Cher Public

I cannot wear my crown upon my heart

On this day in 1793, Queen Marie-Antoinette of France was tried and convicted in a swift, pre-determined trial in the Palais de Justice, Paris, and condemned to death the following day.

Born on this day in 1905 mezzo-soprano Bruna Castagna

Born on this day in 1925 mezzo-soprano Oralia Dominguez

Happy 83rd birthday baritone Heinz Horst Blankenburg

Happy 73rd birthday soprano Suzanne Murphy

  • Ah, Oralia Dominguez.

    This is a pretty fucking amazing Judgment Scene:

    Taken from of course probably the most demented performance of Aida of all time.

    • Will

      Dominguez was the real deal.

      • No Expert

        And versatile too.

    • Milady DeWinter

      She really wass one hell of an Amneris -- the magnificence of her fiery princess, the voice big and full from top to bottom, is not dulled one iota next to her rival in love’s vocal opulence and legendary E-flat.

      • As a side note, I know someone who wrote her a fan letter a few years ago. He received back a very curt response saying she wanted to reminders of her past life as an opera singer.

        • Sorry, wanted no reminders of her past life as an opera singer.

        • messa di voce

          Any idea what that was about? Did she get religion? Bitter about never singing at the Met?

    • Clita del Toro

      Dominguez was on my first Verdi Requiem LP in the 50’s; also with Schwarzkopf, di Stefano and Siepi. De Sabata cond.

      I loved her. Nice to hear a great Amneris.

      • Feldmarschallin

        That Verdi Requiem is also one of my favorites. Dominiguez is absolutely on fire as Amneris in the Callas Aida.

    • bronzino

      Ms. Ivy--we have so admired your insightful, intelligent writing over the years (on both opera AND ballet). Le mot juste is so important as a reflection of our brain power AND our personal character. It is thus with piercing sadness that we read your choice of adjectives for this Judgment Scene--is there ANY situation in which a LADY would choose vulgar language? Please, please--not from you in the future. Our firmament has so few gleaming stars left to which we might gaze.

      • Huh? Well I guess I’m not a lady then.

        • aulus agerius

          Definitely not then. Climb aboard the tumbrel please.

          • I’m sorry I caused “piercing sadness” in you bronzino :(

  • Buster

    Bruna Castagna was a superb Amneris too -- she is on the 1941 Panizza Aida with Martinelli, Stella Roman and Ezio Pinza. Great recording!

    • Buster

      Stella Roman in the kitchen:

  • La marquise de Merteuil

    As a faithful subject of Antoine all I can say is :

    Quel sangue versato al cielo s’innalza…
    Giustizia domanda, reclama vendetta…

  • Milady DeWinter

    Ah, but she forgave her persecutors and told with her children (in that eloqurnt last letter)to never avenge her death, or that of the king. Even though the French have not overturned her conviction for treason (well, what was a queen to do to save the dynasty from the ‘enrages’?) as has been done for Louis XVI, Antoinette was a woman of taste, a supporter of the arts, an advocate of modern parenting,and possesed great empathy and courage, if not tremendous political acumen or insight. A queen to the end.

    • It is 2014; are we really going to continue the myth of Marie Habsburg-Capet as some sort of victimized innocent? Both she and her husband were clearly guilty of treason, having connived with counterrevolutionaries even while they were still on the throne, in order to support a foreign invasion of France led by her own relatives.

      Here is what Mark Twain had to say about all of this:

      “There were two Reigns of Terror, if we would but remember it and consider it: the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death on ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the horrors of the minor Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror, which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over, but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”

      • La marquise de Merteuil


        It is undeniable that in the name of crowns many innocents have been killed. To hold Antoine accountable for those murdered would be like holding Obama guilty of the slaughter of the American aboriginal population.

