Cher Public

How cher the public

You know, the commenters at parterre.com (pictured) may get a bit testy from time to time, but at least nobody here says stuff like, oh, for example, It is time that Mr. Levine and Mr. Gelb take leave and put the Met in the hand of managers who understand and treausre the traditional opera offerings and stop experimenting with off beat gay oriented trash productions better suited for small expermental venues.”  [wqxr.org]

  • almavivante

    Well, apart from all the huffing and puffing in this thread, I learned something interesting: William Matteuzzi did sing two perfs of Barbiere at the Met. I’d thought he never sang there at all. Odd voice, but one I’ve liked on Opera Rara recordings. Given that his two perfs were around Thanksgiving, I’m guessing he was the cover for Rockwell Blake, who sang the rest of that fall’s performances and may have had other things he preferred to do around the holiday. I guess that Matteuzzi, like another Rossinian I liked, Lucia Valentini-Terrani, was not to be, as far as the Met is concerned.

    • Krunoslav

      Matteuzzi was very ill the night of his debut and was told by Fiend that if he didn’t go on he would never sing at the Met again. He went on, got a devastating review in the TIMES ( I think from Will Crutchfield) saying they would have done better to go out onto Upper Broadway and yell for a tenor who could sing Almaviva.

      So that effectively ended his American career.

      You don’t think Horne-- who had enough troubles with the Chapin administration favoring Verrett-- was going to let the Met keep Valentini-Teranni around, do you? She did 4 Isabellas and 1974, and then-- OUT! She did sing a run as Angelina at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1976, returning in 1981 for Dulcinee opposite Ghiaurov and Gramm, with Kunde in a tiny role.

      • almavivante

        Did Horne’s and V-T’s repertoire overlap so much that Horne would have felt threatened? The Met didn’t do that much Rossini in the seventies. I think they both sang Eboli and Arsace, but the Met did cast other mezzos in those roles while Horne was still singing. If the story about how Matteuzzi was treated is true (and I don’t doubt you), how sad.

        • steveac10

          There was a lot of overlap. There was a stretch that the Met went overboard accommodating Horne. Not only did she get the lion’s share of the Rossini performances in that era and the house’s first Handel, they gave her new productions of roles like Amneris and Eboli that should have gone to others. For a singer who began as a lyric soprano, she was surprisingly ineffective in the higher lying star mezzo roles. I remember a big brouhaha because she performed O Don Fatale in a significantly lower key -- with the expected unexciting result. Sad when the likes of Cossotto and Bumbry were still in prime condition.

        • Gualtier M

          In Rossini, their repertoires definitely overlapped. Valentini-Terrani wasn’t being considered for Mrs. Quickly, Marina Mnieszeck, Carmen or Charlotte in Werther at the Met or anything else non-bel canto she performed. Meanwhile, operas like “Italiana” were considered vehicles for a mezzo star -- Met audiences wouldn’t go to “Italiana” just to see the opera. They wanted “Horne in Italiana”. So Valentini-Terrani wasn’t a star in NY and since the Met wasn’t doing so many Rossini operas, she was de trop. Whether Jackie said “Get that woman out of this house!” is not something that is in the public record AFAIK. Both ladies performed at La Scala in the seventies.

          Sometimes the Met has missed out on wonderful singers in their prime because of one or two other sopranos in the same fach who are Met stars. For example, Anne Schwanewilms should have been at the Met 20 years ago, but Voigt, Mattila and to a limited extent Fleming all covered her rep. So she got either crappy offers or none at all.

          • Krunoslav

            Rosinas of the years 1974- 1990 included Met audience favorites Gail Dubinbaum, Benedetta Pecchioli, Costanza Cuccaro, Juilia Hamari ( very disappointing) and Ann Murray.

            La Dubinbaum sang 7 Mer Isabellas in 1986.

            I’m just sayin’…

            • Gualtier M

              “Barbiere” was a Horne role but she had no monopoly on it -- and it also isn’t like Italiana in Algeri -- people will go to it to hear the opera.

              As for the 7 (!?!)Gail Dubinbaum “Italiana”s -- are we sure someone didn’t get sick? I wonder how many empty seats there were for that show.

          • So let’s see. Valentini-Terrani had a certain specialized repertoire that, as it happened, was exactly the sort of opera the Met didn’t do much of, and when they did do that rep, they cast the box office star Marilyn Horne. So Valentini-Terrani, who sang only infrequently in the United States anyway, and the Met, who had no driving motivation to cast her, couldn’t come to terms on a contract.

            This sort of thing never happens in opera. Obviously evidence of a cabal.

            • Krunoslav

              No cabal alleged. But the Met did BARBIERE year after year and Horne certainly did not sing in every run — maybe they tried to get Valentini-Terrani instead of Hamari or Cuccaro. Maybe they didn’t.

              What kind of logic is it to say that she sang rarely in the United State anyway and that therefore her only being at the Met for 4 shows one year makes sense? (They didn’t hire her, so why should they have hired her?) Perhaps had she been at the Met ( as the second ranking, and very good indeed) Rossini mezzo in the world she would have sung elsewhere in the States more frequently.

            • Perhaps she was asked to do so and she said, “no thank you.” You never seem to take into account that it takes two to tango; rather you seem to assume unlimited availability and goodwill on the part of an artist you happen to like and unlimited malice on the part of everyone else.

            • Krunoslav

              Sometimes malice comes from those one likes.

        • Or, more to the point, did Horne dictate casting in Chicago as well as in New York?

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

            No, Carol Fox, Pino Donati and Bruno Bartoletti were perfectly capable of casting.

  • overstimmelated

    Hmm, (the very young) Valentini-Terrani’s Isabellas came in the middle of a Horne run, conducted by Henry Lewis. I looked up the Times review and, wow, it’s almost comparable to the Matteuzzi one — well, not really, but what possibly could be? (By the way, I don’t think Crutchfield could ever have written anything like that! For one thing, I imagine that he, unlike Bernard Holland, would have been familiar with Matteuzzi, who wasn’t exactly unknown at the time.) Anyway, it seems Valentini-Terrani’s lower register wasn’t forceful enough for the Met, her personality wasn’t vivacious enough for the Met, in short “this role seems not a proper one for Miss Valentini at the Metropolitan.” After a review like that, you wouldn’t blame her if she chose not to return!