Cher Public

  • Lohenfal: Grim, I remember your opinion of Meistersinger from a year or two ago and am not going to refute it. Everything you say about... 12:55 AM
  • pirelli: I only saw the Grimes on TV. I thought it was horrible. Doyle has this incredible knack for taking highly dramatic pieces and... 12:08 AM
  • -Ed.: Why doesn’t the Met hold their HD-broadcast intermissions on stage, in house? It seems a shame to deny the house from such... 11:36 PM
  • -Ed.: Ah! My latest earbug is from the Gardiner Figaro.. and now it can be yours too! Perfection. httpv:// com/watch?v=Ua7... 10:03 PM
  • Batty Masetto: Ivy, Daniel Barenboim doesn’t quite see it that way: Whoever wants to see a repulsive attack on Jews in Wagner’s... 9:42 PM
  • Poison Ivy: A lot of Beckmessers music sounds like a parody of cantorial traditions, and certainly not something Wagner normally wrote for... 8:56 PM
  • grimoaldo: I’m a proud Episcopalian! Doesn’t stop me kvetching about anti-Semitism, not in Wagner generally, but in... 8:38 PM
  • armerjacquino: Well of COURSE a Venetian would say that… 8:33 PM

“You call that a trill?”

La Cieca invites the cher public to engage in lively but non-violent discourse on off-topic and general interest subjects.


  • WindyCityOperaman says:

    Born on this day in 1834 librettist Ludovic Halévy

    Born on this day in 1861 writer John Luther Long

    Born on this day in 1879 writer and librettist E M Forster

    Born on this day in 1892 conductor Artur Rodzi?ski

    Born on this day in 1898 soprano Marta Fuchs

    Born on this day in 1932 conductor Giuseppe Patanè

    Born on this day in 1947 bass László Polgár

  • WindyCityOperaman says:

    Born on this day in 1875 composer Joaquín Valverde

    Born on this day in 1901 tenor Torsten Ralf

    Born on this day in 1904 tenor James Melton

    Born on this day in 1905 composer Michael Tippett

    Happy 85th birthday conductor and musicologist Alberto Zedda

  • zinka says:

    Not many mezzos sang soprano roles successfully. Here is one of them/Grace Bumbry was born Jan.4, 1937..Wonderful voice!!!!

    • MontyNostry says:

      That is one of the best of Grace’s renditions of O don fatale. She really nails it. I love her dearly, as you all know, but she does sometimes look there as though her main concern is a slight headache.

    • kashania says:

      Funny, she’s in better voice here (more warmth to the tone) than she was a few years earlier at the Met (with Domingo/Freni/Ghiaurov).

  • pobrediablo says:

    Bumbry was an average singer. She had a great instrument but poor technique and taste -- often barking, often sharp. Also, she was not a good actress. That has more to do with her very strong personality that always came through everything she was portraying. She’s certainly behind her rival Verrett in pretty much everything.

    • grimoaldo says:

      Where is your friend Marshie pobrediablo? Is he in hiding because he raved about the flop of the year, Der Truthahn, sorry I mean Die Fledermaus, and we all hated it?
      Come out, come out Marshie, we won’t hold it against you!
      HNY Marshsie!

    • Krunoslav says:

      Let’s see. Bumbry’s languages were better than Verrett’s; she successfully sang several German repertory roles ( Venus and Salome above all, but also Elisabeth) whereas Verrett’s only sally, Leonore, was just not very good.

      Bumbry sang her best verismo parts ( Santuzza, Laura, Jenufa) far better than Verrett ever sang any of hers. Neither was really a great Tosca.

      Verrett was certainly better in bel canto, and a subtler actress. She managed some pre-Mozart rep (Vivaldi and Purcell) commendably, unlike Bumbry, whose Handel is amusing.

      I think both had their different strong points in several of their shared roles: Eboli, Amneris, Carmen, Dalila.

      At least that’s my thoughts.

