Headshot of La Cieca

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Faites vos jeux, Messieurs!

“As one opera season winds up, marketing for the next kicks into high gear: the Met in particular is promoting its 2014-2015 season, promising thrilling voices, magnificent melodies and sumptuous productions. They may be missing an angle calculated to appeal to the more adventurous attendee: opera as game of chance.” [New York Observer]

46 comments

  • skoc211 says:

    I don’t think I would call Brownlee’s performance on Saturday timid. I was in the house and while he may not be the world’s most gifted actor, I found his vocal performance absolutely thrilling. Even without that high F!

    And I found Camarena’s encore last Monday to be moving. He seemed genuinely touched and humbled by the response. I saw him in the Sonnambula prima and to have come so far in such a short period of time seemed like a true star is born moment (without the back hand from Norman Maine, of course).

    • reedroom says:

      Brownlee sang the high F in Seattle a few years back--effortlessly, it seemed.
      BTW Kwiecien was in that production too.

      • Camille says:

        Are you by any chance here with the Seattle Symphony, reed room?

        They really distinguished themselves in Carnegie Hall last night, just hope you know. Very fine.

        Complimenti!
        Camille

        • reedroom says:

          Thank you Camille,yes I did play that performance. Still hanging out in NYC till Saturday, with an old friend. Nice to be back,haven’t seen the city in 10 years. Glad you liked the concert!

          • Camille says:

            Very much, and a big thumbs up to Maître Ludovic for commissioning a piece for you guys that wins the Pulitzer Prize.

            A big feather in everyone’s cap and you should all be very proud of Seattle’s showing.

            Have fun in the Big Rotten Apple!!

    • Evenhanded says:

      Well.

      I was also in the house on Saturday, and Brownlee did indeed sing the F, so I’m not sure to which performance you were referring, skoc211. It was well-executed in a perfect mix of head and chest resonance. Overall, Brownlee was absolutely superb. Nevertheless, he is essentially a “tenorino” and his voice is simply too slender to make much of an impact in a house the size of the Met. Peretyakto, while proficient, was a distinct disappointment.

      • skoc211 says:

        I was all the way up in the Family Circle and all the way to the left of the house in the corner and I had no problem hearing him. The voice may be slender -- and he would be heard better in a bigger house -- the voice still carries quite well. Same for when I heard him in La Fille.

        I wouldn’t say Peretyakto was a disappointment, but she did leave me wanting more voice and character. My dear 85 year old grandmother who I brought with me (her first opera in seven years after being a regular attendee!) was absolutely thrilled by her.

      • papopera says:

        He sure did sing that cruel high F. We all heard it on the broadcast and I was following the performance with the score.

        • DeepSouthSenior says:

          I too was in the house for Saturday’s “Puritani.” Not having perfect pitch, I couldn’t tell whether Brownlee actually nailed the F. At the very least, he did make a valiant stab somewhere in the neighborhood of F.

          Interestingly, in the interview sponsored by the Met Guild on Thursday night before the Saturday performance, Brownlee said that the high F is much more difficult for him now than when he last performed the role four years ago. I thought that was a refreshing bit of honesty. He seems like a genuinely “nice guy” in every respect, impossible not to like.

          I don’t know if I would describe the performances of Olga Peretyatko, Lawrence Brownlee and Michele Pertusi as “timid.” Peretyatko, though, as beautiful as she is in face and voice, does seem to lack a certain “fire.” As has been discussed elsewhere at Parterre, her performances, while always “safe,” just aren’t that exciting. At intermission, I mentioned to a woman sitting near me that I’d like to see Peretyatko ramp up the energy level a couple of notches. Her response was, “I think her energy is just fine.” Whatever.

          I think I read somewhere that someone hailed Peretyatko as “the new Netrebko.” (How much duller our lives would be without journalistic hype!) Maybe later, but not now. Whether she’s “on” or “off,” Anna always dominates the stage. Olga may advance light-years in technique yet still lack that certain something that Ann has in abundance. I like her, I respect her artistry, I would pay to see her again, but I don’t expect to be thrilled.

        • kennedet says:

          I’ve got to hear this man again. I heard him in Cenerentola several years ago in Toronto and could not understand what all the noise was about. Sorry, I was disappointed. Maybe I had the “bad night”.

          • Satisfied says:

            I’m with you Kennedet.

            I’ve thus far seen him in Arabella, La Fille (last minute replacement for an ailing JDF), and in Del Lago in Santa Fe. I can appreciate his work, but I have never been wowed by it. On the other hand, hearing Camarena for the first time this season was like a breath of fresh air. What an exciting talent!

            I’m attending a performance of Turco in Aix this summer and Brownlee is scheduled to perform (along with his current co-star, Olga Peretyatko). I hope that my opinion of him changes for the better.

            • Evenhanded says:

              Well.

