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Fans de siècle

As if listening live to tonight’s gala Met premiere of Die Fledermaus were not frivolity sufficient unto the end of the calendar year, La Cieca and Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin (pictured above, in no particular order) offer an alternative version of Strauss’s operetta for your amusement.

Johann Strauss: DIE FLEDERMAUS
English text and lyrics by Garson Kanin and Howard Dietz

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Eugene Ormandy, conductor

Gabriel von Eisenstein – Charles Kullman
Rosalinde – Ljuba Welitsch
Adele – Lily Pons
Falke – John Brownlee
Frank – Clifford Harvout
Alfred – Richard Tucker
Prinz Orlovsky – Martha Lipton
Dr. Blind – Paul Franke

Plus a very special Surprise New Year’s Eve Gala Sequence/Competition! Interpolated into the second act of this classic performance is a series of 20 “guest appearances” by famous and not-quite-so-famous artists. (This “interpolation” begins about one hour and seven minutes into the recording.) Your task, cher public, is to identify each artist and the selection he or she is singing (or speaking!), in the correct order, in the comments section below. The first commenter to correctly identify all 20 artists and selections will win 2014′s first Amazon Gift Card.

169 comments

  • La Cieca says:

    “The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s tuneful farce Die Fledermaus, which rang in the new year on Tuesday evening, is operatic André: bubbly, sweet and syrupy. It’s not subtle or deep, but if you’re determined to have a party, it’ll get the job done.” — Zachary Woolfe, New York Times

    • grimoaldo says:

      “And given the Eisensteins’ ostensible Jewishness, a little Holocaust joke rings particularly hollow: “I see Austria showing the world how much you can accomplish if you have a good plan and are really organized,” Frank, the prison warden, predicts for the coming 20th century. In the words of Prince Orlofsky, “And this is amusing why?””

      Yeah, and that witty sally was rapidly followed by “I foresee a great century for the Russian royal family!” haha, how funny to think of four young women and a little boy being lined up against a wall and shot! and his aunt, a nun, thrown down a mineshaft with other members of her family and hand grenades tossed in after them!
      The review is pretty fair, I would say a little too nice, a lack of basic skills was in evidence from all concerned, except maybe the visual side which of course I did not see,

      • Krunoslav says:

        Did anyone else find Szot about as “rich voiced” as John Brownlee?

      • armerjacquino says:

        Either of those jokes could work in the right circumstances: but I’d agree that FLEDERMAUS is probably the wrong place for dark irony.

        • FragendeFrau82 says:

          Yes I heard those & also thought it was meant to be very ironic. Surprised because I’m old school and don’t view everything through the lens of irony but I’d have thought most others would have appreciated it.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Wasn’t it supposed to be funny? and the audience laughed. Not that big a deal to me, I did not find it horribly offensive or anything, just crass and tasteless and not funny.

    • m. croche says:

      Something like “Les Aventures du Roi Pausole” is a farce. “Die Fledermaus” is not. “Syrupy farce” is an oxymoron.

      • La Cieca says:

        In your eagerness to snipe, you seem to have missed the point of grammar that the adjective “syrupy” is used here to modify the noun “production,” not “farce.”

        • m. croche says:

          I didn’t miss the meaning, which you apparently did. To praise a production of a farce for being syrupy betrays a lack of understanding of what a farce is

          • La Cieca says:

            Get back to me when you understand what “praise” means.

            • m. croche says:

              “Gets the job done” counts as praise in my book.

              By the way, do you, too, think Die Fledermaus is a farce?

            • La Cieca says:

              Dramatically, Fledermaus takes the form of a sex farce. I would say it is not an absolutely pure example of that form because the mood of the work tends toward sentimentality, which is, strictly speaking, inimical to farce.

              But as far as a handy label goes, it’s farce.

              This is the only answer I am going to make because I refuse to be drawn into the pissing match you’re looking for.

            • m. croche says:

              And as a follow up, do you think that successful farces can be syrupy?

