Cher Public

The art of ‘Bel Canto’

La Cieca is sure that you will be as thrilled as Creative Consultant Renée Fleming (pictured) over the 2015-2016 season at Lyric Opera of Chicago, which offers a repertoire running the gamut from The Merry Widow to The King and I.

  • Camille

    Those goddam dangling clunky earrings once again.

    Just be happy she’s not la creativa @ your home house, Cieca, and say a little prayer for The Windy City.

    Poor Clita, he’s yuching up at the moment.

    • tatiana

      On the other hand, mercy has been shown The Windy City in their superb symphony orchestra and music director, Maestro Muti.

      • Satisfied

        You couldn’t be more right: the highlight of Chicago’s operatic season is Muti conducting Falstaff with an exceptional cast! Looks like I’ll be in Chicago next April!

        (page 6)

        • Satisfied

          I should add I’ll be in Chicago for a run of theater/music and I’m probably most looking forward to Muti conducting Ligeti, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. What a remarkable musician and such a fantastic orchestra! CSO’s recent run at Carnegie was simply splendid…”Alexander Nevsky” in particular was beyond compare.

        • fletcher

          One of the more interesting tidbits in the recent Deborah Borda profile in the LA Times was a hint at the tensions caused by the LA Phil presenting opera and stepping on LA Opera’s “turf” -- it named the recent Mozart / da Ponte trilogy but there’s been contemporary work by Peter Eötvös, Steve Reich, and now Unsuk Chin. I wonder if this is an issue in Chicago as well? That Falstaff looks great -- and the Berlioz Roméo too.

        • CwbyLA

          Is Falstaff the kind of opera that can be done in concert form effectively? I feel that this opera really requires a good staging to come alive.

        • tiger1

          What is so exceptional about the cast of the Muti Falstaff? Mr Maestri who has maybe sung the part a million times? He is normally very good but you can hardly call it a rare occasion….

          • Feldmarschallin

            Yes I agree with you when I heard that it was such an ‘exceptional cast’ I immediately looked and then thought to myself that the cast looks pretty average. Maestri has sung the role all over the world and the Alice I never even heard of.

          • fletcher

            Daniela Barcellona singing “Revereneeezaaaa” could be worth the price of admission …

            • semira mide

              Or even a trip to Chicago!!

          • Cicciabella

            Muti conducting a Verdi opera is always exceptional, given the current dearth of conductors who can do justice to Italian opera. Maestri and Barcellona are also exceptional singers in this rep, regardless of how many times they’ve sung the roles. Salsi also has a good reputation, but I’ve never heard him live: other parterrians can say more about his qualities. Buratto is a young soprano and her full sound and beautiful legato are, yes, “exceptional”. So lucky Chicago.

            • Krunoslav

              Salsi has made zero impression on me as Schaunard in Genova and in three Met outings as Sharplesses. His Italian is native, but a dull dog.

              The CSO casting reminds me of the old cast lists of Lyric, in the days when they imported eminences like Franco Ventriglia and Vera Magrini for tiny roles.

            • semira mide

              I thought Salsi was surprisingly effective as Tell in December at Carnegie Hall. His “aria-before-shooting-the-apple” was quite moving.

          • Hippolyte

            The last time the CSO did Falstaff was in April 1985 (I heard it when they brought it to Carnegie Hall) and it had what I would call an exceptional cast: Sir Georg Solti conducting Katia Ricciarelli, Christa Ludwig, Kathleen Battle (her only Nanettas?), Ann Murray, Guillermo Sarabia, Wolfgang Brendel, Yordi Ramiro (who?), and even Aage Haugland and Heinz Zednik (as Pistola and Dr. Caius). And I recall it worked very well in concert.

      • Camille

        Yes, all on account of Scriabin.
        If he didn’t play it here so much maybe the musicians would have liked him better…..pity.

      • chicagoing

        Muti and the CSO have presented operas in concert (Othello, Macbeth) which has been a nice supplement to the Lyric season, however the next is not scheduled until April 2016 and I am less excited about Falstaff than the previous offerings.

    • bluecabochon

      Those earrings look like Ann Ziff/Tamsen Z creations.