              My two cents: Brownlee has rock-solid technique and seems to be a wonderful colleague (other singers consistently speak highly of him). He was expertly capable of interpreting Arturo in “I puritani” despite the murderously high tessitura of much of the music. Nevertheless, his voice is VERY slender and has a reedy, slightly tremulous tone that I don’t find particularly attractive. His tonal palette is limited, and so both color and dynamic ranges are very restricted in his performances. He is proficient, but not touching or heroic: he isn’t physically capable of delivering the “frisson” one might ideally enjoy in the bel canto repertoire. By way of comparison, Florez thrills by virtue of his coloratura capabilities and sheer bravura confidence. Camarena has bravura, many more colors in the voice, AND an emotional core to his singing that I find immensely enjoyable. Brownlee is an excellent singer, working with a modest vocal endowment. At least that’s how I hear it.

          • kashania says:

            I, too, saw Brownlee in that Cenerentola and was a bit disappointed. I’ve liked his voice when I’ve heard it on broadcasts, but somehow, when heard live, he made very little impact. And Toronto has a relatively small opera house with great acoustics. His technical abilities and his high notes are not in doubt. But the voice itself made a dull impression.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            I’ve only seen him once, in Maazel’s dreaded 1984 at the ROH -- possibly not a fair test, but he didn’t make much of an impression. What I dislike about him on recordings and broadcasts is that every single note seems to be meant as earnestly as every other -- there is this kind of relentless ardency that gets boring and wearing for me.

            • kennedet says:

              Interesting Cocky, but aren’t those the characteristics that make a singer distinctive from others. I like ardency and earnestness, especially when it comes to interpretation. Of course, I heard him several years ago.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I intended to imply a monotony I find in the delivery when I said that ‘every single note seems to be meant as earnestly as every other’. And of course ardency can be a positive attribute, but probably not when qualified with ‘relentless’.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              Put another way, the voice sounds like it is under a lot of pressure to me, it virtually never lets up, and comes across as rather monochrome and distressed, to my ears.

            • kennedet says:

              O.K.,I certainly understand monotony.It’s very prevalant in students. I just remember being underwhelmed (is that a word?). It’s nice to know I’m not alone…and by such esteemed company!.

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

    I recall stumbling into the Met almost 30 years ago to hear Anna Tomowa-Sintow as Amelia in “Simon Boccanegra” and getting instead the debut of some unknown quantity named Aprile Millo.

  • cgambol says:

    … and speaking of encores at the Met, it appears only tenors have received this honor in recent history; and the chorus of course with Va Pensiero.

    Surely other voice parts have been asked for an encore. Anyone out there have a list of non-tenor singers granted encores in the house?

    • Poison Ivy says:

      In Don Pasquale the Pasquale/Malatesta duet was always encored.

      • Bill says:

        I have only seen one encore in Vienna -- Capucilli afer his big seen in Verdi’s Attila where he sang a long held B fkat after a stretta in his big seen -- after about 4 minutes of fervent applause he sang the entire aria again and held on to the B flat even longer the second time.

        Camerena is not really a star being born -- he is well known in Zurich and Vienna. He is just new to the Met.

        Incidentally while the Met received kudos for having Camarena, Florez and Brownlee singing here within a few weeks, The Wiener Staatsoper had Stephen Gould, Vogt and Botha all together during a two week period in Ariadne, Lohengrin and Parsifal respectively and Kaufmann was in Vienna also for a lieder recital. Only Peter Seiffert was missing and he was singing in Berlin at the time.

    • DonCarloFanatic says:

      Leo Nucci as Rigoletto in the “Si, Vendetta” scene.

      • DonCarloFanatic says:

        Parma, 2010, with Machaidze.

        • Cocky Kurwenal says:

          And everywhere else he sings Rigoletto… but I think the question, as usual around here, was specifically related to Met performances.

          • DellaCasaFan says:

            I accidentally found out that the Met archives had all encores indexed. After selecting the “Browse” page, if one enters “repeat” on the “Subject” line, all encores will be listed chronologically with the encored aria, singer, and season. For more details, one has to click on the link for the specific encore entry.

            http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/frame.htm

            It lists “D’amor sull’ali rosee” sung by Alwina Valleria (I’ve never heard of her) but if you click on the entry link, it shows that she also encored “Tacea la notte placida” and Giuseppe Kaschmann repeated “Il balen.” All on the same night in 1883.

            I didn’t count, but it looks that Enrico Caruso holds the record. The last non-tenor encore was Leonard Warren’s “Votre toast” in 1942.

            Fascinating stuff.

            • DellaCasaFan says:

              Sorry, I forgot to say that I mentioned Alwina Valleria and Giuseppe Kaschmann for 1883 because theirs was the first ever encore in Met history.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              Alwina Valleria was the first American born singer to appear in leading roles at the Met, apparently. Hilariously, she trained at the RAM in London.

            • DellaCasaFan says:

              Cocky, thank you for filling me in on her bio details -- and so quickly!

              Warren’s encore was on the Met’s tour. If it is about the last non-tenor *solo* encore performed in the house, then we have to go back to Frances Alda in 1923.

              I wish other opera houses have these details. Vienna Staatsoper is also resourceful though the encores are not listed. La Monnaie is also great. I wish the ROH enters information about the performances before WWII. I remember seeing these, all detailed for each historical performance, in the Appendix to Rosenthal’s history of Covent Garden.