            • m. croche says:

              Huh. I gave my opinion of ZW’s sentence. You’re the one who chimed in.

              Fledermaus, like most Viennese operetta, would be very poorly described as farce. The plot complications do not confuse, illogic and nonsense are held in check, the pace is rather leisurely (that third act!), nothing is ridiculous, it is not marked by coarse humor, but rather very heavily marked by aspirations towards gentilty (that ball scene!!) The ball scene, which nowadays is practically the raison d’etre of Fledermaus productions, is designed to allow audiences to vicariously experience the high-flown life of a grand party held by the nobility. It’s Disneyland for the plebs.

              It was just those social pretensions, as well as the family-friendly, easy-to-follow, and socially-acceptable plot constructions, the syrupy sentimentality of the piece, that led Karl Kraus, and those after him, to consider the Viennese operetta a feeble, toothless, hackneyed sort of well-mannered comedy. As Siegfried Kracauer described it: “that feeble middle-class caricature of Offenbach’s operetta that substituted coziness for gaiety, stupidity for nonsense, and idle prattle for wit.” This is why I contrasted Fledermaus with Roi Pausole, which could not better exemplify what a farce really is (and it’s clearly a sex farce, to boot.) If you need a genre designation for Fledermaus, “comedy” works perfectly well. Even “genteel” or “sentimental” comedy.

              (If you don’t want a pissing match, I would suggest you avoid leading off with pissy phrases such as “in your eagernes to snipe”. No need to personalize disagreements.)

    • m. croche says:

      Something like “Les Aventures du Roi Pausole” is a farce. “Die Fledermaus” is not. “Syrupy farce” is an oxymoron.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:



        • m. croche says:

          This gives an even better idea of the Geneva production:

          Alas, there is no palatable youtube video of the operetta’s utterly addictive maxixe, the “Septuor des Sept Avis Différents”.

          I was lucky enough to catch a production by a small Berlin company about 20 years ago. Madeleine sported a phallus the size of a watermelon. Wikipedia actually gives a good description of the third act: “Amid comings and goings from the different hotel rooms, there follow the entry of the Spanish chocolate, an air for Taxis, and a telephone duet.” I gave up trying to follow the plot. It’s a delirious piece.

      • MontyNostry says:

        I have to say I can’t see what’s syrupy about Fledermaus. It’s full of self-obsessed hedonists with no principles and no pretence at any real connection with each other. The music may be gorgeous, but the characters aren’t. An interesting tension, I would say.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      “You’d better go, you’d better go, you are decidedly de trop” is an English translation?

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        There was a time when the MET even performed the operetta in April (in preparation for the dates on the tour). I remember not being impressed by this performance in the house, but Kirsten was quite sastisfying.

        Metropolitan Opera House
        April 13, 1963 Matinee Broadcast
        DIE FLEDERMAUS {93} In English

        Rosalinde……………Dorothy Kirsten
        Eisenstein…………..John Alexander
        Adele……………….Jeanette Scovotti
        Alfred………………Dino Formichini
        Prince Orlofsky………Jean Madeira
        Dr. Falke……………Frank Guarrera
        Dr. Blind……………Andrea Velis
        Frank……………….Clifford Harvuot
        Ida…………………Suzanne Ames
        Frosch………………Jack Gilford
        Conductor……………Silvio Varviso

      • Krunoslav says:

        Similarly, Eisenstein-- who, as we see in the dialogue with Frank at Orlofsky’s , does not know any but a very few French phrases, and seemingly not what they mean-- when imitating Dr. Blind throws the phrase “au fait” , properly used, into a lyric.

        This is the same unexamined “cleverness” on Sams’ part that had the Csardas-- which no one, not Falke or she herself-- knows Rosalinde is going to be asked to sing, be accompanied by an obviously meant to look pre-choreographed dance routine involving her and six male dancers. Same for Adele’s Laughing Song. Comedy has to be rooted in some logic, no?

