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An opera house is good for other things besides opera performances, cher public, such as (for example) discussion of off-topic and general interest subjects.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    RIP Shirley Temple

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

      Oh dear, has she lollipopped her clogs? I loved Shirley. RIP.

      Ad now a totally original question for y’all: “Is opera elitist?”

      Meanwhile behind the paywall, Richard Morrison at the Times sees Puccini’s Manon reborn as an airport-bound coke-snorter, pimped by Lescaut, thanks to Mariusz Trelinski’s new production for Welsh National Opera:

      “Des Grieux is clearly besotted with the prostitute, not the woman inside… It’s not a production that makes the story crystal-clear, and its grating incongruities and flashing lights will irritate many.”

      Praise for the “excellent” conductor Lothar Koenigs who made the score sound so startlingly experimental. Chiara Taigi falls short of requirements however, “…far too patchy and strained to convey the myriad mood changes in Manon’s arias, though this one-dimensional cypher suits the production.”


      • Regina delle fate

        Well, even in trad productions, Manon is pimped by Lescaut, no? What else is his dramatic function in the piece, apart from providing a not-great baritone role? I won’t be going to this until it gets within a train-ride-and-back to London -- Oxford/Southampton/Milton Keynes -- but some reviewers have been more positive about it. The general consensus seems to be that Taigi started roughly but warmed up.

  • Camille

    Gnädige Feldy!

    Without starting World War III here (it is too early on the East Coast for that) could you perhaps expand a bit on the Bayreuth Gatti Parsifal a bit, or your impressions thereof?

    I am listening to “your” music at the moment, Rosenkavalier Suite.

    Vielen Dank—

    • Feldmarschallin

      Guten Morgen Camille,
      well apparently Gatti did conduct more than one run according to Mariandl. The Parsifal was so slow that time stood still. Now slow can be a good thing when done like Knappertsbusch but Gatti is no Kna. The orchestra was also not up to usual Bayreuth levels with problems with the coordination. His third act was the slowest of all and this without the tension that is needed and that Kna knows how to give us. It would be even longer but he did sometimes then speed things up again only to fall back into the very slow tempi. I was not at the Elektra and will try to avoid Gatti but was present at the Meistersinger in Salzburg where he was booed at almost every performance (or perhaps even every one since I know of different people who were at different performances and he was booed at all of those). There was talk of him coming to München but that was quickly ended when we saw the mess he made of the Fidelio and Aida. The people and press made sure the Indendanz knew he was not welcome here.

      • Camille

        Tausend Dank, gnädige Feldmarschallin, for I was at a loss to comprehend what the hell he was trying to do in our Parsifal, here. Even after repeated hearings with a score we were both very puzzled and put off by it. We have a Kna version, the one where Dalis is Kundry, I don’t know if that is the best year, probably not.

        Do you have any Apfelbäumen in your yard and do you preserve them and or have any particular spezialität küchen mit Apfeln? Just curious.

        Bis München—

        • Feldmarschallin

          Camille I have two which are fairly new. One Coxorange which is my favorite apple period has bloomed and produced apples in each of the two years so far. The other one is a Boskopf and that has neither bloomed nor produced fruit but I am told it can take up to ten years for them to produce apples. I also have a Hauszwetsche which has bloomed but last year when the bloom was we had three weeks of solid rain and there were no bees flying so in most of Oberbayern there were hardly and fruits on the trees. All my neighbors had the same problem. What this season will have in store for us I wonder since there is no winter in site and we are supposed to get 18 degrees on Saturday. I doubt we will get snow this year anymore and the days are already getting longer. Question is what will the Spring do? My citrus trees overwintered nicely in the hallway by the window and the lemons are plentiful.

          • Feldmarschallin

            Camille this is the only Apfelkuchen that I make and it is a recipe from my grandmother.

