Cher Public

Tops in flops

On this day in 1967, the musical Henry, Sweet Henry opened at the Palace Theater.

Born on this day in 1801 composer Albert Lortzing

Born on this day in 1891 baritone Imre Palló

Happy 93rd birthday soprano Denise Duval

Happy 91st birthday composer Ned Rorem

Happy 73rd birthday conductor Lawrence Foster

Happy 63rd birthday soprano Mari Anne Häggander

  • For extra points, cher public, a) identify the lead singer in this number from Henry, Sweet Henry, and b) tell us in which celebrated Metropolitan Opera production she sang.

  • LittleMasterMiles

    Are these daily birthday/anniversary lists intended for off-topic posts? I hope so…

    I saw the encore HD of Le nozze di Figaro last night, and I have two major observations:

    1. It looks gorgeous. The set is fabulous (if a bit dark) and the costumes are lovely. There’s no big interpretive agenda, but I don’t think this is an opera that needs one: as long as there are class divisions and hormones, this opera will speak to audiences. Most beautiful of all was the cast, particularly the women. Marlis Petersen, Isabel Leonard, and Amanda Majeski look fantastic in the close-ups that a cinecast inevitably favors. Of these, perhaps only Leonard is a conventional beauty, but all three have the kind of old-fashioned movie-star “look” that means you can’t take your eyes off them. Eyre’s direction takes full advantage of this, and the entire casts acts exceptionally well (and I’m not eve adding the qualifier “for opera signers” here). Now, my enthusiasm for the visual side of this production has left you waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it may not be what you expect:

    2. Movie theater sound quality (and quality control) is quickly becoming the biggest problem with the HD series. It shouldn’t be news to any theater owner or the Met itself that to deliver an acceptable simulation of opera in a movie theater you need to get the sound right, especially when we’re used to hearing Dolby THX 5.1 SurroundSound not only at the pictures but in our living rooms. What the Met is delivering, at least at my theater, is a tinny stereo signal emanating from behind the screen, with the volume turned way down low. Both last night at Figaro and last week at the live Macbeth, here’s what happens: before the show the theater shows commercials at a deafening volume (they didn’t used to do this at Met HDs, but whatever). Arriving patrons stream into the lobby to complain, and the volume is turned down. It then stays down during the first half of the opera, which is of course not at as high a level as the ads, so it’s much, much too quiet. Ildar Abdrazakov should not be inaudible below bass-clef C. So at intermission the patrons flood back into the lobby to complain again, and for the second half of the opera things are somewhat better.

    Now, when this happened at Macbeth I figured OK, first HD of the season, kinks to work out, etc. (they also had a technical glitch right before curtain that left us all watching a Windows desktop for a while). When exactly the same thing happened again last night I started to worry. Local cineplexes are not NASA, after all, and their quality control is likely to be a little wonky. But the Met (and Fathom Events and other middlemen) need to ensure the quality of the product they’re beaming to tens of thousands of customers, and if a theater can’t get the sound right by having both the right equipment and the right projectionists, then they shouldn’t be licensed to show the operas.

  • aulus agerius

    There was also one called Red White and Maddox a couple of years later (41 performances), one of which I attended being a native of GA but a resident of NYC.

  • Cicciabella

    Has anyone ever heard (of) tenor Marius Vlad Budoiu? He’s touring with Angela Gheorghiu and they will sing, among others, excerpts from
    Otello. (No Vlad the Impaler jokes, please.)

    • Feldmarschallin

      Maybe a new beau of hers?

    • Clita del Toro

      Well, sorry, Ciccia, but the only one Marius impales is Draculette! ;)

      • Guestoria Unpopularenka

        You never know. Might be the other way around. But certainly a much more age-appropriate partner for her.

    • basso profundo

      I’ve heard him a couple of times. He’s sort of a dramatic tenor, sings Otello and other heavy Verdi roles. I heard him as Otello once in one of the worst performances of any opera I have ever seen. Heard him once in concert in Lied von der Erde. Not really an attractive voice at all.

      Interestingly enough he is also the general director of the (Romanian*) state opera in Cluj. So he is the general director and also sings pretty much all the dramatic tenor roles at the house--somewhat reminiscent of when Neil Shicoff was going to take over the Wiener Staatsoper in 2010. Except with Budoiu it wouldn’t be a singer in retirement, rather a singer essentially still in the prime of his career, who does double duty as a general director.