      • Porgy Amor says:

        I think that that is fair, Krunoslav. I would never call Bumbry average, but I rate Verrett higher because I feel she had a higher ceiling. At her best, she was discerning, artistic, distinctive; her Lady Macbeth and Dalila portrayals seemed all hers, and while someone else’s may have been great too, it would not have been in the same way. Bumbry at her best, in my experience, tended to be straight down the middle as musician and actress. She would give you a well-sung, secure performance along the conventional lines, exciting without being probing. I do not take this for granted, and it is more than some provide, but Verrett went deeper.

        • Krunoslav says:

          Agreed, Porgy!

        • kashania says:

          As usual, very well said, Porgy.

          I love both ladies. Verrett had the greater artistry but Bumbry had the more attractive voice.

          One thing that isn’t often mentioned about Bumbry is her elegance as a singer. Take Eboli’s line (from “O don fatale”): “Ah! un di mi resta la speme m’arride”. Verret dug into her low notes when singing the line, but Bumbry was far more restrained with her low notes, without necessarily losing the level of passion that Verrett attained.

          • operalover9001 says:

            I’ll always be a bit disappointed by their joint Troyens from Paris -- if only they had switched roles!

            • kashania says:

              I didn’t know they did Troyens together. Who sang which role?

            • Hippolyte says:

              See for yourself:

            • kashania says:

              Thanks, Hippolyte. I’m going to have to check this one out. I love Verrett’s Didon (my favourite after Jessye) but think her Cassandre was even better. I’ll have to see how Grace does.

            • armerjacquino says:

              This was the opening production of the Bastille. I saw PRISE DE TROIE while on a school trip to Paris and exciting though Bumbry was, I couldn’t help but wish I was seeing the other part instead.

            • Krunoslav says:

              The last night of that Paris run had to be rescheduled due to a strike, and Bumbry ended up singing both roles that night.

          • MontyNostry says:

            kashie, I know what you mean — Grace really did have a glorious lower rang … but just listen to her grinding gears before 2’40″ here.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Kashie- I agree up to a point, I’m just not sure that elegance and restraint are what’s called for just at that moment.

      • Regina delle fate says:

        Verrett sang Orfeo at Covent Garden in the late 1960s in a new production. Before my time, alas. Solti conducted, I think, but recorded the opera with Horne. Amazing to think that Bumbry, Verrett and Horne were contemporaries and all three Americans. And very different in terms of style and temperament. Is there anyone remotely like any of them today?

        • Krunoslav says:

          Actually Solti’s was in June 1969, with Yvonne Minton and Elizabeth Robson alongside Lorengar, whose very moving Eurydice did end up on his recording with Horne and Donath-- the first complete opera set I ever bought, though I no longer much enjoy Horne or Solti’s contributions to it.

          Verrett brought her Orfeo to the ROH in May !972, with Elizabeth Vaughan and Anne Pashley (Amor), with Mackerras conducting.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Anne Pashley, opera singer and Olympian. Are there any others? I remember reading recently about a footballer (soccer player) who went on to be an opera singer, too.

        • Krunoslav says:

          “Amazing to think that Bumbry, Verrett and Horne were contemporaries and all three Americans. And very different in terms of style and temperament. Is there anyone remotely like any of them today?”

          Hey, don’t forget Met ‘stars” Kate Aldrich, Ginger Costa-Jackson and Oksana Volkova.

        • peter says:

          I saw Verrett and Bumbry in a joint concert in San Francisco in 1985. It wasn’t an equal match that night as Bumbry was not in great voice. Here’s the two together in London:

  • la vociaccia says:

    Oedipe! I do not know if this made it to parterre (I apologize if it did) but it would appear the ‘consensus’ did not prevail in Dallas this past October, with debutante Mlle Margaine being praised to the heavens not only for her singing and acting but for indeed, being Français

    The most exciting part of that evening was the U.S. debut of the young (not yet thirty) French mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine, a singing actress of great distinction who charmed and sizzled as Bizet’s tragic Gypsy heroine. Margaine’s voice is rich along its entire spectrum, from a searing top to a sultry lower register, with a middle that can be fiery and smoldering or silken, tender and warm. Margaine began the habanera with a slow exhale, then picked up the pace of Bizet’s feverish rhythms before approaching the previously inattentive Don José with alluring, kittenish sweetness. In the seguidilla, Margaine ensnared her prey with an irresistible combination of voice, gesture and come-hither looks. In the opéra comique parts of the role, she was an adept comedienne — and how wonderful it was to hear a native speaker take on this most French of operatic roles. The mezzo mingled Gallic insouciance with passion and menace: her discovery of her “death” cards was confident and chilling.

