Headshot of La Cieca

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Canard à la mode

Our canard this week is pretty basic: when people talk about an opera “production,” they tend to mean “the sets and costumes,” that is, the physical production. As in, why can’t we revive Wieland Wagner’s production of Tristan und Isolde or Luchino Visconti‘s Anna Bolena. (Or, maybe even more to the point, Giorgio Strehler‘s Nozze di Figaro.) But there’s a reason these “productions” can’t be revived in a meaningful sense, and La Cieca will continue to expound after the jump. 

It’s just this: the sets and costumes, the lighting design, even the blocking darefully transcribed into a prompt book—none of these are “the production.” They are elements of the production, but in fact relatively minor ones. The production is something intangible: it’s how the director works with the singers, what sort of ways they discover together to express the ideas and emotions of the opera. The production is as much the process as the end result, and, as such, a different set of elements (different artists, a different Zeitgeist) will change the process and therefore create a different production.

This was explained to La Cieca by a veteran state director, a doyen one might say, many years ago. What he said was (paraphrasing), “Think of a dress by Christian Dior. What makes that dress special? Yes, it’s made of the absolute finest quality silk, but it’s not the silk that makes it a Dior. What makes it a Dior is the process of creating the dress in Dior’s atelier, the way the fabric is first draped on the dress form, the way the pattern is sut, the way the bodice is fitted meticulously upon the wearer. And then the very special and detailed way the seams are finished and how the hems are done. All that time, M. Dior was guiding the process, looking at the dress and saying, “this is right” and “this is not right.”

“What makes a Dior is the eye of Dior, his taste. Without Dior’s participation in the process, the result is not a Dior, it’s a more or less convincing imitation.”

The cher public is invited to ponder this definition during this afternoon’s webcast of Elektra directed by Patrice Chéreau.

98 comments

  • RobNYNY1957 says:

    And yet a lot of Broadway shows can be exactly recreated from city to city and even country to country. I’ve seen Phantom of the Opera, in several countries, in three languages, and they are all exactly the same. Oklahoma in London (with Hugh Jackman getting second billing) and New York. Les Mis, everywhere. Mamma Mia! too many places. Every gesture, all the blocking, everything, through multiple casts over periods of years. Broadway, the West End and bus & truck shows wouldn’t work unless it could be done.

    • RosinaLeckermaul says:

      Nowadays replacement casts and touring productions of musicals are to be Xerox copies of the original production. In the past, when a star left a show, the replacement was given some freedom in reinterpreting the leading role: e.g.. the many Dolly Levis during the Broadway run of HELLO, DOLLY. No one was expected to give a carbon copy of Carol Channing’s performance (God forbid!!). Musicals are now machines and performers are replaceable parts. I have heard that parts of PHANTOM are even pre-recorded. It’s not a good model for musical theatre that has any personality or dramatic power.

      • armerjacquino says:

        Yes, it’s depressing. Friends of mine who have been in revival casts of in CHICAGO and LION KING here in London have told me about the grid system of rehearsal: a new cast member is told ‘On this line, you move from G4 to F5′ etc and it’s non-negotiable.

      • oedipe says:

        Isn’t opera going the same route though? For instance, everybody uses the same singers for everything and that’s not conducive to a lot of personality.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Not to mention the whole issue of rehearsal time. In a world where major singers can complain about having to rehearse for more than a week, is it any wonder how many revivals are drab and routine?

        • Indiana Loiterer III says:

          The same singers, but with different production teams.

      • la vociaccia says:

        Chita Rivera talked about this in an interview with Opera News. She said she left musical theater because she showed up to a rehearsal and instead of “role” people were saying “track,” as in “I’ve been doing the Fantine track, but I was doing the Eponine track for a while. Basically saying that, exactly as Rosina says, you were no longer an artist; you were a replacement part in a production machine.

      • mjmacmtenor says:

        This is not entirely new. It started in the 70s with certain shows that were “built” on a certain cast and replacements were expected to mostly copy the original cast. I saw Chorus Line when it opened in LA with almost all of the original NY cast intact. I also saw it when in closed about 2 1/2 years later with a different cast. It just wasn’t the same although every detail was the same. Part of the problems is that many of the aspects of the characters in the script were built around the actors who originated the roles. Also, there were other adjustments. The music for Cassie almost always is rewritten from the original arrangements, as few if any Cassies have the combination of belt and high soprano that Donna MacKechinie had (to go along with the dancing and acting skills). On the other hand, I have seen multiple actresses in the Carlotta role in Phantom including the incomparable Judy Kaye. Although the blocking was the same, they each managed to bring something special and different to this role.

