Cher Public

Hello Amanda

Soprano Amanda Majeski will make her Met debut on the opening night of the 2014-2015 season as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, replacing Marina Poplavskaya “who has withdrawn for health reasons.”

Ms. Majeski is not at the moment very well represented on YouTube, but here are two perhaps representative clips.

Photo: Dario Acosta

  • ML

    minor typo

  • Buster

    She sings interesting stuff:

    • papopera

      We rarely hear the great Delius anymore. His VILLAGE R&J and other stage works have never been heard at the Met- I think.

      • Henry Holland

        No, but per the great Met Archive they the Met orchestra did his Over The Hills and Far Away at a concert at Lewisohn Stadium in 1965, doesn’t that count for anything? :-)

        Effin’ Brits etc. etc.

        I love A Villiage Romeo and Juliet, his opera Fennimore and Gerda

        * Yes, Delius considered himself more German than English, but still.

        • papopera

          Interesting but thats such a long time ago. I’ve been a fan for many years and study his scores on the piano.

      • Krunoslav

        Henry, caro: New York City Opera did A VILLAGE ROMEO AND JULIET in 1973. They revived it at least once: John Stewart, Patricia Wells, David Holloway; Mario Bernardi (cond).

        • Henry Holland

          Thanks for the info! A little Googling reveals that it was a Frank Corsaro production, I loved his Die Tote Stadt. *sigh* New York City Opera *sigh*

          • WindyCityOperaman

            That NYCO production used multi-media, pretty advanced for its time (late 1970s). The Meredith Davies’ recording with the revised Hammond English test came out about the same time, luckily revived on CD. The Petr Wiegl film with the Mackerras recording as soundtrack is interesting, but not the last word on the subject. I wish it would be revived on stage -- something aka the Frankfurt production would work at any one of the US regional companies (i.e., Chicago Opera Theatre).

            • Krunoslav

              ” (late 1970s).”

              It was, as I say above, in 1973. Corsaro was also using multimedia technology in THE MAKROPOULOS CASE w/Niska and DIE TOTE STADT w/Alexander and Neblett (yes, collective sigh for NYCO) at the same time.

              In re: US mountings of Delius. Corsaro has been at the forefront. He had done KOANGA in 1970 at the Opera Society of Washington , with Eugene Holmes; and went on to produce FENNIMORE AND GERDA at Opera Theater of St Louis in 1981, and he and they gave MARGOT LA ROUGE its WP staging two summers later. He directed the NYC premiere of FENNIMORE AND GERDA at Juilliard in 1992: Christopher Keene leading Nina Warren, Franco Pomponi and Jay Hunter Morris.

  • damekenneth

    The end?

    • Porgy Amor

      It doesn’t look good. Reminds me of that part of the last act of the Decker Traviata where Violetta is on her last legs and they bring in the “new” Violetta…

      Except for the Onegins at the Met, has there been anything, anywhere, in the last couple years in which MP wasn’t replaced entirely (Tannhäuser, Tell, Traviata) or announced as replaced before struggling through one or more of the performances anyway (Robert Le Diable, Vêpres, Otello)? Anyone know if she actually made it through the Francesca da Rimini in Stuttgart?

      I don’t want to start another argument about what Popsy can and cannot do, but I always have wished her well, so I am sad about this. Best of luck to Amanda M.; that is a high-pressure debut.

      • Poplavskaya is 37 years old. I wonder if she would consider going back and rebuilding her technique. It would be a long, tedious exercise but it could be worth it. If she were still singing here and there, it would be more difficult to arrange such a thing. But since she hasn’t performed publicly in a while and doesn’t seem to have much coming up, I hope she’d consider it. She’s a very communicative artist with a fine natural voice. It’s not too late.

        • PetertheModest
          • papopera

            Unspecified health reasons for Céline Dion’s husband and manager, 71 years old. Céline has cancelled all further Vegas shows and international tours to rest her vocal chords.

            • pirelli

              Vocal cords.

              “Vocal chords” would be perhaps the triads sung by a group of singers. “Vocal cords” is the more common term for larynx.


    • spiderman

      If Poplavskaya is indeed rebuilding her voice -- for which I wish her good luck -- I bet she will be cancelling everything till March 2015 and try a Comeback with Tatyana in Berlin and later Alice Ford. Two roles which she either feels comfortable with or which are a good re-start in terms of length.

      • PetertheModest

        That would include cancelling Traviata at the Met, for which some people would be relieved, except that would mean Marina Rebeka doing the whole run.

        It does look like Popsy will sing nothing this year on the stage, which would indeed give her a full year to rebuild the voice from scratch, as well as returning to full health.

