Cher Public

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Please don’t stand on ceremony, cher public: jump right into the discussion of off-topic and general interest subjects.

  • There is a lot of discussion on the net of late (actually, as long as I’ve been alive, but the net was verbal back then) that the audience for classical music, especially opera — actually, opera is doing better than symphony orchestras or chamber music or lieder recitals these days; I credit the color and flash and superficial excitement (how I love it!) of opera for its broad mass appeal.

    But the problem is NOT that the audience for classical music is getting smaller. Au contraire.

    The problem is that the audience for classical music is too large.

    If you’ve been in the cheap seats at Carnegie Hall any time in the recent past (for me, the Kaufmann recital), you will understand what I mean, and if you don’t, your knees will.

    Those seats were not designed for the six-foot-four behemoths America now brews on excessive amounts of milk, beef, hormones, antibiotics and steroids (if not in your baby’s food, then in the food of the beasts who feed your baby), and a piece of moderate but intermissionless length like, say, the Mahler 8th, becomes an excruciation.

    We must persuade people to grow themselves smaller or feed their kids nothing but green vegetables until they have reached full size, or they will simply never enjoy those narrow seats designed for the peasant aficionados of the nineteenth century.

    Okay, that’s not going to happen: Everyone wants to touch the clouds in order to appear hot in football jerseys (are those jerseys?) and on calendars.

    So the alternative answer is:

    Mosh pits. Create mosh pits at the front of the orchestra seating in our concert halls, sell the cheaper places there, and let everybody get up and dance as the mood strikes.

    Dancing to it is, in fact, how I first developed a passion for classical music back in the day. (What day? The Garfield presidency rings a bell.) Especially Beethoven’s 7th. Mahler, of course, wasn’t composing yet. Or decomposing yet.

    At the opera, of course, you want to see the action, so outrageous slam dancing is counterproductive, a fact I wish people would explain to the current batch of stage directors.

    (Ah, NOW you know we’re on Parterre and back on one of our usual tracks! Had you puzzled for a while there, didn’t I?)

    • I should reread at least my opening paragraph before posting it, huh?

      • Piece SHOULD have opened:

        “There is a lot of discussion on the net of late that the audience for classical music, especially opera is dwindling.”

        • redbear

          The history of old concert and opera theaters in Europe often gives a number of original seats that are often two times, or more, the present capacity. The seats were enlarged to fit contemporary asses during a reconstruction which was often due to fire from those gas lamps. Since the arrival of electricity, these renovations are less frequent.

    • Chanterelle

      I dunno about mosh pits, but the now-choice “orchestra” or “parterre” section (depending on the theater) used to be pretty much that, an empty area without seats (the posh people had boxes). Single gentlemen would stand for the performance, and, er, various disruptions took place periodically. (I don’t have the time to hunt for documentation but I’m sure it’s out there).

    • TenorPitcher

      This is a really good point, Hans. At just over six feet, I am by no means extremely tall for a man, yet when I sit in the balcony at Carnegie Hall I feel as though my knees are being shoved into my throat. It is such a physically uncomfortable experience that if I’m unable to find an aisle seat, I often won’t purchase tickets unless it’s for a performance that I am desperate to see.

  • Buster

    The program book for the Flemish Opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk mentions an article by Shostakovich from 1934 “My understanding of Lady Macbeth.” Has anyone perhaps seen a translation of that online? I would very much like to read it before I go back to see it again next week. Thanks!

  • Buster

    The Paris Lohengrin concert with Elisabeth Grümmer!

  • Buster

    New Schwaneilms Wagner CD:

    • Feldmarschallin

      Thanks Buster but since I got my new Computer yesterday I have no Sound since there are no Speakers and I Need to get them. I was thinking of you today as I was listening to Wiener Blut with Schwarzkopf. Tuesday I have Karg Liederabend and on Friday I managed to get tickets for Rosenkavalier and Elektra in Dresden. Will you be there the Weekend of Dec 14 and 15?

      • Buster

        Lucky you. I saw a picture of the line in front of the Dresden boxoffice -- you were not the only one trying.
        Will be in Dresden already in June, for Elektra, so December is out, unfortunately. Enjoy the Karg Liederabend!

        • Feldmarschallin

          Dresden was not easy and it took 45 minutes. All the performances until August had the Karten kaufen icon next to the performance but the new season had nothing there so I decided to call up. It was either busy or you got the message ‘Diese Verbindung ist nicht möglich’. So after 45 minutes of that I decided to write them an email with my wishes. Then I tried it one last time and it worked so I had to send another email saying I got my tickets online. Well at least it finally worked unlike La Scala. You could combine the last Rosenkavalier with Königskinder. That was an option for us too but one person who is going said that opera is really boring and prefered the Elektra so we shall see what Pankratowa does with it.

          • Buster

            Pankratova’s Dyer’s Wife was phenomenal, I thought. Will this be her first Elektra?

            • Regina delle fate

              She debuted the role in February in Bari, Buster. I haven’t read any reports, but it’s a sensible place to try out a role like that.

            • Buster

              Thanks Regina. How did you like her in the London Frau ohne Schatten?

