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The man on the wedding cake

Though at the moment we have no indication that there will be a cast change for the final three performances of La Cenerentola at tha Met, La Cieca does think the group mind should apply itself to the pressing question of exactly wbich tenor will appear in the HD telecast on May 10.

Image based on a photo by Ken Howard.

109 comments

  • 1

    do we have any credible signs that JDF will not be singing the HD for any reason?

    • 1.1
      zzzznombula says:

      I wonder why JDF would want to share a role with Camarena and be open to direct comparison….. Or perhaps he didn’t anticipate how successful Camarena’s Met Sonnambula was going to be… So — now I wonder whether JDF will actually do the performances at the end of the run…..

      Just wondering…….

      • 1.1.1
        uwsinnyc says:

        can a singer just cancel at will ? Aren’t they contractually obligated?

        • 1.1.1.1
          Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

          They can always say they’re sick. No one asks for a doctor’s note, I supposed.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Are you sure? As usual my frame of reference is theatre and not opera, but even at the very highest level actors who miss a show need to provide some proof.

          • Lady Bracknell says:

            JDF cancelled an entire run of BARBIERE in Chicago 6 or 7 years ago saying that he choked on the bone of a fish. Even provided Bill Mason a note from an Italian doctor.

            I’m sure it had *nothing* to do with the fact that Chicago’s weather was particularly dreadful that winter.

      • 1.1.2
        williams says:

        Comparisons between Florez & Camarena, it seems to me, are a fool’s errand. Aren’t these are two fundamentally different instruments put to use in a dissimilar manner? Personally I prefer JC but can understand why some would choose JDF.

        • 1.1.2.1
          Regina delle fate says:

          This reminds me of the comparisons made 40 years ago between two of the leading Rossini tenors of the day: Luigi Alva and Ugo Benelli. Alva was a charming stylist with a dryish, uningratiating timbre, while Benelli sang with a more beautiful and more viscerally exciting sound. I only ever heard Alva as Alfredo, never in one of his Rossini roles, but I heard Benelli live as Ramiro, Lindoro and Comte Ory (in French). I’m furious that I missed the Don Pasquale at Covent Garden when he replaced Stuart Burrows as Ernesto. Cotrubas and Bruscantini were also in that late 1970s cast. He made far fewer recordings than Alva, but most of them are worth re-hearing. Decca has just re-issued a recital of Italian songs and duets with Lydia Marimpietri. I wish they’d re-issue highlights from his commercial recordings -- Barber, Cenerentola, Don Pasquale, La figlia dell’ reggimento. Any other Benelli fans out there?

          • Regina delle fate says:

            Oh -- I forgot his Wexford appearances in Linda di Chamounix, Crispino e la Comare and Il finto stanislao, and several Don Basilii at Glyndebourne.

          • williams says:

            Vostra Maesta, Regina delle fate,
            Exactly! To my taste the Benelli/Camarena style is more pleasing. Had forgotten about him I’m sad to say and the Cenerentola clips on YouTube are primitive but his voice seems to be closer to JC’s though a bit less thrust and slightly more croon in the mezza passages. How was he live? Did he have the thrilling ring and house filling volume of Camarena?

          • 98rsd says:

            It’s amazing that Alva was considered stylish. Listen to his hideous fioratura in the Berganza Barbiere. It’s almost party material.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I confess I agree that I find the appeal of Alva fairly difficult to understand, based on his Rossini recordings.

            • WindyCityOperaman says:

              Luigi had a charming stage presence -- handsome, a smile that could light up the stage (and a cute bum if I remember correctly). Saw his Almaviva as well as Fenton. It was only when he rerecorded Ottavio I could tell he was getting past his prime vocally. The Barbiere with Victoria was the best of the three Almavivas he commited to disc (none of them included “Cessa di piu”, but that’s okay). I liked Benelli as well.

      • 1.1.3

        I have a feeling JDF’s self esteem and ego will not be bruised by people making comparisons. You do not got to that lever with thin skin.

        • 1.1.3.1
          Ilka Saro says:

          JDF can always console himself by continuing to singing with incomparable brilliance, as he has been doing for years. To the degree that his singing is comparable to that of anyone else, it is not JDF who is eclipsed, but we who are blessed with even greater fortune.

