Cher Public

Sediziose voci

La Cieca (not pictured) returns to the chat room tonight, cher public, on the occasion of the broadcast of Norma from the Met starting at 7:25 PM. (Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

  • La Valkyrietta

    Maybe I will listen to Camille’s advice and listen. It will not be Sutherland and Horne, but it will be the new gals.

    • uwsinnyc

      I saw the second performance and am curious as to how it will translate over the radio. Radvanovsky was thrilling in the house but the microphones don’t always flatter her I think-- and Kate Aldrich’s voice in the house was so ‘presenceless’ (although the singing itself was not bad), that the microphones might help.

    • Camille

      For god’s sakes! Don’t ever listen to me and my advice! I can only hear with my ears and those are not your ears! Clita and I both thought Opening Night was much better than last night, anyway. Some patches of tiredness were apparent.

      In my ongoing attempt to try to understand The Radvan, I have uncovered this article whixh briefly mentions a major problem she had with her vocal cords. It explained a LOT to me about her voice:

      It greatly moved me to learn of this woman initially studying how to sing with a vocal node, right from the get-go. I imagine that it has all been hard to grapple with and requires a lot of adjustment and re-evaluation and vigilance.

      FWIW 2 y’all.

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Thank you for this link, Camille, it is very interesting. I guess it explains a lot, but it also places what is going on with her singing beyond my comprehension. It’s no wonder everything seems so managed, produced and thought about though -- I guess just opening her mouth and singing like I wish she would was simply never an option for her.

        • Camille

          Yes, it IS very revelatory. Wish that I had known this long ago.
          I find it very brave and it makes me want to give her the benefit of the doubt now, in a way I wouldn’t have previously. No wonder she has had some issues.

          Hoping you keep up with your vocalising, Cocky, no matter WHAT, and that you are thriving in your new life. Basses/baritones can carry on forever and a day, so you are still young!

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Thank you Camille. I’ve managed to get myself several oratorio gigs, so I’m still having fun getting up in front of people and singing, now and again.

      • Very interesting, Camille. I had no idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • manou

    Which one of the Parterrians is guilty of banging on the walls at the Met?

    • bluecabochon

      Don’t do that; the gold leaf will flake off even faster!

  • La Valkyrietta

    I don’t know, maybe tonight I will chew the gold leaf, instead of my hat, for missing her live, we’ll see. I doubt it. Camille recommended me to listen, but did not say something like, “forget Callas, Sutherland, Sills, Caballe, run, run to the Met for this”. No, that Camille advice was not precisely worded that way. Well, we’ll see what Sondra does with seditious voices.

    • Camille

      Camille advice:

      Better than Eaglen, Mescheriakova, even better than the ’79 Verrett which was unfortunate but sympathetic, and Much Better than a frozen night in the Gulag Archipelago!

      It’s not perfektion and it ain’t Callas and Sutherland but these days, whaddaya want?

      Camille is going in person on Friday night and will get to hear it in the house, which will be yet another thing entirely.

      Still in vacation so roger and out of this loop!

      Love to Marshie and ci vuole pazienza!

      • La Valkyrietta


        I am glad I followed your advice and listened to some of the Norma, including the Casta and from before the in mia man to the end. Some very beautiful notes and passages, but of course not the passion and involvement of Callas or the musicality and phrasing of Sutherland. Good luck on Friday, I hope you are able to survive the mezzo. Also the best to MMII.

        • OpinionatedNeophyte

          I don’t get it. Even in the 50s and 60s, Callas and Sutherland weren’t the only two singers who sang Norma. Did you think all those singers worthless too or is it only in hindsight that the only two people who can sing Norma are Callas and Sutherland?

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Nobody said Radvanovsky was worthless.

            • La Valkyrietta

              Monsieru OpinionatedNeophyte,

              I’m certainly not saying Sondra was worthless, and I have neither the time, nor the motivation or the energy to discuss all the Normas I have listened to live and in recordings. My post was a reply to chère Camille who mentioned Callas and Sutherland (great Normas), and before I had mentioned Caballé and Sills. Any singer not mentioned is not because she is not appreciated, but because it is not necessary for the discussion.

              Viva Anita Cerquetti!

            • I appreciate Sutherland’s Norma but you really think she had a lot of “musicality and phrasing?” I always thought her Norma was about the impressive way she handled the role’s vocal challenges.

            • La Valkyrietta

              Poison Ivy,

              Don’t listen to me as I am not as analytic as you. I just wanted to say something about Joan Sutherland, whom I enjoyed many times in many roles. Her Norma was outstanding, and a very rare operatic treat with Horne.

              I know you like precision, so let me include here below what Wiki says about Joan, and what some others said. Would they say all that if her phrasing was bad and she was unmusical? No. Cheers.

              One of the most remarkable female opera singers of the 20th century, she was dubbed La Stupenda by a La Fenice audience in 1960 after a performance of the title role in Handel’s Alcina. She possessed a voice of beauty and power, combining extraordinary agility, accurate intonation, “supremely” pinpoint staccatos,[2] a splendid trill and a tremendous upper register, although music critics often complained about the imprecision of her diction.[3] Her friend Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the “Voice of the Century”; Montserrat Caballé described the Australian’s voice as being like “heaven”.

          • Camille

            No, honey, it’s just that those two singers—for those persons lucky enough to have heard them in the flesh-pas moi!—made indelible impressions, each in her own way.

            Did anyone here see and hear the Galvany Norma at the Met? How about Adelaide Negri—did she sing Norma?

            Eaglen was not that bad, exactly, well vocally, it’s just that she could not enact anything other than a kind of generic fatlady rage, which was monochromatic and dull. Poor woman. She came out at the curtain and gazed out at the house and lifted up her fists in a little helpless gesture, as if to say “What do you guys want/expect?” It was very sad and I knew that I would never see her again.

            From the bits I have heard of her recording with Muti, it aounded much better, a decade earlier.

            Yes, Anitone was magisterial in her re-evocation of her former enchanted self in the movie clip. It was worth the price of admission, just that alone.

            Neither Clita del Toro nor I were happy about last night’s performance vis-à-cis opening night.

            “What do you guys want?”

  • antikitschychick

    Jamie Barton just posted on fb that she and Angela Meade will be interviewed during the intermission of tonight ‘s performance. I’m REALLY looking forward to their performances!!

    For those who will be listening to tonight’s performance, I hope ya’ll enjoy it :D. Should be a treat as far as Norma and Pollione are concerned. I wouldn’t mind listening to it again if it were not for Kate Aldrich. Nothing against her but she is simply not well-suited to the role of Adalgisa.

    • antikitschychick

      I’m really looking forward to hearing their (Angela & Jamie’s) renditions, rather. I never type correctly when I’m on my phone :P.

      • Donna Anna

        I hope Ms. Meade turns in a better performance than the Donna Anna I heard this summer. No warmth, no emotional involvement, and nothing about the voice that excited me.

        • Camille

          Bella Donn’Anna—
          She was that inexpressive as well in that performance???

          Jamie Barton is hardly the one to be worrying about in these Norma performances for she sings with great aplomb and invests herself in the character, and I do so look forward to her performance. After having witnessed Ms. Barton and Ms. Meade both in the Beatrice di Tenda last December, I can only hope that someone will somehow or some way light a fire under Angela’s bum, as it was about as enthralling as listening to her sing the Yellow Pages. I don’t know what is up as I thought her Elvira/Ernani more than adequate, histrionically speaking.

          I dunno…but we will soon all know and, of course, she will be doing her damndest to show up and speed past The Radvan, a deat which may prove more difficult than first imagined.

  • Clita del Toro

    Littlemastermiles does not see the point of Bellini. ASSHOLE!!!!!!
    Are you ACD?

  • Dominatrix

    It should be interesting to compare the two performances, but I don’t know if casting Jamie Barton as Adalgisa is right — Meade has already done both a concert & staged version, but to my knowledge, Barton has done neither. Seems a bit risky to sing at the Met for the first time. She’s also very young.

    • la vociaccia

      Well, she’s sung at the Met before, she’s done Bellini very successfully in New York (Beatrice di Tenda) and she’s only doing two performances. I don’t really see the risk, especially since the current Adalgisa isn’t really setting the bar too high. She’s proved herself to be prodigiously secure in her voice. I think Adalgisa will be great for her

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      I think this is far too precious. Barton will be absolutely fine, Adalgisa is well within her grasp and it isn’t her Met debut.

  • Hippolyte

    Well I’m not sure about the “very young” part: Barton is 31. Grisi was 20 (!) when she created the part of Adalgisa and Marilyn Horne was 29 when she first sang it with Joan Sutherland in Vancouver. From what I’ve heard of Barton, she seems more than ready for Adalgisa.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Radvanovsky was also thrilling on Sirius, with phenomenal pianissimos and breathing control. The wobbling of Morris is irritating, and the voice seems to drift. Why an artist of his stature, and at the end of career, wants to be remembered as committing vocal malfeasance?

  • Robert J.

    So as I mentioned in chat tonight (when I checked in during intermission), Sondra almost came to grief when she tripped on her dress as the end of Act One. Having also attended the performance of Tristan when Gary Lehman crashed into the prompter’s box I thought, oh no, here we go again! But it was fine and Sondra handled it like a pro and managed to stay in character. When the tenor tried to help her out she made it clear (in character) that she didn’t want his help..or anything else from him. It was great.

    From what I briefly read in chat between the acts it sounded like some of the criticism of Rad is that she is too preoccupied with making beautiful noises and not concerned enough with creating a character. I can see why someone would say that. At times there was something a bit affected about the performance. For example, the pianissimos began to feel a bit mannered and calculated as the evening went on. Probably other singers could give a more complete acting performance, or make the ornamentation feel more like character choices (a la Damrau in her Zerbinetta days).

    But overall, I like what Rad has to offer. The variety in her singing and her combination of agility plus power makes a great impression in the house. She might not have Netrebko’s glamour of tone, but as a complete package I think she really is something special.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      This seems like a really balanced and sensible account, thank you.

      • Evenhanded


        I was there in person last night, and felt the performance was a bit of a mixed bag. It was certainly a triumph for Radvanovsky -- all of her well-known attributes (and faults) have been discussed at length in this forum (and seemingly everywhere one finds opera lovers). She does seem to be getting her odd tendency to veer off pitch under control; it’s much less pronounced than it was a few years ago. That said, her vocal production is both a blessing and a curse. She seems to have nerves of steel and all of her attempts at messa di voce came off extremely well, which is saying a lot. I agree with Robert J. that her employment of the high register fil di voce came to sound a little overdone by the conclusion of the performance -- though they were truly impressive. The top of the voice gleams at full throttle and is thrilling to hear. The curse is that her backward vocal placement obscures her words and therefore, the character she is trying to inhabit. Overall though, I think Radvanovsky is probably about the best qualified soprano in the world for this daunting role these days, so I will happily take a few minuses along with all of the pluses in her performance.

        Aldrich was just short of disastrous -- what happened to her? Years ago I heard her live (Queler?) and thought she was a major talent on the verge of a starry career. YouTube clips verify that my memory is not faulty. So what happened between then and now? Her entire body is locked in a clench when she sings and the voice has retreated inward. She looks terrified most of the time. Sad.

        I would LOVE to hear Barton in this, and expect she will easily steal the show from Meade. We shall see.

        • Camille

          What happened to Ms. Aldrich was a baby. I really don’t know much more, but someone will.

          I felt very sorry for her as well, for she was very gifted and sympathetic in her portrayl of the part as seen in a film of Norma. She does sound scared over the radio transmission.

          • grimoaldo

            Listening to the Met stream last night I was grateful that I had heeded your advice to me, Camille, not to go to NY to see this Norma, you were right, it would not have been worth it.
            I love hearing Radvan live, the voice is very thrilling to me, and thought “Casta diva” was lovely. After that her performance became, in my opinion, “listen to the lovely notes I can produce every now and then” until the last fifteen minutes when she really kicked in and produced wonderful singing,quite magnificent. I would like to see what she could do in the part if she were working with a top notch director, conductor and decent colleagues in the rest of the cast. I feel maybe she was dragged down by their wretched quality, I did not see the production but no one seems to have anything good to say about it. Antonenko from the beginning gave one of those “I think I’ll stick my fingers in my ears rather than listen to this” performances so frequent at the Met in recent years, Morris was a disgrace, Aldrich was no good, the conductor turned one of the most melodic and dramatic operas of all into yet another Met snoozefest, zero momentum or propulsion. I think Sondra did quite superbly under the circumstances.

  • La Valkyrietta

    Nobody can touch La Divina in Norma.

    Sondra was fine, she had some good moments, many lovely notes, but she was not entirely convincing.

    Compare, vor example, with Cerquetti. The words, the notes, the emphases. Of course Anita had Corelli and more.

    • grimoaldo

      “Nobody can touch La Divina in Norma.”


      Norma -- Leyla Gencer
      Adalgisa -- Giulietta Simionato
      Pollione -- Bruno Prevedi
      Oroveso -- Nicola Zaccaria
      Clotilde -- Luciana Piccolo
      Flavio -- Piero De Palma

      Conductor -- Gianandrea Gavazzeni
      Orchestra -- Teatro alla Scala
      Chorus -- Teatro alla Scala

      Or just listen to the end, “Deh non volerli vittime”
      Gencer is a great tragic actor in this passage,very highest musicality and artistry, and her voice is just more pleasant to listen to (to me, anyway) than Callas’.

      • grimoaldo

        forgot the v’s
        Complete Gencer/Simionato Norma

        Final ensemble

        • La Valkyrietta


          Sorry for my absolute statement, perhaps one should not be so extreme. On the other hand, I do prefer Maria to Leyla. I will not discuss why and will leave endless disputes on who is better on what role to others more inclined to them. I will also not say if you disagree with me you are wrong. Not at all, we have disagreed before on other topics. I like and accept that different tastes exist.

          Actually I loved that you posted about Leyla. I remember over 30 years ago I used to buy pirated opera records (vinyl) at a store on 8th Street in Manhattan, between 6th and 5th, called Discophile, no longer existing. The sales persons, I guess one was the owner of the store, were ardent Gencer fans and would often highlight her virtues and play her recordings on the store. I confess that then I bought a lot of Callas and no Gencer :). Your post carried me to those times. I always said I was a small collector, and when I became a big collector I would get all of Gencer recordings :). It never happened, but fortunately now with youtube one has access to many more things than one would get. I wish I had heard Gencer live. I did see Simionato live as Amneris at the old Met. If Giulietta were singing Adalgisa, even with Voigt for Norma, I would run to see every performance. There are no time machines, though, sadly.

          Thanks for the nice clips and for the Leyla reminder.

  • aulus agerius

    I heard the first half -- I somehow lost the connection a few moments before the conclusion of the trio so I don’t know if there were fireworks or high notes or what.

    I thought Casta Diva was great: really nice phrasing and sculpturing of the line. And she sang in tune for the most part….unlike the tenor. I actually thought her fioriture was pretty sloppy, like in the ‘trema, felon’ section of the trio almost non-existent. And the tone: egad -- acidulated is the word that came to mind often… well as not-Callas, not-Sutherland. Sorry about that. Aldrich was strange…kind of unfocused sound, hollow or no core or something. I wouldn’t want to hear this tenor sing anything with any subtlety at all.

    • oedipe

      I wouldn’t want to hear this tenor sing anything with any subtlety at all.

      I agree.
      Antonenko will be Otello in the Met’s 2016 new production, you know. Having seen him in the role, his Otello is neurotic and kind of a brute, but it works rather well.

  • I love Callas’s and Caballe’s Normas. Sutherland, Gencer, and a few others were fine. But is everyone aware of the existence of this video? I know many only remember Elinor Ross for that chicken-sounding clip of her Donna Anna, but she was, by any account, a FORMIDABLE Norma. Elemental, powerful, passionate, and commanding.

    Radvanovsky has all the raw material to be the great dramatic soprano and Norma of our time, but she (and almost every other soprano today) would do well to take a cue from Ross and stop trying to micro-manage breathing and placement and all of that hokey nonsense and attack the notes more firmly and directly, sing naturally and frankly with a broader and clearer tone, rather than that boring forced dark timbre.

    • It’s been a while sings I heard this recording and my recollection is that Ross is uneven. There are times when she is simply blazing. But IIRC, some of the lyrical sections (like “Casta diva”) aren’t on the same high level. But the parts that are good are good enough to make her memorable.

      • la vociaccia

        The Casta Diva is wanting in grace, perhaps, but I still prefer it to Radvanovsky. I like a voice that just unfurls; Rad works hard to scale her voice back but for me the end result isn’t ideal.

        And Ross really delivers in the dramatic fioratura, if not the more graceful parts

        • Yes, the dramatic fioratura sections is where Ross is incredible. All this talk has made me want to pull Deutekom’s recording (with Troyanos) off the shelf. It’s been an age since I heard that one.

  • Too bad there are only excerpts but Giannina Arangi-Lombardi’s Norma sounded very special:

  • la vociaccia

    You had me at Elinor, but with that boring forced dark timbre I might just have to marry you.

    Thing about Elinor Ross is, she was in the same vocal studio as Roberta peters as a teenager, so she knew how to sing

  • uwsinnyc

    wow, that eleanor ross post is really exciting.

    I wish Radvanovsky could command that level of passion in her singing--but still, I would say she is,at least vocally, the finest Norma singing today.