Cher Public

“Give me Kitty Carlisle any day!”

“On The Academy Awards [Lady Gaga] was a travesty. It was ridiculous, as it would be from any singer who treats that music in semi-operatic style.” So says Stephen Sondheim, who did not go on to offer opinions about Stephanie Blythe and Bryn Terfel in Sweeney Todd. []

  • armerjacquino

    Yeah, a daft thing to say. But he’s allowed to say something daft. Hell, he gets to say whatever he likes.

  • PCally

    What a nasty thing to say. I thought she was one of the highlights of an exceptionally boring evening and gave an excellent performance.

  • la vociaccia

    Bizarre and needlessly cruel

  • marczilla

    It’s like when grumpy, old uncle louie starts talking crazy. You just nod your head and pat him on the arm. Then go back to whatever else you were talking about.

    • turings

      That’s Steven Sondheim you’re patronizing! Wow. Never get old …

      • turings

        heh, with a ‘ph’ :)

        • Trappedinoperahell

          It is pretty amazing that people think it’s fine to use a person’s age as the basis for their criticism of what that person says. Do the same with other people and you might be called anti-Semitic or racist.

  • Ilka Saro

    I just watched a vid of Lady G’s Oscar’s perf on youtube. It was dull yes. But a travesty? Only in the sense that Lady G was wearing a painfully ordinary gown that went completely against her customary exotic taste in couture. If we take Sondheim at his word, then all “semi-operatic” interpretations of Sound of Music are wrong. Or something.

    Let us place his comment on equal travesty footing both with her performance, and the institution of the Academy Awards themselves. None of it really matters or can be taken seriously. I think the only real faux pas here isn’t that he said it, but that “the press” (such as the internet media outlet was) thought it worth repeating.

  • tatiana

    I think Mr. Sondheim’s allowed his opinion.

    • la vociaccia

      And we’re allowed to criticize it. Magical, isn’t it?

  • Semi-operatic? Gaga employed head voice where the tessitura demanded it, just like anyone singing the title song from the musical. I really don’t know what the hell he’s talking about there.

  • Camille

    ‘The Internet Reacts’:

    Julie Andrews reacts:

    Tell that old man to go back to his dungeon and redecorate it, and just leave the lark who is learning to pray alone.

  • isoldit

    this from a queen whose idea of passion is a second pair of handcuffs, Ms. Sondheim spent too much time in the mineshaft to be a human being and has not written anything with real emotion since Sweeney Todd, he is too busy being clever and inventive to be honest or enjoyable.

    • Trappedinoperahell

      I get that you don’t like Sondheim but what does your comment have to do with anything he said? At least he wrote with actual punctuation.

    • armerjacquino

      he is too busy being clever and inventive to be honest or enjoyable.

      Totally disagree. So where does that get us?

      • manou

        At loggerheads.

  • antikitschychick

    well no disrespect to Mr. Sondheim who’s a musical legend and has a right to his opinion but I cannot disagree with him more about Lady Gaga’s Oscar performance. Obs my opinion doesn’t matter as much as his but I loved it and so did a lot of my friends and peers. I thought she sounded great; I actually enjoyed it so much I re watched it like 3 or 4 times. She was on point stylistically, sang with passion, she hit all the notes, was in command of her instrument and displayed great showmanship. Not to mention she looked beautiful. My little sister, who is 16 liked it so much she cried.

    I think Mr. Sondheim is missing the bigger picture, which is that Lady Gaga is one one of the few pop stars who can actually sing and perform on a professional level; having had to put up with the likes of Britney Spears growing up (sorry Britney fans!) I definitely appreciate her talent and how she’s showing the younger generation what a real singer can do, hence all the excitement…the sad reality is, with the exceptions of Ariana Grande, Sia, Miley and Lana Del Rey all the rest can’t sing to save their life without auto tune. Sure there’s Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson but they’re more R&B than straight up pop.

    So all in all I agree with Julie Andrews that Lady Gaga was brave in what she did and when an artist of such a high caliber takes risks like that it warrants respect and at least some support. To tear her down in such a way is cruel and misguided imho.

    • ilpenedelmiocor

      “…can’t sing to save their life without auto tune.”


      Ever heard Taylor Swift sing without auto tune? Painful to listen to.

      Not to mention the profound lyrics.

      • antikitschychick

        Well, she does write her own songs apparently and they are catchy, which does have some merit, but this from a few years ago pretty much sealed the deal for me:

        Stevie deserved better.

        • armerjacquino

          This may say a lot about the influence of my 8 year old niece, but I do think ‘Blank Space’ is a helluva pop song.

