Cher Public

  • Krunoslav: Favorite Kundry on records? Martha Moedl. I also greatly liked four that I have seen onstage: Christa Ludwig, Tatiana... 11:42 PM
  • Krunoslav: My first Met PARSIFAL in 1977 had practically no applause after Act One, and as a “knowingR 17; student I thought... 11:37 PM
  • PCally: Out of curiosity, who is your favorite Kundry? 11:08 PM
  • Don_Dano: Does anyone have problems with the Metropolitan Opera being able to process corporate matching gifts. Each year, I make a... 7:58 PM
  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin: There is absolutely NO official rule at Bayreuth about not applauding at the end of Act I of... 7:41 PM
  • brackweaver: This is the clearest summary of the plot I’ve encountered. Too bad it is such a mess. Mascagni’s operas have so... 7:36 PM
  • Jack Jikes: Bi “Yes!’ to La Cieca ond Ivy. Standing at Messiah? Precious. 7:10 PM
  • Operngasse: Dear JML, Many thanks for posting this. I was lucky to have heard Astrid Varnay near the end of her career in Elektra and she... 6:44 PM

Deranged bedfellows

J. Howard Marshall II… it turned out, had owned 16 percent of the Koch family’s business, Koch Industries. When Mr. Steel asked Mr. Koch if he could make further gifts to save the company, Mr. Koch demurred, telling Mr. Steel that the Marshall family might be less than pleased…” [New York Times]


  • 1
    La Cieca says:

    “Mr. Steel acknowledged that putting on so little opera in recent years may have been a problem.”

    • 1.1
      operaassport says:

      Oh, man, where does one even start with that comment?
      Here’s one. If the man is truly that clueless is it any wonder things turned out the way they did?

  • 2
    Camille says:

    “Anna Nicole”—she brought the house down.

    What a miserable tale of woe.

  • 3
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    If Vilar was not any longer in a position to help, I wonder why he went for the free lunch. But now Steel is history, and so much the better if there is any hope left for City Opera to resurface from all of these woes. There’s still so much dirty laundry in all of this yet to be revealed.

    • 3.1
      La Cieca says:

      If Vilar was not any longer in a position to help, I wonder why he went for the free lunch.

      He was hungry?

      • 3.1.1
        operaassport says:

        If I were Vilar and was being offered a free lunch that would remind of the days when I was wined and dined by the best I would go too.

        Was Steel really so clueless that he thought he’d get money from Vilar?

    • 3.2
      98rsd says:

      And so many ways to vilify without providing any evidence!

  • 4
    m. croche says:

    Who would have guessed that the most controversial thing about “Anna Nicole” would be the codger?

  • 5
    MontyNostry says:

    OT, but Thomas Hampson is just pontificating on BBC Radio 3. He sounds extraordinarily like Peter Gelb. He will also be telling us why he is today’s Simon Boccanegra of choice. (Bitter laughter.)

    • 5.1
      MontyNostry says:

      Hampson knows his stuff, but he is such a windbag.

    • 5.2
      Regina delle fate says:

      Did he say “I can get away with it because there are no real Verdi baritones around Just like my friend, Placido…..”? That said, you can’t really argue that he isn’t today’s SB of choice -- Vienna, the Met, Covent Garden, Decca all seem to think so…..

      • 5.2.1
        MontyNostry says:

        What he said all sort of blurred into one. I’d rather hear Tiliakos doing Boccanegra, even if he is a bit short and stocky and the voice is maybe half a size too small for Boccanegra in a big house. The extracts from Hampson’s recording of Boccanegra were a bit embarrassing -- even Christine Opolais sounded pallid.

          Feldmarschallin says:

          Well Monty Opolais was very disappointing as Amelia here last June. The voice is just not suited for Verdi IMO. She is a good Rusalka though.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I like what I’ve heard of Opolais (though I have missed her live, so far), but I agree that maybe the voice just doesn’t have the right colour and body for Verdi. Yet she seems to do well in Puccini!