        • messa di voce says:

          “the Csardas-- which no one, not Falke or she herself-- knows Rosalinde is going to be asked to sing, be accompanied by an obviously meant to look pre-choreographed dance routine”

          You’re kidding right? You expect kitchen sink realism from operettas?

          • armerjacquino says:

            It’s amazing how all those WEST SIDE STORY girls know to do all the dance moves to ‘America’ at the same time, given that Anita doesn’t know she’s going to get into an argument.

            • Krunoslav says:

              No, I’m not kidding.

              There is a way of doing such a routine-- as any decent director or choreographer will do with “America”-- that makes it seem like an extension of the characters’ natural feelings and potentialities--we’re not talking about FILM musicals here-- the characters are caught up in their emotions and kind of surprise themselves at executing the moves. No trace of that here, just grim grinding it out with dance extras in Debbie Reynolds TV special fashion.

            • messa di voce says:

              So wouldn’t it be more an extension of Rosalinda’s and Adele’s “natural (unnatural?) feelings and potentialities” if they just spoke their lyrics in Act 1?

              I’m sorry, but if you’re going to attack the staging of an operetta/opera on the grounds of not being realistic, you’ve lost me. In fact, many of us feel the “integrated” style of the R&H musicals, that reached a sort of peak in WSS, is phonier and more disorientating than the numbers oriented musicals of earlier generations. The more real you try to make something inherently artificial, the phonier it is.

            • Krunoslav says:

              OK, messa, go see those numbers and you see if they work. They don’t. Perhaps you can give a more nuanced explanation of why they seem outrageously pasted on and phony tan I have been able to muster.

      • La Cieca says:

        “You’d better stop, you’d better stop, you are decidedly de trop” I think is more like it.

        • Krunoslav says:

          Yes, that gives the needed echo of “trop sweat”…

        • oedipe says:

          “You’d better sto, you’d better sto, you are decidedly de tro”, obviously…

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            Yea, just like “You’re the top, you’re the tower of Piza … Youre the Mona Lisa.

          • Krunoslav says:

            Especially with Silvia Tro Santafe as Orlofsky!

            • armerjacquino says:

              I LOVE her.

              (I mean, I know that’s not why you mentioned her, but I’m just taking the opportunity to say I think she’s ace)

            • Krunoslav says:

              Me too, from recordings. Ever seen her live?

            • armerjacquino says:

              Sadly not, am also only talking about records- particularly her Amastre in SERSE and her ‘Spanish Heroines’ recital.

              She doesn’t seem to be coming hereabouts any time soon according to operabase, although she’s busy doing Rossini all over the place- Munich, Valencia, Avignon, Palm Beach…

            • Krunoslav says:

              Palm Beach Opera has a pretty impressive BARBIERE cast! West Palm is actually a decent, rather funky place. But 2/21-23 I’ll be elsewhere. Hope someone can report…

              Conductor: Patrick Fournillier*

              Figaro: Rodion Pogossov*
              Rosina: Silvia Tro Santafe*
              Count Almaviva: David Portillo*
              Dr. Bartolo: Bruno Pratico
              Don Basilio: Wayne Tigges*

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        And if it happens in the measures I’m thinking of, they would not have needed the extra notes if they sang “Better go! Better go! You’re completely de trop!” or “You are really de trop.”

        • armerjacquino says:

          I’m guessing it’s Rosalinde to Blind, in which case it fits the composed syllables perfectly, and your rendition doesn’t.

  • Krunoslav says:

  • fidelio101 says:

    And as I said……..Happy New You All!