    I’d love to hear her Carmen or Dalila!

    • oedipe says:

      la vociaccia,

      Thanks for the quote from Opera News. Margaine is currently making a big splash as Carmen at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where she has become a local audience favorite. Hopefully some kind of positive “consensus” about her will ensue from all this, and she will get to sing Carmen in places like the Met and SF. After all, Carmens abound these days, but there aren’t that many excellent ones among them.

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    At last nights performance someone from the house came out and said that backstage after the Forza on the 28th they were all joking and someone asked if he had a concert to sing on the 31 and he said no he would be at home with his family and not drinking a drop of alcohol but solely concentrating on this run. He has a ‘starke Erkältung’. How stark we will see but I assume he will continue towards the end of the run. The next performance is already on Sunday so he might let that one slide and hopefully be better by the 8th (I have no ticket for that one). She started out a bit out of sorts with a new partner and there was not much chemistry. The scene where he rushes in with Kaufmann he throws her on the table and she wraps her legs around him. Here she was very ladylike and was trying to get away. Can you blame her. Todorvich looked like her father and the wig which suited Kaufmann did him no favors. But as soon as she was rid of him she gave her best performance yet. I have said that of every one so far because in everyone both of them have just gotten better and more at ease. But vocally she was in stupendous form. Terzier also very strong. Todorovich has a very leatherly sounding voice with a pressed top that is not always on pitch. Manou die Fürstin will be wearing pale yellow on Sunday. I ran into the Damraus before the performance and they were not going to the opera but to the Kammerspiele. Apparently their daughter has another Traviata tomorrow in Milano but they said she has more plans for the BSO in the future and they are very glad to have her and the grandchildren closer to home.

    • manou says:

      Aha Feld -- will you also be wearing yellow stockings and cross garters?

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        Stockings will be very sheer nude with seams in the back. I have no info in regards to Kaufmann if he will be singing. The next performance is already on Sunday so depending on how bad his cold is he might or might not sing. Of course we all know that if he isn’t all well he could give the cold to Harteros and Tezier and we would like to keep them healthy as well especially you know the vultures will come out very quickly if she dares and cancels a performance. I recall when the plans were first announced about 7 performances there were bets on how many she would cancel. I myself have a cough at the moment but then again I needn’t sing Alvaro.

      • CarlottaBorromeo says:

        Just so long as neither of you are left like Patience on a monument…

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    This in the Zeit today. His goose is cooked.

  • manou says:

    Here is Neil Fisher of the London Times:

    La forza del destino at Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
    Published 1 minute ago

    (4* out of 5)

    At the end of the Verdi-Wagner anniversary year the Bavarian State Opera pulled off an extraordinary feat. Did you think opera only embraced faith, blood, sex and guilt in Wagner’s Parsifal? Martin Kušej’s searching production of La forza del destino reveals that his Italian contemporary went there 20 years before.
    The result is not comfortable viewing but it goes no farther than Verdi did himself. “La vita è inferno,” sings Alvaro, or “life is hell”. Here this is not Italian hyperbole but understood honestly. The war that flings around the protagonists of The Force of Destiny is messy, atrocious and familiar: Martin Zehetgruber’s designs reference the splintered steel girders of the destroyed World Trade Center. The use of 9/11 imagery is by now a familiar trope, but Zehetgruber’s gravity-defying sets almost seem to catch the cast in mid-freefall as civilisation implodes.
    A world infected by constant terrorism is also a plausible context for the way in which the characters in Forza seem to spin around each other without recognition or understanding. Jonas Kaufmann’s traumatised Alvaro and Anja Harteros’s equally damaged Leonora are on opposite sides: the former becomes a freedom fighter, possibly of Islamic persuasion (though it’s rarely emphasised, Verdi’s librettist originally made him a half-caste Inca), while Leonora returns to the harsh Christianity of her repressive family. Verdi’s queasy feelings about organised religion can rarely have found a more appropriate realisation than the spooky cult evoked here: a barefoot chorus who give Leonora a full-body baptism. And yet, helped by Asher Fisch’s diaphanous, long-breathed conducting, the message of compassion and expiation shines movingly through. Again, this is not how one is used to hearing Verdi, but it’s done with sincerity and élan.
    This is a luxurious ensemble. Kaufmann and Harteros are both on top form, he husky and neurotic, she floating some sublime pianissimos while saving plenty of power for the big moments. A stylish Ludovic Tézier, as the couple’s nemesis Don Carlo, is terrifically impassioned too and it’s a mark of this production’s clarity of purpose that he seems as much a victim as everyone else. I warmed less to Renato Girolami’s granite-voiced Melitone and Nadia Krasteva’s hammy Preziosilla — the fun-loving gypsy is perhaps the one character Kušej can’t fathom — but Munich has done Verdi proud here. Two more performances before the production returns in July.”

