Cher Public

Last train to Neuilly-sur-Seine

Hang around for a few minutes at least, cher public, to discuss off-topic and general interest subjects.

  • Feldmarschallin

    Here a rave about the Petrenko Mahler 3 with Okka von der Damerau. I haven’t heard such a great concert here since Carlos Kleiber in the 80’s. The audience was completely still the whole time and then at the end there was an eruption that is seldom heard. It was taped on both evenings.
    “Als vor 30 Jahren der Live- Mitschnitt von Beethovens Vierter mit Carlos Kleiber erschien, da schwärmte dieser in seinen Ansprüchen durchaus nicht bescheidene Dirigent im Beitext: “Für jene, die auf Lebendigkeit hören können, haben wir hier Sachen drin, die spielt kein Orchester so lustvoll und frech oder so beseelt und erfreulich wie dieses Orchester an jenem Tag.”
    Die Rede war vom Bayerischen Staatsorchester, das eingespannt ist in den Operndauerstreß der Staatsoper, aber ganz anders kann, wenn es einmal symphonisch gefordert wird.
    Jetzt durften und konnten sie wieder mal ganz anders, schließlich dirigierte Kirill Petrenko sein erstes Akademiekonzert als Musikchef dieses Wunderorchesters, dem er erst seit ein paar Monaten vorsteht. In Rekordzeit ist Petrenko -- dieser kleine bärtige Mann, der in Sibirien und in Vorarlberg aufgewachsen ist -- zum Liebling des Publikums wie der Musiker geworden. Petrenko ist erst knapp über 40, aber er steht bereits im Zenit seines Könnens.
    2013 war sein Schicksalsjahr. Erst den “Ring” in Bayreuth, dann München mit “Frau ohne Schatten”: Das waren Feuerproben, die Petrenko mehr als grandios gemeistert hat. Die Erleichterung darüber ist ihm anzusehen, wenn er jetzt nach Gustav Mahlers Dritter im frenetischen Jubel ausgelassen wie ein Junge erscheint, dem sein größter Traum in Erfüllung ging. Das ist fast beängstigend viel Glück. Die alten Römer pflegten einem Triumphator einen Sklaven an die Seite zu stellen, der ihn daran erinnerte, auch nur ein Mensch zu sein.”

    (….) “Immer spielt das Staatsorchester so, daß alles hörbar ist, was Mahler in seinen komplexen Partiturgeflechten notiert hat. Das gelingt, weil Petrenko keinen Einheitsbrei anrührt, sondern jedes Instrument, jede Instrumentengruppe als Individuum vorführt und vor den anderen schützt. Er achtet stets auf Teamarbeit und läßt niemanden, nicht einmal die grandiosen Trompeter, zum Alleinherrscher aufsteigen: Demokratie als musikalisches Konzept.”

    Ira: Es handelt sich bei diesem Artikel um eine in die Einzelheiten gehende, detaillierte Kritik.

  • PetertheModest

    This IQ rating site for famous people gives Mozart and Beethoevn exactly the same IQ of 165, which is above the genius threshold of 160:

    • manou

      Yes, but it is well known that Mozart cheated and looked up all the answers on Google.

      • Walther von Holzhaufen


    • Cicciabella

      What?!? They don’t have an “IQ of Opera Singers” page? What kind of scientific research is this?

      • PetertheModest

        Some of the IQs would be estimates. So, if you’re allowed to estimate, why not have some estimates of singers’ IQs (the ones that have not actually taken an official IQ test.)

        • Cicciabella

          If you’re allowed to pass off self-administered, non-standardised Internet IQ tests as valid measurements, you’re allowed to estimate anyone’s IQ, even in the total absence of raw data. A high IQ does not always result in great achievement, although it is fair to assume that great achievers probably have/had a very high IQ. Mozart and Beethoven an IQ of 165? Sounds plausible enough.

          • manou

            It is always a good exercise to estimate the Parterrians IQs.

  • armerjacquino

    No amount of logging out and back in again will allow me to post this in the correct place in the thread, so apologies. But for those who were discussing Anna Larsson: yes, she is a contralto but this is not her first Kundry. She sang it in the production in Brussels that Our Own Cocky K was in. I think there’s also talk of her doing a WALKURE Brunnhilde.

    • -Ed.

      armer, this works on my ipad, perhaps it will work on your contraption as well. Login, go to the desired page, and reload that page.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      Cheers ArmerJ -- I have gone in search of the comments you mentioned and added my 2 pence worth.

      You’re right that there was talk of Brunnhilde, as well as Amneris, although that information was fed to me by her teacher (who worships the ground Larsson walks on) a couple of years ago now, and so far nothing seems to have materialised, unless I’ve missed it.

      • phoenix

        Kurwenal, you were in that Bruxelles Parsifal? That is my favorite Parsifal in 21st century broadcast! Yes, it is mostly because of Anna Larsson. I hope she is still up to it -- we will find out this evening.

  • Satisfied

    Anyone catch Trebs at LPR tonight? I had two tickets that sadly went to waste as a result of a work meeting.

    Incredibly sad to have missed it!

    • bluecabochon

      Yes, I went and had a great time -- too bad that you didn’t get to see this. This was the program:

      “Russian Exoticism & Prince Igor”

      Singers were accompanied by Natalia Katyukova on the piano

      Introduction by Peter Gelb (struggling to pronounce Russian names)

      There was a song sheet provided with translation in English.

      Tchaikovsky: “Blagoslovljaju vas, lesa” (I bless you, forests), 1880) -- Ildar Abdrazakov

      Rachmaninov: “Ne poj, krasavitsa, pri mne” (Do not sing, my beauty, to me, 1893) -- Ildar Abdrazakov

      Borodin: “Merknet svet dnevnoj” (The light of day is fading, from Prince Igor) -- Anita Rachvelishvili

      Anton Rubinstein: -- “Klubitsja volnoju kipucheju Kur” (Persian Love Song, 1855) -- Stefan Kocan

      Tchaikovsky: “Serenada Don-Zhuana” (Serenade of Don Juan, 1878) -- Stefan Kocan


      “Na kholmakh Gruziji” ( On the hills of Georgia, 1866)
      “Ne veter, veya s visoti” (It was not the wind, 1897)
      “Plenivshis’ rozoj, solovej” (The Nightingale and the Rose, 1866) -- Anna Netrebko

      Borodin: Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor (arr. Richard imm)
      Natalia Katyukova & Irina Soboleva, piano

      Otar Taktakishvili (1924-1989): “Dedao Gvtisa” (Mother of God) -- Anita Rachvelishvili

      Tamar Salukvadze (b. 1979) “avad var shenit (Sad about you) -- Anita Rachvelishvili

      Borodin: “Ni sna ni otdycha izmuchennoj dushe” (There is no sleep, no peace for my tormented soul, from Prince Igor) -- Ildar Abdrazakov

      Tchaikovsky: “Den tsarit” (Whether day dawns, 1880) -- Anna Netrebko

      Bouquets brought onstage for Anna during bows.

      The place was filled and there was a healthy section of Met Board members present. It’s a larger space than I expected and people were sitting at the bar and standing. Big, dark cavernous downstairs club but the acoustics were fine. I was seated up front and heard everyone perfectly.

      Some songs and Prince Igor offerings I was familiar with, others, not, and I thought that singers all performed with passion and great understanding and sensitivity, The songs were heavy on the melancholy (of course :) ), which they joked about. Each singer presented and explained their offerings at a microphone before taking their places at the Yamaha, center stage.

      Anna, appearing in a silky metallic orange pants suit, came on in the middle of the show and brought with her great energy and warmth. She was a friendly, lovely “hostess” with a great stage persona.

      I thought that Anita R betrayed a little rawness of tone in the beginning, and might have been ill, but warmed up as the evening progressed. She sang two Georgian songs for her second appearance, and the composer Tamar Salukvadze was present to hear her song performed. For the dramatic “Mother of God”, she turned her back to the audience before letting loose with some impressive wailing.

      Stefan Kocan offered two very different songs in the first half of the program. It was great to see him as himself rather than covered up by age makeup and costume. He is a trim, handsome man and seemed a bit nervous speaking in English in front of the crowd. The lyrical Persian Love song and cocky Serenade of Don Juan were great choices. I have sometimes found his tone to be dry onstage but here in this more intimate setting, and with these songs, I was able to appreciate the vocal colors he brought to these stories.

      Anna was delightful and very comfortable in English; sparkly and effusive, and we were treated to three songs by Rimsky-Korsakov and a relatively upbeat (for Tchaikovsky) finale. I didn’t know any of these songs beforehand and felt that Anna interpreted them with great skill and showed off a lovely range of emotions and color.

      Ahhh, Ildar. Charming presence, energy, charisma, virile, handsome, talked at length about his first two songs (nerves, I think) and killed the room with his aria from Prince Igor, which he said he had sung for the “first time” (in public, probably). This guy has it all and I can’t wait to see him onstage in this role.

      I enjoyed the maestra duo at the pianos for their Polvtsian Dances…that was nice touch, but one more Kocan offering would have been most welcome in the second half. ;)

      Very enthusiastic crowd filled with some familiar faces, and the board went back to schmooze with the singers afterward en masse.

      • MontyNostry

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard a man sing Rachmaninov’s “Ne poi, krasavitsa …” even though it is ostensibly a man’s song. I think the first time I heard it live was Margaret Price. Aaaaaah.

      • Satisfied

        Thank you very much, Blue!

        If I couldn’t be there, glad to have had a nice recap. (Despite the fact that it makes me even more angry that I missed it!!). Ugh what a waste: I should have offered my tickets here, but so thought that I could make it!!!

        • bluecabochon

          You are very welcome, Satisfied. There were recording mikes on the stage, so who knows? Maybe you’ll hear it…somewhere. :)

          No one makes a point like MCroche! Lovely versions, thanks. I especially liked the third offering. :)

  • zinka

    You do not have to be a teacher to adore this guy and what he does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Fidelia

      Fantastic! Congratulations to ARC for doing this _ it was so gratifying to see the interest and sympathy and thought on those children’s faces. And people wonder how to interest future generations in classical music and opera! The answer’s there.
      Many thanks, Zinka, for posting this.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Back in Zagreb

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    I never heard this one either:

  • Feldmarschallin

    Today is the 80th birthday of Marilyn Horne. I heard her several times live in Pesaro, Rome and München. There is a great tribute to her in the SZ today titled Heldenmezzo.

    • semira mide

      Lucky you, Fledmarchallin!
      What did you hear Horne sing in Pesaro?

      • Feldmarschallin

        In 1986 I heard her sing Bianca e Falliero with Riccarelli and Merrit and also heard two performances of Turco with Aliberti and Raimondi. I was in Rome a year later and just happened to see that she was giving an recital so I went to that. Martin Katz was on the piano. München was in the Hercules Saal.

    • I never got to see MH sing live, but I did get to see her on stage last night at the masterclass Christa Ludwig gave at Zankel Hall. Was a fun night and very fun to see the two of them on the same stage, even if she was just introducing CL.

      • phoenix

        Well Salo, Feldm, semira -- yes, Marilyn Horne did once have a beautiful, rich toned voice -- I remember her at the San Francisco Opera as Leonore in Fidelio, Marina Mniszech in Boris, and Nedda(!) (alternating with Wilma Lipp in the Pagliacci). The last time I saw her in SF was as Eboli in 1966.
        -- But when I got to New York and attended her 1970 Met debut as Adalgisa, it was another story. The vocal texture had diminished in both volume & color, her consummate & expressive musicianship masquerading a dull, monochromatic tone. But she was on the Sutherland bandwagon and that was the takeoff that took her (then) mediocre resources into what became great stardom. A sharp businesswoman as well as an aware musicologist, she featured herself in (then) rarely heard bel canto works. Thanks to her we were able to hear many neglected Rossini tragedies in New York. But I never liked her late career vocal sound: dryness, sameness of tone, repetitive machine-gun fioratura, etc. One thing that seemed to bother others (but strangely enough I didn’t mind) were her bright but colorless high notes that always seemed to separate from the rest of her vocal line.
        -- At any rate, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jackie, who never lost her personable accessibility for the general public.

