Cher Public

  • Camille: As well, what about this Wotan and why haven’t I heard more about him from some parterrian or other? True that he sings... 10:21 AM
  • Camille: Tantissimi auguri al Egregissimo Maestro di MUsica, Riccardo MUTI! httpv:// m/watch?v=lr8FIaHh aS8 In his finest... 10:03 AM
  • Krunoslav: Those Archives can be tricky…. 9:56 AM
  • Orlando Furioso: GERAINT Evans. I honestly don’t know if that was autocorrect or me typing carelessly. 9:53 AM
  • Orlando Furioso: As has been recounted in more than one book (I recall those by Bing and Gearing Evans), Solti wanted Watson for the Peter... 9:52 AM
  • Christopher Corwin: Thanks. Both the SF archives (again) and an old friend in Chicago let me down. 9:46 AM
  • Camille: What a rare treat! I can hardly wait to hear this one and, certainly, didn’t expect the luxury of hearing Mrs Watson in... 9:36 AM
  • Krunoslav: Two other major Watson studio recordings: Anna in Klemperer’s not quite gelled DON GIOVANNI and Agathe in the von Matacic... 9:28 AM

B. F. deal

Tenors Bryan Hymel (pictured) and Joseph Calleja redeem otherwise routine Puccini revivals at the Met, says Our Own JJ in the New York Observer. (Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)


  • 1
    papopera says:

    Pinkerton lowered his eyes as he came out of the paedophile closet.

  • 2
    marshiemarkII says:

    Making a big impression in a tiny role was Alexey Lavrov, a baritone in the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, who brought a rich voice and magnetic presence to the often-overlooked Prince Yamadori

    Brava Ciechissssima, you made my day!!!! and today has been a glorious day already!!!!! :lol:

    • 2.1
      Bianca Castafiore says:

      marshieeeessima, is he related to Sergey?

      • 2.1.1
        marshiemarkII says:

        Not at all, he is from the Republic of Komi and Serguey is Armenian.
        We are working on his webpage at the HBF, he is HBF Award 2014, you will see lots of pictures in a day or so!!!

      • 2.1.2
        marshiemarkII says:

        So nice to see you back Bianchisssssima, I was just thinking about you that you hadn’t been around for a while. Now we get CammiB back for good and the party can begin :lol:

      • 2.1.3
        marshiemarkII says:

        Bianchissssima, the photos of Alexey Lavrov promised:

          Bianca Castafiore says:

          Dear marshieeeeeee,

          Thank you for this info. So nice to hear from you. I have been away on a long trip to warmer climes, and I returned just in time to catch the Madam Butterfly dress rehearsal last week. Lavrov got a big reaction from all the schoolchildren when he came out for his bow, and he didn’t do the usual operatic bow but a choreographed kabuki/sumo move (and grunt). He’s so tall and young! I enjoyed reading your impressions on Echalaz, whom I found a good performer but problematic as well. Btw, she just got married last week? The announcement was in the paper this weekend.

          Sorry I have been too busy to hang out at PB. Hope you and our carina Cammyushka are well, and all other parterriani.

          À bientôt!

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            And yes, Hymel, DeShong and Hendricks were all quite good, and DeShong really impressive. Hopefully she’ll graduate to bigger roles, just as Barton did.

            • kashania says:

              DeShong sang a very good Cenerentola at the COC a few years ago. Her coloratura was truly impressive. Her singing and characterisation could’ve done with more personality but she has the goods. Interestingly, she’s coming back Suzuki in the fall.

  • 3
    Satisfied says:

    So torn between Hymel in the first run and Opolais later in the run (with the gorgeous Valenti as Pinkerton).

    Hope I chose well.

    • 3.1
      Krunoslav says:

      Given that “the gorgeous Valenti” is at best an adequate, rather provincial singer, I too wish one could hear Hymel with Opolais.

    • 3.2
      RosinaLeckermaul says:

      Choose Hymel. Last time I saw Valenti (with Opalais) as Pinkerton, he was deservedly booed. Too bad you can’t get Opalais and Hymel.

