Cher Public

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There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about

Those of you who read this site faithfully (and I know there are one or two of you) will be interested to know that a boycott of has been organized by fellow blogger Bari-Chunks.


  • 1
    Clita del Toro says:

    This is funny. Lol

  • 2
    javier says:

    It’s kind of sad that la cieca had to tell us that another blog that no one even reads wants to organize a boycott.

  • 3
    Satisfied says:

    Love your comment on Bari’s blog, LC!

    Bari-chunks should send you a bouquet of flowers…his (her?) stats must have gone up astronomically due to your (capital B) Blogging.

  • 4
    Cicciabella says:

    There’s such a thing as cheeseburger soup???!!!

  • 5
    La Cieca says:

    “Tenor David Portillo was just fine as Renaud, particularly when the music became more lyrical, less declamatory. He also showed some rare flair for the language which by and large eluded most of the cast, a near fatal problem for 17th and 18th century French opera where clear and nuanced declamation of the text is paramount.”

    • 5.1
      la vociaccia says:

      You know this started because some singer was going around sharing the worst reviews they could find of their other singer friends, as a sort of “lol fuck the critics” exercise. And the only thing they could find on Portillo was that one stupid comment (a comment that, I might add, was made in response to a much more frequent poster, QPF, who had posted a video of Portillo singing ‘vivi tu’ and said something along the lines of “I hope somebody promotes this young man because he’s extremely talented”)

      But, as my father always said, there’s no use trying to find a logical reason for irrational behavior…

      • 5.1.1
        La Cieca says:

        For the record, here are the parterre comments made about David Portillo:

        “They hire quite good people there; Bruce ford, David Portillo, Ewa Podles…”

        “If Portillo plays his cards right, he will last.”

        “I’m sorry but this sounds like a poor man’s Stephen Costello….”

        “David Portillo is a very good artist and was excellent in the Minnesota BOLENA, far more stylish and musical ( and less deer-in-the-headlights dramatically) than Costello at the Met. And ARMIDE was also terrific. Watch for him.”

        “I’m not doing backflips over his voice (just slightly in the nose for me) but he sings this aria much better than Costello. I don’t even think the comparison is necessarily valid; Portillo has demonstrated an affinity for French music (he was great in the Juilliard Armide two years ago), while Costello sings all of his music, from Donizetti to Gounod, through the same one-size-fits-all Italian approach”

        “With no disrespect to Kaufmann, here is a young tenor to nurture for the future — David Portillo”

        “Palm Beach Opera has a pretty impressive BARBIERE cast…. Count Almaviva: David Portillo”

        “Last summer’s ALO Magic Flute with Craig Verm & David Portillo was perhaps the best performance of that opera I’ve ever seen.”

        “David Portillo’s ‘vivi tu’ was sensational.”

        “…a sublime tenor David Portillo”

        This honestly just goes to demonstrate a theory La Cieca has long held, which is that singers are so insecure they automatically dismiss positive views so they can obsess about the single mixed or negative one. The comments about Portillo on this site are so strongly positive they might have been composed by his press agent, and yet the only one that Bari-Chunks has heard about is “poor man’s Stephen Costello.”

        “Okay patter? OKAY PATTER? I busted my ass learning that patter and it was fucking BRILLIANT! I’d like to see that jerk from Variety try to write patter! And tell me this: if the patter is so ‘okay,’ then how come is it winning friends? No wonder supper clubs are in trouble if they send ignorant jerks like this to review cabaret acts! And you know what this is really about, right? I’M FAT!”

          Uninvolved Bystander says:

          He sang a lovely Don Ottavio at Opera Philadelphia this past season. I hadn’t heard of him and thought I discovered a new talent.

          pirelli says:

          “Okay” (or “OK”) is one of those terms that can be good or bad depending on context. (Like “satisfactory” often seems to have a negative connotation but can also be a very positive thing.) Much like “you’re doing fine, Oklahoma, Oklahoma, OK,” I would surmise that “okay” here was meant to be a superlative, not a dig.

