Cher Public

Maid in Manhattan

Jane Archibald will sing the role of Adele in all 14 performances of the new production of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Met this season. Christine Schäfer, originally scheduled to sing the first six performances of the opera, is ill and unable to travel to the Met for rehearsals. Archibald was originally scheduled to sing the final eight performances of the run.”  So says the Met press office.

  • manou

    This thread seems to have morphed from Jane Archibald to Netrebko, so I am posting this here

    A few lines about Trovatore.

    Does anyone else find it odd that the replacement tenor is airbrushed from everything to to with the performance? He seems to have been obliterated from both comments and recordings.

    • pobrediablo

      Yes, it seems that way. Like he’s not good enough to get any attention.
      Who was the originally scheduled tenor?

      • Porgy Amor

        Aleksandrs Antonenko.

        • pobrediablo


    • la vociaccia

      Manou, for you; ho trovato il trovatore

      • manou


    • DonCarloFanatic

      I thought they did that because they shot the promo film with the tenor who’s now gone, and they don’t want to use his image (And maybe no longer have the right to) and don’t have images for the replacement in rehearsals. Make sense?

      • pobrediablo

        Even reviews?

      • manou

        Perfect sense DCF!

    • Regina delle fate

      Manou -- this isn’t Berliner Morgenpost’s review. It’s just a news report that it happened and that Nebs and Domingo were acclaimed and the director sustained a few boos. The full review, presumably mentioning the lesser known Azucena and Manrico will follow on Monday.

      • manou

        That’s why I said “A few lines about Trovatore“.

        Looking forward to the reviews.

  • mirywi

    The story behind this cancellation must be kept from the press. It’s nobody’s business anyway.

    • operaassport

      What the hell does that mean?

    • manou

      Oooooh! You are about to incur the wrath of our Doyenne.

      • mirywi

        It’s a paraphrase of a recent post about the break up of Anna N and Schrott.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    • grimoaldo

      Oh thank you! Gregory Kunde is so great, look at O paradis, starts about 3:11:00, sound slightly out of synch, doesn’t matter, he is won-der-ful, the “top houses” are nuts not to have him every season.
      Also it is on a more or less bare stage, these grand operas don’t have to have millions spent on lavish decor such as reconstructions of the opera house where they were originally performed.

      • Bianca Castafiore

        Yeah, I’ve always wondered why the Met did not like him, nor Bruce Ford, for the Rossini and bel canto works.

        • Perhaps because until very recently the Met did not do the Rossini and bel canto works, since James Levine doesn’t care for them?

        • oedipe

          Saying that Kunde’s absence from the Met is due to the scarcity of Rossini and bel canto on their schedule sounds like a pretext to me. Kunde’s rep is not limited to bel canto and Rossini. He is a full lyric, like many others who sing regularly at the Met in various reps.

          He seems to be in great vocal shape these days. He sings a lot at La Fenice, where he is much loved, and where he has sung Verdi’s Otello for a couple of seasons. He was a fabulous Arrigo in Vienna last season.

          His Enée, one of the best on record, dates from ten years ago.

      • Camille

        Oh good, you found it, grimoaldo. I am watching it as well and in spite of a few infelicities am enjoying a night at the opera in the exquisite, the stunningly beautiful La Fenice. It is so nice to hear an opera where the singers are not constrained at alta voce in a huge barn. Only the Italians could come up with such costumes.

        Enjoy, and allow it to help you over l’orrore of the Vêpres mal conçues.

    • aulus agerius

      QPF! What is the straight URL for this video, i.e. without the ’embedding code.’ I can’t find it on Logan D’s YT account. TIA.

    • Camille

      Thank you for posting, QPF. Cicciabella also posted a link a thread or three back there, I know not where.

      What’s the story on Gregory Kunde? Wasn’t he gravely ill or retired or some such thing? He didn’t appear to me to be ill at all nor sound that way.

      Mistake to cast a mezzo as Sélica, but other than that, lot’s of old-fashioned fun.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Kunde has a great career in Europe, sings operas that others don’t want to spend the time preparing and sounds much better in the smaller theaters.
        This looks like an interesting production:

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

          • Camille

            I am so happy to have seen this, QPF. And I am so happy I did not see the actual movie, too.

        • Buster

          Looking forward to his Otello a lot, in Antwerp, with Alberto Zedda, who will be 86 by then.

      • Bianca Castafiore

        Cammillyona!!!! You’re probably thinking of Bruce Ford, who is retired, due to health issues, from what I hear.

