Cher Public

Plunging

Never mind the décolletage, cher public, but rather discuss off-topic and general interest topics. For starters, take a look at today’s birthday greetings, after the jump.

Born on this day in 1790 composer Nicola Vaccai

Born on this day in 1894 soprano Rose Pauly

Born on this day in 1900 tenor Kurt Baum

Born on this day in 1915 tenor Mirto Picchi

Happy 86th birthday soprano Antonietta Stella

Happy 61st birthday soprano Isobel Buchanan

Happy 60th birthday baritone Mikael Melbye

  • armerjacquino

    Had a bit of a Strauss-binge over the weekend. That Opera Australia ROSENKAV is patchy, but saves the best till last for a spectacular trio- Cheryl Barker launches it utterly beautifully, and manages to make the final B something more than the scream-and-hope that it can often be.

    And then- and I’m sure I’m late to the party on this, but never mind- the utterly magnificent Lehnhoff/Salzburg ELEKTRA. I know everyone’s been going crazy over Herlitzius and Chereau, but that version is going to have to be pretty damned good to improve on this one. Meier is as wonderful as you’d expect, but that’s a known quantity. Westbroek’s neurotic, ageing-flapper Chrysothemis is wonderfully concentrated (and pretty much as far gone as Elektra) but the revelation is Theorin. I’ve never seen an operatic performance so utterly intense and committed. The camera *never* catches her out as anything other than completely absorbed in her character (rarer than you’d think) and she’s an extraordinary, detailed, precise actor. Vocally, too, she’s everything the part needs. Pape sings well, but compared to the ladies his acting is pretty rudimentary- suddenly, after an hour of being immersed in this weird world, someone comes on and does OperaFace and it’s jarring. And there’s a directorial coup at the end which I won’t spoil, but it’s a sledgehammer of a moment. I couldn’t recommend it more.

    • Feldmarschallin

      Thanks Armer that has been lying on my shelf for a few years now unlistened and unwatched. I will certainly now for even more reason to put it on and though I am not a big Theorin fan. I was a huge fan of hers when I got the complete Danish Ring and then was only disappointed when I heard her at the Met and in München in Walküre and Siegfried and the Bayreuth Isolde was also nothing special. I just bought a ticket for her Elektra in May yesterday and am hoping for the best even though I doubt the Festspielcast can be bettered two months later when Herlitzius and Pieczonka take over. Merbeth is another downer.

    • Porgy Amor

      AJ, it is a tough call between the Chéreau and the Lehnhoff for me. I would just barely give the edge to the Lehnhoff vocally, and possibly orchestrally as well (tough to beat the VPO at their festival best), but I like Peduzzi’s set and Chéreau’s direction more. It’s a matter of taste, but I find it more sober, more consistently “adult,” human, and ultimately moving. Lehnhoff has a sweet tooth for camp (it reached diabetic ketoacidosis levels with the Fanciulla), and I was conscious here and there of his tics. For example, Meier comes on in her Norma Desmond-wear with the shades and the fur and the turban, and then she loses the accessories a little at a time as the scene starts to wear at her defenses, but NL has done that same symbolic “stripping down” at least twice before…with the same singer (Venus and Kundry). It’s getting a bit easy. Chéreau has his hallmarks too, of course, but they are subtler.

      I will say that Lehnhoff gets more of Sophocles in (including something to which you alluded), where at times Chéreau pulls in the opposite direction, away from Classicism. But of course, that libretto was never a “pure” adaptation; HvH added his own touches.

      In neither production is the Orest scene really a highlight. Pape is as you say. I like Petrenko a lot sometimes, but he’s not as engaged as the women here…nor as engaged as Randle’s excellent, and unexpectedly poignant, Aegisth. But the direction of the beginning of the bro/sis scene is excellent. I’ve never “bought” it more that she doesn’t recognize him. They’re very well blocked for those opening exchanges, and it plays well and plausibly. Then it sags a bit.

      I would strongly recommend either, as well as the Kupfer/Abbado classic, which holds up very well. Quite a win, place, and show for Elektra in the home, however one sorts out the ranking.

      • armerjacquino

        Feld- I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. It’s a hell of a performance.

        Porgy- that’s interesting that Lehnhoff and Meier have pulled that trick before. Not being a Wagnerian I hadn’t seen the TANNHAUSER or the PARSIFAL so I was coming to it with innocent eyes, and it really worked. I suppose it’s a case of ‘if it ain’t broke…’. Meier’s real achievement I think is, given that she is such an intelligent woman, she manages so convincingly to play a rather stupid one. Her Clytemnestra isn’t the grotesque you get elsewhere, just a woman who can’t or won’t grasp the full implications and consequences of her behaviour.

