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Una donna!

As if you needed an even more exciting reason to drop in for La Casa della Cieca this afternoon: last night’s Butterfly Kristine Opolais is jumping into the role of Mimi, subbing for an ill Anita Hartig for the broadcast and the HD.

268 comments

  • Feldmarschallin says:

  • meowiaclawas says:

    Just out of curiosity…does anyone know if Anita Hartig is scheduled at the Met next season?

    ;)

  • Krunoslav says:

    How can a singer with poor rhythm who can barely sing one line with musical accuracy be said to be an acceptabl,e let alone a good or a ‘fabulous’ Rodolfo?

    Not for the first time, some people are hearing with their eyes.

    • Camille says:

      Beavo, Herr Kruno
      In a nutshell, the “eyes” have it.

    • oedipe says:

      Not for the first time, some people are hearing with their eyes.

      Ditto for Opolais’ Mimi, AFAIC.

    • armerjacquino says:

      Is that the only possible explanation?

      I (a) listened on the radio, (b) don’t find the Grigolo ‘look’ remotely attractive and (c) really enjoyed his performance.

      ‘You don’t agree with me therefore you must just be playing dreamphone’ isn’t a great look in itself.

      • bluecabochon says:

        Well, Kruno doesn’t allow others to have favorites that don’t coincide with his own, ESPECIALLY if the singer is a good-looking guy.

        • Krunoslav says:

          “Well, Kruno doesn’t allow others to have favorites that don’t coincide with his own”

          Yes, I go around physically forcing people to abandon their Corelli and IL DIVO CDs.
          ……………..

          “Look: like most of the time, armer feels motivated to register disagreement with whatever Kruno says, so-- even though it’s oedipe he’s responding to-- I’ll pile on too!”

          Sorry, bluecabochon, if Sony’s latest moneymaker heartthrob is your new favorite. May he and Erwin Schrott fill your listening days and nights with flawless, rhythm-free duets!

          • Poison Ivy says:

            That was so unnecessary Kruno.

            • Krunoslav says:

              I am sorry, but as someone willing publicly to write off whole performances as “shitty”, who are you to tell me or anyone what is rhetorically unnecessary? I don’t even know to what specifically you are referring.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Your condescending comments towards blue and aj.

          • bluecabochon says:

            KrunoNerva, I am not a fangurl of Grigolo, but what if I were? And what if I had an obsession for Schrott and thought he was a GOD (I don’t)? Who the hell are you to look down your nose at anyone’s favorites?

            Nobody likes a tiresome know-it-all who has to be agreed with at all times.

            I mentioned a while back that I enjoyed Liam Bonner’s work in Silent Night and in Billy Budd; I didn’t wax enthusiatic over it, I merely liked it alongside the work of others in the cast, but you couldn’t live with that. Too bad for you. Just keep stamping your foot in outrage and posting your condescending little bon-nots, you poor thing.

            • Flora del Rio Grande says:

              blue, bless your brave heart!
              Bravo!

            • Krunoslav says:

              “Nobody likes a XXX who XXXXXXX”

              To this we’ve come. Sorry, I graduated from elementary school some time ago.

            • bluecabochon says:

              Did you? I hadn’t noticed. You’re the oafish schoolyard bully knocking the girls down who have crushes on the cute boys who can sing.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Because dismissing people sight unseen as a “fucking Brit” is the height of maturity as is implying that anyone who likes Singer X must just be hot and horny.

            • Krunoslav says:

              Poison Ivy, I would be interested in your finding one instance of my using the expression “fucking Brit”, except perhaps in citing someone else’s comments here.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              One instance? How about every thread which you try to thread jack with your “fucking Brit” trolling, including today’s uploads of Winterreise in which the uploader made the mistake of uploading Keenlyside’s rendition which set you off on your warpath again. Don’t try to play innocent here.

            • Krunoslav says:

              In other words, you can’t find any instance of my using thw phrase, because it;s not me who uses it, thanks, Poison Ivy!

