Cher Public

  • aulus agerius: He himself has acknowledged his top notes as his weak point as far back as The Audition as he peevishly belittled Alek... 2:17 PM
  • armerjacquino: Did I dream it, or was there once, many years ago, a parterre discussion about a ‘FriendsR 17; COSI? Could never... 2:16 PM
  • Krunoslav: “wouldn’t the logical thing have been to find a new Rachel?” Why not go with a time-tested one? http://tinyurl.... 2:13 PM
  • Batty Masetto: Kurzak did a superb job, and she herself said that her voice has darkened since her pregnancy so that Rachel actually fits... 2:02 PM
  • tiger1: Thanks – but wouldn’t the logical thing have been to find a new Rachel? 1:53 PM
  • Batty Masetto: Yes, Silvestrelli’ ;s voice does seem to be going at the top and bottom, though the fundamental color doesn’t... 1:49 PM
  • chicagoing: Yes, I was at that Saturday evening performance, which I am very happy to have seen in spite of my comment. I believe it was... 1:07 PM
  • kashania: Thanks for the great report, Batty! I agree about Fabiano’s stage deportment. It’s in evidence in concert too, like... 12:57 PM

Whippersnappers invade lawn

“A lot seems to be spent on productions that simply aren’t worth it. There seems to be a somewhat useless quest among directors for novelty and something alternative at any price. I wish managements could get directors and designers away from the idea that somehow or other they’ve got to do something different,” grumbled a 90-year-old. [The Telegraph]

93 comments

  • 1
    PushedUpMezzo says:

    Saw this earlier today and wondered if it might show up here. I love the comments feed, especially the one about the Norwich production of The Gondoliers, and La Cieca’s illustration is great.
    And I don’t think Rusalka is based directly on The Little Mermaid.

    • 1.1
      La Cieca says:

      And if Sir John during his tenure which began in 1970 managed to get Maria Callas to perform opera at his theater, then he truly was a wizard.

      • 1.1.1
        armerjacquino says:

        Yes, I wondered about that. It’s actually just a bad bit of writing.

        ” …joined the Royal Opera House in 1955 and ran it from 1970 until his retirement as general director in 1988. Those years were regarded as a golden age with Maria Callas… ”

        The intention is obviously to refer to 1955 as the starting point of ‘these years’ but the syntax is all over the place.

        • 1.1.1.1
          Cocky Kurwenal says:

          Yes exactly, that was how I let the author off too, but it is clumsy.

        • 1.1.1.2
          La Cieca says:

          The real operatic coup, surely, was booking Callas for new productions of Tosca and Norma in 1963-1965. (She was too ill to perform the latter role in London, but that was the excellent plan.) And it should be noted that in order to get the diva to agree to perform this late in her career, the theater had to pony up the money for new, extremely expensive and at the time quite controversial productions by Franco Zeffirelli. So it seems particularly disingenuous to claim credit for Callas while at the same time pooh-poohing new productions.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Yes, although it’s the journalist who’s making the Callas claim, not Tooley.

            Daft of the Telegraph to run the story though, really. As you say, ’90 year old man prefers the olden days’ isn’t much of a story.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Callas did sing Norma in Paris, 1964??

            • La Cieca says:

              Yes, the original plan was that the ROH and the Paris Opera would “trade” productions, so that Callas would in 1965 sing Norma in London and Tosca in Paris. She was not able to fulfill that part of the bargain, so the “swap” was not completed.

            • kashania says:

              When was her last Norma? I would’ve thought that by the mid-60s, the role would’ve been beyond her.

            • La Cieca says:

              Callas’s final Norma, Paris, May 29, 1965.

              After this she sang one more Tosca in London, a benefit performance on July 5, canceling the other performances of the run. There were plans to bring the Norma to London (that summer?) but they came to nothing.

            • marshiemarkII says:

              Clitissssima adorata, no self-respecting Only Maria Q would not know about the 1964-65 Paris Normas, unless they never saw the Ardoin book, this Q’s Bible through college :-) remember those magnificent pictures on the chaise longue? or the iconic picture of the Casta Diva with the “Callas eyes” and the glorious gown? I mean if that is not what made a Callas Q a Callas Q I don’t know what it is.

