Cher Public

The doyenne’s lament

As we trudge into the final week of 2014, La Cieca can but echo her Doppelgängerin in the vintage cartoon above:

“Of course I know one has to go, but it is so unutterably un-gay, isn’t it?”

Your own doyenne hopes the cher public will gay it up a bit with their discussion of off-topic and general interest subjects.

    • CwbyLA

      Depends on why they dislike it. If the director/designer puts a wall in the middle of the stage so that half of the audience can not see what is going on, yes, that design should be changed. How the hell did it get on stage in the first place? But if the audience dislikes a production because of its concept, then the it should not be changed but perhaps fine tuned with subsequent performances. I think it is totally fine to make some changes to the production to accommodate the current singers’ ideas, different sight lines in different theaters, etc. How many favorite operas/prodcutions had disastrous premieres after all?

      • Agreed. Production by committee is never a good idea. In the above case, it’s a matter of the set being impractical and it does beg the question of why it had been allowed in the first place. Once in a while, I see a set design that caters only to the people sitting in the centre sections of the audience and wonder how the design ever made it past the drawing board.

      • This is reminiscent of the Paris Opera’s production of Hänsel & Gretel. This is how I explained it in Aprils 2013, when the production had its debut:

        ‘To accommodate the double action, the set was a kind of doll’s house with two storeys on the left and the “same” (subtly or not-so-subtly different) downstairs bedroom and upstairs parlour on the right, separated by a kind of alley. The rooms could be blacked out, so the action might be (very oddly) confined to one at a time, two, three or all four. The trouble with this arrangement was visibility. Only people in raised seats (i.e. the balcon and loges de face) bang in the centre of the house could see all the action. We were at the extreme left of row 3. In other words, to the side and low down. So when the action was upstairs in the left-hand parlour, we could see people from the waist up, the rest of them being hidden by the floor. When, later, the spider came through the ceiling, we couldn’t at first see Hänsel was in the room. We could of course see nothing at all of what, if anything, went on in the central alley. And, again of course, we had a limited view of props or action in the rooms over on the right’.

    • Don_Dano

      That same Tristan production was used in Houston. I don’t remember there being complaints then about the sight lines. I wonder if they made a point of repositioning the wall so it wouldn’t be an issue.

    • arepo

      A big fat “NO!”
      Much as some productions are fit for the barf bag, the director had better stick by his/her interpretation whether those rotten tomatoes keep coming or not, otherwise inconsistencies abide.

      Remember how they knuckled under and changed the very unpopular Tosca travesty where Scarpia humped the statue of the Virgin Mary, to a completely opposite rendering of him kissing the hem of her robe instead? Talk about a change!!
      But that change ruined the entire Luc Bondy concept of a sleazy, low class official who lived in dungeon-like squalor with prostitutes a-plenty instead of the powerful, controlling police chief living in a room replete with fine wines, velvet sofas, and gourmet foods.

  • Krunoslav

    ‘Tis the last rose of summer…

  • armerjacquino

    AJ’s Christmas roundup-

    Used the inevitable itunes voucher to buy myself Sandrine Piau’s Mozart album, ‘Desperate Heroines’. Quite gorgeous, especially her account of Susanna’s Act IV aria, and ‘Se il padre perdei’.

    But the real event was Google Chromecast, a little gizmo that I think a lot of parterrians would get a kick out of. Basically you plug it into your TV and it broadcasts anything from YouTube (or various other music/video sites) directly on to your tv. Mine came with a free trial of Google Play (Google’s answer to Spotify) so once I’d finished my orgy of YT videos I checked out some recordings I’d been curious about. So I had a complete listen to the Barenboim Verdi Requiem (wonderful soloists completely stymied by leaden conducting) and then the YNS COSI (nice and energetic, Villazon, Brower and Persson lovely, but OH MY GOD what did Erdmann think she was doing?)