        • Clita del Toro

          I was never a big Horne fan. Just don’t like her voice, especially the chest tones. I first saw her with Sutherland in Beatrice di Tenda in 1961.

          • MontyNostry

            I think Horne was in many respects a magnificent singer, but for some reason she never touches my heart.

            • MontyNostry

              … but good on her for everything she has achieved and for everything she continues to achieve for young singers.

          • pobrediablo

            She sometimes sounds like a frog. Literally.

      • rommie

        LOL Laughed through the parts where I wasn’t feeling bad for that baritone. What a joke but he was sorta handsome.

        Reminds me of that video of Schwarzkopf giving a masterclass in Scotland and their attention to giving this “spitty” shape of the mouth in coloring the voice. I had a great time.

        • Haha same. It was a great night, I didn’t really care for any of the singers except for the soprano who did the Mahler. None of them were great singers but what really struck me is how none of them seemed to really connect with the text they were singing nor did they seem to have put much thought into it -- particularly the baritone.

          It was fun to see someone who really knows what they are doing, versus someone who is just paid like they know what they’re doing. I thought her point about having to have a swifter tempo when singing with piano vs orchestra was an excellent one.

          All in all I am really happy to have gotten to see Christa work live and in person, sad that my husband (who worked with her as an accompanist in private lessons in the 80’s) and I did not get to say hello afterward but it was late, and we had a long drive back to NJ to relieve the babysitter.

    • armerjacquino

      I missed my one chance to hear Horne in 1983, when, on a family holiday in Venice, my parents decided that four hours of Handel (would it have been RINALDO?) would be too much for a ten year old.

      • MontyNostry

        Did you ask to see it and they said no? Or did they go and see it and not take you?

        • armerjacquino

          No to both- they just dithered for ten minutes outside La Fenice before deciding against it.

          • MontyNostry

            Funnily enough, my first proper opera was Ottone -- at the age of about 12. Lots of plumed helmets, as I remember.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1918 mezzo-soprano Vera Borisenko

    Born on this day in 1928 soprano Pilar Lorengar

    Happy 80th birthday mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne

    Happy 49th birthday soprano Yelina Prokina

    • MontyNostry

      What happened to Prokina? She was such a hot property 20 years ago -- and she’s still of singing age.

      • armerjacquino

        The ONEGIN from Glyndebourne where she stars opposite that poor Polish baritone who died in a car smash is absolutely electrifying.

        • MontyNostry

          That was her big breakthrough wasn’t it? It’s the where she poured water over herself at the end of the Letter Scene. I think I saw her give a recital at Wigmore Hall around 1995. The late baritone was Wojtek Drabowicz, who always seemed to be a very good singer.

  • Satisfied

    Anyone have any thoughts on Olga Peretyatko? Love Puritani but debating on whether to book with her in the lead…especially with Mariotti conducting.

    • pobrediablo

      I haven’t heard her live but I think she’s quite good in that repertoire.

    • oedipe


      I have heard Peretyatko as Elvira in a live concert. She is not perfect, but I can’t think of anyone who would be a better choice for the role these days.

  • marshiemarkII

    Was at the Butterfly tonight, it was a very strange night, started out very shaky, but ended up beating you over the head with the big drama, and in the end it was very satisfying, but hardly perfect. The great first, Hymel is simply fantastic, a real tenor voice, with absolutely no problem with the high notes, free and ringing, and he phrases gorgeously. The fabulous Alexey Lavrov is amazing what he did with the small role of Yamdori, the couple of phrases gloriously vocalized with gorgeous legato and big house-filling sound, and he is a magnificent actor, physically imposing in the wild costume, and very athletic.

    And then we have the title part…… started out so off pitch it sounded like Schoenberg, and of course skipped the written D-flat at the entrance, obviously debut-nerves in severe case, she got better and sang some nice phrases in the duet, but the high notes are produced very strangely, and the C at the end was short and simply not secure. The Un bel di went for nothing (hardly any applause) and by Che tua madre I realized what was really wrong, she simply has no diction whatsoever, it’s all a collection of sounds but she cannot articulate even the iconic words like Morta, and the like, it became a joke when you couldn’t understand one word of Con onor muore, something that every card-carrying homosexual knows by heart, and at the very end even the gioca gioca were unintelligible, I mean the girl doesn’t give a shit about the words, it is quite perfectly clear! punto final. And in a Butterfly that must be close to a cardinal sin. The voice is not small, it carries quite well, and can be sizable in the middle, getting thin up top, and can phrase rather nicely at times, she is also a very good physical actress, growing from a tiny-stepping little girl to a grand tragic actress for the end. She has a lot going on, but I am sorry, someone should sit her down and tell her that unless she learns how to articulate words, she should be confined to provincial houses in the Anglophone world……
    DeShong was her usual fabulous self, got a huge ovation, while the biggest was for Hymel of course. Echalaz, who has a very elaborately orchestrated curtain call, all alone at the end, got the customary Met standing ovation, but the volume and intensity was not in the same level as Hymel’s.
    The production is gorgeous, and so moving (that puppet!!!!!!!) that this crusty old gurl was in tears at the end like a little impressionable young gurl :P

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      So the terrible soprano was so bad that you were in tears at the end of the performance?

      • bluecabochon

        Marshie, I am glad that you are out and about and hope that your cold is history!

        QPF, have you seen this production? It’s stunning and theatrical in a way that is rare and is one of the most incredible experiences that this gurl has had in the theatre. I haven’t seen it with a Cio-Cio San that I didn’t believe or who sang the role poorly, but I think it’s still possible to verklempt at the end even with mushy diction and an unsatisfying vocal performance if the acting is good.

