Cher Public

“I meant to do that”

Of course La Cieca takes exception to some of the selections for the 2014 Freddie Awards, but that’s what makes baseball, after all. What does rankle your doyenne (and by how you surely know you do not want to see La Cieca rankled!) is the “Special Freddie” awarded to Christine Goerke, whose response is, well, perhaps a trifle less than completely ingenuous.

The award goes to Goerke not for any particular performance but rather as a representative of “all the other opera singers who make a point of appearing live in regional North American opera companies so that audiences can experience the sound of live performance by major artists.”

Goerke said, “I have a strong commitment to seeing that the smaller companies around our country are not squashed by the weight of HD movie casts. We have lost a few companies already to economic conditions and shrinking audiences.”

Now, this is a little hard to swallow. Goerke’s recent (and upcoming) bookings in places like Detroit and Houston are surely not the function of pure artistic altruism on her part but rather part of the pragmatic process of finding enough gigs to stay gainfully employed. Nobody goes on singing regularly in the sticks once the A houses start proffering contracts, and it’s easy enough to predict that, assuming Goerke can keep her voice in trim for this most recent reinvention as a Hochdramatische, she will show an equally strong commitment to the higher fees and artistic standards of the big international houses instead of the regional backwaters she’s been swimming in since her most recent vocal crisis. (And she’s not going to turn her nose up at the HD either, assuming anyone offers one to her.)

  • armerjacquino

    Well, it remains to be seen. In fairness to Goerke, she’s talking about what she’s done- you’re talking about what she might do in future.

    • “I have a strong commitment to…” implies future action.

  • MontyNostry

    Freddie and the Dreamers. F***ing Brits taking jobs from American Freddies.

    • Camille

      There were no American Freddies! They had to be imported and Jonathan Fiend was not even the culprit in this instance.

      The F*****king British Invasion, as it was called at the time, was *FanF*****kingTastic*! And relieved us of oliagenous Elvis and his tiring pelvic gyrations. I loved it, all if it, Mary Quant cosmetics, Carnaby Street, the while entire polo playing field of it all.

      Freddie and his dance:

      Then the Beatles found LSD, the Maharishi, and Paul found four part harmony in a string quartet, and the fun stopped. I wished it would never end.

      Do the Freddie and be happy and don’t worry.

  • MontyNostry

    A serious question here: how highly are Detroit and Houston rated in the US? Detroit seems to cast quite imaginatively and I always thought Houston was considered quite prestigious. I’d be interested to know how they are viewed by American mavens.

    • Detroit is a special case because it was actually in default, but S&P just rated a new issue of Detroit bonds at A-minus (which is the equivalent of A3 on the Moody’s scale — the Met’s rating before yesterday’s downgrade). Before and during the default, all of Detroit’s bonds were junk-rated, and very low at that for understandable reasons: Fitch dropped Detroit from C to D when the default was announced.

      Houston’s general obligation bonds are rated Aa2 by Moody’s, AA by S&P, and AA by Fitch. (Notoriously, the US government itself is rated AA+ by S&P, though the other two of the big three still have the US at triple-A; both of these did have the US on negative outlook during the budget disputes of 2011.)

    • Porgy Amor

      I’d be interested to know how they are viewed by American mavens.

      Hmm…this is only an impression, but I would say a lower level of prestige than Chicago, San Francisco, and (in recent decades) Los Angeles and Washington, but higher than Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville (i.e., Kentucky Opera), St. Louis, Sarasota. You can hear good singing in all of those places, and sometimes fairly big names visit (Graves did a Louisville Dalila some years back, Morris and Brown and De Young were all in the Cincinnati Don Carlo not long after).

      When I hear that someone with a worldwide reputation, who has sung at the Met and the ROH (et cetera) as Goerke has, is appearing in Detroit or especially in Houston, I don’t exactly think, “What’s she doing in the sticks?”

      I believe Fred’s quote comes from CG’s Facebook. She sang two of her Elektra performances close together this fall (one on the evening of October 25th and another on the afternoon of October 26th). She was explaining why she had taken on this challenge that had alarmed some of her friends — that part of it was a commitment to companies such as Detroit, not quite in the world’s front rank, in these difficult times.