            • Feldmarschallin

              I thought Pankratova was pretty decent but far from phenomenal. Herlitzius and Jones were phenomenal IMO. Pankratova lacked the real volume at critical moments and also I wish her understanding of the text was better. For my Money Herlitzius is the reigning Hochdrammatische of the day. Pankratova’s voice is one size smaller than the two other ladies.

            • Cocky Kurwenal

              I saw Pankratova’s Dyer’s Wife on Saturday Buster and I thought she was really excellent. FeldM is right that it isn’t a gob-smacking voice in the style of Jones or Herlitzius, but she really sang the role with a huge amount of care and skill, and with quite a lyrical approach which I thought was very successful.

            • Regina delle fate

              She’s phenomenally well endowed vocally and you can hear it’s an Elektra voice, but I agree with FM -- she’s not on the level of Herlitzius singing today, and the Färberinnen of yesteryear I have seen (Dernesch. Gwyneth, Schnaut, Polaski, Marton, Pauline Tinsley in English). It’s a much better voice than Sergeeva who sang the role with the Mariinsky in Edinburgh and was probably the best thing in it. Good as she is, I’m disappointed that the opportunity was missed to present Herlitzius’s UK debut. And the RO apparently has no plans for her, either. I was hoping she might be the Elektra at the Proms, but it’s Goerke, whom London saw last September. Another opportunity lost, I fear. Anyway Buster -- I can’t say EP was a weak link, but she has a lot to learn about projecting the text of the role. I was very surprised at how good Magee was. It’s not the greatest voice imagineable, but she really rose to the Judgement scene. I think she and Pieczonka at the best Kaiserrinnen around and Schwanewilms sings it beautifully, even if she is a bit fey as a character. Who sang the Färberin in the Jurowski concert performance in Amsterdam? Was it Goerke?

            • Buster

              Thanks, all, for the Pankratova remarks. I’d like to hear her sing it one day, but first Jennifer Wilson.

              I also heard Herlitzius as the Dyer’s Wife (Homoki). Out of the three roles I saw her in, this was my least favorite one, or, at least, the one I remember the least about.

              Amsterdam was indeed Goerke, Regina, who was amazing too.

  • Buster

    The Bieito Lady is tame compared to this:

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      What is the source of that amazing film?

      • Dawn Fatale

        It’s this: -- the Peter Weigl film

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          Another, lesser known, Weigl film of an opera:

          • WindyCityOperaman

            The Sali above and the Sergei in Lady Macbeth are both “played” by Czech actor Michal Dlouhy. (Peronally think Vishnevskaya’s Artyom Inozemtsev is sexier!)

            Even more interesting . . . Andrzej Wajda’s 1996s film:

      • WindyCityOperaman

        The PG version sanitized by Stalin but the film version stars Madame V on screen

    • oedipe

      There is a huge difference between this film and Bieito, IMO. This exploits the entertainment value of soft porn. Bieito’s soft porn is never pretty and it is not meant to please and entertain, but to shake up consciences and make a comment (often cynical) on human nature. That’s exactly what makes Bieito art rather than shlock.

    • papopera

      the male singer could do it to me anytime

    • DeepSouthSenior

      I watched the Shostakovich bodice-ripper clip. I haven’t done any research on the two young-uns on screen, however. Does the gal sing as well as act? If so, she gives a whole new meaning to the theatrical term “triple threat.”

      • Indiana Loiterer III

        Sorry to disappoint you, but what you are seeing are actors miming to a preexisting recording, as is usual with Petr Weigl.

        • Well he is matching the music to the movement onscreen …

        • DeepSouthSenior

          Oh, well. As happens so often in life, when fantasy and reality collide, reality comes off the worse for it.

  • The Conte

    Hans Lick,

    you should count yourself lucky you get to squeeze up against such tall, dark, handsome beef-cake at the opera. From my experience audiences aren’t getting bigger, they’re getting older. If I didn’t have my other half to go with I certainly wouldn’t be flirting with the people I often find next to me.

  • A few days old and I may have missed this article linked elsewhere on here. Opinions on Mr. Volles? 5 years from now will make him 59, does it seem a bit risky to bet a Ring Cycle on that?

    • Satisfied

      I think the bigger news here (for me anyway…) is confirmation of Herheim’s Meistersinger in the 2008/2009 season!

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      His name is Michael Volle. I’ve enjoyed him in German roles (Kurwenal, Johanaan, somebody in Lulu) but thought he was really miscast in the ROH Vepres, and somewhat miscast as Amonasro, despite what he says about not wanting to be known only for German roles.

      • Regina delle fate

        All those German baritones want to be taken seriously in the Italian rep -- Weikl (a near disaster as Gerard in the last RO Chenier), Fischer-Dieskau (who vowed never to return to Covent Garden after his Falstaff was trashed by critics in 1970) and now Volle. I agree with Cocky about his suitability for the Vepres role, but I htink he was still the most interesting singer on stage. The best of these wannabe Deutsche baritoni nobili was probably Grundheber, who did a fine Boccanegra at the RO when he was nearly 70. That said, I think I’d rather have Volle as Francesco Foscari than Domingo, but heigh ho. I’ll be in a minority.

    • m. p. arazza

      Quoth the Times: “Mr. Volle will have big boots to fill at the Met. Its last Wotan was the Welsh bass Bryn Terfel.”

