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  • LT: This whole paraNorma activity reminded me of Verrett’s autobiography, in which she says that Norma is one of the most overrated... 10:14 PM
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  • LT: Polenzani was wonderful in his role. Costello? He would have needed CPR during his aria. 8:39 PM
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There is something I must do, there is something I must do

Your Own La Cieca has emerged from the tomb semi-retirement to present the 2014 Pubie Awards for outstanding achievement in the field of opera and opera-related entertainment in New York and various points north. You, the public, voted, and your decisions, such as they are, are final.

May she have the envelopes, please?

And the winners are…

Best new production at the Met: Werther

Worst new production at the Met: Die Fledermaus (by a whopping 57% of the vote!)

Best Revival at the Met: Die Frau Ohne Schatten

Worst Revival at the Met: Andrea Chenier

Best Non-Met Staged Production: Era la notte (White Light Festival)

Best Concert Performance: Peter Grimes (St. Louis Symphony)

Best Performance in a Diva Role: Anna Netrebko in Eugene Onegin

Worst Performance in a Diva Role: Patricia Racette in Andrea Chenier

Best Performance in a Divo Role: Jonas Kaufmann in Werther (57% of the vote)

Worst Performance in a Divo Role: Alexei Tanovitski in Eugene Onegin

Best Performance in a Non-Diva Role: Stephanie Blythe in Falstaff

Poison Ivy Presents the Antonio Salieri Memorial Award for Outstanding Mediocrity: Ramon Vargas in L’elisir d’amore

Maestro of the Year: James Levine

Most Significant Cancellation: Juan Diego Florez in La Cenerentola

Einspringer of the Year: Javier Camarena in La Cenerentola (65% of the vote)

Debut of the Year: Olga Peretyatko in I puritani

Comeback of the Year: James Levine

102 comments

  • 1
    grimoaldo says:

    I am sort of surprised “Werther” gets best Met production, I was expecting “Prince Igor”.
    No surprise about worst though, Fledermaus and Tanovitski in Prince Igor would have disgraced the local community arts centre.
    Gelb saying there are lots of empty seats these days at the Met because there is a cultural rejection of opera, or whatever he said exactly, is sort of pathetic, a big part of the problem is that for years now they have been putting on too many crap shows with “singers” who bleat like goats or screech like cats fighting in the back yard.

  • 2
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    At first I thought Joan Rivers had a sex change, but then realized it was La Cieca.

  • 3
    Porgy Amor says:

    Well!

    I enjoyed and even admired Eyre’s Werther, but I would not have given it Best New Production over Falstaff and Prince Igor. I was really expecting, even before the ballot appeared, that it would be a race between those two, and that Igor would take it. Maybe by being more middle of the road, it had a broader appeal?

    I did not think Levine was back in his best form in the Falstaff, which struck me as labored — the cast and the production made that one for me. That score is such a workout for the maestro, and any decline in energy is going to tell. I heard a Wozzeck and a Cosí on the radio, but I may not have focused on them enough to pick up whatever he did that he was outstanding in them. I could understand him getting this on simple grounds of thanksgiving for his return to the job, and other candidates not having done enough. I personally voted for YNS — Rusalka had never sounded more gorgeous to me, and his leadership distinguished what could have been a tired old show with deluxe voices.

    I’m happy about Kaufmann and Blythe, and in some of the other categories, I might have picked something else but it was close enough.

    Good fun, as always, just looking through the choices, picking something, and then seeing the results.

    • 3.1
      RosinaLeckermaul says:

      I can’t say I was wildly impressed with Levine’s performances this season. Not bad, but certainly not great.

  • 4
    Poison Ivy says:

    Speaking of Florez cancellations he just cancelled his first two Almavivas in Munich.

    • 4.1
      Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

      This may have gotten lost in the shuffle of the last general topic board, but Flórez just cancelled his upcoming (December?) performances in “La Cenerentola” at Wiener Staatsoper, stating that he is dropping the role. Maybe he is rethinking his repertoire.