              And kashie, her coloratura technique stayed until the end, so she could sing Norma. What she had lost totally by then was the stamina and the self-assurance (in tatters), so one night (a couple?) she simply could not finish and dropped before Act IV, and I have it on CD, and she sounds pretty OK. Norma at that point strangely enough was much more in her vocal arsenal than Tosca, which is evident for anyone to hear, both from London and the Met (I have all of them on CD 64-65), with that wobble and all that screaming, awful singing, but of course the Qs that were there will tell you it was the greatest night of their lives :-) and I love every single one of them all the same.

            • Clita del Toro says:

              Marshiest, I was at Maria’s Met Tosca with Corelli/Gobbi in 1965 (also saw her sing it in 1956 with London/Campora). The 1965 perf. was one of the most exciting evenings of opera I have ever attended.

              I saved a color picture of Callas in the late Norma on the chaise from a French magazine and still have it. Gorgeous costume! and colorI have only heard parts of that Norma and was surprised at how well she sang at that late date.

            • marshiemarkII says:

              OMG Clitissssima!!!! I knew you saw some of the amazing evenings of all time, but THAT night?!??!?!?!? you know I have both that night with Corelli and also the one with Tucker, and the more she wobbles the more I love her!!!!!!

            • kashania says:

              Marshie: Please don’t throw me out of the Only Maria Q Club. I will claim temporary forgetfulness, insanity, whatever it takes!!!!

            • messa di voce says:

              “her coloratura technique stayed until the end”

              Michael Scott said her singing at this stage was like the Cheshire Cat’s smile: the voice had largely disappeared, but the technique remained.

            • -Ed. says:

              This 2:20 video clip of Callas performing Norma purports to be from the Paris 1965 production. Can anyone confirm?

              Actually, who the hell cares when it was recorded… It’s video of Callas as Norma!!!

      • 1.1.2
        La Valkyrietta says:

        La Cieca,

        I think the Goden Age of which they speak in the article was since he joined the company in 1955, so he was there for some glorious Maria.

        • 1.1.2.1
          Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

          When she divines the future at, “Io ne volumi arcani leggo del cielo” and that authoritative right arm shoots out pointing to the heavens on, “In pagine de morte” —- magic and goosebumps.

  • 2
    Milady DeWinter says:

    And what’s doubly sad, marshie, is that as we have all heard (and if not, then membership in the official Callas Q club is revoked, instantly!), the little privately recorded snippet, post-1973/4 tour, of “Ah Perfido” show Callas in better, firmer, fuller voice than at any time during the tour.

    • 2.1
      marshiemarkII says:

      My darling Mylady, not to be a nitpicker but that sublime Ah Perfido is actually from 1976!!!!!!! one year before she died. Well there are several, so you might be right there is one from the 1974 concert series (in rehearsal I mean of course she never sang it publicly alas), but the one from 1976 it is breathtakingly beautiful, with all the notes in the stretta beautifully articulated, so no problem with the actual technique. Then there was also the bel canto/early Verdi stuff she did for Phillips starting in 1969 and all the way to 75 (?) which shows that bel canto was no problem, it was ALL about self-assurance, that came in smaller and smaller doses as time went on. And by God she was only 41 when she retired from opera, and 53 when she died, so it really is unimaginable she could have been so damaged so early, but as the proverbial comet, she shone very brightly for a very brief time…….

      • 2.1.1
        marshiemarkII says:

        sorry carisssima mylady, you did say “post 1974” so we should have been in violent agreement from the start, mea culisssima ;-)

        • 2.1.1.1
          marshiemarkII says:

          culPissssim ugggh otherwise people might ideas :-0

        • 2.1.1.2
          antikitschychick says:

          hahahaha marshie you are a trip!! Love your posts!

          Sincerely,

          Aspiring member of the Callas Q club :-D.

      • 2.1.2
        marshiemarkII says:

        culPisssimA uggh otherwise people might GET ideas, uggggh the gurls is too impetuous today with that submit button ;-) sorrah gurls!

      • 2.1.3
        Clita del Toro says:

        It’s amazing how Maria at those late dates retained her coloratura ability, even as the voice quickly went downhill (for whatever reason). I even seem to remember that when I saw two of her Master Classes.
        Gobbi wrote somewhere that Maria’s lack of confidence was the problem. Who really knows?

        • 2.1.3.1
          Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

          Very true. I attended quite a few of the Juilliard Master Classes. When demonstrating, she frequently marked, or sang an octave down, but also frequently sang out. I remember one day when the aria being dissected was ‘Una voce’ and Callas, demonstrating in her own full voice, went FLYING through the roulades. It was thrilling and the ability/technique to execute cleanly, seemingly effortlessly and note-perfect through florid passages apparently never deserted her.