  • rysanekfreak says:

    1. Scotto…Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    2. Siepi…In the Still of the Night
    3. Sutherland…Indian Love Call
    4. Horne…I Dream of Jeannie
    5. di Stefano…Torna a Surriento
    6. Leontyne Price…What I Did for Love
    7. Schwarzkopf…Nuns’ Chorus and Laura’s Song (Casanova)
    8. Carreras…Memory
    9. Marian Anderson…Amour viens aider ma faiblesse
    10/11. Simionata/Bastianini…Anything You Can Do
    12. Farrell…Climb Every Mountain
    13. Alagna…Mexico
    14. Stratas…I’m a Stranger Here Myself
    15. Tibbett…I Got Plenty of Nothin’
    16. Nilsson…I Could Have Danced All Night
    17. Merrill…Oklahoma
    18. Tebaldi…Vilja’s Song
    19. Lotte Lehmann…Wien, Wien nur du Allein
    20. Upshaw…Glitter and Be Gay

    rysanekfreak

  • laddie says:

    Happy New Year to all!

  • manou says:

    Here is the HuffPo review (“Far Too Batty” -- were they in the chat?)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-finkle/first-nighter-the-mets-ne_b_4528505.html

    • grimoaldo says:

      “You watch concerned that at any moment calamity will ensue. Often it does….(the show) register(s) as cruel and unusual punishment” -- but I don’t agree where he says “Neither can the singers be held responsible for the myriad setbacks. Susanna Phillips” and then lists the other leads and says they were all “bright and silvery.”
      The NYT review pointed out that Phillips “sounded under pressure even in her simplified coloratura in the dazzling Hungarian-style “Csardas” aria.”
      The traditional performing version of this great showpiece is already simplified from what Strauss actually wrote, here is the original version --


      In the cut version as almost always performed now --

      Listening to Phillips on the first night, the performance stopped being laughably bad and started making me angry, because she just left out a lot of the coloratura. I would be curious to know if it was rehearsed that way, because she couldn’t do it and rather than find a singer who could sing the music they thought it didn’t matter, nobody would know or care, or if she was ill or something and just dropped the passages she didn’t feel like singing. Either way, it was disgraceful. This aria is actually a wonderful piece of music, a genuine sense of longing in the opening section and then entering into an imitation of “gypsy” temperament/revelry in the quicker part. Never mind that Phillips sang without a trace of expression or temperament or character, she couldn’t even sing the notes!
      Spend huge sums on lavish sets and costumes and bring in a Broadway comedy writer to put in a lot of stupid, tacky jokes but have a prima donna who does not sing the notes written on the page of the music, it is a twisted, totally backward sense of priorities.
      Phillips couldn’t sing the music, her delivery of the terrible dialogue was atrocious, what was she doing on that stage in that part?

      • Regina delle fate says:

        Great post Grim. A spy of mine said similar of Phillips from the dress rehearsal. Was anyone any good? My friend didn’t much like Archibald either. We get her as Zerbinetta to Karita’s first Ariadne -- Yikes! -- at the end of the RO season.

      • oedipe says:

        Thanks for the clips, Grim, some csardas there! It’s not just Phillips’ singing that was off, she had no sense of the rhythm, as if she’d never in her life heard an authentic interpretation of the aria or an actual csardas. And you are probably right: “they thought it didn’t matter, nobody would know or care”.

      • Clita del Toro says:

        And here is ELEANOR’s!!

    • Regina delle fate says:

      Haha @ were they in the chat? Happy New Year, Manou. I’ll keep fingers crossed for you and Fidelia that Jonas is better for Sunday’s Forza.

      • grimoaldo says:

        FT review:
        http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/f51515c8-739b-11e3-a0c0-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2pHJn7gSB

        “lavish yet clunky…everyone constantly mugs, prances, struts, kicks and talks, talks, talks…inane dialogue….irrelevant clichés….Susanna Phillips…sometimes cheats Rosalinde’s high climaxes….Jane Archibald cackles…Christopher Maltman..nearly simulates finesse. Michael Fabiano offers lusty true-tenor contrast…Paolo Szot’s baritone sounds shot…Anthony Roth Costanzo, the effete Orlofsky, tries hard…Betsy Wolfe an unbearably egocentric Ida…endlessly said and badly sung.”

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Kaufmann has cancelled tonight in Munich:
    “In der heutigen Vorstellung von La forza del destino (2. Januar 2014) wird Zoran Todorovich die Partie des Don Alvaro anstelle des erkrankten Jonas Kaufmann übernehmen.”