  • le cerf agile

    So much for the rumors that Szymanowski’s King Roger was in the works for Chicago’s next season….

    • Lady Bracknell

      I believe it’s on the roster for the following 16/17 season.

  • tiger1

    “the gamut from The Merry Widow to The King and I” -- by way of other eternal Broadway favourites, such as Wozzeck and The Rosenkavalier, you mean?

    Wonder if Thomas Hampson is the only singer ever to sing the four villains in Hoffmann and then go back to Danilo?


    • perfidia

      If you can call what he did to the four villains “singing.” Ok, I’m going back to my kennel.

  • Gualtier M

    Okay some casting problems in every opera scheduled:
    Nozze: Amanda Majeski as Contessa Almaviva -- Malin Hartelius would be better.
    Cenerentola: Isabel Leonard is not the most exciting Rossini mezzo out there. Loved her Cherubino though.
    Merry Widow: same boring Met production -- Michael Spyres is wasted as Camille de Rosillon.
    Bel Canto: starring Danielle de Niese. you write the punchline….
    Rosenkavalier: Majeski as the Marschallin, Alice Coote as Oktavian and Edward Gardner conducting. I’ll pass.
    Romeo et Juliette: Calleja will sing Romeo beautifully but will act like a lump. Eric Cutler the alternate Romeo has been underwhelming me lately -- the Leopold in “La Juive” was the last thing he did I liked. Susanna Phillips as Juliette.
    Nabucco and Wozzeck look okay.

    A lot of boring casting. I suspect Fleming bestie Susan Graham will do Mrs. Anna.

    • olliedawg

      “I suspect Fleming bestie Susan Graham will do Mrs. Anna.” I hope she does. Having seen SuzyG as Mrs. Anna last spring in Paris, I can say she’d probably bring lots of sly wit to the LOC production.

    • Malin Harterius doesn’t sing in the U.S. She’s spent most of her career in Zurich but her operabase doesn’t look active:

      Do you mean Marlis Petersen?

      • PCally

        Does Marlis Petersen sing the countess?

  • operaassport

    Will Renee be Tuptim?

    Another typical LOC season, at least we ‘ll all save money on airfare going there.

  • Krunoslav

    Never goes out of date;


    • Camille

      Once is never enough—let’s try again—


      Et moi aussi

      • Camille

        Camille says:
        Once is never enough—let’s try again—AND AGAIN!


        • Grane

          I find it jarring to hear the grisettes singing “yippee i ay.” Reminds me too much of this:

          Now, that would be edgy!

          • manou

            It this Alan Rickman (a few years ago)?

        • laddie

          Didn’t realize this was such a camp moment, never watched it, but I will now!

          • Grane

            Yes indeed, that was Alan Rickman’s breakout role, and he’s delicious. The movie’s fun anyway, but he really makes it worth watching.

    • Camille

      Mastro Kruno—FYI--in the future, just don’t apply the “v” and it’ll work. As I expect it will be a recurring moment of hilarity for some time I wanted to get it straightened out for you.

      It sure is a helluva lot more fun than the Mojca Bed O’ Roses, fer shure!

      Regards to my vaunted diva, NN

      • Krunoslav

        Thanks, Camille. This clip certainly showcases a highlight of current theatrical edgy daring.

  • tiger1

    Gualtier Malde, you are not easy to satisfy. Either somebody is not good enough (like Ms Leonard) -- or they are too good (like Mr Spyres). The latter comment is, in my view, plain stupid. Camille has some high-lying and very beautiful music. That Marlin Hartelius would be better (in your view), does that mean that Ms Majeski is not good? Or?

    I enjoy Parterre but sometimes the negativity and bitchiness is a bit much.

    • Feldmarschallin

      Well but Gualtier is right and with the exception of Wozzeck nothing looks very intersting. They had to try hard to find such dull singers in some of those operas. Is there no better Marschallin available? Why not Fleming again LOL. Paris is much more exciting this season and it is their best season in ages.

      • Yes, unlike last year, I didn’t hesitate to renew my subscription -- if it can be called “renewing” here when they change the options every year.

        • And “gerrymander” the categories so prices go up where you were used to sitting.

      • le cerf agile

        “La saison printanière est des plus brillantes, Paris tout en fête…”
        [elle sanglote]

        • Yes, she would be sobbing at the prices.

        • Krunoslav

          “In Paris ist Revolution ausgebrochen!”

          • Feldmarschallin

            Und wie sind die Jungfrau Aktien?

      • 98rsd

        Paris more exciting than Chicago? How things change!

        • Feldmarschallin

          Alone the Moses (Castellucci), Bluebeard (Warlikoswki), Jolanta (Tcherniakov) and Lear (Bieito) are worth a trip.

    • operaassport

      Cenerentola needs a star mezzo with charisma and Isabel Leonard just ain’t it.

      • That can only be Cecilia Bartoli :)

    • PCally

      Could anyone tell me what Marlin Hartelius has been up to recently? I haven’t heard her name come up in a while.

      • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

        I believe you mean Malin Hartelius. She sang here (Wien) in relatively small roles on occasion throughout the 1990s, returned to leading roles in the 2000s including some glorious Sophies (especially with Garanca’s Octavian in 2007) and was last heard as Donna Elvira in January 2014 with the Don of recent Met debutant Adam Plachetka (and can someone please tell the Met broadcast announcers how to pronounce his name?). Operabase lists her last performance as the Contessa in Göteborg in November2014.

        • PCally

          oh, typo sorry. I’ve never seen her live but her Sophie from Zurich (DVD) is one of my all time favorites. I used to see her name all over the Salzburg festival, Vienna State Opera, and Zurich schedules. Not so much anymore, which is why I asked.

    • Gualtier M

      Here is Malin Hartelius:

      In “Entfuhrung” a while ago:

      Another rising young soprano Layla Claire in “Nozze”

      Same duet with Majeski and Marlis Petersen:

      Here is Amanda Majeski:

  • Tory Adore

    too bad they didn’t list repertoire for the Martinez/Domingo recital. I wonder if PD will assay any of his previous tenor terrain or continue in his baritone mode?

  • I thought Bel Canto was going to star Renée Fleming.

    So, when is The Met season announcement?

    • Camille

      It was always Danielle de Niese since the announcement with the Lyric.

      I think thre was some scuttlebutt at some point in history about a film of Bel Canto, that’s long ago now, and that would have probably starred the original prototype for Roxane Whatshername.

  • jizungu

    Will someone please explain what a “Creative Consultant” does? (Does she collect a paycheck for doing it?) And what does it mean that RF “curated” the new opera?

    On another note: I find it odd to see parterraneans pan yet another unimaginative season at LOC while simultaneously praising yet another snoreworthy season at CSO (Falstaff notwithstanding). Muti’s done nothing to expand CSO’s repertoire.

    • armerjacquino

      I suspect that the ‘curated’ credit for BEL CANTO means that she had something to do with commissioning it.

      Creative Consultant, in this case, probably means not much more than being a public face for the company, doing all the press and TV shows etc.

    • quoth the maven

      My guess is that a “creative consultant” presses a lot of flesh and is expected to reach into a lot of pockets.

      • operadunce

        No need to guess. One can look these things up on the internet these days. For better or worse, Renee Fleming gets more ink than any opera singer in the country. It’s not that hard to get information about what she is up to these days if you are really interested. Try this for example.

        Most of the focus of her work in Chicago seems to be on educational initiatives with the Chicago public schools and community outreach through collaboration with other Chicago institutions such as Second City.

        For some reason, the fact that she is such a tireless promoter of opera seems to irritate a few people on this site. I guess they prefer to keep it their little secret.

        • Tireless promoter of opera or tireless promoter of Renee Fleming? Or are the two identical these days?

          • operadunce

            Oh, I don’t know La Cieca. When it comes to promotion, Renee gets a lot of help from you and this site. Seems like there’s a Renee-related thread every couple of weeks or so. No wonder she didn’t need Mary Lou Falcone anymore.

            • Oh, you scare me with your sarcasm.

            • operaassport

              I’m afraid that Renee Fleming has sort of become like late period Bette Davis: she’s no longer Renee Fleming but a caricature of Renee Fleming. It’s kinda sad, actually.

