Cher Public

Blind spot

Which honcho in the Met’s administration is retiring this spring, leaving a major gap in the chain of command? Yes, it sounds unlikely, but it will be!

  • Camille

    “it will be”sarà=Sarah Billinghurst?

    • damekenneth

      Good job, Camille! That seems a very good catch. Oh, how I wish though it would be Jonathan Friend (Fiend).

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Yikes… what if Gelb hires one of those women from the ENO. Maybe he will simply delete the position.

      • operaassport

        I always hoped for a joint leaving by those two gorgons.

    • Mairsydoats

      Isn’t it “sera?” When Mrs. Billinghurst retires it will be the end of a great age in opera. A more, deservedly, beloved woman does not exist in the world of opera, or anywhere else that I know of.

  • Lady Abbado

    Hopefully Peter Gelb! Good riddance!

    • operaassport

      Yeah, Gelb leaving would be wonderful. Puh-leeze. And the list of really good replacements? I can’t think of a single one.

      • Why, anyone who LOVES opera and LOVES singers and LOVES voices would be ideal. Extra points if they have Apollo Granforte on their iPod, or for that matter, even more points if they don’t have an iPod and just stay home all the time with their dusty shelves of LPs.

        • manou

          …in a castle room?

          • damianjb1

            At their listening desk in their castle room

        • operaassport

          Is Charlie Handelman available?

          • Charlie is disqualified because he has actually attended live opera performances since the 1960s. REAL opera LOVERS last went to the Met for the famous Tebaldi/Corelli/Gobbi “Tosca” and they will NEVER let you forget it.

            • Anna Notremolo

              Yeah — and those REAL opera LOVERS, that small band of bullies, are the ones who have almost managed to turn Partere Box into their own little Family Circle-jerk.

            • manou

              So how lucky that we do not post there and post on Parterre instead.

            • operaassport

              There are those on another blog that will not be named who believe opera ended with Mary Garden.

            • Krunoslav

              My favorite line in this regard is from Stefan Zucker: his calling the Olivero/del Monaco/Gobbi FEDORA “the last emotionally important commercial recording of an Italian opera.”

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Damn, just one?

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Lenore is getting a promotion?

    • SilvestriWoman

      Gawd, I hope not. At the Met finals, many moons ago, she told me that, at 33, I was too old to further an operatic career. Truth was, as a young Wagnerian, I was just hitting my stride. (The average age of the winners that year? 25, only one of whom went on to a major career.)

  • Krunoslav

    This year’s Met Honour Roll (was Robin Leggate busy in Hull?)
    John Graham-Hall as Triquet.
    Jonathan Summers as Le Bailli
    Donald Maxwell as Benoit/Alcindoro.
    Clive Bayley as the Doctor.
    Peter Hoare as the Captain.

    • operaassport

      I thought they were all dead :)
      Or do they just sing like they’re dead?

    • Baritenor

      Yeah, I got no problem with that list.

      • Krunoslav

        Donald Maxwell I can kind of see.

        The others- preposterous to bring them at considerable expense to America for such roles.

        • operaassport

          Especially with so many young American singers available. Who needs some old English fossils?

          • Please, no one sings Massenet, Tchaikovsky or Berg like the British. Just ask Lord Harewood.

            • cosmodimontevergine

              The Queen remarked (to Peter Jonas) about Lord Harewood’s love of opera: “Funny thing about George. You know, in most respects he’s perfectly normal.”

            • operaassport

              I would but I can’t commune with the dead. Harewood and Massenet. Two strikes. Throw in Meyerbeer and its game over.

        • davidzalden

          I think Peter Hoare and Clive Bailey are both very good casting for Wozzeck — and I have directed Ragnar Ulfung, Graham Clark, Franz Mazura, Donald McIntyre, Gunther Von Kannen and many others in these roles. Of course there are also fine American artists who would be good in these roles — but isn’t this an international art form? A few seasons ago in London Peter Hoare made a series of appearances in A Dog’s Heart, The Makropoulos Case and The Damnation of Faust at ENO which amounted to a staggering tour de force of singing and performance. And Clive Bailey is a very exciting, edgy, committed and vocally intense performer. All the obsessive anti-British bullshit here is amusing and sometimes very apposite, but really people, there are some very fine singers in the UK as well…

          • oedipe

            but isn’t this an international art form?