        I love that puppet too and am a basket case at the end of that Butterfly. May it live long in the repertory.

      • marshiemarkII

        Quanto, where did I say she is a “terrible soprano”? I bent over backwards to say nice things about her, because as I said “she has a lot going on”. She very much rose to the occasion in the Tu tu piccolo Iddio vocally (hardly the greatest I ever heard!) in the sense that she sang the music well, and the vocal line was very clean, no glottals or other excesses, and kept a firm line throughout, the climax could have been with a tad more abandon, but more than good enough, and she is a great physical actress, tall and willowy in the service of a grand tragedienne! And that puppet is simply devastating waving the American flag far in the back in the shadows, the production is sheer genius, and as Blue very insightfully puts it, even with a lesser soprano it is probably still very moving, the sum greater than the parts. The conducting was also grandly sweeping at that point so of course you get carried by the emotion of the moment, just as opera always does when done well. But for a gurl that grew up on the Only Maria recording, THAT Che tua Madre!!!!!! and then saw Renata Diction Scotto countless times at the Met, you wouldn’t expect me to give this Ms Mushy Diction Echalaz a free pass on such a cardinal requirement, that’s all, why is that so hard to understand?

        Carissssssima Blue, yes I am fully back in order, out and about as if nothing ever happened, thanks God, and have been going to gym since last Sunday, so I guess that nightmare is all behind :-)
        Hope to see you soon for a coffee?

        • MontyNostry

          I’ve seen Echalaz a number of times over the past six years or so, and was most impressed by Fiora and Tosca at Opera Holland Park, which were outstandingly good. However, the last time I saw her -- in Tosca last March at Covent Garden -- I felt she was managing her voice differently, perhaps aiming to make it more homogeneous, and that it was compromising her diction quite seriously at certain points. It will be interesting to see how things develop for her over the next few years. I genuinely hope she fulfils her potential. I agree with marshie that she has tremendous presence on stage -- and she is a very fine-looking woman.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Monty, this talk of very mushy diction, a strangely produced top and striving for homogeneity makes me think of Plowright -- are there any similarities?

            • MontyNostry

              Interesting question, Cocky. Instinctively, I wouldn’t have thought of Plowright, whose voice always sounded more manufactured, but there might be some points of similarity. One thing I **have** always thought about her voice is that it might be more Germanic than Italian. She did Salome in Brussels in 2014 -- but, again, I’m not sure how she’d have handled the floaty stuff. Still, her Liu got good reviews at the ENO and that’s a role that depends on floatiness to a large degree. But that was in 2009, which is a long time ago now.

            • MontyNostry

              That should be ‘Brussels in 2012’. She’s not Dr Who.

            • marshiemarkII

              Monty, interesting because I anticipated all the floaty moments in Butterfly, you know where they are :P, and she delivered NONE of them, it was all in a kind of mid-weight voice, somewhat unwieldy, but definitely not floated in a Caballe or Freni sort of way, not remotely. In Salome I’d be curious how the big, huge Bs and Bbs at the end would sound with a big orchestra, because the sound thins out considerably up top, it is definitely not a volcanic top, but the middle is kind of rich and biggish, so she can make some impression.

            • Cocky Kurwenal

              MMII -- I am sure those are A-sharps at the end of Salome, not b-flats! Huge apologies if I am wrong.

            • marshiemarkII

              My carissssimo Cocky, you are NEVER wrong so you never need to apologize :D . You made me go to the score, and indeed the full Bs are only in the duet, my favorite, we talked about it once vis-a-vis the glorious one, is in ist so WEISS wie dein Leib. In the final scene there are both B-flats and A-sharps, but the ones I actually meant were the two glorious ones at the very end, namely MUND and geKÜSST and those are EXACTLY as you say A-sharps because the Salome key is the “unnatural” C#. You are and continue to be a fount of knowledge and wisdom in all matters operatic!!!!

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          Very interesting to read your take on Echalaz, MMII. She has used a lot of coaches I have used, and sung for a couple of the same opera companies when she was first starting out in the UK, and so I know a fair few people who are quite familiar with her and of course they all rave about her. Funnily enough though, I’ve never heard her myself, and it is illuminating to see how she compares when up there doing a spinto title role on the Met stage.

          • phoenix

            I am sure you are a much better judge of singing skills than I -- I’ve only heard Echalaz as Cio-cio san in Chicago, but I will never listen to her again in that role. She was exactly as mmII describes above. For my limited tastes, she was the worst I have ever heard. Why is she at the Lyric and the Met? Was there a big donation involved?

            • Cocky Kurwenal

              I suspect is has more to do with what Monty says above -- a number of years ago she did a Tosca that was apparently excellent (and which was certainly very well received by everybody I read and spoke to), and that is probably when she auditioned and got hired. In the mean time, Monty has detected a decline, so that by the time she has shown up for these engagements, she apparently is no longer the excellent singer they hired.

            • phoenix

              makes sense Kurwenal … years ago, quite often at the Met a singer who sang that badly was immediately “relieved of duty” -- I assume their contracts were either bought out or some kind of an agreement was reached -- but now apparently even the audiences don’t know the difference. I am not one to hawk the good ol’ days ad nauseum, but I distinctly remember better quality control maintained …

          • marshiemarkII

            Carisssimo Cocky, you know I remembered when I saw her name on the roster that you had mentioned her before to me, I sometimes have really good memory still… :D so I was very keen on listening to her carefully, and I was impressed with the size of the voice from the beginning, but the entrance was a complete total mess, she was wobbly and so off pitch as to be almost ridiculous, but I did chalk it off to debut nerves, which I am sure played a big part…. and by the duet she was doing nice phrases here and there, but the C for example was really strangulated and very short, she definitely has problems sorting out the top. Then the Un bel di was very generic, and accordingly got no applause, the Che tua madre was dreadful, and the Flower duet was actually very nice, in a vocalized sort of way, and she started to grow in stature acting-wise, the final tableau at the end of Act II with Butterfly leaning on an upright Susuki (both seating down on the floor of course), with the puppet lying on her leg was devastatingly beautiful. The rest I have already spoken about several times.

