Cher Public

Pushkin comes to shove

“…Onegin, which opens the Met’s season on Monday, has taken an unusually precipitous tumble from sure thing—a pinnacle of Russian music, featuring the most eminent Russian soprano and Russian conductor of our time, in a production by a widely admired theater director making her Met debut—to headache-plagued.”  [New York Times]

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Now we wait for the reports of Levine’s unusual entrance in the pit for Cosi.

  • bluecabochon

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to listen to the Met website’s offerings on iPhone or iPad? I will be traveling next week but would love to hear it. I’m not sure that I will be subscribing to Sirius yet, and wonder if anyone has successfully listened to their live stream on the iPhone.

    • Camille

      Oh YES, blue! That is, you may listen to the “Listen Live” nights on your iPhone. I have on several occasions now and the sound is fairly good, especially if hou use earbuds/phones, too.

      Also, that reminds me, Sirius has some kind of app thingey you may download —go to their website—-to get their stuff on your iPhone, too. I don’t know if that costs.

      • bluecabochon

        Thanks, Camille! Apple just released an update for iPhone and so much looks different today.

  • bluecabochon

    I also love that Onegin film with Ralph Fiennes, so melancholy and gorgeous to look at. I don’t know if Sister Martha ever directed anything else, but she did a nice job with this film, a labor of love that was never going to be a financial blockbuster.

    Camille, yes, Gary Oldman is ace, and I remember watching an interview with him around the time that Immortal Beloved opened during which he stated that he had never before worked on a film with such high production values. He was in awe of the settings, costumes, everything. I just watched a bit of Gary in Tinker Tailor yesterday and enjoyed his work very much.

    Congrats on the purge; it can be a huge relief to live with less around the house. :)

    • Camille

      And I watched Fiennes yesterday in “Schindler’s List” and he is on my shit list today! I had never worked up the nerve to watch it before and so I did and I saw it but won’t revisit it again for the untellable, unimaginable horror it tells.

      Yes, blue, sometimes it is really true: Less is More. Stacey London’s book is helping me, too.


      • bluecabochon

        Why would RF be on your shit list for appearing in “Schindler’s List”?

        • Camille

          Blue, it was the ugly creepy character he portrayed in the film!

          After having seen a couple of you discussing the Onegin film with Fiennes and Tyler, a recollection of having seen a portion of it bubbled up from the swamp of my memory bog. I don’t know exactly where or when, and it seems I saw it on television. Hmmmm. I would like to see it from the beginning!

          Of course, there is also “Maid in Manhattan”……….

    • I remember Oldman doing an interview around that time. To paraphrase (and you have to imagine his very British accent) “I listened to a lot of Beethoven in preparation, and not all of it I liked. I prefer Handel or Mozart!”.

  • stignanispawn

    I assume that Netrebko will walk away with what will otherwise may be an underwhelming evening. From my perspective, the New York Times article is Gelb and Co’s best attempt at pre-performance damage control. My personal hope is that hoping Hyung Yun, who is covering the title role during the later part of the run, will get a chance to sing Onegin on stage at the Met.

  • Fragment of Netrebko’s Letter Scene from the dress rehearsal.

    • Clita del Toro


      • Camille

        CLITA!!!!!! What r u tittering at?


    • Cocky Kurwenal

      Sounding really glorious, and seems totally at one with it all.

      • messa di voce

        Thrilling singing.

      • Porgy Amor

        Expectations exceeded, so far.

      • armerjacquino

        Bloody HELL that’s good.

    • laddie

      OMG. I don’t think I’ve liked anything by her this much since La Traviata. Bring it on GF!

    • antikitschychick

      fabulous singing and acting! But why the drop-dead/faint pose at the end?
      Also, the bottom half of the costume is not particularly flattering…they should tighten it a bit….and the wig I think would look better if it were just a tad bit darker, although the lighter shade of brown might be making her look younger which is esp good for this role…idk just me being picky lol.