          • Milady DeWinter says:

            And one thing I never forgot from hearing those master classes, which she tried to pass on, but withonly spotty success, was how to attack anything right on the button, and “give voice” at a steady dynamic. And not to get louder as you do ascending roulades or scales -- the mark of a real amateur. Such simple things, but they are what made her the best singer in the pantheon (at least MY pantheon). If not the most beautiful voice, she sang as if she had the most beautful voice in the world, and that made all the difference. She knew she couldn’t afford to do otherwise.

      • 2.1.4
        skoc211 says:

        Is the 1976 Ah Perfido on YouTube? I’m having trouble finding it….

        • 2.1.4.1
          marshiemarkII says:

          skoc, I am not the greatest Youtuber but that Ah Perfido came out eventually on Gala, and it could be found practically free for like $2.99 or some such. Don’t know if you can still find it on Amazon, but I think it must be easy. Do I recall correctly that it was also included in the Gala Parsifal from 1950?

          • Camille says:

            Yes, it is included on the disc with that beautiful, for MOI, sounding Parsifal, the most musical and lyrical sounding Kundry.

            The “Ah, Perfido!” Is surprisingly good, as much for the fact that she accompanies herself on the piano.

          • skoc211 says:

            I will keep my eyes open.

            And I’d just like to say how much I enjoy hearing your stories about being an Only Maria Q. I spent years going to the opera with my grandmother, but it only came alive for me when I started listening to Maria my freshman year of college when I took a history of opera class as my arts requirement. Surprisingly enough it started with her Carmen. My professor (who I suspect was an Only Maria Q) showed us her Habanera from Hamburg and I was hooked. Any chance of making it to another Diva were dashed when I discovered her Tosca. As luck would have it, I worked in the digital collection of my university’s library and was able to amass many of her greatest recordings for free -- the 1955 live Norma and Traviata and the 1953 studio Lucia among them.

            It’s been a few years since then and I’ve begun collecting her recordings on vinyl -- the Mexico Aida, Anna Bolena and Macbeth from La Scala are recent finds -- and all my friends know about Only Maria. I now find myself in my first apartment in New York City and Maria has taken her place as a focal point in my living room: http://imgur.com/WI1vwdg

            So from one Only Maria Q to another: a mille grazie!

      • 2.1.5
        Regina delle fate says:

        Marshie!!!!!!! Where have you been?

        Welcome back and I hope it was interesting! :)

    • 2.2
      Feldmarschallin says:

      You can hear that Callas’ technique stayed until the end by listening to the Cenerentola where all the chromatic scales are in place and in tune.

      • 2.2.1
        Clita del Toro says:

        Feld, I have hard time listening to that Cenerentola aria! :(

        • 2.2.1.1
          Milady DeWinter says:

          But Clita, I’m sure that you have heard the “live” Cenerentola from London on ’61 -- the one in which she also sings “Ocean Thou Mighty Monster” -- she’s spectacular in the Cenerentola rondo -- and even touches a top D in the flashing scales before the final cadence.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Are you sure you don’t mean a c-sharp? The rondo is in E-major, I can’t see where you’d incorporate a top D, and a top d-sharp seems somehow unlikely. Certainly, I’m used to hearing her do a c-sharp in the same place Joyce DiDonato (and others) do.

          • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

            What I was unaware of until I read the extremely interesting and meticulously researched “The Unknown Callas” by Nicolas Petsalis-Diomidis, about young Callas’ years in Greece, was that one of the major pieces de Hidalgo had young Maria working on, “to lighten the voice”, was the CENERENTOLA Rondo! Callas also programmed it in concerts she gave as a teen and young woman in Greece. So this piece and Callas have a long history and it was in her concert repertoire from the beginning to almost the end.

  • 3
    Feldmarschallin says:

    Well yes the tone was worn about I am talking about the technique which remained intact to the end of her career.

  • 4
    Milady DeWinter says:

    No worries marshie -- we are in complete agreement! Poor Divina -- yes, the post-tour snippets show that she really had it, that’s what makes it soooo very sad! There’s also that brief snippet of “Madre pietosa vergine” from Forza from 1976 -- equally secure and sweeping like the “Ah perfido!” Nobody could touch her legato in the Beethoven. The 1973 tour, alas, was the only time I got to see her, but anyone at that point who came to criticize the voice was simply beneath contempt. It was all understood that we we there to honor her career, and what Boston Globe critic (forget his name) said at the time: “to give her what she never seemed to need before -- our love” Could you die?
    And while she may have sounded 80, she looked not a day over 39. She never lost her bel canto chops that’s for sure. Even in the 1961 French aria recital she showed how “Je veux vivre” and “Je suis Titania” should be sung.

    • 4.1
      Milady DeWinter says:

      Ha ha -- “mea culissima” !
      :)
      MdW

    • 4.2
      marshiemarkII says:

      That is what you call unintentional camp my darlingest mylady. So lucky you saw the Only Maria in Boston, I was a couple of months two late arriving in Boston :-(

    • 4.3
      Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

      She sounds amazingly good and like her former, secure self in the snippet of FORZA and you can hear her say in English at one point, “That stinks!”

  • 5
    armerjacquino says:

    Kaspar Holten on twitter: ‘@kasperholten: I always thought highly of John Tooley. Seems it wasnt mutual ;-)’

    • 5.1
      MontyNostry says:

      But the general opinion seemed to be that Kaspar’s Yevgeny Onegin was, indeed, shite.

      • 5.1.1
        Regina delle fate says:

        True Monty but the vast majority of productions under Tooley’s regime were shite too, albeit traditional shite. Remember the Sanjjust Boccanegra and Luisa Miller, Fagiloni Trovatore, Copley Norma, Kaslik Nabucco and Tannhäuder, the Terry Hands “Furry Treetrunk” Parsifal. I could go on but pots and kettles come to mind. As a former director and recipient of free tix for life Tooley’s really should have kept his views to himself or private dinner-parties.

        • 5.1.1.1
          CarlottaBorromeo says:

          The Faggioni Trovatore was on Jeremy Isaacs’ watch (but Faggioni’s wonderful Fanciulla was in Tooley’s time)…

          We could play the profit and loss game for any intendancy but there were many distinguished productions in Tooley’s time -- the first Friedrich Ring and the complete Lulu, the Moshinsky Grimes and Lohengrin, the Tarkovsky Boris, the Schaaf Figaro, the Serban Turandot… The Hall Onyegin and the Copley Boheme might not be to our taste now but they were not shoddy pieces of work…

  • 6
    isoldit says:

    why is it every time a professional who has spent a lifetime working in opera criticizes the current trend of regie productions and director driven opera productions, this website vilifies them based on their age. First it was Zeffirelli, who almost everyone on this website loves to hate, but then Maazel, Berganza and Von Dam, So all these people with more than five decades of experience in the business are just old fools. Maybe (god forbid) they are right

    • 6.1
      MontyNostry says:

      Ah, just wait till Stefan Herheim is old. He will also make comment on the demise of great opera -- with the help of pageant of contextual historical figures (and maybe a bloke in a spacesuit, a frock, or dressed up as Wagner).

    • 6.2
      Regina delle fate says:

      See above isoldit. If Tooley’s record had been a string of production masterpieces I’d have some -- but not a lot -- of sympathy with his views, but his fail rate was probably higher than the current regime’s. Bad form even for a 90-year-old.

      • 6.2.1
        La Cieca says:

        I am reminded of an interview Bette Davis did with Dick Cavett in 1971. Cavett asked her why she thought the general quality of movies back in the 1930s and 1940s was so far superior to that of current films, and Davis answered (paraphrasing) that the movies weren’t better “back then” — that each year there are a handful of good pictures made, and a lot of mediocre stuff and trash.

        This is, I think, a pretty realistic view of art in any of its forms: there are going to be a lot of failures along the way, but you keep working and trying to produce something good. It’s the sort of “old pro” advice that is actually of some use, not like simply saying “nothing compares to what we used to do back then.”

        The Met’s database includes a number of quoted reviews over the years, and taken as an indicator of what various seasons or regimes were like, the general impression is that there never was a “golden age.” There were seasons with some very good performances and and not so good performances, some good productions and some lousy productions.

        Tooley’s observations seem based in nostalgia for his distant youth rather than aesthetic considerations: he doesn’t like feeling superannuated, and so he complains that the modern world doesn’t conform itself to his ideal of what the past should have been like. That is not expertise.

        • 6.2.1.1
          Cocky Kurwenal says:

          It’s worth reading the whole interview with Tooley in Opera magazine, which is what the Telegraph has chosen to paraphrase -- it can be found here:

          http://www.exacteditions.com/read/opera/june-2014-39139/23/2/

          • La Valkyrietta says:

            Cocky Kurwenal,

            Thanks for the Opera magazine link. It clarifies that “golden age” allusion that has been misinterpreted by reading its paraphrasing in The Telegraph. I copy the pertinent part, quote,

            “Tooley’s time at Covent Garden -he arrived there in 1955, and even before he officially succeeded David Webster in 1970 he was effectively in charge of its day-to-day running- is widely regarded as a golden age of start. He worked closely with singers from Callas to Christoff, and with such dancers as Nureyev,…”

            This is much clearer and makes much more sense than The Telegraph version that led to some confusion here.

            • La Valkyrietta says:

              And, of course, I am making mistakes too. I mean to quote “stars” instead of “start”. Sorry.

        • 6.2.1.2
          CarlottaBorromeo says:

          JT actually criticises one specific production (about which his views are shared by many!). I don’t see “nostalgia for his distant” youth in the actual interview…

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            No, but it’s more fun to criticise a poorly cobbled together summary of the interview, rather than the thing itself.

  • 7
    Milady DeWinter says:

    And cara marshie, in Boston, Caro Pippo suffered le trac, or something, a snit more likely, and cancelled, and so Maria had to go out and sing alone -- so there were things she sang that she didn’t do elsewhere, or in her usual selelction of solos!

    • 7.1
      marshiemarkII says:

      Yes carisssima, you just reminded me of that, my best friend at the time, in fact the one who turned from a Dame Joan Q to the Only Maria Q, had a tape of that concert and made me a copy. I still have the cassette but do not know in what condition it is, as I retired the cassette player maybe 20 years ago? I still have all the tapes, perhaps they could be cleaned up. He also gave me a copy of an Habanera she sang at 1PM at Carnegie Hall the day of her concert, and she sounds like the Maria of 1955! of course in public quite considerably less that evening! so sad!

      • 7.1.1
        Milady DeWinter says:

        A Dame Joan Q into an Only Maria Q -- that’s some conversion! Was there a crucifix and holy water involved? Oh, I love them both, I love them all, but I love Maria the most. She started me on my operatic path, how can I not place her at the top of the pantheon?

      • 7.1.2
        marshiemarkII says:

        There are always crucifixes and holy water whenever la MMII is involved, you should see her bedroom :-)

        Anyway, it’s a cute story, once I became an opera Q at age like 7 or 8, my first operatic LP was the Lucia with the Dame and Cioni, and obsessed about it for years. By the time I arrived in college, the only Norma I’d listen to was Dame J’s of course, pretty much ignoring the Only Maria versions as “too shrill”, can you imagine? until said friend invited me to his tiny dorm room, and pulled out a copy of the Covent Garden 1952, and when I heard those tears in the Deh non volerli, I suddenly had an epiphany, and the rest is the proverbial history, there was no going back!. The next thing was a copy of the Cetra Medea, and now talk about an obsession, I must have played that a million times, wore out several copies, and the Only Maria Q had been born :lol: :lol: :lol:

        • 7.1.2.1
          The Conte says:

          Marshie,

          I love the story of how you came to love Maria (the one and only), I seem to have gone the other way and have learnt to appreciate the amazing union of power and flexibility in Sutherland’s voice after years of not listening to her properly because she wasn’t Maria. I still prefer Maria’s Lucia and Norma, but am now open to admiring Sutherland’s recordings of those operas. Can I be controversial?…My favourite Sutherland Norma is her second studio recording! Her voice may not be as fresh as in the earlier recording, but there is more abandon to her singing and she is more dramatic.

          I’d much rather talk about old divas than old opera critics. Can we start a Parterre tradition of diva talk whenever the Christiansen and others get on their whinge boxes?

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Mille grazie contissssimo, yes young people can be so stupid :-)
            Once I decided that I was an Only Maria Q I started to diss everything from the Dame. When I finally saw the Dame live, it was no less than the 1976 Puritani, I tried to minimize her accomplishments and save all the praise for the Big Luci, who was indeed miraculous of course, but the Dame was just as divine and I would just have none of it. Eventually I saw her as Lucia, Anna Bolena and Leonora Trovatore, and today I even enjoy her Traviata, in a crowded field where not only la Maria reigns supreme, but I also worship La Scotto, La Montsy and la Freni. Of course Dame J was one of the very most greatest of all time, and I now have just about everything she recorded. Likewise with Tebaldi, another idol of my childhood for Tosca, Butterfly and whatever Puccini came my way, she was also displaced by the Only Maria at that point, and I would be over thirty by the time I re-engaged with Tebaldi to recognize that it was probably the most gorgeous voice! But such are young people, ah youth wasted on the young…..