        • RosinaLeckermaul says:

          The issue of cloning performances in musicals began when musicals ran for over a decade instead of a couple of years. The producers want to keep the show fresh and give audiences the same performance they would have gotten on opening night. It doesn’t allow for much, if any, individuality. Musicals built on star performances are risky ventures when it takes years for a $10+ million investment to pay off. THE PRODUCERS never did very well without Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
          Yes, there is a similar problem with opera when an assistant director walks singers through a production staged by someone else months or years ago. You tell a singer where to move but not why to move and expect the singers to fill in the blanks and give a real performance. Sometimes they do. This season Bryan Hymel triumphed in TROYENS on three hours rehearsal, but he had recently been in two fully rehearsed new productions of the work in European houses.

          • mia apulia says:

            “The producers want to keep the show fresh and give audiences the same performance they would have gotten on opening night.” This is exactly the problem; “fresh” does not mean “the same”.

  • La Valkyrietta says:

    In Spanish there is a saying, ‘la mona aunque se vista de seda, mona se queda’, which can be translated as ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’. In opera, performance is very important and can transcend the production sets, costumes, and even directorial guidance. In fashion, even the eye of Dior might not be able to help the wrong lady. Any production of ‘Chicago’ would work with either Chita or Gwen…or both!

  • Will says:

    One point I don’t believe anybody made in discussing Beaton’s recreation of Chanel couture was the issue of the particular bodies for which the fashions were originally designed. Human bodies do not have regulation proportions--everyone is different, and people move differently, sit, stand, gesture, etc. in unique ways. Original Chanels that she designed for herself would likely suffer when their proportions were altered for another body. This is the dilemma faced by the repertory system when costumes may have to worn by five different singers in a season.

    In the era before the concept of the unified production design, singers trucked their own costumes around with them, all presumably designed specifically for them and therefore made to make them look their best (although I would not advise checking out Olive Fremstad’s MET Salome costume for proof of his last point). As late as the 70s, that tradition survived (and may even do so today) for singers doing Tosca. The stars all had their own act 2 gowns, some of which had long trains that made any thought of really doing the required action out of the question.

    Sometimes, even gowns designed for a specific singer simply don’t work. I remember the clumsy red affair that Behrens wore for the premiere of the Zeffirelli production at the MET. It was made of stiff red taffeta that crinkled and rustled every time she moved, sounds that carried easily into the house, and the fabric bunched inelegantly as she tried to move around furniture, Scarpia dead on the floor, etc. Costuming for the stage is a very complex and demanding affair.

    • mjmacmtenor says:

      I was watching a recent intermission feature from one of the Met broadcasts on PBS. They displayed many of the gowns (and jewelry) from divas’ personal collections. These included Leontyne Price’s dress for Act III of Aida from her farewell. Since that was in the mid 80s, the tradition of diva’s personal designs was still hanging on then (at least by “a thread”).

      • mjmacmtenor says:

        Correction. I checked the video. It looks more like the Act II Aida dress.

      • Nerva Nelli says:

        “These included Leontyne Price’s dress for Act III of Aida from her farewell. Since that was in the mid 80s, the tradition of diva’s personal designs was still hanging on then (at least by “a thread”).”

        I am not so sure, mjmacmtenor. You may be reading more into that designation than is there. Remember that this production of AIDA was made for Leontyne in 1976, the original dress fitted for her. Obviously when other Aidas (Molnar-Talajic, Arroyo, Caballe, Cruz-Romo, Ross, etc) moved in and out of the production, some different sizes of the garment had to be made. But there was a “Price” dress (as there was, I was told, a “Stratas” Desdemona dress which Scotto was pleased to wear after her weight loss) that the Met probably allowed her to keep-- especially given that that production was replaced in 1988, three years after the telecast.

        I don’t think it means that she “brought it along”, old-style…

        • La Cieca says:

          However, I am pretty sure Price wore different costumes in 1984-85 for her farewell than those she wore when the Aida production was new.