        And while I remember- can we have a plea to the Subtitle Writers’ Guild to GROW SOME POETRY? I’m sick of seeing ‘So be it’ for ‘In Gottes Namen’ on every ROSENKAV DVD; and the ELEKTRA gives us the comically prosaic ‘I have bad nights’.

        • Porgy Amor

          The two Meier Klyties are very similar. Chéreau’s is a little more vulnerable and raw for the duration of the scene; Lehnhoff’s starts out as something else and gradually gets that way. A great, brave, revealing portrayal on both. Long may she reign. Really. I hope we get Herodiases and Begbicks and Queen of Spades Countesses and whatever else she can sing for a long, long time. No one active in my operatic time has given me more.

          Oh, by the way, speaking of titles, the Chéreau/Salonen goes archaic with it. “Dreamest though, verily, Mother?” and so on (that’s not an exact quote). Some people apparently are quite upset by that.

          • armerjacquino

            Ha! My dad translates and directed four Greek plays for the BBC back in the 80s. This was partly because he got so frustrated with the translations he had to study at school in the 80s, which had the blinded Oedipus coming on and saying ‘Ay me! Whither am I borne? What spasms athwart me shoot?’

            • turings

              I thought Frank McGuinness’s libretto of Sophocles for Julian Anderson’s Thebans was very good – clean but not flat.

              Thanks for the recommendations and discussion by the way – sorry to barge in, but there’s no ‘Like’ button.

            • liza

              If you have nothing more to say than my dad translates from the Greek and directed for the BBC…please come sit next to me.

            • The_Kid

              I know that the Robinson Jeffers “Medea” is an adaptation rather than a translation, but it has some of the greatest lines that I have ever heard. Consider, for instance, the final lines of the nurse’s monologue. As the nurse’s monologue comes to an end, in Euripides version she says: “Would I were as thou art! the mischief is but now beginning; it has not reached its climax yet,” while Jeffers’ nurse nervously, hands wringing says “This evil is not declining, it is just at dawn. I dread the lion-eyed glare of its noon…”
              Similarly, the reference to the pain of childbirth in Euripides is apologetic and fleeting, while Jeffers’ Medea almost makes a battle cry out of it: “A woman is weak for warfare, she must use cunning. Men boast their battles: I tell you this, and we know it: It is easier to stand in battle three times, in the front line, in the stabbing fury, than to bear one child.”
              Finally, instead of the chorus commenting on the action, the Jeffers play ends with Medea’s shattering lines as she refuses Jason the children’s bodies: “You had love and betrayed it; now of all men you are utterly the most miserable. As I of women. But I, a woman, a foreigner, alone against you and the might of Corinth- have met you throat for throat, evil for evil. Now go forth under the cold eyes of the weakness-despising starts: -- [it is] not me they scorn.”
              Yup, that’s some play, that is.

            • armerjacquino

              The Kid- that Jeffers translation reads well. But I can’t imagine trying to act it. I don’t know many actors who would relish ‘I dread the lion-eyed glare of its noon’…

            • The_Kid

              Eh, i dunno, AJ. It was written for the stage, with Judith Anderson in mind for the title role, and Aline McMahon as the nurse, and it was revived to great acclaim in the 80s, this time with Zoe Caldwell as Medea and Judith Anderson as the nurse. It plays out really well on stage, and you can check that for yourself, since it is on youtube.

          • PCally

            I actually think that there are some very striking differences in both productions. In the Lehnhoff Klytemnestra is more vulnerable and childlike, literally clinging to Elektra at times in way that was revelatory when I saw it for the first time. The way they staged her finding out of Orest was the best moment of the production. Chereau I think actually makes her more stable than Elektra (on the surface at least)and a maternal figure who seems to actually be concerned about Elektra rather than just trying to get something from her. Regardless, I completely agree she’s brilliant in both and to that list of roles, I have a strange desire for a countess geschwitz, which I realize would probably be out of her comfort zone at the late date.

            • Porgy Amor

              One big similarity that stands out is the way she acts (and is directed in) the end of her scene. No triumphant/demented cackling and gloating at the news of Orest’s “death.”

            • tiger1

              PCally, why would Countess Geswhitz be out of Ms Meier’s comfort zone? She still sings Isolde, so I cannot imagine Geschwitz would hold any terrors for her (I also think Ms von Otter should sing Geschwitz sooner rather than later).

              Saw, by the way, that Ms Meier is booked for Vier Letzte Lieder at one of these German festivals, Bad something or other. Strikes me as a surprising career choice, given that she seems to be moving back towards pure mezzo roles these days (despite the occasional Isolde and the like).

