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Slow curtain

La Cieca notices that Deborah Voigt‘s engagement as Leonore in Fidelio at Liège has quietly disappeared from her calendar while the l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie now specifies Jennifer Wilson in the title role. The Beethoven was the only remaining opera engagement for Voigt between spring 2013 (the Ring at the Met) and spring 2014 (Wozzeck in the same venue).

137 comments

  • 1
    kashania says:

    It’s a shame when a once splendid singer is unable to make a graceful exit while still somewhat on top of her game.

    Once the dust has settled, we’ll be able to look back on her career and hopefully focus on the 15 years or so when she was at the top of her game and gave us some thrilling vocalism.

    • 1.1
      Cocky Kurwenal says:

      Very well said.

    • 1.2
      operaassport says:

      15 years? I don’t think so. Maybe 7, or 8 at most. And while the voice soared, there were really only 2 or 3 roles she sang which ever really worked for her (Sieglinde and Ariadne come to mind). Her forays into Italian roles were universally awful. And her acting skills were nil. I remember when he was looking for singers for a Verdi Requiem, Barenboim saying to me “is she always so bland and uninvolved?” Pretty much.

      Her career will go down in operatic history as a fairly minor one, she never really developed. Wishing her well is about all one can do at this point. I guess we’ll see her back at that dive bar in Vero Beach trying to sing Gershwin.

      • 1.2.1
        Cocky Kurwenal says:

        I think some of her Verdi was mind-blowingly well sung. No, not consistently stylish or involving, but not universally awful either.

        • 1.2.1.1
          operaassport says:

          I don’t know how you can call singing that you admit was neither involving or stylish, mind blowing. Her Verdi was awful, her voice was never right for it. The only good thing you can say is that it was better than her Puccini.

          • Feldmarschallin says:

            exactly. She was never mind blowing. She never excited. Dull, dull, dull. Always was and always will be. Even the Hallenaria in Boston at a benefit which was around 97 or 98 was without the joy and radiance one wants to hear.

            • Buster says:

              Sissi Therese -- I honestly thought her Helena was fabulous, with Thielemann, at the RFH. Totally stupid opera, but she soared in it, and made me very, very happy that night. Have not seen her live in anything since, and I agree artistic screaming is not her cup of tea, so the Marie is better left to someone else. Nadja Michael, for example.

            • Feldmarschallin says:

              Well I heard the Helena at the Met and Damrau stole the show with her superb Aithra which was brilliantly sung and acted.

            • Buster says:

              Her London Helena was nine years earlier than the Met ones, which must have been a big difference (1998 -- 2007).

            • kashania says:

              Yes, her Met Helenas were post-surgery. The voice had already started to decline though she was still able to deliver some great vocal goods, even if it wasn’t on par with her earlier work. I remember when stood atop the prompter’s box and let it a C-sharp that was just huge and penetrating.

              Agree that Damrau was superior — one of her best performances.

        • 1.2.1.2
          Cocky Kurwenal says:

          I’m comfortable with mind-blowing and I stand by it, from the point of view of vocal production and technique, as opposed to interpretation. Some of her work in Verdi from a purely vocal point of view is astonishing, IMO.

          I also saw her Helena in London which was incredible, and her Empress very shortly afterwards, also excellent.

          • operaassport says:

            Astonishing? Well, you’re entitled to your opinion but if you think her Verdi was astonishing I can’t imagine what word you’d use to describe the Verdi of Price, Milanov, and Ponselle

            Voigt was astonishingly mediocre.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I think you’re willfully misunderstanding the parameters I’ve set for my comment here -- I’m talking quite specifically about how she produced the sound, I don’t know how I can put that any more clearly. Nowhere have I attempted to argue that she is an artist of the stature of the other ladies you mention. However I do think she had a particularly large and complex instrument which made it all the more impressive that she could accomplish the long, broad and high phrases of something like Teco io sto as cleanly and impressively as she did with no hint of technical compromise, during her prime.

            • armerjacquino says:

              CK, you know the rules by now. For some people, anything approaching praise for Voigt, ever, is unacceptable. S’weird but there it is.

      • 1.2.2
        kashania says:

        While I think she sang Sieglinde and Ariadne quite beautifully, I don’t think either role necessarily showed her at her best. Where she really made her mark and will be remembered years from now is in the high-lying Strauss roles like Chrysothemis, Kaiserin and Helena.

        • 1.2.2.1
          operaassport says:

          And that sort of proves the point, doesn’t it? The Empress and Chrysothemis can be managed with no acting, which she could do. With Helena, she had no competition. The same could be said about Ariadne, Sieglinde less so. But none of those roles will ever see her counted among the best who sang them.

          • kashania says:

            My impression of Voigt is that she has always been a sincere though unskilled actress who has, over the years, improved her acting. She is much better now than she was 20 years ago but she’ll never be a great actress. But I never said that she’d be remembered for her acting or for her probing interpretations — far from it.

            Voigt’s chief gift, and what has made her outstanding, is the voice which, in its prime, was a glorious instrument capable of some thrilling vocalism. Her Sieglinde and Ariadne won’t necessarily go down in the books because there is too much competition from better singing actresses who capture the spirit or Sieglinde better or singers with greater charisma or artistry who made more of an impression as Ariadne.

            However, in the high-lying Strauss roles, she didn’t have much competition and really made a mark in roles that thrive on great, soaring singing, which she delivered in spades. That is the area where she will be able to carve a space for herself in the history books, IMO.

            • marshiemarkII says:

              But Kashie, as Chrysothemis, her contemporary Karita Mattila was a million times more soaring, and ductile, and with far more feeling for the text, not to mention her acting.

            • kashania says:

              Marshie: Though I never heard her in the part, I imagine that I would totally prefer Mattila to Voigt as Chrysothemis. Still, that doesn’t take away from her great assumption of the part opposite you-know-who.

              Listen, I never declared Voigt to be the greatest in any particular role. In all her major roles (Helena, Chrysothemis, Kaiserin, Ariadne, Sielginde, Elsa, even perhaps her first Cassandre), one could find other singers who did them better (Rysanek, Norman, Mattila, Pieczonka).

              That shouldn’t take away from what she did accomplish.