      Actually, Wotan’s boots were last worn by Mark Delavan and Greer Grimsley.

  • Signor Bruschino

    Forgive me if this was posted already, but noticed that ENO’s new Cosi Fan Tutte, which is a co-production with the Met (which was originally going to be directed by Katie Mitchell) is now being directed by Phelim McDermott, but not designed & co-directed with Julian Crouch. Tom Pye (this seasons Eugene Onegin) will be the designer:

    • The important point here is that the Mozart-Da Ponte cycle will still be directed by a trio of random Brits, because, after all, who better to interpret operas written by an Austrian and a Venetian for an American audience?

      • armerjacquino

        There was me thinking that the Carsen CARMELITES at CG was a wonderful piece of programming. But it turns out it can’t have been, because he’s not French or British. Better junk that Girard PARSIFAL too.

        I can accept that there’s an argument Brits are over-represented, and we’ve been over and over why, but ‘the director isn’t from the same place as the composer!’ is just bizarre.

        • You seem to have no understanding of the difference between “some” and “all.” I don’t think anyone can have a problem with an individual director or other artist, of whatever provenance, if he or she is the best choice for the job. The pattern here is that three British directors are hired for for three Mozart-=Da Ponte operas at the Met, when not one of those directors has any demonstrated experience or flair for directing Mozart comedy. Presumably the Met should have its choice of all the directors in the world-- including those who have worked on pieces more closely related to Mozart than Billy Budd, Satyagraha or Mary Poppins— but, by the sheerest coincidence, the choice lands on three Mozart neophytes who have nothing in common except a British passport. I mean, what sort of odds are those?

          But, after all, the Met, with its strong base of public funding and reputation as an experimentalist theater, is exactly the place where an absolutely inexperienced opera director like Michael Grandage should be given a multimillion dollar budget to try to figure out if he can stage Don Giovanni. The answer, unsurprisingly, was “no,” but, after all, who is hurt besides four or five seasons of Met audiences who have to sit through his dull, amateurish and inept muddle of a staging if they want to hear Mozart’s opera performed in America’s most important opera house?

          • armerjacquino

            See, *that* I wouldn’t have taken issue with.

            But thanks for the explanation. It means I can stop planning my new production of COSI directed by Niki Lauda and Marco Polo.

            • A. Poggia Turra

              If there’s a cameo role for Danica Patrick, I’m in! :D

            • armerjacquino

              Whoa- there’s a whole new paragraph there since I replied. Sneaky!

              I don’t have any specific objection to neophyte directors per se- weren’t we all quite excited at the prospect of a Christoph Waltz ROSENKAV?

            • If Walz spoke not a word of German and had no first-hand knowledge of Viennese culture, he’d be neck-and=neck with Grandage in the unsuitability sweepstakes.

          • Jack Jikes

            Cara La Cieca -- I hang on your every word -- BRAVA!

          • Krunoslav

            Might Rula Lenska want to work up a new Met ENTFUEHRUNG?

            • armerjacquino

              If you’re going to get a Polish Countess directing, it should be KROL ROGER at the very least.

            • Krunoslav

              Why not HRABINA?


              But I don’t think Michel Grandage is a Spanish grandee, or Phelim McDermott a Neaopolitan officer, so…

            • armerjacquino

              But I don’t think Michel Grandage is a Spanish grandee, or Phelim McDermott a Neaopolitan officer, so…

              Oh come ON!


              You can’t suddenly pull out a face-value response to the sarcastic response to a sarcastic response to some sarcasm!

            • Krunoslav

              BUT *I* AM RULA LENSKA AND *I* MAKE THE RULES *empties Uzi into the air*! :)

          • RosinaLeckermaul

            Just thank your lucky stars that the director wasn’t Katie Mitchell, the worst of British directors. Character would be running randomly around for no reason on an ugly off-white set. Her opera productions are even more dreadful than her dramatic productions. She couldn’t tell a story coherently if her life depended on it. And her productions are humorless.

      • manou

        I have a phelim that it would be pye in the sky to ask for a moratorium on Brit bashing.

        • armerjacquino

          If it had just been ‘Boo, more fucking Brits’ I SWEAR I would have avoided it. But the new twist on nationality seems so odd that I had, without any self-aggrandagement, to eyre my views.

          • manou

            No need to crouch anymore though -- that’s a macvicary of sorts. Summers a’coming!

          • Krunoslav

            This seems as good a place as any to note that, despite someone’s claims a few days back that Claire Rutter has only aired her wares in North America twice at Santa Fe, she has sung both Fiordiligi and Donna Anna at Dallas, and the BALLO Amelia at Florida Grand Opera. Plus she is slotted for LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST at Minnesota Opera next season.

            But who’s keeping track, anyway?

            • armerjacquino

              Good research.

              What I actually said was that operabase listed two engagements in the last six years, which is true.

              Well done for digging deeper, which definitely wasn’t a waste of time.

            • manou

              Ooooh -- does that mean she might be quite good then?

            • Krunoslav

              Alas, no, not from what armer and others have said-- a solid “B’ diva for (domestic) regional work.

              I heard pretty dire reports from Santa Fe.