    • Feldmarschallin says:

      I am not sure what performance he saw but if he saw Kaufmann it had to have been on the 28th and at that point there were more than two performances until July. 2.1, 5.1, 8.1 and 11.1.

      • manou says:

        Probably -- but it is published today, and that is the situation as it will be read.

        • Feldmarschallin says:

          If it is read today there are still 3 performances…on the 5th, 8th and 11th. I mean it is a minor detail but I am funny when it comes to things like that.

  • antikitschychick says:

    CBS FINALLY posted a video of Martina Arroyo’s tribute from the Kennedy Center Honors!! :-D

    Love Sondra’s dress! She sounded pretty good too…Aida is a perfect fit for her voice…Joseph Calleja sounded a bit frantic at first but the diminuendo on “sol” at the end was nice…I got teary eyed at watching Martina get teary eyed lol so touching.

    This page has vids of most of the other tributes posted:

    Rufus sounded awesome in the Billy Joel tribute!

    and here’s Anna Kendrick’s tribute for Shirley MacLaine:

    I thought she has adorable and sounded really good…even better than Sutton Foster (ducks!)

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    Beautiful….Buster especially for you

    • tornado12 says:

      God… I’d love to hear her as Kundry. Most of her stuff (well, except the end of Act II) is not very loud and the text does need some attention. Also, her in Act Three would be quite a sight I think. Ah, and the low parts in Act I (“Schlafen, schlafen…”). Does anyone know what will be on the CD besides Wesendonck-Lieder, Isoldes Liebestod and the Tannhäuser-Bacchanale? Possibly (or hopefully) Isolde’s Narration?

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        Da fehlt ihr doch die breite Mittellage für die Kundry. Nein sie soll die Wesendonck Lieder machen und von mir aus im Konzert den Liebestod aber sonst außer den blonden Wagner nichts. Ich fahr am 31.1 nach Dresden zur Elektra und dann im Juni nach Frankfurt zur Danae.

        • tornado12 says:

          Findest du denn, dass die Denoke von der Stimme her sehr viel schwerer als die Schwanewilms ist? Mit Hengelbrock (und alten Instrumenten) könnte das was sein… Vielleicht kann man sie auch überzeugen, die “Irre”s in der A-Variante zu singen. Ich weiß, die B-Variante ist höher, aber von den Harmoniewechsel passt die tiefere Variante besser. Naja, es wird ja sowieso wahrscheinlich nichts werden. Ich würde eigentlich gerne zur Danae in Garmisch gehen, weil meine Mutter da auch spielt bei dem Festival, aber sind die beiden Konzerte zu weit auseinander…

          • Feldmarschallin says:

            Ja vorallem Denoke hat die breitere Mittellage. Das Timbre der Schwanewilms ist natürlich viel schöner und hat viel mehr an Farben als die Denoke. Ich überlegte auch zuerst nach Garmisch zu fahren aber in Frankfurt sind die Karten billiger. Komm doch nach Frankfurt am 19. Eventuell habe ich noch eine Karte für morgen aber das ist noch nicht ganz sicher. Mein Bekannter ist immer noch krank und hat heute den Onegin schon abgesagt. Wenn es ihm morgen nicht besser geht hätte ich wieder den gleichen Stehplatz (67 in der Galerie).