          Here is a scan of Opera News from 1976 showing the costumes Price wore when the production was introduced. The two dresses are very similar, both of plain dark fabric, draped somewhat like a sari, with a narrow band of trim falling from right shoulder to left hip, and then from left hip to the right front of the hem.

          Below are photos of the dresses Price wore for her 1984-85 farewell. First, deep burgundy silk with multi-colored metallic and beaded diagonal bands and a cap sleeve effect in metallic beading, worn in the first two acts…

          Then a gown of panels of pale silver and sapphire silk, draped over a beaded midnight blue sheath, worn for the final two acts.

          These two dresses I think Price must have brought in for herself or else had the Met costume department build them for her for the farewell. (The jewel tones, diagonal drapes and heavy use of beading are very much her taste in concert dresses of that period, so that suggests that Price had at least some control over the designs.)

          They are definitely not the dresses designed for 1976.

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            I stand corrected, but it was worth it to get Cieca talking fabric, one of my very favorite of her manifold modes, reflecting the legacy of Mrs. Mary Ellis Peltz (née Opdycke, ya know):

            “Then a gown of panels of pale silver and sapphire silk, draped over a beaded midnight blue sheath, worn for the final two acts”.

            Plus, the Vicar noted over his breakfast of Weetabix and Horlicks that I unaccountably elided Rita Hunter from my list of Met Aidas in that staging. She o course sang opposite the GLORIOUS Yelena O, who sang the Judgement Scene while lying on a divan wrestling with an ocelot loaned to her at MM II’s urging by his frequent gym buddy, Marie of Romania.

            • Camille says:

              Isn’t Horlick’s a bedtime beverage, Vicarissimo?

            • MontyNostry says:

              Love it, Nerva.

              Camille, strangely, the not dissimilar Ovaltine (or Ovamaltine) was always marketed as a night-time drink in the UK (though I doubt anyone drinks it anymore) and as a breakfast drink in France. I think Italian children drink something similar with their breakfast biscotti.

            • manou says:

              Well, one sometimes makes a Horlicks of Brit-baiting. Whoever coined the name must have had a Freudian moment.

            • Nerva Nelli says:

              You perhaps are unaware of the Vicar’s Anglo-Indian roots. Generations of Vicars before him served the Empire without flinching, far from the comforts of home.

              From Wikipedia:

              India

              Horlicks came to India with British Army, end of World War I saw Indian soldiers of British Indian Army bringing it back with them as a diet supplement. Punjab, Bengal and Madras Presidencies became early adopters of Horlicks and lot of well-to-do Indians took to drinking Horlicks as a family drink in early 1940s and 1950s. It became a sort of status symbol in upper middle class Indians and rich classes. The first flavour available in India, as in Britain, was malt.

              India, where it has traditionally been marketed as The Great Family Nourisher, is the largest market for Horlicks.[5] The Indian formulation for Horlicks is slightly different than in most other countries, as there it is manufactured from buffalo milk rather than cows milk due to cultural concerns.[6] In 2003, the brand underwent a revamp which led to the introduction of new flavours such as vanilla, toffee, chocolate, honey, and elaichi (cardamom).[7] The current line-up of flavours include original (malt), chocolate and elaichi.[8]

              In recent years, there has been an increase in the scope of the brand in India. By pushing it to newer segments of the market, Horlicks has become an umbrella brand for a wide variety of products ranging from the flagship malt drink to instant noodles, confectionery and breakfast cereal.[9] Special formulations of the malted drink for young children (Junior Horlicks), breast-feeding mothers (Mother’s Horlicks), women (Women’s Horlicks) and adults (Lite Horlicks) exist.[10] Horlicks biscuits were first launched in 1993,[11] and an energy bar was launched in 2009, named Horlicks NutriBar. Also in late 2009, Foodles, a brand of instant noodles, was launched under the Horlicks umbrella. This was followed in 2011 by launches of Horlicks Gold, a premium variant of the malt drink (dubbed The Best Horlicks Ever), and Horlicks Oats, the first breakfast cereal product under the Horlicks brand.[12]

              In 2010, Horlicks accounted for 85% of the INR2,306 crore (US$400 million) revenue of GlaxoSmithKline in India.[9] It is currently the most widely consumed packaged beverage in India, after bottled water

            • Camille says:

              It is *quite* so and as the DevaNervAnanda says, for a dear friend of mine originally from Calcutta (Coldcutters, as he always insists!) delights in his Horlicks by beddietime. And by day. When he’s not drinking wine.

