Cher Public

  • NPW-Paris: Would anyone really be drawn to an opera just because there were singers of their own nationality in it? 6:52 AM
  • Rowna: Thank you Batty! I loved the song, and could even understand a bit, with a reference to Tristan in there. Of course this kind of... 6:42 AM
  • manou: Hello Ciccia – many thanks for that. We shall have Netrebko, Tézier and Alvarez. It does look pretty precarious, I must say... 4:27 AM
  • Cicciabella: OT, but manou, this is for you, the DNO Trovatore trailer, by Alex of the Fura, the production you will see in Paris. A... 3:34 AM
  • Timur de Morte: Your statement about Russian singers is quite unfair to, among others, Olga Borodina, Ekaterina Semanchuk, Sonya... 11:57 PM
  • Camille: Oops sorry. I got so excited I sent this twice. Can’t wait to read it! Un bacio ancora! Un’altra!! 11:28 PM
  • LT: Christians do not follow any dietary (or dress, lifestyle, etc)rules as those were “cancelled&# 8221; by Jesus and the New... 11:17 PM
  • Camille: Oh Maestro QPF–thank you so very much! I could just kiss you if I could! Yes, it was primarily the Paris version in its... 11:17 PM

Avec la participation exceptionnelle de La Machine

La Cieca (not pictured) is always delighted when Met stars “cross over” into more popular genres of entertainment, as for example Stephanie Blythe and Nathan Gunn in Carousel. So imagine La Cieca’s glee (just imagine, I tell you!) when she found out that the star of the Met’s Ring production will make a cameo appearance in the popular Hunger Games film franchise.


  • Bianca Castafiore says:

    BTW, last night, Eric Owens was seen in the audience in civilian clothes during the 2nd intermission. He’s too tall to be a dwarf!!!!! I was too shy to approach him.

    • Camille says:

      Too shy? A celebrated international diva laureate such as yourself?

      Why, milady, I am sure he’d have groveled at your feet, clutching to kiss the hem of your dress, in besotted ecstasy!!!

  • Camille says:

    Battissimo+MarschieMIItm, perhaps others would like to know so I hauled out the old score, und so:

    Brünnhilde: “Armselge, schweig! Sein Eheweib warst du nie: als BUHLERIN bandest du ihm. Sein Mannesgemahl bin ich, der ewige Eide er schwur, eh Siegfried je dich ersah!”

    Gutrune: “Verfluchter Hagen! Daß du das Gift mir rietest, das ihr den Gatten entrückt! Ach, Jammer! Wie jähnen weiß ich’s, Brünnhild war die Traute, die durch den Trank er vergaß!“.

    Oh, I see here that Gutrune goes over to Gunther’s body and remains there “zum Schlusse”.

    Jesus, child of Mary, I just heard a commercial for dog flea collars with The Ride of the Valkyries in the background!!! What would Der Meister sag? He’d be laughing all the way to he bank!

    Okay, Doktor Batty, take the wheel.

    • marshiemarkII says:

      CAmmiB, thanks for getting that out as perhaps others couldn’t really follow the details.
      The line I object to is, per above:
      “Sein Mannesgemahl bin ich, der ewige Eide er schwur, eh Siegfried je dich ersah!”

      My point is that an illuminated, ready to ascend, Brunnhilde should be above saying: “His true Man-wife I was! as he swore his love to ME before he ever laid his eyes on you” [you little bitch you, nothing but a Buhlerin, this is MMII (tm) ]Capisce cara?

      The line IS bitchy, yet the music is SUBLIME, which makes me even more uncomfortable, the one single flaw Wagner has in my books :-)

      • marshiemarkII says:

        By the way CammiB, Behrens was almost embarrassed, as a German and, of course, as a Wagnerian, when trying to explain the concept of “Mannesgemahl”, which has almost no adequate translation in English. The closest to it would be (as she explained it to me), the man-owned wife. It is something so hard to imagine with our 21st C sensibility, but that is how it was………

        • Camille says:

          No it is not at all hard to imagine, in either 20th or 21st century as women’s rights, with some notable exceptions are not that much different today than they were in 1613, for many, or most women in the world. Those of us in the U.S. and certain western countries have some privilege, to be sure, but let me tell you, it’s still a man’s world! Ask any woman in management. Hildegard was an Aquarian, too, and well out of the norm, as a highly intelligent a d well educated women--studied to be a lawyer or completed her studies but did not go on with it? Her having a child out of wedlock in 1978 it was, I believe, was what initially made me notice her, as EVEN that late, it was a brave and self-determined act of courage, and I respected her for that. She was not the “Mannesgemahl” type for anyone at anytime, anyway, g-d rest her soul. An admirable woman.

