Cher Public


“Opera can, in fact, be something beautiful and moving even when all a performance has going for it is some really excellent singing. And that’s what the Met has served up in its current revival of Bellini’s La Sonnambula, vocalism so splendid it hardly matters it’s happening in a dramatic vacuum.” [New York Observer]

  • Milady DeWinter

    You should look Camille -- you’ll like.
    I tried to warn you about Leif-Ove.
    I prefer Yul Ulu.

    • Grane

      You like him better than an Aryan from Darien?

      • williams

        With braces on her brain

        • Grane


  • Camille

    Oh no butting at all, Liz.S, and of course mon cher et doux maitre Batty.
    I just have no idea what it was he did, but he nearly put both myself and Monsieur Camille into a coma last night. We RAN out of the hall, first into the elevator!

    He took the passion out of Appasionata, and that was really doing something. Well, by then, the last piece on the program, he had warmed up, but I can not get over the robotic lack of feeling in the playing. Monsieur Camille says he brings to mind a pianist like Richard Clayderman, if you know what I mean, playing “Feelings”.
    A lot of people liked it, however, so he is fulfilling a real need, for someone else.

    Yes, Batty, I had heard something on the radio once with him, forget what, in which I liked what I heard. It was like being held captive at the piano mistress’s prize pupil concert last night. Bloodless.

    As I missed the Kissin Konzert, this was my make-up concert. Now I wonder who is kissin’ him now. Last night, I felt like I kissed a frog, and it has been a long time since I did that.

    Well, Richard Goode is playing a kind of weird mix in May, so maybe I shall content myself then, and with the Kissin Konzert then, with Beethoven.

    Milady DeWinter: Brangäne’s Warnung came to late in the mail! OY!

    • Rackon

      Camille, thank you for the Gil Shaham update, apologies for not responding back when. I have always felt, even when I first heard him play as a young man, that Gil is an “old soul”. Remarkable. Sister Orly is no slouch either.

      And speaking of pianists, Manny Ax is doing a recital in a smallish venue here in Indy come May -- Brahms. Last year when he came out on stage at ISO I wondered “who is this old guy”? None of us are so young as we once were of course, but it was a shock nonetheless. (His playing was terrific.) I look in the mirror and wince these days but find the alternative to getting older unacceptable.

    • Rory Williams

      Camille: ” ‘I wonder who’s kissing her now?’ ‘What’s a now?'” My grandfather’s favorite “dirty” joke, which he sang with eye-roll effects to the huge delight of me & my sibs. Just for you, since you missed kissin’ Kissin @ the Konzert.

      • Camille

        Thanks, dear boy.

        Hope all is well for you, too.

    • Liz.S

      Richard Clayderman!!! Yeeesssh, that’s it! :-)

      If I can find any interesting factor, Andsness did demonstrated how Beethoven’s “little pieces of melodies” transfigure and transform all night in a way, but indeed something essential was sadly and definitely missing…

      I missed Kissin’s recital also. Aside from Richard Goode, there’s Matsuev’s “sick day” make up concert in June. It’s a bit of a debate (I know he’s a Gergiev clan) but the program is full of Romantic pieces that are soooo dear to me -- I think I just have to check it out :-)

      • Yes, Matsuev is rather repulsive, isn’t he? Apparently, he just HATES it when people discuss Chaikovsky’s homosexuality. He resents it when people only want to talk about “scandalous and immoral” things. His concert at the Kiev opera house was recently cancelled, it appears. Small wonder.

  • Milady DeWinter

    Ah, je suis desolee. But, back to our cover story at the top of the homepage: Elena Cernei, pronounced ‘sir-nigh-ee’ (?); I say “But why?”

    Actually she had a good run at the Met didn’t she? But not a top tier voice (forgivable), and a bad lip syncher (not forgivable).

  • La Valkyrietta

    The piano.

    • Camille

      Wow. Die Nachtwandlerin als Rock and Roll!!

      What a treat for me as I had not ever heard this one. It’s always interesting to hear what themes Liszt chooses to pick and reiterate and one wonders why. It’s never the most popular one or quite the one you’d imagine he’d pick.

      Thanks a lot for a treat, La Valky, as I appreciated finding out about this album. I will have to go seek out the transcription from Norma as well, as I would like to hear the two-handed as I only know the one for solo.

    • Camille

      Thalberg’s take on The Sleepwalker:

      • Bottesini’s fantasy on La Sonnambula. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that of the three fantasies posted here, this is the one most often performed today:

  • DeepSouthSenior

    Over at the Wall of Text, Poison Ivy has a delightful review of her recent Sonnambula experience with the equally delightful Damrau-Camarena duo. (For me, Diana Damrau comes under the category of She Who Can Do No Wrong. I find it hard to be objective about her.)

    As sharp a writer as Ivy is, we can forgive an occasional little slip in grammar, such as this one: “Yet it’s stayed in the repertoire, because, as I said, Bellini’s score is a constant stream of melody, each one more beautiful than the next.”

    I believe that Ivy meant to say, ” . . . more beautiful than the last” Think about it.

    • Thank you DeepSouth!! Embarrassed now, will change it when I get home. Thank you so much :)

      • williams

        Ivy: don’t change a thing. You write beautifuly. Did it occur to you that the mysterious DeepSouthSenior might be a certain golf clapping hands complementing belle?