        • Renee’s role can be found here in the press release:

          Read carefully between the lines. She’s a fundraiser for LOC. Her job is to collect lots of money for the LOC. Her salary is being sponsored by some wealthy patrons who want to raise money for the LOC but presumably have neither the brand name nor the time to do so.

          But seriously? This stuff turns up in one google search.

        • quoth the maven

          I wasn’t insulting her by suggesting that she’s being used to raise funds; far from it. How do you think U.S. opera companies stay afloat? And yes, she does do those other things, but those are the areas of her activities that LOC can promote to the media. Development, on the other hand, is a delicate matter, and if she or LOC were to trumpet her role in it, it would almost defeat the purpose.

          Do you really think that Powers that Be at LOC, a few years back, thought “We need to do more educational outreach. Let’s get Renee Fleming!” I suggest you read these things more analytically.

          Meanwhile, thank you for pointing out the Opera News feature. I had no idea such a publication existed!!

          • Gualtier M

            As the story of Beverly Sills illustrates, it is one thing when a fundraiser approaches donors to ask for money (even if that fundraiser is socially upscale) and quite another when a glamorous famous operatic soprano approaches donors and institutions to ask for money. Famous people have persuasive powers that mere civilians do not. Ditto when you have some university professor or press person or artistic associate do outreach into the community and quite another when it is a celebrity like Renee Fleming. Suddenly the press is there -- suddenly it seems important because she is the one giving the message.

            Also, I don’t think that Renee is choosing the operas nor do I think she is bothered with the minutiae of casting (beyond her own projects). Anthony Freud the General Manager and Sir Andrew Davis, the Music Director as well as the individuals listed here:
            would have a lot more say in the choice of repertoire. There is also a board as well. Renee would have the ear of these people and would be attending meetings and planning sessions. But she would not have the decisive vote. So this is not like Bubbles running NYCO in 1982 for example, and Bubbles programmed a lot of things like “The Student Prince” and “Brigadoon” at NYCO at that time.

            • SilvestriWoman

              I certainly hope Renee has little to no say in choosing productions, or I’d question her taste. There’s been a decided change in productions/casting since Bill Mason retired, cutting the ties to the great Carol Fox. Since Freud took over, each year seems to have few world-class stars.

  • Stefan

    Comparing Chicago or Houston with San Francisco, I sure am glad to live in the Bay Area. It’s going to be one of the more overall exciting season for 2015-16 than we have had in years.

    • Operngasse

      I completely agree.

      I’m looking forward to The Trojans this summer, and then Luise MIller, Don Carlo, and Jenufa in the fall. Two helpings of Fabiano, who I’ve only seen once in person at Stern Grove, with the fog pouring in and the singers wearing parkas and gloves.

      I saw Jenufa once with Anja Silja -- really want to see was Karita does with the role.

    • SilvestriWoman

      I totally agree! Coming of age in the Bay Area, I considered Lyric -- not the Met -- the finest house in the country. For decades, Lyric not only attracted the greatest stars, but even through in some interesting repertoire. Now that I live in Chicago, that’s no longer the case. Though I’m looking forward to Denoke’s Marie in Wozzeck, it’s a decidedly lightweight season -- both in repertoire and star wattage. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, but Amanda Majeski as the Marschallin as well as the Countess?

      • chicagoing

        While I am glad that the Lyric supports the artists they help develop I agree that we do not need to see Amanda Majeski in two roles in one season. Boring. In the same way I was happy to see Amber Wagner making a role debut in Il Trovatore but now here she is again a few months later in Tannhauser.

        • SilvestriWoman

          Chicagoing, I missed her Leonora, due to vacation, but saw her Elisabeth last Monday. She was fantastic. Though she did not dim memories of seeing Leonie, I could hardly think of anyone who’d do a better vocal job today. Her opening Dich, teure Halle was lovely, but her performance only grew from there. Dramatically, she could use a little seasoning, but the vocalism is already there. My only quibble? Crisper diction would be nice. Hopefully, she’s already booked as Lyric’s Sieglinde, because she left me dying to her open up on O hehrste Wunder. It should be something very special. (But, please, don’t let Botha sing Siegmund!!!)