            • Krunoslav

              For fairness’ sake, sometimes a good regional B diva who can act (someone of the Blancke-Biggs variety) can make a satisfying Minnie if no Destinn is on hand.

            • armerjacquino

              I’ve heard both better and worse:

              (takes the C very well, which seems to be even more of an obstacle these days than it was for Tebaldi. Carosi just sort of gave up half way through the note at CG)

            • Krunoslav

              Rutter is indeed not bad here but she does not sound to me like an Aida, Amelia, Norma, Turandot or Minnire- not remotely.

              I think ‘dramatic soprano’ means something different to British critics, as I have seen that term invoked for Elizabeth Vaughan, among others. Vaughan is a fine singer and sang some dramatic roles, like Abigaille, but not with the volume and scope I would term ‘dramatic soprano” in quality.

              Is Rutter more imposing heard live at Grange Park?

            • Regina delle fate

              Kruno -- Grange Park has only 600 seats, half the size of Glyndebourne so it’s no surprise that Rutter makes a bigger impact there than she would, say, in one of the big US houses. That said, she has done pretty decent work -- I won’t say more than that -- in Aida, Ballo and Tosca at the Coliseum, the largest theatre in the West End. Her Lucrezia Borgia there was less of a success, because she has lost some of the agility that she had when she emerged as a Scottish Opera young artists with more than respectable performances as Donna Anna, Elettra and Violetta (again the SO house is small). Unfortunately, ENO do very little work that suits her voice. They are doing Fanciulla next season, but for Susan Bullock. So she has to look for work elsewhere. She’s not going to make a living on seven performances at Grange Park every year. I’d actually be interested to hear her as Fanciulla, but possibly not in a big house. How big is Minnesota.

            • Krunoslav

              The Ordway ( in which MN Opera perform) is 1900 seats.

              They hire quite good people there;Bruce ford, David Portillo, Ewa Podles, Barry Banks ( good Brit-casting), Kyle Ketelsen.

              There has been the occasional needless Judith Hpwarth or Ashley Holland hire, and I guess that’s why they have Rutter as Minnie; the welcome house diva is the exciting bel cantist- who-sings-Elektra ( c.f. Pauline Tinsley) Brenda Harris but Minnie might be a stretch for her these days.

        • Chanterelle

          You mean, “py” in the sky?

      • davenport

        Oh God -- here we go again!!

      • oedipe

        C’mon, stop arguing: you all just look in my direction and you’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling of solidarity :)!

        • Well thus might be a good time to ask: how were the Bohemes in Bastille with Angie and Beczala?

          • oedipe

            The Bohème, rather: there’s been just one performance with this cast so far; Maria Agresta and Stefano Secco sang the previous performances. I did see it, and I also saw the last performance with Agresta three days before. Makes comparisons between the two casts easy, since I heard them so close to each other in the same production…That’s when you see the difference between good and exceptional -even though imperfect- artists.

            Firstly, from the second balcony, I had no trouble hearing Ange. She is not loud and her high notes were slightly less well projected than when I heard her in the past, but she was perfectly audible.

            As soon as Ange and Beczala were on stage, the Johnatan Miller production (not as old and tacky as the Met Zeff one, but still very old), came to life. When Ange opens her mouth, everything is nuance, every word counts. The third act was the highlight: AG, Beczala and Tézier sang and acted it beautifully.

            Agresta has a nice, Italianate lirico-spinto sound and attempted to color it often, but she somehow failed to convey emotion. It didn’t help that she had no chemistry with Stefano Secco, who has a good technique, but is dull and wooden on stage. Even Tézier was less good with Agresta/Secco than with AG/Beczala; it made for a very boring evening.

            It’s true that Ange overacted at times and that she is a little old for Mimi; it’s true that Beczala has a very open sound that occasionally got him in trouble with pp’s. But they created living, charming, emotionally convincing characters on stage. So, whenever we criticize these exceptional artists, we should try to compare them with the alternatives.

            The Bastille was packed; the whole Ange/Beczala run is completely sold out. In June/July we get to see Hartig, unfortunately with Giordano, in the same production.

            • Lady Abbado

              Here’s the only review I’ve seen so far -- & would add that Angie looks unusually happy in the Facebook pics taken after the performance

              « Luxueuse routine » maronnait notre confrère Christian Peter à la sortie de La Bohème reprise à l’Opéra de Paris jusqu’au 14 juillet avec pas moins de trois distributions. Il est vrai que la mise en scène de Jonathan Miller affiche près de vingt années de vol au compteur. Mais il suffit que le rôle de Mimi soit confié à Angela Gheorghiu pour que la soirée sorte de l’ordinaire. Absente de la première scène lyrique française depuis 2001, la soprano roumaine effectuait là un retour attendu, une sorte de galop d’essai avant Adriana Lecouvreur en juin 2015. Retour concluant si l’on en croit les applaudissements d’un public conquis et les commentaires élogieux entendus çà et là à la fin du spectacle. Evidemment, ce n’est pas la modestie qui étouffe cette Mimi, plus coquette que cousette. Mais la voix épouse avec volupté les inflexions d’une musique qu’elle sait caresser dans le bon sens du poil. Beauté du timbre, unique, luxuriant, luxurieux, et plus encore, art des nuances avec des notes subtilement filées dont le souffle se plait à prolonger l’effet. Son Rodolpho, Piotr Beczala, a aussi du sex-appeal à revendre, même si l’aigu parait souvent tendu. Ludovic Tézier (Marcello), Brigitta Kele (Musetta) et Ante Jerkunica achèvent de tirer vers le haut une soirée que la direction anonyme de Daniel Oren ne réussit pas, cette fois, à plomber. [Christophe Rizoud]

              Giacomo Puccini : La Bohème, représentations avec Angela Gheorghiu (Mimi) et Piotr Beczala (Rodolfo) les 31, 4,7 et 11 avril (plus d’informations)

            • Thanks Oedipe for the review!