          I have to go help the CSI agents solve a crime right now, so Servus, y’all!

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Beautiful CammiB!, yes she did complete her law studies (she never left something half-done), but then went straight to the Conservatory to finish her music studies, that she was doing concurrently (her brother was a professor there). One tiny error, her son was born in 1969, so he was the perfect age to play the boy in Wozzeck in the mid-70s in Dusseldorf.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            Marshie, I’m surprised your friend didn’t recognize that “Mannes-” doesn’t only indicate possession -- it can just be attributive, “characteristic of a man,” as in “Mannesalter,” which doesn’t mean “a man’s age,” but “the age of manhood.”

            We’ll never know exactly what Wagner meant with his “Mannesgemahl” coinage, but it’s not off the wall to understand it as “his spouse as he became a man.” We tend to forget it because he’s almost always sung by a heldentenor who is pushing 60 years and 300 pounds, but throughout “Siegfried” Siggy is referred to as a “boy.” It’s Brunni who makes a man of him, and I think that’s what she’s talking about here.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Batty!!!!! just as I would have expected of you, it’s a fascinating take on Mannesgemahl you have. So she would be “His Manhood’s wife” (and a recently acquired manhood at that :-) ). I like it!
            My own interpretation, based on her explanation of course, was that those relationships were common and normal at the time. The relationship Hunding-Sieglinde is definitely a Mannesgemahl one, and I figured Brunnhilde, who first resists, once she gives in, she does it hook line and sinker, and willingly also enters into a Mannesgemahl relationship, because of her all abiding love. She is pretty wild about her change, asking even for the Vernichtung stuff :-) so it would not be surprising she assumes her duty in a Mannesgemahl mode. After all, she does stay behind to create the hearth for them on the rock, while he goes Zu-Neuen-Tatening, right? :-) With her intelligence, and bravery, she could have chosen to go accomplish Tatens of her own, along with him, but does stay to create the “homestead”.

            Now all of this is super interesting, and proves once again your point, made on Parsifal, that Wagner’s language is so rich and ambiguous that is open to many interpretations. No question. But still it doesn’t address my original complaint, which never was with Mannesgemahl to begin with, but rather with the way she addresses Gutrune, which to me still sounds like “in this place there is room for only one queen, and that is me, honey”.

            You see, from the Buddhist perspective, that was supposed to have so influenced Wagner, Brunnhilde is at that point initiated and ready to ascend. All that is left is to go through the purification, Purgatorium and then Nirvana, right? so someone that spiritually developed wouldn’t have been more apt to tell Gutrune something along the lines of “poor wretch, how mistaken you were about how you saw things, and how different they were in reality”? instead of “it was ME the real one, and you a nothing”. It is not very enlightened, it still smacks of pettiness and bitchery, that will need to be also purged perhaps in the flames, to get to the higher plane, no?.

          • La Valkyrietta says:


            Now I am guessing Juan Gabriel instead of Rafael.

      • Camille says:

        Ich denke, nein.

        Brunny ain’t no byotch and I think Mo. Mottl’s very carefully observed marking, albeit started at and referring to the previous phrase, is clearly meant as an act of ultimately and once and for all setting the facts straight, and then nobly, as did Norma, go to face her just desserts.

        The only time I have even remotely felt that the outsized and noble personage of Brünnhilde is “bitchy” is when she reveals to Hagen, in the trio at Act II’s end, Siegfried’s Achilles heel, in a manner of speaking. That is why she pays the ultimate penalty in the end, she betrayed her Man. And of course there is the need for a sublime selfless a t of sacrifice to mitigate all those goings on.

        That’s just my zwei pfennig and on the fly. And I am no Wagnerite, perfect or otherwise.

        Kamille Tee

        I think “Le Due Zocolaccie” has a lot more zing to it.

        • marshiemarkII says:

          What on earth is a Zocolaccie?

          • Camille says:

            Oh that.