            But old boys’ networks in casting ARE international, Mr. Alden!

            • steveac10

              I don’t think anyone denies that there are worthy artists in the UK -- but really whats the point of importing John Graham-Hall to perform a mediocre (at best) Triquet, when there are at least a half dozen character tenors on the eastern seaboard of the US (and a few regulars at the Met) who would likely have given a more interesting performance. And it’s not just unworthy UK artists that are cast because of connections of one sort or another. There are any number of mediocre Russians and Americans who have trod the Met’s boards since Ingpen and her ilk turned opera casting from an art to a “science”. When they do get it right (like the very fine initial batch of Valkyries in the recent Ring) they don’t capitalize on discovering some exceptional supporting artists. With the exception of Bryn-Harmer (who was already well established in the house)they’ve mostly disappeared from the roster now that they’re done with the Ring. That’s been the Met’s pattern for the last decade or so. Give them a run of an opera or two and then find someone else. The other major repertory houses appear to have a much smaller and better utilised roster of comprimarios and covers. It’s gotta be cheaper too.

            • manou

              It seems John Graham-Hall is a Renaissance man:


            • Gualtier M

              John Graham-Hall was a very good Basilio in last season’s blighted “Nozze” revival (I have heard horrific rumors that Kovalevska will the Contessa in the new Richard Eyre “Nozze” -- please let this not be true).

              In the case of the Triquet, someone here said that he deliberately chose to sing in a quavery old man voice. That and the bizarre leg brace and the two full verses really made that scene a trial. I still remember Michel Senechal in the part -- he floated the notes very sweetly and was total perfection. I have a feeling that Graham-Hall is a fine spielartist -- an inventive and clever singing actor with an unremarkable voice. John Easterlin however could have done a better job -- or Jean Paul Fouchecourt.

            • la vociaccia

              Easterlin is on the books this season for Monostatos. He actually has much more voice (and WAY more style) than the tenor singing Tamino in that production.

            • oedipe

              Jean-Paul Fouchécourt is an excellent singing actor character tenor. But he is probably not in the rolodex of the old boys’ network…

            • manou

              Oedipe -- I have just seen Fouchécourt at Covent Garden as a very camp Basilio in the McVicar Nozze.

            • oedipe

              So, are you saying he has now made it into someone’s rolodex?

            • armerjacquino

              No, I think she’s suggesting that your implication that he’s ignored by major houses is inaccurate.

              He was great, by the way.

            • oedipe


              Is this the first time you’ve seen Fouchécourt at Covent Garden? I have looked up his biography and I haven’t seen any mention of him singing there before, at least not in the last five years or so.

              Incidentally, this morning Roberto Alagna was interviewed on France Musique and he spent a good deal of time deploring the appalling and unjustified under representation of French singers, especially the younger generation, on main opera stages, Paris included. He is the second prominent French singer to make a public statement to that effect in the last couple of weeks.

            • manou

              Oedipe -- I have indeed seen Fouchécourt at Covent Garden in Platée (as a rather wonderful surreal frog -- appropriately), but probably more than five years ago.

          • armerjacquino

            but isn’t this an international art form?

            Almost crying with relief here, Mr Alden. I’ve been trying to say that for years. But apparently I Just Don’t Understand.

            The other one to watch out for is how it is perfectly acceptable to lament the lack of US singers in US opera houses, but if a British critic questions the casting of a non-British singer it is instantly blimpism and insular. The fun never ends.

            It would be really, really cool if one day we could judge singers on their ability, not on where their birth happened to land.

            • Krunoslav

              I *am* judging Jonathan Summers on his ability. He has no business singing a French role internationally at all at this point, certainly not in a new production/HD broadcast at the Met.

              And--dry yoru almost tears-- no one here has *ever* said there are no US singers in US houses.

            • armerjacquino

              no one here has *ever* said there are no US singers in US houses.

              No, they haven’t. Nor did I suggest anyone had. Do I really need to explain that ‘lack of’ means something different to ‘none’?

            • Krunoslav

              Ah, the aggrieved tone of the oh-so-keen!