            • marshiemarkII says:

              Kashie, Mattila was absolutely breathtaking as Chrysothemis, I think I said here once before, estremo sacrilegio, that she might have been even better than Leonie :-) and of course I was using her as a contemporary of Voigt, because the poor dear would not stand a chance if compared with the “historical” girls, that goes without saying……

      • 1.2.3
        PetertheModest says:

        Do you know who Barenboim picked for his Verdi Requiem ? Poplavskaya, and after the concert he told her, “You are blessed with an exceptional voice, and you have trained it very well”.

        Barenboim’s discernment.

        • 1.2.3.1
          operaassport says:

          Everyone is entitled to a mistake or two. He probably just wanted to get in her ….

          • Spen says:

            Hahah omg. These images in my head.

            • PetertheModest says:

              “An exceptional voice” ?! A questionable voice, in reality. “…trained it very well.” Practically everybody notices the lack of training, the lack of good technique. That means, either his perceptions were in error, or he was flattering her. To choose her for something where she would just sing, to concentrate on the voice, and not an opera, where she could act, that would expose the question of her voice.

      • 1.2.4
        Gualtier M says:

        Yes, Assport, FIFTEEN YEARS. Voigt was a Met audition winner in 1985. Ms. Voigt’s breakthrough was in a Boston Lyric Opera “Ariadne” in 1991. That same year she debuted at the Met in parks performances of Amelia in “Ballo”. (I heard her live in Waterloo Village in Stanhope, NJ). She was onstage at the Met Opera House proper in the same role in October 1991. The gastric bypass was in June of 2004 and she was still okay if a bit more tentative for a year or two after that. By 2006, the problems were evident.

        So yes it was fifteen years at the top, some excellent stuff before and after that. Plus she has many recordings (Fliegende Hollander, Elektra, Ariadne, Helena, Friedenstag, etc.)

        http://www.deborahvoigt.com/dis.html

        Plus several Met telecasts including a few from her prime time (Chrysothemis, Ariadne, etc.)

        So she will be remembered and a lot of the recordings including two or three recital disks show her voice in its golden prime. That is what people will remember. You don’t like her. We get it. Now shut up.

    • 1.3
      Don_Dano says:

      I might be alone but I would like to also add that I rather enjoyed her singing of the Tannhauser Elisabeth.

  • 2
    operadent says:

    Amen, Kashania. I will never forget those many nights when I was thrilled by her Strauss and Wagner roles. I, too, pray that history will be kind -- she deserves it. Thanks, Debbie!

    • 2.1
      Flora del Rio Grande says:

      Indeed, Cocky, very well said. And let us cite that
      paragon of good timing Geraldine Farrar who quit
      most honorably at just the right moment. In general,
      however, I have always noted how very very few
      singers, men and women, really know when to
      stop. Something genetic one supposes. Or, more
      likely, they want to squeeze out a few more dollars!

      • 2.1.1
        Porgy Amor says:

        Hmm. I am sympathetic. It is difficult to leave something behind that you love doing and have done for so long, especially when you still are being hired, people are still coming to see you, and you are still being cheered at the end of the night. Even Voigt, who has had more indications than some that the end is nigh (bad reviews, buyouts, a “suggested” withdrawal), still has fans who will be heartbroken when she packs it in. I have encountered a few, and she is connected enough to her fan base to have encountered many more.

        I suppose there are all sorts of reasons to try to keep going in leading roles with diminishing powers, and maybe the motivation varies among Scotto, Pavarotti, Domingo, Voigt, any anyone else (past or present) we might say stayed too long at the dance. But I do believe most of them love/d performing and want/ed to keep doing it as long as theaters and audiences would have them. Sometimes there also is the element of “What on earth after this?”

        • 2.1.1.1
          operaassport says:

          To mention Voigt in the same sentence with Scotto, Pavarotti, and Domingo is ridiculous. It’s one thing to be a legend and stay at the party too long, it’s quite another to be a mediocrity and stay too long.

          • Really? A mediocrity? With several people calling her Strauss and Wagner as great roles and you reduce all that to mediocrity?

            • operaassport says:

              Compared to the 3 people mentioned? Yes, a mediocrity. She won’t warrant more than a sentence or two when the history of opera in the last 25 years is written.

              Even her attempt to become famous by sharing all the weight loss stuff didn’t help. Because there’s no there, there.

            • Then you better hole you are right, because if not you will look like a major asshole who thought he knew everything and ultimately was proved to be no more than that…

            • PetertheModest says:

              Who will feature in the history of opera for the last 25 years ? Who will get a paragraph or a full page entry ?

            • kashania says:

              Who will feature in the history of opera for the last 25 years?

              For starters, Fleming, Heppner, Pape, Gherghiou, Alagna, Voigt, Hvrostovsky, Netrebko, Zajick, Mattila, Bartoli, Terfel (in no order).

            • Spen says:

              Don´t forget Bartoli <3

      • 2.1.2
        Porgy Amor says:

        Adding to that: A while back, I read one of those “Reunion” pieces in Opera News with a soprano who had a distinguished career in the 1970s through early 1990s, singing many Met leading roles and broadcasts. If the Met would have her, she would be back there singing tomorrow. She even pointed out that, in her view, she is not that old. I do not know whether her estimation of her current vocal state is realistic. Regardless, what struck me from reading that is that the thrill of performing live and being appreciated for it at final curtain must be so difficult to replace once you get it in your system. This singer has not appeared at the Met in 20 years, and while she seems to have a very nice life away from the stage, she obviously still misses it.

        • 2.1.2.1
          Porgy Amor says:

          a soprano who had a distinguished career in the 1970s through early 1990s, singing many Met leading roles and broadcasts. If the Met would have her, she would be back there singing tomorrow. She even pointed out that, in her view, she is not that old. […] This singer has not appeared at the Met in 20 years

          Not Kathleen Battle. Heh. I did not realize until I read that over today that everything matches up. (It was Leona Mitchell.)

          • kashania says:

            Yes, and I believe in the same article, she revealed her desire to sing Norma. I guess no one took her up on it. I was kinda curious myself…

            • Bianca Castafiore says:

              I didn’t realize Mitchell had been absent at the Met for 20 years… What happened, anyone knows? I thought she was one of Levine’s favorites…

      • 2.1.3
        Batty Masetto says:

        Exactly, Porgy. Not to mention that unless they were born under a lucky financial star, even reasonably well-paid opera stars don’t necessarily have a juicy pension fund waiting for them when they retire. Especially if they’ve had significant medical expenses.