    • Shit — I seriously thought you were asking about bond ratings, because of my earlier post on another thread about the Met downgrade. Sorry about that; hopefully everyone is having a good laugh at my expense.

      • Rackon

        I confess your post did elicit a brief chuckle but the info was interesting nonetheless.

      • MontyNostry

        Rating … Shmating!I have to confess that Porgy’s information was more what I was looking for, Dabrowski, but, especially in the US, money talks -or should that be sings?

        • Camille

          It both talks AND sings, and walks, too, as in Renee Fleming walking and singing and laughing all the way to the bank amidst the grumblings and mumblings of the parterriat.

          Happy FESTIVUS!

          • MontyNostry

            Something I find a bit strange about Renee becoming a thesp is that she has a surprisingly flat speaking voice, certainly when being interviewed. Maybe she will find a way of scooping and swooping as she delivers her lines, to make them more EXPRESSIVE.

            • Porgy Amor

              I like Nay-Nay as singer, but I’d imagine her stage-acting voice to be something like the one she uses when dumbing down operas for the HD audiences. “VERDI, who wrote SO many TRAGEDIES, surprised the world by making his LAST opera a COMEDY. And WHAT a delightful comedy it was!”

            • MontyNostry

              At least she won’t be saying: “I know just how difficult it is! When I sang [role X]…”

            • MontyNostry

              But she doesn’t do dumb like Ms Juntwait.

            • Porgy Amor

              At least she won’t be saying: “I know just how difficult it is! When I sang [role X]…”

              Naycissism. She almost got through the Meistersinger without at least one (there were about four in the Figaro), but then she had to horn in one of Volle’s reminiscences to remind him they had sung Arabella together somewhere. It was still a restrained afternoon, with all the potential opportunities. She could have gone down memory lane with Dasch over her own Elsa past, or with Botha over their legendary Met Otellos.

            • Porgy Amor

              Eva, I mean, not Elsa.

            • MontyNostry

              I wondered whether she would do a little reminiscence in her chat with Ms Dasch, but maybe she has unhappy memories of Bayreuth.

    • Don_Dano

      I may be biased since I live in Houston but I place HGO fourth for American opera companies; definitely behind the MET, Chicago and San Francisco; but in my opinion, ahead of LA and DC.

      The budget is rather modest (just a bit over $30,000,000/year), but they hit their numbers each year AND they recently finished a $165,000,000 fundraising program.

      They have access to a smaller space so they can champion newer works (A Christmas Carol, A Coffin in Egypt, Last Acts or now I think it is called Three Decembers). Other new operas in the larger Brown Theater were Andre Previn’s “Brief Encounters” and Cruzar La Cara de La Luna.

      Early supporters of Christine Goerke (Ortrud, Eboli, Ariande and soon Brunnhilde). For those partial to Anna Maria Martinez, she sings here quite frequently. Her Butterflys next month seem to be selling well.

      As I said Monty, I live here so I am biased, but I think you can make the case the Houston Grand Opera is fourth in the Americas.

      • MontyNostry

        I’ve always assumed Houston was fairly high up the pecking order after the Met, Chicago and SF.

      • Cha-Cha-San

        I don’t live in Houston and have only been to HGO on a couple of occasions, but I agree with you, Don_D. I, too, would rank Houston fourth, behind the Met, SFO, and Chicago.

        This is an interesting question though, Monty, and it led me to wonder how other Parterrians might rank our regional opera houses here in the U.S.!

        I’ve taken a crack at it below and would love to hear whether others agree/disagree. Since this is completely subjective, not to mention that there are a few key regional houses that I have never been to (Philadelphia, Dallas, Cincinnati, etc.), I thought it easiest to group some of them together rather than split hairs:

        1) The Met
        2) Chicago/San Francisco
        4) Houston
        5) Washington National Opera/Los Angeles
        7) San Diego(?!)/Seattle/Dallas
        10) Michigan/Cincinnati/Minneapolis/Philadelphia
        14) Florida/St. Louis/Pittsburgh
        17) Opera Colorado/Arizona/Hawaii/Boston
        21) Portland/Kansas City/Austin/N. Carolina
        25) New Orleans/Atlanta/Kentucky/Virginia

        Note that I’ve intentionally left out festivals such as Santa Fe and Glimmerglass, though the former would certainly rank up there near HGO, in my opinion.

