Cher Public

Le roi danse

“This summer, [Susan] Graham will cap her season in Paris by making her role debut as Anna in The King and I at the Théâtre du Châtelet (June 13-29).”

  • armerjacquino

    A mezzo Anna and a soprano Lady Thiang… bit upside down!

    Lambert Wilson was in a production of THE INFERNAL MACHINE at my local theatre when I was about twelve. He wore a TINY tunic and, for the second half, no underwear. I don’t remember anything about the play.

    • MontyNostry

      More Coc than teau, eh?

    • Orlando Furioso

      I don’t know, armerjaquino, it seems pretty common to me. Dorothy Sarnoff was a soprano (alongside Gertrude Lawrence, it’s true), and so was Patricia Neway with mezzo Rise Stevens as Anna. These days, in opera as well as musicals, the principle seems to be, if you need to cast a dramatic soprano role, use a mezzo, so that solution has tended to prevail.

      Still, unless Lisa Milne’s voice has changed hugely since I heard her last, she seems much more a Tuptim than a Lady Thiang.

      • armerjacquino

        I’m probably influenced by the first time I heard the music, as we all are. In my teens there was a partwork magazine/CD thing which had Valerie Masterson as Anna and *looks around* Sally Burgess as Lady T, so that’s how I hear it, I guess.

        Sarnoff’s ‘Something Wonderful’ is definitive, though, so I’ll go with that. It’s a wildly sentimental show, of course, but (if I may be permitted an overshare) I remember being in my mum’s house on the Christmas Eve after my dad died, and Fleming’s version of ‘Hello, Young Lovers’ came on the radio. I was cooking something at the time, but the words and the singing were so apposite to how my mum felt that I stopped in my tracks and was in floods of tears before I knew it, uselessly holding a wooden spoon as whatever it was quietly burned. Strange how potent cheap music is, &c.

        • operaassport

          Cheap music? Get real.

          • armerjacquino

            Learn quotes.

            • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

              Dorothy Hammerstein might just side with you, aj. The story has been given several variants, but the one I’ve heard most centres on a social occasion involving the then wives of Rodgers and Hammerstein (both called Dorothy). Mrs. R was introduced by a Hollywood somebody to his wife. “Her husband wrote Some Enchanted Evening!” he cooed.

              “He most certainly did not!” said Mrs H. “Her husband wrote dum di-dum di-dum dum. My husband wrote Some Enchanted Evening.”

            • Big Finn

              Noel Coward:Private Lives (1930)

              Amanda: Whose yacht is that?
              Elyot: The Duke of Westminster’s I expect. It always is.
              Amanda: I wish I were on it.
              Elyot: I wish you were too.
              Amanda: There’s no need to be nasty.
              Elyot: Yes, there is every need. I’ve never in my life felt a greater urge to be nasty.
              Elyot: I met her on a house party in Norfolk.
              Amanda: Very flat, Norfolk.
              Elyot: There’s no need to be unpleasant.
              Amanda: That was no reflection on her, unless of course she made it flatter.
              Elyot: Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.
              Amanda: Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.

              Original Amanda: Gertrude Lawrence of the King and I -fame

            • armerjacquino

              Thanks, Big Finn, for realising the connection. Was beginning to despair of the gays!

        • Big Finn

          I adore the John Mauceri conducted 1992 studio recording with the lush film version orchestration, much of the orchestral interludes in the recording for the ambiance. Anna is a remarkable Julie Andrews late career peak, with a believable Ben Kingsley as the king, and a most mature Marilyn Horne doing a nice stint.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8LqY0CG04I

        • Flora del Rio Grande

          Strange how potent cheap music can be. . .
          -- Noel Coward

      • Regina delle fate

        Her girth has changed hugely, so probably not ideally cast as Tuptim.

    • danpatter

      Changing keys to suit the soloists is not unheard of in musical theater and, to be honest, there are times I even welcome a bit of transposition in opera. For instance, I loved Tebaldi’s FANCIULLA, and if singing it meant she needed to lower the climax of “Laggiu,” that was just fine with me.

