Cher Public

Eine wienerische Maskerad’

La Cieca (center) invites all the cher public to participate in tonight’s chat session at La Casa della Cieca during the Met’s season premiere of Der Rosenkavalier, beginning at 6:55 pm.

  • Baritenor

    It should be noted that American Composer Conrad Susa, known for his operas TRANSFORMATIONS and DANGEROUS LIASONS, passed away today at his home in San Francisco.

    • Batty Masetto

      Very sad news. I worked with Conrad on a show years ago. A very interesting and intelligent man.

  • classicaldude

    No chats. Guess Frau is not on tonite

    • Camille

      Classicaldude — it’s Rosenkavalier tonite and the Casa della Cieca is open and ready for business.

      • pobrediablo

        That sounds like a whorehouse :D

        • Camille

          heeheehee…if the shoe fits…the best little case in NYC!

          • Camille


            dammit autocorreggio

  • cosmodimontevergine

    Frau was the Met at its best. Rosenkavalier is not. That silly set, the poor direction and an oddly “off” night for the conductor Ed Gardiner undermined a basically good cast. Almost unfailingly Met audiences applaud the worst sets. In my experience the opera needs a Marschallin who can take charge dramatically in the first act which the very pleasing Martina Serafin did not do. Alice Coote seemed a little underehearsed (is this a good role for her?) Erin Morley’s Sophie sounded lovely and along with Peter Rose gave the most convincing performances of the evening. In a better production they might both be world class.

    • skoc211

      “Almost unfailingly Met audiences applaud the worst sets.”

      When I saw Onegin in October they applauded the pillars in Act III…..

    • PetertheModest

      Since Morley did well, people should not be too disappointed that Mojca Erdmann was indisposed.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Gardiner is no conductor for Der Rosenkavalier or for the MET! Gelb should have let his wife do it.

      • Hippolyte

        Gardner, not Gardiner (a different conductor).

  • zinka


    Do NOT read the following review if you are in as bad a mood as I was tonight as I attended (2 acts) of one of my beloved operas, Der Rosenkavalier. I do not want any of you lovely people to go to bed, wake up, or spend the day feeling as annoyed as I am. If you are a sucker for torture, read on, but you have been warned.
    The culprit is mezzo Alice Coote, who destroyed one of the most beautiful opera roles. No,it did not have to be a Rise imitator (although at one point in act two,my eyes suddenly teared up looking at that silver costume and to myself i said, “I miss you,Rise.” I have seen other Octavians, but to have to endure a voice that is pure “noise’ with all edge and a basic quality that should NOT be heard on an operatic stage,I just could not take any more andleft after act two,hoping that Mme.Sinbdram in two weeks will be an improvement.
    Rose is unfunny (see Otto Edelmann) and although the voice is pleasant, he cannot project into the theatre in the middle range, where most of the role lies. I am sure he sounded fine on the radio, but that is a lie!
    If you have and unpronouncable name like the Valzacchi(debut) of Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke, at least make sure you can be heard in the auditorium like those short names like Velis and Anthony.
    Mme.Serafin was fine and she sang a lovely Marshallin, without erasing memories of about 5 Marshallins in my memory, but I think it was because of Coote that I was distracted and did not enjoy her enough. Morely, replacing Erdmann, who was fired after the dress rehearsal , has a beautiful limpid voice and was truly excellent.
    I always remember the famous Thelma Votipka taking a high C in the act two ensemble, but Morely took it. Why? I wanted our lovable Jennifer Check to takew it, and perhaps someone knows why this was done.Is it an alternate in the score? I was not happy because it would have been the first time that I got to enjoy this fine lady other than in one of her usual offstage roles.
    Hans-Joachim Ketelsen was an excellent Faninal, and when he op[ened his mouth I said, “See, some people CAN project a voice.” Mr.Cutler was a decent Italian singer, but he did not erase memories (ready??) of the one role Kurt Baum did well.
    So,if you got to the end of this review, you are more courageous than I might have thought. I guess i am just a crabby old COOTE! Charlie

    • armerjacquino

      Shame you didn’t enjoy Coote. She’s one of my favourite singers to see live- Sesto at ENO and a devastating Lied Von der Erde spring to mind. I’d certainly take issue with the description you give of her voice.

      • MontyNostry

        I find Coote compelling and sympathetic -- and I like the fact she has a distinctive voice -- but I wouldn’t fancy her as Octavian really. To tell the truth, I am even not that crazy about the great Fassbaender -- vocally not dissimilar from Coote, and perhaps the most memorable recitalist I have ever seen in action -- as Octavian, at least in in purely vocal terms. I think it needs a more purely beautiful sound than Coote, Fassbaender and, in fact, Baltsa has/had, and ideally with a higher centre of gravity.

        • Camille

          Just FYI: She did not sound as well or as comfortable as she had in Two Boys, but I never listen very seriously to the prima anymore, mostly just another Dress Rehearsal.

          The entire thing was okay or just average. Miss Morley sounded more nervous than I had heard her previously, but I imagine she had good reason to be and that being shoved in at the last moment, she had a right to be.