            Well, it is a word I only know from the streets and think it probably could be spelled “zoccolacia” or “zoccolaccia” or ” zocolaccia”. It’s not a word you learn whilst studying La Commedia of Dante Alighieri.

            Um, it roughly translates out to “Puntang”, another colourful and descriptive word one is unlikely to learn whilst studying Racine or Proust.

            And they bothl mean ‘Bad Lady with Cheap and Tacky Clickity-Clack Sandals’.
            Arrabales. Where did you learn that word?

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Oh I love it CammiB!!!! I suspected as much but I honestly had never hoid it.

            Yes Arrabales of course!, meine mutter used to listen to Carklos Gardel Tangos! and then sing them as lullabys, some mutter no?

          • marshiemarkII says:

            ugggh Carlos!

          • Camille says:

            As bella scusa as it gets to play this beloved old number:



            Buenas noches, mmiitm!

          • marshiemarkII says:

            CammiB, what video did you try to put on this link? when I click on it, it goes to a supposed YouTube homepage, which has only generic videos since I do actually have a YT homepage.
            Son confusa, aiuto!

          • marshiemarkII says:

            since I do NOT have a YT homepage, uugh

          • Camille says:

            Carlos Gardel’s “El dia que me quieras”.
            i just love it. And it flubbed up, fooey!

            I’ll try again mañana. Buenas noches y sueños de oro!

          • Camille says:

            Let’s see if ARRABAL AMARGO shows up here instead:


            I think Sr. Gardel is Di-VOON!

          • La Valkyrietta says:

            Carlitos Gardel in a Wagner thread? Then let me add La Novia de América, at least in this clip there are swans.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            CammiB and Vally!!!! Mis luciernagas curiosas!!!!
            Is there anything more glorious than Carlos Gardel? And Vally I looooove Libertad Lamarque, talk about a grand diva!
            But tell what you think of this El Dia que me Quieras:

            It is really my favorite (his Spanish diction is also better than Gardel’s lunfardo :-) )

          • I have to jump in because I have a personal story to tell. I am a huge Lamarque fan, always was. Back many years ago, she was on her last tour with a tango show and my dad gave my mom tickets as an anniversary present. I threw the biggest fit and told them they were not leaving the house without me, because I wanted to see her. They relented and to this day I cherish the memory of seeing her in concert.

            And while we are at it, since we are talking about Argentinian singers of renown, how about the argentinean queen of cross over? Ginamaria Hidalgo who sang Butterfly and ended one of the most recognized singers of her generation. I had the pleasure of meeting her once and seeing her in concert. Amazing lady.

          • manou says:

          • marshiemarkII says:

            And Lindoro, much as I love Libertad, it is this girl who takes the price for me.
            And to my luciernagas CammiB, Vally and Manou:

          • marshiemarkII says:

            And the vieja pared del arrabal is covered with madreselvas:

          • marshiemarkII says:

            And here with La Libertad:

          • La Valkyrietta says:


            My knowledge of popular singers is deficient. If I were to guess who you posted singing the Gardel song I would venture on pressure, as in Jeopardy, to say Rafael, but perhaps the picture is not Rafael’s? Yes the singer posted has good diction, but Gardel, of course, is more idiomatic, has more soul. After all, these songs take us down to the level of the populace, “corrientes, tres cuatro ocho, segundo piso ascensor…”

            As to Libertad, she might not have a play to her name on Broadway, but she has one in heaven.

            Rocío Durcal! :)

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Oh Vally!!!! Corrientes tres cuatro ocho:

            Oh Rocio, the Empress of La Hispanidad :-)

            I am moving to Buenos Aires, seeya…..

            When I was there for Gotterdammerung, I actually spent endless hours on Corrientes, the boys uhmmmmm, better than Bitter Beauties any day, :-) :-) :-)

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Vally, no you guessed right the first time, it was the divine Raphael.
            But now look what I found. I saw a drag show on Corrientes, back in 1998, and this queen actually did this, and it was simply OVERWHELMING, the closest there is to have seen Rysanek as Sieglinde in 1976 :-) (it sounds so operatic, no?):

            Maybe when MMII finally has the courage to come out of the closet, she can make her debut at La Escuelita, as MMII de los Arrabales on Broadway! with this song.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Come to think of it Vally, I should have invited Leonie to see that drag show, but alas in 1998 she was no more….you know there was no one more faghaggy than Leonie!. When we were there in 1995, there was a specifically Schwul Party in Leonie’s honor, at a beautiful penthouse on a big high-rise. I swear, I never saw so many homosexuals in one room. Those queens were just so gay! I have a picture of Leonie and Hildegard surrounded by a bevy of dozens of Buenos Aires queens. I think it must have been the night of the premiere of Elektra, because everyone one is in gay tuxedos…….

