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Fishing expedition

Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin mixes it up a bit this week, presenting a score that should be familiar by now, though this time with a novel cast. It’s Dvorák’s Rusalka from the Vienna State Opera with Krassimira Stoyanova in the title role.

Antonín Dvorák: Rusalka

Wiener Staatsoper
Jirí Belohlávek, conductor
01 February 2014

Rusalka – Krassimira Stoyanova
Prince – Michael Schade
Foreign Princess – Monika Bohinec
Jezibaba – Janina Baechle
Gnome – Günther Groissböck
Kitchen Boy – Stephanie Houtzeel
Gamekeeper – Gabriel Bermúdez
First Sprite – Valentina Nafornita
Second Sprite – Lena Belkina
Third Sprite – Ilseyar Khayrullova
Hunter – Mihail Dogotari


  • 1
    La Valkyrietta says:

    A novel cast is welcome, thank you.

    This reminds me that recently during a Met intermission I visited the downstairs gallery and was sad to confirm that the two photos next to each other, one of Gwyneth and the orher of Leonie are both gone :( . I am sure this is not a slight to those ladies as most Ring photos are gone. A relatively new addition, a huge oil painting of Renée as Russalka, did not strike me as too flattering, but there it is, to the delight of her fans. I quickly rushed up with my Prosecco to the Dress Circle to delight on the 1934 farewell Rosalinde gowns worn by Jeritza.

  • 2
    operaassport says:

    Love Audrey Totter who died last year.

    Just heard that Clarissa Dickson Wright, one of the Two Fat Ladies, died over the weekend at 66. That was a great, very non-PC show. The world is a poorer place without wonderful eccentrics like those two. Jennifer died in 1999 while the show was at its height of success.

    • 2.1
      Buster says:

      That is sad news. I remember visiting her bookstore in Edinburgh -- incredible selection of cookery books. Her best book, for me, remains FOOD -- a very clever anthology put together with a lot of love and knowledge.

    • 2.2
      la vociaccia says:

      There was once an episode where they were using store bought filo dough and one of the ladies said “I suppose you could make your own. If you’re from…Mesopotamia or something”

      • 2.2.1
        MontyNostry says:

        They were proper old-fashioned posh birds, those two. And I reckon Jennifer probably wasn’t too hot on the food hygiene. Maybe someone should make an opera about them.

          Buster says:

          Jennifer Wilson as Jennifer.

          manou says:

          I Due Fatladi

          Camille says:

          What is a “posh bird”??

          You people have so many more interesting words and expressions than we do on this side of the pond. I am always amazed at these endless variants and cadenzas.

          I guess it just doesn’t take much elocutionary skill to say “Giddy-up, pardner”, which was about the extent of Western language exchange for may a year.

          • grimoaldo says:

            “posh bird” = “upper class female”

            • MontyNostry says:

              It’s sort of admiring and ironic all at the same time. ‘Bird’ is outmoded slang (really belongs in the 60s and 70s) and these days it’s pretty much only used in the phrase ‘posh bird(s)’.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I disagree Monty, I think ‘bird’ is still pretty much common parlance for ‘human female’ whatever the adjective that precedes it. I heard it only yesterday.

            • manou says:

              Are you giving Monty the bird then Cocky?

            • MontyNostry says:

              Interesting, Cocky. It always sounds a bit ‘On the Buses’ to me.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I’m far too well brought up for that, Manou.

            • armerjacquino says:

              Yep, I’m with CK on the use of ‘bird’- especially in East London/Essex or the North West.

            • la vociaccia says:

            • Camille says:

              Oh now I remember—Petula Clark was a “bird” and the Beatles used to talk about “birds”. I should have known better.

              It’s like “Chick” here in American slang, maybe.

              Anyway, I like Britishese better than Americanese as it it more flavourful.

            • Camille says:

              Is that “Jersey Shore” translated into BritishSpeak?

              Have we imported our Horrors to your Shores?

              I do not understand this dialect.

            • la vociaccia says:

              Yes Camille. We have exported our fine reality television formula to Britain. I know they are eternally grateful. (The accent in the video is from Newcastle)

              By the way, here’s the bird reference you’ll recognize, at 2:48

            • Camille says:

              The Beatles are stil unutterably cool.