            Gedeckter Apfelkuchen

            210 Gramm Mehl, abgebröselt mit 155 Gr Butter und 4 Eßlöffeln Zucker, warden mit 2 Eßl Essig und 1 Löffel Wasser zusammen gut verarbeitet, dann in 2 Teile geschnitten und ausgewallt. Von dem einem Teil belegt man ein Kuchenblech, gibt feingeschnitze, gezuckerte Äpfel darauf mit Rosinen bestreut, nach Geschmack auch mit etwas Arrak beträufelt, bedeckt sie mit dem anderen Teig, bestreicht ihn oben mit etwas Wasser, bestreut ihn mit etwas Zucker und bäckt ihn in heißen Ofen schön lichtbraun.

      • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

        Not just “according to Mariandl [sic],” you can look at the Aufführungsdatenbank at for verification.

        Here are the timings for all five years of the Herheim “Parsifal” by my own calculation (I saw it every year):

        2008 – Gatti
        I – 118
        II – 68
        III – 83

        2009 – Gatti
        I – 109
        II – 63
        III – 80

        2010 – Gatti
        I – 109
        II – 69
        III – 85

        2011 – Gatti
        I – 105
        II – 66
        III – 75

        2012 – Jordan
        I – 105
        II – 69
        III – 75

        Do you want Boulez’s timings from the Schlingensief production, too?

  • Posted this in the general thread of a week ago, but, for fear it gets lost, here is the unbelievable Helen Donath, at 73 (!!!!!!!), pure-toned and lovely as ever.

    The Otello Ave Maria is at 19:40.

    • Buster

      She was very talkative during her Concertgebouw recital (same program & Mozart). When she pointed out her age was no secret, someone from the audience replied, “yes, we know you are 37.” Made her laugh a lot.

  • FomalHaut


  • zinka

    For darling Elizabeth Carron on Feb.12..Birthday no.91…No sweeter lady around!!!!!!

    ELISABETH CARRON -- Opera Singer

    “Radiantly communicative” “Singing and acting with the authority of a great artist” “A transcendental artist”

    Such laudatory comments from critics and public alike have followed Elisabeth Carron’s appearances throughout her career. With a repertoire of astonishing versatility, this superb American-born and trained singer has captivated scores of audiences with her exceptional vocal range and theatricality.

    Elisabeth Carron made her sparkling debut in the role of Cio-Cio-San in New York City Opera’s Madama Butterfly in 1957, immediately establishing herself as a ranking Puccini stylist. “Visually and vocally she has made the role her own.” (Musical America). Other reviewers deemed it “an exquisite performance”, pointing out that “Miss Carron’s voice is assured, pure and in perfect control… a poignant and utterly believable creation”.

    Adding the roles of Mimi, Liu and Suor Angelica to her repertoire gained further acclaim and the ringing applause of appreciative audiences. An early career highlight was her appearance as Glauce in the Dallas Civic Opera’s historic production of Cherubini’s Medea, co-starring Maria Callas, Jon Vickers and Teresa Berganza. Her San Francisco Opera debut was made in the demanding role of Konstanze in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, which, coupled with a stunning first-ever performance as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, earned her the designation of “the opera discovery of the year” and a reviewer’s opinion that “She is a splendid actress, with the kind of petite, delicate, hothouse beauty that can make such a character as Camille come to life, and that she possesses an extraordinary singing voice”.

    Her mad scene in the title role of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor was hailed as a masterpiece of rare dramatic intensity. She received more accolades as a Strauss specialist during a string of memorable performances as Zerbinetta, Daphne and Aithra. The New Yorker magazine singled out her portrayal of Aithra, observing that she sang the “extraordinarily difficult high passages with ease and brilliance.”

    Miss Carron is equally at home interpreting contemporary works. She appeared in the original cast of the New York City Opera Company’s revival of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina in the role of Birdie Hubbard. Musical America magazine added to her laurels with verbal bouquets for her “beautiful voice and touching portrayal of Regina’s poor, broken, driven-to-drink sister-in-law.” Her stand-out performance is a highlight in the Columbia Records production of Regina. Raymond Ericson, the distinguished New York Times music critic, included the Columbia recording in his “Best of Opera” discography. Miss Carron also won praise for her rich evocation of Anna Maurrant in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene and her sensitive interpretation of Maria Corona in Giancarlo Menotti’s The Saint of Bleeker Street, another dynamic role subsequently recorded.