        • LOL. He didn’t say that Camarena was strapping or virile :)

  • La Valkyrietta

    In modern physics when a particle meets its anti-particle they mutually annihilate each other. I would say the Met’s production of Sonnambula is a sort of anti-Sonnambula entity, so witnessing the opera there should produce boos, or the desire for them, at least, if not walking out of the house, but what happens with a very good cast? To find out empirically, for $27.50 I got a partial view Family Circle seat for today (Friday). A friend suggested if I offered a bit more money at the box office I might obtain a no-view seat, but this friend was just being too optimistic about the Met’s caring or consideration for the wishes and demands of a mere opera fanatic who delights in the musical universes of such absent creators as Wagner or Bellini. One must do as best as one can to enjoy the live sounds of opera under the modern conditions the Met often imposes, so my purpose was to hear and not look at the stage where the anti-Sonnambula shenanigans were taking place, but rather at the Italian titles trusting there were not many typos or misspellings.

    What was the result of the experiment? A huge success. I never saw the stage, and I did not see any of the singers until the curtain calls at the end, and I enjoyed hearing this Sonnambula a million times better than when I saw it years ago. There was laughter, feet stomping and other strenuous noises in the wrong places, but I tried to pretend that was due to some disrupting boors around the house, and that the drama was taking place as Vincenzo would have wished, no easy task, but it helped concentrating just in the words and music. The singers, of course, helped, what a wonderful cast! There were details here and there, and Armiliato should be ashamed, but it was a fantastic evening. Brava Damrau for the ‘Ah! Non credea’ and much else. Bravo Camarena for the ‘Ah! Perchè non posso odiarti’ and much else. I might go back and again hear with the stage blocked. There was only a number I did not enjoy greatly, I am sorry to say, the ‘Ah! Non giunge’, and I did not look at the stage, but the action seems to influence the music in a very wrong way at that point. Sure there were vocal fireworks there, but of the wrong kind to my ears. Still, I forgive Damrau for all the fabulous singing she gave us before that, and I blame this last number deficiencies on the production. Anyway, I am very happy I did this experiment, fantastic night.

    • Camille

      I am very happy for you, and good for you for braving it all, just for Vinnie’s sake. The “Ah, non credea!”, in particular, has stayed with me, as has his cabaletta, “Ah, perchè non posse odiarti”. Very, very happy for you. The music will not die.

      Today I grabbed up my third Sonnambula score — the two others have gone by the wayside and now I have the Critical Edition, which I will be able to listen into the broadcast with

      Thanks so much for the Liszt variation, once more. I listened to the solo piano version by another pianist and liked it better. When I have time I shall post a Thalberg variation on Sonnambula and a couple other delights.

      VIVA VINNIE!!!!!!

      Good for you!

      • La Valkyrietta


        There are three more Sonnambulas, two Tuesdays and a Saturday, I might catch it again, the music is so divine, one delightful number after the other; and I did not mention the chorus, but loved it too. Where is MarshiemarkII? He should hear this live -if not see, I leave that up to him. Years from now people will remember Damrau and Camarena. In my mind, in little stretches, I did my own imagined private reggie, and in one of those MMII was Count Rodolfo, walking today on High Line park and looking at the Hudson where the crumbling piers were, and at the warehouses of the meat packing district, and singing, “Cari luoghi io vi trovai, ma quel dì non trovo più…” :) I am happy I am not a director to actually do that, and in my mind I mostly imagined the action on stage as Vinnie intended.

        What was the George Eliot novel where they sing on the piano, “Ah! Perchè non posso odiarte?” Lucky those XIXth century audiences that were not subjected to what the Met puts upon us, and could see their operas the right way when they went to the theater, but Bellini will prevail, I have no doubt,

        “Un chi dorme e che cammina, no non c’è, non si può dar…”

        • manou

          The Mill On The Floss.

          • La Valkyrietta


            Thank you, you are wonderful, you saved me lots of searching, searching, as I have not read that in over forty years, I will pick it up again.

  • DeepSouthSenior


    No belle here, but a bespectacled, white-haired handsome devil (ha!) married to a real “Southern belle” for 46 years.

    BTW, anyone have tickets to the MET for the four shows on May 1-3 (Butterfly, Cenerentola, Puritani, Cosi)? I’ll be in NYC for an opera “pig-out” marathon. Looking forward to comparing two Live in HD’s to The Real Thing. Flying nonstop from New Orleans. (Oops, I almost gave away the secret bunker.)

    • williams

      Hi DeepSouth, just a silly joke about a certain critic who we’ve been gossiping about lately. I share your myopia but at least you have your hair.
      All of the dates you mention have tickets readily available in all sections. Sad to say the same will probably be true if you walk up to the box office a half hour before curtain. The matinee might be a little tougher at a moderate price but there are always folks who got stuck selling extras near the doors.

      • DeepSouthSenior

        Actually, I already have my tickets printed out and ready to go. Just wondering if any of Parterre’s legendary experts will be around, too. Also hope to see Lawrence Brownlee (The Singers’ Studio program) on May 1st, Delta Airlines and NY subway permitting.

        This week (March 20-22, to be exact) was my first first choice for the trip, what with The (Not So?) Enchanted Island, Boheme, Wozzeck, and Sonnambula. That didn’t work out, though. May 1-3 should be pretty good. I’m a sucker for puppets, babes, and bel canto.

  • La Valkyrietta

    I want to thank very much La Cieca. It was reading her glowing review above in The Obserber that made me decide to go again to this production I hate, and I am thrilled I did.

    • Satisfied

      Ditto. Still hate the production (and gave up trying to make sense of it 20 minutes in) but what a night of fabulous signing! Brava for Damrau for another brilliant house debut!

      Any word on when Camarena will be back at the Met?