        Kunde, I believe, recently sang Enée in the Troyens that had Antonacci as Cassandre, can’t recall who the Didon was.

        • Camille

          D’accord, Biancadiva! That’s the one.

          Have you heard the Eugene Onegin yet or are you going to? I am just wondering about your take on the whole Popsy-Turvy affair.

          Hope you are not too mobbed when you attend the opera. I know, I know…they never forget—-can you blame them??


          • PetertheModest

            Popsy-Turvy ? She seems to have seen some sense, and has withdrawn from Guillaume Tell, and is concentrating on roles which she can just about manage vocally, Elisabeth in Tannhauser and Tatiana in Onegin, to stay clear of roles which are beyond her and too much of a strain on her voice. She has had a wretched year with illness and exhaustion, doing too much, often singing when indisposed and then having to withdraw, as with Traviata and Vepres.

            If she sticks to a more limited repertoire and does not let conductors and opera houses to lure her into unsuitable roles, she might be able to survive in opera land.

            • Camille

              Thank you. I know all that.

              What was being asked here was the august opinion of the GREAT DIVA, Madame Bianca Castafiore. Who remains tacet.

              Good Luck, Poppy! I am coming to here you this week and you had better have your shite together for once.

            • Bianca Castafiore

              Cammillissima!!!! I will try to make it to Onyegin this week or next, just to catch my beloved Peter!!!!! Sorry to have missed Marius earlier this season. Let’s hope Marina is well recovered from her recent troubles.

              Hope you had a good Turkey Day. We have lots of leftovers, this year, Irma made guinea hens, partridges and pheasants!!!! It was wonderful.

              Tootles, carina.

            • Camille

              Bianca, there is a Sirius broadcast of the Eugene Onegin tonight, starting at 7:30 p.m., if you please.

              You are a real slavedriver to poor Irma! All those dead birds!!!!!

              love & kisses

          • alejandro

            I saw Onegin on Friday.

            Dramatically it was a bazillion times better than the 1st cast. I think the brisker conducting helped as well. There were many times I was holding my breath or on the edge of my feet (I was in standing room).

            Mattei was incredible. His first aria was a home run. I almost wanted to punch/kiss him when he grabbed that apple. Amazing.

            I also really loved Villazon. I had never seen him before and I appreciated his emotionally volatile Lensky. Kuda Kuda was the big emotional high point for me. I was bawling my face off.

            Popsy gave a much more detailed and specific characterization to Tatyana (and she actually wrote the letter at the end of the Letter Scene . . . something Trebs didn’t quite do as she was busy tossing pages around and probably ended up writing Onegin a haiku for all her pencil moved on the paper). The physicality for the Letter Scene was incredible. Her anguish, her journey, and the aftermath where she simply braids her hair were amazing. I also loved her in the final scene. I don’t think I breathed once.

            She was however, a vocal mess . . . the worst I’ve heard her. Cracking here and there and letting out some really sour high notes. It was so frustrating because I wanted to marry her physicality to Netrebko’s voice and get the perfect Tatyana.

            I still hate this production and don’t get why we now have this dreary set of interiors for such a rich and passionate opera.

            • PetertheModest

              By all accounts, Popsy was in better voice on the 23rd, her first performance of Onegin. It’s possible she might get worse vocally as the run continues, which would be a shame.

            • bluecabochon

              I also had a much better time at Onegin with the second cast last Friday evening. Performances were very interesting, riveting, even. Poplavskaya was mesmerizing as Tatyana, believable as the shy and even socially paralyzed country bumpkin, head buried in a book, believably able to separate herself from everything going around her and naturally introverted. She was a tense presence and visually a good match for her sister, nicely sung by Elena Maximova. I believed every action of hers except the rapid writing of the letter, which should have begun earlier, the only flaw in the dramatic letter scene. Not every note was perfect but I am willing to forgive her for this, acknowledging that she was recently ill. She seemed cautious in the face of high notes but also was very physically active and perhaps a little out of breath at times. She looked lovely in her costumes but I noticed that she doesn’t want to be tightly laced into her corset and bodices; some singers do and some don’t. She sent daggers with her eyes at Mattei during the party scene in Act 2 after his prank ruined everything, which was something to watch. I wonder if her performances are the same very time, or if she varies what she does? It all seems so natural. She is not as taxed in this role as others, and was actually smiling and happy during curtain calls. I didn’t fully believe Anna as Tatyana but Marina, yes, absolutely, and am happy for this once to sacrifice the consistent richness of Anna’s sound for this edgier interpretation.

