Headshot of La Cieca

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  • Krunoslav: You mean audiences have been enduring Papatanasiu’ s screeching while Mary Dunleavy sits... 9:27 PM
  • pirelli: Yes. And they’re going to bring Bocelli in to do Rodolfo instead. 8:54 PM
  • Baritenor: Fabiano just got pretty much rave reviews from his current run in San Francisco. Good news for you... 8:50 PM
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  • coloraturafan: You should take a listen to this, it is Rita Shane at her most spectacular!!! httpv://youtu.... 8:20 PM
  • Satisfied: Wahoo! Already scheduled for the Dec 10 performance with Fabiano! Suddenly care a lot less if... 8:18 PM
  • Signor Bruschino: Where are all the complainers saying that Fabiano wasn’t seeing at the Met for 2 plus... 8:07 PM
  • Guestoria Unpopularenka: So who do you think fits the bill? Domingo? 8:00 PM
  • antikitschychick: oh ok thanks for clarifying. Yeah I recall seeing some posts on here about those Paris... 7:59 PM

Catch of another day

“The nameless heroine of Dvorak’s Rusalka is one of those hybrid creatures that crops up so often in myth and fairy tale, half woman and half fish. The Met’s current quickie revival of this opera is also a half-and-half sort of thing: a charming musical performance welded to a dramatic production so old and stale that, like fish left out too long, it’s starting to smell.” [New York Observer]

111 comments

  • MontyNostry says:

    That trailer omits to mention the composer’s name! It’s Bernhard Sekles.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernhard_Sekles

  • Bill says:

    I saw the Schenk production of Rusalka in Vienna when it was new in 1987 “nach Entwuerfen von Schneider-Siemsssen” as it actually was borrowed or copied from
    a previous Rusalka in Munich. It was evocative, fresh and lovely to look at -- the embodiment of what one
    imagined a production of Rusalka should be. At the time Rusalka was not frequently in the repertoire of
    any major opera one went to hear the music, the glorious cast conducted by Vaclav Neumann -- Benackova, Peter Dvorsky, Nesterenko, and Eva Randova as both the Jezibaba and Foreign Princess -- it was a picturesque staging (with some cuts actually) and I saw 6 performances of the opera in Vienna in 5 years. The production then played in the Southwest (Houston maybe) and at the Met with Benackova. I believe that all the psychological drama can be found in the music, the text and in the musical performance and one does
    not need a Regie production necessarily to evoke
    what is already in the score. The old Munich/Vienna production has re-surfaced, first at the Met as a new
    production and I think in 4 revivals (all with Fleming after Benackova’s superb performance in the first run).
    One does notice that the scenery is not as fresh as
    it had been originally -- one does notice that the lighting is darker than it was at first in Vienna in 1987 perhaps to disquise the wear and tear of the backdrops. But I differ with JJ’s review -- I do not think a very modern Regie production illustrating all the underlying currents in this opera is needed -- the
    music tells all. The audience at the Met applauded
    the scenery for the second act earlier this week -
    it is beautiful (of the old school) and shows exactly what we are supposed to see -- a Palace of the Prince.
    Not more or less -- It is not particularly different that the glorious Tannhaeuser which the Met presented in 1977 with Rysanek, Bumbry, etc. -- Vienna had that also and replaced it with a silly Regie production of Tannhaeuser that did not go over well with most of the Kritics or the public. Regie productions may be good for Festwochen where the production never appears again anywhere after a few weeks -- but for repertory houses a production, which will be repeated for 25 years or longer, must be made which will suit all types and shapes of leading singers. The current Met production of Traviata might be thrilling but if Caballe, Callas, Tebaldi, Sutherland, Albanese, and a host of others were singing today, with that production, we would never have been able to experience or see their assumptions of Violetta at the Met and that would have been a great loss. Better to have a Rusalka with fine voices (Benackova, Fleming) than a very modern up to date staging and scenery with someone in the title role who can do the production but cannot attractively sing the role with a gorgeous voice riding over the superb Dvorak orchestration.

    • operaassport says:

      If the “music tells all” then what need is there for a production at all? You could just do concert performances or just listen on the radio.

      This argument that the “music tells all” is so ridiculous and so out dated that its a wonder that anyone makes it anymore.

