Cher Public

Meyerbeer me!

So, how well does Les Huguenots stand up in this, our modern world? Here’s another chance to find out, as we present a live performance of the opera from Nürnberg in 2014.

Giacomo Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots

Staatstheater Nürnberg
Guido Johannes Rumstadt, conductor
15 June 2014

Margarete de Valois – Leah Gordon
Valentine – Hrachuhí Bassénz
Urbain – Judita Nagyová
Raoul de Nangis – Uwe Stickert
Marcel – Randall Jacobsh
Comte de Nevers – Martin Berner
Comte de Saint-Bris – Nicolai Karnolsky
Bois-Rosé – Yu-Sun Hong
Maurevert – Sébastien Parotte
Tavannes – Kwonsoo Jeon
Cossé – Hans Kittelmann
Thoré – Sébastie Parotte
De Retz – Taehyun Jun
Méru – Daniel Dropulja

  • Feldmarschallin

    I wanted to go to one of those performances but the problem was the last train always left before it was over. Perhaps next season they will have a few more performances which will start earlier.

  • Milady DeWinter

    I look forward to hearing this Jungfer -- thank you so much. I think Huguenots is his most cogent epic and the music is simply glorious. I must say I don’t recognize one name in the cast, and the photo looks like it should be from Robert le diable rather than Huguenots (unless it represents a devilish spirit of religious persecution?) -- but anyway -- thanks again!

    • Camille

      Yes, Milady DeW. —

      I had a similar thought about that photo. Suppose someone may be able to explain. Religious intolerance rampant?

  • Camille

    What an assortment of names; reads like the roll call at he UnitedNations. Never heard of a one of them.
    Feldmarschallin, bitte, did you hear anything good about this production?

    Whatever, and with whomever, it is still a treat and another Großer Shoutout to the amazing Jungfer Marianne, whom I trust is no longer frequenting smokey Iranian internet cafés to upload, and whose new computer is busy humming along.

    • Feldmarschallin

      Yes everyone who saw it loved it and that is why I tried to get tickets for it but most of the performances didn’t allow me to get home afterwards since I would have had to leave 10 minutes early and hate doing that. I am hoping it will be revived and then maybe there will be one or two which will start earlier. I think that there might have been a performance but had a Manon Lescaut that evening. The singers all got very good reviews and were almost all cast from the ensemble except for one or two.

      • Camille

        Oh, very well, and danke schön, einmal, für die Auskunft, gnädige Feldmarschallin!!

      • Hey Louie

        I think everyone agrees that Meyerbeers genius deserts him in the last scene, and it’s an awful letdown after the splendors of the love duet and that hilariously inappropriate Huguenot DANCE music that Raoul interrupts. So go the next time and walk out at your leisure humming a dance tune instead of a dirge.

        • Milady DeWinter

          Oh I don’t know, Louie. Yes, the great love duet is a hard act to follow, as it were, the ballet music that opens Act V is almost always cut, but the murder of Raoul, Marcel, and Valentine (by her own father) as they sing sequentially higher lines of “Ein feste Burg” until they get blown away is fairly dramatic and moving as the carnage continues and the curtain drops.

          • Hey Louie

            I was raised a Roman Catholic, so I’ve got a prejudice against Marcel even before he opens his lugubrious mouth, and I cringe during the uncountable, ad-nauseam repetitions of the “Ein feste Burg” theme. I hope you’re not Southern Baptist!

            • Milady DeWinter

              No worries, Louie. Not Southern. Or a Baptist. Or John the Baptist. Although I do enjoy a good veil dance.

    • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

      I only had to endure the Iranian Internet café (cough! cough!) for about an hour (and I indeed had to wash all my clothes except for my jeans, which I aired out for a few days and a week later there is still a slight odor of smoke). I ordered a new laptop last Monday and picked it up this morning. It is still in the box on the dining room table. I played with it at the shop for about an hour and it’s going to be a rough ride. It has a totally new operating system and the keyboard is wider and set up quite differently than any other laptop I’ve seen, and with my ballerina-like hands I kept missing the left caps key and hitting < instead.