    • Camille says:

      Oh, Very Important! Sehr wichtig!

      The phrase “Sein Eheweib, ecc. usw.”, is marked:
      [B]. Ohne Bitterleit. Bemitleidend!.
      From Felix Mottl’s notes on the Ring he assisted Wagner with in the capacity of “Bühnenassistent” in the 1876 Ring.

      I think that says it all.

      • marshiemarkII says:

        And that is exactly how Behrens sings it!!!!!
        Brava Carissssima CammiB, you got it. That solves it to a large degree for me then.

        • La Valkyrietta says:

          People keep saying Wagner is bad for you, starting with Nietzsche, who states Brünhilde had to learn the fourth book of the big Schopenhauer work so as to learn from the philosopher some notions to change her free love tune into something more decadent. Not that I will hang on every word of dear Friedrich. I saw last night on channel 782 that Carmen movie with La Hayworth, and it reminded me I certainly prefer the Ring to the Bizet opera, but Nietzsche heard it twenty times and praised it no end above Wagner’s, in his view, sick works. More recent authors say similar things. A bad man can’t compose good music. I even remember Poison Ivy feeling guilty about perhaps liking some of Parsifal.

          Please help me, someone. Is listening to Wagner as sinful as eating lots of foie gras d’oie? Should one skip divine foie at the Modern or Per Se? I know Dalayman is no Gwyneth, but just the same, when she heil dir lichts and the strings, the haps, the woodwinds, the trombones transport all that feeling there is no equal drama or dazzling daze in the musical world.

          Wagner is chocolate cake, foie gras, sin. If you fall under his spell, you are lost forever. Which composer would be the musical equivalent of a broccoli, lettuce and celery salad? How does one get musical salvation?

          I often feel Wagner was really good, and the world was, and is, bad, including the machine created to massacre Richard. The machine will end up trash, and the music will survive.

          • CruzSF says:

            La Val, did you read the essay on Wagner in the London Review of Books (from last week or 2 weeks ago)?

          • manou says:

            You certainly know about musical salivation…

          • m. croche says:

            From Robert Musil’s “Man Without Qualities”

            Ulrich knew that Clarisse refused her body to Walter for weeks at a time when he played Wagner. He played Wagner anyway, with a bad conscience; like a boyhood vice.

            So there you have it.

          • La Valkyrietta says:

            No salvation in these replies, except perhaps from manou, salivation can’t be bad, a man’s gotta eat.

            I have not picked up Musil in decades, but perhaps I should pick up again people very friendly to Wagner, like Mann and Shaw. Yes, CruzSF, I think I did, if it was that long essay using mostly Tristan as an illustration, but I think it was older, more like a month ago. Anyway, in the end, I think the author is really fascinated by Wagner in spite of all his protestations and qualms. He could not resist a good performance of Tristan, I’m willing to bet, just as much as I could not resist it, or a Charlotte Malakoff for dessert. :)

          • Camille says:

            Look at what it did to Baudelaire, La Vally—

            When I was in terrible and imminent danger of being overtaken by Riccardo Wagner as a young, impressionable vierge, I invoked the angiolo del belcanto to come and aid me, and hallelujah! Lo, I was SAVED!

            Never looked back. Take my Wagner in bite sizes now and all goes well.
            No heartburn.

          • CruzSF says:

            Oh, I just picked up that LRB issue over here, last week. One thing I got from the long essay was that Wagner was criticised — in terms of his music being “bad” for you — for going out of bounds, for crossing boundaries, and encouraging listeners to give in to their natures. That’s where the “decadence” lies. In any event, I think that’s yet another area in which Wagner was trailblazing or prescient.

            Given the desserts you favor (or that you name, at least): I think you are in touch with decadence, deliciously so.

          • oedipe says:

            Eating lots of sugary stuff is perfectly middle class. Nothing to do with decadence.