          I’m going to hear Daniela S., of whom Bill has spoken well.

          • MontyNostry

            And if Daniela cancels, we might have to go with this:

        • marshiemarkII

          Coot was sublimely glorious as Sesto in the Cesare last season, the voice gorgeous and very big for Handel. She and Bardon were sublime when singing the duets together, good as Dessay was I’d say, those two were the high point of the performance. So I was very disappointed when I saw my performance with Mario Chang would be without her, but Bill is such an authority, especially in things Strauss that I of course I am paying attention. I guess not everyone is perfect in everything?

          • Belfagor

            She was also an incredibly convincing adolescent boy as Le prince
            charmant in ‘Cendrillon’ a couple of seasons ago…….

        • Regina delle fate

          No surprises there, Monty. Octavian is a soprano role. Most mezzos find it too high and struggle with it. Coote might get away with it at ENO or Toulouse, but not at the Met.

      • zinka

        She sucked!

    • la vociaccia

      I’m sorry you had a mediocre experience, Charlie. I assumed you were going to the Peter Grimes, since you used to speak so highly on Opera-L about the star (who was fantastic, as was everyone. Great night. More later. Still verklempt!)

      • Krunoslav

        I enjoyed the GRIMES a lot but the Bob Boles (Thomas Cooley) kept cracking, Meredith Arwardy can’t seem to blend her voice with anyone else, issued forth annoying guffaws and needs a better top--and Liam Bonner was ( as always) mediocre at best vocally-- pure looks casting, and he’s tp be Billy Budd in L.A.!!!???

        Griffey deeply moving and Phillips sang really gorgeously, though Act II needs a heavier instrument- Goerke and Brewer, both unfairly battered here of late, were my best two Act II Ellens. Held, Carfizzi and Pittsinger all very good, Maultsby appropriate and funny. Corus and Orch on fire

        • bluecabochon

          GRIMES was thrilling. I’m envious of anyone who was there who didn’t know the opera beforehand and whose intro was this concert. Despite the lack of room onstage for the singers, who were confined to stage right (rendering my seat partial view, alas), they delivered compelling performances with semi-staging and a suggestion of costume, and no one needed to carry a score. When was the last time that happened? The chorus was so huge (130 people) that half of them left the stage to sing at the back of the house for the church service in Act 2 that is “under” the scene between Ellen and John. It was wonderfully theatrical to hear this section from two opposite ends of the house in a metaphorically wonderful way. I enjoyed my Dress Circle seat, where I had a great view of the players and was able to see as well as hear the orchestrations. The orchestra played FORTE throughout but beautifully, and maestro Robinson clearly has a great handle on this opera and brought out the best in everyone, especially the viola’s Passacaglia, (Beth Guterman Chu?) which was heart-rending.

          In spite of shortcomings of some of the singers, it was a memorable evening of a brilliant work. Phillips was a lyrically lovely Ellen, very dignified, who sang the long lines of “‘Broidery” stunningly. I agree that Arwady came up a bit short ( I have seen Stephanie Blythe in this role and this is perfect casting) I wasn’t impressed with Cooley, but Alan Held was excellent as Balstrode. I know that Mrs. Sedley is marked a mezzo, but a contralto would be most welcome for “murder most foul it is”, when you really want to hear those words. Otherwise Nancy Maultsby was quite good and gave a nice interpretation of the drug-addled busybody. The other soloists were excellent.

          I found Liam Bonner as Ned Keene in fine voice but what on earth was he wearing? A black velvet jacket and skinny jeans with long shiny lace-up shoes? Formal from the waist up only. Really wrong, as they all made attempts to give some sense of character to their evening wear.

          I remember first seeing Griffey as Lennie in Of Mice & Men at Glimmerglass in the 1990s and saw his Grimes at the Met in the Doyle production. He has grown in the role both vocally and dramatically and sang easily though he was often almost drowned-out by the playing. He doesn’t have the “pinginess” that Vickers and Langridge had (my other two live Grimeses) but it’s a full warm and gorgeous voice. He has the schlubby loner with anger issues down, but I wasn’t fully convinced of what would draw a woman such as Ellen as played by Phillips to such devotion. Langridge had a lithe masculinity and of course Vickers had that unpredictable brutishness with a sense of vulnerability underneath. Griffey isn’t the young, oafish Grimes with the baby face that he was -- his character is older now and his appeal to Ellen would have to be some other trait that she would find compelling enough to defy the Borough over, unless she is depicted as a saint and interested in saving him and building a life with this unstable person for noble reasons of her own. I guess I am asking a lot of a concert if I can find fault with this, but it was such a vivid performance that I was left wanting a *little* more. :)

          The supertitles failed at a crucial point, before Grimes’ mad scene, but they came back right after it. Even though much of the diction was excellent, titles were most helpful.

          It seemed to be recorded, so I’m looking forward to hearing it again at some point.