          As for Gaga, I thought she was pretty good at the Oscars. But she was significantly less good than just about any singer you’d see in a lead role in any piece of MT in the West End or on Broadway. She was… fine. Nothing exciting about it for me.

          • antikitschychick

            I’m like really out of touch when it comes to what’s currently playing on the radio and pop music in general since I don’t get to listen to much radio these days so I hadn’t even heard that song, or not in it’ entirety at least until now lol…it is a very good pop song and good for her for writing it. I just don’t like that growing trend of auto tune use and beat-driven songs with the melody playing second fiddle or just being completely obliterated.

            I also just realized I neglected to mention Adele and Jessie J who are also two great singer/songwriters. Ellie Goulding I discovered like right before she blew up; her songs are also fun and she can actually sing too. This recent cover of Hoser’s Take me to Church is really good:

            I also really like Lauren Aquilina. Your nephew might know who she is and if she doesn’t I’d recommend her. She’s a lot better than Taylor Swift imho and she’ll probably become known in the states and worldwide pretty soon.

        • ilpenedelmiocor


          As Martina Arroyo once famously said to Anna Moffo during a Singers’ Roundtable Met Saturday matinee intermission broadcast when, in answer to the question, “What role would you love to sing that is simply not in your Fach?”, Moffo insisted on belting out “To jo to ho-o!” from Walkuere: “Please, dear: my ears…!”

          • antikitschychick

            haha nice. All I could think during that performance was poor Stevie…not that it mattered one bit, sadly. We all have Kanye to thank for that.

    • Ariana Grande is the only popsinger I listen to. I like her voice and songs :P

      • antikitschychick

        Yes her songs are catchy. She’s a very good singer; a real throwback to the 90s Mariah imho. My only reservation about her is that I sometimes can’t understand what she’s saying, esp when she starts singing high. Guess that makes her a true soprano then :-P.

        • Yes many people complain about her diction and I completely understand that, but personaly I don’t mind her unclear diction at all. It gives a certain flow (I don’t know how to explain xD), it’s like she melts the words together. Also, I hate broadway diction, every word clearly articulated, so I prefer the way she sings now. I just hope she keeps on training her voice and improve.

          • antikitschychick

            Lol yeah I get you. Wait, you mention training. Has she had vocal training/coaching?

            • I did some research on that some time ago, but couldn’t find much. I found out she worked with vocal coach Eric Vetro who worked with some big popstars. There is also a backstage video where Ariana is doing vocal warm ups, so at least she is doing that :P I remember reading she started singing lessons during the recording of her album Yours Truly, but I’m not sure if I remember correctly.

              I will continue my research because I’m curious to know more about this :P

          • antikitschychick

            Well good for her if she’s seeking professional training from vocal coaches, that’s the right thing to do. A lot of pop stars just wing it because they have a lot of natural talent but that often backfires…hopefully she’ll take care of herself and stay away from drugs and alcohol too.

  • alejandro

    I love Sondheim.

    I do have to agree in the sense that Gaga came across as affected and putting on vocal effects that she doesn’t have a lot of experience using. However, I hate Sound of Music and I felt that Gaga singing in an operatic British accent trying to sound legit made it batshit insane for me in a way I found enjoyable.

    I think she has a good instrument although her last album was a disaster and I hope she takes a lesson from the great work she did on the Tony Bennett album and hones in her weird. She can take a cue from Sia in that department.

    And as far as pop singer divas I enjoy--Sia, Beyonce, Jessie Ware, and she who will not be named because I am not going there again.

    • armerjacquino

      People have very funny ideas of what a ‘British’ accent is. I can assure you that Gaga sounded like no British human who has ever lived ;-)

      • steveac10

        Except perhaps for the unique House of Windsor meets the Hills of Beverly accent of her intended honoree. It might not have been British, but it was very “Andrews”.

      • alejandro

        Well when I say British I mean “British” . . . it sounded a bit affected . . . not that I ever mind that but I just didn’t buy it in this case. I did enjoy her performance as a batshit insane example of camp but it wasn’t a gamechanger of vocal performance for me the way it was for other people.

    • antikitschychick

      completely agree that her last solo album was a misfire, though it wasn’t the disaster that a lot ppl who wanted to tear her down proclaimed it was because she didn’t sell a gazillion albums during its first week of being released. I don’t necessarily think she has to tone down her weird, well she may have to tone it down somewhat but I think what’s more important, and more necessary is that she focus on writing good music with good lyrics rather than ‘hits’ with insipid, meaningless lines and pop-culture references. You can only keep up the silly antics and facade for so long before it becomes predictable and kitschy camp.