  • steveac10

    Is the Met the last Major company on earth not to dip their toes into Broadway waters? I can’t name another American company that hasn’t. CG and Scala both have. Anytime a Met Sweeney or Candide is suggested, pearls get clutched so tightly in these parts it’s not safe to walk for fear of slipping on the remnants of a broken strand.

    • Krunoslav

      “Is the Met the last Major company on earth not to dip their toes into Broadway waters?”

      Well, one doesn’t expect the Mariinsky or Bolshoi to trot out LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, FALSETTOLAND or KINKY BOOTS any time soon.

    • oedipe

      What’s wrong with Fledermaus?

      • Ilka Saro

        Nothing is wrong with Fledermaus. But Viennese operetta is as close as the Met dares to stray from a very conservative definition of opera. If Fledermaus, why not Zigeunerbaron or Grande Duchesse du Gerolstein, or Naughty Marietta, etc etc. All by composers who have been performed at the Met. (Though Natoma isn’t exactly standard rep, Fledermaus and Contes D’Hoffmann certainly are).

        Daughter of the Regiment is really an operetta, and it gets done continually. IMO, Fledermaus falls into the same “safe” category.

        I don’t know if musical comedy is the solution. But there are pieces like Sweeney Todd which can be done successfully in an opera house. Fledermaus isn’t wrong. It’s just conventional.

        • Ilka Saro

          Maybe a Calixto Bieito production of Sound of Music? That would balance out a number of demands. Plenty of opportunity for the Young Artists to don lederhosen there.

        • RosinaLeckermaul

          The Met is too big for many operas and for operetta. It’s certainly too big for musicals. In the early years of the State Theatre, now the Koch, there was a season of musicals with big stars every summer. That died in part because that theatre seemed to large for musicals. It didn’t help that the productions were stodgy. Some of us have fond memories of the City Center Light Opera Company that used to do quite authentic productions of classic musicals with interesting casts.

        • The Met did Zigeunerbaron back in the late 50s -- Gedda, Della Casa, Resnick, Slezak (Walter not Leo)in a production by Cyril Richard as a follow up to his Perichole. I saw it on the spring tour in Toronto -- it was a great cast at the time -- Flagello, Dunn, Hurley, Alessio De Paolis as Franz Josef, Violetta Verdy was the ballet soloist and Erich Leinsdorf was the conductor.

        • Krunoslav

          ” Zigeunerbaron” was done by the Met under Bing with Gedda, dell Casa and Resnik. It bombed big time.

          Rosina is right-- the house size is not conducive to musical comedy; having greta productions at BAM or a sensibly sized house is another story, but indeed, what about just doing them in the theatres for which they were written- unamplified?

        • Bill

          Ilka -- I am also of the impression that Fille du Regiment is an operetta -- having seen Sutherland camp it up in London I also saw
          a production of “Die Regiments Tochter” at the Volksoper in Vienna. Being in German in a very felicitous production, it seemed terribly operetta-ish. The Maries were Grist, then Auger and then Patricia Wise -- Oskar Czerwenka and Adolf Dallapozzo (a wonderful operetta tenor with a remarkable high C) were part of the regular cast but the biggest trump cards were Irmgard Seefried and Ljuba Welitsch as the grand old ladies -- Welitsch had not a note to sing but their scene together brought the house down every time (1972 to circa 1981 when they both retired from the stage) -- the audience loved it. Gruberova was supposed to do it later also in that (very traditional) production the the new Intendant of the Volksoper preferred to do another operetta as his opening production so no Gruberova. The production was not camp as had been the Sutherland/Pavarotti London production but seemed to be a typical operetta (particularly as sung in German).

          I saw Virginia MacWaters (sp) years ago as Naughty Marietta a the Paper Mill Playhouse in NJ (a superb venue for Musicals and Operettas) and she then later was singing opera with the City Opera. The Italian Street Song is quite a showpiece for a soprano.

          • Indiana Loiterer III

            La fille du regiment an operetta? Proto-operetta, really; since we haven’t gotten around to reviving its contemporaneous opera-comique repertory yet (Auber, Herold, etc.), La fille du regiment seems to stand alone.

            • grimoaldo

              “La fille du regiment” is an opéra comique, not really the same thing as an operetta.