            • PCally

              Idk why it just seems like with the exception of Yvonne Minton and Jennifer Larmore, every one who sings that role has a very hard time with the final bits she has to sing at the end. It just seems very exposed and I just can’t imagine Meier singing it. I read in an interview right around the time she sang wozzeck in Paris that it was on her schedule but that was way back in 2011 or 2010 so nothing has come of it.

            • PCally

              Also, Von otter sang the role in the final revival of the dexter production. She was wonderful.

        • Billys Butt

          armerjacquino, like it or not, but if a German uses “In Gottes Namen” outside a church (and not as part of a prayer), it means eaxctly that: “So be it”. It implies that you give in to something. For example, you tell your kid repeatedly that it can not have a toy it wants or more chocolate, etc., but the kid keeps asking for it again and again, not giving up, then at some point you might say “In Gottes Namen, you may have that toy/more chocolate”. So you may not like reading it in all of the translations of “Rosenkavalier”, but it actually reflects what the Marschallin is implying: she gives in to the situation and gives up Octavian. The “In Gottes Namen” manifests this and implies that she accepts the situation. :)

          • armerjacquino

            Billy- I know all that. I just don’t thibk ‘So be it’ comes close to expressing it.

        • the ELEKTRA gives us the comically prosaic ‘I have bad nights’.

          “I’m having an off night” is probably a bit too much on the nose.

        • the ELEKTRA gives us the comically prosaic ‘I have bad nights’.

          “I’m having an off night” is probably a bit too much on the nose.

          • Krunoslav

            My dad always cites the line, “Take thine eyes from off my garment” from the first ELEKTRA libretto he consulted, probably when seeing Varnay in it at the NY Phil.

        • Cicciabella

          Which I’ve just misread as “I have bad tights.”

      • Feldmarschallin

        Well I finally watched the Lehnhoff Elektra last night. Here my thoughts:

        First and foremost an Elektra stands or falls with the title role. Here I was disappointed. First you could barely understand a word. I know this is common with Theorin and her Isolde and Brünnhilde were the same and for me that is just being lazy. The high C on königlicher was sung öniglicher. But even worse and I guess this was more Lehnhoff you never felt for this Elektra. Her expression never changed the whole evening and she just sat there and sulked the whole time. The outfit and makeup did not help things and they made her look ugly. She is a kings daughter after all. On the plus side she had all the notes even if the top doesn’t bloom. The leaden tempi didn’t help matters along and for the conducting alone I would put Thielemann and Salonen ahead of Gatti.

        But better than in Aix and Dresden was Meier (who also sang at both other venues). I never believed the Dresden tweed skirt bit for one moment and hear Meier shines in all her glamour with a capital G. Dark red fox coat with a train, pink and purple spangeled dress and then turban and sunglasses make her very Hollywood star and Queen. In the scene with her daughter you only notice her and she needs a more dominant Elektra to hold against her.

        Westbroek looked marvellous and sounded good too except for the top in which Pieczonka was better. Schwanewilms does the most with the text and has the most beautiful voice IMO.

        Pape great as in Dresden but Petrenko is very good as well in Aix.

        But the overwhelming Herlitzius was missed by me. Her attention to the text and watching her the whole time she was in aware of what was happening and her agile body and demeanour was just meant for the role. She always gives 150% and I just heard her in two Walküres with the third coming up.

        That is my take on the three Elektras. This Salzburg production was rather dull except for the ending. Have seen something similiar in Genf in the 80’s with Jones in stupendous form and singing one of her first Elektras. But today there are better productions out there by Kusej and Bösch.

        • PCally

          Feldmarschallin, who was the sieglinde in the Walkure?

          • Feldmarschallin

            Kampe who was in great voice. I am not a fan of hers but have to say she delivered. Still the voice is nothing special. Kulman grandios as Fricka and had I been Sieglinde I would have never left Hunding :)

    • PCally

      Both dvds are very much worth having if your budget permits (Elektra is actually pretty fantastically well served on dvd) I’d take the chereau to a desert island but on a purely musical level I’d probably give lenhoff the edge. I think Theorin is in general fantastic and probably sings the role better than Herlitzius but I think Westbroek (the best on dvd IMO and slightly preferable to Pieczonka who is also fantastic) and Meier tend to outsing her whenever they are onstage. Herlitzius answers to no one and is just extraordinary in the part (and I’m not really the biggest fan in general).

      • Porgy Amor

        Agreed to all, PCally. Herlitzius’s is as visceral a performance of anything as I have ever seen. I might not enjoy her as much if only listening, but when you get the whole package, it’s quite an experience. She is living it.