        • 2.1.3.1
          Feldmarschallin says:

          But surely ever opera singer has medical insurance. You just need to pay the monthly fee yourself. If they are sick they get an attest from a doctor and get their fee. They know exactly that they will get the attest and their fee. Of course if you cancel for private reasons you get nothing.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            FM, I think you may be looking at it from a German point of view. Health insurance has been a major issue for performers here. Soloists are typically contract workers who are not covered under any employer policy, so they’ve had to pay for their health insurance themselves.

            Artists and performers … often have problems gaining access to affordable health insurance. According to a 2009 survey by America’s Health Insurance Plans, insurance premiums in the individual market cost an annual average of $6,630 per person and $13,296 per family. (http://tinyurl.com/koc77o6)

            And I’d be very surprised (though relieved) to learn that relatively inexpensive(!) coverage like that included gastric bypasses due to a “preexisting condition.” It also probably shunts you into an HMO organization where you may have a limited choice of care providers, and you’d be very lucky if they were really knowledgeable about singers’ complicated health issues. As a freelancer myself, before I came under my hubby’s policy from his employer lo these many years ago, I was paying over $1000 a month, and that still didn’t cover a lot of stuff.

            We can hope that Obamacare makes it easier for singers to get decent coverage, but even if it does, I doubt it will match the quality of the German system.

            Some more info at:
            http://tinyurl.com/n5p7b9k

  • 3
    Porgy Amor says:

    So…does this make her the subject of that blind item about a singer about to cancel her one remaining opera engagement of 2013, and there was concern about whether the blue gown would fit her replacement?

    • 3.1
      Sheldon says:

      Yes, I believe it does.

    • 3.2
      mskapay says:

      No, cancelling Isolde was her last gig of 2013; Fidelio is for January/February of 2014.

      • 3.2.1
        schweigundtanze says:

        I’m pretty sure by 2013 they mean 2013 season. The first of the year is around September for most performing artist…January is mostly meaningless.

  • 4
    perfidia says:

    When all is said and done, I’ll remember her like this:

    • 4.1
      MontyNostry says:

      I was there for that Inflammatus and it was breathtaking -- I’d never even heard of her. Could she possibly now be taking some time out to focus on trying to get her voice into shape?

    • 4.2
      antikitschychick says:

      umm….wow! I never knew she had such a clarion, bell-like upper register…she sounds fabulous here, brava. Oh and I hear a huge tonal similarity b/t her and Fleming. Gonna listen to more clips to see if its just my hearing lol.

    • 4.3
      Grane says:

      Wow is right--she’s wonderful here. Thanks for putting this up, perfidia.

    • 4.4
      kashania says:

      That was I think a real breakthrough moment for Voigt. The concert was televised as part of the Live from Lincoln Centre series. For the majority of viewers, if would have been their first hearing of her and signaled the arrival of a major new voice. I love those juicy, yet powerful high Cs at the end. And the voice is so seamless.

  • 5
    Cocky Kurwenal says:

    She still has a lot of recitals scheduled. Has anybody seen a recent one? Does anybody know what she tends to sing at these?

  • 6
    papopera says:

    Sad that she had an engagement in the Belgian provinces.

    • 6.2
      Buster says:

      Voigt spent some time in Liège when she was a student, and she always wanted to sing there, because things, in a way, started to happen for her there. I had a ticket for her Minnie, but she cancelled that one perfomance.

      It is a beautiful house, and for big events there is the breathtaking Forum, an Art Nouveau movie theatre, Buster Keaton was very fond of. I like the city a lot, you can reach it by boat from where I live, great trip!

      Annick Massis sings Juliette there end of the month, looking foward to that a lot.

    • 6.3
      tiger1dk says:

      Why is that sad, Papopera? June Andersson had a big success in Liège as Salome a few years back. Maybe she wanted to try something else? Or sing a part nobody else would offer her? I think it is more sad arrogant comments like yours.

      • 6.3.1
        Buster says:

        Anderson had an even bigger succes as Lucrezia Borgia there, at the Forum:

        Last year, when she was rehearsing Manon, her Liège flat was boken into, and her jewels were stolen. She left in shock, and has not been back since.

  • 7
    Camille says:

    Say! Whatever became of “Voigt Where Prohibited”?

    Now would perhaps be a propitious time for fruition.

  • 8
    Batty Masetto says:

    I’m fairly disturbed at the attitude in some of these comments – “I never liked her much as a performer, so let her go work in a Walmart for all I care.”

    We don’t know her financial condition – and good for her for not bringing it up – but it’s not at all inconceivable that completely apart from other factors like emotional commitment and so on (which some of the more understanding Parterrians have mentioned), she could still be working because she needs the money. She wouldn’t be the only one; I seem to recall that Sam Ramey has admitted he’s in that situation.

    She was almost certainly never at Ramey’s pay level, and international travel, hotels, wardrobe, typically outrageous US medical bills (including plastic surgery?), and who knows what else would easily have eaten up big chunks of what she did get. Not to mention that opera houses have been cutting back for years wherever they could on what they pay artists – as I recall, the Met stopped hiring the wonderful Michel Sénéchal long before he retired, simply because they decided he was too expensive. So it wouldn’t startle me to learn she doesn’t have all that much socked away.

    She’s trained all her life for one thing, and now it’s deserting her at a relatively young age. It’s hard to think where she might wind up if she leaves performing. She doesn’t have a rich husband. She’s far too young for Social Security. She’s got charm as a hostess, but the occasional HD isn’t going to pay the rent and she’s certainly not going to be sitting in for Leno – not even Sills could do that today. Given her recent difficulties I doubt she’d get much clientele as a voice teacher. She may have untapped skills in some other field, but it’s likely to take time and money to find and develop them.

    I sincerely hope this is nothing but speculation on my part, and that she’s swimming in cash. But it doesn’t seem at all far-fetched; after all, the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti exists for a reason.

    It’s also an entirely different issue from the artistic decision whether she should be hired for a role – it may well be that she’s just not suitable and needs to be replaced. But the lack of compassion from some here is depressing.