              OK, then:

              ***No one here has ever suggested that there is lack of US singers in US houses.***

              The point is, still, that there is a surfeit of second-rate and superannuated Brits (etc.) in parts for which they are not worth importing. Except for the surfeit of unqualified Larisa Gergieva proteges ( like the dire Tanovitski, and even as covers I understand) at houses where brother Valery happens to be working there is no other such imbalance.

          • Krunoslav

            Yes, and international standards should be upheld. Jonathan Summers the best choice for Le Bailli? Why in hell? Graham_hall was at one point a good singer and remains a good character artist in English, but for Triquet neither his tone nor his French was up to it. Why not ask someone like William Ferguson or Keith Jameson or François Piolino or Philippe Do?

            Peter Hoare is a sound singing actor and musician and the Brits are welcome to him-- his is *not* a good enough voice to be in this part at the Met. ( Just heard him as an equally unneeded import at the NY Phil’s PRIGIONIERO) Not a patch on Graham Clark, who was always welcome.

            “Interationalism” yes!; that does not justify “crony” casting.

            • manou

              You forgot the “r” in “Interrationalism”. God knows we need to be rational and spell it right.

    • Gerald

      oh, I heart Clive Bayley. I think he’ll be fantastic.

  • oedipe

    Right now on France Musique, Guillaume Tell from the Pesaro Rossini Festival (recorded on August 11, 2013):

    • laddie

      I’m listening! JDF sounds fantastic.

      • oedipe

        He does indeed. But I can’t deal with Rebeka’s voice! She always sounds shrill to me. And frozen.

        • semira mide

          Many say that about Rebeka, but having been at the performance that night in Pesaro, I would have to say that she sang beautifully with a nice tone. The same was true for her recital at the festival. Somehow her voice just doesn’t do “transmission/recording so well” I have no explanation.

          And JDF was fantastic in spite of having to do some silly stuff.

          • oedipe

            Well, maybe her Mathilde sounded better live. But I saw/heard Rebeka as Violetta in Vienna -she was replacing Kurzak- and to my ears she sounded just as shrill. The orchestra NEVER covered her, although it tried…

            • grimoaldo

              Just back from a concert of Parsifal Act Three at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. Why they had schedule it on the same night as the opening of Forza del Destino I don’t know, but I was glad I went although really I would have been quite happy if they just played the prelude and then skipped to the Good Friday music and done the rest of the act from there, that ghastly old bore Gurnemanz proses on and on like nobody’s business for about thirty minutes and unless the bass has such a great voice that you enjoy listening to it for its sake alone those passages are very dreary (to me). I saw John Tomlinson twice I think in the part and he held your attention, this fellow Yuri Vorobiev was not in that league, he was good but nothing special. Parsifal was Nikolai Shukoff, a very thin youngish chap with dark receding hair, he was very good, nice baritonal quality to the voice but with power at the top. Good old Thomas Hampson, who knows how many times I have seen him, as Amfortas, very evident why he has been a top opera singer all these years, Amfortas is a very good part for him, tremendous. I loved the orchestra in the funeral march/ orchestral interlude, nice to hear the orchestra so clearly and all so well played (even though the brass did not always start their chords exactly together). A concert of Parsifal is almost better than a production to me, then you can just revel in the music and don’t have to think about the text or the “story”,which I find really repulsive. The music leaves you feeling quite spiritually uplifted, though.

  • Flora del Rio Grande

    Yep, time to bring back Joe Volpe! Wish Julius Rudel
    were younger.
    They don’t seem to make ’em like that any more.
    But Gelb’s relationship to the NYTimes is too valuable;
    I don’t think the Met will ever let him go. It’s up to
    Mother Nature.

    • ianw2

      Sure, while we’re at it, why don’t we just exhume the corpse of Bubbles.

    • operaassport

      Bring back a triumvirate: Rudel, Volpe, Vilar. Won’t that be a trip.

      • A. Poggia Turra

        Add Sybil Harrington for a four-way that just won’t quit (I think she’s buried in Zeffirelli’s garden)…

        • operaassport

          Let’s not go so far as to choose dead people; the comatose is bad enough.

  • zinka

    Did Jake Heggie’s grandfather meet Frankenstein??????????????????????