    • Wonderful musicianship

    • Buster says:

      Thanks FM, much appreciated!

  • antikitschychick says:

    Vid of Angela Meade talking about how she made her Met debut…this is in anticipation of the Richard Tucker Gala airing on PBS next Friday (can’t wait!!!!)

    She is fabulous…and funny! Can’t wait to hear her live this Feb! :-D

    • MontyNostry says:

      Am I imagining it, or does she look rather like Ruth Ann Swenson? (And I’m sorry, but I don’t hear beauty or individuality in her tone, though she is obviously a more than decent singer.)

      • antikitschychick says:

        you’re not imagining it Monty. I see a slight resemblance between them as well…speaking of Ruth Ann Swenson, she is a singer I really need to hear more of as I really did like the little I have heard of her.

        As for Angela not possessing individuality of tone, well we all have our tastes and I certainly respect yours. I will say that I do hear a distinctive quality in her (very polished though not quite voluptuous) sound. Tbh though, I only really thought she sounded truly ‘beautiful’ in Norma. That casta diva and that mira o norma duet with Jamie Barton were downright gorgeous imo. Before hearing her take on that role though, my general impression of her was that she was a very good singer, very accomplished, but after hearing her tear the final scene to shreds I was like um, yeah she’s a superstar lol. Definitely one of the anointed ones and a distant cousin of Joan Otherland for sure :-P .

  • zinka says:

    I wanted to share with you a note i just received from the brother of my first opera buddy,Richard.. We were 15…and sang along with Gina Cigna’s Norma..and we went to my first opera. Richard passed away of AIDS several years ago,and suddenly his brother Paul wrote this to me.I was overcome with emotion…We were inseparable friends and I will never forget our fun times together….

    “I need to tell you about our recent trip to Milan

    Before Richard died he gave instructions for his partner, Gregg, to spread some of his ashes in certain spots around the world

    As part of this request Gregg went to Milan and secretly spread some of ashes in La Scala and some at Verdi’s tomb

    When we were there at the end of October we somehow got tickets to see a wonderful performance of Aida at La Scala plus visit my brother

    We also hired a guide who took us to Verdi’s tomb which is part of a very unique retirement home for musicians

    Our guide had contacted the Director of the home so we could get a tour

    When we were there our guide told the Director that “Richard was there”.

    For a while she kind of freaked out thinking that everyone who loved opera would be there dumping ashes but eventually regained her composure and gave us a wonderful tour

    Even in death Richard still has an impact on people and the opera world”


  • WindyCityOperaman says:

    I guess I only dreamed I had posted today’s birthday tributes . . .

    Born on this day in 1698 poet and librettist Pietro Metastasio

    Born on this day in 1869 composer Charles Levadé

    Born on this day in 1914 conductor Rudolf Neuhaus

    Born on this day in 1926 mezzo-soprano Nell Rankin

    Born on this day in 1930 tenor Gerd Brenneis

    Happy 70th birthday conductor David Atherton

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    BTW Manou you can leave the furs at home since it will be 10-12 degrees here. More Spring than Jan. but not complaining here. My bulbs are starting to show and according to the papers there is not winter in sight here for Jan and Feb. Hope you and Fidelia have good travelling conditions. See you both tomorrow and Jonas is still listed as of this morning.

    • manou says:

      Thank you Feld. I am looking forward to Forza with or without Jonas.

      I am yet to make the momentous decision as to what to wear -- all my ballgowns are being colour-coded at the moment be several minions to help me pick one. I shall be accessorized with Mr Manou in any event.

      Off to pack my several trunks soon.

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    BTW make to sure check out the gorgeous Valentino evening dress in the window of Valentino on the Maximiliansstraße opposite the Vier Jahreszeiten. Gold lace with long sleeves and you would be the belle at the Garden in that dress.

    • manou says:

      If you mean this

      I fear you are in for a serious disappointment…

      Lowering your expectations is now mandatory.

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        My God I think that is the dress! How did you know or is the same frock hanging in the window in Bond Street? I said it was gold but it really isn’t and I saw it only as I was riding in the streetcar after the last Forza. But it is more beige than gold.

