Cher Public

We all lead such elaborate lives

“LA SCALA DE MILAN propose à Roberto une nouvelle production d’AIDA sous la Direction de Lorin MAAZEL ainsi qu’une nouvelle collaboration pour le futur. Roberto doit-il y retourner? Donnez votre avis.” [Facebook]

  • la vociaccia

    I am ashamed to know what Cieca’s title refers to…..vergogna……

    • Camille

      I just HAD to look this reference up, vergogna or no, and so, accordingly, pass it along to all those who may care, all three of you:


      Was this thing any good at ALL? Heather Headley certainly had a good run out of it….

      • la vociaccia

        Camille- whatever good there was, it was so drowned in camp (and not the good kind), that I cannot look back on it favorably. The thing that really succeeded, for me anyway, was that the character of Amneris (despite being terminally hammy) was a more consistently sympathetic figure than that of Verdi, the latter’s being more or less a she-devil until the judgement scene. The result was a slightly more complex love triangle- you empathized with all three characters, and Aida was less of a victim.

        But it was pretty jacked up as a whole, and only survived as long as it did because every pop singer had a crack at the title role at some point. Didn’t catch Heather but she’s a talented actress

        • Camille

          Oh, thanks.

          Always preferred Amneris anyway. Aïda has always been too much a victimized virginal pushover to be interesting to me.

          That whole Aïda thing kind of nonplussed the puddin’ outta me. Never could understand the whyfore of it and why Sir Elrom would have lighted upon this subject matter. I mean, why not Carmen, e.g.? It’s a lot sexier and has snappier dance rhythms.

          Happy hunting this season, la vociaccia!

          • Camille

            Hahaha! Sir ElROM!

            I shall be hearing from The Queen Herself if I don’t correct that one:

            Sir ELTON!

          • PushedUpMezzo

            Another vote for Amneris! Got me musing how much we miss the magnificent Cossotto --
            and then I found this on Youtube.

            HEALTH WARNING Turn your speakers down

            • MontyNostry

              Guilty pleasure time again. Favoloso!

          • MontyNostry

            Of course Amneris is the top gal! On the other hand, Aida is pretty damn manipulative with Radames in Act III — but the singing has to be supremely seductive for the whole thing to work. It’s no good if the soprano (or almost-soprano in a certain recent incarnation) is having to struggle with floating her line and you start feeling concerned for her. It’s probably the one moment in the opera where Aida is more or less in control. Again, Latonia Moore was really excellent here at Covent Garden. She sang most beautifully, but you were aware of the double-play going on.

            • Camille

              This is the Aïda/ Amneris juste pour Vous!:

              Which one do you like best, and why?

            • MontyNostry

              Which do you think, dear Camille. Let’s face it, Gwyneth was a fine-looking woman. but she could never slink.

            • MontyNostry

              Whoops, I was misled by the photo (Grace at the ROH in 1968, where she sang vs Gwyneth). As for Grace vs Grace: she could get away with singing (bits of) Aida at that stage in her career (c 1975), but she was just a natural as Amneris. What a shame the full video of Grace vs Grace has been removed from YouTube :-(
              Of course, no Aida/Amneris confrontation could ever match this.

            • Camille

              Oh, ist dat so? I looked for that wunderbares Grace vs. Grace and could not find it. What a pity as it was so fun.

              I can’t think at the moment as I am listening to Late Period Leonie slinking her way through FrOSch and have been turned into stein.

              Anyway, Grace didn’t do at all poorly here.


              Interesting to think of her as Aïda.

            • MontyNostry

              Maybe not such a convincing Aida here, though … And Estes had a terrific voice, but his diction was most peculiar.

            • MontyNostry

              Sorry, he are Grace and Si as Aida and Amonasro. And it’s not great.

            • MontyNostry

              Oh look, Camille, the documentary on Grace with all the scenes and arias, including the Aida-Amneris double act, is back … in one piece! (Amneris-Aida kicks off 60 minutes in.)

        • Porgy Amor

          the latter’s [Verdi’s Amneris] being more or less a she-devil until the judgement scene.

          She is spoiled, and outraged that someone (as she believes) so far beneath her station is standing in the way of what she wants. But I believe Verdi even prior to the Judgment Scene is careful to color our impressions of her with the music he writes. One of her two motifs, the one we hear at her first entrance and again in the Triumphal Scene, suggests nobility and grace. Then, at the start of Act Two, amidst the chanting slaves and the Moorish dance, “Vieni, amor mio, mi inebria,” is a small masterstroke (it doesn’t get talked about much, being in an opera with many large masterstrokes, musically). The phrases Amneris sings there, besides being very beautiful in and of themselves, suggest both passion and genuine emotional longing. Maybe for the first time, it is here we sense there is not a villain in this triangle. Everyone is going to be devastated.

          I do find by consensus that Amneris is the best-liked of the three principals. I believe it is because her development, her growth, is the most overt through the course of the opera. Aïda’s development is subtler; you have to think about it. Dominated by her captors and her father for so long, in the end she has the courage to die on her own terms. It is a kind of victory.