              Um, I really admire Keenlyside and have said so here again and again and again. His presence in the downloads was not a factor in my WINTERREISE post. I added on mention of two of my very favorite tenor traversals-- Schreier and Pregardien-- and then appended Hammond-Stroud as an overlooked Brit, since armer and co. expect no less from me. Pretty decent version, actually, though nothing as good as the ones downloaded.

              Not playing innocent in re bring up the Brit topics. But the “fucking Brit” locution is NOT mine, and this post had absolutely zero to do with Keenlyside. Cheers.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Okay Krunoslav you don’t say fucking Brit, my mistake. However (and I’m that to sound condescending) you’re a critic with lots of knowledge, why you choose to spend so much to that time trolling with your anti British schtick is a mystery to me, or making snide one liners.

              If you enjoy Keenlysde why not say “I like Keenlyside’s” and then add which ones you also like? Instead of making yet another anti British trolling post which could easily have been misinterpreted?

              If you feel Grigolo sucks, explain why you think he sucks without implying that anyone who likes him must be hot in the pants for him and I bet you wouldn’t have gotten the defensive replies. Speaking for me I like the sound of his timbre, period. It’s sunny and warm. I like his outrageously over the top theatrics — I think opera needs that. I don’t find him particularly hot. I think his eyebrows are weird. But I do find his overall presentation charming.

              See how when you talk to people seriously as you did earlier you get serious non nasty replies?

            • bluecabochon says:

              It was Peter Grimes, not Billy Budd, at Carnegie Hall. Got my f*ucking Brittens mixed up!

            • grimoaldo says:

              ‘why you choose to spend so much to that time trolling with your anti British schtick is a mystery to me”

              I have come to the conclusion that it is at least partly because he wants to show off that he knows who Derek Hammond-Stroud and Ava June, for instance, are /were.
              After all if you have that information in your head there isn’t a great deal you can do with it.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Grim, the “using 10% of your brain” part applies here. If he wants to use that 10% tracking down every singer of the Commonwealth,, he’s more than welcome to waste his brain cells …

          • armerjacquino says:

            Wow, this got nasty really quick.

            Kruno- I agree with you a lot of the time. I have the hugest respect for your encyclopaedic knowledge of singers and operatic history. There are times when we can have a laugh about the many things on which we disagree. For god’s sake, I once used ‘Kruno’ as a ‘character witness’ for my bona fides when I was having a disagreement with ‘Nerva’; lord knows I feel a wee bit dumb about that now.

            I don’t disagree with you, or with anyone, for the sake of it. In this instance I felt patronised by the idea that I might have enjoyed Grigolo’s performance because my pants told me to, and said so. It’s dishonest and disingenuous of you to suggest that I made that point purely because ‘I am motivated to disagree with whatever you say’. I think you’re ace. Toothgrindingly fucking annoying, but ace.

            • Krunoslav says:

              Just my nerves fraying; I know we sometimes agree, and I respect a lot of what you say here and your keeping a (fairly) level head. In comparative terms at least.

              So even if no one here finds Grigolo REMOTELY attractive, i still fail to grasp why his errant, wayward phrasing gets a free pass from almost everyone who enjoys his singing. I think Gualtier did mention it.

            • bluecabochon says:

              …and Kruno with his frayed nerves is still at it. Let the people who enjoyed Grigolo’s (or anyone’s) singing or looks or diction or phrasing enjoy it without having to have the final-as-if-only-you-know-the-truth word. We get it. You have no use for him and cannot grasp why anyone else would.

              Its one thing to make a critical comment, but it’s quite another to continually belittle not only the singer but the FAN.

              Anyone going on and on and on as if no one has eyes or reading comprehension alienates rather than convinces.