            • Nerva Nelli says:

              Nerva non mente!

            • PushedUpMezzo says:

              The late great teetotal maestro Sir Adrian Boult was a great advocate of Horlicks. One wonders whether it was the Horlicks, the abstinence or the vigorous wrist action that contributed most to his much appreciated longevity.

            • manou says:

              In the case of Sir Adrian, the economy of movement must have had something to do with his longevity. As I recall, he would just move his baton a couple of inches up or down whilst maintaining a completely impassive expression.

              Maybe his Horlicks was also heavily sedated, of course.

    • Nerva Nelli says:

      “. I remember the clumsy red affair that Behrens wore for the premiere of the Zeffirelli production at the MET. It was made of stiff red taffeta that crinkled and rustled every time she moved…”

      (No, Will, that was her *voice*…)

      “…sounds that carried easily into the house”

      (…though obviously not her middle register.)

      • luvtennis says:

        You are so wicked, Nerva.

        Pretty soon you will have us believing that Pasolini’s “Salo” was an accurate recreation of MM II”s sweet sixteen birthday party!!!!!

        • Camille says:

          Oh no, luvt, that was mmiitm’s 21st ["Legal at LAST!"] birthday shebang. Just ask.

        • Nerva Nelli says:

          More like the tenth “39th” birthday, one would think..

          • luvtennis says:

            Is it true la Castafiore played the role of the first raconteuse? I know you follow ALL her performances religiously. Inquiring minds want to know.

            • Camille says:

              And DOV’È la dolce Castafiore? Bianca, you’d better get back before Nerva calls you a Pre-Cambrian “Comfort Woman” encore. The Nerve of Nerva!

              Call home, Bianca, your Camillyushka always misses you when you tarry in faroff lands amidst the throngs of nightengales intoxicated by their own sweet, sweet song!!

              Torna, ideal’, torna!

            • luvtennis says:

              I actually wrote that to coax her out hiding. Alas to no avail. And though I have never seen or read a single syllable of Tin Tin, I love the white and chaste one’s posts. And when she and Nerva get going it’s like popcorn time. Like Mothra vs. Godzilla -- with pearls.

      • marshiemarkII says:

        My my my all the gurls having fun at MMII’s expense while she is away on duty, but it’s always fun to see luvt jumping in on the camp fray :-) welcome cara. CammiB has been getting very fierce recently, and I love it! and who’d have thunk it Nervita saying some warm and fuzzy things about MMII finally, but dahlink, it’s a hell of lot more than the 10th 39th!!!! :-) but mille grazie anyway!

        Actually MMII had a strange day today. She has changed her bedroom after 24 years, and perforce an amazing amount of memories came out of the woodwork, literally, as loads and loads of drawers and boxes had to be opened and repackaged. Lots of pictures were seen again for the first time after many years…… It was THE trip.
        Cocky I did find the picture of Dame Gwyneth backstage at the 1996 Behrens/Eschenbach recital at Carnegie, and will be scanned and sent to you shortly! I also found two boxes of autographed photos of Elektra, Brunnhilde and the classic picture with the pearls…….. oh well life goes on…. and MMII now has a bed truly fit for a QUEEN!!!!!!! CammiB when it’s all done, with the yards of silk, you will have to see it!
        Baci a tutti and exhausted MMII

        • Camille says:

          Hahahahaha! I knew there would be hell to pay when MMIItm returned from that gymnasium. Did it ran in your neck of the woods yet? It is supposed to get into the eighties a bit tomorrow, I hope.

          That is great, that you’ve changed things around and moved the “stuff” of your life around some. It’ll shake up all that inert energy and move things around in a different direction, hopefully. Interestingly enough, I was involved in a similar process today.

          Change is good Marschallina. It lets new people and loves into our lives.