              I’ve seen Angie and Beczala in Boheme but never with each other. I always thought they would be exceptional together.

            • oedipe

              BTW, Ange wore her own dresses (she probably doesn’t like Miller’s costumes). Also, at curtain call she didn’t go fetch Daniel Oren from backstage, she let him come on stage on his own while she was busy standing in front and applauding the orchestra.

            • oedipe

              And I forgot to say that tomorrow’s performance will be broadcast live on Radio Classique (at 1:30pm NY time):


            • Thanks! I saw the dress Angie wore on her Facebook page. It’s cute. The shoes however look somewhat modern.

    • Regina delle fate

      Amazing that Gelb wanted McDermott back after the dross that is The Enchanted Island.

  • Cicciabella

    The TV documentary on Helmut Deutsch is now available online (in German only, alas): Very touching how Deutsch describes his Liszt lieder recital with Damrau and how much he admires her.

    • Fidelia

      Thanks for this link, Cicciabella, it’s a very informative and touching documentary.

  • Leitbreite

    La Cieca, I know I’ve already mentioned this in another post, but whatever happened to the results of the Letter Scene vocal ID quiz from *Werther*? I know that the response to the quiz was pretty lackluster, but I’ve been curious about some of those mystery singers…

    • La Cieca has been very lazy about those results: she’ll post them later today.

  • La Valkyrietta

    Hans Lick

    You bring up. real problem for those who are not petite. You are right that the healthier specimens of humanity will not shrink, and the thinness challenged will not diet. And the problem is more general than just that for opera and concert audiences, think of airplanes (economy) and Broadway. I love it everytime I happen to go see something in Vegas. Most theaters there have comfortable and ample seats, so much so that often there is no need to get up when people pass in front of you. There is no hope rebuilding all the old theaters. They could remodel the seating, but I suspect managers have decided that to be anti economical. Doing opera in Vegas? Not promising unless you are dying for, say, Bocelli and Dion in Boheme. The big casino theatres will not do Wagner, even with Lepage on the premises, as they don’t want shows of over 90 minutes, they need people to be gambling. Sad to say, some problems seem to have no solutions.

    • armerjacquino

      There are some London theatres that I will only go to if I can afford the stalls- the higher-up seats in those Victorian houses are just no use to a tall fella like me.

      Covent Garden’s the same, alas. I can only afford the amphi where the seats are tiny, so wherever possible I scout from performance to performance looking for an aisle seat.

    • oedipe

      For most people of various sizes, ample seating room at the Bastille.

      • Chanterelle

        Except that those Bastille seats have a weird curve at the base that impinges on, er, anatomies with ample seats.

        • oedipe

          Well, I said most people.

      • A. Poggia Turra

        The three new-ish Scandinavian houses I’ve been to (Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki) have quite comfortable seating and aisle space -- I had no problems parking my well-fed frame into the seats in those auditoria.

    • Nice big seats in Palermo!

    • The best seating arrangements I’ve seen recently were at a series of outdoor performances of Taiwanese operas at a sizable temple fair outside Tainan. No chairs were provided (unless you cadged one off the troupe), so either stand or bring your own.

      Or follow the lead of many younger and middle-aged Taiwanese ladies, who sidled up on their motorcycles and scooters in the empty space before the stage to create the Chinese-opera equivalent of a drive-in theater. Hells Angels meets Hello Kitty.

  • zinka

    This is why Chenier needs to be retired until they come back……Mar.5, 1960..In the high Key. Note the Mialnov “abbracciari,baciami, AMAAAAANTE” as a thrill of a lifetime.
    This was the night after we saw Warren our mood was somber..but they brought us out of it to some extent.

    • operadent

      Charlie -- that duet took my breath away!

      • zinka

        Hi..I had seen many many Cheniers..but this night they were so fabulous….and Zinka,at 54, was quite great….Glad you liked it. It remains one of my greatest thrills.

  • Baritenor

    Since it doesn’t appear that it’s going to be broadcast at all, I would appriciate reports from any members at the National Council finals today. One of the finalists, Julie Adams, is a good friend and former classmate.

    • laddie

      Will Berger posted this on his FB page:

      at the National Council Finals Concert… there is some blossoming talent out there! We are recording it for broadcast after the regular season -- and we’ll let you know more about when and where you can hear it.

    • manou


      Your friend did very well then!

    • parpignol

      Julie Adams was excellent; of the three sopranos, all with fine technique, musicality, presence, Adams was the only one with a really gorgeous bloom and coloring to the voice; the Debussy was an odd and interesting choice, I thought. . . and can someone tell me why the judges would not have chosen the tenor Moras who sang the arias from L’Elisir and Romeo; to my ear the voice was quite beautiful, and he sounded like someone who could already go on stage and give satisfaction in either of those roles-- was there something wrong with the technique that I wasn’t picking up on?