              Thanks for that ineffably timeless blast from the past, vociaccia!!!

            • MontyNostry says:

              I think the secretary in that clip is a bit of a posh bird too. I didn’t realise George Harrison ever did the cheeky Scouser thing.

            • MontyNostry says:

              I’d heard that Geordie Shore featured its own ‘kleiner Pavillon’ for dalliance, known in local parlance as the “fook ‘oot”.

            • la vociaccia says:

              They actually call it the “buckin’ bungalow.”

          • Cicciabella says:

            Grouse is a posh bird. So is pheasant. But Clarissa and Jennifer proved that even suckling pig can be posh.

          • redbear says:

            In the Paris Metro the plug for Jersey Shore was
            “Crème de la Crème solaire.”

            • Feldmarschallin says:

              Well it was nice to have free Metro in Paris this Saturday and Sunday. I guess it was because of the smog.

            • redbear says:

              Tonight is the Munich Rosenkavalier (in concert) at the TCE? You there FM?

            • Feldmarschallin says:

              I am back in Bayern where it feels like North Africa today. Laying in the lounge chair working on my tan. I got back from Paris Sunday night and saw the Rosenkavalier here. I suppose it is worth seeing once Redbear. None of the singers are really top draw and the Sophie was horrible but the conducting is great even if not on the same level as Kleiber. The production is ancient. Paris was great as always even without Harteros. But it was the last time I travelled anywhere to see her. I ended up not going to the concert at all and sold my ticket already before to someone who had two tickets which she returned at the box office. But the Berlin Lohengrin can happen without me with or without Harteros. Maybe I am just in a bad mood since the Elektra tickets didn’t work out today. I guess La Scala and Italy have enough money as is.

            • manou says:

              There seem to be Elektra tickets available for the 2rd and the 10th of June at La Scala -- and at the top prices for the other days except May 24th


            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              Feldmarschallin, I wonder if I could enlist your help with something -- would you be kind enough to send me a quick email to damegwynethjones at gmail dot com and I shall explain. I would be very grateful.

      • 2.2.2
        kekszakallu says:

        While giving instructions about making a particular sort of chicken casserole, she remarked “there’s a lot to be said for an old cock”.

          Feldmarschallin says:

          Thanks Manou but this morning everything was still available but when you click on the tickets nothing happens. I have given it a rest and when something is not meant to be it is ok. I cannot complain since I have one of the best opera houses within 20 minutes of my house and will in the future concentrate on going to places where it is unproblematic to get tickets.

  • 3
    manou says:

    Sorry -- this is OT. Werther is on now on BBC Radio 3

    Well -- the intermission is on now -- second half to follow. And of course you can listen to it for a week on BBC iPlayer.

    • 3.1
      MontyNostry says:

      manou, don’t you think JK is beginning to sound a bit Vickers-ish at times? And I never feel that Koch quite nails things. She’s rather anonymous vocally.

    • 3.2
      operaassport says:

      Sorry, strictly speaking, your post is no more “OT” than mine :)

    • 3.3
      Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

      The entire performance (audio) is up at YouTube (in three parts) -- or at least it was about two hours ago.

      • 3.3.1
        Fidelia says:


        Thanks for the heads up.

        I am listening to the 1st act now, but to my despair find that my download thing isn’t accepting flv, which seems to be the only format this comes in on the version on YouTube.

        Any chance of there being a version at a later date on Mixcloud?

          Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

          Sorry, Fidelia, but recent Met broadcasts are kind of off limits: I don’t want to run the risk of Mixcloud cutting me off because of some action taken by the Met. I have been advised to avoid posting any Met broadcasts -- especially those available on Sirius -- after the early 1970s.

          I have a program on my PC -- totally free and safe -- from which I can download audio and/or video from YouTube (and some other sites). I just tested it with Act I of the “Werther” broadcast and it works fine. It took about three minutes to download and convert the file to an MP3. Here is the link for the free download:

          Give it a try!

          Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

          Fidelia, if you are not successful in downloading the “Werther,” send me a note at

  • 4
    havfruen says:

    For a moment I thought the picture was for “La Donna Del Lago”, then realized the translation was wrong. Almost makes me thankful for the lame productions that DO exist of this opera.