            • armerjacquino says:

              That’s the nicest, grudging, non-compliment I have ever had ;-)

              I am only going to sound self-aggrandising here, but I know a wee bit about opera. I’ve been obsessed with it since I was a kid. I’ve heard good and bad singers, thousands of them, and when I listened to BOHEME on Saturday I liked what Grigolo was doing. I hear people saying that he yelps and gasps and breaks up phrases and yada yada yada, and I know what those things mean, but so help me I didn’t hear those things in his performance. I didn’t hear the greatest tenor of all time, but I heard a sappy, pleasant sound and someone who was connected to the part he was playing. I genuinely didn’t hear the technical problems you mention. That might be my fault, or it might be our old friend taste. What it wasn’t was my dick.

            • bluecabochon says:

              Armer and everyone else, even if you didn’t have a single moment of experience with opera, your response would still be valid and important -- perhaps even more so.

              We are theatre professionals (in acting and design) and it’s our job to create emotions in an audience, but as spectators, we need to be as open as any audience member, and to be moved by a performer shows us that we are not as jaded as we might have feared. (:) I am speaking for myself , obviously) There’s no need to apologize to anyone for being moved by anyone’s work. There’s no need to explain why, and some may not have the language required to explain a liking for a painting or a song other than they “just do”, which in the end, is enough.

            • Krunoslav says:

              OK, blue, sweetness and light will be the tone and substance of everyone’s Parterre Box posts from here on in. Theatre is magic and illusion and every performer is sheer, unadulterated magic too. Plus all the claims made for them by their recording and management companies are manifestly true, as all of their performances demonstrate.

              All is groovy.

          • armerjacquino says:

            I wasn’t responding to oedipe, by the way- check the threading, it was a reply to your post.

            Thanks, Ivy, for your comment. Funnily enough we haven’t always seen eye to eye either but *looks around mischievously* we seem to be able to take that case by case and understand that grown ups don’t always agree with each other, and that’s fine…

            (altogether now) *runs off giggling*

  • degan says:

    I was at the HD on Saturday and must say, I am disappointed. My first HD ever was also a Boheme from the Met, the one from 2007 with Vargas, Gheorhiu, Tezier and Arteta. That one was an outstanding performance compared to this one.
    I have seen so many Bohemes in my life, some of them live, a lot of them on Tv or through Hd transmission and some on DVD at home. So I am used to good quality Puccini singers from the past like Pavarotti, Freni, Carreras, Ricciarelli etc or active ones like Gheorghiu, Stoyanova, Vargas, Beczala and so on.
    I really tried to like Grigolo but and I tried to close my eyes during his performance, to try not to judge the acting but the singing. Unfortunately his singing was the biggest disappointment if the evening. No real legato, high notes (I did not hear a high C, did you?) we’re squeezed, wrong phrasing and so many technical issues. By the end of the evening I knew who he is comparable with: Albano Carrisi (who is an Italian pop singer and also recorded a Cd with operatic arias). I have been to Vienna in December for a Boheme with Gheorghiu and was disappointed that Grigolo fell ill and was replaced by Yosep Kang. Now I can say that I am very happy that I got Kang instead of Grigolo.
    The second disappointment was Ms Opolais, allthough I respect her for stepping in at short notice. Also her acting I found boring for myself, no cough, no decline as the story went on. Also I tried to concentrate on the voice but I have to say, I didn’t like it. It is somewhat hollow, the tone is not nice. My partner asked me how old she was because she thought she would be around 50 according to the voice. She nailed it, the voice sounds like a 50+ year old soprano who sang to much to low lying roles during a long career. But unfortunately, she is still a. You woman and maybe the Butterfly the night before, had a big influence on the singing next day. Also here, the phrasing is not classical Puccini, phrases are often cut off shortly, the high notes were there but they were not very pleasing. I am very sorry for Hartig that she fell ill because this is a really good Mimi voice like Freni or Gheorhiu.
    Maybe Hong or Frittoli could have been a better replacement.
    The supporting cast was n’t either at the level of a first class opera house, like the Met presents itself.