            The voice could be very nice, but I am afraid that the mushy diction is an integral part of her vocal production, so it is not just a question of paying more attention, perhaps to do more she would need to changer her technique, which could be very dicey, right?
            In all, I think the vocal weight is adequate for the Met, without being a real spinto of course, the problem is not the size though, but the fact that you are singing an iconic role in a place that saw Scotto throughout the 80s (for me and earlier for other Qs), and the recordings of the Only Maria, Big Renata, and the glorious DVD with Freni, my God, no not in that league in the least!!!
            Carissssimo Fenice, we ARE gurls of a feather, verdad?

            Oh and I forgot to mention that the conductor was the really wonderful Marco Armiliato light and sweeping, not the announced Philippe Augin (whom I loooooved in Gotterdammerung in DC back in 2009), no explanation was given, just the change, does anyone know who conducted the final dress? was Augin sick? or something else?

            • phoenix

              just a couple of parting thoughts on Echalaz:
              1. Has Act 1 of Butterfly become a warm up exercise in recent years? Really a shame if that is so since it has IMO the greatest music in the score (particularly in the original version).
              2. Perhaps the audience was ‘enthralled’ with the production or, more like they were giving themselves a standing ovation for attending the performance.

            • marshiemarkII

              Has Act 1 of Butterfly become a warm up exercise in recent years?
              carissssimo I agree with you, the duet is quite simply SUBLIME music, I even hear echoes of Tristan sometimes, and it is fashionable to bash Puccini (even this gurl has been guilty of many times) but this score is really a gorgeous piece of music, no ifs and buts. Yes the poor girl sounded in most severe extremis at her entrance, the pitches who knows what she was singing…… and wobbly and kind of unclean, but she did clean up later, so of course it was a whole act to warm up :P.

              2) Don’t know, probably the Met audience celebrating themselves?!?!?! The curtain call is very strange, never saw one like it before. First the black clad puppeteers/extras/prop-handlers in front of the black curtain, then black curtain up and the entire singing cast comes on (minus Butterfly!!!!!) starting with single bows for the lesser cast ending with Hymel, huge ovation, then all leave stage, and alone walking from the back in a red glow walks in Butterfly (not even Elektra gets that elaborate treatment :P) slowly forward, Met audience dutifully rise to their feet en masse, but the noise is really not the huge crazy ovation of the really great ones, then whole cast returns, and then the conductor and some black clad lady (assistant stage director? ballet master? don’t know and was in the appropriately named “Q” row :P so couldn’t see that well anyway) who gets little applause, so don’t think they were standing-ovationing the glorious production. It probably was genuinely for Madame Echalaz much to yours and mine chagrin! that’s the Met today, right?

            • marshiemarkII

              Oh and one last thing, just saw that the Program Notes were written by the one and only MrsJC, it’s great to see she is back in good terms with the Met!!!!!

            • Clita del Toro

              Act I duet in Butterfly, absolutely gorgeous; her entrance not chopped liver either. I have never realized it was a “warmup” for the rest of the role???
              I guess, if it takes a whole act for a soprano to warm up, that goes?? I was at Tebaldi’s first Met Butterfly. Her Act I was okay (not sufficiently warmed up?) and the rest was fab! Who knows.
              Albanese didn’t need to “warm up” and hit the Db; it goes without saying that Tebaldi did not try for that note.

            • marshiemarkII

              Clitisssssima, the entrance music is sublime, no two ways about it, but I realized last night that voice queen or not, you really have to have that D-flat, otherwise it is like sex without the tubesteak :P dontcha think carisssima? :lol:

            • Cocky Kurwenal

              Thank you MMII for expanding on your thoughts re Echalaz for me. I shall take them into account if/when I finally hear her. I agree that you do need the d-flat at the entrance. The first time I saw the Minghella production was, I think, the first revival of it at ENO, with Judith Howarth in the title role. She gave an interview to in which she explained how she loved to sing that d-flat, and how important it is, and duly laid an egg on it the night I went -- absolute disaster -- even worse than not attempting it (which, if memory serves, Opolais at the ROH didn’t, but she was beyond wonderful in the rest of the role).

        • Clita del Toro

          Marshiest-Dearest, I am so glad you are feeling better. Take care of yourself

          • marshiemarkII

            Thank you so much Clitissssssima adorata, yes the gurl is fully recovered thanks the Lord, and now just needs to get her old weight back because a week without eating obviously shows, some think for the better, but the gurl wants her old weight back, so now she needs to pig out at the food counter :P

            • Clita del Toro

              Well, pig out on the yummiest, most delightful treats you can find!Wwe want our Marshie to have only the best!

          • bluecabochon

            Marshie, I wonder if the black-clad lady was Carolyn Choa, Minghella’s widow, who directs this production when it is revived? She came out for a curtain call when I saw the prima of the revival a couple of years ago.


            I would love to have coffee with you; just let me know when. :)

            • marshiemarkII

              Yes from the Q row she looked vaguely oriental so that’s who it probably was then, thanks Carisssima!. We will get together very soon, will let you know next time I am around Lincoln Center!

          • Clita del Toro

            LOLOL Marshie, you are too much--in a fab way.

    • physically imposing in the wild costume, and very athletic

      Strapping, as they say?


      • marshiemarkII

        Oh Lurquito big kisses to you back, one on each cheek :lol: you were one of the sweetest!

        Yes the boy is very strapping, only 27 yo and he fills the hall with a gorgeous mellifluous baritone. I know how fabulous he can be in the big stuff, because I heard him in the spring with Levine and the Met orchestra do the Onegin final scene and the Nedda Silvio Duet, and he was breathtaking (both with the fabulous Emalie Savoy to boot), but it was so reassuring to hear how he projects gloriously in the big barn. He is one of my chickadees of course (yes full disclosure Kruno :D ). The costume is CAMP in a very big way too :D

        • Now if I were naughty, which I’m not, I would say “which cheek?”


