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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.


  • 1
    Feldmarschallin says:

    I am sure Nerva will run and buy a ticket for tonight :)

    • 1.1
      Nerva Nelli says:

      Yes--a plane ticket for wherever Karina Gauvin or Joyce di Donato is singing!

      Gelb will show up with microphone and tell us how lucky we are that this great STAR is stepping in, and she’ll do her dance moves and most of the crowd will applaud.

      And Natalie will “bravely” go on for the HD showing.

      • 1.1.1
        OpinionatedNeophyte says:

        Nerva, why do you hate artists.

          Nerva Nelli says:

          Enough with the foolish accusations of “hating”, already, O.N.

          What I love is Handel.

          I have heard DdN’s Cleopatra--back when she could sing a bit. And Dessay is acting unprofessionally with the Met’s evident approval, doing what she has done in her last “heroic” appearances as Violetta.

          • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

            Sorry Nerva, I was being sarcastic. I am with you on any and all Dessay-shade.

          • Chanterelle says:

            Not fair to Dessay--instead blame the Met for having hired her. When I saw her opening night of the Paris production two years ago she barely got through the role. I would far rather hear DeNiese sing it with a healthier instrument (and I’m not particularly a fan) than go through the pain of suffering with Dessay.

            My throat still hasn’t recovered from the trauma of McNair’s last attempt at Cleopatra.

      • 1.1.2
        Hippolyte says:

        As we speak, Gauvin is recording Asteria in Handel’s Tamerlano in Lonigo, Italy.

          aeijtzsche says:

          That’s exciting--with Cencic as Andronico, right? I hope someone gets around to recording Poro one of these days…

          • Hippolyte says:

            Minasi: Gauvin, Donose, Cencic, Sabata, Ainsley

            Here’s a stream of a recent Poro with a really wonderful Franco Fagioli in the title role.


          • Vivaldi says:

            Not the biggest fan of Gauvin but at last a singer who can do justice to this role.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I saw Gauvin do a couple of recitals -- one Handel with the English Concert, the other French song -- and I thought she was terrific. The voice is not especially distinctive, but it is quite richly coloured and, of course, she is able to do just what she wants with it. She has plenty of personality too. Her ‘Ah! mio cor’ pushed the histrionics just far enough without distorting the music and it was a joy to hear a good French singer in French repertoire.

          la vociaccia says:

          Who is singing Bajazet?

          • Hippolyte says:

            The tenor John Mark Ainsley

          • aeijtzsche says:

            Oh, thanks! Poro is the only Handel opera I don’t own at least one copy of. The Biondi recording is going for $400 bucks on ebay. I’m hoping Curtis or Curnyn get around to it--not that they’re my favorite interpreters, but they at least make an effort to hit the “lesser” Handel. I think the Curtis “Giove in Argo” might have been released just today, actually.

          • Hippolyte says:

            Poro is a great opera and the Biondi recording (except for a terrible tenor) is disliked by many but I find it excellent, worth tracking down if perhaps not worth $400. The streaming performance is very worthwhile too.

      • 1.1.3
        Talk of the Town says:

        Has anyone been keeping stats this season on stars who sing one or two performances, fall ill and miss everal performances, then recover for the HD?

        I have the sense that this happens more often than not, but perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me.

          Rowna says:

          I have no stats but Hymel sang in the HD instead of Giordani for Les Troyens. I think the other leads were what we expected -- there could have been some minor role subs.

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            Ildar Abdrazakov did the CARMEN *broadcast* for T. T. Rhodes, though Dwayne Croft sang all the other shows.

          • Hippolyte says:

            Well, Graham missed the two performances of Troyens before the HD, she did the same thing with Iphigenie. Voigt missed the performance before the HD of both Fanciulla and Gottedammerung, Daniels missed 1.5 performances the week before the HD of Enchanted Island.

      • 1.1.4
        Bianca Castafiore says:

        Will Gelb say in his announcement that the ‘heroic soprano’ DeNiese will take over because that’s what ‘heroic sopranos’ do…

          Bianca Castafiore says:

          (That’s what he said when he announced that Florez was ill but would go on in “Comte Ory”, calling him a ‘heroic tenor.’)

