Cher Public

Ah, je les écoute sans cesse

For your racionative pleasure, cher public, here’s an epistolary quiz in honor of the Met’s new production of Werther: 13 artists share Charlotte’s “Ces lettres! Ces lettres!” scena from Massenet’s opera.

For this lyrical quiz prepared by Our Own DeCaffarrelli, your task is to identify as many Charlottes as possible, in the correct order, in the comments section.

Whoever identifies all 13 correctly first will win a coveted Amazon Gift Card. All decisions will be made by La Cieca, which I don’t think I need to tell you implies finality. La Cieca will keep this competition open for seven days, finishing at midnight on Monday, February 24.

  • Rowna

    That was fun. I usually get between 0 and 3. Yippee! I actually recognized a few:
    1. Gotta be Crespin
    2. A very nice singer
    3. Baker -- so distinct and was a help she sang in English
    4. ?
    5. Callas -- if it isn’t I guess I get egg on the face
    Then there are a whole bunch whose voice are so familiar, but those garl darned names!
    9. I’ll take a stab at Von Stade
    13. Troyanos
    I know I am not winning a card, but someone had to go first!

  • Enzo Bordello

    1. Regine Crespin
    2. Giulietta Simionato
    3. Janet Baker
    4. Christa Ludwig
    5. Maria Callas
    6. Magda Olivero
    7. ?
    8. Jennifer Larmore
    9. ?
    10. Brigitte Fassbaender
    11. Maria Ewing
    12. ?
    13. Virginia Zeani

  • justanothertenor

    1. Regine Crespin
    2. Giulietta Simionato
    3. Janet Baker
    4. Christa Ludwig
    5. Maria Callas
    6. Magda Olivero
    7. Victoria de los Angeles
    8. Jennifer Larmore
    9. ?
    10. Brigitte Fassbaender
    11. Maria Ewing
    12. Elina Garanca
    13. Virginia Zeani

    • drewco

      Very well done, Mr. Tenor. I’m pretty sure number 9 is von Stade.

      • Buster

        I thought 9 was Agnes Baltsa. Rather ugly.

  • Krunoslav

    Where are Jo Veasey, Sarah Walker, Sally Burgess, Alice Coote and Meta Powell???? Shame!

  • Hippolyte

    I agree that #6 is Olivero and is arresting but I can’t imagine how her “extreme verismo” approach would work with the entire role, let alone this whole aria.

    • oedipe

      But it’s a tune, no? Just like “Pourquoi me réveiller” (also known in its own time as “Tararaboum-dihé”*), as a matter of fact. So, who cares about the style or the language?

      *From Jean Chantavoine, “Petit guide de l’auditeur de musique, Cent opéras célèbres”, 1948:

      Ici survint dans l’histoire de Werther un désastre où l’œuvre manqua de naufrager. Entre la création de l’ouvrage à Vienne et la première représentation à Paris une « gommeuse » de café-concert avait lancé un refrain canaille : Tararaboum-dihé, dont elle accompagnait un french-cancan et qui obséda Paris. Lorsque Werther fut joué à Paris il se trouva que le motif du « poème d’Ossian » était, note pour note, Tararaboum-dihé en mineur…

  • Leitbreite

    1. Régine Crespin
    2. Giulietta Simionato
    3. Janet Baker
    4. Christa Ludwig
    5. Maria Callas
    6. Magda Olivero
    7. Lucia Valentini Terrani
    8. Jennifer Larmore
    9. Teresa Berganza
    10. Brigitte Fassbaender
    11. Maria Ewing
    12. El?na Garan?a
    13. Virginia Zeani

  • alejandro

    Just back from the Werther prima.

    I am not an expert by any means and my previous experience with this opera was Thomas Hampson and Susan Graham in 1999 with my dad and I didn’t know diddly squat about opera back then and it failed to make an impression on me. Tonight, however, was a performance that did quite the opposite. While I have some quibbles with the production (the video design was awful), the singers were absolutely amazing. Jonas, Koch and Oropesa were unbelievable. Acts III and IV were riveting . . . something that surprised me because when the opera started my inner monologue was “Charlotte, stay away from that one until he’s on meds!” But I guess that’s what having singers like Kaufmann and Koch can do . . . you fall in love with the characters and they break your heart. Which is probably one of the top 3 reasons I go to the opera.