        Re: This opera being fantastically well served. When I first was building a library of these DVDs, not even a decade ago, the best Elektra out there seemed to be the Friderich/Böhm film with Rysnanek. Abbado/Kupfer was between labels and hard to find at less than extortionate prices, and these other two performances discussed had not yet taken place. The Friedrich film is still good, but now it’s a distant fourth. Quite a field.

        Rosenkavalier‘s videography is gem-studded as well. I have not seen the one AJ writes about, with Barker, but I could never part with Kleiber I, Wernicke/Nay-Nay, Karajan/Schwarzkopf, or Carsen’s, for four…and that doesn’t even leave room for Met ’82, Kleiber II, or Karajan/ATS. (Two of three of those also-rans have Moll, the most musical Ochs in my experience.) And I’m sure someone else would speak up for the Solti/KTK, the one with Stemme, et cetera.

        • Porgy Amor

          (Two of three of those also-rans have Moll, the most musical Ochs in my experience.

          Wait…they all three have Moll, don’t they?

        • PCally

          To the Elektra list I would add the Zurich dvd with Eva Johansson in the title role. I was very lucky to see her live in the part and it was an amazing performance, one of the best Elektra’s I’ve ever seen, vocally as well(funny considering that I flat out cannot stand her in anything else). Of Rosenkavalier, the Carsen one is my overall pick, though like you said it’s a crowded field, at least musically speaking. To that list I was add the Dresden dvd, almost solely for Anne Schwanewilms who is the best on dvd in my opinion. Anke Vondung is pretty fantastic as well.

          • Krunoslav

            Eva Johansson was, to my surprise I admit, very very good in the concert ELEKTRA that the Philadelphia Orchestra did in 2012 with Dutoit (an unfavorite of mine, but again he surprised me) with Melanie Diener, Jane Henschel, Ain Anger and the 72 year old Siegfried Jerusalem. Very strong performance all around.

            • Liz.S

              That was just a nearly perfect perf for me too! Unforgettable!!!

          • Feldmarschallin

            I would say second best or best of the recent versions. No one comes close to Schwarzkopf. Every detail is perfect.

            • armerjacquino

              I agree that there’s a perfection of detail with Schwarzkopf, but that’s a bit of a turn-off for me. I always find the effect a little calculated rather than truly felt. She sings the part pretty definitively, though.

            • PCally

              Feldmarschallin, what do you think of Pieczonka in the part. I think she’s pretty ideal as well, among the current group at least.

            • PCally

              Also, I know this sounds blasphemous but on records I personally would take Lehmann or Crespin over Schwarzkopf.

            • Feldmarschallin

              On record I find Lehmann and Schwarzkopf the two best with Reining also very, very good. The first two are completely different and I guess if I could only choose one it would be Lehmann even if the pianos aren’t what they are with Schwarzkopf. The most Wiener is of course Reining. Pieczonka I saw in Salzburg in the Carsen and found her lacking in detail. Harteros and Schwanewilms are the two best current ones and Denoke sang a beautiful Marschallin (much more detailed than Pieczonka) but this was at least 6 years ago.

            • Feldmarschallin

              I personally never got Crespin’s Marschallin. Love her in French things and also as Kundry but she is not my ideal of the Marschallin (Huren staat Uhren LOL).

            • PCally

              I actually can’t believe that I forgot about Denoke. She was wonderful when she sang the role and the met and then again when I saw her in Berlin (she was subbing in for Roschmann). Not as beautifully sung IMO but still worth seeing.

            • Buster

              I vote for Lisa! Second best: Elisabeth Grümmer.

              I love this clip with della Casa, standing next to an impeccable Rita Streich in black, who stands next to Wilma Lipp in a dress that is a little too short for her. Never saw a snippet of film with Wilma Lipp before, what a great beauty she is:

            • Porgy Amor

              The Carsen Rosenkavalier I find a case of no one being out-of-this-world great, but everyone being good and meeting the production halfway. It’s very witty and entertaining and makes good use of that enormous space. Pieczonka sounds great, but I do not get as much emotional coloring and resonance from her performance as I do with my favorites. It plays as a bit posed. My initial reaction was that I’d like to see another Marschallin from her after she’d lived with the part longer…even though I see she was not that much younger than Gwyneth at the time of Kleiber I, and older than Schwarzkopf at the time of the EMI recording.

            • My take is that Pieczonka is much more of a stimmdiva than kunstdiva. But she gives earnest, heartfelt performances and tends to improve with each outing. Others reach a remarkable peak early and don’t add develop to their interpretations as time progresses.