  • FaustinaBordoni says:

    Does anyone know who Hartig’s understudy is? Opolais didn’t make a strong case for stepping in at the last minute. Her voice left a lot to be desired.

    • peter says:

      Hei-Kyung Hong was cover, so said the consensus on Saturday. I know she would have been a lot older than Grigolo and it was an HD broadcast after all but she would have been far more preferable, at least vocally than Opolais was.

      • FaustinaBordoni says:

        What an insult to Hong! Even though Hong’s voice isn’t as fresh as it once was, she’s still a remarkably gifted soprano with an instrument demonstrably superior to Opolais’s. What’s more, Hong has excelled as Mimi. And based on what I’ve heard from her recently, I’m convinced she would have done better than Opolais. No offense to Opolais’s fans--she sucked.

        • Gualtier M says:

          If it was Hong that is a shame -- she has the most performances of Mimi after Alda (80), Bori (72), Albanese (64), Amara (62) -- Hong has 61 performances.

          I attended the performance with Poison Ivy. My reaction was that Opalais was working at 50% with a voice that was neither warm and rich nor delicate or sweet. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t a Mimi voice. On a very high professional level but it never seemed to bloom or reach the level of exciting. She didn’t have impressive volume or expansion -- seemed to be singing in rehearsal voice. Dramatically, Opalais always seemed rather restrained, definitely ill and serious throughout. I didn’t get any sense of an excited or flirtatious young girl in the first two acts. She was kind of joyless.

          However, I had dinner afterwards with a friend who attended the HD. He said that Opalais’ voice had wonderful colors and her face was incredibly expressive and subtle. He also noticed incredible sexual chemistry between Grigolo and Opalais. Maybe the cameras captured something that wasn’t evident in the house.

          • La Cieca says:

            Yes, what a shame you missed Hong’s 62nd Met Mimi, a performance sure to have ranked in her top 50 stints in this role, and a real treat for those of us who have not attended the Met at any time between 1987 and 2011.

          • Porgy Amor says:

            Maybe the cameras captured something that wasn’t evident in the house.

            Maybe. It sure was not evident over the radio, either, and I was listening to the FM broadcast on a good system. I have been going to the encores lately instead of the Saturday afternoon HDs, and usually I listen live on Saturday to get an idea of how it is musically. Before Falstaff, Rusalka, Igor and especially Werther, I was even more eager (I initially wrote “even more igor,” ha) to go on Wednesday and see them. In all cases, what I was hearing sounded top-notch; even if the visuals fell flat, I wanted to see these. Hearing Werther actually got me off the fence about trooping out to see Koch and Kaufmann when I already had the DVD, and the new production’s reviews had been only polite-to-meh. This Bohème, though, sounded to me like the umpteenth ordinary revival of a crowd-pleasing production, not appointment viewing. I realize that Operation Make Kristine Happen is in full swing now, but I’m sorry not to be getting Hartig.

        • PetertheModest says:

          Not everyone thinks she sucked as Mimi on 3 hours’ sleep. You cannot expect the best performance in such a circumstance. If it is adequate, that is an achievement of sorts with such little preparation for the actual production, though Opolais does, of course, know the role.

          • FaustinaBordoni says:

            Given how little Opolais rested before singing Mimi, I was prepared to cut her some slack. (For example, I wasn’t expecting ravishing pianissimi from her.) But she didn’t just sound as if she slept for only 3 hours. She sounded like she simply hasn’t learned to sing well. Her high notes lacked bloom and brilliance. (I thought they spread a little too much too often.) Her middle register was too worn for a soprano who isn’t even 35 yet. I thought she acted okay, though.

            And Grigolo? He was fun to watch. But he wasn’t fun to listen to. I think Rodolfo requires more than he’s physically able to give at this point.

          • Krunoslav says:

            Yes, and why exactly was she singing under those circumstances?