          • la vociaccia

            Blue, sorry I took so long to get to this; been mulling it over. Here goes:
            I think your final estimation about Ellen being a ‘saint’ is on the right track, but it needn’t be so extreme. She is a lonely, widowed, and deeply religious schoolteacher who sympathizes with someone like Peter Grimes- that awkward kid who never fit in with the others. I guess I disagree that Griffey’s Grimes is any less romantically appealing than that of Vickers, Langridge, Rolfe-Johnson, or (insert grimes interpreter); they’re all pretty unpleasant personalities that I wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon with, let alone my whole life, but the point is I’m not Ellen Orford, I don’t teach schoolchildren or quote the bible regularly and I don’t embroider anchors on sweaters :)

            Overall I think Griffey’s Grimes is an overwhelming experience to behold (I’ve seen his interpretation several times as well), and this one was extremely detailed musically and dramatically. I have never heard a Grimes follow Britten’s dynamic markings so succinctly, with the crescendi in “Now the great bear” and without cheating the double and triple piani in the mad scene (No crooning from this Grimes, and what about that diminuendo on ‘Turn the skies back’ ?!). The final “what harbor shelters peace?” which he sang lying on his side was so eerie and disembodied, and still ringing through the hall. But the moment that has stuck with me, though, and is still haunting me, happened after Balstrode told him to sink his boat. As Griffey began to leave the stage, he stopped and stared at Ellen for about eight or nine seconds, as if she were a distant memory- the last thing he recalled ever feeling happy about- before continuing to walk offstage.

            I think Orford is the best thing I’ve heard or seen Phillips do; a beautiful, elegant and hugely sympathetic characterization. I truly didn’t have any problems with the supporting cast- it was all greater than the sum of its parts. A very wonderful evening and I do hope the microphones were on

            • bluecabochon

              LaV, what a lovely assessment. I didn’t see the last moment as clearly between Grimes and Ellen as my seat was so partial view that I had to hang over it to see what was happening on that side of the stage. If I’d been on the other side of the house I would have had no problem.

              I made a recording on my phone of the curtain call -- very long and appreciative:

    • Patrick Mack

      Pardon me Mme. Milanov but are you 80? (at least). Please take off those Rosen colored lenses and join the rest of us in the 21st century.

      • zinka

        I have no idea what you mean……

        • pobrediablo

          Why was Erdmann fired?

          • zinka

            I am told the voice was too small.THAT is a JOKE…given some of the inaudible Met singers………

            • PetertheModest

              Erdmann is known to have a quiet voice. Hiring and firing (if that is what happened) is becoming a but brutal.

            • shoegirl

              Erdmann was not “fired”. She has pneumonia.

          • PetertheModest

            I thought Erdmann was indisposed and could not sing. Did she actually get fired after a poor rehearsal ?

            • Quanto Painy Fakor

              So who pays the expenses for the time she spent in New York if she was fired? Did they buy her out of all the performances as well? That must have been one sad march out of the stage door.

      • mirywi

        That’s rude.

        • mirywi

          (Mack’s comment is rude)

        • PetertheModest

          Erdmann’s expenses: that is the question. There must be insurance, to pay in case a singer gets fired. It must be hard for Erdmann to go as far as rehearsal and then be told she was not required. Then, if she was somewhat indisposed, she was disposed of. She is not my favourite singer, as she is a bit quiet and insipid, but perhaps she has not been treated that well by the Met; but, they knew what her voice was like.

    • mj

      I hate to say it (as I generally adore la Coote)but I was also very disappointed in her performance on Friday. I saw her sing this role 6 or 7 years ago in Seattle and she was fantastic. So perhaps it was just a bad night? Or her voice has changed/evolved since then?

      Gardner let the orchestra smother the singers almost the entire evening as well, so perhaps Coote was pushing too hard to be heard.

      I found the entire performance to be rather flat. Serafin’s voice is somewhat harsh, particular in its higher ranges. I was worried about the end of Act 1, with the “silberne Rose,” high note, but she made it, barely. She had some lovely interpretive moments and she looked stunning in the last act. Morley was okay, but difficult to hear. The supporting cast was mostly poor.

      I think this was the first live performance of this opera I’ve seen where the trio did absolutely nothing for me. Very flat.

      • zinka

        I love to read reviews as detailed as yours..not that because you agree about Coote..but because you sound PROFESSIONAL..Happy Holidays

    • panache

      I’m shocked by all the negative commentary on Coote’s Octavian. I just came from the 2nd performance, and thought she was terrific. The most satisfying, musically and dramatically, of the three leads. Didn’t like her “Mariandel” impersonation so well, but as Octavian, never once did I see a woman assuming a male identity. And this was from the 2nd row of the orchestra. What, not tall enough? Doesn’t cut the figure of a gay man’s fantasy? Doesn’t matter. She was the embodiment of a man, and a handsome one at that. I was never more convinced.

      But more than that, I found Coote to be the most musically satisfying of the bunch. I agree, that though there was loveliness all around, there was something tepid about the performance as a whole. A coolness in the great Met orchestra--was this the conductor? It never achieved the passionate and radiant heights it’s brought to this work many times in the past--and did so recently in an incandescent Frau. Serafin brought an affecting dignity to the Marschallin, but her voice to me lacks the complexity and dimension to illuminate her character through musically means, and draw me to her. I’m loathe to say anything negative about Morley’s Sophie, considering her last-minute replacement. She sounded like a Sophie, a generic Sophie, which means she did a totally credible job. She got better as she went along. I was touched by her vulnerability, come the end of Act 3. I guess you have to be something really special, to make Sophie stand out.