          Porgy Amor says:

          Several years ago, I read an interview with a young actress who had an important role on an acclaimed cable show. She claimed that she now avoided the internet entirely, because she realized she was incapable of reading without obsessing about the negative. She described that during the first season of the show, after a new episode aired, she would go to message boards and blogs and read hundreds of viewer comments, and she would actually keep count (!) of the positive and negative ones about her. It was very distressing to her when the negative outweighed the positive. She would literally stay up late, reading page after page, thinking, “If I read just one more nice thing, then I can go to sleep,” but then…negative, negative, negative, she can’t act, she looks like a dyke, she’s fat, why didn’t they get someone better-looking to play that role, etc., with maybe one “Lay off! She’s good!” for every five like that. Of course, there was an element of insecurity; she worried that this stuff was going to influence people who had the power to write her out. And of course, that did not happen; she remained with the show for its entire run and had many fans. If she did keep her word and stop reading about herself, I am sure it was a smart move for her peace of mind.

          Closer to home, I remember a Met tenor of the Volpe years showing up on some newsgroup I used to read, obviously very hurt and angry at what had been written about him over the years, and it was a similar situation to the Portillo one; the ones he was bringing up were just the harshest ones. It wasn’t as though the guy were that group’s bête noire and Worst Singer Ever.

  • 6
    DeepSouthSenior says:

    I guess we all need to let our inner adolescent out from time to time to act the complete fool. I’m waiting for someone to say, “You’re just a big doody-head!”

  • 7
    rysanekfreak says:

    The retired schoolmarm in me wants to remind whoever types the Bari-Chunks blog that a writer should know the difference between “its” and “it’s.”

    But the blogger will never know he made this terrible mistake because he is boycotting parterre and won’t read this. Oh dear!

    • 7.1
      operaassport says:

      It’s the Internet. Grammar, spelling … Those are the least of the problems that Internet bloggers face :)

  • 8
    operaassport says:

    Never heard of it but boycotts are for LOSERS.

    Probably should have ignored this nobody because now it got the attention it’s obviously craving.

  • 9
    la vociaccia says:


    Does the genius who started that blog realize the SINGLE poster who referred to David Portillo as the “poor man’s ste

    • 9.1
      la vociaccia says:

      …Stephen Costello was challenged by at least three other posters (including myself) who opined that David Portillo was in fact much finer singer and actor than Costello? In other words, the “blog” did not call him that; one snarky poster out of hundreds did.

      I swear, the sheer, unbridled stupidity of some people….

  • 10
    Gualtier M says:

    The New York theater’s boycott of Mrs. John Claggart has ended after many a year:

    Doubtless, one of you chatters is planning on attending?

  • 11
    Howling in Tune says:

    Cieca, for those of us who aren’t on Facebook, could you paste here (or somehow link to) the post about the Met chorus that Bari-Chunks is so, erm, exercised about?

    • 11.1
      forthesakeofargument says:

      The dispute came from a conversation on the wall of a singer on facebook. The singer posted a link to a blog article (, whereupon JJ decided to get all like, “oh no you didn’t” all over his wall. I won’t put the whole thing, but here are some of my favorite pearls of wisdom that La Cieca decided to drop on people that day (and by favorite, I mean gross):

      “Right: singing is a magical art given to very few; the whole rest of the world is Muggles.”

      ” I love your magical thinking: let’s all ride unicorns too!”

      “Pointless to argue with a singer.”

      “You’re right: the Met should pay the chorus a million dollars a year and pick them all up in limousines to take them to work. Cancel all the new productions and for that matter don’t stage any of the operas: just line the chorus up and let them make those sweet, sweet noises God put in their throats. And after the performance from the chorus dressing room the very first thing you will hear is, “Uh, I asked for a PLATINUM toilet seat, not gold!””

      “the audience works almost as hard as the people on stage — harder sometimes I think.”

      • 11.1.1
        La Cieca says:

        If people don’t want to discuss stuff, they should post it on their Facebook page. I will say that in a very general sense, many singers seem to feel the world treats them very badly indeed relative to how they perceive their worth. This may be because, like acting and some other performing arts professions, there is sense that the more or less tangible perks of working in this field (big money, fame, adulation, the sense of working under the best conditions) seem to be distributed very disproportionately, or, to put it another way, unfairly. A lot of singers seem to go through life feeling cheated and schemed against. One reaction to this sense of oppression is a curious attitude of entitlement; that is, no matter what they’re paid or how they’re treated, there are some singers, not all, but certainly some, who seem to go out of their way to find reasons why it’s never enough. (You can see this phenomenon in the narrowing in on the single negative comment made about David Portillo in the comments section of this site. Never mind that the single review published of his work here was positive or that there were a dozen strongly positive comments about him: the only one that was “visible” was the negative one.)