    • Krunoslav

      I thought Koch was competent, nothing more. Little stage presence, native but underinflected diction, constant flatting, overextended in her big moments in III (though in IV she hauled out some bigger, clearer tone.

      Not terrible but nothing special at all.

      • alejandro

        See and I felt she had tons of stage presence. I kept thinking of a younger Fanny Ardant when I saw her. I may not be able to tell much about the technical elements of singing, but stage presence/charisma is something I can pick up on. And ultimately, I was sitting on the edge of my seat for Acts III and IV which means she and Kaufmann were doing something right.

        • MontyNostry

          I’ve seen Koch twice -- as Charlotte (opposite a crooning Villazon) and as Mère Marie. She is a beautiful woman, and I like her dignity on stage; and the voice is good, if not very individual — but on neither occasion did I feel she leapt across the footlights.

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            I agree Monty -- I’ve seen her as Angelina, The Composer, Siebel, Brangane, Charlotte and possibly Cherubino and have only very hazy memories of her, although I recall basically quite liking her on each occasion.

            • MontyNostry

              Angelina as in Cenerentola???

            • Cocky Kurwenal

              Yes, with Kenneth Tarver.

            • MontyNostry

              As I mentioned the other day, I think this was her moment of demented glory:
              http://www.forumopera.com/v1/concerts/ys_lalo_toulouse071005.html

              “La jalouse, la féroce, la blessée Margared, avec ses véhémences, ses transports, ses affres, c’est l’inattendue Sophie Koch, qui méduse par son investissement : elle accomplit magistralement le tour de force vocal exigé par une tessiture tendue et la performance dramatique d’incarner jusqu’au vertige ce personnage tourmenté. Cette cantatrice si souvent qualifiée d’élégante explore ici victorieusement des sommets.”

  • grimoaldo

    ” Acts III and IV were riveting . . . something that surprised me”

    Yes, that opera really kicks up to a completely different, much more intense level in the last two acts than what has gone before.
    Jonas and Lisette were epic, awesome, braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaavo!

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      I’m kind of struggling to understand how a Sophie in Werther can be ‘unbelievable’ or ‘epic’. I’m glad Oropesa was good though, and also interested to note the comment in Poison Ivy’s review about how there was a clear sense she should be doing meatier repertoire now. Her 14/15 season looks like exactly that -- very good for her that she is singing leading roles in other houses instead of more of the same.

      • alejandro

        I wish Damrau would drop out of this season’s Sonnambulas all of a sudden and have Oropesa step in.

        • ML

          What’s wrong with Damrau, or are you just looking for places for Oropesa?

        • armerjacquino

          Oropesa probably wouldn’t thank you for it, though, since she’s never sung the part (other than ‘ah, non credea’) and two weeks isn’t really a long time to learn a role…

          This is where it’s going to turn out that she’s the cover and I’ll look like an idiot.

      • laddie

        Why isn’t she the Susanna this year? Marlis Petersen? No disrespect but really?

        • PetertheModest

          Marlis Petersen has sung Susanna before, albeit some time ago, and has also worked with James Levine before, also some time ago.

        • ML

          In your mind, is Oropesa deserving and Petersen not a star? Is that it?

          Petersen is superb, in case you don’t know her.

          We must keep our minds open to new people.

  • rysanekfreak

    1. Crespin
    2. Simionato
    3. Baker
    4. Ludwig
    5. Callas
    6. Olivero
    7. von Stade
    8. von Otter
    9. Troyanos
    10. Fassbaender
    11. Ewing
    12. Garanca
    13. Vishnevskaya

  • m. p. arazza

    I guess this is already closed, but FWIW, if Troyanos is here (and assuming I’m even counting correctly, which is unlikely), she may or may not be #7, but could not be any of the others suggested.