      Anyway… I recalled that not too long ago there was chatter about Meyerbeer, specifically “Les Huguenots,” specifically about this production, and someone (sorry: I forget who) asked if I had the broadcast. I didn’t, but at this point there seems to be very little that I can’t get my hands on, sooner or later. My little group of collectors spans four continents.

      To all of you: thanks for your continuing support. You may have noticed that about two dozen (give or take) uploads suddenly disappeared from my Mixcloud page last week. It made me really sad and a tad angry. I was not notified by Mixcloud, but you can imagine what went down if you browse my main page and notice the absence of some titles that were there from the very beginning of my site 18 months ago to recently-posted titles. Too bad: I had some truly wonderful stuff planned that now must remain in my collection.

      • Feldmarschallin

        Marianne I am looking for a Micaela with Harteros from Wien. Do you have it?

      • Camille

        Could someone who is really, really computer technically savvy KINDLY please contact Jungfer Marianne and help out with any shortcuts of any kind so that she may be as comfortable as possible with the new computer? I just can’t because my skills are googling and turning the computer on and off and importing videos and that is that.

        Can’t one of you really savvy guys help her out, for ALL THE GOOD she does for so many of us??

        Thank you to the techies out. there in parterria. It’s good karma.

        • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

          Cami, that is so sweet of you to rally a call to arms (or fingers) to assist me in my computer woes. But it really isn’t necessary: I just need the time to get used to the new OS (Windows 7). Believe it or not, I have been on Windows XP (for which Microsoft suspended support last April) since 2002. So it will just take me a little while. I’m a pretty quick learner.

          We are currently having the heaviest blizzard I have seen in Wien in many years (expected to go on for more than 24 hours), and I began my day with a doctor appointment from 07:30 (slightly overcast skies with a hint of sun on the horizon) till shortly after 10:00 (a full slap in the face of snow coming at me sideways as I exited the office), had to negotiate my way (in the wrong shoes, since the weather forecast said the snow would start mid-afternoon) to the computer geek boutique (two very sweet guys who for more than a decade have bent over backwards to accommodate my computer needs, and they give me prices far less than what the big chain stores charge), then to said big electronics chain store for blank CDs and DVDs (all this in a blinding blizzard), then to the bank, then the Apotheke, then home to feed The Cat, then back out at the height of the storm to shop for enough groceries to get me through the next few days. All that took till about 16:00, so I was in no mood to start playing with the new machine.

          So dann! I am in the process of filing off all documents and audio files from this machine to external drives and will, in the next day or so, dig into the new laptop (they call them notebooks here – what are they called in the USA?) and start to get used to it. Even this morning when I was examining the machine in the shop and trying to figure out how to recreate the “favorites” column, I successfully created the file and immediately added Parterre Box and the New York Times! So I am on my way.

          Herzlichsten Dank!

          • Camille

            “Nicht Dank!”

            Well, if you are okay with it then I am relieved but I still think a couple of these guys could give you some pointers to help out as there are some really really smart techies in parterria!

            You have such bad Schnee, as well as in New York?? Take care to keep all your woolies around. The world is increasingly a colder place, in more ways than one.

            Yes, that reminds me, my old computer in New York has that suspended XP stuff too and I have to go to the smart kids down the block when I return to fix it or just dump it. I bought it in 2005; so it is a dinosaur, anyway. I have a NetBook with Windows 7, too, by the way—and think I will just probably keep it and dump my old one, although it makes me sad to do so, it got me through a lot! I was planning on having my smart boys give me a crash course on using my Windows 7 more effectively, so! if I get any tips for it, I will pass it on to you and maybe I can be of some service after all, mirabile dictu!!!

