Cher Public

Jewels of the nile

No two ways about it, cher public, you fell in love with the They’re only in it for the ‘do’ competition, and two of you came around the last turn neck and neck.

Stevey put on a good show, but winning by a nose was gk, who correctly identified 18 of the 20 divas, faltering only on numbers 8 and 19. gk is the proud winner of the coveted Amazon Gift Card in the amount of $100.00.

And now, the divas revealed.

1.   Lucine Amara   MET   1970
2.   Mirella Freni   Salzburg   1980
3.   Sondra Radvanovsky   Toronto 2010
4.   Astrid Varnay   Mexico City   1948
5.   Leonie Rysanek   SF   1960
6.   Latonia Moore   MET   2012
7.   Nina Stemme   Zurich   2006
8.   Ealynn Voss   Seattle   1992
9.   Ghena Dimitrova   Munich   1980
10.  Ljuba Welitsch   MET   1949
11.  Gina Cigna   MET   1937
12.  Julia Varady   Berlin   1986
13.  Birgit Nilsson   MET   1964
14.  Shirley Verrett   Boston   1980
15.  Montserrat Caballe   Barcelona   1973
16.  Aprile Millo   MET   1986
17.  Marisa Galvany   Philadelphia   1973
18.  Renata Tebaldi   Naples   1953
19.  Gilda Cruz-Romo   Covent Garden   1973
20.  Mara Zampieri   Berlin   1992

  • Stéphane Lissner, who has previously held posts at Italy’s La Scala opera house, was asked to name particular opera arias on a French television show.

    Despite his history in the opera industry, a visibly uncomfortable Lissner floundered during the unexpected quiz.
    Paris Opera director fails surprise opera quiz.

    Although he did manage to correctly identify an aria from Bizet’s Carmen, Lissner was unable to connect excerpts with operas like Catalani’s La Wally and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

    I wonder how Gelb would do?

    • I wish some of those so shocked, shocked by this bit of news would explain why the ability to win an opera queens’ game of “drop the needle” is a prerequisite for administrating a theater.

      • ‘Opera queens’ game of “drop the needle”’ is a hyperbolic way of describing it, La Cieca?

        We’re talking about dropping the pin in the middle of an aria and asking him whether its Milanov or Tebaldi singing (which, I agree, is not the level of detailed knowledge needed to administer a theatre).

        But if the guy is in charge of overseeing programming, shouldn’t he be able to recognise a top ten tune like the opening of “Un bel di” or the big theme from Forza? Or “Vissi d’arte” fer cryin’ out loud.

        What I find surprising is that he wasn’t even able to identify the operas from which the big tunes were extracted, never mind the specific aria. Even Carmen (again, a top-ten tune, not the Card Aria or anything) had him screwing up his face before hazarding a guess.

        I’m rather shocked that anyone could work within the milieu of opera for so long and not know those tunes.

        • Argh, ignore the question mark in the first sentence above.

          And in the second sentence, I meant to say “we’re not talking about”.

        • What’s even more surprising is that, knowing his own ignorance of operatic music, he would agree to partaking in such a quiz. They certainly didn’t make it difficult for him. There was nothing “gotcha” about those selections. Perhaps they surprised him with this and he wasn’t able to decline…

        • la vociaccia

          I don’t think its a bad sign. It wasn’t a wide range of music and they basically just took a Callas’ Greatest Hits CD and hit play. Its totally possible that he just came into opera fandom from a different angle, and while he definitely is familiar with Butterfly and Forza and Tosca, he probably just isn’t the type to YouTube binge Pace Pace and Un Bel Di.

      • Pretty sure Hedwige Chevrillon is cis-female.

        Also: didn’t Lissner carry the title “Artistic Director” at La Scala?

        • redbear

          He was the general director and had no others sharing responsibilities. I once asked Dominique Meyer, before he took over in Vienna, if Woester-Moest’s title of Generalmusikdirektor means he would have his own area of responsibility. He frowned and was very clear he had ultimate control. You saw the results last year.

    • fletcher

      Out of curiosity, is it true what Lissner says about Forza? I’ve never heard that before.

      • Apparently this is an old superstition in Italian theaters. So the story goes, Pavarotti resisted learning this part (that is, even more than he resisted learning other new parts) because he was nervous about the superstition. Finally he agreed, obtained a score and a recording, and starting working on the piece right after boarding for a long transatlantic flight. As the plane lifted off, there was some malfunction and the fuselage cracks, leading to amn emergency landing. Nobody was injured, but the incident reinforces Pavarotti’s prejudice against this title.