  • olliedawg

    That Bel Canto’s gonna have William Burden in it, so there’s something to be grateful for, at the very least.

  • It’s official. “Passion” is the most overused word in the English language, especially when in the arts.

    • Camille

      As in “I’m SO excited! It’s my PASSION Project!!!!!!!!

      kill it, before it multiplies.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        I’m just glad it’s not some nutty pastiche of Bel Canto excerpts with a new libretto.

        • Grane

          That might work, depending on who’s playing Sycorax.

      • Belfagor

        At least it doesn’t say ‘awesome passion’ -- then I would void.

  • Vergin Vezzosa

    I am very, very confused about one aspect of the Chicago announcement and solicit any information that any of you may have with regard to the the following (which is a mystery to me): the Romeo et Juliette is listed on the Lyric site and the Chicago newspaper coverage as a production new to LOC owned by the Metropolitan Opera directed by the (unfortunately) seemingly ubiquitous Bartlett Sher and designed by Michael Yeargan. That is not the current Met production last seen in 2011 which was as I remember by a Dutch team with the floating bed, etc. What’s up with that?

    • Opera Teen

      I guess the Met’s getting a new R&J!

    • mountmccabe

      The Met is supposed to get a new production for 2016-17. Looks like it will premiere in Chicago!

    • messa di voce

      Didn’t Sher do this in Salzburg?

      • Vergin Vezzosa

        Thanks all. The mystery is solved -- the Met appears to gotten its hands on the 2008 Salzburg Sher R & J production. The picture of the opera on the LOC website is the dual scene from that production.

        • Vergin Vezzosa

          duel scene

  • PushedUpMezzo

    Oh Mr Pountney, what dhall we do?

    Chorus! review – slick, mischievous and occasionally tasteless
    3 / 5 stars
    Millennium Centre, Cardiff
    The WNO chorus takes centre-stage in this outlandish stitching together of 25 opera choruses from Bizet to Mussgorgsky

    And,even so,the Guardian gives it 3 stars.

    • PushedUpMezzo

      or shall

      • Sounds a bit like Alain Platel’s C(h)oeurs at La Monnaie, but with perhaps les exalted pretensions.

  • ipomoea

    If you can get to Boston March 5 or 7, Marius Kwiecien will sing a KING ROGER in concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Dutoit conducts. Details here:

    (The BSO puts these online later and the Saturday night concert is usually on radio.)

    • Krunoslav

      Quite a good cast, actually;

      Mariusz Kwiecien, baritone (King Roger)
      Olga Pasichnyk, soprano (Roxana)
      Yvonne Naef, mezzo-soprano (Deaconess)
      Stefan Margita, tenor (Edrisi)
      Edgaras Montvidas, tenor (Shepherd)
      Alex Richardson, tenor
      Raymond Aceto, bass (Archbishop)

      • Satisfied

        It is but you lost me at Dutoit conducting….

    • phoenix
  • pasavant
    • laddie

      “However, curiously little tension is felt in Theodore Morrison’s music” -- I can vouch for that, having seen this in Santa Fe last year. The score is its biggest drawback.

      • DonCarloFanatic

        I’d say the self-pity is right up there.

  • zinka

    Hope she does not attempt “My funny Valentine” on her Feb.14th birthday……Remember she sings pop like
    La Cieca sings Abigaille…..well…maybe La cieca knows the correct style…..

  • Leontynes Weave

    Because when Renée Fleming isn’t promoting herself, this site isn’t littered with bitchy threads about even the most innocuous of her statements?

    James does not like Renée Fleming. It’s really that simple. Let’s leave it at that and stop pretending that there is any rhyme or reason to the relentless flood of vitriol he showers upon her.

    • CwbyLA

      It drives traffic to La Cieca’s site and increases engagement of fellow Parterriani. It is really that simple. La Cieca is no fool. She is a shrewd businesswoman just like Renee Fleming.

  • zinka

    On her Feb.14th birthday Renee sends you a “Funny Valentine.” As Margaret Hamilton,listening to this nonsense, would say,”…and your little dog too.”

    Just think…I used to chide la Cieca for his VENOM!!!!