      I thought the blending of Coote and Morley was gorgeous, in the final duet. Give me musical execution like this, understated but spot-on, and I will take notice, and be grateful. And be carried by it for a good long time.

  • Buster

    I am waiting for these guys to do it:

    Serafin was a lovely Marschallin in the Decker Rosenkavalier, ten years ago. She looked gorgeous, and sounded younger than any other Marschallin I had heard, which was touching.

    A pity Schwanewilms could not do one or two performances.

    • Feldmarschallin

      Well I heard Serafin at the BSO and found her as Marschallin disappointing. She lacked the elegance and finesse. I do like her in other more dramatic roles such as Tosca. And I agree with you on Schwanewilms who is a truly great Marschallin. I wonder how Isokowski will be in March since I generally like her even if she is rather dull and matronly on stage but the voice is or at least was very beautiful. But with her the glamour is just not there and never was there.

      • armerjacquino

        Feld: I agree with you on Isokoski, except that I don’t think it’s just a question of glamour. It’s theatrical detail and intensity that’s also lacking in her lovely singing. I was at the Edinburgh CAPRICCIO a few years ago, along with half of Parterre, it sometimes seems, and I remember amusement turning to irritation that Isokoski DID NOT CHANGE HER FACIAL EXPRESSION from start to finish. That’s not just a lack of glamour, that’s someone who can’t be bothered.

        • Feldmarschallin

          Yes you are right althought her VLL are truly lovely and one of the best modern day recordings. Still her way with the text is not exactly detailed or very thought out. But I find her vocally much more to my liking than the much more glamouress Fleming who doesn’t seem to have the intellect for Lieder. But thank God there are singers who have the intellect and glamour to convice as the Marschallin and in Lieder. Pieczonka is another one who leaves me cold as the Marschallin and certainly has not made Lieder to something important in her career. What a beautiful voice and she certainly looked the most glamouress I have ever seen her as die Kaiserin but again in the very important third act for her she had some beautiful tone especially in the middle but did absolutely next to nothing with the text. With Schwanewilms in Salzburg and Amsterdam you saw an intensity that was appropriate in that scene and a way with the words that is exemplatory.

        • Feldmarschallin

          BTW Armer there is another singer who is similar to Isokoski in that vocally she is quite good but dull and matronly on stage -- Stoyanova.

          • Bill

            Feldmarschallin -- I report on the dress rehearsal of Der Rosenkavalier at the Met
            (not the first performance) so I have not
            seen Morley. In some ways it may not
            be proper to report on a dress rehearsal
            as singers (and conductor) may be saving something for the prima, but the rehearsal
            has a selected audience.

            Unlike some of those who have written above, I find the sets and costumes and staging of
            Merrill and O’Hearn to be evocative and
            proper (as is the Schenk production in Vienna)
            and suitable for this opera.

            The three orchestra prologues to each act
            seemed a bit hard driven as conducted by
            Edward Gardner -- but in each case he settled
            down in the course of the act, though one did not feel the warmth of conception as under Krips or Boehm or Carlos Kleiber etc.

            We shall discuss and dispose of Mojca Ergmann
            first as she has apparently been disposed of
            (as she was in the October Vienna series
            of Rosenkavaliers after the prima due to illness). She was not terrible and was noticeably
            improved from her dreary Zerlinas at the Met.
            She is attractive and demure to the eye --
            seemingly quite the young girl and not as
            feisty as some Sophies. She does not
            have difficulty with the highest notes and
            I did not find her an embarassment at all -- her tone is sweet but unfortuntely a bit edgy in the higher middle register -- not as fresh as Streich, Grist or Battle, other Sophies with small voices (on recording DGG 1958 under Boehm, Streich is probably the most exquisite of all Sophies -- in the house -Vienna -- she was a little less perfect). Other Sophies, particularly Gueden, had a bit more volume and were vocally a little less annoymous than Erdmann -- the best Sophies on stage then would include Gueden, Rothenberger, Popp, Muszely, Bonney, Donath, Cotrubas, Streich, Grist, and even Patricia Wise who sang 82 (!) Sophies in Vienna after her City Opera days were completed -- and I do not include Berger and others as I never saw them. Erdmann would not qualify as one of the best -- nor would she drop to be one of the worst I have seen.