        • armerjacquino

          The superstition was reinforced by poor old Leonard Warren and his Urna Fatale.

          • Porgy Amor

            Tebaldi smiles and seems to treat lightly the idea of any Forza curse in her interview on the DVD release of the Naples performance. “Not [cursed] for me.”

            But then she died! (Okay, it may have had more to do with her being 82.)

            • armerjacquino

              WAKE UP SHEEPLE! Don’t you know that EVERYONE involved in the world premiere of FORZA has DIED?

            • pirelli

              They have not all “died.” They have salita’d a dio. ;-)

            • Camille

              Bravo, pirelli!

            • Krunoslav

              “Don’t you know that EVERYONE involved in the world premiere of FORZA has DIED?”

              Here I thought the adolescent Franco Zeffirelli had been brought to Petersburg to coach the comfort women working alongside Preziosilla.

            • manou

              It is obvious that Putin is behind it all.

            • LT

              And based on the latest rumors, he’s become the victim of the Forza curse, too.

        • Camille

          I thought Macbeth, for obvious reasons, was “THE” bad luck/bad karma opera?

          • Certainly applies to the play…

    • CwbyLA

      Very embarrassing! How the hell does he not know Vissi d’arte? That is like being the president of the U.S. and not knowing the star spangled banner. Is he a good administrator?

      • Porgy Amor

        One hopes the president of a U.S. opera company would be able to ID it as both the Star-Spangled Banner and Madama Butterfly.

  • Camille

    Stevey stevey stevey!!!

    I don’t inow nothin’ about birthin’ no babies but I told you it was TEBALDI!!!!

    • Fidelia

      Well, Butterfly, babies, Tebaldi or not, I send *very* warm congratulations to GK and to Stevey. Don’t know how you all do it. I always give up after about the 4th voice.

  • decotodd

    Maybe I missed discussion when site was down, but if not, David Bennett of Gotham Chamber Opera, to run San Diego Opera.

  • spiderman

    WHO IS Ealynn Voss?????????????

    • Camille

      She was a nice lady who had an up and coming career on the West Coast about twenty to twenty-five years ago. I ‘think’ I may have heard her in Seattle about that time. Was she the Foreign Princess, perhaps, in the ’90 Seattle Opera Rusalka?, par example? She sang at the LA Opera, too, In the early nineties, but can’t remember exactly what. She was kind of a heavyweight voice and that is all I can recall at the moment—except—I had a friend who once met and talked with her about her hard climb to success, apparently she had spent quite a bit of time doing maid jobs, somewhere. Anyway, she was around for a time in the left coast, but I had not thought nor heard anout her now for a good ten years.

      That’s all.

      • steveac10

        There’s an archived profile from the LA Times at the time of her LA Opera debut. She was apparently not discovered until in her 40’s and had her career cut short by a cancer diagnosis on the eve of her scheduled Met debut as Turandot. From the few pics available, she was a robust & handsome woman in the vein of a Nilsson and Sutherland.

      • Camille

        Yes, she was the Foreign Princess in that never to be forgotten production of Rusalka.

        If you follow the link you will find pictures of that same production, the Gunther Schneider-Siemssen, including the heartrending (to me!) pictures of the young Fleming and Heppner, when it was all new and shining brightly. Each of their voices sounded just so beautiful, mellifluous, fresh and unspoiled by all the burden later on of great fame and success; that sound, which echoes still as one of my fondest musical memories.

        And yes, La Cieca, you were right about the connection to the Disney The Little Mermaid connection, which they proudly proclaim— but, back then it was all so new and you couldn’t see the nuts and bolts, nor had it tattered and splattered, nor did it all look like the bottom of someone’s West Hollywood swimming pool which hadn’t been serviced for three years.

        Back then, it was just magic.

      • Ealynn Voss was almost a dramatic soprano -- she performed Turandot with The Australian Opera @mid 80’s.

        • OOoops -- I take that back- Ealynn Voss is a dramatic soprano -- even la Birgit bestowed blessings upon her saying she belonged to a very exclusive group of dramatic sopranos.

    • SF Guy

      Voss sang only once at SFO--three 2nd cast Turandots (Eva Marton was 1st) in 1993.

      • Milady DeWinter

        Too bad about Voss, she had an interesting sound. Turandots were everywhere, and remain, since the 90s and that damned chart-topping “Nessun dorma”.

        I love the way the two Galvanys were madly over the top.
        That name must have some vocal mojo.

  • CwbyLA

    Did anybody see the La Donna del Lago? What a snooze inducing opera! I was bored out of my mind during that freaking long first act. Even great singing could hold my attention only so much.

