Cher Public

Drama queen

The very first words in this issue are “Renata Scotto will return to the American operatic stage in the 2001 season!” And if just gets more exciting from there!  Casting and repertoire gossip from all over the place; the Top 50 Excuses for Jane Eaglen‘s Isolde; reviews by Dawn Fatale, Qual Cor, Enzo Bordello, Doug Peck, Richard and Peter, Flora Bervoix and The Loge Lizard; Leila de Lakmé pays tribute to Leonie Rysanek, and that notorious “artist’s conception” of Renée Fleming with the nekkid guys in Alcina. [Download Issue #39]

  • oedipe

    Sorry for the OT: Congratulations to Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak for the birth, today, of Malena Alagna!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Great issue of Parterre.

    Made Montsey happy too!

    and Luciano and Leonie reach for their highest notes

    • Clita del Toro

      The Caballe clip is precious--love it.!!! She seems to have surprised herself.

      There is a Callas concert where she sings Vieni t’affretta and flubs some of the top coloratura. She makes a tiny gesture conveying, “WTF”. Not exactly the same.

    • skoc211

      Watching that Callas clip I can’t help but hope that the whole Tosca was recorded on video and it will be discovered some day!

  • OpinionatedNeophyte

    Wow, La Cieca knows a gem when she hears one. Giving Matos snaps in the early aughts! But how bad *were* those Eaglen Isolde’s? Is there recorded evidence?

    • Cocky Kurwenal
      • OpinionatedNeophyte

        Thanks Cocky, the whole thing is on YouTube and I just watched a few clips from Act 2. Why is Bragnane singing Isolde down to the bed. Jane is deep in the struggle….

        • Camille

          Dear ONPhD,

          Having sat through four or five of those performances I have this to say: the capital crime she committed was to make Isolde sound one dimensional—always an angry woman—and a lack of textual insight and differentiation. One could not fault her for the sound, per se, it was always well produced, non-wobbly, and enough sound. It was just not that interesting to listen to, I am terribly sorry to say. She worked hard and has to be given credit for what she accomplished. It just had no magic like, say, what Waltraud Meier managed to accomplish in her one night stand with significantly less voice. And there are many here who have commented upon the sight of her “entrance” in the third act, so I shall not.

          When the usual dreaded appearance of King Marke and Melot in Act II becomes a highlight and the relief you look forward to and eagerly anticipate after having heard T&I a couple times, well, you know something is just plain wrong.

          • armerjacquino

            What became of this magnificent cover, Sue Patchell, who gave such an amazing performance? I’m afraid to say I’ve never heard of her.

            • Camille

              You know, armerj, that review never made a lot of sense to me, as I saw La Patchell twice after that, as Cassandra in Troyens and as Senta in Holländer, while bearing in mind these comments, and although she was perfectly fine and nothing wrong with her performance, there was also nothing that outstanding, either. Perfectly professional and that’s all.

              You asked something about one of my favourite comprimarios yesterday—Anthony Laciura. He was always wonderful, a real treat as Hauck-Sendorf in Makropoulos Case. A first class comprimario who defined the adage ‘There are no small roles, only small singers’. He is missed by me at the Met, a lot.

            • Krunoslav

              She did a few more cover stints at the Met, capable but not outstanding-- Cassandre, Senta and the Kaiserin ( thato ne was quite good, but not like the Isolde which was really memorable).

          • You’re right, Camille. The only emotion Eaglen’s Isolde portrayed well was anger, which worked to her advantage in Act I. For the rest, there was some very good singing but not much character.

            • Camille

              Oh, you think so as well?
              This was the joint conclusion we both reached after sitting through the entire run.

              It’s a shame in a way and I remembered her most fondly and gratefully when subjected to some of the subsequent Isoldes in the last run, all of whom shall remain nameless, save that Nordic enchantress, Waltraud. In similar fashion, I felt the same when hearing those ghastly Normas in 2009 or so. She had a lot going for her and she is one helluva nice and decent lady, too, so it is too bad there was never that ability to delineate words and character which to me is essential. Hope she is doing well now.

            • luvtennis

              I saw the first run of performances and generally agree with Camille and Kashie’s assessment. Eaglen had a very limited tonal range and her vocal production did not lend itself to pointed rendition of the text.

              I also think she was not happy onstage. She always looked uncomfortable and fidgety. That said, as you recall, those first performances were greeted by raves largely because she and Heppner managed the roles comfortably with nary a wobble to be heard which was extraordinary at that time in these roles.