            • armerjacquino

              Porgy- as you may have noticed, I do think there’s one standout performance in the Carsen. Persson for me is sort of perfect. And she pulls out in ‘wie ein gruss von Himmel’ maybe the loveliest single note I’ve ever heard.

            • I love the HvK Rosenkavalier film and have the blu-ray of it and watch it often but it’s interesting that Schwarzkopf hated the film. Of course that might have been colored by her falling out with HvK but she apparently didn’t think it was a good representation of her work.

          • Buster

            That is the Kusej Elektra with Johansson? I’ll see that with Hanna Schwarz and Herlitzius this sommer, so I will not watch it before then, but will afterwards. Thanks!

            • PCally

              I didn’t realize Schwarz was still singing that part. She’s a personal favorite of mine, really underrated.

            • Buster

              Love her too. Saw her on a jury a few years ago, she looked much younger than she is. She also looked stunning in the Herheim Salome. Curious how she’ll sound!

            • PCally

              I personally think her Fricka on the chereau dvd is one of the best available. Ditto her Brangaene.

            • Buster

              I only have one recording by her: Frau Reich. Splendid.

            • Feldmarschallin

              Buster I am confused now. The one smack in the middle next to Streich is that Lipp but her dress is fine. The only rather short one is the light blue one on the far right. Varnay is there as well and Köth too.

            • Buster

              FM, Lipp indeed is the gorgeous blonde in the middle, with the scarf. Should not that dress have ended under the knee instead of above?

            • Feldmarschallin

              For me the lenght is perfect for the dress and for Lipp. The only short one which should be longer is the one on the dark haired lady on the very far right.

            • Buster

              Viennese women were always a little loose. I love the story how she used her childhood memories when she studied Rosalinde for the first time. She based her protrayal on the ladies that would visit her house. That Fledermaus is still my favorite record by her, and Wiener Blut.

            • Krunoslav

              “Viennese women were always a little loose”

              http://www.aeiou.at/aeiou.encyclop.l/l851666.htm

        • armerjacquino

          Reading that list- is there a better-sung part on DVD than Sophie? Bonney, Popp, Persson…

          • PCally

            You might just be right. Don’t forget about Hartelius, the only reason to see the Zurich dvd imo

            • Feldmarschallin

              Rothenberger is one of the best along with Popp.

          • Krunoslav

            And yet *In Arcadia*:

            http://tinyurl.com/lgxm9eq

            • Buster

              The Mojca Erdmann Rosenkavalier. She even looked a little like Rothenberger, I thought. Like her, she is a Sophie who can do Lulu too.

      • Lohengrin

        If You would like to watch:
        ORF2 6.April, 22: -- 23:20 Uhr Cavalleria Rusticana from Salzburg
        http://tv.orf.at/program/orf2/20150406/
        Should be on ZDF at the same time.

        • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

          “Cav” but no “Pag?” Seltsam.

          • Feldmarschallin

            Ist wahrlich seltsam. Habe gedacht vielleicht haben sie nur Cav da stehen aber geben beide aber in 1 Stunde und 20 Minuten geht das wohl nicht…

            • Lohengrin

              As I heard Pagliacci continues on Classica (Pay-TV!!)the same evening.
              Anyway: both operas on 3sat, 11. April, 20:15.

    • Ilka Saro

      I LOVE this quote: “Had a bit of a Strauss-binge over the weekend.”

      I like to imagine that this is a euphemism for saying that you woke up Monday morning on the floor of a palace in Jerusalem without any veils, next to a decapitated head, and you needed some kind of explanation for the Missus. “Well… I had a bit of a …”

  • manou

    I have posted this before, but it has emerged elsewhere, and I love it so much I am giving it another airing:

    http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/05/spectacle-sickened-me.html

    • liza

      Thank you Manou! Shaw at his magnificent best. This is the sort of letter that might lead to infinite conversations. And speaking of the offence which produces a sensation of physical sickness in persons of normal sensibility…une mille apologies for presuming Leo was you husband.

    • Cicciabella

      I’ve always wondered what species of bird the woman had draped on her head. A goose or a swan probably.

      • liza

        Haha. What a torture for the spartan and vegetarian G.B., as abstemious as a Presbyterian Calvinist parson.

      • semira mide

        Shaw is just lucky he never had to sit next to Bjork in her famous swan dress!

    • Fidelia

      Thanks for re-posting this, Manou, I missed it the 1st time. What a writer!