    • Totally concur, at the HD today. I dozed on and off throughout act 1. The second act was stronger dramatically, or maybe, because I had caught a nice nap in act 1, I was more attentive? Our sound cut out for about 5 minutes in Act II and the power failed during intermission so we missed Joyce’s aria while waiting to meet the King and most of the Gelb interview.

    • mountmccabe

      I saw it and absolutely loved it. I thought it worked musically and dramatically, and that everything was well integrated.

      I have been slow at getting into Rossini and it appears as if the problem is I’ve been seeing the comedies, which don’t work that well for me because I don’t find them at all funny.

  • redbear

    What is this major Met expose to be published on Monday in the New Yorker? Any advance word?

    • steveac10

      Well it’s Lebrecht divulging this info, so have a grain of salt in hand. He already has his wires crossed about it. Per him the story was both a long time in preparation and precipitated by last week’s resignation of Kevin Kennedy. Also interesting that the author is a financial columnist for the Times, but this article will be in the New Yorker.

      • 98rsd

        Also interesting that the author gave us the fake Clinton scandal Whitewater, so a grain or two of salt would be in order.

    • liza

      Hmm. I look forward to reading it. Is that because I cherish the lost art of investigative reporting or because I have a streak of mean. I don’t know although I do have sympathy for Mr. Gelb. However, I wonder what in the article may have been an alleged cause of the resignation of Mr. Kennedy? As the New Yorker is the new upscale tabloid it should be quite good. Yum yum.

  • gk

    Wow! Thank you! I can’t believe I actually won. I never would have gotten the two I missed. How do I go about claiming my prize?

  • Constantine A. Papas

    La Donna del Lago is a bore. In the second act, the vocal pyrotechnics and the dueling high Cs draw your attention more than anything musical or dramatic. I saw the HD out of curiosity. Once in one’s life time is one too many.

    • CwbyLA

      Yes. And yes. Felt the same way about Armida a few years ago and no it was not because of the leading lady.

    • Porgy Amor

      Unfortunately, I agree. No one has written more operas I only wanted to hear once than Rossini. Maybe there’s a good reason why these have been around for 200 years and have been bypassed by the Met until now? That’s certainly the way I felt walking out of that hideous, day-wrecking production of Le comte Ory four springs ago. But at least they are being well cast, if not well produced. I plan to perform due diligence and go on Wednesday, as I like these singers, but my DVD of the Scala LDDL with Junie et al. has been on the shelf for years. Once was more than enough there as well.

      • semira mide

        The problem with recent productions of “La Donna del Lago” that make them sleep inducing is that the directors apparently have gotten the lake wrong. They have been sitting at the edge of Loch Ness waiting for something to happen. Lots happens and if anyone is bored it’s not Rossini’s fault.

        • laddie

          That is exactly spot on, semira_mde! If you all had seen the Maometto II by David Alden, I guarantee you would not have been bored. There is still a chance to catch it in Toronto in the near future!

        • manou

          sitting at the edge of Loch Ness waiting for something to happen is exactly what the Scottish Tourist Board encourages tourists to do.

        • vilbastarda

          Over the years I realized that there are people that get Rossini, and people that don’t get him no matter what. And that’s ok. I don’t “get” Wagner and many others either, no matter how hard I try, and how I can intellectually rationalize that he was probably a great composer, I still don’t like his music. And since there are many of us that get Rossini, I only wish that people would be a bit more thoughtful and put it from their perspective: they don’t like it, and not throw eggs at his works. In my opinion he is a genius, and if people that don’t like him would have the openness to try to understand, maybe they could see what a genius he was, and if they still don’t like him, that is perfectly ok. We don’t have to like all the same things, life would be boring that way.

          • semira mide

            Beautifully put,vilbastarda.

            I’m sure you’re right Manou, but their pictures they provide from Loch Katrine are really beautiful and makes on wish that both London and Santa Fe ( and NYC) had not ignored the lake.

            Thanks for the heads up about Maometto in Toronto, Laddie!

            • mountmccabe

              Was that not a lake in the background of most of the first act of La donna del lago from the Met?

              I get that they did not have a boat.

          • Porgy Amor

            Of course, it isn’t as binary as “people who like Rossini” and “people who don’t like/get Rossini.” There are people who like some Rossini very much, but not all of it the same. I do love Wagner, but I promise, if the Met were putting on Die Feen, and in a lousy production besides, and a singer HD host was saying, “Remarkably, this is the Met’s first performance of Die Feen!” and selling it as a wonderful development, I would also be cocking an eyebrow at that.