  • blanchette

    Camille- RF makes up for it in “Sunshine” where he plays the scion of a Jewish family killed by the Nazis in an indelibly horrible way. I love the Onegin film too but will never forget the Russian version of the opera, extravagantly acted by beautiful people and dubbed by singers , which I was taken to see by my Russian teacher in High school

    • bluecabochon

      Blanchette, spot on, as usual. :)

      Isn’t there a filmed Onegin with actors and Bernd Weikl as Onegin, with Kubiak as Tatyana? I used to have that recording.

      RF is one of my favorite actors and is impossibly versatile. There was a “Russian Evening” at Carnegie Hall when his Onegin movie was released and he read Tatyana’s letter as his solo number. I wish that i could remember the other performers asvitcwas quite the eclectic evening. I loved him as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and even remember him in a small role in the West End in 1987 in a Russian play wirh Ian Holm -- was it “Fathers and Sons”?

      RF is also mesmerizing playing grotesque characters and his turn as Francis Dolarhyde in the Hannibal Lecter remake was chilling.

      • MontyNostry

        Is there any truth in the operatic urban myth that Teresa Zylis-Gara was meant to be the soprano on the Solti Onegin, but that another Polish Teresa was cast by accident?

      • RF is also mesmerizing playing grotesque characters

        • la vociaccia

          That was gorgeous. Thank you for sharing, La C. That was about as far from ‘grotesque’ as I could imagine.

    • Camille

      Relief comes in knowing that balance was once more restored to the karmic scales.
      I guess that’s what is called ACTING, non?

      Mucho spasibo!

    • Talk of the Town

      This one?

      Or this one?

  • blanchette

    watched the video..I’m not liking Anna’s singing on the floor and the fake writing- I wonder if D. Warner or F. Shaw sanctioned those. Oh but so what- I love her voice.

    • Krunoslav

      Quite good, but the flatting at 0.27 and 2.21-2 doesn’t bother any one else?

      • Batty Masetto

        She flats, she gets off the beat, she sounds way too mature for a teenage girl. Honestly, can we get over this kind of stuff?

        She’s a wonderful, all-around artist, and she looks like she’ll be great in this role.

        • Krunoslav

          That’s right, I forgot, Batty-- everything Anna and Jonas do is beyond criticism. No flaws!

          • armerjacquino

            You spelled Leonie wrong.

            Surely we’ve established that a performance which is less than technically perfect can nonetheless be thrilling?

            • Krunoslav

              I heard Leonie and Anna in the house many times each, and- much as I enjoy Anna’s sound and energy, and much as Anna’s ‘pretty good; technique is better than was Leonie’s ragbag-- she ain’t no Leonie as an interpreter. Nor Callas, pace Massa Gelb. And never will be.

              Doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to her Tatiana. But the canonization is undue. I speak fluent Russian. She is, well, *pretty communicative* verbally, but no more so than was, say, Kasrashvili or Samuil. In this ( key) passage she’s considerably less so than Vishnevskaya or Kabaivanska or Guryakova. She’s just NOT about the words. Fine. I expect a satisfying, good-sounding Tatiana. But ‘perfect fit’? I’ll be glad to be astonished, but…

            • MontyNostry

              Interesting, that, Kruno. To me, she’s always sounded a bit ‘mouthful of marbles’ — even in Russian — so I’m relieved to know that I am not being too horribly over-critical.

          • Batty Masetto

            Nope, nothing to do with that, Krunoslav. I can’t think of a single live performance by any singer where they didn’t at some point sharp, flat, get off the beat, have some kind of memory lapse or whatever.

            What gets me is the undergraduate music-school attitude (I’m not saying you’re doing this, but it’s around here a lot and really tiresome) that if there’s any flaw at all, the performance is automatically garbage. “Oh god, she blew the E-flat. What a fraud she is.”

            I remember music students around me saying Cortot’s playing was worthless because he “made a mistake.” And that’s what I’m objecting to. It’s unmusical, unperceptive, and self-congratulatory.

            • Krunoslav

              Fair enough, but Anna pretty much ALWAYS has pitch troubles in the last years and we rarely if ever hear about them from the Devoted.

              And I find what she does here well-studied and much more than adequate but not thrilling.

              Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I feel Anna and Jonas ( among others) are major beneficiaries of the Eye Candy Halo Effect

            • oedipe


              Maybe I shouldn’t speak for Krunoslav, but what I think he is getting at (and at any rate that’s how I feel) is the fact that many people here are always willing to give SOME singers a LOT of slack (Anna, Jonas), whereas they are ready to massacre other singers for the slightest imperfection. Sure, no one is perfect, but there are OTHER all-around artists, who seem to be fave “black sheep”.

            • manou

              Aristotle said it (just) before Kruno: “Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference”.

            • many people here are always willing to give SOME singers a LOT of slack (Anna, Jonas), whereas they are ready to massacre other singers for the slightest imperfection.

              Name names or get off the witness stand.

            • oedipe

              Angela Gheorghiu
              Renée Fleming
              Debbie Voigt
              Natalie Dessay (ever since I can remember, even BEFORE her vocal crisis)

              How many names are enough?

            • Cocky Kurwenal

              It may seem obvious, but different singers appeal to different people in different ways, and naturally if one particularly likes Netrebko but doesn’t feel the same about Gheorghiu, one is likely to over-look Netrebko’s occasional intonation issues or dismiss them as not worth mentioning, but go for the jugular re Gheorghiu’s relatively insubstantial middle voice or lack of generosity, or whatever.

              That is to say that I don’t think Netrebko of all people gets a free pass on this site, at least not from all posters -- in fact she was really hauled over the coals by some for her Bellini and Donizetti efforts.

              I’m always up for a little light massacre of Kaufmann, but tend to be able to enjoy everything Fleming does, even when I can tell it’s a bit dubious.

            • armerjacquino

              In the light of the way her Verdi album has been received hereabouts, it’s kind of absurd to suggest that Netrebko gets a free pass.

            • oedipe

              That’s quite true, Armer, it’s all a matter of degree: Anna doesn’t always get a free pass. Only Herr Jonas enjoys deity status!
              And the hagiography continues: it would seem he is also the ONLY tenor who can do athletic movements and sing at the same time.

            • Porgy Amor

              I remember music students around me saying Cortot’s playing was worthless because he “made a mistake.”

              Cortot is one of my favorite pianists, and I believe I have every commercially available recording he made. But if he only made “a” mistake, it would be either a very short piece or the best performance of his life. ;-)

            • Batty Masetto

              Well, exactly, Porgy. As though those of us who did like him couldn’t hear the mistakes.

              The other thing that bothers me is the bad (and frankly, a bit nasty) syllogism that runs something like this:

              1. This artist does a lot of things that I don’t like and can describe in detail.

              2. Others may or may not agree with those defects, but like the artist for reasons that they too can describe in detail, but with which I disagree.

              3. Therefore these other people only like this artist because he/she is pretty.

      • Porgy Amor

        Well, you know. When you’ve been listening to someone for ten-plus years, you go in with a set of expectations, positive and negative. If she were flawlessly in tune for a whole performance of a role, I would be surprised and pleased. But I don’t expect it from her.

        When I commented upthread “Expectations exceeded, so far,” I meant that she seems more plugged in here, more engaged, than I have heard her in a while. It’s an exciting excerpt that whets the appetite, not a perfect one.

    • Yes, sitting on the floor during the Letter Scene is never, never done.

      Of course, those other sopranos had the unfair advantage of working with a director who actually showed up for rehearsals, so maybe comparisons shouldn’t be made.

      • armerjacquino

        Yes, the poor singers have been struggling on while Shaw was busy painting her nails or something. Sheesh.

        • PushedUpMezzo

          Fiona Shaw has never struck me as a nail painter -- rather the opposite -- and more power to her and her nails.