          • Camille says:

            You know, La Vally, on second thought, whom you really need Batty Masetro to weigh in on all this cuisine thing + Wagner. He’s your guy.

          • La Valkyrietta says:

            I think it was Rossini who first talked of the Wagner+cuisine conundrum, and in no flattering way to Richard.

          • ianw2 says:

            Another reason to love Rossini. The man who gave his name to Tournedos Rossini found the Wagner mix too rich.

            I kinda agree. After the second act of Tristan I’m already feeling the need to have some Scarlatti administered intravenously.

          • Vergin Vezzosa says:

            There are sections of Wagner works that remind me of the Southern U.S. concoction known as TurDucken -- a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey all cooked as one. Maybe someone could put the above into a swan to add more Wagnerian flavor.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            Oh good lord, not a turducken. A bloated conflation of a lot of inherently delicious ingredients with no meaningful relationship among them and definitely far less than the sum of its parts? No. (Well, maybe a few bits of “Tannhäuser.” But that’s it.)

            The more I listen to Wagner, the more I realize how densely interwoven everything is. Nicholas Spice is right about that in the article -- it has to be long in order to seem short. Those who think Wotan’s Narrative in “Walküre” or the Riddle Scene in “Siegfried” are just padding haven’t been listening closely enough.

            So maybe the closest culinary approximation would be the consommé simmered down from 400 doves that was supposedly served to one of the Kings of Morocco every morning.

            Served in a bowl the size of a garbage can.

          • Vergin Vezzosa says:

            Batty: Agree with your Walkure and (especially) Siegfried assessments. Big LOL about the dove consommé in the garbage can. For me, maybe a little more than some of Tannhauser.

          • kashania says:

            The more I listen to mature Wagner, the less I think he’s in need of an editor. With Wagner, everything’s a “slow burn”. Yes, he takes his time, but the cumulative effect is like nothing else in opera. To cut a bit here and snip a bit there would adversely affect the arc of each act.

            I used to think that Wotan’s monologue was too long and should be shorn of five minutes — no more. I was even once young and foolish enough to think that the Siegfried Idyll was too long!

          • La Valkyrietta says:

            I am confused with the Wagner menus, but I totally agree with kashania’s recipe. If I am going to indulge Wagner at all, I want it complete, no editing, not a note missing from Wotan’s monologue! Further, I have usually been unhappier with conductors accelerating the Wagner tempos than with those slowing them down. The endless music you want to keep going and never end. No hurry.

          • kashania says:

            La Val: I do like slow tempi (probably has to do with growing up with Levine’s Met telecasts/recordings) but most of all, I like it when the conductor makes the tempi work (whether slow, fast, or medium).

            I don’t like it when people criticise a conductor’s slow tempi just because they’re slow. That’s not reason enough to criticise, IMO. A conductor can speed up the tempi and the result is something very exciting while another conductor can take similar tempi and the whole thing feels routine and lifeless.

            During the Met’s Parsifal broadcast (which I heard on the radio, not in the the cinema), I was amazed at Gatti’s masterful pacing. His tempi were quite slow but there was always this sustained tension, perfectly exemplifying the “slow burn” I was talking about. The effect was overwhelming.

      • Camille says:

        Yes, that should be BitterKeit, not BitterLeit.
        Sorry about that and am glad I finally found this again to correct.
        These markings are all important, in my opinion.

        • marshiemarkII says:

          No worries CammiB, we got it that she was no bitter queen (oophs reminds me of my old gym Bitter Beauties) or Bitter Hater :-)
          and with lots of Mitleid still sounds to me Conquest or when queens collide :-)

          Oh and what on earth is a Zocolaccie !?!?!?!?

          • Camille says:

            Yes, a fiend of mine has proposed a salon de beauté in Los Angeles to be called “Bitter, Twisted, Blonde Bimbos”.

            It didn’t work out for him, possibly because you can never, ever truth-tell in Hollywood. Pity.

  • La Valkyrietta says:

    This thread is confusing. To Nietzsche I guess decadence was most nineteenth century European culture, particularly Wagner after Friedrich decided he had enough of his friend’s histrionics. To others Wagner is bad to your mental health, just as rich food is bad to your physical health. I should put Musil on my Kindle, as I remember it was very Walkürish, twin main characters. The LBR article also does not like the way Wagner enslaves the listener. And MMII and Camille throw light on Bruni.