          • CwbyLA

            vilbastarda, not liking La donna is not equivalent to not liking Rossini. He has written many operas that I like very much. Tancredi, L’italiana, Il Turco, Cenerentola, etc etc. are all great. Even the Barbiere which I have seen one too many times. There are too many to count but I am sorry La donna is not one of them.

      • Krunoslav

        COMTE ORY is delightful if not sledgehammered and guyed by an unmusical director working from the CD booklet-- as was not the case at the Met.

        I think DONNA DEL LAGO is much weaker, as is ARMIDA (of which the Met staging was a shonda) and those are mainly to be enjoyed for the singing.

        However, I think ERMIONE, MAOMETTO II, the French and Italian versions of MOSES and GULLAUME TELL are brilliant works and have seen exciting performances of each of them. So don’t write off Rossini altogether.

        • manou

          Rob Besserer as the standout performer in Comte Ory at the Met.

          • Krunoslav

            Kein Besser!

            I am sure he’ll be outstanding as “Spectral Bassanio” in the forthcoming OTELLO.

            • armerjacquino

              Bassanio? You reckon Sher is going to opt for an OTHELLO/MERCHANT mashup?

            • Krunoslav

              Sounds like “Brabantio”.


        • 98rsd

          I hope you saw Ory years ago at the City Opera…Rolandi/Putnam, Esham, Blake, Holloway and prime Ramey, with Imre Pallo, I think, conducting. Hilarious and gorgeous--unlike the unbearable dirge at the Met.

          • *Raises hand shyly.* I liked the Met’s Le Comte Ory.

            • 98rsd

              Quick, lower it!

            • PCally

              Ivy, I didn’t think it was so bad. Charming at best, inoffensive and unmemorable at worst. The original cast also pretty much made up for that so I didn’t really mind.

            • Porgy Amor

              We differ there; I thought it was the opposite of charming, despite proven likable personalities in the main roles. The Carsen Falstaff was charming. The Enchnated Island (speaking of the visual level, not the text or the pastiche concept) was charming. This was mean-spirited, crude, and obvious. I had as bad a time as I have had at anything in the Gelb Met years, and it was the worst of the Sher productions to date. It’s a stale thing to say that it would be best to close one’s eyes and just listen (the AMOP types say this about anything that doesn’t look like their Zeffirelli/Schneider-Siemssen sketches), but this time I really should have, after about ten minutes.

          • PCally

            Porgy, I was being too nice saying it was charming. I just thought it didn’t leave much of an impression and the singers pretty were the show.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          A problem for those directors who plan their stagings from CD booklets is that they are often surprised in rehearsals when they hear music that must be repeated, but was not indicated as such in the booklet! Yes, it happens, and happened more than once at the MET.

          • armerjacquino

            No director has ever planned a staging from a CD booklet. It’s a cute turn of phrase but only a figurative one. Let’s not start talking as if it were true.

            • Quanto Painy Fakor

              But it IS true. The singers involved were astonished when they had to explain to the director that they had more to sing.

            • armerjacquino

              Do you know what ‘planning a staging’ means? It’s just that you sound very much as if you don’t.

            • Which singers said what to which director?

            • Yeah, I’m going to need a date and timestamp on that claim that a director arrived with nothing but a CD booklet as a guide.

            • Krunoslav

              Alas, whether or not you and Ivy believes that Sher was directing from a CD booklet or not, members of the COMTE ORY cast and production team told me that he was. I believe they would know.

              Armer is correct that certainly he may have done planning apart from that, of course, but it seems there was a lot he did not know about the repeats, the full verbal text of the opera, the stage directions as marked…

            • Quanto Painy Fakor

              Bravo Krunoslav.

      • Buster

        Lyon is doing Zelmira next season, plus a few other great things. Ausrine Stundyte in Lady Macbeth, for example:

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Scanning the video of the Vienna WERTHER I was surprised to see someone in the audience near the rear of the Parket waving a Roumanian flag on a pole. I wonder how he got the pole into the auditorium or if he was a plant from a certain soprano singing her first Charlotte. The Sophie was terrible, such an uninvolved and unsympathetic sœur. Sramek is becoming very awkward these days despite his long years of service. Chaslin should stick to piloting his houseboat on the Seine. Borras was lacking in all aspects of Sturm un Drang and the production is badly revived, obviously from someone following a Regiebuch. Angela saw through all of it as the Quatsch it is.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Boris Pinkhasovich!
    They sure know how to develop voices in Russia, but please get this beautiful voice and kewl dude out of there ASAP!