          Buona notte!
          Camille

        • marshiemarkII says:

          Oh CammiB, it never rained last night here in Sucksee, and after working out for two hours in a well air-conditioned gym, I went out into lovely Hell’s Kitchen and couldn’t find a cab, nearly fainted, and barely made it home. Today was really an amazing day though. The movers were coming to take my old bed contraption, so I needed to empty all the drawers, so imagine all what came out…….
          The good news is that the new bed is a queen’s wildest dream :-)
          Now MMII has truly graduated to supreme queendom in excelsis. It’s not quite done yet, as now we need to put on the silk drapes on it, but when it’s all done you WILL come for a visit, yes?
          It will make Queen Marie of Romania AND Amneris both jealous (imagine Nerva!!!), and I am sure it will be considered for the remake of Salo…..maybe by Rosa von Praunheim?

          Oh and of course I vote for Bianca Carisssimissima and Cara Clitisssssima’s prompt return also!

          • marshiemarkII says:

            CammiB you are so right, Change IS very good!!! I was so petrified about this, that I was postponing it for a while now, but now it had to done, and voila it’s now all over, and it was a wonderful experience, to relive pieces of your life like that, through the memories that remain….
            It’s truly amazing that we were both doing it at the same time. And now for me things are ordered differently, and hopefully better organized, if I ever decide to write those memoirs…..

            • damekenneth says:

              Marshie, are you still up? Congratulations on your new sleeping quarters!

              I was just watching your Diva, la Behrens, in the Elektra Recognition scene. It was so moving and very beautifully sung. So deeply felt. I loved it.

              Can you give write into the general interest section this week with some information about the Behrens Foundation? Specifically, are there ways to contribute, and when can one hear awardees? Stay cool.

              Love,
              Your Dame Kenneth

            • marshiemarkII says:

              My most most adoratissssima Dame K, sorry I exhaustedly went to sleep last night without seeing your beautiful post above. Yes that Recognition Scene never ceases to amaze how sublimely she keeps the even legato line yet how she articulates certain words with perfect inflection, words traumbild, vergeh mir nicht, and the ultimate, the slight weight she puts on Dann sterb ich, are for me the opening of gates of heaven, and that’s without mentioning the sublime erhabenes and seliger. It is a miraculous piece of singing, and that alone should earn her her place among the very greatests.
              Here it is:
              httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8pqWSKty5FI

            • marshiemarkII says:

              Don’t know what happened, here it is again:
              httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8pqWSKty5FI
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8pqWSKty5FI

    • Big Finn says:

      The Finnish opera diva before Karita Mattila was the soprano Aino Ackté. Star singers DID use to bring with them their own costumes to productions. For the 1910 London premiere of Salome, it was announced in the press with much commotion that Ackté was bringing costumes designed by Worth of Paris for her for the role. -She did her own 7 veils dancing, too:)

      For the Thomas Beecham production, the lyrics/libretto was partly “modified” by Lord Chamberlain’s office “but about 30 minutes into the premiere, the singers were back on the untouched original libretto, and Chamberlain’s office did not interfere”. It was an enormous success, and Strauss acclaimed Ackté to be “the only Salome”.

      http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aino_Ackté_as_Salome.jpg

      http://www.amazon.com/Antique-Portrait-StraussS-Theatre-Presentation/dp/B00BBB816W

      The 1911 photo and 1910 illustration of Ackté as Salome show her at her (and Worth’s) alluring best. She had a relatively short but fabulous career, and ended up founding the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland, still on every summer.

      • Nerva Nelli says:

        “The Finnish opera diva before Karita Mattila was the soprano Aino Ackté.”

        Justice for Anita Välkki!

        • Big Finn says:

          Indeed, how amazing that someone remembers here:) Välkki did have a spectacular short career, and at her best was sublime. I was in the MET audience for the 1983 Finnish National Opera visit when, just about retired even in Finland, Välkki came along as a choir member and had a short alto solo in the Sallinen opera The Red Line. What a poignant moment that must have been. She died two years ago.

          • Regina delle fate says:

            Let’s not forget the excellent Finnish soprano Taru Valjakka -- I saw her as Pamina in Taikahuilu on my first visit to Savonnlinna and then something like ten years later as Senta, with Anita Vällki as Frau Mary! :)

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Ooops Välkki! Välkki sang Brünnhilde for Scottish Opera in the late 1960s/early 1970s as a replacement, I think, for Helga Dernesch and/or Berit Lindholm. Those were the days in Edinburgh/Glasgow…..