  • 5
    dramaturgical dame says:

    Why has Stoyanova only performed 44 performances over 12 years at the met? She is technically superior (with a beautiful instrument) to most of the singers on the roster.

    • 5.1
      Cocky Kurwenal says:

      Because she has been busy singing in *other* opera houses.

    • 5.2
      Camille says:

      Ha! You answered your own question there, dd,

      She is technically superior (with a beautiful instrument) to most of the singers on the roster.

      Reason enough to keep her out of the MET so as not to have the other little envious blackbirds complain about her!

  • 6
    Camille says:

    This RUSALKA refuses to come out of her pond for me!!!! I have made multiple attempts now to get onto Jungfer’s Cloud and it just won’t start up.

    It works on the iPhone but would rather not listen to it there.


    • 6.1
      scifisci says:

      If you’re using safari, try it using a different browser such as firefox. The performance is really wonderful!

      Re: stoyanova and the Met. I don’t think she ever really had a breakout role there. She’s always been in cast b revivals and is not a “story” for the press i.e. she’s not young, unknown, homegrown etc. Furthermore, her voice is extremely beautiful and her singing full of nuance, but it is not extremely loud. This matters at the Met since if your face is not on the brochure or plastered on billboards, then the only way you will get most of the audience’s attention is by singing louder than everyone else.

      • 6.1.1
        operaassport says:

        Paging Marcello Giordani.

      • 6.1.2
        Camille says:

        You are right about the Loudness Factor. Very important here in this hog calling contest auditorium.

        Thanks for the advice but I dare not go out of Safari on my husband’s computer and muck it up. I’ll go listen on the iPhone. Scifisci, I miss you. Haven’t heard much from you for a long time. You are no longer in NYC, right? Hope you are keeping your practice and studies up.


          scifisci says:

          “hog calling contest auditorium”. Rotfl camille!

          Sadly I am indeed busy in a different, culturally and otherwise impoverished “city” (large town really). I have made it up to THE city for a few performances this year, though the weather has not made it easy!
          Enjoy listening to this beautiful Rusalka :-)

      • 6.1.3
        Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

        Just to give you some idea of her range, Stovanova (who is a Kammersängerin) has sung at Wiener Staatsoper: Anna Bolena, Ariadne, Micaela, Desdemona, Elisabetta (“Don Carlo”), Alice Ford, Mimì, Rachel (“La Juive”), Violetta, the Contessa (“Figaro”), Anna (“Le villi”), Antonia (“Hoffmann”), Nedda, Rusalka, Amelia Grimaldi, and Liù. She was given the premieres of six of these productions. (211 performances not including galas).

        The Met cast her in revivals as Violetta, Liù, Nedda, Micaela, Donna Anna, Mimì, and Desdemona (44 performances in roughly the same time period as her Staatsoper career).

          Bill says:

          Jungfer -- I have seen Stoyanova from her
          earliest days at the Staatsoper and one Viennese
          Critic more recently wrote that he had NEVER heard a bad performance from her. I hae found her to be a compelling actress (Antonia, Rachel
          etc.) without over emoting -- small gestures are
          often very telling -- the voice is attractive with considerable beauty throughout its range -- the Ariadne premiere in Vienna last
          year was her first onstage role in German but
          she is now to be the centerpoint this upcoming summer in the new Rosenkavalier in Salzburg where she will premiere her Marschallin, which I suspect, with her gorgeous middle voice, will be masterfully sung. From what I read her recent Ballos in San Diego were a
          great success. Muti seems to like to work with her as well as Welser-Moest. She has also sung Iphigenia in Taurus (with Muti), Faust, Tatiana and a wide variety of lyric and lighter spinto roles. She has stated in an interview she has more R. Strauss planned for Salzburg without citing which roles. When recently asked what roles she might like to sing in the future at the Staatsoper she rather tactfully suggested if Intendant Meyer were to ask her that question that Lisa in Pique Dame might be a role she would appreciate being asked to do (perhaps it is in the plans -- the Staatsoper like Gelb at the Met does not make many public statements about its long range future plans (except we know Aegyptische Helena is upcoming but not with whom in the title role). At the Met Stoyanova has almost always been second cast so rarely have the critics written about her performances. She certainly was a better Donna Anna than most of the others in recent years at the Met -- her Mimi (with Calleja) was absolutely lovely. After Vienna, which seems to be her main house, she sings regularly in
          Munich and in Spain. Occasionally in the USA, rarely in England. She had Desdemonas scheduled in Budapest this late autumn with Janos Bandi but I do not think her performances there were realized. I do not see her name anywhere in clandestine future plans at the Met but her website openly does list some plans for other houses -- and she does Oratorios and such as well and maybe an occasional lieder recital with some emphasis on the Slavic song repertoire -- a new CD on Orfeo just being released in Europe has her singing Verdi arias. She seems not to be a Diva type, just a very gifted soprano who tries to serve her art with intelligence and grace and vocal radiance, in other words an artist serving the music which she is singing -- this is glamorous enough to my taste to greatly admire her performances and to look forward to those upcoming for she seems now to be in the Zenith of her career.