    Act II of DG. That always brings to my mind Nilsson’s vengeance. Can one make a gay parallel to maybe accept the situation better? Have we ever wanted a former number to vanish? Poor Bruni lost her divinity for disobeying Vater. And she did it only for pity on the Walsung. Selfless fascination with witnessed love. God’s daughter becomes a mere woman. But she is awaken and loved by the most beautiful man, more beautiful than MMII’s gym beauties, more beautiful than Bob Paris, richer than Bill Gates, daring, fearless, forever devoted. Her first and only love. And she is betrayed. And finds she has no longer any divinity, no longer that fabulous human love, nothing. She can’t be jealous of Gutrune, that would be absurd. She can’t sing duets with her either, like Norma and Adalgisa. She is on a different plane than Gutrune. The feelings of Bruni can only be expressed by that huge orchestra, Wagner’s music, and Nilsson. Little moi can only have a little bubbly in the intermission, if the scene is well delivered by one and all. It is all left to Act III.

    Camille, I have a friend who is more dedicated to el canto and takes Wagner in very small bite sizes. Has every recording of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi, but has never seen a complete Ring. Yet, he drinks gallons and gallons more bourbon than I.

    Perhaps there is no salvation outside of Wagner either.

  • Bianca Castafiore says:

    Has anyone posted about GD last night?

    Maybe I was just too tired from finishing my first ever Ring cycle (in 8 days), I sort of checked out of it last night (if that’s possible with a 4.5 hour opera). The performance was solid overall but I was just too tired and maybe distracted. Nothing disastrous, everybody pretty solid, but that was it. The house had huge gaps in the audience, lots of empty seats. Machine much noisier than the previous operas, maybe because in GD it does change and move a lot. Dalayman has a loud top but an iffy high C, Morris sang with stamina but really not a beautiful voice, König a somewhat lightweight Hagen. Oh well, it’s done! Now I don’t have to do it again… Well, maybe again with a good conductor and cast …

    • Bianca Castafiore says:

      I was just wondering… for those that saw Salminen in the house as Hagen, was he really as terrifying, malevolent and just a huge column of black sound? That’s the impression I get from the video of the Met’s Schenk production of 1990(?). That’s what I always go back to, and that’s why I say König doesn’t really impress me in the same way. Maybe an unfair comparison, but I’ve seen König as the villain in all four operas in the cycle and I came away thinking, good, solid singer but sort of meh…

      Cargill did a good job of delivering Waltraute’s long narrative — at moments, it was so slow and soft, very entrancing.

      Costumes seem to have changed for Harmer’s Gutrune. The shiny boob is gone.

      Both Morris and Patterson have gained a lot of weight from last year when they did these roles…

      I’m curious about the new Siegfried in town so I might go next week to hear Cleveman — whom I have never heard of before.

      Btw, I saw Camille and her diletto marito last night!!!!! I saw the lady with the big hat and the rainbow bow on the front of the dress (that was interviewed in the Ring documentary), her husband was wearing a tuxedo with — get this — a cummerbund, bow tie and pocket square all in a bright neon light green!!!!!

      And who is that bald man with the tight black latex pants and long cape, looking like Count Dracula???????

      • Nerva Nelli says:

        Bianca Castafiore says:

        I was just wondering… for those that saw Salminen in the house as Hagen, was he really as terrifying, malevolent and just a huge column of black sound? That’s the impression I get from the video of the Met’s Schenk production of 1990(?). That’s what I always go back to, and that’s why I say König doesn’t really impress me in the same way. Maybe an unfair comparison, but I’ve seen König as the villain in all four operas in the cycle and I came away thinking, good, solid singer but sort of meh…”


        In total agreement. Konig is “fine”, but Salminen (heard by me in 2004, opposite Bach legacy sharer Gabi Schnaut) was vocally far more opulent and interpretively on a different and more scary scale as Hagen.

        • The Vicar of John Wakefield says:

          Though Tomlinson came close, the definitive Hagen remains Clifford Grant’s in good, clean English for dear old Reggie.

      • Buster says:

        Even in concert, Salminen was incredibly imposing and menacing as Hunding. I heard him do the first act (1996) with the Concertgebouworchestra, and the entire hall feared for the life of Waltraud Meier. Both she and Siegried Jerusalem were on the top of their game, sensational performance.

        • Bianca Castafiore says:

          Well, grazie millefois, I always go to these excerpts and I am so chagrined I never caught him in the house. The call to the vassals and Hagen’s watch always make me imagine what it must have been live in the house. It’s just terrifying, monstrous and malevolent, I just imagine how that huge column of black sound must have shook the house.

          (That’s why I referred to König as Hagen lightweight.)

          Incidentally I did hear Tomlinson once, as Fafner in Siegfried in the old Schenk production, unfort. he’s miked the entire appearance (as was the Forest Bird). In the Lepage Siegfried, Fafner reverts to human form after being stabbed by Nothung, so König appears on stage in costume and his last phrases are not delivered through a microphone. I think Oropesa as the Forest Bird was also not miked but sang from the wings…

          • Krunoslav says:

            Bianca, I heard Salminen last month as Gurnemanz in Cologne (where he celebrated 40 years of active service there) and he was quite wonderful. So you may still get a chance.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            Kruno, grazie, but I have to say, I missed the great man’s peak for sure. I have seen the Valencia Ring (by Fura als Baus) where he sings Hagen, and… well, he’s definitely not what he used to be, obviously, twenty years later. I’m glad to hear the good report on him though.

            I don’t know what year this was, but just imagine being in the house listening to these two giants going at each other:

  • La Valkyrietta says:


    I was there last night and saw Count Dracula! I can’t believe I was in the same house as so many famous parterrians or parterriennes, but I would not have recognized anyone. In the first intermission I was busy trying to get a sandwich and then eating it; in the second intermission, since I did not guess La Cieca’s 25 Brünhildes, I got the 25 CD Wagner album at the Met store, so I was walking around with my little Met store shopping bag. I have a feeling I have not heard some of those performances. I know I have not heard Victoria’s Eva. Some nice listening ahead with head phones now that the opera season is almost over. Of course I adore Melchior and Flagstad and Leinsdorf, and I have little of them not in vinyl.

    I enjoyed the performance last night. In spite of the machine which is a true horror, it ruins the Norns scene, and that is enough reason to loath it. I had a marvelous view of the orchestra and it was a blessing to concentrate on it when the machine was doing its noisy thing. By the way, there are six harps and they are all played when the swimming sisters sing. Also later when Siegfried recovers his memory, and in parts of the immolation. I wonder what those six harpists do with all the free time, have cocktails? Luisi is no Levine. I yearn for that Walküre Maazel conducted once at the Met. The best conductor I have heard live do Wagner was Leinsdorf, unforgettable. But Luisi was not bad last night. I thought Dalayman was better than in her previous two operas, more in the last act than in the second, she did not hold me at the edge of my seat as Nilsson or Gwyneth did in that most operatic second act, but still, I would go see her again. The exchange with Waltraute worked. I liked the son of the Nibelung. Yes, Morris can have ugly turns of phrase, but sometimes he is quite right, as in the narration recalling the forest bird.

    Dear Bianca, will we be lucky enough to see in our lifetimes a machineless Ring at the Met? Will we hear the band sound as when Leinsdorf conducted? Still, last night was better than nothing, much, much better.

    • Bianca Castafiore says:

      La Val,

      As I said, I don’t know why exactly, but I was not *into it* much unfort. on Thursday. Certainly after the Siegfried on Monday, which I thought marvelous and I was totally entranced by it; GD was a bit of a letdown. Maybe it’s my familiarity with it (more so than with Siegfried), maybe it’s my own comparisons in my mind (not just with the video of the Schenk Ring from 1990 but also with my memories of the GD last season), maybe I was too tired and too distracted by the annoying young man sitting next to me (constantly yawning, clearing throat, and worse, shaking his legs — do people not realize they shake other people’s seats when they do that? he obviously did not want to be there, but was accompanying his father or sugar daddy), but I just did not get in the mood (and sitting through 4.5 hours of it — what does that say about me?). Maybe it was Luisi… I’m sorry I don’t have your experiences with Leinsdorf, Nilsson and Jones, my opera-going experience doesn’t go that far back.

      I also think most of the singers were better last season than this time.