  • Bluebeard

    Columbia University’s New Opera Workshop is doing staged performances both of John Blow’s Venus & Adonis and the Handel cantata La Lucrezia at the end of the month. Does anybody know of any stagings of Lucrezia before this? It’s such a dramatic cantata that it’d make sense to stage, but it’s also so challenging! Just curious!

    There’s information about it here: http://artsinitiative.columbia.edu/events/la-lucreziavenus-adonis-0

  • armerjacquino

    Random question- do we know what the date of Opening Night 2016-17 at the Met is likely to be?

  • liza

    This splendid conversation brings back memories of a Baird/Plowright/Walker in a 2008 Seattle Electra. The odd thing is I remember it as a very classically rendered production, abstract and cerebral, my precise cup of tea. I went back to videos to find the mythic gloom of a hackneyed Ring. Must have been some brilliant lighting? I recall a ethereal Baird, on a sweep of endless stairs, as forceful as light descending from an eternal realm. (maybe I dreamt this production?) But just goes to show the chasm between producing for stage and DVD. I look forward to watching the highly recommended productions given here.

  • A couple of firsts yesterday evening in San Francisco: the maiden performance by the newly-established early-opera troupe Ars Minerva and the modern premiere of Daniele da Castrovillari’s “La Cleopatra” (1662).

    The project was clearly a labor of love for the troupe’s founder, mezzo-soprano Céline Ricci. A few years back, she stumbled across a large cache of Venetian opera scores on microfilm at the UC Berkeley Library, copies of manuscripts collected in the Legato Contarini collection of the Venetian State public library. Ricci managed not only to assemble a team to perform this substantial (3 hours, with many cuts) work, she also oversaw the creation of a modern edition of the score, replete with English translation.

    “La Cleopatra” appears to be Daniele da Castrovillari’s sole surviving work. The music was surprisingly fluent, balanced in character and style. There were plenty of opportunities for each member of the large cast to make good impressions on the audience.

    The libretto takes a few, uh, liberties with history. Cleopatra (Céline Ricci) and Marc Antonio (Randall Scotting) are in love. Marc Antonio’s wife Octavia (Nell Snaidas) is jealous. Coriaspe (Jennifer Ellis Kampani) and Dolabella (! -- Spencer Dodd) are soldiers, frenemies, and suitors competing for Cleopatra’s affections (though it should be noted that Coriaspe is already involved with Cleopatra’s sister Arsinoë (Molly Mahoney)). Also trodding the stage: an old baud (tenor Michael Desnoyers, en travesti), a rustic-turned-assassin (Igor Viera), the emperor Augusto (Anders Froehlich), and his unaccountably swishy captain, Domitio (James Hogan).

    By my count, these 10 characters arranged themselves into at least five distinct love triangles. Plots and counterplots were hatched with telenovela rapidity. Kings, generals, wives, and lovers all fell for every ruse with the gullibility of eight-year olds. After the farcical first two acts, the third act surprised with arias for the lead characters of great emotional and musical depth. The opera’s unconventional ending sees Marc Antonio reunited with Ottavia, Coriaspe reunited with Arisnoë, and … Cleopatra married off to Dolabella. (Augusto also fell in love with Cleopatra, rescuing her from a fatal rendez-vous with an asp. For reasons of state, the emperor magnanimously surpressed his feelings and gave Cleopatra to Dolabella in marriage. No, I don’t get it either.)

    Though the production was bare-bones, and the direction (such as it was) was of summer-stock quality, it didn’t matter in the least. The enthusiasm of the performers carried each scene, their energy only seldom slackening. The long-ish evening flew by.

    The orchestra, five strong, was led by harpsichordist Derek Tam. Adam Cockerham (theorbo) and Gretchen Claassen (cello) provided solid accompaniments for the long stretches of recitative. Violinists Natalie Carducci and Laura Rubinsten-Salzedo bounced musical lines off of each other with sisterly intimacy.

    Ars Minerva’s ambition is impressive. That they were able to bring off this lengthy, unfamiliar work is testament to their devotion to their collective purpose. According to the program, more rediscoveries from the archives are planned for future seasons. There is one performance left this afternoon, at 2:00 pm, at the Marines Memorial Theater off of Union Square. There should be tickets available.

    Recommended.

    • manou

      Thank you for the report, m. croche. I certainly wish the whole production team all the best, but I am only sorry there was not Flordirigi in the cast.

    • liza

      What a lovely post m.croche. I love reading about artistic dedication that ends so successfully. But what is the meaning of the term baud? I only know it as a measurement for data transmission. I was just trying to imagine what a number would look like en travesti! (Feel free to ignore my supercilious jest but still can’t quite place ‘baud’ so familiar yet so far away)

      • manou

        I think m. croche means bawd.