  • 6
    Don_Dano says:

    “Made some bad choices, then made some worse choices, then ran out of choices.” I agree with the Times, Anna Nicole’s dying words sum things up pretty well.

  • 7
    laddie says:

    If you wanted to see…er, I mean, hear Kaufmann’s dick it’s on now,


    • 7.1
      Feldmarschallin says:

      Laddie I do not think that there are three people on this site who would not want to see Kaufmann’s Dick :) I am not one of the three. But it starts at 20.15 no? ORF or 3SAT I believe. I have my glass of wine ready.

      • 7.1.1
        laddie says:

        It’s on right now Feld on Dutch radio. We are listening in chat room. :)

          laddie says:

          So it’s on Television tonight? Stemme is wonderful so far. I will look for it on Youtube tomorrow!

          • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

            I hope it was better on the radio/TV than it was in the house (the entire opera, that is; not Kaufmann, who was practically the sole saving grace). I can’t say much about the voical performances, as Welser-Möst was again conducting like it was Bruckner and not one single singer escaped being overwhelmed. Marelli said in the program that he had never directed a verismo opera before. Judging from this, I don’t think he’s even seen one before.

            • MontyNostry says:

              I listened online (not in great detail). Kaufmann did indeed sound wonderful; Franzi was indeed ponderous. Stemme sounded very spirited, but I have to say that I don’t think she was making a very nice noise -- rather thick and squally, though she got all the notes.

            • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

              Yes, Stemme did hit all the big notes without effort, but they often sounded a bit frayed. Maybe from all those Brünnhildes? She also seemed totally caught up in the basic blocking: OK, take off my boots, put my hand on this wall, walk over here, turn… No spontaneity whatsoever, and the poker game scene was just so anticlimactic it hardly registered. Kaufmann was so natural and at ease onstage that he stood out from everyone else who was visibly working so hard to try and create a character.

              The production is also egregiously ugly (I believe rehearsal photos of costumes and Stemme’s Ronald McDonald wig were available on Parterre Box in recent days). OK: set it in 2013. I have no problem with that, but in an encampment of shipping containers surrounded by a barbed wire fence? Sorry: I didn’t get it.

              After the performance Dominique Meyer (the Intendant) said rather proudly, “We put on Puccini with Isolde, Parsifal, and Wotan.” That kind of sums it up: nothing remotely Italianate about it (except Kaufmann).

  • 8
    papopera says:

    Wouldn’t thoughts and prayers have helped in saving the NYCO ?

    • 8.1
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      I pray that those now under-employed singers and musicians (as well as that sweet guy in the gift shop) find other work ASAP.

  • 9
    Dominatrix says:

    While on the subject of deranged bedfellows, why oh why do opera houses hire German Wagnerian singers like Falk Struckmann to sing roles like Iago? I’m listening to Lyric Opera’s opening night Othello in Chicago & I don’t think Struckmann is going to make it — he’s cracking and it’s only been 30 minutes into the opera. Singers like Struckmann who can’t sing in an Italianate way are no good for Tosca which he did at the Met or Iago either. Isn’t there anyone left anywhere that can sing these roles? I don’t expect Tito Gobbi anymore, but isn’t there anyone Italianate left? This cast stinks — Botha is mediocre, & Ana Maria Martinez (who has been promoted to the hilt as the next big soprano) is not vocally right for the role. If the Lyric is going to pay Renee Fleming $500,000 to be creative consultant, the least they could have done was to cast her as Desdemona.

    • 9.1
      MontyNostry says:

      Covent Garden insists on casting the excellent, but essentially Germanic, Michael Volle as Amonasro, Scarpia and now Montfort, when there are quite a number of decent (if few outstanding) Italianate baritones around. It would have been nice if they could have managed to get Tézier for Montfort, but he doesn’t seem to be a Royal Opera artist.

    • 9.2
      Feldmarschallin says:

      500,000? Seriously? For what exactly? Seems like an awfully lot of money if you ask me. Isn’t that more than someone like Bachler gets for running a whole house. I have no idea what Bachler actually gets but half a million seems a lot to me.