      • 3.2.1
        Regina delle fate says:

        Yes, Rosina, but he was booed in London only because -- unfortunately -- all “bad guy” characters are booed in London: Don Pizarro in Fidelio, Scarpia, almost any Verdi baritone apart from Simon Boccanegra. It’s a sad reflection on the infantilism of the London opera public these days.

          oedipe says:

          He was also copiously booed in Paris and the audience here does not usually boo the “bad guy”: other tenors in the same role got strong applause. Actually, Valenti has not been back in Paris since, in any role. And he hasn’t been missed.

          • Regina delle fate says:

            The Paris audience is obviously more discriminating, Oedipe. I’m not defending Valenti’s singing, but it is unfortunately the case that if he had sung like a God he would probably have been booed in London. Pinkertons nearly always get booed here, but no-one boos singers who have sung badly. I think the last time I heard a singer booed for a bad performance at Covent Garden was Cheryl Studer on the first night of Aida in the 1990s. And then it was only two or three people.

            • oedipe says:

              Ha, we shall see how Oksana Dyka -the other poster singer of Parisian booers- does in her upcoming ROH Toscas! The audience here simply hated her Aida.

  • 4
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Quite an amazing profile photo of Hymel. Great makeup.

  • 5
    stignanispawn says:

    Agree with JJ about Calleja, he is the real thing; although I liked the entire production better than JJ. Also agree about Valenti — poster child for form over substance — go to the Hymel performance.

  • 6
    kashania says:

    We had Hymel in Toronto a few seasons ago as both Pinkerton and Don José. I’m a fan of his singing, especially when he sails to the top. And I think he’s really found his niche with the high-lying heroic roles that are so difficult to cast (like Enee). But when I heard him a few years, I heard a bleaty quality to his mid-register that wasn’t always pleasant. It was more apparently in Don José because the voice was more exposed in that role. Pinkerton competes with heavier orchestration so that bleat was somewhat covered up by the orchestra.

    • 6.1
      oedipe says:

      Last season I heard Hymel in a concert performance of La Damnation de Faust. He didn’t strain his voice in order to project his middle register and, lo and behold, there was hardly any bleat. Problem was, the voice sounded much smaller than WITH the bleat -but definitely more pleasant. So my guess is that the bleat is a consequence of his trying to make his voice bigger in his mid-register.

      • 6.1.1
        Regina delle fate says:

        Interesting, Oedipe. He sounded quite bleaty in Les Vêpres at Covent Garden, but I thought he was wonderful as Enée in the cinema from the Met. Maybe it sounded different in the house, but the reports from the Met were all positive as far as I remember.

          oedipe says:

          I saw the Met Troyens both in the house and in HD and I also saw the ROH version live. I thought Hymel sounded better at the Met, in spite of the bigger house; maybe that’s because he had more experience in the role. But the bleat in the lower registers was present in all instances.

          Enée is a very tricky “ténor héroique” role that requires an almost impossible combination of a ringing high register, like that of a lyric tenor, and a powerful mid/low register full of squillo, like that of a heroic tenor. Hymel has a great high register, but seems ill at ease in the lower tessitura of the role.

  • 7
    operaassport says:

    No one goes to Butterfly for the tenor. Go for whichever Butterfly you want, otherwise you’re in for a very long evening.

    • 7.1
      Feldmarschallin says:

      Well I am going to the Butterfly here for Calleja. Anna Maria Martinez is the Butterfly and so far I haven’t been trilled by her. She was ok as Rusalka but nothing special.

      • 7.1.1
        operaassport says:

        If you’re going for the tenor, what do you do for the 3 hours after he exits before he shows up again?

          bluecabochon says:

          Well, you might enjoy the beautiful physical production -- live theatre isn’t only about the singing. I’m going tomorrow night.

      • 7.1.2
        operaassport says:

        You’re really going to be disappointed since Calleja isn’t singing Butterfly.

          bluecabochon says:

          He’s singing Pinkerton in Munich in June, where the Feld lives, operassport.