        • liza

          Mais oui! Merci Manou.

        • I blush for the error.

    • mountmccabe

      Gah. That sounds really lovely. Not sure how I missed this; I don’t think I can pull it off with only two hours to go.

      Thanks for the review, though!

  • antikitschychick

    afternoon folks :-)

    So yesterday I managed to catch the HD of La Donna Del Lago since I’m on spring ‘break’. It was the first HD I’d gone to in a while and I must say I really enjoyed it, mostly for the singing and conducting and Rossini’s beautiful music of course. I agree that the libretto is not great and the work lacks dramatic impetus, but when cast with such wonderful artists who give it their all it can really come alive. The production wasn’t on par with the best but it was serviceable, though I agree it would have been nice to include an actual lake, especially since it was more of a traditional production and the piece had never been performed in the Met before.

    Joyce, Juan Diego, John Osborn and the conductor were all great. I agree with the poster that said Juan Diego was more involved than usual. He was really giving it his all and sounded great. His phrasing was so musical and mellifluous some phrases stayed with me for hours after the performance. Joyce I thought sounded superb (much better than other recent performances I’ve seen of hers) and was so intensely committed to her character you could almost say it was overdone, but considering she’s projecting into a 4,000 seat theater it made sense. She displayed so much joy and passion during Tanti Afetti it was overwhelming, in a good way of course. I thought the production’s one good dramatic touch was during the very end when the set expanded into a royal court. The Met is ample enough to accommodate for the extra layers so it worked.

    Save for a few low notes, John Osborn sounded great and he definitely had the best eyebrows out of the bunch lol.

    Chorus and orchestra sounded great as well, though I would have preferred slightly faster tempi during the ensembles and choir pieces since it’s Rossini and at times it sounded more like Bellini or Donizetti but I suppose that was the intended effect.

    Daniela Barcellona was a good sport for wearing that outfit which was not flattering and she definitely sang the coloratura passages well but the top and lower ranges of her voice show signs of wear. I also found her character to be superfluous unfortunately, though the audience seemed to enjoy her performance so maybe in the house she was more impressive.

    I enjoyed the intermission interviews with the conductor and Eva Maria Westbroek even though she totally gave away the entire plot of CR; I was like no stop, some people may not know what happens! lol. I love her calm demeanor though and what she had to say about the production and what David McVicar wants to focus on…she also his this total hipster vibe about her that is very endearing and she seems like a smart person. I would love to catch the last HD but I have finals around that time so I’m not sure if I can.

    The theater I went to was full which was nice except when I wen to buy the tickets online the only seats left were those in the very 3 rows and I hate sitting there but the sound was well adjusted so it wasn’t as unpleasant as I’d anticipated. I do wish the camera angles were more inventive and varied though. Seems all we get are either close-ups of the singers, a run through of the chorus from left to right and a straightforward, neutral shots showing the entire stage. I’m no expert at camera angles but I know there are more than those 3 possibilities and I get that they don’t want the cameras to interfere with the performance but with proper rehearsals I think they can shake things up a bit. I mean I’m grateful for what they’ve been able to accomplish thus far, but next season is after all, the 10th anniversary of the HD transmissions. Just sayin.

    • PCally

      I’m looking forward of Cav but I’m a bit nervous about hearing Westbroek after the chenier which I thought was pretty poor. I also think she cancelled Ariadne in Zurich right after.

      • antikitschychick

        I haven’t finished watching the ROH Chenier yet but I recall there being concerns about her current vocal state expressed here…I honestly just want to see what I can expect from the production since I’ll be seeing it live next season with LM.

    • Donna Anna

      I enjoyed the broadcast, too. JDF was a delightful surprise: beautiful sound, no bleating and emotional commitment. Joyce DD was phenomenal and Tanti Affeti was a tour de force. I fell in love with this aria, when heard Marilyn Horne sing it in the music lesson scene of Barbiere--and earned a 60-second ovation. And Osborn was wonderful. Perhaps the cast settled into their roles, because there was nothing tepid about the performances. However, I would have sent the backdrop out to the cleaners for a good pressing.

      • antikitschychick

        lol the backdrop didn’t bother me as much as the floor, which I thought looked pretty artificial. Thought the backdrop was comprised of screen projections?

        Totally agree about the performances though.

  • As some of you might know, I’m trying to start a business selling mp3 rehearsal tracks for musicians and I have an Indiegogo campaign running until 3/25/15. Just as an FYI for your consideration.
    http://igg.me/at/sonoted/x

  • Buster
    • Cicciabella

      Is that from the Amsterdam Macbeth, Buster? You can see the infertility/miscarriages/regression under stress theme emerging. Also, if “Nel dì della vittoria” is not a text/email message read from a smartphone, I’ll eat my suspenders. Looks interesting.