    Miss Carron was a respected member of the Vocal Faculty of the famed Manhattan School of Music. She has been instrumental in the development of many outstanding young talents. Her students have won major singing competitions and have gone on to productive careers. She is frequently called upon to serve as a judge in prestigious vocal competitions.

    Though Miss Carron’s career included performances with nearly every major American opera company as well as international appearances, she is one of a generation of American singers whose artistry is not adequately documented by recordings.

    Elisabeth Carron -- Opera Singer

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1883 composer Licinio Refice

    Born on this day in 1902 soprano Anny Konetzni

    Born on this day in 1903 baritone Todd Duncan

    Happy 91st birthday director and designer Franco Zeffirelli

    Born on this day in 1932 baritone Yevgeny Kibkalo

    Happy 74th birthday soprano Gilda Cruz-Romo

    Happy 63rd birthday bass Paata Burchuladze

  • WindyCityOperaman

    RIP Sid Caesar

  • zinka

    Dernesch born Feb.13, 1939..Short top..became a mezzo..LUSCIOUS voice….

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1778 composer Fernando Sor

    Born on this day in 1870 composer Tomás Barrera

    Born on this day in 1873 bass Feodor Chaliapin

    Born on this day in 1913 baritone Otto Wiener

    Born on this day in 1920 soprano Eileen Farrell

    Born on this day in 1923 administrator Schuyler G Chapin

  • Bianca Castafiore

    Darlingssimi, anyone at the Rusalka last night? YNS cancelled due to illness; Paul Nadler conducted instead.

    The interesting thing about Renee — on the one hand, she was inaudible often, either saving herself or just incapable of much volume, but she caught fire in the final scene; on the other hand, she kept her mannerisms (cooing, meowing and scooping) to a minimum. Beczala likewise much better in the final scene (death scene), unleashing honeyed, gorgeous tones. Zajick was announced as being ill but sounded fine, and so were Boulianne and Relyea.

    • bluecabochon

      Yes, i was there last night, Bianca, and agree with your assessment. I will add that Beczala’s pianissimi from my seat were drowned out by forte playing. I’m glad i went; there is always a place imo for a romantic, realistic production, even if the staging and blocking leave much to be desired. It wouldn’t take much to correct some lagging moments, if they even notice them.

      • Bianca Castafiore

        bluecabby, you know, I wondered if it was due to the change in conductors, I’d assume Mr. Nadler did not have much rehearsal time with the cast and orchestra. Fleming just seemed to not be able to or to want to compete with the brass and the loud orchestra; hers is definitely not a small voice but she’s far from being a dramatic soprano.

        Beczala was definitely much improved by the end, and the death scene, he sounded so much more vivid and beautiful, in that soft, almost falsetto voice.

        I was not too impressed with Magee — sounded too much like a generic dramatic soprano, but it’s a small role and too brief to make much of a judgement. Maybe this is not a role that shows her at her best.

        • bluecabochon

          I was at Billy Budd when I wrote earlier and didn’t have time to mention that I thought the singing was excellent. Dolora should have a cold more often! I saw Dolora and Renee in the late 1990s in this -- can so many years have passed? Dolora seemed to ba having a fine time up there and I enjoyed Relyea and his washboard abs. Was going out of my mind from the slow tempo of Song to the Moon. Agree about Emily Magee wholeheartedly.

          Thought the production looked great for its age, as did the costumes, but the dagged hems of the water sprites was too hokey. If that’s all that I’m complaining about, it’s a pretty good night. I just wish that it was a less sluggish evening and the performers got to use more of the stage and water space by actually walking into it. There were places for them to go but they pretty much chose the lip (understandable, vocally) and stayed there. Second act was better, as the house and stairs provided areas to play in. Very frustrating when there is an interesting set that isn’t used as it could be -- which was not the issue at Billy Budd this evening. Rarely have I seen a production come together in all ways so beautifully.

    • Sempre liberal

      Agreed. The opera improved act-by-act. The orchestra caught fire in the last half hour of Act 2, and Renee finally kicked it into gear.