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Hehe Marshie -- that’s my story exactly with Joan and Big Renata. I hate to say this on here but I prefer Big Renata to La Divina in most of their common Verdi roles and I probably listen to Little Renata more than Maria in the bel canto stuff. I bought the complete studio Callas EMI released a few years ago but I’ve listened to only three or four of the operas since then to my shame. Someone gave me the Callas Live Verdi box last year and I have listened repeatedly to those discs, esp Macbeth and Ballo. :)

            • marshiemarkII says:

              Ciao Carisssssima Regi, I keep saying in this thread “birds of a feather” we are all the same it seems, where have we been all of our lives? in the same theaters, loving the same singers, obsessing over the same things…… fabulous!

              Yeah I was a bit busy for a while with work, extra work (in Europe), foundation stuff and then visitors, but the gurl is baaaaack, hopefully for a while!

            • Clita del Toro says:

              Marshiest,
              I went through that too. I was Big Renata and Maria fan mainly from recordings in the early 50’s. First saw Big Renata in Aida, Desdemona, 1955 and so on……adored her. By 1958-9, I was over Big Renata and for some reason never went completely back. I rarely listen to her. È strano???
              I adore The Only Maria and always will.
              I saw Little Renata first in 1962 (Rigoletto in Florence) and adored her, still do.
              I was never a big Joan fan, was at her NY and Met debuts and saw much of what she sang. But she was a phenomenal singer, I agree.

              Never a big Montsy fan either. Oh, well.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            You know Clitisssima, I think even the most glorious voices eventually get tiring, too much of a good thing, like too much gelato or heavy cream in your coffee, whereas the Only Maria takes a hold of you at another level with the phrasing, and the agony, and the keeping at the edge all the time, you can always find something new in it, sort of like Parsifal. You can see too many Toscas (I sure did :-)) but you could never see too many Parsifals. I have listened to that opera twice in one day, end to end, and never tire for a second. I think they are related, in how we relate to the Only Maria when you really get her, of course some people can never get past the actual sound, and will never get her, oh well…..

        • 7.1.2.2
          La Valkyrietta says:

          MMII,

          Wonderful cute story. I don’t remember you telling it before, how you became an Only Maria Q. Mine is different, but it has similarities. I was a Tebaldi Q for years and had listened to Callas, but played mostly Tebaldi. The first complete opera record I ever got was Madama Butterfly, sometime in the middle to late 50s. Then one day in the later 60s I happen to get the Callas Butterfly, on Angel I think it was, and played it and was amazed, and when she does the final aria I had an epiphany and became an Only Maria Q. And then I got all her record within the next ten years, pirated or not. I would die if ever that Maria Butterfly from Chicago appears. Anyway, I still love Tebaldi, of course. Perhaps I still like Renata more than Maria in Boheme, but perhaps not. I like Joan, love Leonie and Nilsson, and there are others, but there is only one Maria. As Franco (who many love to dish nowadays) says in a documentary, “Maria, the glory of opera”. Perhaps I would like as much Pasta, Grisi, Malibran, but I never heard them.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Vallyta, Amazing how we all Qs are basically all birds of a feather :-) (tu sabes lo que quiere decir pajaro en castellano ;-) )

            As a teen, I went from Lucia and Nabucco, to the other operas that were in my family’s collection, the standard fare Tosca and Butterfly with Tebaldi and Carmen and Traviata with VdlA. Eventually I acquired the Norma with Dame J, and soon became a Wagner Q with the Solti Ring and the Dutchman (Fi-Di) and a bit later the Flagstad Tristan. Once I became the Only Maria Q though, just like you, I started to obsessively buy everything, and lo and behold there was the Only Maria Butterfly, oh my God when I got to Che tua madre…., and then what to say about the Tu tu piccolo Iddio….. out went everything with Tebaldi :-)
            Today I love them all, but the Only Maria will always be well… the Only Maria :lol:

            • Lohenfal says:

              Liebster MMII,

              You’ve been in great form since your return.

              On the subject of our earliest opera recordings, mine pretty much predicted my destiny:

              1. The Nilsson-Solti Walküre.
              2. The Flagstad-Furtwängler Tristan.

              In other words, no Callas, Tebaldi, or anyone else took precedence. I did, of course, see other forms of opera at the Met and listened to many broadcasts of all the composers, but somehow I didn’t care to acquire anything but the Meister’s work for perpetual listening. Even now, I have far more of him on both complete records and historical excerpts than anyone else. I didn’t think I could become more Wagnerian than I was in college, but indeed I have.

              BTW, the first opera I went to at the Met was Meistersinger. It fits the profile.

            • marshiemarkII says:

              My most adored Lohenfal mille grazie un’altra volta ancora :-)

              Alas I must admit being an Italian opera Q before becoming a Wagnerian but I made up for it big time later, no? I think I got the Ring before teenager, but before that I already obsessed with Tannhauser (only excerpts at the time and certainly the Overture and Pilgrim Chorus), that was my gateway to Wagner and then shortly after I read about the Immolation Scene and then I HAD to have the complete Ring, which Grandpa paid for, and I cheated by saying it cost more, and that way I also got the Dutchman :-)
              All through college, right along with the Only Maria I was a serious Tristan Q, listening to Vickers day and night, and the Boehm recording. And then you know who I met and then I spent the next 25 years living and breathing Wagner 24X7!!!!!! and by the way my first visit to the Met ever was for no less than Goetterdammerung!!!!! with Birgit, so there we are even :-) (birds of a feather again :-))

            • La Valkyrietta says:

              MMII,

              The second complete opera album I got after Butterfly with Tebaldi was the Flagstad Furtwängler Tristan. I had years before, of course, seen on the big screen Eleanor Parker in the role of Isolde. Funny that for a long period I got operas mainly for the sopranos or mezzos, not for the tenors :). One day a married friend of mine and I were listening to music and he commented that I was choosing to play too many sopranos. Funny, I had not realized that before. Today I sometimes get something because of the conductor :). It is interesting to try to pin point when exactly did opera took over one’s life. My great grandaunt’s favorite aria was “E lucevan la stelle” and I loved her much and probably the seeds of opera were planted in me by her while merely a child or even a baby. On the other hand, I know exactly when I was captured forever as a Met audience, the night I saw Nilsson in Tristan with the three tenors, one for each act. As the Only Maria says, “Ah! O cor dono funesto…”

    • 7.2
      Avantialouie says:

      Pippo had a bad cold during many of the tour concerts in the U.S. In Chicago, he sang the opening “Don Carlo” duet and the “Le Roi d’Ys” aria. Then he apologized to the audience for his cold and retired for the evening. But after Maria had carried the remainder of the concert she made him come back during the encores, and he sang “Cor’ingrato” to THUNDEROUS applause.

  • 8
    isoldit says:

    it is amazing, the minute any person who has devoted their life to opera and has more than fifty years experience in the world of opera has criticized the way directors and regie productions have changed the shape of opera,they get dismissed on this site as old fools, this started with Zefirelli (the person everyone on this site seems to love to hate), and continued with Maazel, Berganza and von Dam, maybe these “old fools” just might know what they are talking about

  • 9
    isoldit says:

    in the past, these people were considered the masters who could pass down their experience to the younger generation. are Horne, (who also frequently comments on the changes in opera today)Freni, Bergonzi, Scotto, Soviero, Santi and Kabaivanska just a bunch of old fools also. They cannot sing anymore, but they have a lifetime of experience to pass on to the younger generation. I am sure there are many young singers and conductors who would love to benefit from their experience, as Zeffirelli benefited from his experience with Visconti, and Scotto, Callas and many others benefited from their experience with Serafin and Petreyenko has obviously benefited from her experience with Devia. but I forgot, all these veteran performers and conductors are just a bunch of old fools, forgive me