              And talking of Scottish Opera Brünnhilden -- is Kathleen Broderick still singing anywhere? After doing the ENO Ring, she seems to have vanished from these shores. Does she still sing in the US?

            • Big Finn says:

              Ms. Valjakka did the soprano lead role in The Red Line, in the Finnish National opera’s ’83 Met visit.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              And she is on the Finlandia recording of that opera, along with Jorma Hynninen. It’s a good piece, worth reviving, although sadly, Sallinen’s operas seem to have gone out of fashion.

        • armerjacquino says:

          TEAM RAUTAWAARA!

          • Big Finn says:

            WOW! the Parterre B. teams are SO knowledgeable!! Ms. Rautawaara was a genuine Diva. Her 1st husband in his later years was a friend of my parents. He owned a fabulous mansion in the countryside. The place very beautiful, alas too distant from the world capitals; she didn’t linger long… Visited the manor a few times as a kid, I was bewitched… her perfume fragrance lingered… after all those years -

      • Regina delle fate says:

        Sibelius wrote Luonnatar for Aino Ackté.

        • Big Finn says:

          Ackté was THAT kind of a Diva! Rather wonderful to think:) -- Of all the Luonnotar recordings I know, the Soile Isokoski one from a couple of years back (Ondine), with Segerstam conducting the Helsinki PO is the finest. It still is a breathtaking piece -

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            I can’t testify to the quality of her Finnish, but “Luonnotar” for Dorati is among the best recordings of the hard-to-record Gwyneth Jones.

            • MontyNostry says:

              What a pity Sibelius never wrote a full-length opera. It would have been fascinating to hear his organic approach applied to music-drama. Nearly every time I hear something by Sibelius I am struck by his originality and the sheer beauty of the soundworld he creates.

            • luvtennis says:

              Monty:

              It would have to be a very carefully constructed libretto because Sibelius’ music does not strike me as suited to anything conversational or purely expository. Or maybe I am missing something?

            • MontyNostry says:

              luvtennis, you are absolutely right. But if he had found the right libretto, wouldn’t it have been fantastic -- and probably ahead of its time.

          • Camille says:

            Slapdown—Isomoski vs. Mattila!

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rtUecMwQnA&sns=em

            httpv:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3a1Xzodkwo&sns=em

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3a1Xzodkwo&sns=em

            Just love this work which I have only become familiar with in recent years. The visuals in the Mattila version are wonderful.

            • Camille says:

              Oops, Miss Mattila was uncharacteristically shy. Here she is:

            • Camille says:

              Isomoski = Isokoski.
              Sorrrrrry, madame.

            • Big Finn says:

              Sibelius DID compose a one-act opera, “Junfru i tornet” (Sedish for Maiden In the Tower), 1896; about 35-40 minutes. A thoroughly weak libretto killed the experiment, and Sibelius never returned to revise the work as he initially planned, and it remained largely forgotten.

              A medieval tale, and thinking of Sibelius’ often “minimalist” nature influences, it (theoretically) makes an interesting link to the minimalist Saariaho 1999 opera, with a medieval tale involving towers, L’amour de loin.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungfrun_i_tornet

  • Big Finn says:

    List of Finnish Divas, sopranos all… please complete:)

    Ida Ekman, 1875-1942
    Aino Ackté, 1876-1944
    Hanna Granfelt, 1884-1952
    Pia Ravenna, 1894-1964
    Lea Piltti, 1904-1982
    Aulikki Rautawaara, 1906-1990
    Maaria Eira, 1924-1999
    Anita Välkki, 1926-2011
    Ritva Auvinen, 1932-
    Taru Valjakka, 1938-
    Soile Isokoski, 1957-
    Karita Mattila, 1960-
    Camilla Nylund, 1968-
    Mari Palo, 1975-

    • Nerva Nelli says:

      Anna-Kristiina Kaappola, a Met Queen of tke Night.

      Wasn’t there someone called *Liisa* Larsson circa 1960-70 who did Toscas and such? There is now a young lyric named *Lisa* Larsson.

      I have heard and enjoyed performances by Helena Juntunen.

      Anita Välkki did Brünnhilde #1, Venus, Turandot, Kundry and Senta at the Met. She did lots of WALKÜRE Brünnhildes, Aida and Turandot at the ROH and Brünnhilde #1, Turandot and Senta at the Wiener Staatsoper. Recorded the Third Norn for Solti, of course.