              The production is rich to look at until the last two scenes in St Petersburg, which please, should have been equally as opulent and realized as the first two acts. You can get away with a spare winterscape for the duel but after that, no no no.

              I wanted to adore 100% Mattei’s Onegin but I think that he is missing something crucial as an actor in this role -- the belief that he is fabulous beyond measure and the catch of all catches in his society. Onegin needs to be a dandy, a rake and PM is just too shambling, too reticent and down to earth for that, and is not costumed or coiffed correctly to support the notion that he is out of her league. She is a striking bumpkin, that’s for sure -- and he’s a tall gangly guy with decent tailoring who happens to be rich and a little aloof, but that’s it. Come on, Peter, OWN IT and WORK IT! You know you can do it. I did see a character arc forming after the duel and he did eventually do a 180 and became rather unhinged at the end, which caused some happy chuckling in my seating area. Vocally it was a very nice performance as we would expect from him but he seems a tad awkward onstage and if there is one thing that I think we can agree on is that Onegin is probably never awkward. Be tall, beautiful and Beau Brummel-ish….move like a predator with an occasional wicked twinkle in your eye, even if you are bored most of the time. I didn’t see any sparks between Onegin and Tatyana and was so disappointed. He messed with her mentally at her name-day party but needed to show us more motivation other than wandering around the set looking bored.

              I happened to see “The Winslow Boy” the next evening and in the person of the Alessandro Nivola as the lawyer, found what was lacking in Mattei. Here was a character who is just as messed-up emotionally as Onegin, except that he had a mission in life and wasn’t wandering the earth as a bored aristocrat. There was cool restraint and confidence in his own wonderfulness, but also a sense of mischief and fun and even a little malice. There wasn’t much of the urbane continental about Mattei’s Onegin, even if he’s supposed to be quite young.

              It was great to see Villazon again and he made the most out of this appearance. He was a very engaging, passionate, busy, friendly, observant Lenski and clearly is very comfortable onstage in this production. A real performance with nicely detailed acting. I have never been a true fan of his style of singing but it seems as if he is holding back slightly on high notes in order to best deliver Kuda, Kuda, but it is the Villazon of old in that he virtually pours out sound, holding the long lines and gives 110%. There was no clowning around here -- he was believable as the artsy, slightly highly-strung poet prone to leaps of fancy.

              Again, we are blessed to have Zaremba and Diadkova on hand, but again endured the precious Ichabod Crane-like Triquet and The Aria That Goes On Forever. I wanted to love Kocan as Gremin but that aria is always interminable for me and this was no exception, taken at a tempo that stops the act dead every time. Good volume, but he is always at the lip of the stage for best projection, and the voice sounded quite dry and grating. Nice persona, looked good but for me a young, handsome Gremin is wrong for this story.

              6 columns, not 8 -- there are too many in that clumsy ballroom. 4 would be better, and more attractive ones, maybe Corinthian, with gilding.

              Watching the staging from a different vantage point, a little higher up in the Grand Tier this time (the house was papered -- I can’t afford to sit there otherwise) seeing the shiny black floor that was covered with what looked like rubber for the dancing in act 1; without the covering it added greatly to the visuals. I didn’t really notice it before from my seat lower down. I think that some staging and character details may have been refined since September. Interesting that most pairings are kept as far away from each other as possible, at opposite ends of the stage, which is a good use of that massive space and tells the story. The storytelling was much improved this time around, and my friend, who doesn’t get to the opera much and didn’t know this one, was deeply involved from the first photo projection onward.

              There was some flubbing in the horn section here and there and I thought that pit and stage weren’t always coordinated, but otherwise the conducting by Alexander Vedernikov seemed fine. I was very much caught up in the drama this time.

              Villazon playfully insisted that Marina and Peter take separate bows, which they did, which was nice for the audience. I highly recommend this cast for a different experience of this production!

            • MontyNostry

              Maybe Poplavskaya should consider doing a Dessay and aiming for a career in straight theatre.

            • pobrediablo

              What a homophobic statement.

            • PetertheModest

              Did Dessay quit opera because her voice is not good enough anymore, so she has to concentrate on “straight” theatre ? (Could that be something to do with smoking ? Not that she was ever going to be an opera singer, but the classical singer Charlotte Church, the “voice of an angel”, became a smoker and puffed her way through 25 cigarettes a day, and recently sought a career in pop music, where the voice does not have to be so good.)