    Anyway, from now on I’m just going to be sitting in front of my TV either watching Youtube or listening to new (to me) recordings.

    Google Play has the Currentzis NOZZE and COSI but I’m not feeling brave enough yet…

    • laddie

      Currentzis Nozze is fine until you get to the first Countess aria. One wonders at that point how this woman (Simone Kermes) could ever get it across a live audience. Even I could sing the countess in this fashion:

      • laddie

        I have a question for everyone about the above recording: Is this an attempt at exhibiting morbidezza?

        • This is an even more prized quality, that of impercettibilità.

          • manou

            Not so much Porgi Amor as Porca Miseria.

            • rapt

              Is this a variant of Veal Bastarda?

            • manou

              Indeed -- if you cannot find Pesce Marcio.

            • Batty Masetto

              “Porgi Amor” is Italian for “I Loves You Porgy.”

            • manou

              Not forgetting that “Dove Sono” is the offspring of a white bird of peace.

            • pirelli

              Lately, I think it’s been more Dove Sony.

            • Batty Masetto

              In some hands it’s been closer to “Dove Dudi.”

            • LOL. All y’all!

          • luvtennis

            Bon neologism du jour.

            Question for the parterriat:

            Is Simone Kermes --

            a. Changing the opera one performance at a time.

            b. Erasing years of decadence in operatic vocalism.

            c. Attempting to bring about the apocalypse.

            d. Getting back at daddy -- maybe not her daddy, but somebody’s daddy.

        • DellaCasaFan

          In a creepy way, had I not seen her name, I would have thought it was someone from the Vienna Boys’ Choir singing “Porgi Amore” à la Christmas carol mode.

        • Camille

          Nope! This is an attempt at singing!

          Actually have heard far worse.

  • Grane

    In a tangentially related story, here is The World’s Coolest Soprano getting ready to perform “Adam Lay Ybounden” at the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s.

    Just kidding. She did “Meine Lippen,” of course.

  • zinka

    A Met soprano once said, “Gays do not appreciate me because I am not exciting enough.”…or something like this.

    At a Gencer party once..”There was not a MAN in the plaCE!!! In Zinka’s club she was the only straight person ( I THINK)


    • pirelli

      She said “plaCE”??

      • armerjacquino

        She was probably ATTRACTED TO BY GAYS at the time.

        • Camille


          me ne riNUmeri, co-ho-Sì!!!

  • zinka

    Some new names….What is your fav.curse??Nt easy..Simionato? Bruna Rasa??

    I loved the way Zajick chested on the “O” of

    Where does Santuzza eat????(Do not kill me)

    Easy…at the Cafeteria Rusticana

  • Well to get ppl in the operetta state of mind:

    • Lohengrin

      Has anyone watched Csardsafürstin from Dresden?

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Paul Gay

  • zinka

    Bocelli did the lighting.

    Stories to follow:

  • zinka

    At one time, I recall posting some true events that I witnessed at the (in) famous La Puma Opera NYC. The head of the co.was Josephine La Puma, mother of famous Met coach,Alberta Masiello.(Not a well-kept secret. We were so starved for opera in the summer, and one night passed by a JHS in the 90’s and it said, “Otello tonight.” MIO DIO!!!! Opera again!!!
    Little did we know what was in store, and below I list not only our Otello experience,but many to follow. THIS IS ALL TRUE!!!!

    1.In the Otello, the baritone (great name) Amerioco Iorio fell off the JHS auditorium table (not meant for Verdi) during act one Brindisi.

    (We then told our friends they MUST see this company,as long as they had no bladder trouble or were incontinental)

    2. Faust with an off-stage prompter LOUDER than the singers..”SALUT DEMEURE!!!!!!!)

    3. Aida with one of the 98 year old chorus ladies with a watch.(Memphis standard time??)

    4. Tosca with a stupid Sacristan shaking his tushy back and forth in time with his opening music.

    5. A Nedda who did not know the music after the arias,so when the Tonio came in to get fresh, she skipped the music, and poor guy had to depart.