        • marshiemarkII

          whichever one you like, dear :D

        • marshiemarkII

          Here is the New York Times (not Tomassini!) for what is worth:

          She liked the wonderful Alexey Lavrov:
          Alexey Lavrov glowed fiercely as Yamadori, a suitor Butterfly spurns because she believes in Pinkerton’s return.

          And the finale staging:
          In her final scene, Ms. Echalaz finally drew on greater reserves of vocal color. The staging of her suicide was spectacular and almost indecently beautiful, as her red sash unraveled into ribbons of blood.

          I agree with both, the rest you can read for yourselves carisssime :D

          • Lohenfal

            Liebster MMII, glad to see you’re back on this site, even if it’s in connection with Butterfly, which I rarely listen to nowadays. Yes, it has much to recommend it, but is too sentimental for my current taste. I prefer suicide in the manner of Brünnhilde, right into the pyre.

            Watch out for the coming Polar Vortex, Part 2. We don’t want to lose you again. :D

          • marshiemarkII

            My adored Lohenfal, no fears, the gurl is still a dyed-in-the-wool Wagnerian like none other :D and you know when MMII goes it will definitely be on the glowing pyre (for grave moral sins :lol:). I will soon return to Act II of Gotterdammerung, I have not heard it in a couple of months :D

            And full disclosure, I had to go to the Butterfly because the glorious Alexey Lavrov is the 2014 HBF Awardee. You know I had not seen Butterfly in the theater since the Renata Scotto days, which was probably the last time in the mid-80s, right? so maybe it was about time, and the production is so beautiful that I am really glad I actually saw it once.

            Are we really going to have a Polar Vortex 2?!?!?!?! I shudder, I spent the first one in bed, I feel indecent while everyone else suffered, but now I have no excuse, so I will have to brave it along with everyone else!!!!

            By the way, I continue to anxiously await the Met Parsifal DVD release, and unless I got the info all wrong, it was due out already, and Amazon is not even listing it for pre-orders, what’s going on?!?!?!?

            • Lohenfal

              Liebster MMII, on Monday I received an email from the Met, where, amidst other news, there is mention of Parsifal now being available on Met Opera on Demand. Could it be that they’re holding it back for a while, using it as a means of recruiting customers to that service?? If such is the case, the public release might not happen for some time!!!

            • Rackon

              Cara Marshie, Sony releases Parsifal DVD/BluRay in Deutschland on Valentine’s Day, followed by release in UK on February 17 (as well as same release dates for Der Jonas’ Winterreise CD). This is according to Presto Classical and websites. For JK fans, last summer’s Salzburg Festival Don Carlo and the leopard suit Ariadne auf Naxos DVDs are also coming.

              As of last night, there was nichts on for Parsifal so I’ve ordered it and Winterreise from Presto. No idea when Sony will finally get around to releasing Parsifal in North America but since Werther rehearsals start tomorrow, and JK’s recital is immanent, it would seem to be good marketing strategy to release them sooner rather than later.

              But they didn’t ask me.

            • bobsnsane

              Yo fal

              Met on Demand sent subscribers
              A note on 01/08/2014 re: Parsifal --
              I believe I mentioned it here 2 yawns.

              It’s serious fun.
              Don Carlos, Ariadne R good news.
              What snooze re: BSO Frau & Forza --
              just on Cd I hope…

            • An unforgivable sin that Scotto’s Met Butterfly wasn’t filmed. It’s not like they weren’t making videos then -- we have Boheme (2 versions, Mimi and Musetta), Otello (her Desdemona with Vickers is magnificent), Trittico, Luisa Miller. Butterfly a terrible oversight. :cry:

              There are DVD’s from Verona and Japan, both terrible quality. :roll:

              And I just noticed that they have issued a Don Carlo as part of the Levine 40th anniversary -- does anyone know that performance? :???:

            • PS The Met Parsifal can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:

              Careful -- it’s a region 2 dvd so you’d need to have a work-around.

            • marshiemarkII

              Mille grazie carisssime Lohenfal, Rackie, and Lurquito for the info on the Parsifal. That is really depressing that the date has been pushed so far, as I recall something like Jan 12th 2014 for the North American release….. Europe is always like two months ahead, at least for the DG stuff. Now the UK release does not help me because not only it is a Region 2, but it’s also in PAL!!!!!! what’s up with that?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I thought all new releases were on NTSC, and the Parsifal was surely filmed on NTSC. I can’t believe we will have to wait even more for the release here…… maybe by Easter then?

              Lurquito, I have had the Levine 40th Box since the very day it came out, as at that time it was the only way to get the Elektra, but I have not yet seen the Don Carlo with Scotto. I saw it in the theater of course, from the premiere on, several times, the sets were even more sparse, and columns (big boxes really) were spruced up and added some more texture later for Freni. Scotto was magnificent phrasing-wise, as usual, but a bit shrill up top, if I remember correctly. Troyanos was glorious, but we queens would have preferred the divine Yelena La O, who was barred by Jimmy Carter from singing at the Met then……Anyway, one of these days I’ll give it a listen to remember those ol’days of glory at the Met (and all we Qs would do then was complain because X Y or Z was no longer singing, and we were “stuck” with only Scotto, Freni, Caballe and the like :D plus ça change….)

            • Rackon

              Actually the MET telecasts are recorded in hi res, then downrezzed in the master for DVD. PAL vs NTSC doesn’t matter for BluRay, as its R0. Foe DVD, my Oppo player is region free and converts PAL>NTSC. It’s one of the best investments I ever made foe European films and other content (like TV seties) that don’t get a US release, have a delayed release, or are superior technically in R2.

              If you don’t have one alteady, I highly recommend an HDTV and BluRay player -image & sound are superior to 480p.

              Many players can be hacked to be region free via a code you input on the remote and most (but not all)of these same players also convert PAL>NTSC. Just google it, there’s tons of stuff on line, wwbsites etc. There are also many sources for region-free/converting players on line.