        • I saw a Zigeunerbaron years ago -- English version. The translation was terrible and at the moment the leading lady who was more than voluptuous made her entrance, one other character had to exclaim “Great sides of bacon!”

    • Ethan

      The Met is going to put on West Side Story for the Leonard Bernstein 100th anniversary, in 2018. It hasn’t been announced, but I am reliably informed.

      • Regina delle fate

        A better idea than A Quiet Place.

      • grimoaldo

        I hope that’s a joke. Putting on “Candide” would be a good idea, though.

        • armerjacquino

          WSS is Bernstein’s masterpiece. It’s been done in opera houses all over the world. Why would the Met mounting it in tribute- instead of CANDIDE, a magical score but a dramaturgical mess- be a ‘joke’?

          • grimoaldo

            “WSS is Bernstein’s masterpiece.” -- dubious. “most popular” doesn’t always mean best. Anyway that may be the majority opinion but it isn’t mine.
            ” It’s been done in opera houses all over the world.”
            Really? Covent Garden, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, have put on West Side Story?
            “Why would the Met mounting it in tribute- instead of CANDIDE, a magical score but a dramaturgical mess- be a ‘joke’?”
            Dramaturgical mess, again, that’s what people always say but I don’t really see it that way. The original Voltaire is episodic and breaks all the “rules” of coherent, logical narrative also.
            The thing that sticks in my head the most about “WSS” is the dancing of the Jerome Robbins choreography. That is not something the Met specialises in, they would have to bring in Broadway dancers to do that, why bother when Broadway is perfectly capable of putting on Broadway musicals itself?
            What would the Met bring to “WSS” that Broadway cannot? Presumably opera singers singing the music. Imagine,let’s say, Marius Kwiecen as Tony and Susanne Phillips as Maria, and a whole cast of opera singers aged around 30+ pretending to be teenaged gang members, shudder shudder, the prospect is horrific.

            • armerjacquino

              “most popular” doesn’t always mean best

              Yes, I know, Captain Patronising. I happen to think WSS is head and shoulders the best thing Bernstein wrote, so I said so.

              Really? Covent Garden, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, have put on West Side Story?

              And they’re the only four, of course. Actually Paris has, at the Chatelet. Anyway, what I said was that it’s been done in opera houses all over the world, which is true.

              a whole cast of opera singers aged around 30+ pretending to be teenaged gang members, shudder shudder, the prospect is horrific.

              Horrific indeed. But since this is a description of a production you’ve made up in your head, I’m going to call strawman.

            • armerjacquino

              Oh, and it’s been on at La Scala too.

            • Grim, with respect, I think it’s more healthy to view Broadway and opera as overlapping Venn diagrams rather than two completely separate boxes.

            • grimoaldo

              I would be interested in you telling us, aj, why you think it is a good idea for the Met to put on “WSS”.
              It isn’t written for opera-type voices, unlike “Candide” or “Show Boat” which do have at least some parts for operatic voices in them,what could the Met do for “WSS” that the specialists in the genre down the road on Broadway could not?

            • armerjacquino

              I’ve already said why I think it’s a good idea. It’s up to you to explain why it’s a ‘joke’, without recourse to imaginary productions, or assuming it’s not been presented in houses where it has.

            • grimoaldo

              I would vote for “Chichester Psalms” as Bernstein’s masterpiece.
              And rather than “WSS” it would be more interesting, and more suitable really in my opinion for a huge opera house, to perform his “Mass”.

            • RosinaLeckermaul

              Well, Bernstein’s quite awful recording has Jose Carreras as Tony with a Spanish accent (very odd, given the story) and no sense of the idiom and Kiri Te Kanawa as Maria.

            • RosinaLeckermaul

              Well, Tony has Polish parents. Maybe Kwiecen wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

            • la vociaccia

              But that Carreras recording isn’t a good testament to the possibilities of a fully operatic West Side Story. The only person who came close on that recording was Troyanos. If it had been Jerry Hadley as Tony and, I dunno, Kathleen Battle as Maria, WSS-as-opera would seem much more feasible.

            • armerjacquino

              Even better- Hendricks as Maria.

            • Krunoslav

              “Even better- Hendricks as Maria.”