      • 7.1.3
        Regina delle fate says:

        lol -- another soprano with no trill, FM! I’m tempted by that Butterfly in München with Calleja though and the alternatives for Cio-Cio-San are not limitless. Opolais was really something in London, but you didn’t much like her as Amelia Grimaldi. She was less convincing as Tosca at the ROH. I saw her as Rusalka in Munich which was pretty good -- better than Camilla Nylund at Covent Garden anyway. Martinez was fabulous as Rusalka at Glyndebourne, but it’s a much smaller house than your NT.

    • 7.2
      tatiana says:

      I’m going to the Met “Butterfly” this Tuesday--for the tenor.

      That said, I may also depart after Act I.

  • 8
    arepo says:

    More often than not these days, I have stopped seeing an opera if it doesn’t have the singers I am anxious to see.
    Based on that theory, for months I agonized about which Butterfly cast to see.
    Opalais or Hymel, Opalais or Hymel??
    After all, who doesn’t go especially to see the Butterfly?
    But I just HAD to see Hymel, having heard so many good things about him. And Opalais’ tenor, great looking as he is, thrills me not.
    So I bit the bullet and decided to go against the grain and pick Hymel for next Saturday’s matinee and, man oh man, after that stirring review of La Cieca’s, am I ever happy I made the decision I made.

    I am probably the only person on the face of this earth who doesn’t happen to prefer the puppet version, finding it a decided distraction from more important things going on onstage, but there you have it, I am seeing it yet again after 3 precious runs.
    So Bryan Hymel is the impetus this time for me (and the drop dead gorgeous music of Puccini, of course!)

    • 8.1
      arepo says:

      Oops. Change the word PRECIOUS” runs to “PREVIOUS” runs. (Duh!)

    • 8.2
      tatiana says:

      No, arepo, you’re not the only one who doesn’t love the puppet . . . it’s never persuaded me, either. But I love the work and if a particular casting compels me to return, well . . . I can always concentrate on the gorgeous orchestration and melodies. . . .

    • 8.3
      Porgy Amor says:

      Some people like the Sorrow puppet that is on stage for a couple scenes and some do not, but does Minghella’s Butterfly deserve a reduction like “the puppet version”? That makes it sound as though one will be looking at puppets, puppets, and more puppets for three hours. A mute character traditionally represented by a child who cannot act, but done a different way this one time, is not a very significant element in the big picture, in my opinion. When I think of the production, which I love, I don’t think first of the puppet — I think of the ways in which lighting and fabric and color are used over the whole duration.

      • 8.3.1
        Grane says:

        “The puppet version” should, of course, refer to Julie Taymor’s Magic Flute.

      • 8.3.2
        kashania says:

        I liked the puppet but agree that it didn’t play such a big role in the production. When I think of the Minghella Butterfly, I don’t think of the puppet until others bring it up. To be frank, I didn’t think I’d like the puppet when I read about it but was rather struck by it and the handlers. I found the whole treatment rather moving.

    • 8.4
      Ruxxy says:

      I am a puppeteer -- and I HATE the use of a puppet in Butterfly- it is a complete distraction and dramatically not an appropriate fit at all. Sorry -- my two cent’s worth.

      • 8.4.1
        manou says:

        I too loathe the puppet in this production especially because the thing is so ugly. It looks as if it has had a disastrous encounter with an Amazonian headshrinker and suffers from a goitre problem

        and it is nigh on impossible to ignore the puppeteers

        They of course are called Blind Summit -- but not all of us are sight impaired.

          oedipe says:

          And his twin brother is Elsa’s lost little brother. Which, of course, makes perfect sense.

          Ruxxy says:

          To expand a little further…for years I have lamented the way the child is usually mis directed anyway. You have only to listen to the music to hear what Puccini wanted -- a full on dramatic reveal that is the final catalyst to a tragic ending. In most cases in the myriad of productions I’ve seen it is often an unhurried almost casual and seldom in step with the music, affair and much of the drama is wasted. Ok I’m a picky queen -- just sayin!