      (*I specify “Romanian” here because Cluj is actually the only city in the world with 2 state operas; it has the Romanian state opera, Opera Nationala Romana, but also a Hungarian state opera, Opera Nationala Maghiara, which receives funding from the Hungarian government; there is a large Hungarian minority in Cluj and as such they apparently saw it necessary to have a state opera there as well.)

      • Cicciabella

        Thanks, basso. Very interesting about Cluj: two opera houses funded by two different countries in the same city!

        If I’m interpreting your comments about Budoiu correctly: the voice is not really beautiful but he’s not a bad singer. I can live with that. I’m thinking of going to Gheorgiu’s concert at the Concertgebouw next month and he’s part of it. Usually, these big-name concerts come with an indifferent orchestra chugging away at Verdi overtures. If I have to go through tenor terror as well, I’ll pass. Next time she sings in Amsterdam she should do an opera in concert: those are usually much more satisfying even if the rest of the cast isn’t on the level of the “star”.

        @FM and Clita: I wish maximum joy to all performers, with or without impalement, as long as I get my money’s worth at the concert hall.

        @GU: If Brynn Terfel, like most divorced men his age, can date a woman old enough to be his daughter to everyone’s delight and encouragement, then Angela Gheorgiu’s partners are all age-appropriate, provided they’re allowed to vote.

        • Bill

          Basso -- The Hungarian State Opera in Cluj
          is a more modern building with a large
          repetory of operas and operettas and some
          plays there -- it is not a particularly large
          opera house -- sometimes guests from the
          State Opera in Budapest sing there as Guests as well as from Szeged etc -- They do not perform every night but it is a repertoire house with a fixed ensemble with a couple of new productions each season. Most of Erkel’s operas are in repertoire along with Mozart, Verdi, Puccini,
          some German operas (probably sung in Hungarian), almost all of Erkel’s operas and all the traditional operettas of Kalman, Lehar and others. Ticket prices are quite inexpensive.

          The Romanian State Opera House is a traditional
          house built when the city was Hungarian ruled, typical of the Hungarian Opera Houses
          built in most of the other Hungarian cities and the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy in the late 19th century, a bit ornate
          -- its repertoire is mainly Italian and
          French operas with some guest artists from
          Bucharest or other Romanian Cities like Temesvar.
          There are not all that many opera performances
          in a month these days -- probably due to financial difficulties and sometimes scheduled
          performances are cancelled at the last minute.

          The city itself, Cluj in Romanian, Kolozsvar in Hungarian, Klausenburg in German, is quite attractive though the infrastructure needs many repairs and one can hear both the Hungarian Languages and Romanian in the streets, the city being Hungarian before WWI and the jewel of Transylvania.

          Both opera houses now have websites so one can look up their schedules.

          • basso profundo

            I’ve been to both opera houses and spent a few months in Cluj. I don’t know what you mean by it being “attractive.” Maybe the “old town” of the city is, but the rest of it, which is to say, the other 90%, is quite run down. Entire neighborhoods of rundown communist block buildings etc etc. Not necessarily a problem unique to Cluj, a lot of former communist and Soviet countries have similar looking cities. Anyway, there are much prettier cities in Romania than Cluj, i.e., Brasov, Sibiu. Even Iasi.

            You’re right about the Hungarian opera being a more modern building in its design, but there’s nothing modern about its current state, it’s also very run down, dirty etc. Although I did make an interesting observation while I was there. When I went to the Opera Romana, it was almost half empty each time I went. And it’s not like the tickets are expensive either, you can get a nice seat in the top area of the house for the equivalent of about $10. Anyway I just assumed that opera wasn’t high on people’s lists in Cluj, having seen several half empty performances there.

            Then I went to a performance at the Hungarian opera, and it was PACKED. Sold out. People standing in some areas. I couldn’t believe it. I went back again for another performance, same thing. So people don’t go to the performances at ONR, but they do go to performances across town at Opera Maghiara?

            I ended up asking someone later about it and they told me that in fact the Opera Maghiara brings people in from the countryside, brings in homeless people etc in order to show that they’ve sold out their performances, because given the ethnic tensions between Romanians and Hungarians within Romania, the Opera Maghiara is always having to justify its existence. So if they can show they sell out all their performances, whereas the Opera Nationala Romana can’t even fill half its seats, then it’s a big incentive for them to continue getting money from the Hungarian government (I believe they also receive something from the Romanian goverment as well).