              The JK DVDs seem to be coming from Vienna and Salzburg rather than BSO. I believe FM may know something about Trovatore, FroSch and Forza. In the meantime, it’s all available on DVD/Cd from the usual sources.

              I cannot imagine that Sony would not want tons of new JK product available while he’s appearing at the MET and in recital -- surely the latter is the ideal venue to hawk Winterreise???

              BTW, Katherine at Presto Classical and I have dubbed the new JK CD “Hoodiereise”.

            • marshiemarkII

              Rackie, THANKS!!!!! you know I have exactly that! an Oppo that I got in 2012 (along with a really good Samsung 2012 vintage also). I love the Oppo, but alas it does not play a Region 2 Andrea Chenier (with Anna Tomowa) which I got in Vienna in 2008 thinking that my top of the line Sony then would play, it didn’t, and neither does the Oppo, I can only watch it on a computer, which as I said before, it kind of defeats the purpose as the computers are not connected to the main stereo system. And of course you are right that the for bluray it doesn’t matter the format other than the Region stuff, uggggh I’ll just have to be patient, but again many thanks for your enlightening info!

            • marshiemarkII

              Bottom line Rackie, how did you make the Oppo Region-free? I haven’t updated to the latest software since maybe a year, is that where the improvement is? I guess I better get on with the upgdate, right?

            • Rackon

              I bought it that way. Oppos always used to come region free -- it was one of their main claims to fame -- until they started making bluray players (Sony licensed). To do blur Oppo hadplayer to complythe with Sony’sa rules…so now their players now no longer ship regionthat free (atas least in USA). Sony is one of the main corps to blame for the region lock fiasco so their gear is usually non-hackable so forget modding your Sony player.

              Oppos are superb on video and pretty darned good for audio. I love mine. You can buy them region free from Bombay Electronics and othe net sellers (they will all convert PAL>NTSC). I would bet your player is mod-able hack-able to region free. That will, however, void your warranty.

              Let me know your model and I will ask my audio buddies if there is a fix. Is your player dvd only or is it bluray? You can also inquire at -for great site for av knowledge.

            • Rackon

              Oh gawd, Marshie, sorry for the messy typos. Can’t shut off the auto-fill on my phone. Bottom line, let me know your model #. Mine is older and came region free. I’ll see if it can be hacked at home or if it is a bench mod.

            • marshiemarkII

              Rackie many thanks again!!!!! my Oppo is the BDP-95, it was the top of the line and newest bluray player in early 2012, and they claim that with software updates it will remain top of the line for a while… you say the video picture is unbelievable and the sound is also pretty spectacular, though perhaps not as warm as my old Sony, which was some ES something or rather, but that is history (retired). It is connected to B&W speakers so the sound is pretty fab! but alas it doesn’t play anything that is not of the right region. The TV is one of those microscopically thin Samsung that were brand new in early 2012, I am sure they have better ones now but this one is pretty fab also. You sound like a real hi-tech aficionado, I just love to have good sound (best possible) for the operas, that’s always my main concern especially for Wagner :-) Many thanks again!

            • MMII -- You will be happy to know that The Other Mr Lurker took himself up to the Met Opera Shop yesterday (which is offering double member discounts until Saturday) and bought me the Don Carlo, the Elektra, and the Trittico.

              And I have the house to myself today so I can play them as loud as I like!


  • WindyCityOperaman

    FYI -- This was in my e-mail yesterday:

    Lyric Opera of Chicago will reveal details of a new production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and announce a Lyric premiere on Friday, January 17 at 11am CST/ 12pm EST/ 5pm GMT. Live video of the media conference will be streamed at Special guests from the Ring cast and creative team will join Lyric’s general director Anthony Freud and music director Sir Andrew Davis.

    We hope you can join us at for this important announcement!

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Early Warning WTTW/Chicago area viewers:

    Met’s Eugene Onegin on WTTW @ 9 PM CST

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1857 composer Wilhelm Kienzl

    Born on this day in 1860 dramatist and writer Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

    (how many operatic treatments of his dramas/stories can you thing of? I can think of about four . . . )

    Happy 57th birthday soprano Nancy Argenta

    Happy 56th birthday soprano Agnès Mellon

    and Happy 50th birthday to our First Lady

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1841 composer Emmanuel Chabrier

    Born on this day in 1903 composer Berthold Goldschmidt

    Born on this day in 1907 conductor János Ferencsik

    Born on this day in 1914 soprano Marianne Schech

    Happy 68th birthday soprano Katia Ricciarelli

    Happy 58th birhtday tenor Christoph Prégardien

  • zinka

    I attended three fine Onegins this season, but since I will not use binoculars or read titles, both of which totally distract me from taking in the details of the performance from a vocal aspect, and do not allow me to fully concentrate on the general stage action, I have to wait for PBS to afford me more details of a given performance.
    Therefore, some of the PBS Onegin last night offered me some of the interesting apsects that I could not possible take in live. Yes,some voices as miked were NOT what I heard live.For example, I was able to hear Volkova, practically inaudible in ther house, and that horrrendous Gremin came across even more inadequate.(How did he ever end up on the stage?).
    Very few artists in my memory instantly cause my eyes to tear up, and again, the moment that Piotr Beczala begins to sing to Olga in the first scene, that amazing combination of beauty of tone and “love of the vocal line,” do it to me every time;he is one of the greatest artists i have ever heard.
    Anna Netrebko is undoubtedly today’s greatest diva star, and in addition to that fabulous pure voice, the eyes glimmer, the body language is so telling, and you cannot keep your eyes off her.(Well,it is TV).
    As much as Kwiecen is a marvelous talent, in act three, I found him pushing the voice to the extent where the top notes lose focus, and I wish he would not try to be a “Verdi baritone.”
    Still and all, the Netrebko/Beczala combo is a true delight, and i look forward to their woirk in the new Tchaikovsky “Yolantha” next season;however, the name “Tanovitski” is listed in the cast. I sang Galvany’s doctor in 1965 but a guy named Plishka was King Rene. I guess I will bring the earplugs for the wonderful basso aria.
    Long live the great duo and may they sing everything forever!!!!!