        The way this worked out on the Facebook thread in question is that a number of the singers posting expressed themselves in absolute either/or terms, e.g., the Met chorus deserves every penny of compensation they now receive and more, and even the smallest reduction (as part of a company-wide belt tightening) should be understood as a direct and deliberate insult.

        This is a problem, because it is in no way about money and in every way about a desperate desire for affirmation which can never be appeased. As it happens, this time around the ostensible reason for the perceived insult is money, but it could just as easily be rehearsal time, a criticism from a stage director, a costume someone doesn’t think is pretty: whatever. The experience of being a singer is not what they expected it to be, and it must be somebody’s fault.

        I lost my temper a couple of times and then signed off the thread and blocked the guy who did the original post. Alfred Hitchcock once famously said, “All actors should be treated like cattle,” and I shudder to think what he’d say about opera singers.

          forthesakeofargument says:

          I would only hasten to argue that your complete dismissal of all singers based on a stereotype is the kind of small minded thinking that leads to prejudice (you go out of your way to say some, but then you are willing to judge all of them based on that “some”). You don’t know all singers. You don’t know what they (or any singular person in ANY profession) has to go through to pay the bills, and for you to judge them so harshly, based on whatever difficult interaction you have had with singers in the past, makes you look very small indeed. It is the same kind of singular thinking that a homophobe would use to justify his hatred and callous dismissal of those that he chooses not to understand.

          I appreciate that singers can be a difficult entitled group of people to work with (I am one, I’ve dated them, I’ve been married to one, and some of them are terrible) but I would argue that the same “desire for affirmation” is apparent in any business. It is a human need, not a diva opera singer need. Do singers complain about the business? Yes. But, the business aspect of opera sucks. I don’t know any singers that get into this profession because they REALLY want to run a small business out of their home. They want to sing. Now, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t HAVE to do the work, I’m just saying that they have every right to complain about the profession that pays their bills.

          And, implying that we should all just start treating people like cattle is the same kind of de-humanization that leads to the crap going on in Gaza. My inclination would be to treat all people like people. Even opera singers. Who knows, you might just find that some of us are reasonable. Or, you could treat us all like cattle… just don’t be surprised if you get kicked in the head someday (not a threat… cows kick people in the head… implying that when you treat people poorly, they will tend to live down to your expectations).

          m. croche says:

          La Cieca, you do realize that the microphone is on, don’t you?

      • 11.1.2
        m. croche says:

        Thanks for the clarification, forthesake. The whole matter is a smidgeon less opaque than it was previously.

      • 11.1.3
        ML says:

        Should be “not” instead of “don’t” in that fourth one.

    • 11.2
    • 11.3
      thedeparted says:

      I’ve tried to post a reply on this thread, but for some reason it keeps getting blocked. Weird… Maybe it’s because I wanted to post an article link that has some more facts from LC/JJ/whoever’s argument on Facebook. Oh well…

  • 12
    oedipe says:

    Apologies for the OT, but I would like to tell Manou, if she is in Orange tonight: I am sorry about the cancellation of tonight’s performance, but what can you do, il faut ôter l’eau… ;)

    • 12.1
      manou says:

      Merci œdipe. We did have Son et Lumière storms during our fruitless trip to the Théâtre Antique and now we have this nice quip too to cheer us up!

      Fingers crossed for the replay tomorrow.

      • 12.1.1
        Krunoslav says:

        Hope Mr. Barasorda (or Mr. Forbis) has time to learn the staging before curtain time Sunday! :)

          manou says:

          O ye of little faith…

          oedipe says:

          Actually, any American tenor would be better than a frog. But the public is too ignorant to know it.

          • Krunoslav says:

            Oedipe, maybe Gilbert Py ( or the ghost of Tony Poncet ) can ensure the performance.