      • Krunoslav

        “If Poplavskaya is indeed rebuilding her voice…”

        Dr. Papas managed:
        ” MP is young…”

        36 or 37 is often when people with no technique crash and burn, no?

        • la vociaccia

          Anything is possible….but I wouldn’t hold my breath for a miracle. She’ll get hired again, no question. But she’s spent a long time singing with bad habits. See: Villazon

          • PetertheModest

            Apparently, according to something I read on Intermezzo some time ago, Poplavskaya started singing too young and with very little training, and has sung ever since with unfinished defective technique, and has sort of got away with it because she is such a good actress, but bad singing habits have caught up with her, together with health problems. It might actually be easier for her to rebuild her technique because she never really had any.

          • I think that if Poplavskaya really nails down a solid technique, her return could be much more successful than Villazon’s. What the two shared was an unfinished technique (P more than V).

            However, Villazon also had the additional problems of chronic oversinging (“he give too much”) and singing repertoire that was too heavy for him.

            Poplavskaya never had those problems. She has a fairly big voice that is naturally suited to the rep she sings. And she never pushed her voice they way Villazon did his. I’m hopeful that if she really does get a solid technique going, she can have quite a good second career. Now, I’m no vocal pedagogue and have no idea if (or to what extent) the voice is damaged. But that’s my two cents’ on her.

            Villazon sort of blew out his voice and now has come back in rep that is lighter and less strenuous than what he used to sing. I’ve heard good things about his Mozart album. And apparently he was quite moving as Lucio Silla in Salzburg. His problem is that his temperament suits the Romantic rep. And unlike other singers who were to take on rep that was bigger than their voice (Sills, Scotto), Villazon didn’t have the technical security to rely on.

            And now, even if the technique is better, the voice isn’t what it used to be. It’s smaller than before and the high notes aren’t as reliable. There’s a reason why his only role at the Met since the comeback has been Lensky — no big high notes.

            Now, I just checked his schedule and it looks like in 2015, he has Hoffman and Don Carlo scheduled back to back (in Munich and Berlin respectively). So, we’ll what happens. I always liked him and wish him well.

            • la vociaccia

              I liked/like Villazon too, but I don’t see many differences between his and Popsy’s case. They were both natural talents who sang extremely dangerously for well over a decade (his problem was being overly muscular; she had serious tension/support issues in her top) and it’s unlikely that either of them could, this far along, get it straightened out. We’d all like to believe that hugely problematic singers in mid career could take six months off, sing on a vocalise, and come out re- designed. But history tells us that this is freakishly rare, not because it’s scientifically impossible, but because personality-wise, Villazon (and historically, Moffo etc) isn’t going to change the way he sings. He’s going to communicate they way he knows how to. And I think the same is true for popsy. She’ll get most of her voice back, but she won’t start singing like Eleanor Steber

            • Feldmarschallin

              Well what also might be a problem is that in today’s opera world things are planned years in advance. Are any of the houses going to hire her now with what is known and if it isn’t known yet if and how she will recover? I mean there is a big risk out there if they say well we are giving her contracts now for 3 and 4 years down the road and then they might have to look for someone else. I guess it all depends on what relationship you have to certain houses and I know Bing said to Rysanek that she should take time out and then he would hire her again which he did but first those were different times when the contracts were not made that long in advance and Rysanek was big box office. She might have to start with taking things when someone cancels etc and slowly prove herself. But I seriously doubt that any big projects are being given to her now in the state she is in. And Villazon is damaged goods who only gets hired because he has a big fan base and sells tickets (see: Domingo, Placido).

            • ML

              The Hoffmanns were excellent.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Rebuilding the voice is a rather long process and may require a year or longer, with absolutely no singing in between. Muscles controlling the vocal cords and larynx have to be nurtured with special phonetic regiment. MP is young and can afford to take some time off. Maybe it’s me, but I think the size of her voice has diminished, never being large to begin with. Wish her the best of luck for a quick recovery.

    • bluecabochon

      The time is going to go by anyway, so I hope that she is already at work rebuilding her voice. I wish success and good overall health to her. She is a fascinating person onstage.

  • Froshlover

    I heard Majeski do the CAPRICCIO Countess a couple years ago in Dresden and she was quite good. She spun out nice long legato lines and was always interesting, both vocally and in her acting. She’s a good addition to the FIGARO cast.

    • Chanterelle

      I saw Majeski as Marguerite in Zurich last winter, and her little Carnegie recital debut a few months later. It’s a nice voice, but she didn’t show much instinct for using the words. She seems to me a typical American conservatory product: good voice, technique, musicianship, disciplined professionalism, but not much personality. That said, she’ll be a better Countess than MP. She has a natural dignity which will suit the role.