    • MontyNostry says:

      Out of interest, do they dress up for the opera in Munich (I mean the audience, not the singers)? The last time I was there was in 1992 for the Festspiele. I have seen German opera-lovers looking a bit overdressed at other venues around Europe in their Smokings and Pailletten when everyone else was a bit more casual.

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    Well for Premieres and Festspiele yes. Certain operas also are dressy than others. Strauss and Wagner for one and also if big names are singing. I mean that Valentino dress would be appropriate for the Premiere of Forza with Harteros and Kaufmann or for a Festspiele performance of a big opera or the opening of the Festspiele.

    • MontyNostry says:

      Interesting … something like that Valentino number would be too much on pretty much any evening at Covent Garden -- unless worn by an actress hoping to get an award when the place is taken over by the BAFTAs.
      A friend of mine who grew up in Germany once persuaded me to wear black tie/smoking/tuxedo for the first night of a revival of Turandot at the ROH, quite some time ago. I think the other people in the audience thought I was a waiter.
      Do people still wear evening dress for almost anything at the Salzburg Festival?

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        Salzburg is extremely dressy. Much more than Bayreuth and more than big premieres or opening of the Festspiele here. Not only do you have much on prominence there such as the Begum and her mother Renate Thyssen who are always dripping in jewels but you have Porsches and rich Italians from Milano and rich and nobled Viennese including the famous Manny who turned 80 or 90 this year. I saw Gloria Vanderbildt there one year in a red dress and huge diamond necklace that would put The Queen to shame. Bayreuth on the other hand is much more low key and towards the end of the Festspiele even dowdy. But you can expect to find people in evening dresses with jewels and smokings at an 11.00 concert with the Wiener Philharmoniker which I find way too much and I like to dress up. I recall one year I was there and Norman gave a concert with Karajan and I thought it was 11 in the morning and wore dark blue Valentino silk which I had bought in Rome and I was the only one not in smoking or evening dress. I felt underdressed and that was the only time in my life that that happened to me.

        • MontyNostry says:

          It doesn’t sound as though Salzburg has changed much since I was last there, then, which is now quite a long time ago. It always felt like some sort of very lavish exhibition of waxworks -- stiff and joyless. I’m sure the dark blue Valentino was far more elegant than all the mid-80s finery around you at that Karajan-Norman concert (1986, if I am not mistaken).

      • grimoaldo says:

        Have you been to Glyndebourne Monty? You see some interesting sights there.

        • manou says:

          That dress would be OTT even for Glyndebourne, grim. Although you are right to say there are some extraordinary sights there. Le spectacle est dans la salle (et dans les jardins).

          Poor Feld is in for a shock!

        • MontyNostry says:

          Haven’t been to Glyndebourne for about 15 years, grim, and I certainly wouldn’t choose to go there for people-watching. Let’s face it, the British (upper-)middle class at play is not noted for its chic. The members of the audience usually end up looking (and probably smelling) as though they have raided the dressing-up box. If I ever go again I flatly refuse to shlep from Victoria Station in black tie at lunchtime. It’ll be a lounge suit for me.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Yes, I didn’t like to say “you can usually tell at one glance which ladies are visitors from the Continent” but that is usually the case.
            They have an annexe with rooms for audience members to change in if you don’t want to embarrass yourself by being in evening dress on the train.
            I have seen audience members there in t-shirts and jeans, and once even barefoot, maybe deliberately to try to shock, but nobody paid much attention, they let them in.

      • oedipe says:

        Well, in Paris only some tourists dress up. It’s always fashionable casual or shabby chic. Which doesn’t necessarily mean cheap…

        By the way, here is “les soldes” at the very trendy (and expensive) luxury designer store Colette:

        Crisis? What crisis?

  • WindyCityOperaman says:

    Born on this day in 1710 composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

    Born on this day in 1869 conductor Percy Pitt

    Born on this day in 1881 conductor and impersario Gaetano Merola

    Born on this day in 1892 baritone André Baugé

    Happy 91st birthday composer Flavio Testi

    Happy 77th birthday soprano/mezzo-soprano Grace Bumbry

    Happy 65th birthday soprano Margaret Marshall

    Happy 60th birthday tenor Peter Seiffert