            • oedipe says:

              And of course, you didn’t attend the dress rehearsal, you will not attend the performances, you will likely not even listen to the broadcast because you can’t stand some of those singers and it is not taking place in America anyway, but you already have an established, objective and unprejudiced opinion about the whole thing.

            • Krunoslav says:

              This is, as much of what you post, poppycock.

              I like many French singers and have repeatedly said so. I have liked Alagna often, especially in CARMEN, ROMEO, NAVARRAISE, HOFFMAN, BUTTERFLY and CAVALLERIA. I thought him ridiculous in AIDA. I am sure he won’t be the worst Otello ever but it seems a part of the same machismo that drove di Stefabo and Pavarotti to attempt it that he is taking it on; of course teh Orange public will applaud whatever he offers.

              Inva Mula I have only heard as Micaela and Mimi live- she was very good if not on, say, the Maliponte or Freni level ( though her French was certainly better than Freni’s in CARMEN) I liked her Mireille on DVD.

              I know nothing about the Iago.

              So, far from despising the singers, I am JUST PULLING YOUR CHAIN because it’s so damn easy to do so.

              Let me go back to conspiring to keep François Lis from off American stages…

            • oedipe says:

              Yea, sure! And you expect me to believe that your recurrent derogatory comments about various singers are only there to “pull my chain” and in reality you have a great opinion about Alagna, Tézier, Piau, Sophie Koch, etc.? BS! So tell me, in which roles would you rather see these singers than all (or most) others, especially their American counterparts and especially on American stages (since you often seem to prefer American singers over anyone else).

            • Krunoslav says:

              You are obviously not stupid but you are oo stubborn to read or take in anything anyone writes.

              As I am tired of saying, I have more Piau CDs than CDs of any other recent Soprano, though Karine Gauvin is catching up. When you foolishly or mendaciously claimed Piau had never sung in America, I mentioned having seen her in NYC 6 or 7 times-- do you suppose I went because I *don’t* enjoy her performances? I have also heard her and Tezier-- in Paris.

              DO YOU FUCKING GET THAT???????

              I stand by what I said above about Alagna. He can be vulgar and push his voice, and he is no Bergonzi when it comes to a Verdian line, but when he is good-- and he still often is-- I enjoy him very much.

              Koch I have only heard once live, at the Met WERTHER opening and I was among those not impressed in any way. Uninteresting use of words in her native language, a slightly sour and uncompelling tone. She is better on some of her CDs but it is not a voice that speaks to me. I understand that she is treated, and not only by the French, as a Sacred Cow, but there are other Sacred Cows whose high reputations, some of them Americans, I find mystifying.

              i have liked every Tezier performance I have ever heard save for his ill-advised Met Escamillo I am sorry of your national amour propre was wounded when I pointed out some time ago that-- at least in what I head heard him in, LUCIE, FAVORITE, NOZZE, ELISIR — his voice did not have the weight of a traditional Verdi baritone in the Bastiannini/Warren/Taddei/Milnes mode, any more than does Hampson’s or Keenlyside. IT DIDN’T.
              I gather from what I read it has expanded and that is great. I look forward to hearing him as Germont in New York and in his ( new, admit it) Fach.


              I think I spend more time in France and listening to French singers, past and current, than most of the other Americans on this blog, and you are just barking up the wrong tree. Maybe you can’t distinguish among North American posters?

            • grimoaldo says:

              Of course, oedipe, he hates British singers too and today said ” Gwyneth DEPLORABLE from first note to last. By the Love Duet one literally hoped someone would drop a crowbar on her.”
              I think he knows what the word “literally” means, I find it quite offensive to see someone say they “literally” hoped for that.

            • Krunoslav says:

              Grimoaldo, you are as thick-headed as Oedipe. “He hates British singers too”. Drop dead (um, not literally). You have agreed with things, positive things, that I have said about British singers.

              Recently I got derided hereabouts for making a list of my very favorite singers who are British ( and there are a lot of them, maybe Rolfe Johnson above all) and it all goes right beyond what your mutton-headed nationalistic mind can take in.

              I loved Gwyneth when she was terrific ( Dyer’s Wife, Leonore, one of the Elektras I saw) but that Isolde was indeed DEPLORABLE- every note of it. I know damn well what literalness means, but you would be a good demonstration piece if I didn’t.