  • Ruby

    I anyone tuned in to “La Sonnambula” from the Grand Liceu Theatre in Barcelona?

  • Liz.S

    This is for Blue (and whoever else is interested)
    Finalmente, they will broadcast the concert in Philly back in Feb, when Leiferkus appeared. The program will start at 1PM next Sun. The details are not on the website yet but it will be on here

    Here’s the program --

    Enjoy! :-)

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Happy 73d birthday soprano Laila Andersson-Palme

    • KCB

      Flooded with memories of Andersson’s super-sexy Lulu in Stockholm, so many years ago.

      • Regina delle fate

        I saw her there as Marie in Wozzeck. Great singing actor. Must have been at least 25 years ago.

        • Regina delle fate

          I’ve a vague memory that Helge Brilioth was either the Captain or, more likely, the Drum-Major.

        • tiger1dk

          She was a great Brünhilde in Aarhus, Denmark, maybe 25 years ago.

  • zinka

    Our lovable Facebook friend, who was born Mar.31, 1952…Let us group the singers who could emit the combination of voice and emotion..not heard today mostly:

    Scotto,Soviero,Gencer,Olivero,Zeani, Kabaiwanska.

    Nelly is a rarity..her repertory is huge and she sings with the kind of passion that we here appreciate..but we do not run the Met.

    • Krunoslav

      A mere few years ago you were cackling that you used her TOSCA CDs as coasters. Glad you have learned her merits.

    • I recently re-listened to an old Unnatural Act of Miricoiu in Roberto Devereux, along with generous portions of her Anna Bolena and Ermione to fill out the podcasts. What a wonderful bel canto artist.

      • Archaeopteryx

        Nelly is wonderful. A true old-school belcanto diva. Happy birthday!!!

  • Opera Teen

    Rufus Wainwright is trying to crowdsource a studio recording of “Prima Donna” for CD and vinyl release:

    • The sales pitch reads as though it were machine-translated from Urdu.

  • zinka

    A fairly detailed Croatian analysis of my life with Zinka Milanov.

    When I heard the RCA Trovatore (with the orthopedic sound,which was a bit on the echo side).(I put my foot in it again.) at age 15, I was stupified as a new opera lover, and i wore out “D’amor sull’ali.” When I first came to the standee line in November 1953 (when I found that a word that meant “happy” had other meanings),I asked on the line before the Forza, “How does she sound LIVE?”
    I soon found out, as she began “Me pellgrina’ with a tone that threw me for a loop.Remember,when you start out and am attracted to a particular voice, you are “hooked” for life.
    In perspective, Zinka always had a sensational quality, rich mixed chest voice, great nobility, and on the April 14 1966 retirement Chenier, the voice never lost its sheen.” If you heard the “Enzo adorato’ live, or take the Ernani final trio, or in the “In mia man” and countless other things, you would forgive the lack of fioratura, the mostly screamed high C’s (which she had up to about 1952).
    She did provide many “silent movie” laughs from us, and we also will never forget the night she RAN OFF the stage in the middle of the Santuzza/Alfio duet, as she felt a certain undergarment slipping..OH,how i wish she didn’t make it to the wings..and at the club meetings,they might have given the panties away as a gift, the way someone won her Desdemona hanky.
    Unfortunately, we got Baum ad nauseum, and I was present at the feud period in 1954m but I believe right now they have made up.
    To this DAY, I cry at the mere sound of her voice, which I heard live 88 and a half times (she did faint halfway through the Verdi Requiem under Bruno Walter).I am glad she “fainted’ because she sounded horrendous!
    Some people in those days (one was Gerald Fitzgerald) deliberately praised Helluva Nervi because the Zinka fans (not me) were so obnoxious..and some of them really were disgusting.For example, the three evil sisters brough Tea bags to a perf.and spoke of Renata “TEA BAL DI Now is that not mature???? They liked Curtis-Verna of course,since she was no threat. I never really had fights with them,but since i adored and knew Tebaldi, and they were so GELOSI, I didn’t talk about her. Of course,imagine having Milanov,Stella, and Tebaldi in the same seasons!
    Some people today (who were not even born or who were in the sandbox..and some of them act as if they never LEFT the sandbox) and NEVER heard Zinka live and perhaps know nothing of all her live tapes, will deliberately trash her, because for some strange reason they do not like me..(Amazing,ain’t it?)
    I will always remember the way they played “Enzo adorato” as she entered the hotel room for the annual Milanov Club gathering, where she was (I think) the sole straight person.
    I am however, still angry at her for refusing to sign my beautiful photo at closing night, of Tucker and Zinka in the Chenier duet before the gold curtain.(She did not like a non-posed photo.) Zinka was not the sweetest person in the world, as one friend told me how he complimented her once at a Met Bazaar, and she asked, “Are you PROFESSIONAL?”
    The never put out the long-awaited Bruce Burroughs book..just one section in Opera Quarterly…and the book was never done..i do not know how much was done..but i long to hear the Milanov stories..true or not true.
    Here are some “Milanov tales” as an example of what we want to know in detail:
    1. She did not get the joke when someone said she was Lili Tomlin’s cover for her show. I hope they told her that she might not make it on Broadway.
    2. Supposedly,when Steber cracked her tooth jumping in Tosca,Zinka said, “I knew the role was too heavy for her.”
    3. Some lady raved and raved backstage to her about her highs and lows..and Zinka said,”Vell,how about the meedle voice?”
    4. I have heard a lot of her smelling the chickens in the market..and someone once said to me, “I do not know if SHE coukd pass that test.”
    Did the butcher throw her out??I do not have that info.
    5. She sits there at the Centennial Gala,crabby-looking, as if “No VUN could take my chair.” (which is TRUE!!!!)
    My life was made so much richer having discovered her at age 15, and to this day, when I hear her voice, I feel the same way as i did as a teen.
    I hope some of you got something out of this dissertation…..she was the greatest!!!!!!