      • Buster

        Yes it is, Cicciabella. Did you catch Oropesa’s Gilda? I had to work, unfortunately, but she had a huge success with it, I heard.

        • Cicciabella

          No

  • redbear

    The dreaded New Yorker article about the Met is on my computer this morning and is not much more than a history of recent times. What is interesting to me is the focus (finally!) on what the board is actually thinking and feeling. “Some board members told me that they remain reluctant to make any more donations until they see fundamental changes in the board’s governance and in Gelb’s leadership.” Final paragraph: “When I asked Morris what the Met board would do if Gelb’s strategy doesn’t work over the next few years, he said, “We’re going to keep producing opera as long as we have the means. If those means decline, the quality will decline. And if the means aren’t there we will no longer be putting on opera.”
    This report talks about a fund raising campaign for the Met (at the same time as the NY Phil is asking for half a billion for their hall?), The pointed dismay of the Met board, as reflected in this piece, does not stir optimism.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      It’s a long read, and as we all know, Angela Gheorgiu has never sung the role of Carmen at the MET and cooperate is rarely spelled with a dieresis above the second O. I wish Volpe had made good on his threat.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Methinks the author of the article had much more revealed to him that was
        either omitted or edited. That is particularly evident when he tells of the lay
        off of “Sissy Strauss, a longtime artist liaison who took care of visiting singers
        and threw an annual star-studded Christmas party … ” with the non sequitur of the Lovett letter.

      • manou

        Gheorghiu is rarely spelt without the second H.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          “In American English, spelt primarily refers to the hardy wheat grown mostly in Europe.”

          • manou

            Such are the quirky ways of the former colonies.

    • Porgy Amor

      Also, is Das Rheingold an “overtime opera”? The slowest one I’ve ever heard is still well under three hours with no breaks. (“We did seven overtime operas that year, which is unheard of,” Phillips said. “Peter chose to do the ‘Ring,’ ‘Les Troyens,’ ‘Don Carlo,’ and ‘Parsifal’ ”—all multi-hour epics—“in the same season.”)

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Bellini’s “Cash for Diva”

    httpv://www.youtube.com/embed/BKezUd_xw20?rel=0

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

  • Cicciabella

    @Buster. Sorry for the curt ‘No’. That was my rude smartphone sending an abrupt answer, and now it keeps crashing when I post this in the right place. I couldn’t go to the Rigoletto either. I caught the final third of it on the radio and both Oropesa and Platanas sounded very good. The audience was cheering like crazy. Not quite the same thing as being there, but I’ll try to listen to all of it on the ZaterdagMatinee site.

  • parpignol

    Bieito Bluebeard in Berlin: is some of it set in the men’s room? is there a stageful of urinals? is there blood in the urinals? Trelinski production in New York was so much to be preferred in every way. . . .

    • Feldmarschallin

      Will see the Bieito Blaubart next month along with Aufstieg und Fall, new Parsifal and Lohengrin. :) but first Wien and Elektra and Parsifal :)

  • zinka

    SO..ask me who was my all-time favorite singer in a given role…..

    Mezzo Christa Ludwig,Born Mar.16, 1928 was a soprano that night and it was something SPECTACULAR!!!!!

  • zinka

    Two great divas in my life,born Mar.19…..Diana Soviero and my madre..They made my life so happy.Ma didn’t have as much chest,but she had to be thin because she was in the Follies

  • Something recent from YouTube, in my opinion not to be missed:

    • stevey

      Hallenberg is magnificent. Have you seen this?

  • zinka

    NEVER MIND Soviero on Mar.19 (Sounds like Gilda Radner)…I am thinking of my ALMOST flawless madre’s birthday Mar.19,and how I told her she had only ONE FAULT!!!!!
    She never forgave Resnik for saying,”This is no time to talk about CHICKEN!” This was backstage..and ma always said, “Rise Stevens and I discussed recipes, Farrell was so sweet…What did Resnik think I might discuss?” Mom wanted to tell her how much I enjoyed her chicken!!!!

    So you see…Klytaemestra was NO ACT…but I still loved Regina….and mom was pretty good too.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor


  • Feldmarschallin

    Baden-Baden 15/16:

    http://www.festspielhaus.de/das-neue-programm-20152016/

    I shudder to think what that Sylvester Gala will cost.

  • zinka

    March 20, 1890…TWO GREATS were born…..Here is one..The other to follow.

    I do not believe in astrology..BUT ???????