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O blind item!

Ask not which soprano just canceled her only remaining opera gig for the year; ask whether the blue gown will fit her replacement.

114 comments

  • La Valkyrietta says:

    As a comment to Lindoro Almaviva’s exhortation to tame parterrians viperine tongues in regard to Voigt’s involvement in the Ring at the Met, I want to point out that elsewhere in the press outside this august body of diamond ring members the press was not kinder to the unfortunate soprano. What was it that a wise and funny critic, for example, said respecting the less than brilliant Brünnhilde? Something like get a beer, go to your music apparatuses, young or old audiences, play Helen Traubel, Lauritz Melchior and Arturo Toscanini and dream. Well, dear Lindoro, these here gals want to go to the Met and be so thrilled as to applaud for forty minutes or more at the end of the opera as sometimes happened in days of old. You can’t blame it if their understandable frustrated bitterness led them to make Voigt the butt.

  • grimoaldo says:

    Yeah, I don’t remember seeing anything quite as “nasty” on here as Hoelterhoff’s review for Bloomberg -

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-06/voigt-shrieks-but-lepage-s-ring-should-survive-review.html

    Why bother spending hundreds of dollars to go to the Met and sit through hours of tiresome wailing? Just stay at home and stick your hand on the gas burner of your cooker and when you shriek “WAAAH!” you will be emitting the same sound as the Brunnhilde.

    • Chenier631 says:

      While I am not surprised that Voigt has withdrawn from the Washington Opera’s Tristan, I am a little perplexed by the timing of it.
      The first performance is on Sept.15, and the Washington Opera made the official announcement of the cast change on Sept.7.
      Voigt had been there rehearsing for at least a couple of weeks.
      How could she possibly have waited until a few days before the final dress rehearsal to determine the the role was no longer suited to her?
      Did she not sing through it at all in previous rehearsals or coachings?
      Was it her decision alone or did the management intervene and ask her to bow out?
      Yes, I read Debbie’s press release comments in the cancellation, but I felt they raised more questions than they answered.
      Was Theorin hired as an understudy all along,etc?
      It isn’t as if there are a lot of decent Isolde’s around, there simply is not.
      Theorin would be my first choice, and I am surprised they were able to get her on such short notice if that was in fact the case.
      This reminds me of Marcello Giordani’s cancellation in the Met’s Les Trojens last season.
      He sang a couple of performances and then decided the role wasn’t right for him?
      I just don’t understand the timing.
      At any rate, I am now scrambling to arrange my schedule to see the Tristan if I can get tickets…….

      Chenier631

  • bellarenata says:

    Kind words. It’s important to remember these major artists have been there for a reason.

    Interesting too that Alwyn Mellor will sing the last show. There was some really cruel comment on her Paris debut yet even Parterre’s critic was complimentary on her Seattle Brünnhilde (and some of the other critics were eulogistic),

    Let us hope she fulfils her undoubted promise on this occasion.

    • meowiaclawas says:

      Uhhhh. Alwyn Mellor was just *ok* in the Seattle Ring. It was such an amazingly all around strong Ring that just *ok* meant that she ended up being the weak link. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see her, but wouldn’t be offended if she was in a performance. Irene Theorin, on the other hand…I would go out of my way to see…

    • La Cieca says:

      “If you have tears to shed…”

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      What a strange interview! Amazing grace? I think not. Amazing that Voigt felt compelled to speak to the press about this at all. ” “I’ve done everything I wanted. It’s time to let her [in this case, Theorin] do it. I did the same thing to Jessye Norman when I was young. It’s a natural cycle.”

      Voigt did what to / for Jessye Norman? Let the chronologies roll.

      • Noel Dahling says:

        Why is it amazing to you that a soprano would do an interview about a high-profile cancellation? I found her candor about this difficult situation very refreshing.
        Obviously, Voigt means she started singing Jessye’s rep after Norman’s vocal powers declined.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

          Eva Marton wept too when she learned that the MET had cancelled her contracts for a Ring, but she did not get one paragraph in the press about it.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            What’s worse, she received that news during a performance.

            • Noel Dahling says:

              If she had been interviewed her responses probably would not have been fit to print!

            • meowiaclawas says:

              Quanto, that’s horrible! Which performance and where?

            • Noel Dahling says:

              meow: It was immediately following the premiere of the new Lenhoff Salome in ’88 I believe. She dropped out of the remainder of the run and didn’t return to the met for a decade.