        I may be way off the mark with some of these. Would love to hear what you all think…

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Totally provincial, 2nd tier.

  • Der Fiakermillo

    To be fair, Goerke’s current rep isn’t what gets done in small corners of Montana but she does work regularly in many US houses, and has for many years. As do many other singers -- DiDonato in Houston and at home in KC, etc. Remember also Goerke is not a new name -- she has been singing professionally for 20 years -- initially as a superb Mozart/Handel singer and has been a first tier Chryshothemis/Ortrud/Eboli for at least the last five years. The Dyer’s Wife, Elektra and now Brunn are newer and have gotten her even more acclaim. I think why Fred Plotkin referenced her as a model was Goerke spent the past summer at Glimmerglass as Ariadne and artist in residence when she could have been singing in Europe, earning much more. She was an apprentice there and obviously feels a connection to the company. It may also be a practical, understandable choice of wanting to stay close to her family. Her current season has her singing in DC, Chapel Hill, Toronto, Houston and Tanglewood. (And New Zealand!) I’m sure she could earn more by being based in Zurich and being a Stimme for hire all over Europe, where she is in high demand but she choses Detroit and Glimmerglass.

    • DellaCasaFan

      Re: “She spent the past summer at Glimmerglass as Ariadne … when she could have been singing in Europe.”
      Right after her Ariadne at Glimmerglass, Goerke reprised the role in concert in London, BBC Proms. She was also in Dresden this summer for the Strauss centennary. She was fabulous, BTW.

      • armerjacquino

        It was Elektra she sang at the Proms, not Ariadne.

        • DellaCasaFan

          Mea culpa. And, of course, it was the 150th anniversary (not the centennial) of Strauss.

  • la vociaccia

    It should be noted that Ms. Goerke’s statement was made on facebook, in response to someone who (rather ignorantly) wondered aloud why Goerke would do two Elektras back to back in *Detroit,* as surely such an endeavor was beneath her.

    I think her reaction was a bit besides the point; the real issue with that person’s remark was that Michigan Opera Theatre is NOT a marginal provincial house. It is, for all intents and purposes, a major company with a relatively high budget, and singing there is hardly slumming it in any way. Major singers appear there regularly.

  • Krunoslav

    “The regional backwaters she’s been swimming in since her most recent vocal crisis”

    Would those backwaters be ( since 2011) Torino, Houston, Chicago, Berlin, Dresden, Amsterdam, the Met and the ROH with Toronto on deck?

    Artists ( c.f. Beczala) can pay a high rhetorical price around here for deviating from accepted doctrine.

  • Gualtier M

    The other thing that might be mentioned is that some of these roles she is singing in these “provincial” houses are heavier roles that are new to her repertoire. She is slowly unveiling the Brunnhildes one by one is smaller or more out of the way houses to get them under her belt before unleashing them on the Met (where she has future contracts for Turandot, Senta and the Ring Cycle) and European houses.

    However, I have some questions as to whether the HD audiences are neglecting their local audiences. I think the audiences overlap a lot and the ones who are going to the HD’s only probably won’t or no longer can attend live opera. So I think the “HD’s are killing regional opera” trope might be a canard and requires more in depth investigation with numbers and facts rather than word of mouth.

    For example, the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts and the tour helped proselytize opera throughout the country spurring regional opera. Also there may have been too much expansion in regional companies than could be supported. Anyway, kudos to Christine for singing as well as she does anywhere she chooses to -- lucky audiences. And also for expressing her mind on Facebook which does regularly -- often questioning the opinions and judgment of our doyenne…

    • Gualtier M

      “However, I have some questions as to whether the HD audiences are neglecting their local OPERA HOUSES.” is what I meant -- I think we might be dealing with separate audiences here.