    • stevey

      Zinka/Charlie… I THANK YOU for this. And, I can only HOPE that this missive which you have written for us all, will enable me to open up a mini-dialogue with you that, really, I have long been wanting to…

      Because, (and please let me explain here…) I have ALWAYS both loved, and appreciated you, both for your wonderful podcasts (more than one of which I contacted you about to suggest, which you so dutifully and wonderfully provided!), as well as for your love and knowledge of this beautiful and wonderful art form on the whole, which you have so generously shared with us throughout the years, both through this website, your own, and pretty much any and everywhere in between. You ARE, Zinka, a true operatic gem… and before I go anywhere further, please let me just try and express to you as much as I can how much and how TRULY I MEAN that.

      That being said, however… I will confess that there is SO much about you which I just…. DON’T…. GET!

      I am turning 37 years old soon (the 3rd of May, to be exact). Ergo… the MULTITUDINOUS references to Stevens, or Milanov, or ANYONE from pre-1970’s Met… and how DEPRIVED or IGNORANT we may be as result of this, just leave me feeling raw. Who are you to lead us to believe because we never heard Stella or Milanov in the flesh, that as such your vituperative remarks as to or artists are any less valid, or that (basically) we have no knowledge as to what we are talking about???

      I can draw a parallel to ‘Bill’ here on this site… who is ALWAYS a wealth of wisdom and information (wisdom and information to which sometimes, I wonder, approaches almost autistic status… and I mean that in the best way possible- the man is INCREDIBLE!!!) about Vienna, Salzburg, post-war Germany, and all of opera in both Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary (I pretty much SWOONED when, in one of his comments to something I posted, he communicated his love and appreciation of the genius of Szilvia Ralik that I also shared!) as well.

      The DIFFERENCE, between the two (if you will permit me), is that Bill… (to me, at least) just seeks to INFORM, and/or SHARE. My God, I can’t TELL you how much I’ve gleaned from that man about Irmgard Seefriend, Streich, both Rysaneks, Lipp, Cebotari, Streich, both Kontezni’s… my God, I could go on and on! Whereas, with you, my dear Zinka…. it seems you just want to post some old recording of Tebaldi or Milanov and impress upon us how we can’t POSSIBLY understand ANYTHING because we NEVER had the chance to experience THIS and… regardless of how THRILLED and IMPRESSED you are by such voices (i.e.- Irina Rindzuner, Latonia Moore, Ta’ua Papua, etc.)… there is really NOTHING that can compare, and that- alas- none of us can even KNOW what you’re talking about, because none of us can relate. And, as such… poor you.

      For whatever it’s worth, then… I think Marisa Galvany is one of the best and most amazing musical freaks of nature I have ever heard, and GOD, I wish that she were singing- I would have LOVED to have heard that 8 second high E-flat at the end of the Maria Stuarda trio (with ‘Sam’, as you always state), and SO MUCH of what she has done. I pretty much ADORE everything the woman is in (‘musically authentic’ or not) and, likewise, Olivia Stapp, too! I have a pirated recording (don’t ask me how I got it) of her singing Abigaille from Zurich wherein she interpolated the high E-flat at the end of the Nabucco-Abigaille duet which I will ALWAYS treasure and, likewise, will always treasure the excerpt (on ‘Youtube’) of her singing ‘Quel sangre versato’… ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENTLY IN EVERY WAY (in spite of the fact that she forgets her lines). Likewise with Diana Sorviero…

      Basically, Zinka, in most ways, I UNDERSTAND YOU and, even when I don’t… I can at least understand and respect and ADMIRE your love and belief in this art form and in those who practice it.

      Now, then… some things, I don’t get…

      The vituperation of Mara Zampieri. THAT… I just don’t understand. Have you EVER HEARD the woman??? Pretty much everybody else on this website will call you out on this but…. inexplicably… you STILL cling to your predispositions and your biases… SOMETHING which I MAY be able to excuse, if not for the fact that you cling to them based on the belief that… BECAUSE we never HEARD Milanov, and Stevens, and (etc., etc.) live… we can’t even BEGIN to explain where you’re coming from, or what you’re talking about. And I guess that’s why I’m writing this to you.