  • 2
    almavivante says:

    Juan Diego has a recital in the Greene Space on May 4 (as advertised here on Parterre!), so why would he drop out of Cenerentola? No plausible reason.

  • 3
    messa di voce says:

    More important question: why were the ugly sun-screen sleeves added to the wedding gown? Neither Bartoli nor Garanca wore them

  • 4
    norma54 says:

    Who would want to hear Matthew Polenzani in a horribly high and difficult Rossini role? Pray that Florez sings the final 3 performances.

  • 5
    Camille says:

    The Joyceter has FAB arms! Go look at her album covers!

    Where is bluecabachon when we need her? Wonder what she would have to say about those awful sleeves.

    • 5.1
      Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

      Camillissima, album covers are often airbrushed.

    • 5.2
      louannd says:

      Hey I just saw her in recital in strapless red gown, in a tiny theater! She looked fabulous!

    • 5.3
      bluecabochon says:

      Pretty awful sleeves, I agree. i thought that JDD was very toned and trim, so I don’t know why they added these sausage covers.

      I forget now, but wasn’t the idea floated that JDF was bought out by the Met for these performances so they could capitalize on the popularity of the new boy?

  • 6
    semira mide says:

    Clearly the sleeves are a pre-emptive measure by the Met to assuage possible censorship. After all, if you can’t show bare feet….

  • 7
    Avantialouie says:

    I have no doubt that the three absences from “Cenerentola,” during which Florez was ostensibly “ill,” were comfortably and cordially orchestrated with the Met well in advance. Not knowing until his success in “Sonnambula” that Camarena would turn out to be a MAJOR attraction, the Met was content to sell “Cenerentola” tickets with Florez’ name on them for the first three performances, even knowing in advance that he would cancel them. I also feel certain that Florez will sing Arnold in “Tell.” That role, together with Florez’ “Una furtiva” encore during the last performance of the old production, were the “rewards” the Met gave Florez for allowing them to give the first performances of the new “L’elisir” production to Polenzani. The music at the Met is not the only thing that gets “orchestrated.”

    • 7.1
      Camille says:

      Haha! That “BRAVO” was so clearly a fully intentioned, well-focused and expertly projected salvo, as to make it all transparent. Even if I did just love his singing of the aria, I wouldn’t doubt a moment it was all carefully thought out.

    • 7.2
      semira mide says:

      You may be right. I have no inside knowledge of these things. The Florez cancellation was stated as due to illness. There were some rather caustic remarks here to the effect that it was amazing that he would know so far in advance that he was going to be ill. Well, it was never specified that the illness was his ( and some illnesses are not flu, of course) and could certainly have been a member of his family. I remember that flack that Bryn Terfel received for cancellations due to his son’s surgery -- and that was last minute.
      I think Cenerentola would have sold even with TBA as the singer opposite Joyce. The Florez ones would have sold first, but I’m not sure I see quite the calculated orchestration that is suggested.
      I think Florez was lucky to escape the new production of L’Elisire and he certainly had a wonderful Adina in Damrau, so I’m not sure where “reward” comes into the picture either.
      As to Arnold, he was terrific in Pesaro, but I never got the feeling that he is anxious to do it again. Tell at the Met probably requires someone like Pavarotti.

      • 7.2.1
        fidelio101 says:

        There is NOBODY like PAVAROTTI!

      • 7.2.2
        louannd says:

        John Osborn has done the role several times, to great acclaim.

        • 7.2.2.1
          operaassport says:

          Osborn can sing it well -- in theaters seating 645 people.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Someone ought to tell the Teatro Regio, CG, La Scala la Monnaie, and TCE Paris- he’s sung in all of those and they all seat about three times as many people.

            • louannd says:

              Have been viewing snippets of his Otello (Rossini) on the Tube with Camarena as Rodrigo, different kind of voice for sure, but equally interesting IMHO.

            • operaassport says:

              They’re not 4000 seat theaters like the MET. Just in case you didn’t know.

            • Hippolyte says:

              Bryan Hymel is singing Arnold at the MET.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I saw John Osborn sign Arnold in the 5,000 seat Royal Albert Hall very convincingly, so while you’re right that he could sing it well in theatres seating 645 people, I’m sure he could also handle the Met just as well.