    6.Ernani with the world’s great basso,Mario Leone (see Video of part of his Don Carlo aria),and when Silva says “Entrate i miei fidi cavalieri,” ONE OLD MAN with a dumb hat entered.

    7. Norma with the famous cult figure,Olive Middleton, where she tried (not easy at about 75) to ring the gong…after three tries she made it…and the tape has the audience applauding. (I am told some Met singers heard about her and attended.)

    These now are stories told to me by other La Puma fans:

    1. Mme.La Puma comes out with (Heavy Italian accent) “The Barnaba is ill so instead of Gioconda we do Tristan und Isolde… (who cared..the orchestra sounded like Elementary kids with Gazoos.)

    2. Someone trying to come in without giving a donation, and a chorus lady in Don Carlo Act Two scene,yelling “Cheap chisler!!”
    (I do ot recall giving a donation but signed the guest book as aruso,Jeritza,etc.)

    3.Olive as Sieglinde with a flashlight.(Hunding forgot to pay his electric bill) and the Walkuries with their music on their shields. (Exc.act two opening on Youtube).

    4. Don Giovanni where during the overture, one or more musicians entered, and played wherever they were at the moment in the music. (Von Karajan would not be pleased.)

    5.A friend calling La Puma to see what they were doing that night, and the answer was “Turandot with Lolita Schultz!!!” Well,that is easier to say than some of our Russian sopranos.

    Our LAST experience,because DEPENDS were not yet invented.was a Don Giovanni,where Leporello pinches a chorus lady (about 80) with a huge white ribbon in her hair, and instead of a little scream, she sounded like ELEKTRA!!! We RAN..hearing someone yell, “Yeah,get out!!!!!” We ran up to Broadway doubled OVER!!!!

    If you go to youtube,you see I posted some Don Carlo exc.where the baritone is singing…when he gets SHOT…they applaud..and he stops (like Bonisolli) and admonishes the audience for their bad behavior. in this perf.the tenor in act 2 sc.1 at the end of the trio takes a B natural that sounds like someone os sitting on his cojones.

    I once sang in a Hoffman where they hired some La Puma ladies for act 2…I did not know this…and when I was backstage, they were talking back there like crazy….so I yelled, “Go back to La Puma where you belong!”(In those days I was very diplomatic.

    Thems were the days!!!!!!! We miss them..but we do have the Met…..ooooops!

    • Camille

      Once or twice I have run into a denizen who had haunted the glory days of La Puma. The gentleman whom I first met made an attempt to recount a story, but could not make it through all the way to the end. He started to cry, with laughter. And just told me, while shaking his head, “Honey, you had to BE there.”

      So sorry I wasn’t.

  • vilbastarda

    She needs a gay friend, or two:

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

    • MontyNostry

      Nice ring, though. But I still find her singing blank.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Is this gay enough?

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Chorus memorized soloists stuck in their books.

        • Lohengrin

          Nothing from what an operetta should have………….. No hungarian “Paprika”, no “Wiener Schmäh”, no fire.
          AN is in a frenzied descent, vocally, physically and in the general impression.
          The only one I liked was Breslik.

        • You have been warned before about the excessive posting of YouTube embeds. Please try to use this privilege moderately.

        • Feldmarschallin

          That dress that Netrebko wore in the first act looked like something Christal Carrington would have worn in Dynasty. Lots of beading the the cut were similiar styles favored by her. I loved two things about her outfits. The ring was amazing and loved the black shoes.

      • vilbastarda


  • DrMiracle

    Anyone notice the parallels (or lack thereof) between The Death of Klinghoffer and The Interview. Someone should have threatened terrorism on theaters streaming Klinghoffer. Then it would have been Gelb’s patriotic duty to keep the theater broadcast going.