            Martina Serafin is not a great Feldmarschallin but there is much to admire -- I found her
            interpretation both vocally and dramatically a little hard -- her acting is well thought out and there seems to be a bit of spontanuity in her actions (unlike Fleming) yet her movements are true to the role. Vocally Serafin has some allure but perhaps not quite enough (her ‘Ros’n’ at the end of the first act is not splendidly sung)- it is a very controlled Marschallin -- perhaps a little like that of Denoke. Isokoski sings
            far more ezquisitely than either with the loveliest tones spund out but as stated above is not as visually alluring -- the Great Marschallins in my experience are not matched by Serafin --
            they would include Sena Jurinac with her lovely even voice, her melancholy both facially and vocally in the tender moments. Also della Casa, cool and collected with wonderful vocal coloring , Crespin (mutterlich but what vocal control and warmth of feeling!), Claire Watson (so natural on stage), Schwarzkopf (so stylish -- aristocratic), Gruemmer (such attention to the text which she sang with utmost clarity as did Janowitz on tape). Rysanek (for Viennese warmth, and so spontaneous in every gesture though not ideal in all the parlando passages in the first act) -- te Kanawa (though a bit cool in the Serafin mode but with a more beautiful instrument), Studer (though not at the end of her career with her problems with the highest notes). My first Feldmarschallin was Varnay but I was 12 and my memory of her (vocally) a bit hazy. Of coures I liked others, Jones, Ludwig, Lott, oh so many, and others as well.

            If we discuss Coote as Octavian I am in the Zinka mode -- Coote was for me the disaster of the dress rehearsal (not Erdmann) -- Coote’s voice, not all that attractive except individual notes here and there, is not evenly modulated in this role -- some notes louder than others even when in ensemble and some of the higher notes not attractive at all (we must remember that the tessitura for Octavian pretty much matches that of the Marschallin except the Marschallin has that one B flat and Octavian, if I am not mistaken, goes up only to an A -- that is why some singers have been equally impressive in both roles). Also Coote’s voice did not match well with Erdmann’s (a good conductor would have had Coote turn down the volume at times) -there seemed to be no attempt on the part of Coote to jell in the duets (Coote’s final duets with Sophie were not well sung). Of course, we all know from the Hansels that Coote does not move splendidly as a young man -- enough said -- she is chubby as well, most noticeably in the first act and clumsy to boot. This is not necessarily a total detriment for neither Seefried nor Ludwig were truly svelt but particularly Seefried’s movements and character building were splendid to watch (and to hear as well). Zinka mentions Rise Stevens who was “our” Octavian for quite some time and though I think vocally Stevens could never match Jurinac or Seefried, Stevens was excellent on stage -- and others after her (Fassbaender, Baltsa, Trudeliese Schmidt -- quite forgotten but excellent) Troyanos had rich tones if mushy diction and was a favored Octavian even in Salzburg -- more lately we had Kirchschlager, Koch, Graham and perhaps absolutely best of all in the 21st century, Garanca, who is sorely missed this revival. I probably have seen at least 45 Octavians over the years and sadly I would place Coote quite close to the bottom of the list in quality.

            The Ochs of Peter Rose is well known and has been well received. His voice is not the deepest voice (ala Kurt Boehme, Kurt Moll, Edelmann who were among the best), but like Walter Berry, Peter Rose’s assumption of the role is extremely positive -- not overdone for comic gestures but very effective in moderation.

            Ketelsen is not as interesting as some (Kunz) as Faninal but no liability.
            The other parts Jane Henchel, is just okay --
            Jennifer Check less so and Eric Cutler not at all interesting as the tenor.

            The problem with this Rosenkavalier was that it was not magical at all -destroyed, as it was by Coote. Plus one did not feel that Serafin would have had all the women over 40 in the audience in tears at the end of the 1st act as good as she was (aristocratic but not touching the soul). One left the dress rehearsal feeling a bit flat -- not illuminated, not floating in the glow of a superior performance of Der Rosenkavalier. Perhaps the Prima was better but I shall not attend another Rosenkavalier until we have a different Octavian.

            • Regina delle fate

              Thanks, Bill. A wonderful summation! I’m so glad you like the Streich Sophie which is also my favourite on disc, followed by Gueden and Popp who I saw twice as Sophie live -- the best I have seen on stage. I also quite liked Serafin’s Marschallin in Amsterdam, and when I saw her in Munich, she seemed less well suited to the production there. It is odd that she, a Viennese, should seem such an aloof Marschallin. In that respect she reminded me of another Viennese Marschallin, Helga Dernesch, who could be quite cool and haughty. But she is a good singer. I can see that FM would find her lacking in detail and I agree with FM she is much better as Tosca. Your comments about Seefried and Jurinac, who I only know as Octavian from records, seem to suggest that the best interpreters of the role are sopranos. Glyndebourne used to favour soprano Octavians -- until next season, only one mezzo, Veasey, has sung Octavian there. Usually they had Söderström, Zylis-Gara or Felicity Lott -- at least two of those became well-known Marschallinnen. Next summer it is Tara Erraught, a young singer at the Bayerische Staatsoper. I wonder what FM thinks of that casting……

        • Regina delle fate

          Yes, that Capriccio Gräfin was a terrible let-down Armerj. It should have been a perfect role for her and she was buried in the score….

    • Gualtier M

      BTW: Serafin has listed in the program that she is singing Turandot in Verona and other places later next year. This is madness -- that short scratchy top is not the strongest part of her voice and
      she will blow out what is left of it in a role like Turandot. Stop the Madness!!!