      • 4.1.1
        Poison Ivy says:

        Actually this kind of worries me. Flórez is NOT known as a chronic/frivolous canceler. I really hope he’s not going through some sort of vocal crisis.

        • 4.1.1.1
          manou says:

          Acute Camarenaitis?

          • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

            Flórez is now 41, married, and with two children. He has been on the world stage since 1996. Perhaps it is just time to rethink his repertoire. Didn’t I read somewhere that he was taking on some new roles with lower tessitura than his trademark, high-flying Rossini parts?

        • 4.1.1.2
          Krunoslav says:

          The cover story in this month;s issue ofFrench OPERA MAGAZINE s an interview in which JDF says that JDD is his Rossinian partner of preference today.

          He goes on to say: with some of his partners in smaller theaters he thinks , “Where did these people come from?”. Plus he is adding on Romeo, and thinks he can sing the ringing spinto music of Raoul in HUGUENOTS, which even Gedda did only in a concert situation. He said “Berlin” will do HUGUENOTS for him.

          He did say he was looking forward to taking on BARBIERE again, but maybe not so much…

          • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

            Asked and answered! That sounds right: Roméo is what I was thinking about. His roles at Wiener Staatsoper next season are Nemorino and Ernesto (having cancelled Don Ramiro).

          • almavivante says:

            Now that the Met has a new Werther, I would not be at all surprised if it is revived in some years for Florez. He recorded Pourquoi me reveiller on his latest CD and he sang it live (and well) at his WQXR event.

            • oedipe says:

              With Botha in the second cast. And the following revival will be for Camarena. Great tenors, all of them. As long as they can sing great high notes and ppp’s, that’s all that matters for the role.

            • almavivante says:

              Oedipe, below: You could be right. But the reason I mention Florez in the same breath as Werther is that I have a feeling he’s going to veer into the French repertoire more in the coming years. His French diction is excellent and, remember, Kraus was one of his role models.

            • oedipe says:

              Well, JDF may be a wonderful Fernand in La Favorite, or Comte Ory, or Raoul in Les Huguenots. But unlike Kraus, I have never seen/heard him in a tragic Romantic role and I have a hard time imagining him in one, especially a depressive, obsessive, suicidal character like Werther. He probably can sing the notes and he might well get the role. After all, when singers are at a loss finding new things to sing, they generally turn to French opera; the standards in French opera are very low, if they exist at all.

            • I saw Florez sing Pourquoi me Reveiller on wqxr. IMHO he should go nowhere near the role of Werther. He seemed severely overparted by the aria. Not enough different colors in his voice to make an impression, crooned soft singing, and a distressing wobble on the top notes.

          • la vociaccia says:

            Side note: that Gedda Huguenots (with Rita Shane as Marguerite) is available on Spotify and they are both sensational

          • grimoaldo says:

            I don’t think Berlin is doing Huguenots “for him”, they are doing a series of all the major Meyerbeer operas in future seasons.
            Meyerbeer was the Court Kapellmeister to the Prussian Royal family in Berlin and Prussian General Music Director, he is part of their heritage, I am very glad they will be putting on those operas.
            I don’t see why JDF shouldn’t sing Raoul, but maybe I am just ignorant. I only hope he doesn’t change his mind as he did with Robert le Diable at ROH.

            • oedipe says:

              Well, JDF has a point when he says Berlin is doing Les Huguenots “for him”. DOB has plans for four Meyerbeer operas in the coming seasons (one per season). Obviously, the cast for next October’s Dinorah has by now been made public. But for the following seasons, DOB has apparently chosen to center their productions around a star singer and to make that information public.

            • DellaCasaFan says:

              My litmus test for Raoul is his Act 4 duet with Valentine as heard on the Gedda/Shane recording that others mentioned and also, admittedly a guilty pleasure, Corelli/Simionato at La Scala (wrong language, wrong style, but absolutely thrilling). With these in mind, I thought that JDF’s voice was a size too small for the role and was quite skeptical, until I heard this:

              His Raoul’s aria had to be one of the highlights of this Paris concert.

            • grimoaldo says:

              OOooooooooooooooooh thank you, thank you DellaCasaFan, fantastic! beauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutiful!
              Love it. love it , love it!
              See? it’s not too “heavy” for him, if it is I don’t know or care, how wonderful to hear one of my fav singers in one of my fav pieces of music, I want to hear him in the whole opera,I am just selfish and superficial.

          • kashania says:

            I’m all for JDF expanding his rep and trying on more heavy roles, but isn’t Raoul at least two sizes too big for him? Wasn’t there a time when he was ambivalent about Arturo (Puritani) because he felt that was too heavy? Raoul is significantly heavier.

            • grimoaldo says:

              The first Raoul was Adolphe Nourrit who was also the first Comte Ory, so if Florez can do one maybe he can also do the other.
              We shall see, I hope.

            • kashania says:

              Grim: I’m not familiar with the kind of voice that Nourrit, however, big voices can sing lighter rep but not necessarily vice-versa. Callas sang Gilda and Lucia as well as Norma and Gioconda. Most Gildas can’t sing Norma, Gioconda, Amelia, Leonora, etc.

            • Krunoslav says:

              Yes, this is my point. The great Raouls were people with very large instruments: Jean de Reszke, Albert Alvarez, Paul Franz, Georges Thill, Giacomo Lauri-Volpi…

              Maybe JDF is looking at the range but not the orchestration? Or is forming his idea from the recorded Vrenios perfromance?

            • kashania says:

              Kruno: The odd thing is that JDF has been so careful with role choices in the past. So, jumping ahead to Raoul all of a sudden is a puzzlement. I would say I hope Berlin has Hymel on hold as a back-up, but I imagine he’s too big now to be anyone’s back-up.

            • oedipe says:

              On the other hand, among the recent Raouls we’ve had Eric Cutler and John Osborn. Is JDF’s voice smaller than theirs?

            • kashania says:

              I’m not very familiar with Osborn’s voice but I’d say that Cutler has a bigger voice than JDF.

            • la vociaccia says:

              Nourrit, from what I’ve read, did not have a small voice; but he belonged to the old style of tenor singing which sang in falsettone on top, so a role like Ory was plausible. Florez has a very different voice from what Nourrit purportedly had.

              Spyres had a success with Roaul, but A) it was at Bard, a relatively small space, and B)Spyres is a freakin Spyres. He could announce that he’s singing Wotan and I’d be less skeptical than when I heard Villazon is recording Belmonte

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Well, Grim -- that’s why the RO offered Florez Robert Le Diable which was also created by Nourrit. I was reading up on Guillaume Tell recently as we are getting it in Italian (in concert) at the Edinburgh Festival and in French twice next season -- our WNO and Covent Garden -- and it appears that Nourrit found the role of Arnold too taxing and often cut the cabaletta of his big aria -- and he probably wasn’t best pleased when he heard that his rival Duprez had scored a fantastic success with the Italian version -- I think this was where he tried out his ut de poitrine for the first time, but I am not an expert on this period. You might know more about this than I do…..

  • 5
    Gualtier M says:

    I wonder who and why that person jiggered the vote against Ramon Vargas. Also, I am sorry but “Prince Igor” and “Falstaff” were both miles better than that animated greeting card “Werther”.

    • 5.1
      manou says:

      Who and why?…………James Valenti!

      • 5.1.1
        Krunoslav says:

        Yes, and at the first performance,before he became ill, Vargas was very good indeed in ELISIR; as ever, a fine musician and stylist.

        I do not believe all that many posters saw that so I think you are right, Gualtier- some hater ( whatEVER) saw to that. Valenti is not worthy to kiss the hem of Vargas’ garment as a singer.

        • 5.1.1.1
          almavivante says:

          Now if Vargas had Valenti’s looks…or Valenti had Vargas’s voice…

        • 5.1.1.2
          m. p. arazza says:

          How did he even get nominated as a contender in such a category in the first place?

          • RosinaLeckermaul says:

            Exactly. He’s a fine singer. The ELISIR I heard was very good. Not the greatest or his best performance, but totally creditable. Vargas is no mediocrity.

            • tatiana says:

              I’ve always had a soft spot for Vargas and I think he’s been a consistently underrated, taken-for-granted singer. . . He’s always been a fine vocalist and to me has also made increasing progress as an expressive artist, as opposed to an “actor.” I thought he was terrific in the Hvorostovsky-Fleming “Onegin” a few seasons back and I was enormously impressed by a Hoffmann he did at the Met as well. And in the televised “Boheme” he did from the Met, I found him quite moving--much preferred to what I considered the calculated artifice of Gheorghiu.

          • Cicciabella says:

            Vargas’ nomination and election in this category is a blot on the parterriat. Vargas in one of the finest tenors around today. Is this how we treat excellent singers with beautiful voices and exemplary technique?

        • 5.1.1.3
          Maury D says:

          This rubs me wrong, too, though I wasn’t there. He’s had too many years of distinguished service to suddenly be deemed a mediocrity. L’Opera Queen e mobile, I guess, but it ain’t right.

          • manou says:

            Maybe we could force a confession from one regular Parterrian who will admit having voted for Vargas in this category.

          • armerjacquino says:

            I’m not wild about there being a ‘mediocrity’ category at all, tbh. But then I’ve never much liked the ‘worst’ categories either.

            • antikitschychick says:

              completely agree with you armer. I didnt vote for those categories at all, along with some others because I didn’t see the performances.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Me neither Antik. I only voted for the things I’d seen ins Kino. :)

          • grimoaldo says:

            Totally agree, it makes me sad to see Vargas being called a mediocrity here. I did not see or hear the Elisir referred to but I saw him a few years back in the role in SF as well as other roles in other places and he has never failed to give me anything but total pleasure for his beautiful voice and excellent musicianship.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Totally agree, it makes me sad to see Vargas being called a mediocrity here. I did not see or hear the Elisir referred to but I saw him a few years back in the role in SF as well as other roles in other places and he has never failed to give me anything but total pleasure for his beautiful voice and excellent musicianship.

          • uwsinnyc says:

            I love Vargas- the Lucias in the late 1990s at the MET were some of the most beautiful and well controlled singing I have heard. Unfortunately he falls into the “lovely voice + no temperament” category. In today’s HD and media focused opera world, that is increasingly problematic.

            Matthew Polenzani- another singer I so love- also unfortunately falls into the same category.

            • Sempre liberal says:

              Love Vargas, too. His Lenskis will remain with me forever. Hard to envision him exuding mediocrity. L’Elisir must have been painful for him to win this award.

            • m. p. arazza says:

              I don’t think Vargas lacks temperament; see the video of his “Si, ritrovarla” from Cenerentola, for example. But yes, at the time of his Met debut as Edgardo in the early ’90s I thought it was one of the most beautiful voices I’d ever heard. I wish he’d stuck to singing music like this:

              Still, many years later, c. 2008-10 I thought he was totally great in Clemenza (the Met’s best Tito?), the Damnation of Faust revival with Borodina and Abdrazakov (a more satisfying cast than at the premiere), and even Attila. But seemingly under-appreciated as usual.

    • 5.2
      blansac says:

      Netrebko got pushed up by a devoted fan who outdid Damrau’s devoted fan.

      Peretyatko has a passionate fan too. She was in fourth until the very end.

      I wasn’t watching best productions but I’m guessing Werther winning was pushed by a Jonas fan.

      The results shouldn’t be taken seriously as it was easy to skew the results in whatever way one desired.

      • 5.2.1
        Clita del Toro says:

        Like, was Schwanewilms chopped liver? Peretyatko was nothing special. E strano.

      • 5.2.2
        uwsinnyc says:

        can people vote more than once? If so, that skews the results not to the best performances but to the most devoted fans of the singers…

        • 5.2.2.1
          blansac says:

          Yes. And the results are skewed in the way you suggest.

          Before the Damrau and Netrebko fanboys or fangirls went nuts, Goerke was in first place for Best Performance in a Diva Role. Then Damrau got hundreds of votes and had a huge lead. Then Netrebko got even more hundreds of votes.

          4,512 votes in that category. Most categories have 1,000 to 1,300. The ones with 3,000+ votes obviously had some dedicated fans.

          • oedipe says:

            Fanboys & fangirls are less puzzling to me than haters. Who on earth can be so f*cked up as to take the time to cast over 3000 votes AGAINST Vargas, of all people? Even Netrebko and Kaufmann, who seem to have the most crazed fans, get less than 2000 votes each.

            • la vociaccia says:

              I want to believe that voters were confused by the category; I mean it isn’t best or worst, so maybe some people thought they were voting for the “best” mediocre performance.

              That, or the other singers listed REALLY didn’t want to win it, so they all skewed it.

              I have no idea. Vargas is a fantastic singer. I sure as hell didn’t find him mediocre

            • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

              Never underestimate losers.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              The internet is a bizarre place, Oedipe. :)

          • Regina delle fate says:

            I think regular Parterrians should get Cieca “miles” and only those with a sufficient number of miles should be allowed to vote! :)

      • 5.2.3
        YigeLi says:

        I don’t understand why “Werther winning was pushed by a Jonas fan”.

        I speak this as a devoted fan of Anya who does not like the “Onegin” production. She deserves a better production and a director who could give all his/her time for rehearsal. I remember reading interviews of Anya when she had her Tatyana debut, saying she did not have enough rehearsal time for the Onegin for the theater part, as it was a revival, and was looking forward to develope the charactor in depth with the deirector in MET. I don’t feel regret for a second flying to NYC for three continuous weekends to catch her Tatyana three times (the most I can do), and I enjoyed those performances tremendously. However, I do believe she could do it better under better condition. Next season, finally, Anya could perform in a little modernized “carzy” production (Oh, no, two!) in NYC.

        And speak of the “Werther”, not a diehard Jonas fan, I should say he indeed saved the show. That Richard Eyre is a fucking asshole! I’m not against traditional setting. The Jonas DVD in Paris is a good one. Yes, Richard Eyre cares to make his (some) audience happy, but by cheating! Simply DISHONEST!

    • 5.3
      Regina delle fate says:

      lol @ animated greeting card. Hehehe. That’s brilliant. Well I voted for Igor on the basis of live in HD -- I’m assuming that’s allowed….

  • 6
    Ilka Saro says:

    Debut of the year goes to Peretyatko? I guess it was not a season for memorable debuts…

    • 6.1
      Clita del Toro says:

      Ilka, I agree.

    • 6.2
      Poison Ivy says:

      Thought Sonya Yoncheva and Irina Lungu both had better debuts but they weren’t on the ballot.

      • 6.2.1
        uwsinnyc says:

        Ivy yes I agree. Lungu I think was the most under-rated of the 3. Even though not a you-had-to-be-there moment (that I would say goes to Goerke this year), there was a lovely warmth and sadness to her tone that I really liked

        Peretyatko was good- but I think the MET was one size (may be two) too big for her voice. I can see her having more impact in a smaller venue.

      • 6.2.2
        marshiemarkII says:

        I thought the Met was maybe 10 sizes too big? from the best seats in the house (row S), she was literally inaudible in all of the money moments of Puritani, except the E-flats which are more audible and not a scream, but heck I am most definitely NOT an E-flat Q, not when Puritani is concerned that’s for sure, where there is so much gorgeous cavatina which is where you should show your mettle!

        • 6.2.2.1
          manou says:

          Is it really acceptable to castigate the Met for being several sizes too big? Should we not take into consideration the Met’s feelings of humiliation and despair at being called oversized? Should we not strive to be respectful of all opera houses?

        • 6.2.2.2
          marshiemarkII says:

          Absolutely carissssima manoucita, gelato for you for your noble humanitarian instincts :lol:
          especially on behalf of an innocent victim like the Met :lol:

        • 6.2.2.3
          Ilka Saro says:

          She had some tuning issues above the staff as well. IMO. I agree that perhaps in a smaller house she might be able to show her skills to greater effect. However she was singing at the Met, and as debuts go, it was not particularly notable.

          Puritani really is an opera that belongs to the soprano. Both in stage time and in singing, it’s arguably her opera, A te o cara and Suoni la tromba notwithstanding. How many people go to Puritani because they admire Riccardo?

          Kwiecien, and perhaps Brownlee, were the biggest names on the bill. She was an unknown, and should have been showing us all why this star vehicle was being revived to feature her. Instead… well… there just wasn’t much to say.

  • 7
    Clita del Toro says:

    Video: The Only Maria’s Norma, Paris, 1964; “Sediziose voci”
    (hope this works)

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

    • 7.1
      Clita del Toro says:

      Well, did I put the V in the wrong place?

      • 7.1.1
        manou says:

        Yes

      • 7.1.2
        turings says:

        You need to delete the s from https as well.

      • 7.1.3
        antikitschychick says:

        just remove the “s” dear clita, and you’re good ;-).

        Fantastic photoshop job w the thread pic! Brava Cieca (and Mathew) :-D. My vote for best performance in a diva role went to (or would have gone to…not sure if they were on the ballot lol) either Sondra Rad or Angela M (Norma is a hard sing after all!!!), though alas I only heard the live transmissions and did not see the performances. My third choice for best diva (of the performances I saw) was AN so I’m glad for her nonetheless. Saw on FB she posted this the other day:
        “Very sad to be missing my upcoming concerts in Lucerne, Barcelona, and Paris. Unfortunately, my illness worsened very suddenly a couple of days ago and I now have a high fever in addition to a respiratory infection. I’m sorry for the inconvenience this causes to those who bought tickets. :-(”
        hope she gets better soon and hope she will prep well for Macbeth!

        Also, have ya’ll seen this?
        http://www.classicalite.com/articles/8210/20140514/rise-like-a-social-phoenix-russias-anna-netrebko-supports-eurovision-2014-winner-austrian-drag-queen-conchita-wurst.htm

        I thought it was funny :-P.

  • 8
    La Valkyrietta says:

    I am not too surprised by any of the results. Awards are not always what you exactly expect, think about Garbo not ever getting an Oscar. Still, awards can be fun.

  • 9
    uwsinnyc says:

    For me at least Christine Goerke’s Dyer’s Wife was by far and away THE diva moment of the season. Specially because it somewhat came out of the blue-- one expected that she would be good but I don’t think anyone was expecting such a breakout performance.

    • 9.1
      Krunoslav says:

      Maybe no one within Verona Wall, but Christine has been giving similar performances in Houston ( Eboli, Ortrud) and was equally sensational as Elektra in Chicago last year.

    • 9.2
      Maury D says:

      Goerke was the unambiguous choice among all of these for me, judging both by the caliber of performance and audience reaction.

    • 9.3
      antikitschychick says:

      I have yet to hear the live transmission I, erm, came upon from a fellow generous poster but I watched a yt vid of like the first one or two acts from a concert performance with virtually the same cast and I was VERY impressed. She sounded fantastic through and through with some low notes that would make Placido envious :-P. Anne S sounded great as well as did the other cast members really, and the conducting was superb.

      CG is also a very charming lady…she is very active on FB and most of her posts are hilarious. So I am def a fan of hers now :-D.

    • 9.4
      Rackon says:

      Goerke was the diva breakout performance of the season for me too. Nebs was fine but CG was a WOW.

      I was surprised Prince Igor did not win for new production.

      I find the term “Outstanding Mediocrity” an oxymoron. Faintly horrified it went to Vargas though it was obviously a skewed result.

      Oh well, that’s show biz.

  • 10
    la vociaccia says:

    Well I’m happy to see that GRIMES got best concert performance. It was a special night

  • 11
    PetertheModest says:

    If one person can vote as many times as they want, instead of one person one vote, these results have no validity.

  • 12
    manou says:

    I did not vote at all as I only saw some of the productions in HD and none live this year.

    • 12.1
      oedipe says:

      Are you trying to tell us it wasn’t you who voted for (that is, against) Vargas?

      • 12.1.1
        manou says:

        I have just voted in the European elections (and our local council elections too).

        But I am indeed entirely innocent of any magouille perpetrated in this ballot.