          • Porgy Amor says:

            Stoyanova is the Desdemona on his latest recording of Otello, on the Chicago Resound label, with Antonenko and Guelfi. This is the fourth Muti recording of it I know, and the first to have an “official” release on CD. The Scotto ’80 is a widely circulated live pirate from Florence, and Frittoli/Scala (’01) and Poplavskaya/Salzburg (’08) were DVDs.

            Muti seems to like to work with her as well as Welser-Moest.

          • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

            Bill, I have seen her in everything she’s done at Staatsoper since I moved here in 2001 and I totally agree: a tremendous, gifted, and generous artist who doesn’t need to be in the Diva Spotlight. By the way, I heard her do Iphigénie with Muti in Roma and have the broadcast (which will likely crop up on my Mixcloud site one day, as will “Le villi” from Staatsoper). When I first started my Mixcloud site, I uploaded her gorgeous album of Puccini songs. This was way before I had the gracious cooperation of Parterre Box in promoting my uploads, so it has relatively few “listens.” Maybe now is a good time to offer the link again:


            Staatsoper will announce its 2014/2015 season on the morning of 25 March, so we’ll know a lot more details about the next season in Wien then (Theater an der Wien follows on 31 March). Both press conferences start at 10:30 and details will be online immediately after (Note to early birds: since we don’t change our clocks till 30 March, we’ll be five hour ahead of NYC time for the Staatsoper announcement, and six hours for Theater an der Wien).

          Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

          She also sang Bolena with OONY.

          oedipe says:

          Really looking forward to next season’s Faust at Bastille, with Stoyanova, Beczala alternating with Fabiano, Abdrazakov, Jean-François Lapointe and Clémentine Margaine.

          • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

            Such a great cast marred by two Frenchies…*trolling* :P

            • oedipe says:

              Hey, I am actually very excited about a lot of things in the Paris Opera’s -granted, short- upcoming season. But then, that’s not surprising, I am very boring!

            • Camille says:

              Oedipo Rex!

              I want to hear Le Cid at the Garnier!! And I have no idea how I will be able to do it or if even tickets will be available when I figure it out.

              If I could just see that in the Garnier, j’en mourirais contente. Oh well, you will tell us about it.

            • oedipe says:


              I presume it will be shown in cinemas (though not sure about the US; in London, more likely).

  • 7
    antikitschychick says:

    oooohh I really want to listen to this! Just finished watching the HD of Rusalka from last month and to my great susprise I absolutely loved it! What a BRILLIANT and GORGEOUS score. That orchestration was just sublime, and YNS did a fantastic job with the orchestra. Renee sounded pretty good…a bit strained here and there but the lyricism and richness in her voice is still mostly there. The acting was, erm, well let’s not get too much into that lol. I mean, I could tell she was actually trying not to overdo it and there were some moments that were pretty organic (and not being able to sing for like an entire act is certainly difficult) but…she leaves much to be desired on that front. Oh wells.

    I have to say, I was really impressed with Piotr Bezcala in the role of the prince. Like I actually, genuinely liked his portrayal and his singing from start to finish, which is a first :!:. He was over-parted vocally, especially towards the end, that last high C(?) almost didn’t happen, but I liked that! :-P Not that he was struggling but that, it didn’t bother me so much because he gave it his all and sounded very ardent (the role does require a spinto or dramatic tenor and he is neither) and the color and tone of his voice matched the role well. He said during the backstage interview that he speaks Czech and it does sound like he has a pretty good handle on the language so that was a plus. Its a shame his voice isn’t a bit heftier because this is the rep I think suits him very well.