            • rapt says:

              Though it makes for a less dramatic story, Met archives list 5 Salome performances by Marton that season.

        • grimoaldo says:

          “I did it to Jessye Norman” -- did Voigt take over some role scheduled for Norman? Why mention Norman’s name like that?

    • peter says:

      But why did they hire her in the first place? They could have saved everyone including her a lot of anguish.

      • meowiaclawas says:

        Isn’t that a question that has been posed on here for several years, Peter?

        • peter says:

          And yet it’s a question that’s never really been answered other than in phrases such as “don’t be cruel”, “she had a great voice at one time”, “she’s more than adequate”, “she wasn’t as bad I expected”, “she had a pretty good night” and “compared to what’s out there …”

          • grimoaldo says:

            It is not only bitchy queens on parterre who ask these questions, Midgette and Manuela Hoelterhoff have said or asked more or less the same things in the national press.

          • Porgy Amor says:

            The one I do not see on that list, and it would be my sincere answer, or at least a suggestion: She’s a “name.” United States-based opera buffs would know from their listening and reading that Iréne Sofie Theorin can sing a better Isolde in 2013 than can Voigt, but Voigt is a marquee name. IST is not, yet. Not here. A lot of people WNO may be trying to reach would know Deborah Voigt as the famous Met soprano who is supposed to be a Wagner specialist, and maybe they would know that she used to be heavier and had surgery, etc.

            I can guarantee you that if there had been an announcement in the HD broadcast a few seasons ago that Deborah Voigt was indisposed for Fanciulla, and that Elisabete Matos would be singing the role of Minnie that afternoon, many of the more casual fans in the movie theaters would have made some disappointed noise, and assumed they were getting some lesser commodity, because they had never heard of her. Maybe they would have changed their minds once they heard the actual singing. But a famous name, reputation, renown, these do count for something in generating the interest that actually gets people to the theater. So I think that’s all that’s behind the casting. She’s famous, there’s a certain amount of goodwill out there toward her, she’s willing to do it, and (it was assumed) she can get through it.

            • Salome Where She Danced says:

              Nailed it--earlier this year, DV was a huge lure for WNO’s subscription program--featured more prominently than anybody else.

          • armerjacquino says:

            It’s not the posing of totally reasonable questions like yours that is cruel. It’s the, uh, cruelty.

            As for why she gets hired- well, not everyone shares the prevailing belief here. I know people who liked her Brunnhilde; I liked her Minnie.

      • Salome Where She Danced says:

        Sucker bait for the local yokels here in DC (from the get-go, wiser heads were pretty sure she’d bail and a better cover would take her place--which is what happened).

    • kashania says:

      While I think it’s time for Voigt to hang up her gloves (though she might be able to have some luck in cross-over material), I did feel sorry for her reading this interview. It is always sad when something comes to an end and one has to come to terms. And I admire her frankness about the conversation with Zambello.

      As for the Jessye line, I think the choice of words is unfortunate. She could have said “I was once the new soprano stepping in when another singer couldn’t go on”. Maybe she mentioned Jessye by name to show a sense of continuity? Aside from stepping in for her in the Verdi Requiem (Jessye was MUCH better in the mezzo part anyway, especially circa 1992 when her soprano days were done), Voigt did take over Jessye’s biggest roles at the Met — Ariadne, Sieglinde, Cassandre.

      • Trappedinoperahell says:

        Theorin is only three years younger than Voigt!

        • kashania says:

          Only three years? Wow. I knew she wasn’t exactly a young one (which makes Voigt’s analogy flawed) but I didn’t know they are that close in age.

          I’m willing to be kind to Voigt and allow her the attempt to put a positive spin on this obviously disappointing juncture of her career.

          • Noel Dahling says:

            Sometimes I feel like you are the voice of reason on this site, kashania. There is nothing wrong with recognizing a singer is sub-par while also feeling sympathy for her. And I don’t think that the age of Theorin is the main point, she is just saying she has been both in the position of replacing a ‘big name’ performer, and now also of being replaced, hence the comment about a ‘cycle.’

            • kashania says:

              Noel, you’re a darling! :)

              Yes, the “cycle” analogy still holds somewhat in the sense that Voigt’s days with Isole/Brunnhilde are over while Theorin is still able to deliver. Still, Voigt was a young up-and-comer when she started taking over Jessye’s roles. Theorin has been around for a while and has been singing these roles for a number of years. I first saw her in the DVD of Copenhagen “Feminist” Ring which has been around for several years.