      • Feldmarschallin

        Gualtier she has already sung Turandot. I know that she has already sung it in Zürich and I think also somewhere in Italy maybe Torre del Lago. So Turandot is not new for her. I find her quite good as Tosca but the Marschallin was not my cup of tea. For me it is not so much a certain voice type that I like but much more can she move me and does she bring something extremely special and unique to the role. I adore Lotte Lehmann who was even thinking of Isolde and sang the first Färberin and Turandot and find her Marschallin one of the best but then I also like the lyric Schwarzkopf who brings something else to the role. They are both so different in voice and approach but both in my opinion excellent. Then I love Reining in the role who is the most Vienesse of my favorite Marschallins. But all three are different types of voices and women. Rysanek whom I adore in almost everything especially in Verdi is one whose Marschallin I cannot stand. Popp whom I also adore was IMO a Fehlbesetzung but was by far my best Sophie. Della Casa bores me to death. And even my much adored Jurinac does nothing for me as the Marschallin. And today I could not say if I prefer Schwanewilms or Harteros in the role. Many that I know say Harteros is even better but to me they are different I like both approaches very much. Granted Schwanewilms sometimes sings on the capital especially when thinking of the Kaiserin but at least she will take risks but in every Tannhäuser the b at the end of the Hallenaria and the b flat at Zürück where not a thing a beauty and in those moments Harteros can sing rings around her since her voice is just bigger and her top notes never come out as slightly screamed but I forgive her since the rest of the role is so beautifully and intelligently sung with so much detail to the text and she is so patrician to see on stage.

        • Bill

          Feldmarschallin -- How would you compare
          Marianne Schech’s Feldmarschallin to the others you cite? She sang the role frequently, I believe. in Munich, but I only saw her as Ortrud there (well sung -- not as vocally dramatic as some) -- In the DGG Boehm 1958 recording, Schech’s Marschallin is a bit unsteady, but well sung with very clear diction and a balanced understanding of the role -- plus she blends enormously well with Seefried and Streich (but that may have been Boehm’s control of the entire venture in Dresden). It is my favorite recording of the opera (not least because of the ravishing Presentation of the Silver Rose though Schech has nothing to do with that, nor Kurt Boehme who is a great plus in that recording as is Fischer-Dieskau). The DGG recording was originally supposed to have Rysanek as the Marschallin but apparently she was ill and Schech was debutised but at the time of its release her assumption of the role was considered substandard next to Reining’s and Schwarzkopf’s.

          I like Schech as her voice (without too much vibrato or tremolo) blends so well in the trio -each voice in that recording is so distinct (Schwarzkopf and Stich-Randall have the same type of voices in the EMI trio). Originally von Karajan wanted Seefried and Streich for his EMI recording but it did not happen, so Boehm latched onto them for his DGG recording two years later. When Rysanek was in good voice she could be a fine Marschallin but as I mentioned above, her parlando was not splendid as she was never
          quite Wortklar and that part of the Marschallin, in the middle of the voice, was
          not Rysanek’s strong point -- yet Rysanek could launch the 3rd act trio gorgeously when she was in full control of her instrument -- plus Rysanek always seemed to have that Viennese warmth in her facial expressions and movements as the Marschallin -- it was warm and charming, not cold and stately as a few others play it. I am surprised you did not like Jurinac’s Marschallin -- she came to the role in 1966 after being one of the greatest of Octavians from 1946-1965 and I felt, as the Marschallin, she had this wonderful touch of melancholy both in her actions and in her beautiful voice, which leant credence to her interpretation (as it did her
          Elisabeta in Don Carlo). But truly, I do not think there will ever been any agreement among Straussians regarding who has been the finest Marschallin. Unfortunately as yet I have seen neither Schwanewilms nor Harteros in the role -- but eagerly await the opportunity.

          • Feldmarschallin

            Schech sang quite frequently in München but that was before my time and I never liked her nor the recording of her Marschallin which lacks the elegance and charm. She sings it in a very straightforward manner with a bit unsteady at times and I find her a bit squally. She also lacks the lightness. Jurinac is divine as Oktavian as is Seefried too but her Marschallin never touched me. Now the Elisabetta in Carlos I find excellent of Jurinac and there is very little which I don’t care for which she recorded but the Marschallin is a role which IMO doesn’t quite work. I also am not crazy about her Leonore.

          • Regina delle fate

            Well, Bill, Jurinac’s Marschallin remains one of my best -- up there with Söderström, Tomova-Sintov -- although she sang it when she was getting a bit long in the tooth and bulging out of her costume -- and Harteros. Gwyneth could be very touching in the role, if variable vocally. Kiri was beautiful but you couldn’t really have cared less about her. Flott was ok but not really moving. Schwanewilms I find a little bloodless in almost everything, but she does sing some of the role exquisitely. Harteros not only has more voice, but she seems a meatier character altogether, yet just as concermed about textual detail, if not even more so. I am glad you stick up for Schech’s recording. She strikes me as similar to Reining, and very good with the text. I believe she was a late replacement for Rysanek who pulled out of the recording. I have to say I find Schech more touching than Schwarzkopf, even though Schwarzkopf sings the notes more beautifully. She tends to divide British listeners, I’ve found. I know people who HATE the Karajan recording because of Schwarzkopf, and others who adore it because of her. On record I prefer Crespin, who sounds much more natural and real. But she struggles with the high B, of course.