          In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Amneris is, ironically, the feminine ideal that Verdi and Ghislanzoni thought they were giving audiences with Aïda in the late 19th. Partly by circumstance and partly by nature, Aïda is meek, gentle, docile, circumspect. Amneris is spirited, assertive, fearless, “goes after what she wants”…she is a lot closer to the way modern heroines are portrayed in popular culture. I have not seen Elton John’s version, but the decision to do away with Aïda’s father and make Aïda herself her people’s great warrior, someone first seen fighting with men and so on, was predictable and understandable.

          • MontyNostry

            … and there are also her phrases addressed to Ramfis at the beginning of Act III, as she goes into the temple (you know, the one which, by a stroke of destino, Radames and Aida have chosen for their top-secret tryst). Those phrases are very simple and sincere, quite different from the more declamatory and/or slinky stuff we’ve mostly heard from her up till now.

          • Camille

            Very interesting. TY.

            Mostly, I like Amneris because she repeats “GUAI!”, and no one listens.

            I wonder what Mme. Clément has to say about Aïda/Amneris—I don’t know where that book is….

  • MontyNostry

    Love the photoshopping. Sure La Scala can find a better prospective Radames. Even an Italian one -- there’s Anita Rachvelishvili’s boyfriend who’s sung it at the Met (I always forget his name) …

    • phoenix

      Am in agreement with Monty about the visuals -- Cieza’s latest fotoshopping spree is a masterpiece.

      • Camille

        Hey phoenix—
        Did you ever find out about KING-FM radio replays of the Seattle Opera?

        If you ever do, I want to know as I want my old 1990 Renée Rusalka back, if they have it.

        Thanks, and happy gyming

        The rampants are still stalked—

        • phoenix

          Oh, if only Seattle (and Chicago) would replay their old broadcast archives -- but Camille it’s not likely to happen. I’ve been waiting 50 years for Chicago to rebroadcast (or put on CD) their fantastic ’64 Ariadne with Crespin, Cox, Seefried & Grist -- and Seattle’s 1976 Ring (the only one I ever saw complete at Seattle) with Klara Barlow & Bozena Ruk-Focic:

          I am sure I will depart without hearing these repeats, but it’s always nice to dream. They have a picture of the 1990 Rusalka program up on their website:

          • MontyNostry

            Susan Graham as the Kitchen Boy! (When her contemporary Renee was in the title role -- good thing they are friends.) I hope Bozena Ruk-Focic sang frequently with Biserka Cvejic.

            • phoenix

              1976 Seattle Walküre -- Klara Barlow (New York 1928 -- New York 2008) with Ruk Foci?:

              Bozena Ruk Foci?
              IN MEMORIAM
              Zagreb, 1931 -- Zagreb, 2010
              She won first prize for voice at the International Mozart Competition Salzburg in 1960. She made her debut in Basel and then sang two seasons in Graz. In 1965 she made her debut at the Zagreb Opera as Aida where she sang until she retired in 1990 -- mostly lirico-spinto roles: Cio-cio san, Elisabetta in Don Carlo, Trovatore Leonora, Aida, Tosca, Strauss’ Ariadne & Arabella. She was much admired as Eva in Meistersinger and Jaroslavna in Prince Igor. Noted internationally for her skill in the German rep, she also sang at La Scala , Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, Wiener Staatsoper as well as Seattle Opera.

              Ruk Foci? as Leonora:

              Here utube foto of Ruk Foci? as Eva but she sings Trovatore:

            • MontyNostry

              Ms Ruk Focic sings rather nicely there (and I rather like the aria taken at that easily flowing speed), but she sounds like a Mozart soprano.

            • phoenix

              Well, Monty, that’s pretty much what she sounded like in the house. She didn’t have a full refulgent tone nor was her Sieglinde sung with great dramatic emphasis (like Rysanek did) -- but what Ruc Focic had, to me, was much more admirable. A distinctively vulnerable, beautiful tone and perfect pitch -- she was never covered by the orchestra because she sustained her volume (like any excellent Mozart singer) in an even flow from the top of her voice through the bottom without breaking the line or forcing the voice.
              -- Yes, she originally was a Mozart singer (particularly at Graz) but all my favorite Evas, Ariadnes, Arabellas, etc. were also originally Mozart singers. I confess I don’t care so much for Mozart’s music, but I very, very much admire Mozart singers and prefer them in most lirico-spinto roles.
              -- With Ruk Focic -- in lyric Wagner and Puccini, much of the music is conversational in nature -- she made each response (particularly in Eva’s Act II Meistersinger duet with Sachs) sound completely natural & spontaneous, as if she was actually conversing with Sachs ad lib -- it was only the delicate vivid beauty of her tone that kept you grounded in the realization that you were listening to an opera singer in a role.

            • MontyNostry

              Fascinating, phoenix. She is a bit Janowitzy (though less ‘fixed’ of tone), so that seems to tie in with what you are saying.

          • Camille

            Thank you so very kindly, phoenix.