            • grimoaldo says:

              So when you said that you hoped physical harm would “literally” befall Dame Gwyneth, you didn’t actually mean “literally”? I have never thought such a thing about any singer, never mind stating on a public forum that it was no mere figure of speech but meant to be taken literally.

            • Krunoslav says:

              “There are more things, Horatio…”

      • 12.1.2
        Fidelia says:

        Manou, my fingers are crossed for you too! Send the bad weather East to us, we won’t mind if it means you can see your Otello tomorrow comme il faut.

    • 12.2
      papopera says:

      pendant que Gounod faisait laver Maria I suppose ?

  • 13
    Clita del Toro says:

    Speaking of dog food, I am listening to Rosenkavalier with Erdmann as Sophie. What’s with that voice?

    • 13.1
      DeepSouthSenior says:

      That’s the little Forest Bird who wandered in from the Ring.

    • 13.2
      Clita del Toro says:

      Lol She must have Pigeon Pox.

    • 13.3
      phoenix says:

      Clita, does a bad Sophie destroy a Rosenkavalier? How was the rest of it?

    • 13.4
      ML says:

      I wouldn’t go that far, but I’m with you, and yes, the Sophie can “destroy a Rosenkavalier.”

    • 13.5
      DeepSouthSenior says:

      And a good Sophie can elevate a Rosenkavalier. I’m thinking right now of The Presentation of the Rose with Diana Damrau’s Sophie next to Sophie Koch’s Octavian.

  • 14
    kashania says:

    Well, La Cieca, you’ve officially *arrived*. You might have thought that coverage in the NYT or Opera News would have signified it, but no, there’s nothing quite like a boycott.

    • 14.1
      Krunoslav says:

      Cieca, albeit very accomplished, has yet to check off:

      1) Doing a Rome Walkout with the President of the Republic in the house

      2) Dancin’ with the, like, Opera Stars (filmed at Glyndebourne or whatever)

      3) Being made a Dame Commander of the British Empire

      4) Making an “Ave Maria” album for Melodiya

      5) Beatification

  • 15
    jackoh says:

    I wonder if all of the readers of that blog decided to boycott PB how many hits per day La Cieca would lose?

  • 16
    DeepSouthSenior says:

    For some reason, I can’t get the phrase “Blowing Chunks” out of my head.

  • 17
    Tory Adore says:

    hmmmm….I wouldn’t mind more ‘badassery’ on this site especially if it looks like the ginger-chunk from the bad-ass bari-chunks blog…… just sayin’

    • 17.1
      DeepSouthSenior says:

      Sorry about that, Tony. This is about as pushing-the-envelope as it gets for this then and now non-hunk, unadventurously hetero, sixties-something grandfather. Diana Damrau’s bare shoulders do tend to rev up my engine a little, though.

  • 18
    opera_fanatic says:

    To some extent, I would have to say asking people to boycott you is a sign of flattery. It is a bit childish though.

  • 19
    Sempre liberal says:

    With single tickets on sale (subscribers), do we get $ back if the shows are cancelled? How about for shows within a subscription?

    Is anyone buying tickets now? If so, are you buying single tickets now for the fall? Or are you buying tickets for later in the year?

    • 19.1
      Don_Dano says:

      I am waiting to buy tickets. I would think they would give refunds for cancelled performances, but I’d need to make travel arrangements which wouldn’t all be refunded.

      • 19.1.1
        Satisfied says:

        I’m neither renewing nor buying tickets until this is resolved. I’d rather save the money and book a trip…ideally to a city with lots of opera choices.

    • 19.2
      Lohenfal says:

      Another Parterrian asked the same question last week. I assume that we would get refunds for cancelled performances. That’s what usually happens elsewhere. I’ve had tickets to various concerts at Lincoln Center which were cancelled, and in each case I received a refund at the box office. Of course, the Met being the Met, one never can be sure. In any case, I’ve put my subscription tickets away and don’t even want to look at them at this time. Does the Met realize how much ill will this mess has created among its supporters? Probably not.

      • 19.2.1
        Chanterelle says:

        I asked about refunds when I phoned to renew my subscriptions and was assured that cancelled performances would be refunded. I wouldn’t expect it to be automatic, however, the way it is with Carnegie.