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Yours, mine and ours

Our own Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin goes all-American with a performance of The Ballad of Baby Doe starring Ruth Ann Swenson, James Morris and Judith Forst.

Douglas Moore/John Latouche: The Ballad of Baby Doe

San Francisco Opera
Stefan Lano, conductor
23 September 2000

In-house recording

Mrs. Elizabeth (Baby) Doe – Ruth Ann Swenson
Horace Tabor. Mayor of Leadville – James Morris
Augusta, wife of Horace Tabor – Judith Forst
Mama McCourt, Baby Doe’s mother – Josepha Gayer
Samantha, a maid – Sara Lamar MacBride
Silver Dollar, daughter of Horace and Baby Doe – Tina Osinski
William Jennings Bryan, Democratic presidential candidate – John Fanning
President Chester A. Arthur – Daniel Harper
Father Chapelle – Jim Croom


  • 21
    Milady DeWinter says:

    Yes, it really makes you realize how wonderful Moffo could be in her prime. That woman had sex infused into her lyric coloratura instrument.

    • 21.1
      Regina delle fate says:

      Moffo declined too, though, in her later years. Somewhat more spectacularly than Swenson did.

  • 22
    Milady DeWinter says:

    Crazy decline! And while I adore La Moffo, I have to agree with Peter Jackson, or is it Michael Scott, or maybe one of the parterriat, who thought she never quite lived up to her potential as an interpreter given her huge jumpstart with that voice. Or even Mme. Callas herself, who once said someting to the effect that she couldn’t “skim through Violetta the way Moffo does” (ouch!)- but still, it was gorgeous while it lasted. And truly, not much of an actress, although she had the reputation in some quarters, but they mistook personal beauty and being at home on stage for being a great actress. Not the same thing. But she was a star, that’s for sure.

    • 22.1
      Clita del Toro says:

      ….“skim through Violetta the way Moffo does” (ouch!)- but still, it was gorgeous while it lasted. And truly, not much of an actress, although she had the reputation in some quarters, but they mistook personal beauty and being at home on stage for being a great actress. Not the same thing. But she was a star, that’s for sure.”

      IMNSHO, that is a perfect description of Netrebko’s assumption of many a role. She skims through it, and then on to another glossed over role.

    • 22.2
      La Cieca says:

      That Callas “quote” was reported by the self-aggrandizing fabulist Franco Zeffirelli, so I wouldn’t bother to put any credence in it.

  • 23
    ailsamegan says:

    Thank you for that -- I hope that has shut that operaasshole up!!

  • 24
    Milady DeWinter says:

    Clita -- your comments are apt regarding La Trebs -- who I like very much, and who has always reminded of Moffo, too -- except that Moffo was a better coloratura sharpshooter.
    p.s. And I meant to say ‘Paul’ Jackson -- not Peter. Don’t know why, but I always make that mistake. RAS as Galadriel ca. 1990!

    • 24.1
      operaassport says:

      More like Swenson as Samwise.

    • 24.2
      Flora del Rio Grande says:

      Thank you for quoting Paul Jackson, Milady. He is a commentator most
      superior, and his books invaluable. I heard so many of the broadcasts
      he critiques; it is a real trip to read him and re-read him; also, great
      reference books they are.
      I loved Moffo for her personal beauty and her ravishing soprano, esp.
      early on. But she was a bit of a psychological ‘case,’ insecure, etc., and
      that Italian who took her on certainly did not help.
      Singers seem somewhat better grounded these days. Maybe.
      Ta, F l o r a

      • 24.2.1
        Milady DeWinter says:

        Flora -- I love the Jackson books. They bear reading again and again, not only for the informed way he has of describing a performance from all musical aspects,but I admire his evenhandedness (despite his admitted passion for all things Albanese, and I won’t deny him that -- chacun a ‘son’) when giving out demerits -- he always manages to spot good work. And it’s so interesting to go back and read a particular review when Sirius runs that broadcast (or more rarely -- does a premiere restoration)and you get to listen with “refreshed” ears. He is supposedly at work on the fourth volume which would cover most of the Levine “golden era” -- that would be fun. My favorite bedside reading. As a rule.

  • 25
    Clita del Toro says:

    OT: Otello from Orange today on France Musique at 3:30 EDT with Alagna and Mula.

  • 26
    Milady DeWinter says:

    Cieca -- I was trying to remember where I heard the “skim” remark -- yes, I see it was via Zeffirelli-

    On the other side are those who are less taken with the cast. Some question the intrinsic suitability of Richard Tucker for the role of Alfredo Germont. More importantly, there are those who are not impressed by Anna Moffo’s Violetta. Here is a rather prominent doubter: In 1964 Maria Callas was to do a revival of “Norma” under the stage direction of Franco Zefferelli. Zefferelli asked her to avoid unreasonable vocal challenges. “I can’t, Franco,” he recalled her saying. “I won’t do what Anna Moffo does in Traviata. I won’t skim through my music. I have to take chances even if it means disaster and the end of my career.” (With Callas holding that attitude, I imagine that the atmosphere in the studio during the recording of “La Boheme” when Callas did Mimi and Moffo, Musetta, must have been a bit strained.)

  • 27
    operaassport says:

    Ruth Ann Swenson starring in “The Ballad of Baby Dull.”

    • 27.1
      peter says:

      Aren’t you going back to school soon?

    • 27.2
      bluecabochon says:

      Is it just me, or do I get the feeling that operassport doesn’t like Ruth Ann Swenson?

      • 27.2.1
        Cicciabella says:

        OAS doesn’t just lunch with Peter Gelb. He is, in fact, Peter Gelb, who comes over here to release union negotiation tension by calling people fools, idiots and limp vegetables with impunity.

          operaassport says:

          1 out of 3 ain’t bad; sounds like you need to take my class.

          CwbyLA says:

          What do you teach operaassport?

          • operaassport says:

            I’m in the Performing Arts area but I’ve been concentrating on film lately. I have a book on film noir coming out in the fall (yes, like the world needs another book on that subject).

            • Milady DeWinter says:

              Congratulations on the publication of your tome, operaassport -- is is perhaps being published by Edinburgh University Press, or University of Illinois Press?

  • 28
    Hugo Santos says:

    In 1999, she sang a wonderful Sonnambula, here in Portugal, with Gregory Kunde as Elvino. She brought the house down, back then.

  • 29
    Gualtier M says:

    Discussing coloraturas -- Cristina Deutekom died yesterday per reports.