    • oedipe says:

      Zoran Todorovich! Maleditione, maleditione!

    • Krunoslav says:

      Wasn’t Pekka Nuotio available?

      • Regina delle fate says:

        Is he still alive? He jumped in for Vickers as Tristan at the ROH in the early 1970s. I got another replacement, equally forgotten. I don’t think I have read his name again until now!

        • Regina delle fate says:

          I just looked him up on Wiki and his entry is only in Finnish. When I translated it, it gave me information about Pekka Campfire! Sadly he died in 1989, aged only 60. Apparently one of the finest Finnish tenors ever…..not sure that is saying much, as the best Finnish singers seem to be sopranos and basses. Jorma Silvasti was a very good Tamino 30 years ago, and a fine Laca to Karita’s Jenufa at Covent Garden in the 1990s. At least I now know the Finnish for campfire for when I am next camping in Finland.

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    A friend of mine just called who has an extra ticket for tonights performance of Forza if anyone is interested. Standing room Gallerie Platz 67 which is the best one.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      Do you think Kaufmann is really indisposed or is the role simply to grueling for him?

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        No I think he is just sick. He will probably miss this one and maybe the next one on Sunday and then sing the rest. Of course I have no inside information. He might cancel the rest of the run if he has something more heavy or he might be fine for the one on the 5th. I am glad I saw him in excellent voice 4 times now and I am sure he will sing the 3 performances during the Festspiele. Maybe he just needs a short rest.

    • Feldmarschallin says:

      The ticket is gone now.

  • Fidelia says:

    Happy 2014 to all!

    Here’s a New Year’s present from you tube, to download fast before the staatsoper gets wind of it :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfV9CLXnHFU

    News for those who have tickets : Jonas is out sick tonight. I am crossing my fingers for the 5th, as I’m sure you are too, Manou and Feldmarschallin. We’re going to be driving up to Munich through rain and sleet so I hope we get at least 2 out of the 3 programmed leads.

    As long as we’ve got Tézier and Harteros I won’t be too disappointed if JK sagt ab for the 5th too. Zoran Todorovitch is singing Alvaro tonight. I’ve never heard him live but didn’t dislike him in the Fanciulla he did with Eva-Maria Westbroek and the pink trailer.
    Nevertheless, I’m hoping Jonas’ malady is just a case of too much beer and that he’ll be back in form and ready to sing for us on Sunday.

    FM and Manou, I saw your exchange higher up and I may take the liberty of coming to greet you briefly at the interval on the 5th, simply because I enjoy your posts so much. If I do, I promise I’ll leave you to your conversation after a brief handshake.

    • Fidelia says:

      Obviously, I posted very quickly without reading the previous entries…

      Is ZT a maledizione, Oedipe? Autant que ça?

      • oedipe says:

        Sorry to disappoint you, but I find Todorovich really, really bad. He sings quite often (too often!) in France and he is arguably the LEAST liked tenor among French opera aficionados.
        Here’s what one blogger had to say when (s)he got wind of the Munich cast change: “Affreux! Le remplacement est cruel, comme je plains les spectateurs :(
        Now, it’s all a matter of taste, of course.

        • Feldmarschallin says:

          Well I doubt anyone is pleased with this cast change but how many other tenors or sopranos sing these roles who could be adequate replacements for these two? I doubt that Varady still has Leonora in her rep althought granted she wouldn’t be far away. And who besides Kaufmann would you really want to hear as Alvaro?

          • oedipe says:

            Well, by me, almost anyone who has the role in his rep (with the possible exception of Giordani) would be preferable to Todorovich. How about Riccardo Massi, for instance? Or Alvarez, even?

            • Feldmarschallin says:

              Certainly not the horrid Giordani. Yes, Alvarez might be ok. Has anyone heard him lately?