      • Clita del Toro

        Those are not sufficient qualifications for a Mozart singer. Everything except personality and Innigkeit (sp)?? I guess that’s what they want today here in Amurica. Where are the Lisa della Casas? Schwanewilms I guess.

        • Lisa della Casa is dead.

          • Clita del Toro

            Oh really? I knew you’d chime in. Thanks. So, we have to put up with cookie cutter singers. Btw, LdC is not dead to me. You know very well what I was getting at. I was using her as an example.

            • Without cookie cutter singers, what would you find to bitch about? Oh, that’s right, everything.

            • Bill

              Lisa della Casa -I saw her debut at the
              Met (with Seefried also debuting) and many of her other performances in various cities and she is still vivid in my memory, hardly dead at all -- I play her Vier Letzte Lieder CD probably more than any other CD of any music. I have no idea about this new Met Countess -- hopefully a limpid Mozartian tone.

            • ML

              Bill, is that the 1953 recording of VLL under Böhm that’s now on Naxos?

              And do you happen to know if the Arabella that Feld is often talking about is the live 1963 Munich on DG?

              Anyway, I can get them bundled from Amazon today if they are right. Collection is without LdC at present!

            • ML

              Incidentally, I have the first Blackhead recording c/b Ackermann, which is almost too fresh and jaunty but a nice contrast. Unlike the LdC, which it precedes, it does *not* start with Beim. Do you know this one?

            • Bill

              ML -- yes the della Casa Vier Letzte Lieder from 1953 with Boehm conducting
              which used to be on London (English Decca) and it also has some excerpts from
              Capriccio and Arabella onCD. I bought the LP in 1953 or 1954 after hearing
              Della Casa’s debut at the Met with the Four Last Songs totally unknown to me --
              I was mesmerized. If it is now available on Naxos I am glad.

              I assume the Arabella which Feld is talking about is the Munich performance with della Casa -- it is black and white
              and one can see (as well as hear) why she
              was the most famous Arabella of her time and probably unsurpassed until this day.

            • Feldmarschallin

              The Della Casa VLL under Böhm also has Ariadne on it Bill.

            • Bill

              ML -- the first Schwarzkopf VLL under Ackermann is in my library -- she is in fresher voice than the later Szell
              recording she made. There are other Schwarzkopf live renditions now available.
              I love however how della Casa just floats the music so lovingly -- the Janowitz/Karajan DGG version is also
              one of the very best but many fine singers have recorded the VLL and so it
              is quite a matter of taste as to which recording may be the finest. However, I almost always go back to that 1953 recording with della Casa as my absolute favorite of all the versions I have heard
              perhaps at it is the recording which introduced me to the songs.

            • Feldmarschallin

              Yes Clita she did die but just recently. I think a little over a year ago or something like that.
              Bill my favorites of VLL are Schwarzkopf 1, Flagstad and Jurinac. In that order. Janowitz is way too dull for my taste.

            • ML

              Thanks, Bill and Feld. I’m going to buy those two LdC items. Am curious about Beim schlafengehen being first … .

              The Arabella will be my second, alongside the Varady, which Feld assures us is not ideal!

            • ML

              Feld, are you there? I just learned, as I was placing my order, there are two LdC Arabellas, the Munich and a Böhm from 1947, both on DG. Welches? This will be a supplement to the Varady/Sawall.

            • ML

              Oh, never mind. She got promoted!

            • Feldmarschallin

              There are several different live Arabellas with della Casa. Gastspiel Covent Garden von BSO 1953, Salzburger Festspiele 1958, Keilberth and the horrible Solti which you can skip. Then I just found my Reining della Casa Hotter Arabella which I thought I lent out to someone but it is here after all. Varady whom I adore was not that great of an Arabella. She was much better in Mozart and Verdi than Strauss and her Eva was nothing special either. Reining isn’t having her best night on the Salzburg Böhm.

            • ML

              Thanks again! I was hoping you’d come back. So, am I correct in buying the 1963 Keilberth on DG, the one that also has a video version? You mentioned some months ago that Varady isn’t quite right, and I had a hunch I would agree, although I haven’t heard it in a long time. Now, with Bill waxing lyrical about the VLL/LdC, and having no LdC in the collection, I thought I’d attach the LdC Arabella. And I would never consider Solti.