    Also, can we take a minute to talk about how fucking amazing Dolora Zajick sounds? Its ridiculous.

    Also, the costumes and the production are beautiful.

    Really enjoyed the performance overall.

    • 7.1
      Porgy Amor says:

      Vocally and orchestrally, I thought that that one was near-golden-age stuff. I liked every voice in it. I just felt the Schenk production was date-stamped in an early-’90s way (the Wood Nymphs even looked like Kundry in Act II of the same director/designer team’s retired Met Parsifal). That would have mattered less had the revival direction been more alert. The singers seemed to be fending for themselves, so, for example, we got Beczala looking too casual while being threatened by the Water Goblin, and while being cast off by the Foreign Princess, and then playing the fear belatedly on the chord following.

      What a BRILLIANT and GORGEOUS score. That orchestration was just sublime

      Oh, yes. Dvo?ák was a genius. He obviously knew his Wagner, but he absorbed those lessons, filtered the techniques through his own idiom and gave us an opera that could have come from no one else.

      The acting was, erm, well let’s not get too much into that lol. I mean, I could tell she was actually trying not to overdo it and there were some moments that were pretty organic (and not being able to sing for like an entire act is certainly difficult) but…she leaves much to be desired on that front

      Since you loved the opera, you might give her another chance in the more challenging, allegorical Paris production by Carsen. That was 12 years earlier, when she could also be less careful vocally. Definitely primo Nay-Nay.

      In my opinion, the one powerful moment dramatically in the Met’s, for Fleming and for the production, was in Act II, when the Prince’s guests ran outside for the dance sequence and Fleming’s Rusalka stood on the sidelines, watching them — so close to their world but not one of them. It was one of those moments in opera that annihilate any canard about operas having “silly stories”; it would speak to anyone who has ever felt different, ostracized, terribly alone even though surrounded by people. Fleming, like everyone else in the cast, was operating on autopilot in this revival, but in that moment, she got it.

      The Littlest Maestro appeared to have missed a shirt button that afternoon, near the navel area. I kept wondering if anyone would point it out to him. Nope.

      • 7.1.1
        antikitschychick says:

        thanks for the suggestion Porgy! Now that I’ve watched/heard the entire opera I am def interested in watching it again with this production instead though I looked on YouTube and I didn’t find a complete performance of it…thought I had seen it posted before at some point…in any case I shall try and watch it when I can :-)…

        as I watched that clip you posted above from Act 2 I realized I neglected to mention Emily Magee in my original post. How silly of me! Considering the role, I thought she did well although it was clear that it was a challenge…she is very talented and I do hope they allow her to sing more ‘gratifying’ (and less vocally strenuous) roles in the future…for a Met debut that was certainly no walk in the park vocally…kudos to her for being a trooper and a consummate professional.

        The Carsen production looks very enticing what with all the symbolic doubling going on :-D.

          sdika says:

          Wow I really hated the Met production and the swamp like lightning as seem on HD. The only good thing about it was Piotr and Magee. Really don’t get praise for Renee in this role. Her Czech is atrocious and her mannerism in this music is too much. Didn’t even recognize sing to the moon the way she butchered it.

  • 8
    Poison Ivy says:

    I just listened to this. Comparing this with the recent Met run, Thank you for uploading. Stoyanova was very strong — voice a little edgier than Renaynay, but her middle is much more substantial than Renaynay and thus matches Dvorak’s rich orchestration better. Michael Schade, however, not on Piotr Beczala’s level, although Beczala had some problems floating the high C in the last act too.

    But a real gem.

  • 9
    decotodd says:

    Has anyone compared the quality of one of the Met’s HD broadcasts on regular DVD versus Blu-Ray?

    Is the quality noticeably better and worth an upgrade if one already has the DVD?

    • 9.1
      antikitschychick says:

      that’s a very good question decotodd. I’d like to know if there if there is a difference as well. (Sorry for not being very helpful :-P).