    • 8.1
      operaassport says:

      She’s made millions, if she doesn’t have anything left because of how’s she’s lived I’m not going to cry for her. I’ll reserve my concern for the poor facing a cut in food stamps this month.

      She’s eligible for SS in nine years, I’m sure she can find something to do to pay the rent.

      But my guess is she keeps at it because what else is there? She has no hobbies, no husband, no children, no intellectual interests. She has work, that’s it.

      • 8.1.1
        FragendeFrau82 says:

        It should not surprise me that this is the most misogynistic, hateful thing I’ve read on here. What the hell do you know about Ms Voigt?

        “She has no hobbies, no husband, no children, no intellectual interests”

        and

        “She’s made millions…” Millions? really?

        That alone tells me that you know zero about opera.

        This says much, much more about you than it does about Ms. Voigt. Most of the time I ignore your comments but these were so mean-spirited I had to call you out. Representative of the woman-hating vibe that sometimes comes out on Parterre. Maybe you have to be an actual female to be aware of it, but it’s here.

        • 8.1.1.1
          bluecabochon says:

          Brava, Batty and FF. I have sometimes criticized Ms. Voigt after performances that left me wanting better from her but there are limits. Papopera and Operassport can usually be relied upon to post comments that are inflammatory.

          It’s outrageous in this modern era to judge a woman’s life negatively if she has no husband or child, or a man’s, for that matter, and what do you know about her personal life and intellectual interests? From what you read on Twitter?

          This is an important moment in DV’s life and I wish her good fortune and helpful friends and advisors.

      • 8.1.2
        Krunoslav says:

        operaassport always delivers:

        http://tinyurl.com/nzm5wze

    • 8.2
      antikitschychick says:

      Hi Batty,

      I only just got around to reading your comment and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with you on this issue. While its not my place to dictate how others should feel on the matter I cannot align myself with this attitude of “well she’s made a lot of money so I don’t sympathize with her.” She is not after all, a politician out to scam the audience. She is an artist and most importantly a human being who is vulnerable to the same faults and shortcomings we all have to some extent. Moreover she is not known for being unprofessional or difficult to work with. By all accounts she is a very nice lady. Thus, I don’t see how the fact that she is not poor makes her a villain. She has worked hard and has earned her place among Opera singers and I don’t see why this is cause for great scorn. That she is giving sub-par performances is indeed an issue that needs to be addressed, and it is. As I said in my previous post on the other thread, I know people feel entitled to get their money’s worth, and its not fair to be short-changed when there are other singers in better vocal conditions who can sing the same parts but this is a complicated issue. She is not as La Cieca has pointed out a name on a roster for James Levine. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have this sort of favoritism but we humans are biased creatures and that’s not going to go away any time soon.

      Quick question though: do we know for sure she is getting paid to do the broadcasts? I remember at some point reading an article that said Renee did it for free, but obviously Deb hosts the transmissions on a more regular basis. I just ask this out of curiosity as I am totally in favor of them paying her. She is a great host and could have done this for a living had she not gotten into Opera…in fact it would be great if she could host her own Opera talk show. More and more movie & tv stars have their own talk shows so why not an Opera star as well??!!

    • 8.3
      tiger1dk says:

      Michel Sénéchal sang at the Met until 2005 when he was 78 years old. He sang for the last time at Opera de Paris in 2004. So the allegation that the Met stopped using Michel Sénéchal “long before he retired” would seem incorrect -- unless the Opera de Paris did the same?

      • 8.3.1
        Batty Masetto says:

        Hi Tiger -- Interesting discovery. Let’s say I heard the information from someone very close to the source. And it’s true that after about 1997, the Met hired him only for Triquet, Basilio, and the occasional Guillot, when previously he’d also done a good many other operas. I can’t say whether he retired those other roles or just wasn’t asked.

    • 8.4
      Bill says:

      As stated previously, Voigt could continue and
      do character roles -- she would have fun on the
      stage, audiences would recognize her. Maybe not
      large money but income -- there is an historical
      precedent for this particularly in the German/Austrian/
      Central and Eastern European houses (though they may
      have pension plans for ensemble members -- or used to).
      Kiri is doing that just now in Vienna in Daughter of
      the Regiment -- always with entrance applause even though
      her appearances in Vienna during her best days were
      very limited. Welitch, Hilde Konetzni, Varnay, Moedl, Dermota, Kunz, Schoeffler, Hotter. many of the greats continued on for years in smaller roles. As H. Konetzni once said in an interview ‘there is no shame in continuing to earn a living’ Voigt has made some
      recordings and perhaps there is continued income from
      their sales. I am sure the Met could and would use Voigt in some capacity other than in leading roles if Voigt wanted to continue in that capacity.

      • 8.4.1
        MontyNostry says:

        The thing is, Voigt is not really designed for Moedlrollen -- at least not when singing in languages other than English. She’s certainly not a diseuse. She was always at her best when pouring out big lines in the upper part of her voice, which she could do gloriously for a time.

        • 8.4.1.1
          kashania says:

          I think Voigt can still make a contribution as a recitalist and concert singer. I think she’d be charming in 20th century English songs for example. Just because one’s staged opera career is winding down, it doesn’t mean that one’s career has to be over.

          Leontyne Price never returned to the operatic stage after her farewell Aida at the Met in 1985 but she continued to sing recitals for many years after.

          I agree that character roles aren’t really the way to go for Debbie. With the exception of Rysanek (who is always an exception), the dramatic sopranos who typically go into those roles have bottom-heavy voices. Voigt’s voice was always top-heavy. There’s also the issue of temperament.

          • Krunoslav says:

            I say again: DV could do Gertrud/Hexe very successfully. Leading roles, great opera, using her comic flair, high B for the fans, even a star bow.

      • 8.4.2
        antikitschychick says:

        she could certainly do character roles as you suggest, but the problems she is having now were not anticipated when she was cast in a lot of these roles 5-6 years ago (before the Met’s Ring Cycles). The system is what’s at fault and this is yet another example of why the Opera world needs to Axe this casting approach. No Opera singer has the worldwide fame that Pavarotti and Domingo had in their prime thus it is not necessary to cast singers years in advance without any certainty as to whether they will be able to sing the roles for which they are hired as well as we would want or expect. Its just completely fucking ludicrous to expect somebody with such heavy repertoire to sound exactly the same or better 5-7 years down the line, unless the person is at the very start of their career. Opera houses need to take advantage of singers when they are well and in their prime, especially in the case of dramatic sopranos who, lets face it, are very prone to severe and incurable wobbleitis.

        Cieca dear, if you please, may we write an open letter to the Met adressing the issue of the fucktarded anticipatory casting system? I mean, I know people need to be given a chance to learn and coach their roles but as Anna Netrebko has demonstrated time after time, all it takes is a month!! :-P

      • 8.4.3
        antikitschychick says:

        P.S. sorry for the rant and hostile tone…I try to veer away from posting negative comments but this issue just drives me crazy! I don’t want to wait 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or much less 10 years to hear artists perform roles that they can do right now for fuck’s sake! This is different from instant gratification because we know how volatile singers’ voices can be…a few months to a year is passable for logistical reasons but FIVE??? C’mon.

  • 9
    PetertheModest says:

    Is fifty-ish too early for an opera singer to retire, even with fading vocal abilities ?

  • 10
    operaassport says:

    The one singer conspicuous by its absence from the above list is Juan Diego Florez. One may like or dislike him but among the singers mentioned he is the one who has been a true historic singer among the lot of the last 15 years. Some may be more famous or have more beautiful voices or bigger stars but none has made such an historic contribution to opera as he has.

    • 10.1
      antikitschychick says:

      Agree 100%. Which list are you referring to though?

      • 10.1.1
        operaassport says:

        Sorry, Kashahina’s list way above. Fine singers but most of them haven’t done anything historic.

        Voigt might have a new career playing Melissa McCarthy’s mother in movies with Rex Reed as the father.

    • 10.2
      tiger1dk says:

      Operaasport, what are the amazing historic contributions that Juan Diego Flores has made? And that exceeds what has been done by the other stars on the list?

      • 10.2.1
        operaassport says:

        Do you go to the opera? If so, there is no need to enumerate what JDF has brought to opera. There is no one in my lifetime who has sung the Rossini and Bellini roles he does in the way that he does. He’s a far more “historic” since than people like Pape, Netrebko or Gheorghiu -- all of whom I like.

        • 10.2.1.1
          la vociaccia says:

          “There is no one in my lifetime who has sung the Rossini and Bellini roles the way he does”

          Were you alive for Stanford Olsen? Hell, I thought Vargas in his Rossini days was pretty fantastic.

          • semira mide says:

            I like Vargas very much and would go hear him in just about anything. However, Rossini would not be my first choice. i didn’t hear Stanford Olsen in person, nor,unfortunately, Bruce Ford, a truly great Rossini singer.
            That said, no other artist has had quite the same impact on the Rossini tenor rep as Florez. Matilde di Shabran for example (a superb work) is almost unthinkable without Florez. He has absolutely mastered the technique and used it to bring the roles to life in a way that they may never have been before. If Rossini is not your cup of tea, then I can see this is hard to appreciate. Thankfully there are other great Rossini tenors, but Florez seems to me to have been transformative.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              And yet they did think of Mathilde di Shabran without Florez, since he got his lucky break in it stepping in for another tenor (Bruce Ford, if memory serves).

              I agree that Florez is a fabulous singer, and he is one of my very favourites on the stage today. However Rockwell Blake and Chris Merritt weren’t too shabby either. Florez has a more beautiful voice than both, but it’s probably smaller too, which makes it swings and roundabouts as to who is the greatest, in my book. Yes Florez is outstanding, but his existence doesn’t really change the face of opera, IMO. There are also Florez contemporaries being very well received in the same repertoire -- Spyres, Lee and Brownlee for example.

        • 10.2.1.2
          tiger1dk says:

          I guess it all depends on definition, Operaassport. And I certainly agree that JDF is as “historic” a singer as any on the list above, maybe apart from Bartoli who has -- like her or not -- unearthed new repertory and (tried to) redefined parts unlike any other (I can think of). Yes, Juan Diego Florez has amazing high notes and coloratura but there were singers before him who also excelled as Rossini tenors, like Rockwell Blake, Chris Merritt, Stanford Olsen (apparently, I do not know him well), Bruce Ford etc. And there are others now, such as Lawrence Brownlee.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Sorry tiger1dk, I didn’t see your post before I pretty much duplicated it, above.

            • tiger1dk says:

              Well, you know what they say, Cocky K, great minds think alike… (c; I had actually for a moment forgotten about Lee whom I saw in concert in Lucia with Pretty Yende in Cape Town some six months ago. He was good -- but definitely (in my book) on the light side for Edgardo which made the duet with Enrico somewhat boring -- but otherwise his more Rossini-size voice was fine.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I’d agree that Lee is light for Edgardo. Actually, I hear he isn’t enjoying his career and intends to stop singing international opera -- apparently he wants to go home to South Africa and teach.

  • 11
    tiger1dk says:

    I wonder, could Ms Voigt sing Brangäne? I know it is sometimes done by sopranos (which, in my view, is perfectly feasible). Of course, I cannot imagine she would want to sing this (in my view lovely) part after being an Isolde.

    But what could Ms Voigt conceivably sing? Ortrud? The Witch (how I dislike a tenor in that part) and/or the Mother in Hansel & Gretel (I believe Ms Studer is singing the Mother in some German city)? Fricka? Waltraute? Purcell’s Dido? Venus? Giulietta in Hoffmann? The Foreign Princess? Jeanne in the Devils of Loudon? Lady Billows? Mother Abbess?

    • 11.1
      Feldmarschallin says:

      Keep her away from those roles but let her sing all she wants in Vero Beach at that bar. The Ortrud she already cancelled once. Why should anyone want to hire damaged goods. Giulietta? Are you mad?

      • 11.1.1
        armerjacquino says:

        As Kruno said, she’d be great fun as the witch. I think Lady Billows would suit her too. Agreed that Giulietta is a bit of a stretch but the dismissive reference to singing in a bar is typical of the overreactions Voigt inspires hereabouts.