  • 10
    phoenix says:

    this ol’ man is going to rant now at another cloud: CD/DVD media production. Many of the newer smaller, compact computers do not come equipped with CD/DVD players, but most all of them do have USB ports & SDHC slots. It’s time for some entrepreneurs to come up with a service which puts live performances on USB/SDHC (or on whatever new gizmos show up later on). Since the available space on USB/SDHC is much greater, a customer could request several performances from a company which could then put them on newer media made to order.
    -- I never could stand those clunky plastic ‘jewel boxes’ and those slippery silver disks. I hated them all these years to the point that now all I do is copy them onto external drives and then give or throw them away. And the weight of them! Put several dozen of them in large storage coffins and try to lift one!
    -- As for the performances themselves, there is certainly a greater selection now than there was 50 years ago when I got interested. No, there will never be another Callas, Corelli, Crespin, de los Angeles, Gedda, Grummer, etc. but that is the price we pay for living so long. As far as the visual productions, that is something that doesn’t really bother me too much. When I was in my 20’s I spent a lot of time in Germany, where even in the DDR there was a great deal of experimental opera production -- and with great singers, I thought. Of course there are works we all become obsessively attached to, we can’t help but object to them being massacred -- I’m no different -- as much as I enjoyed & admire Tcherniakov’s Met Prince Igor, it broke my heart to see how it got chopped up.

    • 10.1
      phoenix says:

      Forgot to mention mp3 downloads available now -- those don’t work for me either for two major reasons:
      1. The cheaper, mp3 download version available of a performance for purchase is not always complete; purchased as separate tracks or together, not all of the tracks are always available for download; and
      2. The downloads arrive in my computer in unnumbered, separate tracks -- helter-skelter order -- it is up to me, the customer, to put them together as an entire performance. Now this el Autismo never liked puzzles (crossword or otherwise) so for the few buck I save getting a download it’s not worth the frustration to try to piece it together again. Sometimes I order a work I am not familiar with thus it is virtually impossible to put it all together again from the separate tracks since I have never heard I before.

      • 10.1.1
        -Ed. says:

        Which software are you using? In iTunes if you click on the Album header up at the top of the column it sorts the tracks in proper sequence, or should.

        They say the day is coming when CDs and even DVDs will be obsolete and everything will either be downloaded or streamed. I’m ok with that concept but they need to include the artwork and booklet (libretto for opera) in the download.

        • 10.1.1.1
          phoenix says:

          No, I don’t use iTunes. Are the tracks sequentially numbered in numeric order when they load up for you? I have downloaded from Amazon & other sites but not iTunes.
          -- Thanks Ed. for your suggestion.

        • 10.1.1.2
          antikitschychick says:

          Ed dear, thank you so much for posting that wonderful clip of Callas as Norma!! What a commanding presence she had…what a shame there isn’t a full length video recording!! :-(.

  • 11
    -Ed. says:

    I can only speak to iTunes as it’s what I use, perhaps Amazon and other sources behave similarly. The tracks are numbered. When you download an album, the tracks will sort in the order that the other music on your PC is currently sorted. Again, the sort order is easily changed by simply clicking on a column header. Sometimes I sort my music by artist, sometimes by album, sometimes by file size, etc.

    • 11.1
      phoenix says:

      I tried Google Play this time and got all the tracks numbered and in sequential order. All I have to do is click on the first track. The only drawback is some of the tracks have awkward breaks resulting in a split-second empty click in the music (whereas a CD or DVD recording would be smoother without brokenup tracks). For some things this download track system is fine, particularly if I have the time to go in and try to remove the breaks.
      -Ed., thanks again.

      • 11.1.1
        -Ed. says:

        Welcome! Sometimes in iTunes I hear that momentary break between tracks, but usually not. You might poke around the settings in Google Play to see if there is an adjustment to compensate for it. If the original recording from the record label contained no gap, there shouldn’t be one from these other sources. I’ve had a few instances where the track title was wrong. In my recording of La Bohème (Serafin; Tebaldi, Bergonzoni) the album name for acts 3 and 4 is written in Chinese. As you say, the technology is not perfect and their QC efforts, particularly in the classical music genre, are sometimes found wanting.

        Should you decide to rip a copy of the album onto a CD be sure to indicate in the settings that you do not want a time break between tracks.

        • 11.1.1.1
          manou says:

          Bergonzoni? What was he on?

        • 11.1.1.2
          phoenix says:

          -Ed.: More problems encountered. I downloaded a two disk opera that I had previously owned, so I knew the work & the recording. The first disk downloaded complete; the second disk didn’t come through -- it merely repeated the first 15 tracks of the first disk over again and only included the last 2 tracks from the original 2nd disk at the end. I called Google Play and they checked the download out -- they couldn’t figure out what happened, they said they’d investigate the original files next week -- so they gave me a refund for now and told me to keep the download and wait for an update if they can fix it -- they have good customer service.

          • -Ed. says:

            Well that’s nice of them, I guess. Sounds like iTunes and Google both need to pull up their socks.