Cher Public

Contessa, stop the music!

“American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen, who last week won First Prize at the prestigious Operalia competition, will make her Met debut as Countess Almaviva in this December’s performances of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.”  

“Willis-Sørensen will sing the role on December 4, 8, 12, 15, and 20 matinee, replacing the originally announced Amanda Majeski, who now sings the September and October performances of the opera.” So says a Met press release.

  • Good for her! any vids or recordings of the operalia?

  • Tenorfach

    Pretty impressive ………..

  • The Conte

    I have high hopes for her, and this Tannhauser video confirms my thoughts.

    I’ve been saying for the past two years that she’s one to watch!

  • Satisfied

    If only one could mix and match A and B casts…

    Conductor: Edo de Waart
    Countess Almaviva: Rachel Willis Sørensen
    Susanna: Danielle de Niese
    Cherubino: Serena Malfi
    Count Almaviva: Mariusz Kwiecien
    Figaro: Erwin Schrott

    • laddie

      Kwiecien over Mattei? Hmmm…

      • Satisfied

        I suppose the Cherubino is a bit of a wash.

      • DellaCasaFan

        laddie says:
        “Kwiecien over Mattei? Hmmm…”

        My thought too. Already bought a ticket for the October perf. mostly because of the male lineup, Mattei/Abdrazakov.

  • I did some digging and here is her Contessa Almaviva from ROH last year:

    • MontyNostry

      Hey, but Lindoro, does a debut at one of Europe’s top houses count towards anything on here?

    • laddie

      I think I heard real trills. Terrific debut.

  • meowiaclawas

    I’ve fallen in love with her voice just from the “Dich teure Halle” vid…wow!

  • Krunoslav

    An Askonas Holt artist--fancy that!

    (Get used to it.)

  • Gualtier M

    Why was it necessary to replace Majeski in her originally scheduled December run of “Nozze” with the second cast? I mean I am really glad the Met is fast-tracking Willis-Sorensen for a debut but still, that was Majeski’s original slot. BTW: word from inside the house from an expert who heard a rehearsal -- Majeski is a wonderful Countess.

    • Guestoria Unpopularenka

      She shouldn’t have been hired for both runs in the first place.

      • UpB7

        Majeski wasn’t hired for both runs in the first place, not originally. She was first hired for the December run, while Poplavskaya was hired for the September and October -- until Poplavskaya withdrew a couple of weeks ago for health reasons.

        • One assumes Majeski was covering or at least shadowing the fall rehearsals and performances. But her official assignment was to sing the Contessa in the December revival.

  • Rowna

    Before the competition I searched youtube for each contestant and when I heard this I knew she would be the winner:

  • Rowna

    In case anyone is interested, this is the translation of the Sibelius song:
    The girl came from meeting her lover,
    came with her hands all red. Said her mother:
    “What has made your hands so red, girl?”
    Said the girl: “I was picking roses
    and pricked my hands on the thorns.”

    Again she came from meeting her lover,
    came with her lips all red. Said her mother:
    “What has made your lips so red, girl?”
    Said the girl: “I was eating raspberries
    and stained my lips with the juice.”

    Again she came from meeting her lover,
    came with her cheeks all pale. Said her mother:
    “What has made your cheeks so pale, girl?”
    Said the girl: “Oh mother, dig a grave for me,
    Hide me there and set a cross above,
    And on the cross write as I tell you:

    Once she came home with her hands all red,
    … they had turned red between her lover’s hands.
    Once she came home with her lips all red,
    … they had turned red beneath her lover’s lips.
    The last time she came home with her cheeks all pale,
    … they had turned pale at her lover’s faithlessness.”

    • Cicciabella

      Such a beautiful song! And beautifully sung by Rachel Willis-Sørensen. Jamie Barton sang it at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, which she won, of course. (starts at around 4:30):

      • Rowna

        I adore Ms Barton. What a fabulous voice and so much for us to look forward to. Here is one more Flickan -- my fav of the three. Ms Mattila’s version always brings tears to my eyes. You can turn on the subtitles on this youtube upload :

      • MontyNostry

        Jamie Barton really is a class act.

  • Marcello

    Franz Welser-Moest has resigned as GMD of the Vienna State Opera with immediate effect and will not conduct any performances in the season which started this week.

    The reason seem to be “severe disagreements about artistic policy” (or something similar) with the “Director”.

    • redbear

      Strange. He and Dominique Meyer have been working together since 2010, not counting the two years before they took over. He also burned bridges by not performing the 34 engagements he had scheduled in the coming season leaving the VSO scrambling.

      • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

        “Strange?” Have you ever met him? Well, I hear no one at all complaining about the “loss.” As for collaborating with Meyer, I’m sure you heard about his falling out with Pereira (which he referred to as a “divorce”) and Bechtolf over the Salzburg performances. As for the 34 performances at Staatsoper, the operas are “Rigoletto” (five in late December; five in late June) and “La traviata” (four in early December) for which replacements shouldn’t be tough to find; more difficult will be “Elektra” (six performances in the spring), “The Cunning Little Vixen” (four performances in November, although there is a lot of terrific young talent in Prague), and “Cardillac” (three performances in June). Then there are the Strauss ballets (five performances in February, and it’s probably just as well that he not try to conduct live ballet performances) and the two annual performances of an hour-long “Zauberflöte” for school kids in February. We will get by quite well without him.

    • Guestoria Unpopularenka

      I saw the announcement on the WSO facebook but since I don’t understand German, I assumed he had died. lol Nice to hear otherwise.

  • Der Fiakermillo

    All hail some wonderful American singers! I don’t get how Barton, Majeski and Willis-Sorenson are seen as coming out of the blue for anyone who follows opera. Oh wait -- they weren’t in NYC so it didn’t happen! They have all been prominently followed the much maligned “young artist” path, Barton and Sorenson at HGO and Majeski at LOC, have been given opportunities at both, and have benefited from not being rushed into the wrong roles. Since HGO, Sorenson has been Dresden based which is probably why she moved from a US manager to a UK-based one but anyone who reads has noticed her recent successes in Dresden, at ROH, etc. knows this is a major career in the making. It is a superb voice and she is a tall, lovely young women. Majeski has had big successes in Frankfurt and at LOC as Eva and Vitellia (the latter a stretch but mostly excellent) and the Met Figaro should be a great opportunity in the right role. Again, a first-rate voice and a very bright, confident singer. Barton is still adding rep but it is a very different fach and the roles aren’t always as showy (Magdalena to Majeski’s Eva at LOC, for example.) Her biggest break was at the Tucker Gala, where she swept the floor with O mio Fernando, then the Met Adalgisas and HGO Frickas, not the SFO Adalgisas and LOC Giovannas. She is a bigger woman which may limit her hiring especially in Europe but with a voice like this which audiences immediately respond to, she will have a terrific career.
    Two others American sopranos that many people are watching and waiting for are Leah Crocetto and Heidi Melton, both SFO Merola grads, whose progress are steady and already impressive. Melton is fest in Karlsruhe and sings in Berlin; it’s a mighty impressive tower of sound. She will be Sieglinde in Toronto this winter (with Christine Goerke as Brunhilde) and it should be thrilling. Again her shape may limit her casting but the talent and voice are the real thing. Crocetto, whom SFO has been lucky enough to hear several times, who is singing Desdemona at ENO soon and Boheme at SFO. It’s big, juicy and Italinate.
    In each case, the careers are proceeding carefully and with clear milestone, everything most commentators here hate since it doesn’t offer chances for them to crash and burn at the Met. The taste of Cheryl Studer’s self destruction leaves some longing for more blood. Even the usual “the Met was too late” is wrong since the Met seems to be presenting them in appropriate roles and being patient to cast them. Only time will tell but I, for one, am really happy that Majeski, Sorenson, Barton and Crocetto are all getting great opportunities.

    • redbear

      And what about the ad next to your comment, “Rising Stars in Recital.” Kaiser has been a star tenor in Paris for several seasons.

  • pasavant

    What is LOC?

    • Sheldon

      LOC = Lyric Opera of Chicago

  • MontyNostry

    Lovely voice (a little similar to the slightly more feisty Jacquelyn Wagner’s), and I like the way she really took the volume down for the repetitions of ‘sei mir gegrüßt’ before the final climax, but I was wondering who was responsible for the flaccid conducting. Then the camera panned down to the pit …

  • MontyNostry

    Promo video for Norma in SF with Sondra and Jamie. Not sure about the Star Trek hair-dos and the face-painting (last seen in McVicar’s Covent Garden Aida) — and Berti’s pitching is poor(and is that the prompter making noises in the background?) — but it sounds exciting.


  • MontyNostry

    Let’s try again with the link:

    • wow Berti sounds awful. Completely shot voice.

      • laddie

        Wow, second that. Horrendous.

    • CwbyLA

      I did not like the chorus in Guerra Guerra either. There seems to be no urgency. Did you guys check out the Susannah video they posted? Racette just doesn’t sound like an innocent young girl anymore. Especially after having listed to Susannah from young Fleming who was wonderful.

    • mjmacmtenor

      The Star Trek hairdos, leather costumes, and face-painting…… Wonder what the late Joan Rives would have to say about this. Is the designer trying to make people look bad?? On the other hand, Rad sounds spectacular. Barton sounds a little “muffled” by comparison, but her sound is beautiful. Bertie, no comment.
      The bad costumes remind me a bit of a Les Troyens at LAOpera in the early 90s. The Carthage scenes were designed in early “Idi Amin” -- guess that thought that meant North African. It takes a lot to make a beautiful woman like Carol Neblett looked bad, but they succeeded.