    • 9.3
      kashania says:

      Has this $500,000 figure been verified or just pulled out of thin air?

      • 9.3.1
        Dominatrix says:

        The $500,000 figure was in a newspaper article (might have been Chicago Tribune, not sure) about Fleming. But I think it includes other things, including being a Vice President of the Lyric Board; appearing in a recent subscriber appreciation concert with Jonas Kaufmann at the Lyric Opera; appearing in a semi-staged concert of Capriccio with Andrew Davis at Royal Opera House (not sure why it was presented there); participation in the Merit School of Music events around Chicago, including possibly, master classes; being the “curator” of a new opera to be premiered at the Lyric called “Bel Canto” (not sure if she’s in the cast); various events in Chicago, like being emcee at the Stars of Lyric Opera Millenium Park concert for young artists. She said she was also looking at a spread sheet of broadway shows & picked Sound of Music for Lyric’s broadway initiative. It might also include master classes at Lyric, not sure. So yes, she’s involved in a number of Lyric activities. But still, they didn’t need to pay her as creative consultant to pick Sound of Music — anybody could do that, including me.

  • 10
    Dominatrix says:

    Lyric just announced Falk Struckmann cannot continue & his understudy, Todd Thomas, will assume the role in a very difficult circumstance. They are calling him the understudy — wonder where the cover artist is? Lyric audiences always are favorable to a trouper who pinch hits. Sounds good so far.

    • 10.1
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      Oh dear! Carol Fox would be fuming!

    • 10.2
      operaassport says:

      LOC is a shadow of its former self but the Chicago press hasn’t seemed to notice. Mediocre seasons, stale rep, poor casting. Isn’t Struckmann something like 83 years old? Wasnt Milnes available? What were they thinking?

      • 10.2.1
        oedipe says:

        Struckmann is 55. Age is not his main problem.

          operaassport says:

          55? He sounds 83. No way that man should be singing Italian opera. He has no sense of the style or the language.

      • 10.2.2
        damekenneth says:

        Struckmann is in his mid to late 50’s. He’s actually quite good on stage, even a little sexy if you don’t see him up close, though he can also go a bit over the top in a scene stealing kind of way. The voice itself is incredibly ugly and the vocal production uneven.

          Dominatrix says:

          I can’t judge him in Wagner because I’ve never seen him, but in Italian music, he’s not a good choice. His refusal to wear a wig doesn’t help. Could it be that German singers are too obsessed now with “acting” and not enough about singing? There was a time when singers like Elizabeth Rethberg were famous for beautiful singing — even Ponselle said Rethberg’s Aida was better than hers. And I’ve got records of Lotte Lehmann in Italian music that are wonderful.

      • 10.2.3
        doktorlehar says:

        Sadly, this assessment is mine, too, and it gives me no pleasure to say it, since I’m a native Chicagoan, saw my first live opera at the LOC, and have a long history with the company. But in recent years the offerings have been pretty uninspiring and I haven’t made an effort to attend anything.

        Regardless of what she’s paid (and I doubt it’s half a million dollars), Fleming’s stint as Creative Consultant hasn’t so far yielded anything terribly creative, so far as I can tell. Or is it still to come?

          operaassport says:

          And they finally get around to doing Rusalka and don’t hire the reigning Rusalka, their own employee, to sing the role? Seriously?

          • Dominatrix says:

            Some of the casting seems suspect: Paul Groves is cast as Parsifal — that wouldn’t be my first choice. I can see that some artists might want to stretch themselves, but what has Paul Groves done which makes anyone think he would be a good Parsifal, especially at a big house like the Lyric?

      • 10.2.4
        operadunce says:

        Maybe they thought they were hiring this Falk Struckmann:

        Our own JJ!

          Dominatrix says:

          The reviewer said the audience “jokingly” booed his character — how did he know it was “jokingly”. Maybe it was because they didn’t like his singing.