Cher Public

Blind leap

Which much-disliked diva at the Met will be replaced for the 2017 New Year’s Eve gala, repaid thus after only eight seasons after her debut?

  • almavivante

    I saw a memorable Tosca on New Year’s Eve 1975. It was supposed to be Dorothy Kirsten’s farewell, though she did sing a few more performances when other singers were indisposed and she filled in in a pinch. It also was Tito Gobbi’s last Met appearance. My recollection of the singing is a bit dim now, but I look back on that evening fondly.

    And while I’m on the subject of Dorothy Kirsten, let me say for the record that she is my favorite opera singer who recorded pop songs. In this era of so many senseless crossover albums, singers would do well to listen to how D. K. modified her style to suit material such as, for example, “I’m Old-Fashioned.”

    • armerjacquino

      I think the era of ‘senseless crossover albums’ where singers *don’t* modify their style in the way DK did is over. As I mentioned with reference to the Damrau record, these days the songs that make up the Great American Songbook are a couple of decades older than most of our opera singers- this is music they’ve grown up with so they can sing it idiomatically without the sense of slumming.

      Yes, there are still exceptions, but most singers who ‘cross over’ these days know exactly how the music should be sung. And it sometimes seems as if more live recitals end with a bit of Porter or Kern or Berlin than don’t.

      • almavivante

        Very good point, AJQ, and I agree.

  • La Valkyrietta

    So much Tosca talk, it reminds me that Leonard Bernstein said in 1977 that he still believed the greatest recording of an Italian opera he had ever heard was the de Sabata Tosca with Callas.

    • Clita del Toro

      Scarpia = Dick Cheney--except that Scarpia was much more suave.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      I’ve never really got this widely held conviction about this Tosca recording. I don’t disagree that it’s a great recording, but I don’t know why it gets singled out as the greatest recording of any Italian opera ever. Limiting myself to Callas’s own studio efforts, I’d save the 1960 Norma and the EMI Gioconda from the proverbial burning building before the De Sabata Tosca.

      • I’ve been on a similar train of thought. In fact, I wanted to pull the recording off the shelf again to re-assess it. The greatest Tosca? Perhaps. The greatest Italian opera recording? There are too many contenders.

      • littoraldrift

        You know, I’m glad to see someone singled out just those, which I gather are controversial but big faves among a certain minority. Granting all the standard caveats about Callas’s vocal estate and occasional unflattering comparisons to her earlier recs of the roles (which many cannot get past, understandably), the sheer density of musical and interpretive insights in those two justly put them ‘all time best’. I think in Ardoin there’s an observation about the extremely subtle play of light and shadow in “Ah sì, fa core, abbracciami”, which Callas herself elsewhere nor anyone else brings off to such effect? (I’ve also always liked how fresh and youthful Ludwig sounds, which isn’t something you can always say for a mezzo Adalgisa…)

  • La Valkyrietta

    Pour almavivante,

    • almavivante

      Thank you La V. I know this recording well and adore it! (And allow me to admit to a wee heresy: I’ve always preferred Callas’ second Tosca. Yes, I know Pretre allows the frenzy to get somewhat out of hand, but I believe that it suits the piece. Don’t shoot me!)

      • La Valkyrietta

        You are welcome. I love Jerome Kern, he was a friend of P.G. Wodehouse, and I have enjoyed listening to Dorothy Kirsten many times. I myself would not dare to take issue with Bernstein, you are a better man than I am, almavivante.

  • hamish

    the Glimmerglass production, later at NYCO, was terrific.