      For I take umbrage at this, Zinka. For, I am NOT in my 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or even 40’s. And, yes, I would have LOVED to have heard ‘X’, or ‘Y’. or even ‘Z’… but you know what?? I DIDN’T!! And that doesn’t give me any more or less a right to try and call you out on bullshit if that’s what I think you’re spouting!!!

      For whatever it’s worth… I DON’T get Milanov. You posted some sort of duet on here (lamenting, as usual, the dearth of this kind of singing), which, upon listening to… I thought absolutely RISIBLE. It was AWFUL. The scooping, the swooping, the… pretty much everything. Likewise, her contribution to the famous Verdi Requiem… I just don’t GET it. Which could be excused, of course… but what I DON’T, and can no LONGER excuse… is your excusal of this, and of sentiments such as these, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, seem to be based on the passive-aggressive argument that “well, I saw and , and live… and, so, as such, you can’t even BEGIN to understand…”

      But, when it all comes down to it… I guess this is just all about ‘Opera Elitism’, and the belief in one person that- for whatever reason… THEIR beliefs are more valid than anybody elses. I freely and fully admit that I’m a complete and total musical neophyte. For whatever it’s worth- I’m a ex-drug addict, gay Falcon porn star- I have NOTHING in comparison to you all when it comes to what I can contribute. But STILL… I would like to, and I guess I just only want to respond when I see stuff like you sometimes post. Stuff that, when it all comes down to it, seems to want to EXCLUDE, as to INCLUDE. (Does any of this make any sense?)

      God, I don’t even know why I started this. Surprisingly, I think it was because I was amazed at your comment as to Nelly Miricioiu- an artist I think is quite frankly quite brilliant. I was surprised to see you (in referring to her by first name) feeling the same way. This, I guess, led me to reflect on you, on the whole on here, as ‘Zinka’, at the respect and deference I have always hitherto given you. And, I suppose, it is SAME respect that has led me to confront you- openly, honestly, and most respectfully- as I have, and am.

      For whatever it’s worth… I love ya, Zinka! And I guess, only just wish I understood you more. Perhaps this is just another case of ‘life’ imitating ‘art’, huh?

      Thanks for listening, though… and thanks for everything you’ve given us. I’m sorry I CAN’T relate to much of what you say on here, and only hope that you understand that- through a conversation such as this- it is only because I wish to. And, I hope that the viewers and commentators who I am making a part of this, will also just realize my best intentions and wishes, and respond, if they feel to, accordingly. I mean no harm. :-)

      With my continued best wishes, as ever and always, to you all…

      S. :-)

      • zinka

        I always tell singers i am their “unpaid agent’ and except for crabby Resnik, who said,when i said to her “I want to keep the flame alive” “I am not dead yet.” She was a big La cieca said,”Now as she enters the pearly gates she will probably say,”HEY..they are supposed to open in..not out.”
        Your post to me is like my “unpaid agent’ concept…It is something we have to send to anyone who thinks I am a jerk….It is so inspiring..beautifully written…fills me with emotion…and makes me feel I am doing things for opera..well,La Cieca got me doing the podcasts..which are quite popular.
        Pne example was a few yrs.ago,when Joe Calleja looked at me and said,”Are you Charlie??I love your are more famous than I am..and gave me a bearhug.”
        What you wrote is overwhelming..I have printed it out and will keep it for good luck..especially when someone on chat tells me how “I got humped watching Zinka”(I would not feel it.)
        FALCONE?????? Maybe i saw you in action!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        If you want to communicate on we know i am at…..I feel i know you already.
        Again,my love…I have to read your post several times……it is so delightful and warm.

        Love Charlie the Kunc.

    • WindyCityOperaman

      I remember that “sour” look at the Centennial while Lee and Pav were doing the Ballo duet. She looked as if she was cleaning her nails.

      Any truth to Regina Resnik deputizing for her because she’d gotten a major shiner from her hubby?

      I’d also like to know about her work with singers who sought her guidance when they got into vocal trouble, aka Christa Ludwig and Anna Moffo.

      • I find zinka awful on the duet posted. She sounds squally and screamy and like a grandma.

        • zinka

          Comin from Ivy…..das ist nicht important.

      • She did smile though when Pav and Lee turned to acknowledge the “old-timers” before they sang.

      • rapt

        WCO--Apparently, Regine Crespin also sought her advice.

      • zinka

        Resnik did a “Zinka’ for me which she said..regarding the Milanov Dec,2 1944 cancellation.”I VAS NEVER SEEECK>”
        Yes i hear Zinka got a black eye for acting like a real Kunc in bed……She must have done some pppppp’s with the dude……

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Born on this day in 1893 conductor Clemens Krauss

    Born on this day in 1899 tenor Franz Völker

    Born on this day in 1911 soprano Elisabeth Grümmer

    Born on this day in 1924 bass Frederick Guthrie

    Happy 82nd birthday tenor John Mitchinson

    Happy 76th birthday bass-baritone Jozsef Dene

    Happy 74th birthday soprano Olivia Stapp

    Happy 68th birthday soprano Christine Weidinger

    Happy 62nd birthday soprano Nelly Miricioiu

    Happy 60th birthday tenor Dénes Gulyás

    Happy 59th birthday tenor Robert Gambill

    Happy 53rd birthday composer Jake Heggie

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

      Happy 47th birthday to Matthias Goerne: