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Tucker everlasting

Those dear, dear people over The Greene Space at WQXR would like you, cher public, to join them this Friday for a concert saluting this year’s winner of the Richard Tucker Award, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard. More details on the program and how you can win two free tickets to the event after the jump!

La Leonard will be joined in the Friday, October 4 program at 7:00 PM by Matthew Polenzani, Anthony Roth Costanzo and Sherrill Milnes; parterre fave Naomi Lewin will serve as mistress of ceremonies. Tickets are $25 for general admission, or you, my dears, can get in free, gratis and for nothing simply by entering the following competition:

Of the traditional telecasts of the Richard Tucker Gala, which is your favorite individual or group performance? In a comment below, insert a YouTube clip of your choice and a short paragraph explaining why, in viewing this video, we are in the presence of greatness and/or near-greatness. The commenter offering the best video/paragraph combination (as judged by La Cieca) will win a pair of of tickets to Friday night’s event. Hurry, now, as the competition will close at 5:00 pm on Thursday, October 3, just 48 hours from now!


  • la vociaccia says:

    The planets were aligned on this night for Dolora. Her voice is a solid, unrelenting column of sound, the top b naturals are completely perfect. You get the impression that she could keep going on either end of her range, so secure and well-knit are both extremes. From a technical standpoint, this is probably one of the best documents of a singer on youtube, period. She’s also completely inside the character without being obvious (tell me you don’t get chills when she flips up her gaze on the word ‘langue’!!), and who doesn’t love that evil laugh at 2:47???

    • Camille says:

      Yeah, it is just too damn bad she didn’t bring it on home ro the Met.

      Instead, we got Nadja Michael.

      • la vociaccia says:

        Camille- Even THIS would have been better than La Nadjir (coincidentally, also from the a Tucker Gala)

        • MontyNostry says:

          Francesca Patanè might not have quite as much voice, and there are some distinct Callasisms in her singing, but I think she is vastly more communicative than Zajick, who always sort of freezes me in my emotional tracks.

        • Camille says:

          Well, la vociaccia, having never heard this before I can only say it confirms what I heard about it from several SHOCKED patrons.

          It is, in one way, exactly what Maestro Verdi wanted however, an “ugly” voice. He also wanted an “ugly” figura as well and on that count the attractive Signora Patanè does not qualify. Anyway, I read a couple years ago she was strutting her stuff—nudo e crudo at a Teatro dell’Opera di Roma production of Salome, and the public was delighted by what they…saw. There was no mention of what they heard, however. Lots of pictures in either Il Mesaggero or La Repubblica!!

          You know, I happened to have heard good ol’ KOJACK singing a Santusza over Sirius about ten days or so ago. I remember hearing it in house and thinking it pretty good at that time, but HELL, after having been subjected to the assaults on my eardrums which I’ve endured since, why, it just sounded wonderful in comparison! I wonder what Kojack has got up her sleeve for the future, aside from that hopping dance act she does as Jezibaba in Rusalka? She looks as if she is having fun with that. I will be sorry to see her go. That Principessa of Bouillon Cubes she sang at Carnegie a dozen years ago was terrific, I thought.

    • antikitschychick says:

      I agree this is quite possibly the best EVER live rendition of la luce langue for the reasons you cite,


      Ya’ll know I just HAD to go here :-P

      I’ll spare everyone another diatribe about how fabulous she is since I don’t live in NY, but I will say that this performance gets brownie points for featuring hottie basso Ryan Speedo Green.

      • Camille says:

        I am always on the alert for a regie production in which Ryan Speedo shows up in just that…his Speedos, and nada mas!!!

        It can happen you know and I am not making this up, either, as I saw justement THAT, in Le Roi Malgré Lui a sunny summer ago. Quelle thrill!

    • alejandro says:

      Love, love, love, love! She brought just the right amount of what I like to call “telenovela” factor to this.

      • antikitschychick says:

        ay niño, do NOT get me started lol

        to think I was initially very jaundiced toward her…and I can’t for the life of me recall why. Alls I know is I can’t wait to hear in more roles!! Her singing is fuera de liga as we say :-P

        • alejandro says:


          It must be my Cuban genes that predispose me to Callas and Scotto as my favorite divas. They are honorary Cubanas as far as I am concerned.

  • CwbyLA says:

    This to me is the best and most meaningful performance at a Richard Tucker Gala. I love it because of the emotions it invokes in me.

  • laddie says:

    I adore Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato in this clip performing the presentation of the rose from Der Rosenkavalier. Both of them match the glorious music without being overly indulgent in the gala sense. One of the first things I ever heard Damrau perform. She must have been magical in this role as the music seems to have been made for her. JDD wisely enhances Ms. Damrau’s performance.

    • alejandro says:

      I am not the biggest Damrau fan. The two times I’ve seen her I was sort of meh about her . . . but this is spectacular. I remember feeling something similar when I heard her Strauss album. Perhaps Strauss is better suited to her voice than the Rossini and Verdi I heard her in (does she have a Marschellin and Ariadne in her future, I wonder?).

      Joyce, as usual, sounds incredible.

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        Seems to be a funny thing with Damrau -- I’ve seen her in a few of her core roles that made her famous, but was only ever really engaged by her in Maazel’s 1984 and as Gretel -- she was especially lovely and convincing in the latter.

        • alejandro says:

          I think she would have been a great Gretel when she was younger!

        • antikitschychick says:

          I think she sounds fabulous in German rep and is a very formidable singer overall but she doesn’t thrill me.

          *Shrugs shoulders*.

      • oedipe says:


        I think Damrau is great in Mozart. I also liked her in Le Comte Ory, and I found her pretty good as Gilda -though many people didn’t.

        But I agree with you, I would love to hear her sing Strauss: Marschallin and the Capriccio Comtesse. Unfortunately, she seems to want to go in a different direction.

        It looks like next season she will be singing Juliette at the Met, a role she shouldn’t even come near! She doesn’t have the voice type, the style, or the personality for it. Moreover, next year she will be 43 years old…

        I can only hope the Met will open their eyes and cast Yoncheva, who is 32 and has the makings of becoming one of the best Juliette ever.

  • Buster says:

    It has to be this -- a singer I heard live around the time this was filmed, as Fricka. It is spectacular in that not much happens here, but what happens is so special, it makes me feel she is alright:

  • littoraldrift says:

    Greatness in singing is a voice with the expressive and technical resources to realize challenging rep, sparing nothing, not negotiating it like an obstacle course. Singing like that makes sense of pieces that can sound simply off when in the hands of good, but not great, singers. (A familiar ex. I like: how awkward even otherwise excellent Violettas sound in “Sempre libera”, where Sutherland’s facility shows how the tricky writing can be realized as something genuinenly musical.) Jamie Barton does what I am talking about here: fully justifying, through an all-in performance, what the score demands.

    • littoraldrift says:

      PS Can someone please put on Le prophète so we can hear her Fidès? It’s a perfect match! Get Hymel for Jean, and it could be the best performance of the music since Horne and Gedda.

    • alejandro says:

      I’ve never heard of her before, but THANK YOU for this. The voice is exceptional. I am not a French speaker, so I have no idea how good her French is, but she’s really working the language.

      • alejandro says:

        I just saw she’s singing Adalgisia at the Met . . . but unfortunately with Meade. I’ve heard Meade at Caramoor sing Norma . . . great voice, but I find her dramatically dull.

        Hopefully she’ll return to the Met in something soon.

  • zinka says:

    To this we’ve come..Dorabella just a big nothing…NO WAY she is more than a comprimario.Small,cloudy tone….Fooey

    • MontyNostry says:

      But don’t you realised that she’s very pretty, zinka? I get Leonard mixed up with Kate Lindsey, and potentially Kate Aldrich too (though I sort of know who she is, since she’s been around longer).I couldn’t identify any one of them ‘blind’.

      • Camille says:

        Me too, Monty.

        Have you ever seen all of them in the same place all at once, come to think of it?

        I did like Lindsey’s performance as Annio in the Clemenza. Surprised me pleasantly.

        • MontyNostry says:

          Was it Leonard who sang Rosina on the broadcast maybe last year? She was slithering around all over the place in the coloratura, I remember. There are no excuses for contracting sloppy Rossini singers these days -- there are so many good ones around.

          • Camille says:

            I believe she was scheduled but would not know for certain as I paid not much attention to those Barbers. Someone else here is sure to know much more.

            It’s kind of a shame her voice is not more distinctive as she is sympathetic and lovely looking. Not enough.

      • alejandro says:

        Kate Lindsey I like a whole lot. I heard her in Hoffmann and Tito and she was really wonderful in both. Tito, especially.

    • Gualtier M says:

      Leonard is a very pleasing recitalist. I was also very impressed with her Miranda in Adès “Tempest” last season. She had awful couplet lines like “What a story, I am so sorry” and she accented a syllable slightly off the rhythm so that it didn’t sound like a singing telegram or something. I came to really hate that opera -- I didn’t hate the telecast of the original world premiere ROH performance I saw. But I really enjoyed Leonard as Miranda and felt that she and Alek Shrader made such a gorgeous couple.

  • Tanzmeister says:

    The greatest example of pure showmanship has to be inaugural Tucker winner Rocky Blake at the 1992 gala. As far as I am concerned, his talent is unique and without equal. I know his taste is not for everyone, but go ahead and try to tell me that last 20 seconds are not jaw dropping.

  • Camille says:

    Knowing full well this entry will shoot me straight to the top of La Cieca’s shit list
    “Trema vil schiava!”, and total any vain espoir that may have been noirished by the thought of winning this competition—undeterred, intrepida, and seeking to tread where even the angels fear,, I post this as my nominee for all-time fave Tucker Gala performance:

    WHY, you ask? Because it is the only performance I can find that gives a semblance of what I once heard live from this artist, long before all the big hype and push and success and Desdemona breakouts and divorce, and Grammys and all the other brouhaha started. Before she was consumed by the machine.

    I will go to my room now, La Cieca, sola, perduta ed abbandonata and recite ten Hail Marys and sup on a purée of crow and humble pie.

    • antikitschychick says:

      this is a very memorable performance…some truly lovely and heartfelt singing from la diva renee here…not overdone, not underdone but just right.

      she could have used a blow out or two when she was still in her prime…and just to clarify, the dress DOES NOT count :-P .

      • Camille says:

        The “look”, if you can call it that, is sort of Eleanor Steber, ca. 1955—think Vanessa, I am guessing….

        Yes, she got all made over and changed from her granny diva look, but it is so sort of sweet to see her trying to look all “grown up diva” in the beginning.

    • kashania says:

      Camille chere,
      I think you’re safe so long as you don’t post Renee’s recording of “Sola, perduta, abbandonata”.

      • Camille says:

        Oh, i really didn’t know about that one. Is it a Capital Offense?
        Happy for your hometown girl, caro principe di persia. Hope it continues to evolve.

        • CwbyLA says:

          Camille, you are not alone in thinking that this is one of the best performances at the Tucker Gala. No wonder she went onto have the great career that she has.

    • alejandro says:

      I’m not a huge fan of hers, but she does have pieces that sound divine. This is one of them. I am also very fond of her Marschellin and her Four Last Songs (probably for sentimental reasons . . . I grabbed that recording when I knew nothing of opera for research for a play I was writing . . . I spent a summer on Fire Island walking along the beach in the very early mornings listening to her sing Four Last Songs and her Ariadne arias. So I have a sentimental attachment to her recording).

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        Maybe one day Fleming will know what the VLL are about. Schwarzkopf, Flagstad and Jurinac all knew what they were about. And if you insist on a newer recording there is Soile Isokoski who can go to places in those Lieder that Fleming can only dream of. For God’s sake even the dull Janowitz is better than Fleming.

        • alejandro says:

          I have since gotten other recordings . . . but Renee’s was my first, so it’s a sentimental attachment I have to it.

          I’m very fond of Lucia Popp’s and Kiri Te Kanawa’s Four Last Songs. I like Schwarzkopf and Janowitz and Norman as well. :-)

  • grimoaldo says:

    Well, this one, obviously:

    Beautiful and glorious creature singing beautifully and gloriously in beautiful and glorious music.
    I can’t go to NY on Friday btw.

  • MarioCav says:

    Concerning this year’s Richard Tucker award,
    can someone please explain why they gave it to
    Isabel Leonard instead of Jamie Barton?????
    I don’t get it……
    Nor do I understand last year’s winner Ailyn Perez.
    She was dreadful at last year’s gala.


    • alejandro says:

      I don’t get the Isabel Leonard thing either. Yeah, she’s gorgeous and the voice is nice . . . but there’s no there there.

      • antikitschychick says:

        “but there’s no there there”

        OMG I’m totally stealing that from you :-P .

        • alejandro says:

          I stole it from Gertrude Stein ;)

        • dr.malatempra says:

          You are actually stealing it from Gertrude Stein, who made the remark upon returning to Oakland, CA and finding the home she was born in was “no more”. It has been erroneously stated for years that she made the remark about Oakland, itself. Not so, A “canard”

          • Camille says:

            Oh doctor; thank you for clarifying that point. I had not ever realised she had been specifically referring to the loss of her home. Like others, I assumed it only a generalised swipe in the direction of Oakland.

            Oakland is inbetween Berkeley and San Francisco, and accordingly, like the middle sister, suffers by comparison.

    • Camille says:

      Good question. Perhaps it was decided before the Cardiff competition?

      Otherwise, it beggars belief. Or buggers belief, I don’t know which one.

    • Gualtier M says:

      Perez was in really wretched voice for the gala. I saw her at the free outdoor Tucker centenary concert in the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park. She is a beautiful and vibrantly charming and sympathetic woman. The voice has a slightly smoky, shimmery hispanic quality with a creamy warm timbre that is distinctive. However, she sang “Ah forse lui…Sempre Libera” from “Traviata”. The voice is basically lovely and healthy but the technique is not really finished -- the tricky parts were kind of approximated and the high notes were muscled out with force rather than floated in a focus supported head voice. So because she is young and the instrument is one of quality, it got by but I heard no real musical or technical finish and I worry about her future when her vocal freshness won’t be enough to get her by. Those little problems if they aren’t identified and worked on turn into major problems. The voice also can take on wear over time if you are singing with just a functional technique that has some stress in it.

  • pobrediablo says:

    This Lady Macbeth ain’t too shabby either