            Viel Spaß and be careful to wear hat and undervests, my way to keeping warm which I learned to do in “Sunny Italy”, in the winter. I suppose, having been a danseur, you may have more grace and fleetness in the snow but hope you have not worked your muscles and body in such a manner that you suffer from the discipline, now, later on in life, and/or the cold is harsher on you because of hat discipline. I imagine one would keep up certain preventative routines a lifetime?

            Alles gutes!

            • Hehe, you remind me of my (male) Turkish friends, who in winter always have several layers of vests because that’s what their mothers taught them back in Urfa or Diyarbakir…

      • laddie

        Marianne,

        I am wondering about your new computer having a “totally new operating system”? Did you go from Windows to Mac or Mac to Windows? I love my MAC and am glad that I crossed over. Thank you for Huguenots. Also can one e-mail you if one is only curious about how you acquire your recordings?

        • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

          Laddie, thanks for your comments. I have always used a PC (I can use a MAC under duress, and I have a zillion friends who swear by them, but, creature of habit that I am, I am just more comfortable with a PC). My situation – I won’t even call it a problem – is that I have used Windows XP since it was first released, so this is my first change to a different OS. My Computer Doktor advised Windows 7 as opposed to 8, as he said 8 has a lot of kinks in it. I played with it at the shop for about an hour on Monday morning and there are LOTS of habits I shall have to change, but this will come in time, with familiarity.

          The new machine is still in its box on the dining room table. I had a very long and exhausting Monday, and just needed to chill and get household stuff done today, so I shall unpack it and set it up in the next days. In the meantime, this old HP laptop seems to have gotten a second (third?) wind and will help provide a smooth transition.

          All I will say about my sources for my Mixcloud uploads is there is a group of us spread over four continents and if someone is looking for something, someone else will have it or know how to get it. On other maters – questions, requests, advice for procuring tickets, restaurant recommendation, etc. – you can e-mail me anytime at marianne_leitmetzerin@aol.de.

          • laddie

            Thank you Marianne for your hard work- I had to re-learn Windows on Windows 7 for work and it wasn’t too bad after having XP for the longest time there. I will be happy to answer any questions though I am hardly the Windows 7 expert. Cheers!

      • Lohenfal

        Jungfer,

        The Parterrian who asked about this Huguenots was Grimoaldo, our resident Meyerbeer advocate. He was practically distraught at having missed the Internet broadcast on BR Klassik. Unfortunately, he’s been missing from the site since last August, so who knows if he’s aware that it’s available now from you?

        I remember these details because I’m a Wagnerian, so Grim’s overly enthusiastic comments on Meyerbeer always seemed strange, to say the least. I would have to overcome my prejudice towards this composer to listen to Huguenots myself.

        • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

          Well, I’m a Vegan, but I’ll listen to anything once.

        • phoenix

          Good ol’ grim isn’t the only Meyerbeerian who has visited this site. There are plenty of us -- and many of us are also keen on Wagner’s operas, too.
          -- Lohenfal, Meyerbeer and Wagner are more alike than they are different, or haven’t you discovered that yet? Do I detect that tiresome, worn out, historically dated but politically divisive attitude in your comment?

          • Lohenfal

            Phoenix,

            Yes, I am aware of the resemblances between Meyerbeer and Wagner. At one time, I did try to listen to Huguenots and the other major Meyerbeer pieces and found them of limited interest musically. There were a few arias and scenes that appealed to me, but not enough of them to get me through the rather long grand opera format. It isn’t Wagner’s essays and attitudes that caused me to give up on Meyerbeer, but the music itself, which isn’t especially memorable. It’s the music which makes me think of Wagner’s comment that Meyerbeer is “effects without causes.”

            Wagner himself tried following Meyerbeer in Rienzi, with mixed results. He used elements of grand opera in his later works more successfully. So did Verdi and Berlioz in their grand operas. They proved that the format itself could be worthwhile, provided that it was filled with more inspired music. I have no problems with Don Carlos, for example, which has a far superior score to any of the Meyerbeer pieces.