    • La Cieca says:

      but for repertory houses a production, which will be repeated for 25 years or longer, must be made which will suit all types and shapes of leading singers

      You are therefore talking about exactly one opera house in the world, the Vienna Staatsoper, a theater synonymous with lazy routine.

      The current Met production of Traviata might be thrilling but if Caballe, Callas, Tebaldi, Sutherland, Albanese, and a host of others were singing today, with that production, we would never have been able to experience or see their assumptions of Violetta at the Met and that would have been a great loss.

      And if Rudolf Bing had been cryogenically frozen next to Walt Disney, he could today happily be serving as intendant at Hamburg, at least until the theater was shut down by the invasion of the space aliens.

      • CwbyLA says:

        Forget about Bing. Would you agree that Angela Meade has the voice to sing Traviata? If she does, will she ever be cast to sing at the Met’s current Traviata production?

        • La Cieca says:

          So the solution is to design all productions for 300 pound singers and then take in the dress in case any normal sized woman show up to sing?

          • Poison Ivy says:

            The little red dress has been adjusted for different singers. Damrau is a pretty buxom woman and it was lengthened and the top adjusted for DD.

          • CwbyLA says:

            you wanted an example of a living artist? No, the solution is not to design around a 300-lb woman but for many different types of women who will sing the role, especially a role like Traviata, Boheme, etc. I can’t imagine Radvanosvky or Gheorghiu in the red dress Traviata, either.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Gheorghiu I can. Whether she’s willing to I don’t know but she can sing in the red dress as can Renee.

            • La Cieca says:

              Why, because they’re too fat? Because they aren’t willing to show their legs? Because they don’t like to act? Because they’re just plain difficult?

              Have you asked them?

            • CwbyLA says:

              what i meant was the production and not the red dress. Sorry, it didn’t come across correctly. By the way, just for disclosure I really like the Decker Traviata; however, I think it is suitable for Netrebko, Dessay, etc and not Meade, Radvanovsky or Fleming. That’s all I meant.

            • pobrediablo says:

              I’m having a hard time picturing the lethargic Gheorghiu spinning and twirling on the couch.
              Sondra -- too old looking for her age. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s older than we believe.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Does SR sing Traviata? She did maybe 12 years ago but in the last decade has she? I can’t see her in any production personally just because the voice and temperament aren’t a good fit.

            • La Cieca says:

              Well, the thing is, you don’t know until they try it. The successes Radvanovsky has had at the Met in my opinion are the productions that really challenged her as an actress, the Trovatore and Ballo. In a stock production I find her very dull.

              I honestly don’t know about Gheorghiu. I think if the project were approached as a restudied production, tailoring the concept to her personality as it obviously was with Netrebko when it was first created, she might be interested in the challenge of making it an “Angela” show. She really does dig into the Marguerite for McVicar at Covent Garden, so I think she has the spark in her, but I don’t know how hard she is willing to work unless there’s some glory in it for her.

              But I see what you’re saying: it’s not a Traviata for everyone. But it’s not an eternal Traviata: my guess is it will play two or three more seasons and then be replaced, which is as it should be. The era of the opera production that stays on the boards for three or four decades is thankfully drawing to a close.

            • Indiana Loiterer III says:

              The era of the opera production that stays on the boards for three or four decades is thankfully drawing to a close.

              Even for works infrequently revived?

            • CwbyLA says:

              Induana, perhaps “regie” productions are less of a problem for infrequently presented operas since there are a handful of singers that the opera will be revived for. My comments were following Bill’s initial observation about Caballe fitting into the Decker Traviata. After a roundabout discussion, i think La Cieca and I are finally on the same page. :-) I think part of the problem, at least for me, is that Netrebko and Villazon were so excellent in the Salzburg production that that production is etched into my mind with their performances. Indeed Dessay made it her own (in acting of course) but she is a rare performer. The Zefirelli Traviata, while totally overstuffed, is kinder to many different types of Violettas. Matthew Polenzani did not fit into the Decker Traviata, for example. I know he is inhibited in the acting department so perhaps he is not the best example. I thought Bill brought up an interesting point. By having many daring productions of operas, does Met limit itself in the casting department? Again for the record, I am not against regie or daring productions. My favorite Magic Flute to date has been the cinematic Flute that was presented at the LA Opera a few months ago.