              Bearing in mind Grist, whom you mention, I’d say that Hendricks or Battle should have sung “Somewhere” on the Bernstein recording-- originally it was to have been Jessye, a very bad idea I think. I know that because Tatiana Troyanos told me so,

              Maria needed someone substantial and less monochromatic than Hendricks-- what about Roberta Alexander?

              I still think that this great show would not be done justice in the depths of Sybil’s barn.

            • armerjacquino

              Alexander has too *much* voice, surely? Kiri territory.

              This is not chopped liver:

          • grimoaldo

            “I’ve already said why I think it’s a good idea.”
            I guess I missed that. Do you mean where you said it is Bernstein’s masterpiece? There are all kinds of masterpieces, not every masterpiece belongs in an opera house. It’s a masterpiece written for completely different performers than the ones you typically find in opera houses. I would still really be interested in hearing what you think the Met could bring to a production of WSS that a Broadway theatre could not. I don’t know why you have to treat any disagreement as a fight and get so hostile, I said I hoped that the post saying the Met was going to put on “WSS” was a joke, not that if they did it would be a joke.

            • armerjacquino

              I’m not being any more hostile than you are, so drop that one.

              I don’t know how much clearer I could have been. Bernstein is a New York icon and it’s suitable for the Met to mark his centenary. I think mounting a production of what I consider to be his masterpiece is the best way to do that.

              I’m sure Broadway will be marking the event too. Why should that mean the Met doesn’t?

            • grimoaldo

              They could mark his anniversary by putting on something that opera singers can do, like Candide, rather than something that they can’t, like “WSS”. Either it would be taking work away from “MT artists” who are good at doing that sort of thing when opera singers are not, witness Bernstein’s own “WSS” with Carreras and te Kanawa, or they would import them from Broadway into the opera house, what’s the point of that?

            • A. Poggia Turra

              There is one unique factor at play for the Met doing WSS: The Met itself sits on land where many of the outdoor movie scenes were filmed (and it’s the movie that most people know the work by).

              If you have the deluxe box set of the movie, it includes some film shot by Robbins himself on an 8mm camera during the film shoot, that shows some of the blocks of brownstones that were torn down to make way for the Met and Lincoln Center.

            • Camille

              If I had to choose one of the two, it would be West Side Story, every time. And I’m an old lady who loves opera and about as unkewl as one can be.

              Now, there is a good point about the Met providing too-operatic voices and the ballet but we could ask, much to Nerva Nelli’s delight— Danielle De Niese as Maria, and Michael Fabiano as Tony. What about the ABT to doing something, at least they are used to the Met stage. And, let’s remember, Barbara Cook, for whom Cunegonde was written, was essentially a Broadway Baby, and NOT an opera singer.

              Candide, as much as it is brilliant in some respects, is a lumpy tragedy of a work and I’d much rather see West Side Story represent Bernstein’s genius at the centenary celebration.

            • armerjacquino

              I’d imagine that there will be a mixture of opera singers and MT performers.

              You insist that opera singers ‘can’t sing’ WSS: Barbara Bonney’s Maria is the best on record, and- I don’t know how many times I have to remind you of this- the original cast featured Reri Grist singing Somwehere.

              I know you don’t like MT- you thank god every morning you don’t have to see a musical- but my word, your knee doesn’t need to jerk quite so hard every time anything remotely MT-related is mentioned.

            • Camille

              Right on, APT, that is another point that I find relevant. Thank you for pointing it out as I was thinking of it, as well.

            • messa di voce

              Candide never has and never will work in the theater. Voltaire’s cardboard cut-out characters, so amusing on the printed page, are deadly for a full evening on the stage.

            • PetertheModest

              I actually remember seeing a documentary about Bernstein’s own recording of West Side Story (how many years ago was that ?) and he certainly had problems with Carreras’ elocution and pronunciation. Whenever he got a little frustrated, Lenny withdrew and lit up a cigarette. He described himself as an “ageing meastro” and was as craggy as any rockface.

            • manou

            • MontyNostry

              I saw Candide for the first time in London (Menier) a couple of months ago. I don’t know which version they used, but I really enjoyed the first half and then felt the second half just fell to pieces, getting repetitive, more musically bland (apart from the ‘Garden Grow’ number) and ultimately, inappropriately sappy. It’s a VERY long time since I read the book (nearly 40 years), so maybe it also loses pace halfway through, but surely it remains cynical to the end?