    • 11.2
      marshiemarkII says:

      Feldy, and Brangäne??????? that is a MAD suggestion!!!!, since that role requires BEAUTY above all, think Christa or the greatest Tatiana Troyanos, what in the lady in question’s current voice indicate beauty? her problem is not the high notes, as typically happens to “some” aging prima donnas, but that the voice just doesn’t work anymore, and with nothing else going to compensate, such as great acting, text, etc. I agree with you Feldy, Vero Beach it should be, going back to her roots with Show Biz…….opera is ready for the proverbial fork, done!

  • 12
    tiger1dk says:

    Forgot Ms Jessel or Mrs Grose in Turn of the Screw.

  • 13
    Gualtier M says:

    BTW: may I mention that Voigt’s removal from the Liege “Fidelio” was revealed in the threads about her dismissal from the DC “Tristan”. So with this thread and the “Open Letter to Sarah Billingshurst” we have two threads back to back on Deborah Voigt’s career decline -- one advocating her firing from the Met from La Cieca herself.

    It really feeds the haters and trolls. Enough already.

    Let’s remember when Voigt was respected on this site -- like in 2001 when James Jorden interviewed her for Stagebill magazine. She also at one time was a friend of this site and granted it an interview when she was at her peak and Parterre and La Cieca were pretty underground, non-establishment outsiders:

    http://parterre.com/voigt.htm

    • 13.1
      Feldmarschallin says:

      All that changes nothing that she has stayed at the fair way too long. She has ruined too many performances over the years. Fanciulla anyone? And if you want to call me a hater go right ahead if it makes you feel better. Let me say that even if she were at the peak of her powers the Wozzeck Marie would have never been a good fit for her. That role requires a great actress who can dig deep into the role and text. Two things she could never do. Enough already indeed.

      • 13.1.1
        armerjacquino says:

        Fanciulla anyone?

        Yes please. I enjoyed it.

        • 13.1.1.1
          Feldmarschallin says:

          Yes keep saying it long enough and someone may believe it but Matos sang rings around her. I suppose there are even those who would say that they also enjoyed Callas at her farewell tour. Sad when one cannot even be honest about what a wreck she was.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Why would I not be honest?

            I didn’t see Matos, so can’t talk about that.

            As I said below, I don’t care about Voigt one way or another. I saw her FANCIULLA on TV and enjoyed it.

            Sad you can’t accept other people’s opinions without accusing them of lying.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Marschallin: Callas was horrible on her farewell tour. I saw two of those concerts, one in San Francisco and one in Portland, OR.
            Voice aside, she was not the person that she was earlier--both in looks and personality-not even a shadow of her former self--like another self??? I was very upset to see her like that as I first saw her in 1956 in Norma.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            Thank you, Feldy. Matos’ debut at the Met in the Fanciulla was astonishing as can be verified by clips on YT. Voigt’s Minnie was pathetically bad, only surpassed by her horrendous performances in the Ring.

            Yes, she was good once, but not in the last five seasons or so. I saw her Ballo around 2005, she was still ok if not great, but her Helenas a season or two later were the beginning of her precipitous decline. That the Met and Gleb were still giving her choice assignments is a disgrace.

            As you say, enough already.

  • 14
    moi says:

    The Verdi death-centenary Aida with Pavarotti left me wondering 13 years ago… and the 2006 Forza, and centenary Fanciulla, en effet…
    These kind of high profile gigs mean some responsability and pressure, apart from fame and fortune.
    I do not wish her anything but the best, but I do not either see or listen to her performances anymore. And I’m sure she is fine with that too.

    • 14.1
      armerjacquino says:

      Nice to see a measured response. I’m totally indifferent to Voigt- not being much of a Wagnerian, or a regular Met goer, I’ve missed both her best and her worst performances. There’s no doubt she’s not the singer she was. But it seems to anger people to say that she used to be very good, or that she’s not now as bad as some say.

      • 14.1.1
        Camille says:

        armerJ—-

        I think it’s that people who were fans feel hurt.

        She provided a very big, bright and brilliant sound back in the day, I have been witness to it many a time, and textual insightfulness or not, she did deliver vocal goods, no doubt about it.

        People wanted her to go on and on and on and, perhaps, become the ultimate Isolde or whatever fanciful idea they may have entertained, when she never really had the bottom weight to the voice to really do those Hochdramatisch roles, nor the dramatic chops. And the Italian ones, well better not to go near her attempts at verismo, but the Verdi could be very, very good, e.g., Amelia.

        And most importantly, I think that Gualtier brings up an EXCELLENT point, that she was, indeed, a friend of parterre box back when most all of you had never heard of it and graciously granted JJ that review — I remember that time very well — and if she has been a disappointment in ways to many in later days, she has ALSO given a great deal of pleasure to many in her earlier performances of operas which are difficult, and she could be accorded some respect for that.

        I must say, also, armerjacquino, that I saw her Fanciulla on the prima in San Francisco and she was not even prepared for the third act, it was kind of a shambles. Miss Matos really DID distinguish herself in the role, in comparison.

        I hate to say “Leave Debbie alone”, so as to invoke the Britney comparisons, but it has all just become a very, very sad, sad thing at this point. As she does have an affinity for American musical theatre and likes to sing standards “Voigt Where Prohibited” {see the interview above!], perhaps she can re-invent herself along those lines to hers and everyone else’s satisfactions. She is going through a difficult time and perhaps an ounce of kindness would be appreciated.

        • 14.1.1.1
          armerjacquino says:

          Brava.

        • 14.1.1.2
          antikitschychick says:

          brava indeed. In my earlier post I tried to see both sides of it but tbh I empathize with her situation; as far as Opera singers go, she’s been through quite an ordeal. I’ll probably bawl my eyes out reading her book when it comes out…:-(.

          • Krunoslav says:

            “I know that Behrens did it particularly well. But I’ve never understand why you elevate it to a “holy of the holiest” moment… Just wondering.”

        • 14.1.1.3
          marshiemarkII says:

          CammiB, when I saw the premiere of Fanciulla back in 2010, I had been at a dinner party where the lady in question was also at, and we had a very pleasant conversation, so I was naturally predisposed very favorably to her on a personal level. I had not heard her since the late 90s and had read here about her decline, but there have also been many times when a singer is described here as FINISHED, and then lo and behold I see the singer at the Met and is simply marvelous so I take everything a large dollop of salt. But that night of Fanciulla I heard some of the worst sounds I have ever heard from a professional singer, the 90 year-old middle was something I probably never heard before, and nothing was working, the phrasing was atrocious and the high notes lunged at in ways that were comical if not really sad, and most of the time she was inaudible. As an actress there was nothing!
          At the end, there was hardly any applause at all for the opera, and when she came out for her solo, it died down even further, so clearly I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed, it was one of the worst role assumptions I have ever seen, no redeeming qualities, ZERO.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            And then not knowing the words for the Ring was also an forgivable crime. First time ever, at the Met, new production, and she couldn’t bother to learn?!?!!???! Then what she did in the holy, most sacred moment in Act II of Gotterdammerung was a desecration of the holiest of holies. This isn’t a matter of opinion, or your diva is not as good as my diva, but unprofessionalism of the highest order.

            • Camille says:

              yes, indeed, it could have been that but it may well also have been an extraordinary degree of stress and preoccupation with keeping the voice together in a dire situation.

              I have likewise sat through entire performances of Lohengrin with her, score in hand, where every, single note was absolutely perfect, on time, pitched exactly, etc. —- sigh.

              What say you, Marschallina divine, of the Misses Savoy and Claire, these days, and Sr. Chang? How you any news of these promising singers of the future?

              Hopefully, the silken curtains are all now up and you are feeling just like Manon Lescaut in your very own boudoir!

              xxxxxooooo
              Frau Cowbells

            • kashania says:

              Marshie: I’ve been wanting to ask you why consider that moment in Act II of GD so “holy”? Don’t get me wrong. It’s one of my favourite moments of the piece and is tremendously exciting. And I know that Behrens did it particularly well. But I’ve never understand why you elevate it to a “holy of the holiest” moment… Just wondering.

            • Krunoslav says:

              Mario Chang sings Kurt Baum’s Met debut role on 12/3, the night Daniella Sindram makes her Met debut in Hertha Toepper’s Met debut role and the lovely-voiced Erin Morley steps in for the scandalously unlovely-voiced DG album cover babe as Sophie.

            • marshiemarkII says:

              Kashie, it is to me the highlight of the entire opera, as it is the moment when she spiritually becomes a woman (in the sense of “human”) with all of our shortcomings, and of course through unspeakable suffering. She realizes that she had had pretty good up to that point, just a betrayal and an possibly a rape, but now she realizes that the one that raped her is none other than Siegfried himself, the object of all her “innocent” love, adolescent love if you will, up to that point, but love nevertheless. Furthermore, it is the moment when she realizes that Daddy is even more malignant than she had thought possible, to have concocted such a hideous brew of opprobrium for her. It is the exact opposite moment as the liberation in Fidelio, if that is the apex of human happiness, however fleeting, this is the absolute nadir. So to me it is a “holy” moment not in the religious sense, as in the closing chorus of the St Matthews’ Passion for example, but in the religion of “humanity”, it is a turning point, and inflection point, and thus theatrically it is the high point of the entire opera. Not surprisingly, Wagner endowed the moment with the most excruciatingly difficult music in the Ring, and with a music of unsettling beauty that takes my breath away every single time I hear it. Clearly, it is a moment that the Brunnhilde should pay all of her undivided attention, and throw everything they have in their arsenal to fulfill the fiendish demands.

            • Camille says:

              Thank you for the excellent tip, Herr Krunoslav, that sounds like a night I would like to hear Rosenkavalier once more. I don’t suppose those sets have a much longer life in them.

            • marshiemarkII says:

              My adored CammiB, as Kruno points out, the sublime Mario Chang will sing his first major role on the stage of the Met (not debut as he already sang in Parsifal) as the Italian Singer in early December. Ms Claire is due in Toronto in winter for Fiordiligi, and has been allover Europe with her divine instrument. And my adored Ms Savoy will be at Carnegie Hall in December for an all Britten program. We went on Tuesday night to the Amigos del Teatro Colon event at the Americas Society, and we had a blast with a most sensational group of singers from Argentina, the best I have seen in six years going to the event. We then had dinner at my favorite Bar Boulud. And last but not least, we now have added the fabulous Alexey lavrov to the distinguished list, someone to definitely watch out for, a magnificent baritone from Russia, who sang a stunning Onegin to Ms Savoy’s Tatiana last April with James Levine.

              Oh the silks, no not yet carissssima, Ms Marshie still cannot invite anyone to Osez venir, tous qui bravent Vénus!, the roof has been installed and looks magnificent, as well as the back curtains but still missing the side curtains and the valance in magnificent Italian velvet outside and silk inside :-) :-) :-) fit for a Queen?

            • Camille says:

              haHA, Marschie! Now you have morphed into an even more exotic being, Thaïs! Hoping you let your blouse fall at the end of the act (accidentally, of course) so that your bosom will be exposed to your adoring throng of fans!!!!

              Good to hear about your little chickadees--it seems they are not letting any grass grow under their tiny toes, and are all in full tilt forward.

              I was by the Épicerie Boulud the other night, but alas, too late. Next time I shall give it a go. The Bar is only for men on expense accounts!

            • kashania says:

              Thanks for your thoughts, Marshie. Very interesting.

            • marshiemarkII says:

              CammiB, I hope you realize I was paying hommage to the extinct Nerva with the Osez venir…, that was one of her more felicitous turn of phrase :-) and it just shows for how long have I been with this nonsense of the silks. Will it ever end? but the silk is glorious, a heavy stripe in apple green and blood red, and thin stripes in red and yellow on a beige background, simply sublime. And the valance is same silk inside and coral silk-velvet on the outside, so truly truly fit for a major QUEEN :-) :-) :-) Thais, Manon, Rosina and Marie-Theres all rolled into one.

              By the way the night of the fabulous Norma I ate a sandwich at the Epicerie, I was at the Met early for the awards to Mario (second one) and to Alexey Lavrov, so I crossed over for a quick bite, and the divine coffee, and what do I see at the Epicerie, but Gelato!!!!!!! I gorged, it is THE BEST, so wonderful! so when I fulfill my pledge to Bianca and Manou, the Epicerie it shall be.

            • Camille says:

              My, my—-fit for Reina Sofia!

              Have I got a web address for you, MMIItm, to accentuate and complete your outfits of soie: http://www.kumikokoon.com.

              Perhaps the masks or the jewelry rolls or a peignoir or two will do? A silk duvet or a pillowcase? The comforters, the pillows, the bathrobes? Whatever your heart lights upon, may you only enjoy the finest.

              xxxooo
              cowbells

            • manou says:

              Camille -- you are only an “o” short:

              http://www.kumikookoon.com/

            • Camille says:

              oh Grand Merci!

              I even checked it before to make sure, but, HÉLAS, I am running around the house without my specs on. I hope you order up some nice silken baby things for that new grandchild. A little pillow or coverlet—they look so sweet!!!!!!!!! Even if they are puked on, they wash up easily enough if one commands Irma&SilkWash!

            • marshiemarkII says:

              Oh CammiB that website will be my perdition although I have at the moment a surplus of pillows to last me a lifetime. I just acquired a set of 15!!!! 17C Aubusson and Flemish tapestry pillows from the estate of Sue Erpf van de Bovenkamp! and every pillow that graced my salon before, had been a gift from the glorious one, so those will now get moved to the bedroom, and absolutely no room for any further new ones!

              Manoucita, do I have rights to use “Gland Opera”???? point for you, you outdid even your usual brilliant self! I owe you another gelato :-)

            • manou says:

              Marshie -- I hereby grant you the rights to my entire oeuvre.

              I had thought of asking Max Brod to burn it all, but he turned out to be such a rat that I think it is better to keep it in the public domain.

          • Porgy Amor says:

            Re:

            that night of Fanciulla I heard some of the worst sounds I have ever heard from a professional singer, the 90 year-old middle was something I probably never heard before, and nothing was working, the phrasing was atrocious and the high notes lunged at in ways that were comical if not really sad, and most of the time she was inaudible. As an actress there was nothing!

            I wish I could disagree. She was audible in the one I heard, but that’s all I have.

            I would also add that she could make little of conversational inflections. I did not even smile when she asked Johnson/Ramerrez how many times he had “died.” This is a great gift line to any soprano who can color words; here, it just went thud.

            There is nothing worse than walking out of a performance not disappointed but really depressed — knowing how great a piece of music can be, or how thrilling an evening an opera can provide, and feeling what you have heard did not come close because a crucial element was not up to it. Maybe it would be different if I got any pleasure from saying, “Well, I’ve heard Minnie sung by [litany] and this was by far the worst Minnie I’ve heard; even [not-very-good singer in litany] was better.” But what I care about on that day is the performance I am seeing, not some jaded exercise in cataloging, and I want it to be good. If someone I don’t usually like is in it, I am willing that person to be great just as much as her fans are. In the larger picture, it was depressing that Voigt was not only singing Minnie at the Met that season, but San Francisco and Chicago. She had been chosen as the standard bearer of Puccini’s “American” opera on its 100th anniversary. This singing was going to introduce La fanciulla del West — not an obscurity but never squarely in the repertory’s bullseye — to a lot of people who had never heard it. They were going to make up their minds about this unusual and enchanting opera based on this.

            Maybe some of them loved it, and loved her. If so, I hope they did not stop there.

  • 15
    moi says:

    And I like how she puts it recently in the South Florida Classical Review: -- You know, life is huge, and being an opera singer is an enormous part of my life, but being happy and being comfortable and not being fearful is much more important to me at this point.

  • 16
    grimoaldo says:

    In other news:
    http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/07/valery-gergiev-concert-picketed-gay-rights-supporters
    “Around 60 people gathered outside London’s Barbican on Thursday night, chanting “human rights for Russia” and “stop supporting tyranny” before a concert conducted by Valery Gergiev, the target of a number of recent gay rights protests….in London Peter Tatchell last week marched on to the stage in full evening dress to denounce the conductor.

    Gergiev tried to head off the protest by releasing a statement on Wednesday in which he said he did not discriminate against people, gay or otherwise, and added: “It is wrong to suggest that I have ever supported anti-gay legislation and in all my work I have upheld equal rights for all people. I am an artist and have for over three decades worked with tens of thousands of people and many of them are indeed my friends.”

    The statement did not go far enough for some. The novelist Philip Hensher tweeted: “Gergiev summarised: ‘Some of my best friends are gay. I don’t support institutional homophobia. I leave that up to my friend Putin.'”

    Gergiev’s case was not helped by comments he made to the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant on 10 September in which he said: “In Russia we do everything we can to protect children from paedophiles. This law is not about homosexuality, it targets paedophilia. But I have too busy a schedule to explore this matter in detail.”

    Also
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/07/valery-gergiev-putin-conductor-gay-people

    Peter Tatchell wrote:
    “At the Barbican in London tonight, Russian conductor Valery Gergiev will lead the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) in a performance of Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, which tells the story of a person who makes a pact with the devil. Some critics see parallels with Gergiev’s relationship with the autocratic Russian leader, Vladimir Putin…The audience arriving at tonight’s performance by Gergiev will be greeted by human rights protesters holding sparklers, including myself, with the message: “Sparkle for freedom in Russia. Putin suppresses, we sparkle.” We condemn Gergiev’s support for Putin’s repressive regime, his defence of Russia’s anti-gay law and his condemnation of Pussy Riot….Last Thursday, I interrupted the opening night of Gergiev’s new LSO season at the Barbican, criticising his pro-Putin stance. I dressed in a tuxedo to look official and the ruse worked: just before the performance began I strode on stage unhindered. Security staff and the audience seemed to assume I was an LSO spokesman making an official announcement.”

    • 16.1
      antikitschychick says:

      I was reading about this just now. His statement about the law being merely against pedophilia is ridiculous….and there are people commenting on the Guardian website saying that the law had nothing to do with Putin (as if!) and that Pussy Riot deserved what they got because they weren’t really protesting anything. Utter nonsense.

      Tatchell and others have every right to protest. I do wish he and AN would stop with the “I don’t discriminate against anyone” nonsense as we are all aware that this dodges the issue. It’s really sad that he has to be pressured to even make a public statement, especially considering that he is an artist with a pretty substantial international profile and platform. Obviously he and AN have more to risk by speaking out against Putin and we don’t know all the intangibles, but staying silent is reprehensible all the same. A least AN hinted at the fact that she didn’t agree with the law but is in a compromised position. Gergiev acts like this whole thing is beneath him and its really off-putting.