            • phoenix

              To each of us our own. I find at least 4 large ensemble scenes in Huguenots more exciting than Verdi’s auto-da-fé or the finale of Act 4 scene 2 in Don Carlo. The structural format of French Grand opera is built around large ensembles. If you are going to pit Meyerbeer against the greater maestro Verdi, you’ll find more in common between them in vêpres siciliennes than in Don Carlo. More often I find Meyerbeer more comparable to Donizetti than Verdi -- although the final trio (Bertram, Alice & Robert) in Robert le diable reminds me quite a bit of the final trio in Verdi’s last act finale (1869 revision) of forza del destino (Padre Guardiano, Leonora & Alvaro).
              -- Both Donizetti & Verdi were greater composers than Meyerbeer if only for the their more inspired writing for the individual soloists -- but with Verdi, that comes at a price. No, you don’t need ‘seven stars’ for Les Huguenots (that is an old wives’ tale) --> all you need are 7 competent soloists in their individual fach. Meyerbeer rarely made the demands on his individual soloists that Verdi did. I’ve seen Huguenots at three different houses on 2 continents and all of them were at satisfactorily sung by all the soloists -- I had no complaints about any of them. On the other hand, how easy is it to cast forza del destino, vêpres siciliennes, & Don Carlo nowadays with some amount of guaranteed satisfaction or success? With the exception of a handful of performances of vêpres siciliennes, IMO the Met hasn’t been able to achieve satisfactory success for the last 2 decades with forza del destino or Don Carlo -- because of incompetent casting in the lead roles.
              -- I happen to be very fond of Rienzi and Lohengrin, Wagner’s two works I find closest to Meyerbeer. Again, to each their own -- although I often find Tristan und Isolde quite dull, I have always been enthusiastic about Wagner’s other works (those performed at Bayreuth, that is).
              -- To sum it all up and cut a long rant short, although the Paris Grand Opera style did not originate with Meyerbeer, I find his Hugenots, Robert le diable, and Prophète define that idiom more clearly to me than any other works I’ve yet encountered. Your conception of French Grand Opera may be quite different.

          • Lohenfal

            Thanks, Phoenix, for the analysis, not a rant at all. Your comparison of Verdi with Meyerbeer makes sense to me, in that Verdi did emphasize the soloists more than the ensemble. We know from Verdi’s letters that he wasn’t especially happy with the Paris Opera or with some of its composers and preferred to go his own way, even while writing in the grand opera format. The later revision of Don Carlos also shows that he had different ideas of dramatic form and wanted something more concise, with greater continuity.

            I also agree that Meyerbeer typifies grand opera. Ultimately, I tend to like only those pieces which appeal to me musically, whatever their format. Verdi was an inspired genius, as was Berlioz, so it’s only their essays in the genre which I care for. All the others by Meyerbeer, Halévy, Auber are basically curiosities, something which I recognize as historically important but don’t want to spend much effort on. If they can be revived successfully, that’s fine with me, but I don’t think I would want to be in the audience.

            I definitely don’t agree that Tristan is dull. To me, it’s one of the summits of Western music, in addition to being a brilliant philosophical statement. You may not like it because of its lack of action, but the music more than compensates for that. It’s perhaps the purest of operas because the music takes over so completely, and there is action, of an inward sort. But I won’t try to convince you: to each his own. :-)

            • phoenix

              Glad you can glean so much inspiration from one work. If anything, I’m jealous because I just don’t get anything near as much out of T&I as you do. For me it can be quite interesting or dull, depending on how I react to the singers. :-)

  • Will

    When George Bernard Shaw’s very long Man and Superman premiered in NYC, the producer contacted Shaw to say that people were leaving in droves before the end since the last trains out were 15 minutes before the final curtain; he asked if he could make about 25 minutes of cuts. Shaw telegrammed back: “No cuts. Buy the Railroad.”