  • Clita del Toro

    I watched Onegin last night. Kwiecen was kinda miscast, IMO: a bit lightweight in voice and personality—especially after having seen London in the role. He acted like a spoiled teenager. Beczala was wonderful.
    Anna looked puffy and matronly, and sang well without an interesting or moving characterization. The voice sounded heavy-ish and less gleaming than usual.
    I kinda liked the production, but not as much as the Met’s last one.

    • MontyNostry

      Kwiecien shouldn’t be lightweight in voice for a basically lyrical role like Onegin, but my impression of him (from fairly limited exposure) is that he is a very strenuous singer, so it always sounds like he is putting pressure on his voice (which doesn’t seem an exceptional instrument to my ear).

      • Clita del Toro

        Kwiecen as Onegin is not in the class of a Hvor or Mattei-- or London.

        • DonCarloFanatic

          I’m listening to the Oct. 5 Onegin right now and enjoying it much more as pure music than I did in the HD seeing all the stage business. Wonderful voices, especially Beczala. La Scala’s loss.

          • Clita del Toro

            I agree, listening us better in this case.

    • tatiana

      Exactly how I felt too, Clita. After seeing Mattei with the second cast, Kwiecien looked too much like a boy trying to do a man’s job.

      I’m listening to the Met broadcast of “Onegin” now (I assume a different performance with the same cast than the one on PBS) and in the intermission interview Netrebko freely admitted having a very hard time with portraying the introverted and shy Tatiana. I agree that the closeups did not flatter her, but what surprised me most of all was that she didn’t communicate more by her facial expressions--almost as if she weren’t really LISTENING to her colleagues. Her voice was gorgeous, though. As an overall performance, I thought Beczala outclassed everyone.

      The production I just thought was dumb--especially Act I. How the Larinas could see whether Onegin and/or Lenski were approaching through closed doors and drawn shades . . .

      • Clita del Toro

        Tatiana: X-Ray vision.

        • Clita del Toro

          PS IMO, Netrebko never had a very expressive face.

      • Gualtier M

        Also in the third scene of the first act just before Onegin enters to lecture Tatyana -- why was she trying to flee through a wall stage left? There were two other doors in that room… But then you have to consider that set being Tatyana’s bedroom as well and the dirty mattress that gets thrown against the door, etc.

      • Batty Masetto

        How strange to see that so many people were baffled by that Act I set.

        Back in the medieval era when I was a mere batlet, homes across the Midwest had large screen porches or even screen “houses” where people went for shade and at least some ventilation when the summer heat made it unbearable to stay indoors. They had no real walls, just large screens with shades that could be dropped to keep the sun out. Just like in the set.

        All kinds of activity -- living, reading, sorting fruit, entertaining, dining, sleeping – would be done there. Just like in the set.

        It took no stretch of the imagination at all for me to believe that a Russian estate might have a similar arrangement, very possibly on a much more generous scale.

        • sterlingkay

          The interesting thing about that Act 1 set is that I believe it was made especially for the MET production. When the production originated at ENO the whole of Act 1 was in the “barn” set including the letter scene. I seem to remember the Tatiana sang that scene on a mattress in the barn— which really seemed “odd”. I agree, though, the “improvement” for the MET wasn’t much of an improvement. I’m not sure why Gelb felt the need to replace the Carsen production since that staging felt so much more modern. I know the singers hated singing in it because it was so “open” and did not project voices well.

        • messa di voce

          Exactly, Batty. No problems at all with the action in Act 1 taking place in what some would call a “summer kitchen.” In the rest of the house, the rugs would have been rolled up, the furniture covered, and the curtains continuously drawn.

        • The “baffling” part I think was the idea that Tatiana was using what seems to have been a very busy space (people coming and going all the time) as a bedroom. I think it might have made more sense if there were some indication given that Tatiana was too restless to sleep and so decided to sit here in this “porch” area and write her letter. But why, then, would she have taken her top off, walking around in her corset and skirt? (At the end of the scene, neither she nor Filippyevna seemed to think anything amiss when the old nanny’s grandson was looking directly at Tatiana in her underwear.)

          Another objection I had was that there should be a scene change several minutes long during which time apparently all that happened was that a couple of chairs were moved from one side of the stage to the other.

          • armerjacquino

            Re: your second paragraph- I don’t see why they’d stretch out a scene change longer than they need to. It may have appeared as if only two chairs moved but if that’s all that happened the scene change wouldn’t have lasted as long. Stage management aren’t idiots.

            • Edward George

              You can see what happens on the HD broadcast:

              about 30 tankards are put back into boxes
              the stage is swept very carefully
              tables are moved and the “bedroom” is set

              After a couple of minutes, the stage is ready.

              Everybody is then waiting for Anna to return from her dressing room/area after her costume change, adding another minute or so to the scene change.

          • bluecabochon

            Totally agree, LaC. I liked the first act set because it was so evocative and gave a huge sense of depth that I don’t often see at the Met these days. There was the huge dayroom, the area just behind that was used as an outdoor cafe area for the peasants, and the suggestions of trees and country beyond that, visible through the windows, which unfortunately looked like plastic, but you can’t have everything.

            What would have solved the scenic issue in the letter scene would have been the addition of a daybed or chaise longue, draped with shawls perhaps, against a wall, with well-worn upholstery or mattress, to indicate that this was an established spot for lounging. The room was huge and this might not have have seemed out of place, even in a room that served many activities from potting plants to organizing the vegetables to reading, socializing and having tea. It’s not a stretch to have a bed or two out there for hot nights. The chaise could have been dragged center stage during the scene change, and there could also have been a small table for her to write on, that we could have seen either used or folded in a corner during the previous scene.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    L’amor, l’amor!

    And for all you Gerry flappers