              With Poplavskaya, she has always had a passion for singing, but the question is if she ever had a good enough voice for opera. Her “training” took place in Russia in the 1990s, and it seems she was given large roles to sing before her technique could be finalized, leaving her with a lot of problems. Intermezzo explained that she has not been singing large roles for 10 years or so, that is just her international career, but for almost 10 years before then in Russia. So, there was a potentially good or even great voice in there, but she never had enough training for it to develop properly. It may not even be her fault that she was left with insufficient technique to do the roles she was cast in.

              So, why is she in such demand by opera-houses around the world ? The simple fact is that she can act extraordinarily well, and that is rare in opera, so directors and conductors turn a blind eye to her vocal deficiencies. The assumption is that the majority of a typical opera audience would not be able to tell if a singer is singing well or not, and that the acting communicates more to the audience in general than the singing does. Here, on Parterre, we have opera buffs, who can actually tell if someone is singing well or not, but perhaps about 10% of the average opera audience is made up of people with such discernment.

              Every characterisation by Poplavskaya, acting-wise, is different, and differentiated in great detail. She has a rare talent for acting in opera.

              Is acting more important than singing ? It may well be in modern opera productions.

        • Feldmarschallin

          Susan Graham I believe sang in that production.

          • Krunoslav

            One knows to a woman of la Castafiore’s years the centuries are a mere blur, but that “recent ” production was in October 2003, to celebrate Berlioz’ bicentennial.

            • Bianca Castafiore

              Krusty Krummy Krunoslob,

              One knows for sure that La Grandissima Castafiore is eternal… and still, as Camillyushka will remind you, younger and prettier than that old Cretaceous witch, Nervosa la Gelosa!!!!!!

            • Krunoslav

              “Castafiore is eternal”


      • Porgy Amor

        Kunde had a battle with cancer in the 1990s, and had to withdraw from the stage for some time. I understand he responded well to treatment, and I have not heard of any health issues in more recent times.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    This Azucena in York sounds much better than the woman who is doing it now in Berlin. Here too, it seems like people no longer know how to conduct Verdi.

    • pobrediablo

      I’m getting the feeling they purposefully miscast Manrico and Azucena in Berlin.

    • Bianca Castafiore

      She’s quit good and so is the tenor. I assume this is an English company?

      • armerjacquino


  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    New APP for Verdi:
    L’app “Giuseppe Verdi -- Master Composers”, disponibile su iTunes Store, è un’applicazione interattiva per iPad interamente dedicata al celebre compositore di Busseto. Attraverso una timeline interattiva l’applicazione presenterà la vita del Maestro e il contesto storico, le relazioni con l’Editore Ricordi, le sue opere, i luoghi della vita e i punti di interesse culturali e turistici. Il percorso sarà corredato da ricchi materiali di approfondimento: contributi audio e video, guide all’ascolto, libretti d’opera e molto altro ancora. L’applicazione mostrerà i prestigiosi materiali dell’Archivio Storico Ricordi, la più importante raccolta documentaria verdiana al mondo e vedrà la partecipazione di prestigiose istituzioni culturali, in primis l’Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani di Parma.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    La Scotto knows her Verdi:

    • Camille

      I’ll take La Scotto as my Verdi APP, please and thank you.

      • MontyNostry

        Camille, cara, what does APP stand for here? Quite apart from her insights into Verdi, Renata is also upholding the great diva scarf tradition.

        • MontyNostry

          Please understand my confusion:

        • marshiemarkII

          Perhaps la confusione arises because APP is not an acronym but an abbreviation :-) :-) :-)

        • armerjacquino

          ‘disponibile su iTunes Store’ is the clue!

          • MontyNostry

            Aha! Con una timeline interattiva, I see. I hadn’t looked any further up the page than la Renatina irresistible.

        • Bianca Castafiore

          Monty, she means ‘application’… those thingies for smartphones and tablets, the electronic ones…

        • Camille

          A Priori Positivecaos.

          Like the kind I seem to create around here.

          Bianca gives the answer, down under.

    • antikitschychick

      Grazie mille Renata for dispensing with that silly canard about “Verdian voices”! Love her for that (aside from her great singing of course). She’s obviously very passionate about Opera and music but she’s also smart and very grounded in a sense. Lovely interview.