            • Bill

              Cebotari indeed did sing Turandot -- but in those days the Wiener Staatsoper was
              performing Turandot in the Theater an der Wien which is not a large theater. Other
              Turandots at the time were Gertrude Grob-Prandl, Daniza Ilitsh, Carla Martinas, Leonie Rysanek and a certain Slavka Prochaskova. Boehm conducted the premiere. Lius included Hilde Guedan, Irmgard Seefried, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Teresa Stich-Randalls -- Mozartians all. Most of the Kalaf’s were sung by Helge Rowwaenge who I believe had a voice of considerable size. There were 63 performances of Turandot in Vienna in a 7 year span. Cebotari sang Turandot there 9 times in a little over 3 months (and 15 Salomes in a two year span and many Donna Annas. but many other roles including Gilda and Susanna -- now not too many Gildas and Susannas essay Turandot in the same season. After Grob-Prandl and Nilsson everyone expects Turandot to have an immense voice -- but apparently it can be sung lyrically as well. As Cebotari died
              so young we will never know what she
              might have done had her career lasted another 15 or 20 years. In 1955 when
              the Staatsoper returned to its rebuilt house most of those singing Turandot were singers who also sang Isolde or Elektra. No Susannas or Gildas among them.
              Cebotari’s last performance in Vienna was as Laura in Bettelstudent but within that same month she sang Salome, Turandot, Frau Fluth, Butterfly, Graefin Almaviva, Violetta, Marenka, Pamina and Saffi in Zigeunerbaron.
              What Prima Donna today would sing so many
              roles in such a short period of time? -- Cebotari sang 18 roles in two years in Vienna and who knows what else during that time (Arabella in Switzerland we know of
              as della Casa was the Zdenka). Incredible.

        • Krunoslav

          “Lotte Lehmann who … sang the first Färberin and Turandot ”

          Färberin yes, Turandot no. I realize that Vienna and Munich are the center of your world ( and lucky you!) but Rosa Raisa was the first Turandot, Lehmann the first *Vienna* Turandot-- so before her came Bianca Scacciati (Roma) , Claudia Muzio ( Buenos Aires) and Anne Roselle (Dresden).

          My favorite Marschallins are Reining and Crespin ( esp. her highlights disc w/Soederstroem and Gueden), then maybe Lehmann.

          • Feldmarschallin

            I think I wrote that incorrectly. I meant that she was the first Färberin and also sang Turandot. It was of course the great Toscanini himself who conducted the La Scala Premiere and then put the baton down. I am sorry that my earlier posting was not properly written as to give the impression that Lehmann sang the first Turandot which would have been a very odd choice since she certainly did not sing the role very often and she herself said it wasn’t really a good role for her. Raisa, Roselle and Turner were very good in the role.

            • Loge

              I remember reading an interview with Maria Jeritza (I don’t remember where) in which she states Puccini was writing Turandot for her. She described being in his studio where he had her sing some of the sections he was writing. She implied that if Puccini had lived she would have premiered Turandot. I don’t know if it is true or if it was the wistful memory of one of Puccini’s favorite sopranos but she eventually was a successful Turandot.

            • MontyNostry

              I recently read a biography of Rosa Raisa and there’s a chapter devoted to the Turandot premiere. It seems that it was recorded, but that sadly the matrices were destroyed in error. I had no idea Muzio sang Turandot too. Most unexpected!

            • Bill

              Feldmarschallin -- Indeed Lotte Lehmann
              was the first Turandot in Vienna -- she shared the role with Maria Nemeth and later in her book, Lehmann admitted that Maria Nemeth (who must have had ample high notes as she had also sung Konstanze and Queen of the Night -- plus Aida and everything else -- was more suited to the role of Turandot than Lehmann actually was. I gather too that Lehmann was a rather good actress on the stage and most productions of Turandot with an immense train and headdress do not give the Turandot much opportunity for movement -- one has to act the role with one’s voice and it is not always so easy if he top notes are not freely there to begin with. Presumably the Vienna Turandot at that time was in German -- I think even
              through 1956 when Rysanek sang it there. I believe the first Turandot in Italian there was the 1961 new production with Nilsson, di Stefano and Leontyne Price for the 1948 producion of Turandot (Cebotori, Roswaenge,
              Seefried with Boehm conducting and the 1956 new production of Turandot with Grob-Prandl, later Rysanek, Borkh, Carla Martinis, Nilsson and once with Frances Yeend in 1958 were in German (though I would suppose
              Yeend sang in Italian rather than re-learning the role in German for one performance only.)

            • Regina delle fate

              Cebotari also sang Turandot, Monty. I suspect in those days it was regarded a true lirico-spinto role, and conductors kept the orchestra down. Apparently a very young Anja Silja also sang Turandot.

            • MontyNostry

              It always surprises me to see that Cebotari sang Turandot. I really like what I’ve heard of her, but she must have been a bit on the light side for the Principessa di Morte.