      • 8.4.2
        La Valkyrietta says:

        I also find the child puppet in this production of Butterfly very ugly, and the crew that works it disgustingly distracting. So much so that one evening I could not stand it any more and walked out before the last scene. Racette that evening was wonderful, but even her did not keep me suffering the puppet monstrosity. That opera evening was ruined for me, and I am sure it has for many others. Whenever the Met advertises this production with favorable words, I think of the puppet, say “Ha!”, and my stomach turns.

    • 8.5
      cieloemar says:

      Here’s another who went to Butterfly for the tenor. I heard both the Butterfly and the Boheme over Sirius, but wanted to hear Hymel in the house. At the second performance (Monday), we got yet another conductor, Pierre Vallet, and more coordination problems between orchestra and singers. But Hymel was well worth the trip (5-hour drive). A full lyric voice with beautiful, even tone throughout the range and flamboyant high notes. It’s a long slog through Act II (JJ’s assessment is right on target, except none of Echalaz’s acting made it up to the Balcony), but Hymel’s “Addio fiorito asil” is worth the wait.

    • 8.6
      Cocky Kurwenal says:

      I wouldn’t ever seek Hymel out, or pick a date to attend because of him. He’s reliable but not very engaging, and the sound is unalluring, IMO.

  • 9
    Clita del Toro says:

    So much for Netrebko’s “exile.” She will sing at the Closing Ceremony at the Olympics.

  • 10
    stignanispawn says:

    I don’t care for the puppet-child in Madama Butterfly either. I can appreciate its theatricality but, for me, Butterfly is like Terms of Endearment, i.e., I want to weep at the end of Act III, and I need a child to elicit my tearful response.

  • 11
    stignanispawn says:

    On a slightly different topic, After reading an article in the Sunday Times last Fall about what happens to opera characters when the curtain comes down, I bought a copy of “The Heat of the Sun,” an account of Trouble’s life when Pinkerton brings him to America following Butterfly’s death.
    Is it a fabulous book? No. But it is a good read for these remaining cold January-February nights. There were lots of inexpensive copies on eBay and Abebooks. The single gentlemen to whom I gave it as part of an opera-related Christmas package liked it too.
    Also — if you have never read it — look for a copies of Robert Merrill’s trash-fest, The Divas, a roman a clef from the mid-1970’s featuring fictionalized versions of Kirsten, Moffo and Steber, among others. Think Valley of the Dolls, only opera, pure bliss!

    • 11.1
      DonCarloFanatic says:

      Amazon lists it for circa $100, which usually means it does not have a copy but somebody out there in used-book land will search for it for you for that price.

    • 11.2
      Will says:

      A less high wire act of narrative than Heat of the Sun is Butterfly’s Child, that tells a far more psychologically credible version of Trouble’s live in America and, eventually back in Japan with some big . . . . well I shouldn’t even hint. But it is very good reading.

  • 12
    arepo says:

    Shocking to see that I am inundated with like-minded “Trouble” puppet dissers. And here I thought I sat alone over in this corner.
    Go figure!
    For the life of me I could not dispel the puppeteers (albeit attired all in black in an attempt to blend in with the black staging), because I was so involved viewing their actions, that despite the fact that admittedly the puppet wasn’t onstage for the bulk of the opera, it succeeded in upstaging the portions when it was onstage, and its presence significantly watered down my emotional connection with the opera.
    Being that it is one of my top 6 favorite operas, I strongly require a real live boy AFTER Pinocchio becomes one, not before.

  • 13
    tatiana says:

    Well with all due respect to your right to your opinion, Clita, I disagree that this is a minor detail . . . The existence of the child is the plot point that takes this beyond a story of an abandoned young woman to another level of human drama and emotional intensity.
    If one likes the puppet device and the way it works, good for them. I think a case could be made that the child is actually a kind of pawn or “puppet” in the ultimate overall scheme of the drama. But it doesn’t work for me--or evidently, for several others here.