        • peter says:

          But she’s not a star or a rising star, Faustina. I think this has been discussed countless times here but Gelb would prefer to avoid having the cover sing unless it’s an emergency situation. That’s fine but I think putting Opolais on after singing Butterfly the night before may have been a great publicity coup (it made Sunday’s paper), but ultimately I think it was a dumb decision. I don’t know if it was nerves, or lack of rest, especially vocal rest, but she really didn’t sing very well. Of course, the show went on and a lot of buzz was created and a so-so Mimi doesn’t kill a Boheme.

        • La Cieca says:

          Hong got paid for covering; that’s what she does for a living these days. She has no contractual stipulation that the Met must send her on; rather, it is her obligation to be ready to go on if called. That’s why she gets paid thousands of dollars a night to sit next to the phone for half an hour.

      • La Cieca says:

        So you say. The last three Hong performances I attended at the Met (Traviata, Romeo and Carmen) the voice sounded tiny, especially on top. The Traviata in particular was in large part inaudible.

        But the very first rule of opera queendom is that unheard performances are invariably better in every way that heard ones, so…

        Folks, you need to stop trying to make Hong happen. The time for that was about 25 years ago, and she chose not to take the risks that might have won her a big international career. She’s not a victim; she’s a woman who has made millions of dollars singing (and, in some cases, not singing) a very limited number opera opera roles without having to spend significant time away from her family. She has lived the dream she chose for herself.

        • FaustinaBordoni says:

          Indeed, La Cieca. That rule is supreme. ;) What can I say? I’m a ride-or-die Hong fan.

          I still remember my first time hearing Hong at the Met many moons ago as Gilda in RIGOLETTO. I could not believe the sounds coming from that woman’s throat. She sang like a goddess!

        • peter says:

          I’m not necessarily a big fan of Hong’s and I don’t necessarily disagree with Gelb’s decision to put a star on in place of a cover, I just think in this case, it was a dumb move. You don’t put on a soprano who basically just sang one of the most taxing roles in the rep. the night before, throw her into a role for an HD broadcast in a production that’s new to her a few hours before when she’s had 2.5 hours of sleep. It doesn’t sound like she had a big success.

          • kashania says:

            The Met got good PR for this move. It even made it to the Globe up here in Canada. And the article I read said that she got a huge ovation.

            I didn’t hear the broadcast and am not surprised to hear that Opolais might have been a bit tentative at first but it seems like she still scored a success.

            If I had to make a guess, I’d say that Gelb’s prime motivation was to have a young Mimi opposite Grigolo and I can’t disagree with that reasoning. Boheme needs young singers to come off dramatically, especially when it’s being broadcast to theatres all over the world (with all those close-ups).

            I know that the audiences for these HD cinecasts are largely the same older demographic one sees at the opera house. But I’m sure this cinecast attracted some young people who are new to opera. For someone experiencing his/her first opera, that dramatic verisimilitude is vital. It sounds superficial, but if Hong had sung the role, a lot of young people’s reaction might have been “That was nice, but she looked old enough to be his mother”.

        • rapt says:

          Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
          Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
          Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
          Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone….

        • Poison Ivy says:

          I saw Hong a few years ago. She looked fantastic. Thin, stylish, half her age. Her voice however was a shadow of its former self. It was very constricted on top and the middle had little volume or projection. I think people remember how she sounded 10 years ago and think she still sounds the same. She doesn’t.

  • CwbyLA says:

    I think you can’t blame Gelb for trying to do something exciting. He took a risk and it paid off. The performance was not great but it certainly was not a disaster. Why would he present Hong, who in my opinion, looks younger than her age, 62nd time as Mimi if you have a chance to have a star-is-born moment? Not all of these risks will pay off but I am glad he is willing to take risks especially in such a high stakes situation (HD presentation and radio broadcast).