            • oedipe says:

              When a singer is not on the Met’s radar, or gets cast only rarely by the Met, people’s reflex explanation seems to be: “(s)he can’t be heard in a house the size of the Met”. Another go-to argument that gets thrown around a lot: “(s)he is too mediocre for the Met”. (Valenti, anyone?)

            • Ilka Saro says:

              “gets cast only rarely” is an accurate and scary term. When contracts are signed 5 years in advance, “rare” casting can mean that an entire career can go by with audiences that catch only a glimpse of a singer in one or two roles. The realities of casting at the Met are very competitive, and even if they can be analyzed to death by people with contacts on the inside, the audience has very little to go on. Either someone sings well or they don’t, but it’s hard to see how this is connected to the glimpses we catch of singers at the Met whom we hear more ABOUT than we actually hear.

          • Gualtier M says:

            Osborn was excellent and extremely audible as Goffredo in “Armida” with Renée Fleming a few years ago. So 645 or 3,800 seats, he’ll be heard fine in a Rossini opera. Some smart replies really aren’t that smart…

            • semira mide says:

              The problem is that “Tell” is not a typical Rossini opera and I don’t think being able to sing the operas written before Tell necessarily translates to singing Arnold well. The reverse is true as well. Pavarotti didn’t sing the earlier Rossini rep, but his Arnold was stunning if one didn’t mind it being in Italian.

            • tiger1dk says:

              Semi Ramide, you say that Pavarotti’s Arnold was stunning. But was this not a “only for records” assumption? Or did he actually sing it live? I have never heard of that.

            • semira mide says:

              tiger1dk, I only have heard the complete Tell with Pavarotti on recordings, but I did hear excerpts as encores in concert (perhaps one he gave in Copenhagen, I don’t remember)What is so impressive and this is where it is nice to have the recording as a souvenir is the power in the voice ( as well as the other Pavarotti qualities) which propels the music in a way I will not soon forget.

      • 7.2.3
        operaassport says:

        Terfel got flack because it was something like finger surgery. If it had been heart surgery no

      • 7.2.4
        operaassport says:

        Terfel got flack because it was something like finger surgery. If it had been heart surgery no one would have said boo.

        • 7.2.4.1
          armerjacquino says:

          Your kid goes under the knife, your job as a dad is to be there.

          • operaassport says:

            Not for 99% of the dads who can’t afford to take time off every time a kid gets a hangnail. It’s nice to know that some are so supportive of the 1%.

            • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

              What does an ass know about nails (human nails that is, not the metal ones. Those you may have ingested in a naughty moment)?

            • armerjacquino says:

              ‘Boy, do I love the 1%’ I thought to myself as I woke up at Occupy. This isn’t an issue of privilege. It’s about not blaming someone for doing all they can to support their child.

            • m. croche says:

              FWIW?the BLS indicates that about sixty percent of the American male workforce gets paid sick leave.

      • 7.2.5
        messa di voce says:

        “some rather caustic remarks here to the effect that it was amazing that he would know so far in advance that he was going to be ill”

        Not so much for knowing in advance when he would get sick, but more for knowing so far in advance by which specific performance he would be well.

        • 7.2.5.1
          armerjacquino says:

          ‘We’ll schedule your operation for X’
          ‘So when will I be able to go back to work?’
          ‘Y’

          • CwbyLA says:

            Maybe I am naive and/or do not believe in conspiracy theories but I agree with armer here. Looking at JDF’s schedule, there is almost a 6 week gap between his performances in La Fille at ROH and Cenerentola at the Met. I do not think that JDF would cancel unless something serious is going on. Remember that the man sang an HD performance few moments after helping his wife deliver a baby!

        • 7.2.5.2
          Edward George says:

          Hampson has similarly cancelled his first four performances of Scarpia at the ROH “due to ill health” to return for the final four.

          http://www.roh.org.uk/news/cast-change-marco-vratogna-to-perform-in-tosca-on-10-13-16-and-19-may-2014

          For what it’s worth, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories either.

      • 7.2.6
        Regina delle fate says:

        Can anyone remind me how Damrau’s Violetta was received at the Met? Her Covent Garden performances have had a very mixed reception from press and public -- I’m judging by the blogs and comments to reviews -- alike. From what I read she emerged unscathed from the Tcherniakov furore at La Scala and doesn’t seem to have garnered a single boo, which must be a rarity for THAT ROLE in THAT PLACE. Anyway, I’m going this week so I’ll make up my mind, but I’d be interested to read some reactions to her Met performances.