            • La Cieca says:

              Even for works infrequently revived?

              I think so, yes. Works in the “infrequent” repertoire are these days more and more treated as “festival” productions, that is, they show up for a season or two only, and then, when the opera is revived a decade or 15 years later, it’s in a new production. I doubt, for example, that we will ever see the Pelly Manon at the Met after next season’s revival with Damrau. When some new spectacular Manon comes along, or when there is one of the next generation (post-Netrebko) of superstar sopranos who needs a vehicle, then the Met will create a new production for her.

              Now, I’m not saying this will always happen. For example, when Mattila comes back in a couple of seasons to sing the Kostelnicka, the Met will almost certainly use the existing Jenufa production. But the next Jenufaafter that, say sometime into the mid 2020s, will more likely be new.

        • antikitschychick says:

          interesting discussion. I am fairly certain that Angela Meade would make a fantastic Traviata (vocally at least) and I do think she should be given the chance to sing it at least once in concert or something, preferably with Michael Fab as Alfredo :-D . If the Met mounts a production for her I do hope it won’t be a traditional one. I mean, she would def fit the mold of an unconventional Traviata anyway, which I think should somehow be incorporated into the production. Actually, I think if it is tailored, the red dress and the Decker production could actually work since, judging from her performance in Falstaff she can be physical if the role requires it and since she is young and mobility is not so much of an issue now she should have a go at it. Not trying to be incendiary or anything I really just think it could actually work, if she sings it as well as I think she can and really commits to the physical demands.

          Its really a shame about the weight though, because she is a fabulous musician with a very rare voice type…and she’s not unattractive. She seems to be tall and she has a nice face. I do hope she can get herself to a healthy (not necessarily thin) state. Personally, the weight doesn’t bother me (it would if she were a dude :-P ) but I do realize that it might be inhibiting to her career.

          I agree with Cieca about Sondra. Alden’s Ballo was one of her best (if not the best) dramatic performances she’s given methinks.

      • Bill says:

        Come now Cieca -- One opera house in the World as a repertory house ? Not only the two
        houses in Vienna, 3 in Berlin, 3 in Prague,
        2 in Budapest, but Leipzig, Chenbutzm Dresden, Dueseldorf, Hamburg, hanover, Gaertnerplatz in
        Munich as well as the Staatsoper, Nueremberg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Aachen and many other small German Opera Houses, Essen, Vilnius, Brno, Bratislava, Wroclaw, Timisora, Ekterinburg, the Bolshoi, the Maryinsky, Zurich, Bucharest, Ankara, Riga, Ostrava, Kiev,
        and others which do not cross my mind are all full or quasi repertoire houses. Not quite like the very old days when the Vienna Opera might produce a single Tristan maybe 7 different times in the year. Many do 3 or 4 performances of an opera in a series in one month interspersing those with other operss in between. The Met is kind of a repertory house though maybe with only 5 or 7 different operas
        in a full month. There are no repertory houses in Italy these days -- nor really in France. Scandinavian Opera Houses, unlike in the past, run several productions of different
        operas in the same month, but do not change the
        operas every day. Personally I should rather be in Vienna and have the chance to hear over
        50 different operas at the Staatsoper alone each year than to be in Milan with only 9-12 different operas each season. Nor do I believe that the Vienna Opera is synonymous with lazy routine -- some repertory performances are
        under rehearsed, of course, but I have attended over 300 performances there and few have been
        downright dreadful…one can stay in New York
        at attend the Met if one wants that. Have you never been to an opera house in Eastern/Central Europe? -- they all seem to be repertory houses with fixed ensembles (and occasional guest
        singers or conductors). They often do not have extravagant budgets for elaborite productions and costumes, but sometimes a bit of imagination in set design can go a long way.

        • Bill says:

          Sorry I meant Chemnitz (not Chenbutzm) it is senility from attending so many repertory opera houses

          • Poison Ivy says:

            The now defunct NYCO was sort of a repertory house. Looking back many of their productions look like current Met productions — more minimalist in scenery, more modern aesthetic, some updating. The “traditional” productions that we are talking about are more a Met thing from the 1980′s and 1990′s.