      Dalayman, I like a lot, but the voice was a bit more raggedy for the GD compared from the Walküre and Siegfried. But she certainly has plenty of volume when needed and the Immolation Scene was very moving. She is always a very passionate and committed performer.

      Morris is just so uneven and the lyrical, beautiful moments are just rare for me. Last season, when I caught him in GD, he even delivered more of those moments (until almost the end, when it seemed he got tired and the tone just deteriorated) than on Thursday, when it was mostly unattractive. There’s even a certain ‘old man’ sound to it — Siegel as Mime delivered a much better produced, even and beautiful voice.

      I have learned to live with the Machine, although as (I think) blue said, it’s noisier in the GD due to the many more scene changes. The scene with the Norns, I used to be terrified by the swinging planks, now I know what to expect so I try to ignore it. I think the staging can be tweaked to work better, it’s not a total waste, but it certainly is flawed.

  • La Valkyrietta says:


    Someone tried to excuse the machine by saying there are other noises and inconveniences in the house such as coughs, candy, etc. Well, the machine is a bother like those annoyances, but monstrous and permanent, it is a gigantic cough made part of the set! Horror!

    I am sorry about your seat neighbor the DG night. I know very well there are no necessarily good seats at the Met any longer, getting any seat is like playing Russian roulette these days. You never know ahead of time if you would go knowing what you actually encounter next to you. I remember a DG long ago when my seat neighbor was an Asian thin fellow who breathed in and then never moved or was heard of at all until the intermission. Marvelous. But at DG last year a lady, if the word can be used, would check her cell phone every minute for messages. She made no noise, but turning the device light on so often was horribly annoying. These days I have had occasion, for one reason or another, to complain to an usher, usually with good results. The quality of audiences has decayed in modern times, not just the quality of singers, in general. I remember what I considered daring in the sixties was to see a hot number in jeans, a bit torn, showing a glimpse of bare flesh on one of the buns, but the number, even if looking like rough trade, would behave like the most aristocratic of countesses during the performance. Today some ladies behave like char women or worse.

    I too enjoyed most the Siegfried, of the last three Ring operas, particularly the first act, I’m sure because of Mime, but all worked. I was not expecting anything outstanding in DG. I went defensively to DG, preparing myself psychologically not to let the machine ruin the evening for me and it was fine, Dalayman I even found better than I expected. The first and last act better than the second. The second can be electrifying when properly done, but not all clicked there last Thursday. I am not too analytic in things operatic as to point out the culprit. When all things work, nobody coughs.

    • Bianca Castafiore says:

      La Val,

      You know, I have seen very bad audience behavior over the years. Not just talking and whispering, coughing or bracelet jangling, or velcro or eating (at Boris Godunov last season, the Russian lady near me ripped open a bag of potato chips and proceeded to eat during the performance.)… Once, at one of my first Trovatores at the Met in the 90′s, I was sitting in the balcony, and all of a sudden there wafts down from the Family Circle a very strong smell of fried chicken…

      At a Lohengrin years later, when Vogt made his debut, I was sitting in a box in dress circle, surrounded by high school kids. Later I found out from their teacher that they were a school band on a school trip because they played the wedding march and the teacher wanted to show them the opera. Well, these kids were very well-dressed but the teacher did not instill on them any etiquette, for they kept whispering to each other, pulling out their phones to text, moving constantly and just being distracting.

      At NYCO, at a performance of Roberto Deverreux, an elderly man sitting behind held on tightly to his plastic bag (Tower Records, of course) with CDs and kept moving, so the first act was accompanied by the constant rustling of the plastic bag. At intermission, I asked him to put it down, for which another lady thanked me.

      There was one very well-dressed lady (but who nonetheless was acting very eccentrically) who takes the cake. At an Armida performance a few years ago, she moved mid-act to sit next to my friend and I, and all of a sudden, I could hear her fumbling with things in her bag and making some weird noises. Eventually my friend turned to her and whispered “Please stop doing that!” and she stopped. She disappeared at intermission, and I asked my friend, what was she doing. “She was filing her nails!!!!!!!”

      • Loge says:

        At an Otello in Atlanta several years ago a cell phone went off during the Ave Maria. Then the person answered the phone and explained to the caller that he was at the opera and he couldn’t talk. He was talking in a hoarse whisper and the caller obviously couldn’t hear him so he had to repeat himself many times.