          • armerjacquino

            Well yes. That was my, and I think la Cieca’s, point. It’s a very special set of circumstances that have led to this situation, and to criticise Shaw for not breaking a contract, or the Met for making that possible, seems small-minded.

  • laddie

    Friday night -- watch that Onegin film with Fiennes! Yes!

    • Camille

      Watching “Bridesmaids”, instead.
      Kultcher free night!

      • laddie

        Onegin was very good and Liv Tyler incredibly beautiful in that film. Bridesmaids is a hoot.

      • laddie

        If you haven’t seen Ralph F. in “In Bruges” you have really missed a dark and extremely humorous film. One of my favorite films of the last 10 years.

        • bluecabochon

          In Bruges is a brilliant film, agreed. The writing, directing and acting are all superb and the city is gorgeous.

          RF has done do many films that it’s difficult to single out a best performance, and I am also a fan of He Who Shall Not Be Named. :)

          • Camille

            Thanks to both for the “In Bruges” tip. I love that Bosch painting and will go anywhere to contemplate it.

            I did not realise Fiennes was He Who Cannot Be Named! Never read the credit rolls of H. Potter. Guess RF loves to be a badass boy and that is it.

    • Camille

      This is just wonderful! Must hasten to post:

      I must find this and watch all the way through.

      • bluecabochon

        Camille, it would be my pleasure to send you a DVD if you will allow LaCieca to give me an address to send it to.

        • bluecabochon

          A DVD of ONEGIN; this thread has so many responders that my post didn’t land in the right place!

  • -Ed.

    I’m excited to be seeing my first Eugene Onegin in two weeks. I’ve got my autographed pic of Mariusz Kwiecien pinned to the outside of my closet door. Isn’t he handsome!! Looks like Netrebko will be doing another one of her Sea World routines on the floor. Oh well, whatevs.

    • Konrad Swollenrod

      LMAO re: Anna’s Sea World routine on the floor.Just don’ja be calling her no Orca, ya hear!

  • Lady Abbado

    Judging by the suspicious amount of attention and flattery La Cieca has lavished on AN lately (either by choosing the topic or by promptly intervening to defend her whenever she is criticized), she might just as well rename her blog Anna Netrebko Fan Club.

    I wished Anna was worth all the praise…

    • You’re right: I had forgotten my long-standing vow to remain scrupulously neutral and never to show any indication of liking or disliking anything. Thanks for reminding me, and in future I’ll do my best to follow your example of sour, frigid impartiality.

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    Grüße! Your alte Jungfer is finally back from her summer travels and somewhat settled in. For those of you with lots of time on your hands, I just posted two complete Wiener Staatsoper performances of “Eugene Onegin” on my Mixcloud site: George London, Leonie Rysanek, Anton Dermota and Gottlob Frick (in deutscher Sprache) from 1955, and Simon Keenlyside, Tamar Iveri (a particular favorite of mine; I must post her glorious “Adriana Lecouvreur” some day), Ramón Vargas, and Ain Anger from 2009. To access the recordings, just click on:

    I uploaded the recordings as single files, with timestamps to indicate each act.

    Enjoy, and, as always, please let me know if you have any requests.

  • fidelio101

    How will he read her handwriting?

    • Porgy Amor

      “You sent me these childish scrawls. Don’t try to deny it!”

  • Constantine A. Papas

    I saw a clip from yesterday’s dress rehearsal of EO, showing Netrebko in the letter scene. Of course, as usual, she sings part of the aria from the floor; and her chest voice is phenomenal: creamy, dark and big. EO maybe the hit of the season. There’s so mush publicity all over the media and the expectations are high. I hope we won’t be disappointed.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      I really love it when Netrebko gets the right spin on her voice and lets it soar in the MET!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Not ready for SNL, but a good gig for Troxel:

  • blanchette

    to Talk of the Town- I was just looking back at old posts- it was the 2nd video- the REALLY old one- Thank you for that glimpse!