        • 7.2.6.1
          Feldmarschallin says:

          Almost all reviews were positive from the Met including La Cieca. I have Yoncheva tomorrow in her last Violetta here of the run and then we have Damrau during the Festspiele. Speaking of which I checked the website of the BSO and there are still tickets available for many performance in July. The only things which are hopelessly sold out are Macbeth, Tosca, Traviata and Forza. BSO are offering student packages three operas for 30€ which is not a bad deal at all but still more than the 5 DM I used to pay when I started going. I remember how we all got upset when they finally raised it to 6DM. Why should Damrau get booed at La Scala? I heard the Traviata on TV and found nothing that would merit booing. Her debut there was Europa in which she flung out high G’s into the audience since apparently the F sharps were not high enough she added a couple of G’s and that live. But that extreme top now seems to be gone and she probably can sing a comfortable high E on stage now. Gruberova still sang high F in public well into her 60’s (Giunia in Spain in concert). But I think Damrau started singing things like Susanna and Pamina and brought the voice lower and perhaps the children had something to do with it as well.

  • 8
    Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

    I have no doubts it will be JDD. Singers would dig themselves out of their grave to make sure they do the HD.

  • 9
    DeepSouthSenior says:

    Personal preference: I have a ticket for the Friday May 2nd performance. I would love to see Camarena in person, then Florez back home for the Live in HD on May 10th. The latter especially for Mrs. DeepSouth, who when I mentioned this discussion, mumbled something about JDF being “cute.” Women. Cosi fan tutte. (My recent remarks about Elina Garanca were based purely on artistic factors.)

  • 10
    fidelio101 says:

    There is NOBODY like PAVAROTTI

  • 11
    williams says:

    Has Chico Marx become a Parterre comments contributor?
    There are and were plenty of bodies like Pavarotti.

  • 12
    quibbleglib says:

    Well, this young tenor certainly sings the hell out of the role:

    httpsv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRSgOHQOVAQ

    • 12.1
      quibbleglib says:

      • 12.1.1
        FaustinaBordoni says:

        OMG! Andrew Owens sang the SHYATT out of that aria! There’s a lot going on well there: buttery tone with a heroic edge; silky, accurate, exciting coloratura AND a serviceable trill (how many tenors would dare to trill on an F# and acquit themselves nicely???); an engaging vocal personality; and a handsome face.

        I want to hear more from him and hope he gets his chance to strut his stuff on the east cost. I’d take him over Owens over Shrader any day. Are you listening, Peter Gelb?

        • 12.1.1.1
          FaustinaBordoni says:

          By the way, I’d take him over Camarena as Don Ramiro. The aspiration works my nerves. What’s left doesn’t make up for it. Sorry, Camarena lovers . . .

        • 12.1.1.2
          almavivante says:

          Wow, this lad is a revelation! Very nice indeed!

        • 12.1.1.3
          Rowna says:

          Let’s not forget Mr. Brownlee as the Prince. I actually have used this clip to teach some students “perfect” lip positions -- if you don’t know about it -- while you watch you can learn :)

          • laddie says:

            Oh Rowna, this is just sensational singing, isn’t it? Love this.

          • la vociaccia says:

            Hmm, I don’t really think his lip formations are all that great; way too much vertical space, which I attribute to his (IMO) generally monochromatic sound.

            Gedda had, in my opinion, the best mouth to watch

            • Rowna says:

              Proper lip positions and how the jaw moves are part of the keys to help a singer gain a technique suitable for classical style singing. It is a very complex topic to discuss in sound bytes, and each student has different issues to overcome, especially for achieving “matching” voice and vowels. I have been teaching voice, mainly to beginning students, and have found that most aren’t even aware of how their lip formation can help them overcome so many deficiencies. Mr. Brownlee’s lips and jaw position aren’t there for looking good, but are used to achieve the high level of singing he displays. You may feel he is monochromatic in sound (I don’t) and perhaps, if you are a voice teacher, you would suggest that he change the way he forms his vowels. I am sure his sound would be different. Not all singers have ideal lip formations, and some sing fantastically. Some singers sing from one side of the mouth, a huge mystery as to how that works, but for some it does. I used this example because, in my personal experience, and with the students I have, this is what the proper position looks like, and seen, is a big help.

            • la vociaccia says:

              I’m well aware how important proper lip/jaw formation is, which is why I pointed out that Brownlee’s aren’t, in my opinion, very good. I was taught that the key to a natural and adaptable timbre was singing with your lips/jaw moving as close as possible to they way they move when you speak. The only time one need modify their natural position is when they approach the top, and even then it should still remain an equal amount of vertical/horizontal space (or a “square jaw,” as my teacher called it.) If you observe singers like Gedda, Bjoerling, Della Casa, and you turn the sound off while watching them, you’ll notice that they could very well be speaking instead of singing, so natural and unaffected are the way they form their vowels, which is directly related to the trademark purity of their respective timbres. They were capable of singing any color at any dynamic they wished. When you have a singer like Brownlee singing the way he does in that video, they limit themselves to only a few colors and textures. Costello is a more extreme example of a singer who sings everything with an unnatural mouth/jaw formation, and as a result he has basically one color, which he can barely use as it is

      • 12.1.2

        I find Camarena has a much “sweeter” sounding voice than Owens.That’s why I prefer Camarena.

        • 12.1.2.1
          FaustinaBordoni says:

          Camerana’s timbre is “sweeter” than Owens’s--softer around the edges yet still brilliant. It’s larger too. And he uses it stylishly.

          But Owens has the superior coloratura technique. In “Si, ritrovarla,” he articulates every note, including the quicksilver descending figures--starting on a high C--that most Rossini tenors tend to smudge. For Owens, the cabaletta sounds as easy as A-B-C--and super smooth. Camarena pulls it off too; however, the obtrusive aspiration robs it of the elegance we know is possible (e.g., Brownlee, Florez, etc.).

          At this point, I’d love to hear Camarena on May 10. We already have Florez as Ramiro on DVD. Camarena is a young singer with a special gift and a wonderful stage persona. He deserves every break he can get. That being said, I don’t want him singing Idreno before Brownlee does. LOL

  • 13
    Ilka Saro says:

    That’s some very fine singing, and a very comely appearance!

  • 14
    alejandro says:

    I wish it were Camarena. There’s already a JDD/JDF Cenerentola out there and I thought Camarena’s sweetness perfectly complimented Joyce’s. I want them to work together more.

  • 15
    The Conte says:

    I’d take Shrader over pretty much anything (kitchen table, sink etc.)

    Going on that Ceneretola aria recording I like Andrew Owens, and his accuracy with the coloratura is heart-stopping. It’s a distinct voice and attractive, even if there is a coarseness to his voice’s heft.

    Camarena’s voice is less exciting, but his singing is more stylish.

    I prefer Owens’ voice, but prefer the way Camarena sings. Then again I am only going by recordings as I haven’t seen either live.

    • 15.1
      la vociaccia says:

      Would you really take Shrader over either of the singers mentioned here? I’m just trying to understand what people find appealing about him. He was vocally undistinguished every time I heard him, and his acting wasn’t much better

  • 16
  • 17
    Hans Lick says:

    Whaddaya bet JDF throws a SNIT FIT the size of Macchu Pichu if they don’t let him sing the encore too?

    (I am thinking of Glenda Jackson’s scene with Twiggy in Ken Russell’s “The Boy Friend.”)

  • 18
    FragendeFrau82 says:

    I believe they said twice during the intermission features today that JDF would be singing in La Cenerentola.

  • 19
    Camille says:

    Uncle Bernie didn’t like this one all that much notwithstanding the rock star, he gave it only 3***
    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/6d31139c-c9fd-11e3-ac05-00144feabdc0.html#axzz304ABNcvk

    • 19.1
      Poison Ivy says:

      “Luca Pisaroni loomed darkly as Alidoro, and Pietro Spagnoli emerged egocentrically eccentric as Dandini.”

      I’m sorry but this is an example of useless critique. It’s a clever alliteration but what the hell does it actually tell us about Luca Pisaroni or Pietro Spagnoli?

      • 19.1.1
        DeepSouthSenior says:

        All we need is to learn that they loomed and emerged “on a dark and stormy night.” Purple prose to the rescue!