        If you have read her letters what came across was a person who was TRULY unprepared for what destiny had in store with her at every step. If you knew her story maybe you’d be a tad sympathetic. And if you knew how she reacted to the injustice that she KNEW of maybe you’d think somewhat differently of her. Also, lest you forget EVERYONE in the court when she was convicted the public wanted the charges dropped but the tribunal was after blood -- and blood they got. (Remember one of the charges was child abuse. A charge that really broke her heart as her youngest son Louis XVII was manipulated into confirming this.)

      • DonCarloFanatic

        A hater still after over 200 years? Dabrowski, this woman was a pawn. You don’t blame the pawn for the game.

        • armerjacquino

          Do we have to polarise everything quite so much? She was a complex figure with some good personal qualities and some bloody awful political ones. She certainly wasn’t the tortured innocent that Milady paints her to be (I mean, seriously, all we’re missing there is the mad scene with a top E flat), but her direct involvement in the suffering that led to the revolution is arguable. That Twain quote is brilliant, though.

          • Milady DeWinter

            I believe I also qualified the ‘tortured innocent’ -- armer’s words, not mine with the disclaimer “if not tremendous political acumen or insight. A queen to the end.” (And Mr. Corigliano at least gave her a little Mad Scene with a top D).
            Marie Antoinette was not the originator of the great injustices of the ancien regime, nor its worst offender: Pompadour and DuBarry, Frenchwomen both, pillaged the national coffers much more throroughly than Antoinette.
            And Dubarry was literally dragged, kicking and screaming to the scaffold (even the tricouteuses, no doubt ancestors of some of our illustrious posters here), squirmed in their seats, averted their eyes, and muttered “awwwkward” to each other. Jacques Hebert, editor of the extreme radical newspaper Pere Duschene, and the most hate-filled detractor of the toppled monarchs, could not even ascribe courage to the ex-Queen’s final moments, but commented that the “slut was arrogant to the end.” That Marie Antoinette was unable, to her very end, to grasp the enormity of the social and political change around her is undeniable. That she remains a woman of fascination and lore is her legacy and a tribute to the complex story of her life and times.

  • DeepSouthSenior

    On this day in 2014, I first listened to “Heroes From the Shadows,” the just-released CD of Handel arias and orchestral selections by contralto Nathalie Stutzmann. I forget who told me about this album at Parterre months ago, but thank you again! It’s fabulous. Stutzmann also conducts her period-instrument ensemble Orfeo 55. How wonderfully HIP has progressed! Orfeo 55 is one of the most stylish groups I’ve heard. Twenty years ago, I expected Stutzmann’s deep, genuine contralto to be even deeper by now. Surprsingly, at age 49 her voice seems slightly lighter than in the days of her RCA contract in the 1990’s. (Who really knows from a recording, though?) It’s still the richest contralto of our generation, now in full maturity with more expressive power than ever.

    In her own words, Stutzmann chose lesser-known Handel arias “to make a voyage of discovery into the more shadowy of [Handel’s] works and bring into the light the repertoire of secondary or even tertiary characters -- those characters the audience forgets about at the end of the evening, but who, for a few minutes during the course of the opera, completely bowl them over with some stunning aria.” Here’s proof positive than lesser-known Handel need not be second-rate Handel.

    Next up: The new CD of sacred music from Elina Garanca, “Meditation.” And for later, the classic Hogwood/Academy of Ancient Music recording of Haydn’s “The Creation,” which Classics Today suggested recently may be Hogwood’s finest recording.

    I’ll be in vocal heaven all day.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      Whoa! Stutzmann just hit such a low note on Track 18 (“Io seguo sol fiero” from Partenope) that I thought I might have to rearrange the furniture. Someone has been felling trees in our neighborhood, and the effect was much the same.

    • Cicciabella

      Has anyone heard Stutzmann singing live lately? I’ll have the opportunity to hear her “Winterreise” next year, but it’s a long time since I heard her live.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      I doubt that I’ll ever get to see Stutzmann live, but at least this is recent:

      • Cicciabella

        Thank you. A little wear and tear can be heard, but the voice is still amazingly rich.