            • Feldmarschallin

              Why not get one of the 50’s live Arabellas? 53 is 10 full years earlier than than 63 and Kempe has Uhde and Trötschel or go with Salzburg and you have an earlier della Casa and Rothenberger and FiDi. If I had to choose one I think I might go with 58. Wait for the 63 to come out on DVD one of these days. I have a Steber Arabella as well but in English. What a shame she never recorded it auf Deutsch. And what a dream Arabella Cebotari would have been. Will pass on Fleming and te Kanawa. I am assuming you both heard Lucia here with Brendel and Sawallisch. She was much better than Julia. I also heard Popp in Salzburg in the Capriccio the one where TS sang the first year and Popp the second. I believe that was Horst Stein.

            • Feldmarschallin

              Bill when you are in Wien check out the new book Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Vom Blumenmädchen zur Marschallin by Kirsten Liese. Most of the photographs are by Lillian Feyer. I found it in the Festspielshop. Many of the photographs I had no known. It is a Bilderband.

            • ML

              Feld, the second part of your post is a bit confusing. The 1963 Keilberth was an prompt, once I entered the LdC/VLL. I have no allegiance to it. You seem to be suggesting either the 53 Kempe or the 58 Keilberth, and on that basis I would normally go with Kempe, being the better Straussian. But the Keilberth on Orfeo, weirdly, has the LdC/VLL/Böhm combined. I suppose this happened after that recording fell out of copyright. So I guess I’ll get that, as a single purchase. Again, vielen Dank.

            • Feldmarschallin

              Kempe is better than Keilberth that is true. The bonus VLL are not the Böhm 53 studio but from a Salzburger Festspiele concert vom 30.7.58 so a different performance completely Orfeo usually uses live recordings and they certainly have enough in their vaults. Why not get both? That is always what I do when I cannot decide. Take them both. :) Of course I am quite the collector of many things.

            • ML

              Then *Kempe 53* it is, plus the separate VLL on Naxos, as planned. No space for more, and the VLL is already my 4th — bought only due to Bill’s enthusiasm!

            • DellaCasaFan

              I am coming late to the party.

              Bill, I guess it’s no surprise that I completely agree with you about the Della Casa/Böhm 1953 recording of VLL. It’s my all-time favorite. My second choice would be Jurinac that Feld also mentions and, among more recent sopranos, I love Isokoski.

        • “Innigkeit” is an invention of the 20th century. I am confident Mozart would have been utterly bewildered by the concept. That said, “innig” is one valid way to sing Mozart. What’s ridiculous is pretending that it is the only way and that therefore “Innigkeit” is the ne plus ultra of Mozart performance. Stop confusing your personal taste with performance practice.

          • Batty Masetto

            Sorry, Cieca, “Innigkeit” was already an important concept for Mozart’s contemporary Goethe. The question of musical taste is separate, but the argument from linguistic history doesn’t apply.

            »Vor meiner Abreise nach Neapel konnte ich einer nochmaligen Vorlesung meiner ‘Iphigenia’ nicht entgehen. […] Die zarte Seele Angelika nahm das Stück mit unglaublicher Innigkeit auf; sie versprach mir eine Zeichnung daraus aufzustellen, die ich zum Andenken besitzen sollte.«

            ‘Italiänische Reise’. Erster Teil (15. Februar 1787)

            • I appreciate the historical context, but I don’t see that it applies to musical performance, or specifically of the sort of extremely inward, borderline self-indulgent musical performance that is generally called “innig.” That is to say, the whole “whispered” Mozart style seems to have developed during the 20th century. I can’t think of a recorded example of Mozart sung this way before, say, the 1920s.

            • Batty Masetto

              Whether it has to do with “whispering” etc. we may discuss, but:

              “Innigkeit” and “Tiefe” figure among the most frequently used criteria in written and spoken evaluations of music. Originally religious concepts, their usage in a musical context can be accredited to Johann Gottfried Herder, in whose pietistically suffused aesthetics of music the complementary nexus of the two terms came to be crystallized.”

              – Friedrich Geiger, “‘Innigkeit und ‘Tiefe’ als komplementäre Kriterien der Bewertung von Musik,” Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, Jhg. 60. H. 4 (2003)

              (Herder, 1744-1803)

              Don’t forget “innig” very much includes the idea of “intimate.” I wasn’t there in Mozart’s time so I can’t say much about how softly people might have sung in those small theaters with their sometimes restive audiences. (And to be flippant, I can’t think of a whole lot of recorded examples of anything before the 1920s.)

              An interesting article on what Mozart expected from his singers (he didn’t like it when they didn’t open their mouths and just whimpered things out… but he did want the most profound expression from them):

            • Well, there you are. I mean “innigkeit” in the very limited sense, or you could even say the mistaken sense, in which is was applied in 20th century vocal music. That’s in the Della Casa style, the superficial sense of “intimacy” that’s really a kind of snob appeal for people who aren’t quite comfortable admitting they like anything so vulgar as opera.