            • Porgy Amor says:

              Sometimes I feel like you are the voice of reason on this site, kashania.

              “Sometimes”? ;-)

              Speaking of cycles continuing:

              Manuela Hoelterhoff on 1992 Met Elektra: “When the opera starts, Elektra is a bundle of mental and physical problems, but singing isn’t meant to be among them. Behrens muttered and moaned through the first part of Elektra’s monologue, swooped up to high B-flat, and then tired out an earsplitting high C that had even hard-of-hearing subscribers gasping in their seats. Undeterred, she soldiered on with a personal improvisation based only glancingly on the score and avoiding all other high notes. [...] Pressing out one painful note at a time, Behrens entered opera annals with one of the most bizarre performances by a major artist in living memory. Thankfully, Elektra has a sister, Chyrsothemis. Deborah Voigt had the part, and while most of us had never heard of her before, we did then as she sang loud enough for two people. She just stood there calmly and became sound incarnate. The audience went wild. Not since the prime of the glamorous Viennese dreadnought Leonie Rysanek has anyone [etc.]”

              Manuela Hoelterhoff on 2013 Met Ring: “[W]hy not stay home and sing along with Deborah Voigt, the Brunnhilde, while crisping your fingers on an oven burner? Waaaaah. That sounds about right. [...] How could Gelb entrust his biggest project to a soprano who was pushing 50 without ever having dipped more than a toe in the Rhine? [...] Voigt has not been singing anything near well since her thin self emerged with the help of gastric bypass surgery some seven years ago. The shrewd leaders of the Chicago Lyric have quietly canceled her out of future contracts. Why the Met has continued to enable her is inexplicable. That fantastic blooming radiance is long gone and no magic potion will bring it back. Gotterdammerung was a trial with its stressful high notes, pitch lapses and hard timbre so devoid of luster and emotional depth. [...] It’s not that there is a shortage of Brunnhildes these days…”

              Then she segues into praise for Stemme and others. I think we can write the review in advance if Nina no longer has her best stuff by the time she makes it here (for Isolde and Elektra, yes?) in three seasons. She will be pulling, not pushing, 50 by then.

            • grimoaldo says:

              I don’t understand why Hoelterhoff shouldn’t say exactly what she thinks and tell it as she experienced it. One of the recurring problems, in my opinion, with Met casting is that it very often is “people who were good in these roles five or ten years ago”. Not suggesting that will be the case with Stemme but if that is what Hoelterhoff thinks when that time comes, no reason why she shouldn’t say so.

            • Porgy Amor says:

              I am not saying I disagree with the substance of either review, grim, but I do often think Hoelterhoff sets out for “colorful” and takes a wrong turn at “mean-spirited.” There is a lot of that in discussion and coverage of operatic performances, and I probably have been guilty a few times myself, I am not proud to say. I just thought the juxtaposition of the two quotes, more than 20 years apart, might be of interest.

        • Salome Where She Danced says:

          Great Wagnerians are coming into prime years at 50, not tearfully granting interviews in restaurants about bailing from undemanding productions.

    • antikitschychick says:

      Ugh que sadsss :’(. This is a tough situation because as Midgette points out, its not a black and white issue. Voigt indeed could have probably soldiered on as she puts it, but she ultimately recognized that she would be comprising her artistic integrity by doing that so she didn’t fight the manager’s decision to have her replaced. I can admire that and she has my empathy for all that she’s been through, but she needn’t feel sorry for herself! She’s a talented gal and can do plenty of other stuff, outside of or even within the opera community. Things will work themselves out me thinks.

  • grimoaldo says:

    Kudos to Zambello for doing what she did.

  • Trappedinoperahell says:

    The “grace” part was that she agreed to the interview and was, seemingly, pretty honest about what happened, which is that she got fired. Nice of Zambello to let Voigt off with giving the impression that she cancelled or dropped out. I’m surprised Midgette let her off the hook. The headline should have read, WNO FIRES VOIGT.

    I guess I’m being pretty obvious here.

  • operacat says:

    I have one ticket available for this coming Wednesday’s (Sept 16) performance of TRISTAN — First Row of the Rear Orchestra center section — excellent seat. Anyone interested contact me at opera@operacat.com.