      The question is whether the HD’s are spurring audiences to attend live performances -- and I am not sure about hard data to support yes or no.

      • I think this is a false premise. The primary purpose of HD is not to “spur audiences to attend” anything but the HD. It’s a different, discrete experience, in other words. You might as well ask whether Netflix spurs people to attend off-Broadway theater.

        • Gualtier M

          As I said -- these may be separate audiences and the HDs may have less to do with the closure of regional opera houses than other factors such as:

          a) More opera houses than the market can afford and support
          b) Lack of effective leadership and fundraisers
          c) The financial downturn in 2007-2008.

          As we have seen some of these theaters have bounced back. But you would have to discuss this with Peter Gelb -- every Met HD has the same speech about how the price of a ticket doesn’t cover all the performance expenses and as good as the HD experience is it can’t be compared with the experience in the house. So please attend a performance at the Met or at your local opera company. So the hope is that the HD’s will spur attendance and donations to the Metropolitan Opera House. But the attendance figures are down this season.

          • EarlyRomantic

            d) A genuine coast to cost, continent to continent dearth of important voices and stars, in which I include Goerke. Included in the dearth, not the stars, that is. To sum it up, opera is afflicted by adverse forces equal in magnitude to catastrophic climate change elsewhere in the real world. Sorry to be the Grinch that stole Christmas.

          • DonCarloFanatic

            A thought about that. The Baltimore Opera, which I adored, was already in financial trouble before the 2008 downturn when--remember?--even very rich people suddenly were poor on paper and had less income, too. Presuming that its usual backers couldn’t even come up with what they’d given in past years, that would have been the cause of death, not any HDs anyone was watching. [I’m assuming its backers were the Johns Hopkins doctors I always saw in the good seats, who had season tickets. Doctors typically go for high beta investments because they have low beta careers (have I got that right, finance guys?), so their investments would have tanked much worse than the average person’s. Hence, even less $$$ available to support the Baltimore Opera. Of course I could be completely wrong and there was one super rich person who pulled out and that was it. But I like my doctor theory better.]

  • Well I guess a new target was needed with Miss Fleming leaving the building.

    • bluecabochon

      I suspect that someone has a beef with WQXR about *something* and with Ms. Goerke about a Facebook mini-event earlier this year.

      • Suspect all you want while you’re on moderation.

      • CwbyLA

        What was the Facebook mini-event between Ms. Goerke and La Cieca?

        • It involved a discussion of Tara Erraught, and I think you can guess how it went. That incident has nothing to do with my finding Ms. Goerke’s statement above a little fishy, except in the sense that a lot of what Ms. Goerke says on Facebook is fishy.

          • ailsamegan

            Touchy -- aren’t we.

          • CwbyLA

            OK. Thanks for the explanation.

          • manou

            Amnesty for bluecabochon (and Caballe)!!!

            (exclamation marks by kind permission of zinka)

            • Only three exclamation marks? Surely, Marshie could’ve lent you a few and brought the total up to a respectable six or seven…

            • manou

              She is decorating her Christmas tree with them.

            • manou

              A modest (moderate?) proposal:

              Parterre’s success is largely due to La Cieca herself, of course, but also to its contributors, many of whom are respected musicians, singers, voice experts and well-known opera critics in several colourful guises. Another USP is that the comments are not moderated and appear immediately on the site with no barrier -- something rarely seen on most similar blogs.

              So when La Cieca decides to put a commenter “on moderation”, it must feel like being put on the naughty step for a while -- this must be vexing and demeaning to grown-up people, many of whom simply do not return after being treated like naughty kids.

              Unfortunately, it sometimes looks as if moderation is sometimes applied in less than equitable ways, often because the poster has made some direct or indirect attack on La Cieca. Accepting unreservedly that she is “seul maître à bord après Dieu”, I am wondering whether there might be some form of consultation with the other posters before the fatwa is issued -- maybe with a warning and a request for endorsements?

              (I should make it clear that I am not advocating the eating of any Irish babies…)

            • manou

              (Please amputate one of the “sometimes”!)

