jessye Norman-style posh transatlantic accent.

          • Camille says:

            If a British posh accent was good enough for “Madge”, well then I say You Go Gurl!

            I think singers pick up accents fairly easily, what with all the manipulation of language and travel, and all that….

        • MontyNostry says:

          I’m no Dani fan, but I don’t think it’s fair to say she’s ‘one cut above Katherine Jenkins’. Mrs Christie’s voice is shallow, rather shrill and glassy, and pretty charmless to my ear, but it’s certainly efficient. Jenkins’ voice is in fact pretty enough in an unexceptional way, but it’s all over the place when it comes to singing music with any kind of technical challenge like a proper legato line -- never mind the top B at the end of ‘Una voce poco fa’.

          • Camille says:

            Of course but, in re Miss Jenkins instant, who’s listening?

            They’re all watching those boobs which, effectively, render them boobies.

            We are impacted whether we like to admit it by the entire Gesamtkunstwerk of the singer’s presentation. In some cases, like La Jenkins, a massive Gesamtkuntwerk.

          • la vociaccia says:


          • MontyNostry says:

            And those boobies were apparently a tax-deductible expense.

          • armerjacquino says:

            La voc: I think that’s gorgeous.

          • manou says:

            Monty -- inflation linked?

          • la vociaccia says:

            Well, I wouldn’t say our tastes are entirely the same. There are
            a few singers you hate that I love and vice versa. I’ve realized (perhaps far too late) that I’m not at all practicing what I have preached and am starting (“Just now starting?” you all say wearily) to get into obsessive-bitter-hate campaign-carrier destroyer- mode, so I want to say that de niese should be able to sing if she is asked, and I can stand to hold my clicks every once in a while

          • Camille says:

            Manouska, Methinks they are silicone linked?

            Here in Amurricah we call them “chicken cutlets”, FYI.
            Don’t know if there is an equivalency in the U.K.

          • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

            A propos of nothing in particular: Camille, HI THERE!

            Love ya!

          • Baltsamic Vinaigrette says:

            And by the way:-


            The only good news is that he’s not 28 years old.

            I never mentioned this, but I had a surreal experience on my recent NYC trip. Walking through a freezing Central Park on Saint Patrick’s Day, I was just about to be accosted by a manic Joan Rivers, elbowing my way with a microphone, but she got bundled aside by Eve Ensler who said she was was busy reclaiming something or other -- can’t remember what.

            Alas! Eve got it in the ovaries from some guy who was complaining about having symptoms of some, like, TOTALLY terminal disease or other. That’s right -- it was none other than my favourite son of Ireland, Woody Allen, being as neurotic and deadly serious as only an Irish New Yorker can (right?).

            But just then Woody took a rabbit-punch to the kidneys by some personage of colour who complained of racism in absolutely everything he had ever encountered, not least on-screen. I had absolutely no idea who he was, not having seen any of his movies or anything; but my chaperone explained that his name was Spike something and he was actually great fun and reassuringly middle class -- just like me, really.

            But just then poor Spank, or whoever, got shunted aside by somebody whom nobody recognised at all, who outdid him by complaining about absolutely EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN. I have no idea who the mystery Moaning Minnie was. Can any Parterriani help me to identify this complete nonentity…?

          • Camille says:

            Oh BV, I would like to learn how to say “I love you”, “Please”, “Thank you” in Gaelic so I could return the favor.

            I deeply regret my shortsightedness in booking a return flight a few days before Saint Paddy’s and having missed a golden opportunity to celebrate with you !!!

            Erin Go Bragh!!

          • Camille says:

            BV! Without a doubt Eve Enslee would have been busying about reclaiming her va-JAY-JAY!! She is the (in)famous “Vagina Monologues” lassie!

            I used to hate Joan Rivers when she was mean to Liz Taylor but I have to admit, she has scoured that red carpet runway at the Oscars till it sparkles and scintillates! No more black tees over a Vera Wang skirt!

          • Camille says:

            Spike Jones, Spark Jones??

            Was it André Leon Talley, perhaps, whom I was thrilled to encounter only just recently at a Francesca>/i>, and who was the sweetest old thing and wore the gorgeousest shawl over his coat which, he told me, was purchased in an antiques shoppe in France. Such a beautiful pattern and such an open a d unaffected person. Hope I run into him again.

            Your day in the Park sounds like one of mine, too.

          • Camille says:

            Sorry, run on italiac attack should end after Francesca.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Camille, KJ’s boobies are less chicken cutlets than a full turkey dinner. (And kudos to manou, as usual, for her wit.)

          • la vociaccia says:

            I should clarify that I meant should be *allowed,* not able. I know she can sing