      Hadn’t realized how well orchestrated this opera is (and how Wagnerian it is.) Kudos to the horns, with more horn calls than Tristan, with absolutely perfect intonation and volume. There’s one moment in Act 2 when the bassoons (I think) are playing a forte melody with a full orchestra that seemed magical.

      Piotr was even sexier than usual. I thought his Act 2 was quite impressive. Zajick sounded great for being ill. She and Relyea made the most of their costumes that are straight out of a NYC homeless shelter with an on-site psychiatrist who’s been on vacation for 2 weeks.

    • Porgy Amor

      I caught the HD repeat Wednesday night, and I felt the final duet was the low point for both leads there. Maybe they conserved more in the final performance. In the HD, he had a loud mishap with a high note, and she seemed to be running on low fuel. To that point, I had liked their performances very much, especially his, and he keeps being the best thing vocally in Met performances I see (he has previously carjacked a few Netrebko vehicles, Lucia, Manon, Onegin). YNS’s sensitive and moody conducting elevated this above what it otherwise might have been: a lazily directed revival of an overdecorated trad production that seems even older than it is, with good voices. Zajick’s middle sounded feebler than last time I heard her, but she admitted to indisposition in her interview. Relyea exceeded my expectations.

      I love the sound Magee produces, but she strikes me as one of those singers who are not dull in real life, but have difficulty putting personality into the roles. If you know anything about this type off stage, you expect them to command attention when in character, and they just seem to empty themselves out. (Arroyo was another such case, and I liked her voice too.) One exception for me was the Robert Carsen Tosca I saw on DVD, where Magee threw herself into an arch, highly theatrical version of the character, and even brought some glamour to it. I had hoped something like that version of her would turn up here, but it was just a big healthy voice, the acting disclosing no more than preoccupation with creating the vocal effects. I would still like to hear more of her at the Met.

      • Bianca Castafiore

        Porgy, there’s one more perf. (Sat. night). Now I really wished I had caught YNS in this.

  • rossifigaro

    wondering if the rusalka will make it to YT -- do hope so. curious to hear comments on the vienna state production which was streamed last week. (rather get the idea that their streaming venture is not all that successful) also understand the chicago lyric is presenting a new rusalka (McVicar?) with fleming having an advisory role -- all very interesting.

    • Bill

      Wednesday evening was probably my farewell to the Schenk Rusalka production which I saw 6 times
      in Vienna (all with Benackova) then 6 times with Benackova that first season it was done at the Met
      and several times each in the 4 revivals at the Met with Fleming. Though the realistic production has been crucified on these pages by those (like Cieca) who want an edgier Regie drama, but for me this
      production has held up well though the cast of the
      earliest days of its performances in Vienna (Benackova, Peter Dvorsky, Nesterenko, and Eva’
      Randova as both the Jezibaba and the Foreign Princess in the same performance, was probably the best of all. Fleming’s voice is at times nowadays a bit frayed in the higher regions. I have seen
      3 productions of this work in Prague, 2 in Brno and
      one in Bratislava and every singer of Rusalka I have heard plus the one at the Volksoper, were successful in the role -- and most were totally unfamiliar
      Czech and Slovak singers. Fleming of all of them has been the most mannered and cautious vocally -her acting the most studied. I saw 3 Rusalkas this round at the Met and Fleming’s movements, though totally appropriate, were identical each evening (in contrast to a singer such as Rysanek who in multiple Tannhaeusers at the Met in 1977 was never quite the same drmatically or in movement). Perhaps it is this lack of spontaneous acting and singing which makes Fleming’s performances a little dreary.
      the new conductor, Paul Nadler, began the opera very slowly and the song to the Moon was truly a dirge -- perhaps Fleming’s choice as he was
      watching her carefully during that aria. I do not think that Rusalka is a role that needs a mannered approach as so much of Dvorak’s music clearly
      indicates the mood, the yearning, the distress of failure. Still one must be grateful to Fleming for championing this work at the Met which sparked
      4 revivals. One might pretty much echo what others penned above about this performance under Nadler.
      Zajick was annonced as indisposed but willing to sing anyway and she was just as good as in all her
      other performances. I worry a bit about Piotr Beczala -- when he pushes his voice as he did at times particularly in the 2nd act, some of the sheen is lost and he seems rather ordinary. His soft
      dulcet tones in the reflective 3rd act however indicated the beauty of the voice in a much better way. Emily Magee did not seem particularly special but one hardly ever hears the Foreign Princess gorgeously sung -- perhaps it is the vocal line of the role. Plus the Foreign Princess must make a big effect with a considerably limited amount of actual singing, hardly time to warm up and the curtain comes down ending the act. Plus she is not necessarily a sympathetic character -- hence I found it interesting when Eva Randova sang both the
      Jezibaba and the Foreign Princess the same evening in the original production. A musical dramatic approach perhaps similar to having one singer perform both Venus and Elisabeth though that is a much heftier assignment. I have seen Rusalka now 35 times and look forward to the 36th wherever it may be.