            • I also think that as well as Eaglen sang the music, it was really Heppner who drove the success of those runs. To have a Tristan deep in the throes of Act III actually singing rather than barking the music was tremendous. There was also Pape’s remarkable Marke and Jimmy’s sweeping conducting. Also, the score hadn’t been heard at the Met for some 15 years if I recall. It all added up to make for some very excited Wagnerians. With all those elements going for the production, all Eaglen needed to do was show up with a genuine Isolde voice and not make any mistakes.

            • That initial run also brought Dalayman (as Brangäne) to most people’s attention for the first time.

            • Camille

              Kashania—what you describe was certainly true from my perspective—it was driven more by Big Ben, who, at least on one of those performances—gave one of the great performances of any singer in any role I’ve seen in a lifetime of operagoing. It was an absolutely thrilling third act and I was sorry Tristan had to die!!!! One of M. Camille’s and mine never-to-be-forgotten nights at the opera.

              Also, I would like to wish big Ben well in his new career as radio personality and hope it proves congenial to him. Having seen him from his first Walther in ’89 and Prince in ’90, in Seattle, I’ve always felt a great fondness and a deep sympathy for him.

    • I saw the televised Eaglen/Heppner T & I on PBS around 10-12 years ago when it aired. I remember thinking that Eaglen had some very fine moments. And I heard some very good things from people who saw it live. When they revived with the two of them a couple of seasons, I read some raves online…

      • kennedet

        Camille, I also wish Big Ben success on his new career as a radio host. The program is entertaining and it’s fun to hear opera stories from his career. However, I did attend a performance of his years ago in Toronto which was every singer’s nightmare. Heppner obviously had what seemed to be a chest cold but decided to sing a full recital. He had to stop midway, apologized and the audience was very gracious. Some applauded when he announced he was “stopping for our sake as well as his”,because the cracking was frightening. One should never attempt to sing with a chest cold.

        • Kennedet: I was at that Toronto recital. I don’t think he had a cold that day. That was around the time when he had great trouble with cracking and that recital was the apex. It was his last performance for a year or so and he came back refreshed (and having dropped a lot of weight) as Enee at the Met. He has taken to his radio career with great ease, I think. As well as having a lovely radio voice (duh), his warm personality shines through very nicely.

          • kennedet

            O.K., I thought it was a chest cold. However, it means it might be technique which is worse. Oh, well, as you say, he came back refreshed.Good for him and us.

  • tannengrin

    if Renee is found in the locker room with a bunch of naked football players in New Jersey on Sunday it will be your fault, Temptress Cieca, for giving her the idea…

  • armerjacquino

    The idea that Vick deliberately hogged stage time in order to scupper a Sellars production, because he was jealous that Sellars’ Glyndebourne THEODORA was more successful than any of his own productions… well, maybe in a soap. Grown adult professionals just don’t behave like that. Plus, of course- to use Occam’s Razor- a director of productions tends to be, for obvious reasons, delighted when a visiting director scores a hit.

  • armerjacquino

    Wow- I wish we’d got to see Kander and Ebb’s THE VISIT, though!

    • MontyNostry

      Was that based on Duerrenmatt’s Der Besuch der alten Dame? If so, someone else’s musical version is opening in Vienna in a few weeks …

    • Lansbury signed to do the show and then her husband Peter Shaw became gravely ill so she withdrew. The show was large and expensive, so a big name star was needed to replace her. Judi Dench and Glenn Close were both approached, and Shirley MacLaine showed great interest in the show. But as the time for rehearsals began she had other, previous projects suddenly on the front burner. Chita Rivera, a superb performer but not a gigantic a name as these other ladies, accepted the role, with the plan to arrive on Broadway in the fall of 2001. Then, after 9/11, the risk just looked too big to take: attendance was way off on practically every show in New York and it looked impossible for a big new musical to find an audience under those circumstances.

      • armerjacquino

        How fascinating- I knew nothing about this. MacLaine and Rivera would both have been superb castings.

        Dare I suggest, that the part being something of an OTT grotesque, it might have suited PLP down to the ground?

      • Krunoslav

        Pity no one asked Marcia Lewis.

  • actfive

    I remember Scotto’s Baltimore Klytemenestra, but did the 2003 Old Countess actually happen? Can’t recall it…

    • No, apparently that plan fell through. Scotto never sang that role, which seems such an obvious late-career choice for her.

  • armerjacquino

    The kinder age of internet 1.0? Interesting that there’s a positive review for Villaroel’s Nedda despite the fact that ‘she didn’t always sing in tune and some top notes were shrill’. I can just imagine the evisceration that would bring about nowadays.

  • Camille

    This was always one of my favourite parterre box issues and I keep the hard copy—particularly for its cover!—near my piano all the time.

    It seems like æons ago, now, those days.

    • luvtennis

      Because of the wars and the explosive changes wrought by technology methinks, Camille.

      But I agree. I was an age ago.