            • ML

              “Well, there you are.”

              Cieca apologizes to Clita “in the very limited sense, or you could even say the mistaken sense … of ‘sorry’ that’s really a kind of [cop out] for people who aren’t quite comfortable admitting they” are WRONG.

            • I’m not sure that there are points to be scored here. I have serious doubts that the “Innigkeit” Clita originally referred to is the same sort of concept that was discussed in these early 19th century treatises (of which I admit I was unaware.) The “Innigkeit” of a Lisa della Casa is based on German vocal production (instrumental timbre, closed and covered placement) and what I regard as a mannered, overly polished vocal style that, in the combination heard in della Casa’s singing I think would have been utterly alien to the Italian/bel canto singers available to Mozart. No matter how “innig” these artists’ singing might have been in a spiritual or interpretive sense, that “Innigkeit” would most likely not have been achieved through the anachronistic “sophisticated” vocal stylings of a della Casa.

              I mean, here is Lilli Lehmann, a very German voice, but she sings, even pushing age 60, with a full, open tone and a more Italianate legato. The phrasing is simple and noble, not fussy. There is certainly a strong sense of spirituality and seriousness here, but there is nothing arch about her singing.

              So, depending on your definition of “innigkeit,” Lehmann has it in the broader sense Batty has described it. It is not “innigkeit” in the most limited sense I think Clita was using, since Della Casa was given as an example. What I think Clita misses is 1950s Mozart style, which is certainly one’s prerogative. But in the 21st century that sort of “Innigkeit” is an anachronism, and I think it’s pointless to hold singers to the standard of singing in a style that is both outmoded and inauthentic.

              I expect to be corrected if I’m wrong.

            • Bill

              The 1950s Mozart style (in Vienna and Salzburg at least) developed about 1943 by Boehm, then Krips, Karajan (who coached singers after the war but was
              not at first allowed to conduct publicly)
              and Furtwaengler to some extent was
              developed as there was at the time
              a wonderful cadre of Mozart singers and
              with the Vienna Opera bombed most
              performances took place in the Volksoper
              building, the Theater an der Wien and
              most especially for Cosi, Figaro,
              Entfuehrung in the Redoutensaal which has only maybe 500 seats at best. Hence, to be heard, the singers really did not have to blast out and could with their subtle voices weave a character sometimes using half voice -- and it was the style of
              those conductors to emphasize the sonorities of the ensemble though full modern orchestras were utilized (Furtwaengler reportedly used 8 double basses for 1953 Salzburg Figaro). Some of the singing was quite controlled, even held back at times -- and this was the style to which people of my age became
              accustomed in Mozart. I never found della Casa to be an artificial singer and if one could accuse Schwarzkopf of that it did not apply to Jurinac, Seefried,
              Welitsch or Gueden -- nor to Dermota, Schoeffler, Kunz, Hotter and crew. In my opinion the requirement for vocal and dramatic Innigheit would apply more to
              certain Mozart roles such as Pamina than to other roles. I heard della Casa
              many times from 1953 (her Met debut) until her retirement 1973 and certainly never found her to be artificial in any manner, just a beautiful singer with a gorgeous voice applying her art to developing a character and attempting to offer an exquisite performance. She was a serious artist in the best sense. And there are not so many Mozart singers of her ilk around today. The voice lost some of its freshness in her last years but she was not a singer known to give many bad performances (nor was she known to cancel many performances). Her lowest notes (as when singing Ariadne) were not as secure or glorious as her middle voice and effervescent radiant top. She sang more cautiously than Gueden, Seefried or Welitsch -- but that was her style and to some degree the style of the period.

            • moritz

              Thanks, Batty. Very interesting!

        • Krunoslav

          Amanda Majeski was excellent and showed plenty of personality as Donna Elvira in Philadelphia and as Vitellia in Chicago last season.

          Nothing to complain about on any level, and not a cookie cutter singer either-- even if she’s not a “riveting” psychopath who probably couldn’t sing a chromatic scale.

  • jackoh

    Any relation to Daniel Majeski, longtime concertmaster for the Cleveland Orchestra?

  • Porgy Amor

    She has stepped into this part before, in Chicago, where someone thought she was better than Danielle de Niese.

  • laddie

    I saw Ms. Majeski in Griselda at Santa Fe in 2011; interestingly, she was one of the few on the stage who was entirely committed to that miserable project.

  • EarlyRomantic

    I find this profoundly beautiful. Varady and FiDi in Arabella.