Cher Public

On with the motley

In Issue #40 of parterre box, the queer opera zine, Our Own JJ nabs lengthy interviews with critic John Ardoin and tenor Richard Leech; the New York opera scene is dissected by Dawn Fatale, Little Stevie and Indiana Loiterer III; the inimitable Dick Johnson journeys to Pittsburgh for an early Sondra Radvanovsky Trovatore; and Richard and Peter sum up the Houston Grand Opera audience thusly: “…a peculiar mix [of] snarling Wagner queens in leather, bourgeois Europeans in black tie, and fat women in sweat pants and Nikes.” [Download Issue #40]

  • CwbyLA

    I really enjoyed reading the interview with Ardoin. He comes across as a true gentelman.

    • Often admonished

      Definitely a true gentleman. As he said to JJ --

      “Which actually is something I want to talk about. I hate this diva-bashing that goes on. I hate it when people feel the only way they can make themselves feel important is to start tearing people down.”

      We might want to consider that.

      • operaassport

        Absolutely true, however, what some people call diva bashing is actually criticism. Often people hide behind “diva bashing” so they don’t have to deal with real criticism. Two examples are:
        1. Throwing out the word “hater” as a way of ending the conversation.
        2. Carrie Underwood did this successfully after the recent disastrous Sound of Music in which she was genuinely bad by just saying “haters.”

        • Hmm. I said I didn’t care for Leno and this was your response:

          operaassport says:
          Hater. The people you mention are mostly bitter and nasty. Oh, yeah, that’s what you like I get it. None are worthy of Johnny.

          on February 5, 2014 at 8:33 AM

          • operaassport

            And here’s a perfect response. You didn’t offer criticism of Leno, you just personally attacked him. You also claimed as “funny” those comedians like Conan and Letterman who rely on bitter bitchiness for their humor so the “appellation” hater is perfectly appropriate. If you like those who hate … Well?

            • I like humor that isn’t geriatric or inane, which is the humor of Leno. Conan nasty? What are you smoking. Don’t be a Coco hater.

    • -Ed.

      He called you Jim. I had to stop and think for a moment.

    • Rowna

      JJ and JA -- a terrific back and forth. Fascinating to read so much about Maria from someone who knew her up close and personal. The format from these older magazines is a little hard to read for me, but this one was worth all the effort.

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    Great interview with Ardoin. I think we need a little something from MMII on the subject of Behrens in Merry Widow and Fledermaus -- did they happen?

  • rysanekfreak

    I don’t remember. Did that French “Vespri” with Fleming ever take place? Paris, 2002.

  • It’s still not too late for a Jessye daytime talk show called “Bavardage”. Someone really ought to make that happen.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Why Richard Leech has disappeared from the American opera scene? He was such a promising singer, and with a La Scala internship. The last time I heard about him, he was singing Rodolfo in Salonika, the second largest city in Greece. He and Jerry Hadley- God rest his soul in peace- were the new “American” tenors to make it big. Some exciting American opera singers don’t last long-e.g.: Susan Dunn.

    • RobNYNY1957

      He made his NYCO debut in 1984, and sang professionally before that, so he’s been in the business for over 30 years. According to the archival database, Leech sang at the Met over 170 times from 1989 to 2012. Wiki says he sang at all of the big international opera houses. So it seems to me that he’s had a pretty prominent career. He turns 57 next month, an age when a lot of people in every profession start to slow down.

    • RobNYNY1957

      One of the worst trainwrecks I have ever seen at the Met was a Traviata with Marilyn Mims and Jerry Hadley. In less demanding roles they would have been fine, but the both cracked on everything above the staff. If you can finish “Sempre libera” or “Dei miei bollenti spiriti” with a stunned and awkward silence from the audience, you’re doing something wrong.

  • mercadante

    It seems Mr Ardoin misremembered Mr. Herman’s review of Ms Fabbricini ( complimentary actually) and Herman’s description of their talk (not “local critic”):

    Review/Opera: Lucia di Lammermoor; Divine? Dreadful? Diva Kicks Up Some Dust
    Published: February 1, 1994

    The god who watches over opera fanatics has blessed them with a new and unusual gift. She is Tiziana Fabbricini, whose talent to enrapture and enrage will provide endless bickering at impromptu intermission symposiums and those long evenings in front of the record player. Opera’s hot stove league burns year round, and Miss Fabbricini promises to keep a lot of people warm.

    When the Italian soprano appeared in “La Traviata” at the Metropolitan Opera some months ago, I ventured a kind word toward one opera-minded critic who snarled a catalogue of vocal deficiencies and then left after Act I. At the Houston Grand Opera’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” last night, I took what he thought might be a more prudent tack. First a few words of caveat, then some compliments. “She’s the most important person in opera,” answered another opera-minded critic stationed nearby, and in a tone that made one think toward one’s physical safety.

    Appearing as Lucia in an intimate, almost cramped, production borrowed from the Welsh National Opera, Miss Fabbricini once again proved herself a slow starter. In “La Traviata” this is dangerous, for Verdi’s heroine comes out both guns blazing from the opening curtain. In “Lucia,” Donizetti offers more of a progression, but this did not ease Miss Fabbricini’s troubles: top notes that don’t quite get there, soft tones that go flat, blurred coloratura, coarse, husky patches in the middle passage of the voice. There are enough problems here to keep a diligent voice teacher busy for a decade.

    Yet Miss Fabbricini sings badly with considerable style, and the Mad Scene, where her technical aberrations remained in abeyance, was a spellbinder. Every detail was considered and every word and tone invested with theatrical art. Better technique was not the reason for Miss Fabbricini’s success; better technique just made access to her estimable dramatic talents a little quicker.

    This, in other words, is a big personality. Its elements are stationed in a singer’s world, but singing is only one of its manifestations, although it is the one we immediately encounter. Make no mistake, however. The ultimate drama lives in the peculiar colors of her singing. Here the voice acts as messenger; it is not the message itself.

    Miss Fabbricini’s abilities are particularly striking when transposed to America, a country that creates more than its share of superb voices attached to relatively faceless personalities. This has accustomed us to approaching the Mad Scene with vocal check list in hand. Miss Fabbricini puts us in touch not with a singer making beautiful sounds but with a palpably scary Scottish loony whom life has treated harshly.

  • I like the Bartoli poem.

  • armerjacquino

    I like the bit about the guy who isn’t good enough for America and would be better suited to Europe.