            • Camille says:

              ooooh thanks, DCF.
              A new fun toy to obsess over!!

    • kashania says:

      I would say that rarity of encores at the Met is driven more by the administration. I think the importance placed on the singers who have done encores is misplaced. The fact that a singer was allowed to give an encore has more to do with GM at the time. Gelb understands the PR value of encores. Perhaps previous GMs like Volpe and Bing thought them distasteful.

  • papopera says:

    If I remember well, that Adriana was Saturday evening on Sept. 28, 1968. I had visited the Met to have the chance to see Corelli whom I had never heard before on stage. We found out he had cancelled and had been replaced by one Domingo. Thereafter I saw a lot of Domingo but never had an occasion to see Corelli again.

  • almavivante says:

    Then again, all those Caballe cancellations resulted in my knowing the joys of Adelaide Negri, Ljiljana Molnar-Talajic, Gilda Cruz-Romo, and others whose lyric talents I have thankfully forgotten.

  • aulus agerius says:

    John Osborn very impressive in Torino Tell today as were Noseda and the orchestra -- and Angela too I guess. Makes me consider coming to NYC to hear this great opera in December.

    • phoenix says:

      Who in NYC is doing Tell this December? The Met scrapped it’s plans for it.

    • vilbastarda says:

      Did anybody record this? It was during work hours, hence impossible to listen.

      • phoenix says:

        The Tell Torino performance was broadcast yesterday under EuroRadio sponsorship, which means it will be made available to the other European stations (as well as to the U.S.). The performance was quite good (I thought), so it will show up rebroadcast on a Saturday afternoon on another station, probably within the next few weeks or so. Yes, it was recorded today by parterrians, but if you have the patience (and the longevity) you might as well wait a bit -- usually the RAI EuroRadio rebroadcasts have better audio quality (they doctor up the glitches) in their subsequent relays on other Euro stations.

  • olliedawg says:

    Sorta off-topic, but apropos of mes chers parterrians discussions of the Met union/management contretemps negotiations…

    I haven’t been a Met subscriber in a dawg’s age, and when I was, subscription mailings consisted of a piece of folded dreck with teensy pictures and tinier type, with a few forms tossed into a cheesy envelope. Every once in a while, someone in marketing threw their hat in the air and went for a little gold piping on the drecky paper’s edges.

    But, every since I bought tix to a matinee performance, I am now being marketed to a fare-thee-well by the folks in The Big House. However, what I found in the mailbox today threw me for a loop: The full subscription series, in all its 9 x 11, full-bleed, knocked-out type, glory. I was in the commercial printing business in another life, and know this perfect-bound brochure, no doubt web printed, is an expensive item, even if it was printed in East Jesus (which is where the Met usually printed their marketing materials).

    So, now I’m really confused. If the Met wants to show prudence in all things, particularly during these difficult times, what the hell kinda signal do they intend to send with this extravaganza? (Although the subscription mailing is a major part of the marketing budget, and most likely is a line item in the 2013-14 budget, but still…)

    • Lohenfal says:

      Olliedawg, that’s how the Met operates. They feel they have a certain image to maintain, no matter what financial problems they have. Several years ago, they did send out a poor subscription brochure--I thought they were going out of business when I saw it. There may have been some complaints about that, hence a return to the more elaborate product. Sure, it seems odd that they’re demanding concessions of their employees while being extravagant in other ways, but to me it comes with the territory. The Met is, after all, an elitist institution, even if somewhat friendlier to the public than it used to be.

  • operablogger says:

    I was on an entirely different path from the one this author eventually led us down. From the article’s title and lead paragraph, I’d presumed the “game of chance” being discussed (given recent labor talks) involved the possibility that no performance at all might be given on any particular night. Boy, was I wrong.

    As to the subject at hand, my wife and I came to NYC for a Met performance of “Falstaff” some years ago, mainly because her fave (Dwayne Croft) was singing the role of Ford. Earlier that day I stopped by the box office to pick up our will-call tickets and learned of a cast substitution. I don’t recall who was on the original bill in the title role, but we had the good fortune to see Juan Pons step in at (nearly) the last minute, and he was terrific!

  • guy pacifica says:

    Aulus, was the performance of Tell in Torino a concert performance, or fully staged?

    • phoenix says:

      It was fully staged by Graham Vick, costumes by Paul Brown.
      - The following is not a ‘condemnation’, just a comment. It was a great night for Noseda -- the performance was well-rehearsed & successfully crafted. The only drawback for me was Angela Meade, whom I previously liked very much in the Wiener Staatsoper Vespri Siciliani, but here all I got was perfectly calculated proficiency with no vocal interpretation of any depth that I could discern. She sounded dramatically vacant, like a mannequin Mathilde. If you are an old Joan Sutherland or Christine Deutekom fan, you will love her in this performance just for her flawless technique, unblemished by any emotional expression on her part.

  • operaassport says:

    Sir George Christie has died at age 80. He headed Glyndebourne, founded by his father, from 1958-1999.

    RIP.