            • oedipe says:

              I heard Alvarez AND Todorovich as Alvaro at the Bastille in 2012. Needless to say even though Alvarez was far from ideal, as compared to Todorovich they were like night and day.

          • Regina delle fate says:

            Varady is singing again? I thought she retired ages ago, FM?

            • Feldmarschallin says:

              It was a joke about Varady. BTW are you going to Dresden for that Elektra this month?

    • MontyNostry says:

      I saw Todorovich do Alvaro and he wasn’t bad at all — apart from flat top notes, which unfortunately were a bit of a liability. He should at least look good in the mullet wig.

    • Feldmarschallin says:

      Hello Fidelia, of course join us. Dry and sunny here at the moment, no rain, snow or sleet. Actually the long forecast has no winter here until at least March. Fine with me. Just booked tickets for Elektra in Dresden on the 31.1 and Liebe der Danae in Frankfurt on 19.6. Will anyone from here be at those? The Elektra has an allstar cast of Herlitzius, Schwanewilms, Meier, Pape and conducted by Thielemann. Danae is with Schwanewilms and Lance Ryan and Alexander Marco Buhrmeister.

      • Regina delle fate says:

        That must be the Elektra cast of the Strauss year, FM. Presumably it will be filmed and released on DVD…..Frankfurt also has an interesting-looking Daphne with Bengtsson quite soon. I was lucky enough to see Herlitzius and Meier in Aix (with Pieczonka -- good -- and Petrenko -- adequate as Chrysothemis and Orest), so I think you are in for even more of a treat. I heard that Pape was available for that cast, but Aix didn’t want to pay his fee. Probably a vile rumour…..but I thought it was worth repeating. Have you got any more info about the new Munich Arabella? Stage director, Mandryka, Zdenka?

      • manou says:

        We would be delighted to meet you Fidelia (we can all sob together if Zoran is indeed Todo Rubbish). All other Parterrians can form an orderly queue by the Harteros portrait.

        • pobrediablo says:

          There’s a Harteros portrait at the BSO?

        • Fidelia says:

          Thank you both, I’ll be in the queue under the Harteros portrait with the other Parterrians, but I daresay we will be none too orderly if the sicklist lengthens.

          Also, thanks for the weather report Feldmarschallin, it’s lovely to think that for once the weather’s better in Munich than in Nice! It will be good to drive into some sunshine.

          We will spend the next 3 days praying fervently for Jonas’ recovery. I really liked the dramatic impetus in the streamed version, and would hate to miss that : can’t imagine a stand-in creating the same electricity -- between Alvaro and Carlos,particularly.

          As for the musical loss, well, I was trying to convince myself it wouldn’t be as disappointing as all that, if JK didn’t show up. I remembered Todorovich’s flat top notes in Fanciulla, but not much else. Was hoping it was recorded on an off day or something. sigh… Fingers are crossed, but the morale is still high because I’m looking forward to meeting you eminent Parterriani.

          • La Cieca says:

            I do hope the parterrians in attendance will favor their poor doyenne with a review of this performance.

          • FragendeFrau82 says:

            I am curious to know if under such circumstances, they will simplify the staging. There is quite a bit of leaping and choreographed fighting which I would imagine requires more rehearsal than Todorovich will get. I’m thinking of the safety of Tézier as well.

            Also, is there no such thing as understudies any more? Someone who is there for all the rehearsals & knows the staging?

            I look forward to your reports!

            • Feldmarschallin says:

              He did most of the moves including sliding on the table but it didn’t come across as suave as when Kaufmann did it. Todorovich looks like an aged rocker in that wig and tight jeans. Not a good look for him. What looks sexy on Jonas doesn’t work for for Todorovich.

  • m. croche says:

    For those looking to prolong their holiday cheer, I note that on Saturday Bartok radio will broadcast a recent performance of “Mirandolina”, comic opera after Goldoni’s La Locandiera by the chronically- (even eerily-) upbeat Bohuslav Martinu. I swear, I can’t think of a 20th century composer before Terry Riley who was so happy to work exclusively in the major mode….