          • Simon Blackmouth says:

            Wasn’t he calling Florez heroic because he was under the weather? IIRC, he had a cold.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            My point was that I don’t think Gelb even knows there’s a category called ‘heroic tenor.’

    • 1.2
      Vergin Vezzosa says:

      She can buy mine at a discount. I have 2 that I will try to hock in front this evening. After last night’s fabulous Lombardi, I am in no mood for a lengthy buzzkill which I expect this evening will be.

    • 1.3
      Camille says:

      Nerva is jealous because she doesn’t dance so well!

      In Boca al Lupo to Ms. De Niese who is, at least, a very attractive young lady and knows how to move, not a small part of this production, and whom, I think, is not nearly as bad as she is frequently characterized to be. No, it’s not a great voice, but it’s a package deal and that’s what is in demand today.

      So if you try to bite me, NN, I’ve already put on a garland of garlic and fastened a large crucifix around my neck. Ich bin kein Napolitänischer General.

  • 2
    OpinionatedNeophyte says:

    Last year, around this time, certain posters (AJ In particular) hoisted heaps of scorn upon me because I dared to suggest that Natalie Dessay had become too limelight hungry as evidenced by her willingness to show up for primas and broadcasts knowing good’n’well she had no business singing and relying upon understudies for the less than glamorous evenings in a run. I just wanted to mark the date and time.

    • 2.1
      antikitschychick says:

      LOL point taken. I agree she will probably “recover” for the HD…at least I sure hope she does!!!
      I think its just a question of stamina…her voice is just no longer equipped to sing such long and vocally strenuous performances back to back me thinks. Oh well.

    • 2.2
      armerjacquino says:

      Well, now you’ve done that, and it definitely makes you look really cool and grown up.

    • 2.3
      perfidia says:

      Well, for somebody staring at the end of her career, saving yourself for the telecast makes sense. I am not saying it is right, but Dessay has never impressed me as that kind of diva. I actually think that has been part of her present problems. Like so many contemporary singers, she never learnt to save herself.

      • 2.3.1
        antikitschychick says:

        I actually admire her for that. I’ll take a no holds barred, go for broke approach any day over an emotionally stale and calculated one…sopranos marking through their part in order to sing a couple of thrilling high notes at the end is not ok (and I’m pretty many posters will know who I’m talking about without me having to name names)…a few notes does not an opera make in my book. If Dessay is being overly cautious now, its because she really has no choice, whereas there are plenty of performers who do and yet still they “save themselves”…but save themselves for what I ask, if there will always be the next big gig to get through?

        Having said that, I understand that a major international career requires a certain amount of discipline but Opera should not be about doing as many performances in a year as is humanely possible so as to make the most money and milk every performance for what its worth…as Peter Gelb rightly said, the profit is (and should be) art not money. JMHO.

  • 3
    Hippolyte says:

    “Tonight’s intermission guests include Natalie Dessay.”

  • 4
    almavivante says:

    Is Danielle the actual cover for Natalie or has she just stepped in as a favor?

    • 4.1
      Nerva Nelli says:

      The cover is Petrova whom insiders say is excellent and can do the dancing.


      • 4.1.1
        Vergin Vezzosa says:

        If Petrova was singing tonight I think I would use my tickets. But with DDiN no way. In The Enchanted Island, I found her (DDiN) impossible to watch and her coloratura of the small bird clucking variety.

      • 4.1.2
        la vociaccia says:

        I loved Petrova in the L’italiana in Algeri with Borodina. I’ve been wondering why I haven’t seen her at the Met more frequently. How very maddening that De Niese is considered preferable by the management

          Rowna says:

          Petrova is the cover -- why doesn’t she get to do it? Can anyone answer that?

          • armerjacquino says:

            Because it’s always preferable to put a star on stage if one is available- qv Rad stepping in as AIDA last year. Like it or not, DDN is one, however she may be viewed here.

          • ianw2 says:

            Because her upper range is enough to rattle one’s fillings?

          • ianw2 says:

            More realistically, DdeN already knows the choreography, which is quite sophisticated for an opera singer, and who knows how much time Petrova got to work on the dance onstage.