    • armerjacquino

      About to be done at the NT in London, Hell act and all, with Ralph Fiennes.

      • Camille

        Are you going to see it? I like Fiennes a lot. Please report back in, armerjacq, especially because you are someone who has been on both sides of the boards.

        • manou

          Above and under?

          • Camille

            Both sides now:

            recently declared on parterre box to be the greatest song of the last fifty years. Yes, really. I have heard Joni Mitchell speak of her songs as equal to Mozart and maybe they are and maybe they are not. I prefer Jerome Kern.

            I am sure you remember those hairstyles and, er, ensembles, too, from the good old daze…!

            • manou

              If you go to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…

              *sigh*

            • Camille

              Ah yes, I remember it all too well.

              That summer I almost DID go to San Francisco but, honestly, I would have wound up pregnant and overdosed in Golden Gate Park, like so many others. I didn’t, and I regret it somewhat but, on the other side of both sides then and now, I can say “I’m still HERE!” And a lot of us from those daze are not, unfortjnately, and for many and varied reasons.

              I am glad I lived theough those days but gladder still, I am still LIVING!
              California, in those days, was such an experience just to be alive in, one hardly needed to use drugs to experience all the electric excitement in the airwaves. We felt we were on the verge of something new and, of course, what we did do in the end, was contribute alfalfa sprouts to salads and sandwiches and tie dye clothes. And the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
              Epic Fail, but was it ever one sweet ride while it lasted.

              Of course, in England you had Caranaby Street and Mary Quant and Twiggy and The Shrimp and all the Fab Four and the rest, so it was even more fabulouser over there, no doubt.

              Now, we have iPhones, Selfies, Clouds, Sexting (pas moi), and the like. All of us peering at our devices and absorbed into our safe little pods of isolation. No passing the bong, spontaneous conviviality and conversing, stranger across the crowded room instant attraction SEX w/o condoms.
              Just blech.

              Even San Francisco is nothing like it was back in the day. No love-ins and not much love there, a very expensive city. So much for Flower Power and The Revolution.

              End of old lady nostalgia indulgence.

      • antikitschychick

        LOVE Ralph Fiennes. Hope it all goes for you armerj :-D.

        • armerjacquino

          Camille- I may see it, as I’ll be in the building doing another job. I’m not wild about the director though…

          Antik: not in this one, but thank you!

          • Camille

            Just do your job and peek in if you have the time. I iust particularly enjoy Fiennes; he interests me and so many do not.

  • Tory Adore

    Not being familiar with the plot of this opera, I resorted to my ‘Victrola Book of the Opera’ to clue me into the action. The last paragraph states: “In American productions, because of the great length of Meyerbeer’s work, the opera usually ends with the shooting of Raoul by the mob as he leaps from the window; but in the original version a fifth act occurs, in which Nevers is killed, and Valentine, renouncing her faith, is united by Marcel to Raoul. St.Bris and his party enter the street,and not recognizing Valentine, fire upon the three and kill them. The curtain falls as St.Bris discovers that he has murdered his own daughter.” Wow, I thought, how tragic. Then I turned the page and the next opera described is Mascagni’s ‘Iris’. I guess it’s all relative. Now onto Thomas Hampson’s recital from Carnegie Hall to be broadcast live on wqxr at 8 p.m.
    Snowbound in Massachusetts, but culturally connected- hot cocoa, anyone?

  • Camille

    Mr SANFORD! This Bud’s for you—Thomas Hampson LIVE & GRATIS @ Carnegie Hall via this link right NOW!

    http://www.wqxr.org/story/thomas-hampson-jennifer-higdons-civil-words/

  • zinka

    httpV://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZy6LtI_J70

    Valentine wishes you a Happy Valentine…Hope you have a TRILLLING day!!!!!

  • zinka

    MEA CULPA!!!!!!!!