            • MontyNostry

              Here is the Prinzessin des Todes

  • redbear

    Liked the one-word description of the Met’s cinema program by Barrie Kosky: “Starbucks.”

    • MontyNostry

      … or was her referring to Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick? Did you see the big interview with Kosky in Opera magazine this month? He sounds rather good value.

  • Linda

    Is it completely inappropriate to look for an Octavian within at least two inches of the M’s height, slender and gallant, worth her mourning for? I could not get past that ugly old woman clunking around, staring at the Marschallin’s navel. It was risible.
    To say nothing of the sword fight.
    I’m not a fire Deborah/little black dress operagoer, but this was ridiculous.

    • messa di voce

      Please tell us who, when Garanca cancelled on somewhat short notice, who you would have hired who would not have been ridiculous.

      • armerjacquino

        I see 45 is old now.

      • Krunoslav

        How about Ruxandra Donose?

        • oedipe

          She is not on the Met rolodex.

          • Gualtier M

            Ruxandra Donose was on the Met rolodex and quite good when she stepped into a “Hoffmann” revival some years ago. I forget who she replaced.

            However, French mezzo Geraldine Chauvet is singing the last performance on December 13th which I will be unable to attend. I thought her Sesto last year (Garanca called in sick) was a quite promising debut though not on Garanca’s level. She is slim and handsome and a bit taller than Coote and youthful onstage.

            Coote, though a fine artist, was overly “butch” in the role (like late career Fassbaender) and lacked aristocratic polish. She cannot help that she is fairly short and no longer slim but rounder (not fat).

            Garanca has that silvery soprano quality that works best as Oktavian whereas Coote has an “earthier” timbre (to use Tommasini’s favorite adjective for all mezzos). I hope Elina will eventually bring the role to the Met -- maybe in the new production they are planning for Renee’s farewell season.

            • oedipe

              Ruxandra Donose was on the Met rolodex and quite good when she stepped into a “Hoffmann” revival some years ago.

              Not before, nor since. The exception confirms the rule.

            • Krunoslav

              Oedipe, you might wish to check the Archives before issuing oracular pronouncements. I head Donose’s Met debut as Cherubino in 1999. Why this fine artist’s career has been limited to 2 Cherubinos and 4 Nicklausses I don’t know; she sang a lovely Berlioz Marguerite at Carnegie and has appeared in San Francisco and Philadelphia quite a bit.

            • manou

              Ruxandra Donose -- the (near) ideal name for Cyrano de Bergerac.

            • Krunoslav

              “Ruxandra Donose was on the Met rolodex and quite good when she stepped into a “Hoffmann” revival some years ago. I forget who she replaced.”

              Took me a while--but wasn’t this one of the Met audience’s one of several happy misses with the Kasarova fraud?

            • Porgy Amor

              I believe it was the last such miss, krunoslav. Kasarova’s Met career was only three Barbieres in 2002 and six Werthers in 2004, but not for lack of the house’s trying. I believe she cancelled four times between 1997 (replaced by Vivica Genaux in Barbiere) and December 2004 (that Hoffmann). They gave up at that point.

              I was looking at what I have here from her, and there is not much. Just Polina in a live Queen of Spades with Freni (’92); the French-language Favorite with Vargas, and a DVD of Clemenza from Salzburg. I was never impelled to seek out more, but I do not dislike her performances in those. The Mozart is the least good of the three, if memory serves, as the voice is less well equalized across the registers, and that distinctive tone is getting foggier.

            • phoenix

              re: Kasarova -- no one mentioned Zayda, fille de Ben-Selim in Donizetti’s Dom Sébastien, Roi de Portugal. She sang it at Covent Garden London & Carnegie Hall NY (2006). That was that last time I saw her onstage. The CG London live recording is decent, but the Carnegie Hall performance was b-a-a-a-d. We were sitting in the parterre boxes right across from Martina Arroyo & Kitty Carlisle (it was the last I saw Kitty live, too). Kasarova: most cautious singing I’ve ever heard in live opera performance -- she covered her tone so much she could barely sketch out a complete musical phrase -- her sound was absolutely monochromatic throughout the opera.
              -- But I heard Kasarova do a concert live broadcast much more recently -- from somewhere in Deutschland, I think it was -- she sang some Berlioz mélodies very well, I saved a few of them.

            • oedipe


              A sophisticated linguist like you might want to know that the correct pronunciation of Ruxandra’s name is something like Donosé (and thus, closer to Sartre than to Rostand).


              Even though I wasn’t aware of the two Cherubino performances Donose sang 15 years ago, that doesn’t change my general point about her conspicuous absence from the Met more recently. And I am happy to see you agree with me, in this case at least, that quality is not necessarily the selection criterion used by the Met.

            • pobrediablo

              Kasarova also did Capuleti/Montecchi in Avery Fisher Hall in 1999.

    • bluecabochon

      Even for Parterre, that is HARSH.

    • oedipe

      Serafin is taller than EVERYBODY in that Met cast. I believe she would have looked taller on stage than the (very tall) Garanca.

      • oedipe

        Oops, there was one who was taller: Eric Cutler.

  • Clita del Toro

    Poor “Linda” she has no imagination.