            • MontyNostry

              This comes to mind, manou …

            • manou

              At least the babies would be roasted….

            • rapt

              I disagree, manou. Don’t know what it says about me, but I’m rather partial to LaCieca’s general high-handedness, part of the vivid personality that makes this blog so enjoyable to me (along with the high standard of wit she sets for contributors). (Perhaps I also find LaCieca’s judgments more judicious than you find them--and moderation really seems a very mild form of punishment. Nor does a punishment suited to children seem inappropriate if the offense itself--incivility under the protection of anonymity--is a childish one.) The wrangling that might ensue from asking for the opinions of contributors on each other--esp. given my own private opinions of a (very) few of them--seems to me a dreadful and tedious prospect; I don’t want to hear it!

            • Hey Louie

              I don’t completely agree with you, Manou. Some of the vibes I get from this site are such that I would fear an occasional, if not frequent, pile-up on the weak and on others who lack the wit, the will, or the patience to defend themselves. Mob rule, you know.

              We might try the opposite and petition Mamma Cieca to restore some sorely missed excommunicate to Parterrian favor.

              I imagine, for example, that most posters and lurkers have sorely missed the presence of Oedipe, whose comments on the Paris scene have proven irreplaceable.

              We might want to ask Mamma to email an invitation to him to return, along with a recognition that emotions often run higher than warranted, and that Parterrians miss his contributions.

              I don’t think Oedipe could refuse a request from his Mamma.

              Or there could just be an email to all the moderated informing them that the Queen is issuing her New Year’s pardon and letting them know that oblivion would be a Good Thing.

            • manou

              I entirely respect your opinion. Far be it from me to suggest discussing the sentence -- I was thinking more of something along the lines of a quick vote.

              If we were to object to incivility, though, I don’t know what would become of Parterre.

            • manou

              Sorry -- this was in answer to rapt.

              But hey, Louie -- I do like your idea, but I am not sure La Cieca is ready to play Jocasta just yet.

            • I hope blue is allowed back. :(

            • Realize this might be TMI but as many of you know awhile back I went through a very tough time. I still go through some bad days. Blue AND La Cieca are two people who have always been kind to me during those days. This makes me so sad.

            • bluecabochon will be off moderation before the end of the year, and it would be nice (though I’m not holding my breath) if she retracted the unpleasant innuendo about my motivation in criticizing Goerke’s statement. Oedipe has been free to comment whenever he likes; it’s not up to me to coax him out of his sulking.

            • luvtennis


              I have always enjoyed your posts, but I must say that your plea for mercy is really jarring after the rudeness you have shown to so many posters.

              Many here were sympathetic when you went thru your troubles only to receive the back if your hand after you regained your equilibrium. Perhaps you should keep that in mind.

              And just because many of us try to refrain from personal attacks as both distasteful and unproductive doesn’t mean we couldn’t humiliate and belittle if we were so inclined.

              Let’s all try to be better citizens of the net in 2015. It’s so much more fun and enlightening when we show are best here.

            • Hey Louie

              Psst, Manou: Caeca nostra Regina bene odere scit!

            • manou

              Bene autem dicitur…

            • Luv, still mourning the loss of Clita? Here’s my Kleenex.

            • Bluevicks

              I’m glad that bluecabochon will be soon back. I’m wondering about Clita though: while I may not need Ivy’s kleenex just yet, he was IMo one of the funniest/entraining posters over there (and I say this without any negative connotations).

              Anyone knows why he was banned?

            • manou

              He is obviously on a train somewhere.

            • luvtennis

              Actually, I wasn’t thinking of Clita at all. I am sure he is having a good time wherever he is. He is just that sort of strong minded person.

              I think you should keep the Kleenex for yourself given your history.

            • Yeah, Clita’s so strong minded that every woman to him is a whore and he ended up harassing a friend of mine on Facebook for no reason whatsoever. But enjoy always being right. It’s obviously your specialty.

  • MontyNostry

    I mean:

  • DonCarloFanatic

    I always love hearing that joyous music as they’re about to roast people.