          • Rowna says:

            I reply to the replies -- I have heard Petrova live twice -- she is totally excellent -- I think her top is fine. As the cover they get to learn all the tricky dance steps, and since is was a long time since Glyndebourne, DdN might not remember it perfectly. I am still kinda stunned. Clueless in Pittsburgh.

          • la vociaccia says:

            Dance schmance, this is a gorgeous Piangerò and she should be singing

          • MontyNostry says:

            A disingenuous tweet from stage-school girl Dani?

            Jumping head first into a running show without rehearsing w/ cast or orch.
            May the gods be w me. & the force too

          • MontyNostry says:

            This makes me think … How about an operatic version of All About Eve?

          • manou says:


          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            People have said here before that covers never get a rehearsal? If deNiese is jumping in at the last minute, when would she have gotten a rehearsal?

          • La Cieca says:

            ALL ABOUT EVE, Music by Samuel Barber, Libretto by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on his screenplay.

            World premiere, Metropolitan Opera, 1958, featuring Eleanor Steber (Margo Channing), Rosalind Elias (Eve Harrington), Nicolai Gedda (Bill Sampson); George London (Addison de Witt); Rise Stevens (Karen Richards); Giorgio Tozzi (Lloyd Richards); Mary Costa (Miss Caswell); Thelma Votipka (Birdie); George Cehanovksy (Aged Actor); and Lucine Amara (Phoebe).

          • armerjacquino says:

            La Cieca- so Famous Quickly gets a night off while the rest of the VANESSA cast are busy?

          • MontyNostry says:

            Ah, what I wouldn’t have given to hear the great George L deliver the great George S’s deathless line about the Copacabana School of Dramatic Arts.

          • Camille says:

            George London as Addison De Witt? That will never do, Cieca, you can’t put the Flying Dutchman or Boris into Addison’s slimey slippers!

            Otherwise, I like your idea and casting very well but do not remember who Phoebe is—the maid, or that little groupie girl at the end of the movie?

          • La Cieca says:



  • 5
    bassoprofundo says:

    I’d be pretty annoyed if I were a SFO subscriber, having Dessay being touted as a reason to subscribe, considering the vocal state she’s in.

  • 6
    Cocky Kurwenal says:

    I saw De Niese do this at Glyndebourne and absolutely loved it. Yes, I think the voice is more worn, but I still think she’ll put on a great show.

    I’m not, personally, so sure Dessay will be turning up for the broadcast, judging by the clip I heard from the dress rehearsal. She was absolutely screwed.

    • 6.1
      Nerva Nelli says:

      Kewl! She is, like, so media-savvy and 21st century multi-platform that she can just TWEET the music tonight and send on, like, holographs of her epochal dancing at Lewes!

  • 7
    Rowna says:

    I was hoping anyone else would sing Cleo -- yet on opening night Dessay wasn’t as awful as I thought she might have been. But it was still not good. And while we are on the topic of not good, what is with Marina Poplavskaya? I heard her on Fri for the final Faust of the season, and that was seriously not good. It was so not good that it defies any artistic sense to let someone sing a lead role like that at the Met. But hey, I don’t run the show.

  • 8
    shoegirl says:

    Sorry for Dessay, hope she’s better for bother night.

    Heard ddn in Dublin a few weeks back and she was enjoyable. My youngest sister reckons they should put da tempesta on one of these Xbox dance games. She’s been try to figure out the moves for fun

  • 9
    louannd says:

    Who is Daniels’ cover?

  • 10
    Operanaut says:

    Can I be pedantic and note that Alexandria isn’t on the Nile?

    • 10.1
      armerjacquino says:

      Haha! You can, so long as you agree to solve this equally pedantic crossword clue:

      Cleopatra, known as Queen Of The…? (4)

  • 11
    MontyNostry says:


  • 12
    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.

  • 13
    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.

    • 13.1
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      The video of Niese in the original production is here

    • 13.2
      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…

  • 14
    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.

    • 14.1
      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.

      • 14.1.1
        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:


      • 14.1.2
        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 .

  • 15
    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.

    • 15.1
      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?

      • 15.1.1
        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

  • 16
    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.

    • 16.1
      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…

      • 16.1.1
        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.

  • 17
    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.

    • 17.1
      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.

  • 18

    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

  • 19

    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.

  • 20
    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.”

    • 20.1
      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.

      • 20.1.1
        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