            • I love that footage of the singers stepping into their limos. Most singers I’ve met at the stage door nowadays walk off alone or with a relative, There’s no mink coats, no huge bouquets. Even the biggest stars just walk off alone playing Candy Crush.

            • redbear

              Those gang knife fights used to take place just where Lincoln Center is now. Nobody every walked outside the complex in those early years.

          • Krunoslav

            The Hendricks cut, three years after the Kiri recording is better than I expected but I still don’t like her spin-free tone.

            • armerjacquino

              Kruno, have you heard the Bonney recording? As you might imagine, her ‘I have a love’ and ‘One Hand, One Heart’ are both stunningly beautiful and very moving. Unfortunately the Anita is beyond hooty, and even more unfortunately the Tony is Michael Ball.

    • operaassport

      Well, considering Broadway is right outside their front door it might not be considered wise.

    • dallasuapace

      The Metropolitan Opera House is three times too big to be a pleasant place for audience members for a Broadway musical.

      • Walther von Holzhaufen

        The Metropolitan Opera House is also three times too big to be a pleasant place for an audience to attend an opera.

        • armerjacquino

          Hahaha! POTD.

  • Guestoria Unpopularenka

    In Europe musicals are seen as operettas and performed by operatic singers.

    • armerjacquino

      Is that so? What an excitingly generic place this ‘Europe’ must be. I wish I lived there.

      • Guestoria Unpopularenka

        I really wish there was a block button on this site.

        • armerjacquino

          I wish there was an ‘ignorant inaccurate generalisation’ klaxon, but what can you do?

          • Guestoria Unpopularenka

            Oh, I know what I can do.

    • tiger1dk

      In the countries of Europe that I know a bit, musicals are more often than not performed by actors and sometimes by winners of Idols and similar programs. Seeing an opera singer in a musical is much more the exception than the rule. It is, naturally, more common when the musical is being performed by an opera house. And some parts lend themselves more to opera singers than others, such as the title role of Sweeney Todd.

  • Bill

    While the major opera houses of Europe are not
    traditionally doing American Musicals, there are
    important operetta houses in Europe -- Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Dresden, Bucharest -- in Russia which intersperse classical operettas (which often require operatically trained voices) with American and
    European musicals (and some do operas as well such as the Volksoper). Then there are opera houses in Berlin and elsewhere which do operettas and occasional musicals. Many of the smaller opera houses in Germany and Central Europe do operettas and musicals as well as operas generally with the same ensembles. I have seen West Side Story in 3 productions in Budapest, 2 productions in Vienna, one each in Prague and Bucharest and Szeged and many of the singers in all 4 major roles were also opera singers -- and often very good -- where operettas are done most of the leading singers also have to dance passably at least. I kind of think the Met is rather too large a house for West Side Story -- but it is a compelling work and if Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert were not opera singers, they could sing in tune and in those days musicals were not miked so their voices were clearly loud enough.
    My Fair Lady has been done in many provincial opera houses in Europe -- West Side Story as well. In Budapest several young tenors with pleasing operetta voices have moved from the Budapest Operetta to the State Opera singing regular operatic roles -- the problem now is that on Broadway many of the Musical
    singers are so heavily miked that they do not require but more than a wisp of a voice and these types of singers would not be suitable for any larger theater..
    It is true that roles such as Henry Higgins or those in La Cage do not require much of a voice to begin with and in Europe are almost always played by well known actors who can carry a tune. But many musicals of the 1930s to the 1960s do require trained singers
    with voices some of which would also be suitable in lighter operas and some opera singers succeeded in a musical or two (ie Ezio Pinza.Patrice Munsel

  • Why not Carousel? That really needs operatic voices.

  • chicagokok

    Aren’t they also doing Sondheim’s Into the Woods? Last year they did Sunday in the Park with George.

  • A. Poggia Turra

    Yes -- and don’t forget the sensational Follies that the Opéra de Toulon did last year (and IIRC both the Sunday and the Follies are to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray).