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Bullets over Valhalla

“But,” he added, “I find it distressing to be threatened by other artists.” [New York Times]

42 comments

  • 98rsd says:

    The union members are right, of course--why, if allowed to continue this project threatens all the full Ring productions scheduled for West Hartford!

    Jesus…

  • m. croche says:

    Random cellist writes overheated letter about the Pac-Man Rheingold, sky falls.

    “The letter from Chicago was written by Mark Brandfonbrener, a cellist in the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, who said that his intention had not been to threaten anyone but to shame people into reconsidering their participation. He said that he may have overstated his authority, and that ultimately the letter should not be seen as speaking for the whole orchestra.”

  • Cicciabella says:

    Rather an out-of-proportion reaction on the part of the cellist. It’s an interesting project, and one that can help young singers clock up their Wagner miles, but, as m.croche pointed out the other day, the technology used is not sophisticated enough to threaten human musicians. Judging from the Rheingold excerpt online, it’s not just the purists who will take exception to the electro-Wagner, but anyone with ears.

    • Chanterelle says:

      What he said. I just listened to the Flying Dutchman overture excerpt--coincidentally the first thing I ever heard at Bayreuth--and it very quickly becomes creepy and annoying. Need to clean out my ears, stet!

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        Sorry…where are you finding these samples? I’m very curious to hear.

        • m. croche says:

          Some links to kickstarter videos in this threadlet.

          • Uncle Kvetch says:

            Thanks — I found some on the Vienna Symphonic Library website. Taken on its own terms, it’s a pretty extraordinary achievement. But I agree that the musicians don’t have anything to worry about for the time being.

            The orchestral samples weren’t nearly as jarring as the solo piano bits I listened to…pauvre Chopin…

    • m. croche says:

      In fairness, synthesizers are a touchy subject with cellists these days.

  • olliedawg says:

    Sorry to bust in with OT news from Paris, but I just got back from seeing Susan Grahsm in “The King & I”. It was actually a decent production, and I’ll chalk up the slightly limp performances to opening night nerves. There was some good singing, and some lovely singing, in fact. The “Small House of a Uncle Tom ” ballet proved to be the best moments in the show. Lambert Wilson did his best to put his own stamp on Yule Brynners signature role, and his body qualifies as Barihunk goods. The Chatelet is a lovely place. The audience was generally well-haved, except for the talkative lady behind us, who wouldn’t take a hint. Very zhlubby behavior for a Parisian.

    Now, as for SuxieG…she looks great. Her solo number”Shall I tell you what I think of you…” entailed a strip down to her skivvies, and she’s looking fine for 50+. She did her best to scale down the operatic grandeur, but even my husband (who’s not familiar with her work, but knows a thing or two about opera) thought she was holding back a wee bit too much. Her “Hello Young Lovers” was lovely, but she really seemed to have a good time (and sounded freer) with the “Getting to Know You” production number. “Shall We Dance” simply didn’t have the heat of Kerr & Brynner. Perhaps Graham & Wilson just haven’t developed their rapport yet, or perhaps they are just bring polite colleagues. Either way, what should’ve been The Big Number passed pleasantly enough.

    I’m a big Grahsm fan, and am so glad to be in Paris to see her strut her stuff in person, and in musical comedy, no less. But, I know (as do many of you) that she can tear up the joint. I kept waiting for her to let it rip, or go slightly off-script, or just do something demented. She played it safe, alas, but there are many more performances until end of June. Who knows, she may yet bust out. I would be interested to hear from parterrians who see subsequent performances.

    In the meantime, bonne nuit!

  • papopera says:

    Sleep well, years ago I saw a really cheap performance of
    Roméo & Juliette in Montréal accompanied by a Hammond organ !

    • kennedet says:

      I too witnessed a production of Fiddler on the Roof years ago with virtual orchestra….. “hated it”.Many times the soloists and ensembles were not together for obvious reasons.

      It would be interesting to hear from serious opera singers who have had this experience.My friend who sang in the chorus did not have strong opinions but there are so many negatives! If you are singing a solo/aria ,you must anticipate tempos and memorize the orchestration without benefit of a real person keeping time.This is an added responsibility to memorizing the role and the acting. Any natural hesitation,interruption or unanticipated pause could be a disaster because the music is handled mechanically.
      Also, it would help to have a good recording that doesn’t malfunction. Another disaster waiting to happen.

      • papopera says:

        Cloe Elmo once toured singing arias from Carmen, in costume, in theatres with piano accompaniment. She was the attraction between movies! Poor thing, it was so humiliating.

    • olliedawg says:

      This performance was full orchestra & chorus …a pleasure.

  • Sanford says:

    The use of computer orchestras for opera isn’t new. Operaworks used it for several seasons. I saw both Ariadne auf Naxos and Anna Bolena there over 15 years ago.

  • La Valkyrietta says:

    Karaoke Carmen.

    I hope the Met does not get in this bandwagon.

  • La Valkyrietta says:

    How about virtual singers in opera? Cheaper and they will always be in the desired pitch. .

    A solution for Gelb? A nightmare of opera fans.

    • tatiana says:

      Only if he REALLY wants to kill off the last vestiges of the fan base. . . .

    • Clita del Toro says:

      Valkie, we, unfortunately, have too many “virtual” opera singers around today.
      We don’t need any more. They (and we) know who they are.

  • m. croche says:

    OT, but a fun collection of operas being broadcast today, including VIVIER -EIN NACHTPROTOKOLL, about the composer of high-modernist exotica who came to a grisly end at the hands of a prostitute, by the promising Serb-German composer Marko Nikodijevic, Georg Friedrich Haas’ BLUTHAUS, which I believe was also just given in NYC, the Parisian POPPEA directed by Robert Wilson, and the zarzuela EL DOMINO AZUL by Arrieta, live from Barcelona.

  • Lady Abbado says:

    OT:
    Jonas Kaufmann: the world’s greatest tenor -- article in The Telegraph today:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/opera/10895097/Jonas-Kaufmann-the-worlds-greatest-tenor.html

    • Clita del Toro says:

      And of course like Domingo, Kaufmann is an excellent, instinctive actor? WTF? Is she kidding? Actually, I am tired of all this Kaufmann PR krap, and am tiring of him as well.

      • armerjacquino says:

        It’s surely not controversial to say that Domingo and Kaufmann are both excellent actors? I mean, whatever people may think of their voices, they can clearly both act very well.

        • Clita del Toro says:

          Kaufmann does act very well.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Domingo always looks like a big goofball on the stage.

            • kashania says:

              Domingo was never a specific or probing actor. But he was a good instinctive actor, IMO. He was always in the moment, and though he painted with broad strokes, he always conveyed the dramatic situation.

              BTW, this entire performance is sensational. Domingo at his most vocally virile, Freni gorgeous, Capucilli at his most exciting, and Kleiber in classic form. It’s a shame that with all the Otello DVDs out there (at least three of them with Domingo), this one has never been commercially released.

            • kashania says:

              Though I do think that Kaufmann is a better (and less generic) actor than Domingo.

            • Lohengrin says:

              To describe the difference between Domingo and Kaufmann in acting: Domingo is “playing” the character, Kaufmann makes us believe that he “is” the character.

            • turings says:

              I don’t think one is better than the other, it’s more the difference of 30 years in performance and production style.

              Here’s Ian McKellan doing Macbeth’s soliloquy in 1976:

              and here’s Patrick Stewart in a made for tv version from 2009:

              Both great readings – and if Stewart’s seems more immediate and compelling to me, that’s partly because I’m more used to those conventions. You could argue his more naturalistic style loses the rhythm and the poetry of the line that McKellan puts over.

      • Lohengrin says:

        Clita del Toro, You need not read any word about Kaufmann and also need not go to his opera-events or concerts; you save seats for those who love to hear (and see) him.
        No one ever performing on an opera-stage was so natural and impressing as JK, even not Domingo.

        • Clita del Toro says:

          Lohengrin, I agree about Kaufmann’s acting. I was just surprised that the writer compared him with the goofy Plamingo. I also like Kaufmann’s singing. I am just tired of all the PR surrounding him. I merely just want to hear him sing!

          • Lohengrin says:

            PR is part of the business. There are some singers (no names please) with much more PR but worse singing and acting!

            • Clita del Toro says:

              I can’t imagine who? I don’t read that stuff either, especially the stuff surrounding the fabulous, interesting, wise, smart, fun, all-American, JDD.

        • Krunoslav says:

          “No one ever performing on an opera-stage was so natural and impressing as JK, even not Domingo.”

          Take *that*, Claudia Muzio, Jarmila Novotna and Mark Reizen! The fanboys don’t pant for *your* curly locks…

          • Buster says:

            First moving images of Claudia Muzio:

          • The_Kid says:

            ….not to mention fyodor chaliapin, virginia zeani, siegfried jerusalem, hildegard behrens, jon vickers, leonie rysanek, jose cura,….oh, what’s the use? fanboys/girls will be who they are, and make bombastic statements. better to take ‘em with a grain of salt.

            • La Valkyrietta says:

              Chaliapin! His Don Basilio in appearance, acting and singing was quite creative and original. I would love to have seen it.

    • Cicciabella says:

      With all the media fuss about Kaufmann, you’d think Puccini’s opera was called Chevalier De Grieux. But very amusing article, Lady A, especially the first paragraph. Imagine reading: “Idris Elba is rehearsing the death scene from Shakespeares’s Othello. In the interest of avoiding spoilers for those who don’t know the plot of the Renaissance play, I won’t say whose death.”

      • Lohengrin says:

        Let´s wait for the Cinema Transmission and then start a new discussion. Sadly I will not be able to go to London :-( (.

        • Cicciabella says:

          You never know, Lohengrin. Maybe the Puccini estate will decide to permanently change the title of the opera after the cinema transmission, to the delight of Kaufmaniacs everywhere.