      I wonder if Fleming and Benackova who have been the only Rusalkas at the Met in history, will discuss
      the role and the Schenk production of Rusalka in Salzburg this spring when Fleming essays Arabella and Benackova portrays Adelaide, Arabells’s mother.

  • Krunoslav

    Bianca, Yannick was *absolutely nothing special* leading Opening Night, despite the automatic praise he garnered. Seemed to have no clear ideas about the score, and indulged Miss Fleming overmuch in virtually all of her music. Where is Jiri Belohavek?

    • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

      Belohlávek just finished conducting the first run of the new production of “Rusalka” at Wiener Staatsoper with Krassimira Stoyanova and Michael Schade.

  • Buster

    I would have loved to see this Rusalka:

    • Grane

      Wow, she looks a little like Cate Blanchett. And the production looks cool, too.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Born on this day in 1602 composer Francesco Cavalli

    Born on this day in 1899 conductor Lovro von Matacic

    Born on this day in 1927 actress Lois Maxwell

    Happy 87th birthday soprano Laurel Hurley

    Happy 55th birthday soprano Renée Fleming

    • williams

      Happy Birthday Renee, You are a beauty in all respects. Looking forward to tomorrow evening. Cento di questi giorni!

      • manou

        Perchè limitare così la bontà divina?

        • williams

          Haha! Birthdays not Rusalkas though one hopes many more of those are in the offing.

  • Cicciabella

    De Nederlandse Opera and Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam merged into one organisation last year. This month they’re introducing their new house style and name; Nationale Opera & Ballet, acronym NOB. Just in case anyone was in any doubt that opera and ballet are elitist pursuits.

    The English version is Dutch National Opera & Ballet. The season will be announced officially on the 17th of February, but hundreds of subscription holders already know that it will include: Orfeo, Alcina, Tamerlano, Macbeth, Lohengrin, Bohéme, a staged version of the Gurrelieder, Benvenuto Cellini, Lulu and L’étoile by Chabrier.

    • grimoaldo

      What a great repertory!

      • Cicciabella

        Looks very good, although much will depend on the singers engaged. They’re also reprising the Simon McBurney Zauberflöte from last year, which was a hit with audiences and critics alike and a total sell-out, unlike its reincarnation at ENO.

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    Elina Garanca just dropped out of her April Octavians at Wiener Staatsoper. Sophie Koch replaces her.

  • zinka

    Two beloved singers..Geraint Evans was born on Feb.16, 1922 and despite the English, he and the fabulous Regina make this scene so adorable.

  • zinka

    May I sincerely wish you all, dal mio cuore, a very HAPPY VALENTINE’S day….Agree or not…you are special people…help to make my life fuller…wish you were in charge of the Met. Charlie

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1891 tenor Dino Borgioli

    Born on this day in 1896 soprano Hina Spani

    Born on this day in 1899 composer Georges Auric
    (Zsa Zsa’s vocals courtesy of Muriel Smith-the first Carmen Jones)

    Born on this day in 1926 baritone Raymond Wolansky

    Happy 77th birthday conductor Zoltan Pesko

    Happy 67th birthday composer John Adams

    Happy 63rd birthday soprano Kathryn Harries

  • Buster

    Lawrence Tibbett takes a bath: