Headshot of La Cieca

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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

  • 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?

    • 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?

      • 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.

    • 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!

  • tiger1dk says:

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

  • 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

    • 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.

      • armerjacquino says:

        Fanciulla anyone?

        Yes please. I enjoyed it.

        • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Brava.

        • 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.”

        • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

    • 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.