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    DIVO WATCH: Keenlyside has now cancelled the two remaining performances of “Rigoletto” at Wiener Staatsoper (as was pretty much expected). He is still slated for five more when the production returns in June.

    • laddie

      Will they continue to use the cover? Maybe Quinn Kelsey is available.

      • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

        Paolo Rumetz, the ensemble member who jumped in on opening night, will finish the current run.

  • Off-topic even in an off-topic thread, I am displeased with Terrence McNally just now. I was listening to a 1966 (I think) Ballo with Souliotis and Flaviano Labo and realized I’d always avoided recordings with Labo because of some punchline in The Lisbon Traviata that made me assume he was awful. He is, in fact, as everyone else probably knew, very good.

  • Buster

    Tosca live from Liège tonight, with Barbara Haveman and Ruggero Raimondi:


  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    This is getting increasingly ridiculous: you remember that Simon Keenlyside literally dropped out of the premiere of the new “Rigoletto” (in the middle of Act II) at Wiener Staatsoper, and was replaced in Act III by ensemble member Paolo Rumetz? Then they announced Rumetz for the next two performances? And then finally they announced Rumetz for the rest of the run through the beginning of January? Now Rumetz is sick! Our next Rigoletto will be George Petean.

    • manou

      De quoi rigoler, effectivement.

  • zinka

    New Years Resolutions for Opera Characters:

    Salome- Ich vill nicht shtripen

    Wotan- I will finally use birth control because I do not want any more noisy daughters. (Besides, I can’t pronounce their names.)

    Iago: I will act like a cutesy little Teddy Bear.

    Tristan- I respect older people in the theatre with bladder problems so I will take only 10 minutes to die.

    Violetta- I will only take the E flat in Sempre Libera if They triple my salary.

    Andrea Chenier I will be calmer lest I lose my head.

    Amfortas- I will stop being such a big baby and stop kvetching

    Tosca- The next time I will NOT hit the trampolin.

    Witch in Hansel and Gretel I will go on a total vegetarian diet

    Lucia I will stop imitating that Australian girl and clean up my diction.

    Peter Grimes I will get rid of my child porno DVD’s

    De Grieux The next dude who calls my girlfriend a hooker has to deal with me!

    Falstaff OK, I will cut down on 10 pizzas a day to only 9.

    Elsa I will mind my own business and stop asking people for their name.

    OK…add more………………………..Charlie (not even drunk)


  • guy pacifica

    A bit of news from the Upper Left Hand Corner.

    The Seattle Opera announced its 2015-16 season today. From the press release: “The 2015/16 season includes two company premieres: Nabucco (Verdi) and
    Mary Stuart (Donizetti); a world premiere: An American Dream (composed by Jack Perla with libretto by
    Jessica Murphy Moo) conceived from the company’s
    community storytelling initiative, the Belonging(s) Project; and new-to-the-company productions of
    The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart), The Pearl Fishers
    (Bizet) and The Flying Dutchman (Wagner).” More details here:

    Also, I’ve been meaning to report that the Portland Opera has announced that it is beginning a new performance format beginning in 2016. The company will still mount 4 to 5 productions a year, but will cluster them in the summer. So more like Santa Fe, and less like a traditional opera house with productions spread across the winter months. Portland already has a pretty vibrant summer music scene, with Chamber Music Northwest, which is effectively the summer home of the Chamber Music Socket of Lincoln Center, a classical piano festival, and others. So summer opera might slot in nicely. I wish them success--and hope for a return to more imaginative programming in the new format. A decade ago Portland Opera mounted impressive productions of Glass, Britten, Baroque rarities, and Adams, along with the standards. But since the impact of the 2008 recession, Portland has gone back to the ABCs.

    A happy, prosperous and kind New Year to all!

  • guy pacifica

    Socket = Society!

    • manou

      Socket is so much more electric.

  • zinka

    HEY…Sign him up if he sounds like this LIVE…..