      IMHO, she should dig deep and make her music more personal so that ppl can relate to it and see a real artistic evolution. She has a beautiful voice, can play an instrument, she can dance, and can really work a crowd. All she needs to do is back it up with some substance. With Madonna, when she first burst out onto the music scene, you had Like a Virgin but you also had Like a Prayer, which was a great song with great lyrics that counterbalanced the whole virgin/whore dichotomy. (Btw: I thought her performance on the Grammys was awesome and I’m glad she’s continuing to do her thing; I became a big fan of hers right after she released ray of light and my dad was always a big fan of hers so I heard a lot about her growing up). Anyway, I’m sure Gaga can bounce back and put out a great album if she focuses more on the music than on her image, or the image(s) that will accompany the musical output.

      • alejandro

        Yes, I meant to say focus the weird. I just felt that her thesis of “my artpop could mean anything” is the equivalent of pretentious college theater majors rolling around in pudding and saying “it means what you want it to mean!” which I find lazy.

        I do love her 2nd and 3rd albums a lot and the singles from her first were great (but tons of album tracks I loathed). I hope she bounces back.

        • antikitschychick

          “pretentious college theater majors rolling around in pudding and saying “it means what you want it to mean!” LOL word. Btw have you gone to see the Bjork exhibit at the Met museum? I’d really like to go see it. Hopefully I’ll catch it after classes end this semester.

          • Camille

            Honey, that’s atörk and only until June 7th, so I wouldn’t wait too long.

            Good Luck with your studies.

            • antikitschychick

              Thanks Camille! I visited the website and the entrance is only 14.00 for full-time students which is totally doable. I’ll probably go in late April or early May :-).

            • Camille


              —and if you go on a Friday afternoon @ 4pm or later, the admission is Free, as in zero US dollars, and open until 8 pm but usually mobbed! If you do the freebie, just plan on getting there a full hour early and standing in line. Especially when las turistas start pouring into town in the spring/summer!

              Another reason you may want to join is for their really good film series. Many great films out of archives and restored, and/or presented by the writer/producer/director, etc. a lot of very interesting stuff. Just be prepared for encountering a lot of freaky (old) people who act up and have spastic attacks of joy or of horror, and also, a lot of people just have not encountered a bar of soap in a looooooooong time.

              Other than that, please do go! MoMA is great—there is a very good cafeteria there and an espresso bar adjacent to it. A more expensive restaurant is upstairs. If you join, the day you join-only-you can get 20% off in the Museum shops.

              Have fun. I need to go renew my membership so maybe I’ll stop off and see Björk’s swan dress, too!

              xxxooo !

            • Camille

              Sorry, the first part of the missive was cut off—meant to tell you thT a full-time student membership is only $50 for a year. Then, see attached link.

              Have fun!

            • antikitschychick

              haha thanks for the heads up about the long lines and soap-shy peeps…and for all the other info; very kind of you. Hope you enjoy Bjork’s Swan Dress. :-).

          • alejandro

            I saw Bjork at Carnegie Hall Saturday. I think Bjork is actually the new Callas. I felt like I was watching Medea, Norma and Lucia all rolled into one Icelandic pixie package. Cried the entire time. So gorgeous.

            I am not so gung ho about the MoMA show. It seems designed to attract crowds and I don’t like fighting with crowds to look at anything.

            • antikitschychick

              Oh neat! Wish I could have gone to that concert. I love how she’s just so ‘out there’ doing her own thing and expressing herself how she sees fit, without confining herself or conforming to a lot of societal norms about performance art and art in general. Looking forward to hearing her new album!

            • alejandro

              I’ve loved Bjork since the Sugarcubes but this is my first time seeing her live . . . I sort of fell out of love with her on her last two discs (Volta/Biophilia) but this new one feels like a return to form. Beautifully executed.

              She is also my one celebrity run in at the Met. She loves LULU and I was at the last revival of it and literally bumped into her as Mark Morris was introducing her to someone else. I burst out into tears and excused myself super fast. I was surprised I had that weird knee jerk reaction, but she was lovely and had such a radiance about her (and she wore ZERO makeup).

            • antikitschychick

              How awesome that you got to meet her and I don’t judge you at all for your reaction, I would probably have the same exact reaction, or, ya know, I would just faint lol. Didn’t know she was such a big fan of Lulu although I did know she likes classical music. I think I read or saw an interview of hers that said she had had training but overall found classical music to be too confining for her, which makes sense. Some of her projects fall on the periphery of what we would call music but I love that she pushes the boundary. Can’t wait to see the exhibit! Eeep! :-P.

              Also, I agree that Biophilia wasn’t as great of an album as some of her previous ones, although I did love that one song Virus.