      • Camille says:

        “Anna-Kristiina Kaappola, a Met Queen of the Night.”

        Yes, indeed, Nerva Diva—one among many of the throngs of queens on view near the various bars.

      • Camille says:

        NervaDevAnanda, I am thinking you may mean Sophia Larsson?

        Or was she German? Can’t remember. Good singer, saw her once als Elisabeth in Tannhäuser.

    • Buster says:

      The late Tamara Lund was quite famous here, as a frequent partner of dishy Marco Bakker:

  • Amnerees says:

    My! Here we are in Finland.

    LaCieca’s original point is well taken. “Production” means more than sets and costumes. In the future when we bewail the Met’s trashing of viable and irreplaceable sets and costumes for inferior or inappropriate ones we’ll be sure to refer to sets and costumes and not “productions.” I hope that in next season’s “reuse” of the sets and costumes for Arabella the Met will find someone as good as Schenk to direct. to “direct” the production.

  • Amnerees says:

    Edit. “Schenk to direct the production.” Not a Freudian slip but a digital slip.

  • Ilka Saro says:

    Madameoiselle Cieca’s point is well taken, but it is a very modern point. Back in the day, i.e., throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, there was nothing sacred about a designers and directors.

    Mademoiselle Garden has recently been celebrated here, including descriptions of her gowns. She was at the tail end of an era where the diva might very well bring her gown with her, particularly if she thought the gown offered by the house was unflattering.

    I think that the “non-revivability” of certain productions in this age is debatable, and often connected to the facts of the scenery and costumes. For instance, the Met had a production of Peter
    Grimes that was carried over from the old house to the new, and served until the 1998. The set and costumes definitely had a “concept”, a “look”. But I saw this production in several revivals beginning in 1983 until 1998. I couldn’t have told you whether the original concepts of performance were adhered to. But I can say that this scenery and costumes would have been adaptable to a variety of workable stagings and concepts without earnest reference to an original.

    Not so the new production of Peter Grimes. It is a production which does not permit much variation during revival. There is a wall with many doors and windows. There is no other scenery. I didn’t care at all for the staging when I saw it in the house, but the videos were better. The current video setup doesn’t allow for any tableaux. The cameras are all too close to the stage for that. I rather get the impression that the staging was done with that in mind. In any case, as an opera to be performed in front of an audience seated in the house, the minimalist production doesn’t leave as much wiggle-room for variation and revival as the first. IMHO.

    I remember, with no fondness, my stage debut in New York City, as a chorus boy in the Light Opera of Manhattan production of “Rose Marie”. The chorus first appears as “Indians”, or what would more rightly now be called First Nations people. In the “whatever it takes” milieu of that small company, we wore wigs from a production of the Mikado. I don’t need to dwell on the idiotic racism. I put it here because I think that even in 1984, this company harked back to an earlier version of what “production” meant. The “whatever it takes” attitude used to be how a great deal of theater was put on, opera or otherwise.

    I think also of a video I saw of L’Amore Dei Tre Re from Baltimore. I can’t recall the year of the video. They were using Edward Gordon Craig scenery from the twenties or thirties, and I am not sure that the designs were originally for that opera. But this is how things were done. Frequently.

    • grimoaldo says:

      In the 19th century, just because there was a new play or new opera it did not necessarily mean there would be what we would call a new production at all. A lot of the time in Donizetti or Handel operas for instance, the settings are generic, the throne room, a prison, the royal gardens, and they would just take the painted scenery out of stock and re-use it.
      New scenery was a bonus, as the theatrical manager Mr Crummles in Dickens’ “Nicholas Nickleby”, having bought a second hand pump and a couple of washing tubs “cheap at a sale the other day” envisages working them into the company’s new play and advertising them in the playbills:
      NEW AND SPLENDID SCENERY!
      REAL PUMP!
      SPLENDID TUBS!
      GREAT ATTRACTION!

  • semira mide says:

    Can someone please explain how a director can be expected to put on a production of “Das Rheigold” in 9 days, as has been reported in the press. Apparently the director Frank Castorf ( of whom I know nothing) is going to do that at Bayreuth ( won’t find me there). I assume this is going to be staged. Does that mean that sets and costumes are already in place and doesn’t that sort of tie the hands of the director?