            After all these years I still have the libretto from the performance, with that same image of Rusalka, albeit not in colour.

            Yes, Susan Graham made a very good Kitchen Boy as she was tall and feisty.

            One of Camille’s Hall of Favourite Performances. Never to be forgotten and most certainly the best thing I ever heard from Fleming. So sorry that performance is not released.

            Thanks again, phoenix, and bundle up for the cooler weather that is soon to be here.


            • Evenhanded


              Camille. Camille. Camille.

              Your memory is not faulty -- the Rusalka was LOVELY! There were flaws (Sheila Nadler as Jezibaba was a trial, and Ealynn Voss tended toward squall), but wow for Fleming and Heppner. I have it. Lived in Seattle at the time and was a very very young opera-newbie then. Luckily, after attending in person, I recorded the radio broadcast to cassette. Ditto the Vaness Bolena (SUPERB!! despite the cuts). If there is a way I can make you a copy, I will be happy to do so. :)

            • Camille

              Well, well, well, EVEN!

              I would sell you my first born for a copy of that tape, which I, too, once had and played all the time for a couple years until the fateful day I was listening to a Benackoca recording and taped over it. Wrong Move!

              Lucky you!!

              My regards. One of a handful of performances I have truly loved and which have stayed with me through thick and thin.

    • oedipe


      I think what this is about is not so much La Scala looking to find a Radamès, but them trying to persuade Alagna to go back and sing there, in anything.

      • DonCarloFanatic

        If I were Alagna, I wouldn’t bother to return to La Scala. The management cannot promise that the loggione won’t boo him again mid-scene, just for spite. So why go? Who wants to perform for a bad audience? His resume already says he sang at La Scala. Done.

  • Bill

    Alagna just filled in as Don Jose for Lance Ryan
    at the Wiener Staatsoper a couple of days ago and
    the one review I read this morning was quite positive.
    He will sing 4 more performances there (all as
    replacements for Ryan). Obviously with Don Jose and
    Rhadames again in the future, he is more and more
    singing heavier repertoire.

    • oedipe

      This must be the review that you’ve read, about last night’s performance:

      And here is the most insightful part of the review:

      “Als er auf die Bühne kam, wirkte er noch jünger und schlanker und energiegeladener als zuletzt vor dem Sommer (wofür es ja erfreuliche private Gründe geben kann): Wenn er der Welt und seinen Damen (etwa der Gegenwärtigen und der Ehemaligen, beide in Wien ganz nahe) beweisen wollte, was die eine an ihm hat, die andere an ihm verloren hat – es ist gelungen.”

  • MontyNostry

    Riccardo Massi -- here with the lovely Latonia.

    • We had Massi here singing Manrico last fall (alternating with Alvarez). It’s a big, spinto voice but he’s still very early in his career. He’s only been singing professionally since 2009 so I imagine the voice will develop and grow. He has the potential to be a very exciting tenor.

      • MontyNostry

        But he should stop with the combover.

  • MontyNostry

    I saw Alagna’s Radames in London a couple of years ago, and though he acquitted himself pretty creditably, the voice just doesn’t sound rich or heroic enough to me. (But I’ve always found his timbre on the tinny side.)

  • grimoaldo

    That picture is hilarious.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    I wish someone would revive this

  • rysanekfreak

    I want the rumored revival of Franco Faccio’s “Amleto” to happen. Wasn’t Alagna supposed to it?

  • Hippolyte

    Based on Maazel’s hideous conducting of Don Carlo at the MET earlier this year, I can only believe this invitation means that La Scala hasn’t forgiven Alagna.

  • La Valkyrietta

    Off topic.

    I just watched Jeopardy. The question was in a category about blacks. You were supposed to identify who sang Cleopatra at the opening of the new Met in 1966. They show a photo of the soprano. One contestant guessed Marian Anderson, a second contestant guessed Kathleen Battle, a third had no clue. Really. I wondered for a second if I was on planet earth. It is so nice to come to Parterre where everyone without exception knows the right answer.

    • There was an episode of Jeopardy last year where the clue was: “In a Wagner opera, it’s heads up for Jokanaan, who is this biblical figure.” Trebek pronounced it “JOKE-annan”.

      No one knew the answer, but really, can you blame them?

      • La Valkyrietta

        Do you think they had Meistersinger in in their head (mind)? Johannestag.

      • Loge

        Years ago another game show had showed the names Violetta, Gilda, and Leonora and the question was which Verdi opera had these characters as the heroine. A woman replied “La Forza del Destino” to Leonora. But this was counted incorrect as Leonora was the heroine of Trovatore. I wrote a letter to the show but I never heard back from them.

  • papopera

    Quoi encore Aïda ! NON ! ras le pompon, va te faire foutre l’éthiopienne.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Who is this baritone in the Pearl Fishers duet?

    • la vociaccia

      Barry McDaniel, Signore Quanto

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Logan is back!!!

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      oops, sorry

  • Chimene

    Well, you guys are discussing other things, but I can definitely tell you that La Scala is NOT going to be re-visited by Roberto…

    • oedipe

      How do you know ?