  • Poison Ivy says:

    There really no hard and fast rule about which productions age well and which look stale and tired after the initial sheen is off. I remember the sensation caused by the 2004 Flimm Salome. The screaming, stomping hysteria Mattila caused. Four years later the production looked cheesy, Mattilas voice and body were no longer that great of a fit for the role. The blocking, the singers all the same, but the magic was gone.

    On the other hand the Bondy Tosca was booed vociferously at its premier but after 4 years it’s been revived with a variety of artists and is a big Met warhorse. Go figure.

  • phoenix says:

    WhAt? Yet another R. Fleming promotion? Isn’t it sufficient that we have been getting bombarded with interruptions during ESPN basketball game broadcasts with clips of her ‘in performance’ advertising her appearance at SuperBowl tomorrow -- and then to come on this once entertaining site & have to put up with thread after thread ‘discussing’ her tired old commercial shticks. I hope you are getting enough from these promotions to make it worth your while.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    I will always miss the final image of Nilsson being transformed into a glimmer of a star in the cyclorama in the old MET TRISTAN and the effect of the majority of the chorus being moved into place on a huge stage wagon sort of on a diagonal from the darkness in the old Lohengrin. Those and Rysanek crashing through the floor to writhe over the sleeping Gherman in Pique Dame were highly successful coups de théâtre.

  • javier says:

    this review is a great example of how to give a backhanded compliment.

  • jackoh says:

    All of this handwringing over traditional vs “regie” productions. Here is what I want from an opera presented on a stage today- a story that makes sense to me, that presents and elucidates experiences with which I am familiar (I don’t care what the period of the costumes are). And I want that story told in the most exquisite, nuanced, and visceral way possible. It seems to me that that is exactly what the composers of these operas were trying to achieve when they wrote them. And whatever it takes to reproduce that, if it is effective, I will support.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    What a drag the conductor of the BUTTERFLY is today. Interesting how highly detailed Brian Hymel’s attention to the Italian diction and pronunciation of the libretto in every measure, but the tempi are not helping any them. Hymel is so very impressive. Bravo. It’s true that Puccini’s metronome markings make the music slower than usual, but I don’t have the patience to check them with this performance. They may be right on the money.

    • pirelli says:

      “It’s true that Puccini’s metronome markings make the music slower than usual”

      That’s one ironic statement, lol. Who wrote the music, after all? ;-)

      If all these years we’ve been generally hearing the music faster than Puccini expected it, that’s *his* fault? ;-) Puccini’s markings don’t “make” the music slower -- WE “make” the music faster. ;-)

  • Will says:

    I have attended opera in Eastern Europe, specifically Verdi’s Don Carlo in Kiev in the late 1980s. Many things seemed strange and anachronistic to an American at that time. A beloved, industrial strength mezzo was making her farewell that night, seemingly in great shape to me, and there was a ceremony on stage with flowers and a medal after O don fatale for about ten minutes before the opera resumed (she did not appear in the following prison scene).

    The scenery was clearly assembled from stock elements that could be used in other operas and ballets. The Queen’s garden scene was very Swan Lake and painted in a different style from the other sets. The single heretic (very small pickings for the average auto da fe) was burned downstage center with full benefit of the colored lights flashing under the fan-driven, flame-shaped china silk streamers that date back to at least the 19th century. Bows were taken after arias. It was fascinating, charming, and very endearing it its way, a window into vanished stage traditions. As serious drama it didn’t exist except in the individuality of the various singers’ performances. Over-all, I had a very food time (and the intermission buffets and bars were world-class).

  • giannetta says:

    Porgy, IMHO costumes and scenery basically represent the concept, and are not just incidentals. I do agree that in a case like (but not limited to) Carsen’s Rusalka, I for one would have preferred a concert performance. Don’t you find it disconcerting that those baggy suits make the men look like East German commissars? And why doesn’t the Prince take off his shoes in bed, much less his suit? As to the “chic and provocative ensemble,” I would have said a peignoir over a black slip is cheesy rather than chic, and again reminded me of Polish movies. And why does Jezibaba also wear the same outfit, as well as all the dancers in the ball/rape scene? Of course Fleming would say it was wonderful, Porgy. What else would she say? I’m still looking forward to Saturday.