    • La Cieca says:

      You don’t seem to understand: you can blame Gelb for trying, because what he should have done was the dullest, safest thing possible, and nobody would have said a word about it, because, after all, it’s just opera, who the fuck cares anyway?

      Wasn’t Ruth Ann Swenson in town?

    • Clita del Toro says:

      Personally I couldn’t care less who sang or sings Mimi. What is all this fuss about?
      If I like the singers, I listen, If I don’t, I have a cocktail and watch TV. If I don’t know the singer, I give him/her a chance.
      Btw, I watched Tosca on PBS yesterday. I loved Racette, to my surprise. Alagna and the Scarpia were good. I do like the production. Why do people kvetch about it???

    • RamiroNYC says:

      I think the decision to put Opolais on in the Boheme is somewhat puzzling. Not only because she had sung Butterfly the night before, but because she had never done the production before and it was an HD telecast. No disrespect to Opolais, but she is hardly a “big name” here in the USA and putting her on in the Boheme just made no sense considering the circumstances. I just don’t understand why the Met hires experienced and adequate covers but seldom uses them when they need to.

      Ramiro

      • messa di voce says:

        Not puzzling at all, and it played out exactly as Gelb hoped: millions of dollars worth of free publicity all around the world.

  • La bohème as it was seen in HD în a (very) remote cinema from Bucharest, Romania.
    Despite the bravery of Opolais I thought the winter returned :)

    http://despreopera.wordpress.com/english-versions/it-snowed-all-through-la-boheme/

  • Don’t forget, Romania has the best opera singers ever born. If you want THE REAL/ONLY La boheme, here it is. They say this was the greatest tenor of the world by the end of the ’60s :D :D :D

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p-QQvE_wkQ

  • DeepSouthSenior says:

    Reading the post-mortems on Opolais’s Mimi is one of the reasons I love Parterre Box so much. I was doing the mental countdown, 3 . . 2 . . 1, betting with myself when they would appear. (I won.) If I haven’t exactly seen the long knives, the autopsy scalpels have been out in force.

    Of course, hearing this performance live at the Met or on radio must have been a different experience from Live in HD. There were about 40 in our theatre on the Gulf Coast -- good attendance at that location. Other than three little old ladies who left at the second intermission (what did they expect, Callas?), a good time seemed to be had by all. We were primed to witness this Historic Occasion by seeing (as opposed to simply hearing) both announcements, from Joyce DiDonato and Peter Gelb. Mrs. DeepSouth and I were both rooting for Kristine: “Come on, gal, you can do it!”

    I was not expecting and therefore not disappointed that no one’s performance reached the level of transcendent greatness. The other singers may have been a little off-balance, too, singing with someone they didn’t know or hadn’t rehearsed with, or both. Overall, I’d score the afternoon as a solid B to B-. Compared to the usual fare, it was a good, competent, professional, “major-league” show. What made it really exciting and memorable, of course, was the great story of Opolais’s feat of “two Puccini deaths in 18 hours!”

    And don’t we all love a great story? Remember the shopworn cliché, anything can happen in live theatre. I would have been content if Opolais escaped being trampled underfoot by Musetta’s horse and wagon. (Some of you guys might have preferred that!) But she sang the notes in reasonably good voice, projected the character, interacted with the rest of the cast, didn’t stumble or wander on stage, worked up a little chemistry with Grigolo, and looked darn good after an exhausting night and just a little sleep. I give Kristine an “A for Effort”, even if, objectively considered, her performance may have been a low “B.”

    There was a fun moment during one of the intermission interviews. Joyce DiDonato asked Grigolo one of those inane questions, “What are you thinking when . . .?” I loved his response, “I’m thinking about your dress right now.”

    I expect that the legend of Opolais’s performance will grow with the passing of time, all out of proportion to what actually happened. And I also expect the number who saw the Live in HD that Saturday and who were present in the hall to expand to gargantuan proportions. You know, kinda like today’s Americans whose ancestors were in that giant cruise ship the Mayflower.