Cher Public

“Madame Patti is up there on the stage, Cornelius!”

If you can tear yourself away adrming from the scenery long enough, cher public, now’s the time for conversations on general interest and off-topic subjects.

“On This Day,” courtesy of WindyCityOperaman:

Born on this day in 1893 soprano Edith Mason

Born on this day in 1912 soprano/mezzo-soprano Martha Mödl

Happy 85th birthday composer Stephen Sondheim

Happy 75th birthday bass-baritone Günter von Kannen

Happy 70th birthday baritone Alan Opie

Happy 67th birthday composer Andrew Lloyd Webber

  • zinka

    Maria Radner & Oleg Bryjak, died in the horrific plane crash……I do not know them,but some colleagues on Facebook were so saddened.
    Rest in Peace!!!!!!!

    • davidzalden

      Terrible news. I did not know Maria but I had the great joy of working with Oleg this past Fall in Khovanshchina in Antwerp. He played Shaklovity, that shadowy figure who has the great aria in the middle of the opera. What a focused, committed singer and what a sweet and easy guy. Every time we rehearsed his aria he blew us all away with his incredibly powerful voice and his intensity — quite a contrast to his unassuming humour and quiet professionalism. When I gave him a few extra days off to go home and see his family (honestly he hardly needed much rehearsal because we was so genuine and present from the beginning) he returned and presented me with a bottle of really good Russian champagne in thanks. Well now I will raise a glass in memory of this really unique fellow.

    • pavel

      It’s eerie to see their names in Operabase. They had just sung Alberich and Erda in Siegfried together at the Liceu, and the last performance was the day before.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      Listening this moment to the finale of Beethoven’s String Quartet No.15. Strangely comforting and unsettling at the same time, as I reflect on the tragic loss of two fine artists.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      Maria Radner was First Norn in the Met Live in HD Gotterdammerung from February 2012 (you know, the one with “The Machine”). I pulled out my Blu-ray and as a tribute am playing “Welch Licht leuchtet dort?” from the Prelude. What a nice contralto register she had, with much promise for a long career. And the voice overcomes even those hideous Jackson Pollock-like faux-fur costumes, and the ropes intertwining the Norns like wandering ganglia. (Well, I suppose that business with the ropes is actually the point, after all.)

      Here’s an equally unsatisfying staging from 2009, with Radner channeling Gretchen am Spinnrade, but without the wheel:

      What is it with the Norns, anyway? Can they ever catch a break, production-wise?

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    The casting for the new “Tristan und Isolde” at Bayreuth this summer has finally been posted (but no casts for any of the other operas): http://bayreutherfestspiele.de/fsdb/besetzung/2015/4/14984/index.html

  • zinka

    I saw this live in Newark..At “Loris…ove sei” chills went up our spines…..
    Happy birthday no.105,dear Magda…Just keep coaching all those divas……CH

  • Feldmarschallin

    https://www.staatsoper.de/spielplan/premieren-201516.html

    Great program. Think everyone will be happy. Yoncheva as Violetta and Boheme. Harteros as Tosca, Marschallin, Arabella, Ariadne and Amelia, Kaufmann as Rhadames, Cavaradossi and Stolzing, Schwanewilms as Elsa, Lidoine, Rosalinde and Chrysothemis, Herlitzius as Elektra and Renata, Stemme as Turandot, Denoke as Emilia, Röschmann as Elvira. Calleja and Pape in Mefistofele. New productions are by Schwab, Erath, Kosky, Neuenfels, Bieito. Petrenko conducts Ariadne, Meistersinger, UA, Tosca, Rosenkavalier, Fledermaus, Walküre and Götterdämmerung.

    • Feldmarschallin

      Kaufmann and Tézier are doing a Festspielkonzert and Schwanewilms, Gould, van der Damerua and Mehta are doing Gurrelieder. Gerhaher and Seiffert Lied von der Erde mit Petrenko. Liederabende Röschmann, Damrau, Pape and Gerhaher.

      • Satisfied

        Thank you for posting, Feld. You have some really exciting things to look forward to next year in Munich.

        I think I may be able to add a few days next summer and (finally) catch Harteros in Bello and Kaufmann in Meistersinger to either an Aix or Salzburg trip, depending on their seasons.

        Any (very very) early word on those?

        • Feldmarschallin

          I know that Harteros, Kaufmann, Garanca and Terfel will be doing two concerts in Baden-Baden in late July as well so you might be able to combine that. The concerts should be right before the Maskenball and Meistersinger here. I know that Danae will be given in Salzburg know nothing about Aix.

          • Lohengrin

            22. and 24. July 2016. Tickets are on sale.
            München: I am surprised that Netrebko entirely absent in the new season.

            • Feldmarschallin

              I am not surprised and Bachler was very upset at what she pulled. She was suppossed to have three Trovatores. She is unreliable. Let us see if she sings the Lisa. No one misses her here and that little stunt she pulled remains in people minds.

            • messa di voce

              Netrebko is unreliable, but Harteros . . . .

              Got it.

            • Lohengrin

              …but Harteros in München is reliable.

            • armerjacquino

              She was suppossed to have three Trovatores. She is unreliable… No one misses her here

              Oh come ON. You advise Harteros to avoid London because people here were disappointed about all the times she’s cancelled on us, and then you say this?

              You must see the double standard.

            • Feldmarschallin

              No double standard at all. One is reliable here and the other is not. One tries to push her boyfriend into a production and the house is not pleased at all and the other has never pulled such a stunt that backfired in the end.

          • Satisfied

            Thanks, Feld! I had forgotten about the Baden-Baden concerts! Great four-some!

          • Bill

            Feldmarschallin -- the Danae with Stoyanova
            is set for Salzburg summer of 2016,
            Stoyanova repeats her Feldmarschallin in
            Salzburg this upcoming Summer.

            For the future in Vienna Stoyanova has
            Rusalka Feb 2016, Ariadne March 2016, Ballo
            May 2016 and Don Carlo June 2017. See nothing in Munich after the Aidas this fall -- but
            Of course Eva in Meistersinger at Bayreuth in
            some future summer season -- is it 2017? Nothing at all coming up in the USA through 2017. Pity

            • LT

              She has Don Carlo in SF in June 2016.

          • This may have been posted before, but I only just noticed that Berlin has announced 2 Ring Cycles in April 2017 -- presumably the last chance to see the Gotz Friedrich production before it is retired.

            • Feldmarschallin

              Yes it was posted and also that Herheim will be doing a new Ring in 2020. I will be going you too? See you this afternoon in the intermission. Will be in black today and watch out for gold horses.

            • Hmmm…I have to make some plans. Glad you are feeling 100%. Looking forward to Siegfried and will see you there.

              Now you have piqued my curiosity -- a tie or an Hermes scarf? Don’t tell, I want to be surprised!

            • Lohengrin

              “See you this afternoon in the intermission.” Does that mean that You are in Salzburg today?
              (enviable! Pleas report quickly!)

            • Feldmarschallin

              Nein beim Siegfried. GP von Cav ist auch um 16.00. Kann heuer leider nicht nach Salzburg habe noch am Sonntag Götterdämmerung dann wieder am Gründonnerstag die 3. Götterdämmerung und dann Ostersamstag nach Wien für Elektra und Parsifal. Zurück Ostermontag.

            • Lohengrin

              Na dann bin wohl ich mit Bericht vom 6. April dran…
              Die Fotos versprechen ja VERISSIMO!

            • Feldmarschallin

              Marianne geht auch und zwar sie ist in Salzburg an dem WE wo wir in Wien sind.

            • Lohengrin

              Ja, wir haben uns verabredet.

      • Camille

        Feldmarschallin, bitte—
        First of all, I hope you are feeling better today and taking care of yourself.

        When you have the time, would you kindly tive me your opinion of Dorothea Röschmann, as a lieder singer, for I have intention of hearing her in concert with my beloved Mitsuko Uchida, at Carnegie Hall as advertised above in the banner. I am cjiefly going because it is my sole opportunity of hearing Uchida play, and the singing comes along mit. Since I do not know Frau Röschmann’s voice, I wondered if you had some clear opinion of her abilities.

        Tausendmal danken!
        Camille

        • Feldmarschallin

          Well for a time Röschmann was the best lyric soprano in Germany. But years have passed and time has not been that kind to her since she has sung roles which were too heavy for her such as Figaro Gräfin and Elsa. The damage is done to the top now but she still sings a great Elvira. For Lieder she is excellent and I very much like the new CD of hers. Now she is best heard in the middle voice. But for a time she was the best Susanna and Pamina since Popp. Yes feeling better now and have Siegfried tomorrow with Gould and Nagelstad :)

          • armerjacquino

            She sang that utterly demented (in all senses) Vitellia in Salzburg, too. It’s thrilling stuff but you can kind of hear the voice begging for her to go easy.

            • Camille

              Oh she didn’t do any (or much) Schumann, then, Teuer Bill? That is kind of interesting to me as I used to listen to lots of his lieder when I was younger but I have been experiencing an allergy of sorts to his work, chiefly the piano and orchestral works, in the last few years. Don’t know why. I have gone back to Schubert, whom I abandoned, in youth, and find him to be far grater and far more interesting to me than earlier. It is peculiar and strange how one’s tastes change over the years.

              Yes, well perhaps the promulgation of Wolf lieder was of more interest to her and it was rather uncommon, at least here, to be able to hear Wolf back in the fifties or thereabouts. I cut my teeth on a recording of Schwarzkopf’s Schubert lieder and still conserve a lot of memory of those songs, Die Junge Nonne, Auf sem Wasser zu singen, Ganymede, Gretchen am Spinnrade, the whole gang. They made indelible impressions upon me. I would have loved to have heard her in person but, of course, did not. She made such a strong impression upon me, once more, with her Marschallin, which I started up with as a twelve year old (and didn’t understand why there was a picture of two ladies embracing one another so joyfully on that cover—you know the one(!), that it took me a long time to get her interpretation out of my auditory memory and listen to others. Now I view her far more dispassionately but for many of us aging Boomers, she was a seminal figure when it came to knowing and learning the repertory of many German operas and their wonderful song literature. I am not sure if that be good, or bad. That’s just the way it was.

              Shoud probably take pains to listen to more of Della Casa and Jurinac and especially Seefried, whom I know chiefly from an occasional listening to of her Komponist. Jurinac had an indescribable quality to her voice which was so endearingly lovely. There is also the wonderful Maria Reining who is a peerless Euryanthe, among others, and Margarethe Teschemacher, too whom I admire a lot and should try to search them out some more. And I have really got to get through the Italian Songbook of Wolf someday. Keep putting it off.

              Ein kuss für unser Lieber Bill! Here are some virtual pastries for you!

          • Camille

            Very well then, and thank you for your swift reply.

            She will sing the Liederkreis of Schumann and his Frauenliebe und -leben, along with the Berg Early Songs. Those last ones can be transposed so perhaps she will do that.

            Actually, somehow or another I recall a discussion about that demented Vitellia, now you bring it up, armerJ. Perhaps I should look that one up!

            I just cannot bear the Frauenliebe und -leben so perhaps I’ll leave for that portion of the program. It is just too “good little womanish” for me. For that matter, Clara Wieck Schumann had far more temerity and guys than that!

            • Camille

              Guts, not guys. Well, Clara did have both Robert and Schumann, that much we do know.

            • armerjacquino

              I know what you mean about FL und L, Camille, but a good artist can make the final song as much of an existential crisis as anything by Beckett. I love the first and last songs so much that I’m prepared to put up with a bit of pre-feminist cutesiness in-between.

              And I’m always predisposed to defend the poems after that horribly snobbish dismissal by Frau Dr Legge.

            • Camille

              Oh really, armerJ, what did she say?

            • armerjacquino

              She is said to have called it ‘shop girl poetry’.

            • Camille

              Oh dear. That’s what a friend regularly refers to as “shop-girl vomit”.

              It isn’t quite that but in the hands of the wrong artista it does become deadliest treacle. It is rather a testament to an artist if she can really infuse this piece, which probably was very well-intentioned at the time of its creation, with a kind of humanity and “Fraulichkeit”, (and I don’t know if that is a word or I just made it up), because it can be done. It’s that usually safe, gemütlichkeitisch warm drizzle is how it comes off to me. I’ll see what Frau Röschmann comes up with, aided and abetted by the exigent Uchida, a true artist if there ever was one. Maybe she will succeed in helping Röschmann strip it down into something which, as you rightfully say about the last song comparable to Beckett, is universal profound Womanhood. I’ll see for myself if it is possible. Thank you, armerJ.

            • Krunoslav

              A shane Frau Doktor Elisabeth did not include on her “To My Friends” album the version penned by Alfred Rosenberg she sang at recitals in private palaces (and bunkers), FÜHRERLIEBE UND LEGGE.

            • Bill

              Camille -- Actually I like he cycle and
              it gives good artists a chance to
              cover quite of lifetime emotions in
              a short time. For some reason Schwarzkopf
              (mentioned here below) did not seem to
              have much of an affinity with Schumann’s
              lieder altogether -- I saw many of her
              recitals and do not ever remember even one
              Schumann song (whereas Seefried sometimes
              programmed entire recitals singing only Schumann). But both of those singers were true masters of developing interesting
              lieder programs and neither, as far as I can recall kept repeating the same programs
              all over the place in one season as some of the lieder. Both had an affinity for
              Wolf and both sometimes programmed entire
              programmes of only Wolf -- certainly would be quite risky at the box office today. Frauenliebe und Leben I have heard from a variety of singers, Sopranos and Mezzos
              alike -- and even once with Helen Watts (in Madrid) who I believe was a contralto.
              The texts may seem a bit sappy today but
              we are talking 19th century mentality --
              and a woman’s world was much wrapped up
              in such things as young love, childbirth,
              loss of love and life and such.
              recitalists do today

    • Lohengrin

      As I guessed: how to find a cheap Zimmer in München for this great season. Perhaps I should look for a job in Nationaltheater, cleaning dishes or prepare water bottles for the singers ;-).

      • Feldmarschallin

        Just move here. Besser wie Ruhrpot.

        • Lohengrin

          My home-town is not so bad (old Capitol of Hessen, Brüder-Grimm-Stadt and Documents-Stadt, UNESCO-Welterbe). But despite an also not so bad Opera -> München seems to be better;-)

    • Lohengrin
      • nachEule

        And a few more “hidden” here, including a couple from the Pagliacci, including a delightfully psycho glare from Canio:
        http://www.opera-online.com/en/items/productions/cavalleria-rusticana-pagliacci-osterfestspiele-salzburg-2015-2015

      • antikitschychick

        well…that certainly settles the argument over whether Santuzza is a vampire or not :-P. The sets look interesting …sort of stark and minimal and Poe-esque which I like…. Jonas looks as dashing as ever; love the 5 o’clock shadow and he makes one helluva sexy clown. That closeupp shot is pretty haunting as well. Can’t wait to see the performances; thanks for sharing these Lohengrin :-).

  • Feldmarschallin

    opernhaus.ch

    Zürich 15/16

  • zinka

    Il giorno e arrivato!!!!!! Bless the great Magda…and listen to that BREATH CONTROL..She told my friend “if you can breathe, you can sing!!!!!”

    I cannot again “call her” today…but in my heart she will never be far away…..

    Buon compleanno al miracolo!!!!

    • Camille

      In Sempiternum, BRAVA.

      May her memory be conserved for as long as we still may have music.

  • zinka

    Close to 90!!!! GIUSTO CIELO!!!!!

  • chicagoing

    I cannot find any reviews of the concert performance of King Roger with Mariusz Kwiecien and the Boston Symphony Orchestra which took place earlier this month. Did anyone atttend?

  • zinka

    Age-old question again…appropriate for Magda’s birthday. WHY oh why cannot a true verismo diva exist today??Parts of some divas show warmth,feeling,attention to the text,etc..BUT what is lacking that the following names possessed?

    Muzio,Favero,Scuderi, Olivero, Carteri,Zeani,Albanese,Soviero,Scotto etc….

    Are we,members of these forums, unique???Are there no teachers and/or coaches who LISTEN to true “Verismo” artists? I would bet that a large number of us “peasants” could help to produce at least some elements of this out-dated style if we got our hands on a diva….or maybe it just cannot happen anymore. Che pensate??????

    • Bill

      Zinka -- I think Millo tried -- but some considered
      both her vocal utterances and her rather old style
      acting rather camp. And as it happens Verismo
      operas are not performed with the regularity they
      used to be either -- plus Italy is not producing
      as many superb singers as in years of yore -- and I believe due to both financial and political reasons there are many fewer performances in Italian opera houses (most of them, anyway) than in the past.
      Even La Scala puts on only about one opera per month.

    • Camille

      It has also a very great deal to do with being fully at home in the language and knowing how to shade the words. One has, simply, GOT to speak the language. Without that, it quickly becomes appliqué.

      At least, that’s how it strikes me.

    • Krunoslav

      Zinka, seek out Sabrina Palladino, who sometimes sings with the smaller NYC area companies and should be more widely known (and seen). She’s got the style down.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=367OazCcYJk

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRVPfgEnDB4

      She was fantastic as Montemezzi’s Fiora at the Bleecker Street Opera a few years back.

      (Also, Pampanini and Kabaivanska belong in your ‘short list’!)

  • Camille

    I know Nerva Nelli will love sinking her dentures into this one: Ian Bostridge’s take on Schubert, more precisely, his review of Graham Johnson’s book, Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs — Yale University Press. At US$300 for its three volumes, one needs several reviews to consider such an expenditure. Let’s see what Don Ian has to say:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/apr/02/magic-schuberts-songs/

  • Fidelia

    Ma chère Madame Camille,
    Thank you so much for pointing us to this thoughtful and articulate review by Bostridge. “The best Schubert songs involve bodysnatching, ripping the heart out of a poem and giving it back to us again, transformed.” Lovely!
    I’ve already learned a lot from the article, and can imagine what the book must yield. Sounds like it might be worth the $300.

    • Camille

      o my chére Madame Fidelia, you are more than welcome and it makes me happy it has been of some interest and use to you.

      In my search for a Winterreise, I came across a long, long talk he gave at his alma mater and was quite impressed with his speaking ability, his manner of delivery and his thorough research, so impressed that I want to give him a fair shake. The singing is what it is, shall we say, but he is an intelligent, thoughtful, decent man and a serious scholar.

      If you are interested in Franz Schubert it may well be worth the 300 American clams. In Euros, at least, it will be a little less. Schubert songs are such great, grave beauties that they certainly do, as does the composer himself, warrant the devotion.

      Salut, Madame chaste et pure!!!!!

  • zinka

    Comments to come:

  • zinka

    Go to 4:46……I got to meet crazy Fedora first in the dressing room after a Trittico…I told her about how we went NUTS at the scene ion Trovatore..She proceeded to sing it (Octave down)…..I later met her at a master class…she was a PHENOMENAL singer…..Organ-like voice…..But a NUT!!!!! LOVED HER..One nut to another.

    In another perf..we screamed for her to come out and take a solo..Warren FORBADE IT!!!!!!

    Someone once told me,”She sliipp weeth everyone.” Well.I was not under the beds…….

    • John L

      I’ve only heard her on recordings, but she seemed to have a huge voice with a very wide range. Azucena and Amneris seemed easy for her. Albeit smaller roles, she made impact as Ulrica and Preziosilla (I had to look that up!). One of the best Verdi mezzos.

      • zinka

        Fedora’s B flat was the “end’…On Don Carlo w.Vickers..she sings a lower note than B….The voice below was so huge that I guess she could not stretch….but it did not matter…She was so great…and how many B’s are in most mezzo rols???

        • John L

          I can kind of see what your operatic preferences are with Milanov and Barbieri, loud and declamatory! Though Milanov has some of the most amazing pianissimos I’ve heard from a spinto soprano.

          • zinka

            How come I loved Valletti,Schipa,Kraus, De los Angeles…..I like them ALL for different reasons……

            • John L

              *ducking*. If it means anything I like loud declamatory type singing too, if there’s no screaming, intonation problems, and if the voice is not ugly.

          • damekenneth

            Milanov also was excellent spinning long, legato phrases. On recordings, her voice has such a fascinating glass-like quality. I would have been very curious to hear how it registered in person.

            • zinka

              In person,88 times..it was mostly fabulous..High C’s precarious after 1950…but still a sensation..and records DO NOT tell the whole truth..although play Ernani 1956 final trio..that gives you an idea…

          • Gualtier M

            Zinka wasn’t just loud -- in her absolute prime (which lasted from the late forties to about 1954) she had a lot of everything -- legato, wide dynamics, beautiful tone. Cossotto felt that Barbieri was really a contralto who had an upper extension early on which she lost in the mid-fifties. Eboli probably was beyond her comfort zone even early one but she managed. Definitely by that Covent Garden show in 1958(?) she is ducking high notes like crazy. In a few years she is into character roles.

            She came to New York for the Licia Albanese/Puccini Foundation Gala and was quite the delightful “nut” on that occasion. Making funny faces when people wanted photographs, excited as a child to be back on a stage (Tully in this case) even if she wasn’t singing. Presented an award with a check to contralto Meredith Arwady and the poor girl nearly didn’t get her prize since once Barbieri walked onstage the place went nuts. It turned into a diva sternstunde as Fedora acknowledged the applause and milked it -- Arwady smiled and took it with very good grace. Fedora could be outrageous and didn’t care who she offended. Hated Cossotto with a passion (someone gave her a “Falstaff” score to sign after a vocal competition and she cried “Io non firmo questo!!!” -- the page had Cossotto’s autograph on it. “Ma perche signora?” “Perche questa é una strega!!!”.) She also called Callas “La Tremonina” -- the wobbler. Barbieri was given the EMI “Trovatore” and “Aida” to sign and she said “Why do you give me the recordings with La Tremonina? The Milanov much better”.

            • Lady Abbado

              As a Youtuber put it, “Sempre troppo eccessiva…”:

            • John L

              Fascinating account. I guess there was the Barbieri camp and the Cossotto camp, with Cossotto coming a little later or lasting longer. The diva personality of yore is all gone. Now everyone is so “down to earth” and “approachable”. Can you translate the Italian though?

            • armerjacquino

              I always find it odd when people lament the fact that opera singers are less haughty, distant and egomaniacal than they used to be.

            • armerjacquino

              (there was an ‘apparently’ missing from that last post). Anyway, isn’t part of Barbieri’s charm that she’s as down to earth as they come?

            • scifisci

              yes, i’m sure you do find it odd. However, larger-than-life offstage often equals larger-than-life onstage, which is something that is distinctly lacking in many performances today. A little crazy goes a long way i think….

            • John L

              Oh you again. Blah blah blah blah. I’ll have to file “amerjacquino” into my memory bank.

            • zinka

              I was told Fedora and Giulietta would not sing on the SAME PLANET!!!!!
              Fedora and Leyla were honored at Licia Gala…and Fedora sang a song an octave down..Her biggest nutty fan was GIGI…who worshipped her like I worship Dagon…

            • armerjacquino

              Um, what just happened?

            • Gualtier M

              Supposedly Freni and Cossotto gave an interview in the early sixties saying that their careers were being hindered because of older divas who were hogging all the major productions at La Scala. Simionato felt she was a target and probably Barbieri too.

              Stefan Zucker interviewed both Simionato and Barbieri for his “Opera Fanatic” documentary. Here is an excerpt from his website newsletter:

              “As part of the 1999 Munich Opera Festival, The Bavarian State Opera scheduled the official premiere of the film Opera Fanatic for July 28 at the Cuvilliés-Theater and invited the surviving divas and me to speak onstage. (Adami Corradetti had died by then.)
              Cerquetti couldn’t come because of a bad hip, Cigna couldn’t because, at 99, she was too feeble. Gavazzi had to stay with her husband, who had had a stroke. Gencer was committed to her vocal competition in Turkey.
              Frazzoni, Pobbe, Simionato and I accepted.
              After Simionato declined a trip to Japan to accept the invitation, The Friends of the Bavarian State Opera arranged for her to autograph records. Because of a remark Simionato made, they became concerned that, if Barbieri arrived in Munich, Simionato would walk out and they wouldn’t make money. Simionato also said she would leave if Gencer appeared. Barbieri already had accepted--but said she wouldn’t attend if Simionato did. No travel or hotel arrangements were made for Barbieri and the matter quietly was dropped.
              Simionato arrived in Munich apparently unaware of the presence of Frazzoni and Pobbe. She was astounded to see them when we gathered to go out onstage. Afterwards she declared, “I wouldn’t have come to Munich had I known they were going to be here. Who were they anyway?”

              Stefan interviewed both Simionato and Barbieri and they had no kind words for each other:
              Simionato Interview:
              Stefan Zucker: Barbieri told me you impeded her career.
              Giulietta Simionato: She impeded her own career! Although she was a fine artist with a beautiful voice, she had a short vocal range so she couldn’t sing all the works I could on account of my extensive range. She even would strangle on a [high] G!
              Barbieri on Simionato:
              Fedora Barbieri: Simionato was not really a mezzo but a short soprano. Her voice had nothing to it below G or G-sharp. She was only able to make a career on account of her lovers. She didn’t know how to sing. She should be ashamed of herself! She went ahead only because they pushed her, because she was the lover of big shots!
              SZ: Which big shots?
              FB: She had Frugoni [Cesare Frugoni, the eminent doctor she married]. For 20 years I didn’t go to the Vienna State Opera because she was the lover of someone from the theater. That’s how she got ahead. She did all kinds of bad things to me! I can’t look at her or listen to her or anything. She is the most evil woman in opera! Write that Fedora Barbieri called her that! She’s invidious, bad! She wants to teach but doesn’t know how and ruins all voices. She demands 350,000 lire a lesson. She’s bad, perfidious!

              Gianna Pederzini was a great artist even if she wasn’t a true mezzo but really a soprano. She was good.

              Gabriella Besanzoni told me I was the greatest Carmen and the most beautiful mezzo.

              Simionato was abnormal. Don’t speak to me further about her!

              [SZ: I can’t vouch for the truth of these allegations, but I do know that throughout opera history (at least until very recently), singers have slept with impresarios as commonly as did actresses in the Hollywood of the 30s. Barbieri herself married the head of the Maggio Musicale fiorentino, and he managed her career.]

              Simionato declared she wouldn’t accept an invitation from The Bavarian State Opera to attend a screening of Opera Fanatic unless the opera company un-invited Gencer and Barbieri. Barbieri stated she wouldn’t attend if Simionato were there.—Stefan Zucker

            • Pretty amazing that Freni and Cossotto gave this interview and there is no record of it anywhere. Especially since the people around La Scala are so scrupulous about avoiding any hint of gossip or scandal.

            • Gualtier M

              It was over 50 years ago and in Italy, in Italian. It is mentioned in the Lanfranco Rasponi “The Last Prima Donnas”. Probably the Simionato interview.

              Not everything is on the internet.

            • Well, Rasponi could never be accused of pot-stirring, that’s for sure.

            • Amen, scifisci, amen!!

              Those larger-than-life personalities usually come with tons of charisma. And yes, a little crazy can translate into a lot on stage.

            • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

              Gualtier: I was at the Albanese/Puccini Foundation event at Alice Tully Hall (could there have been more than one where Barbieri showed up?) and she very graciously signed my copy of the first Callas “La Gioconda” (perhaps not invoking “La Tremonina” because this was recorded before all that happened). Barbieri had been quite accessible at the stage door in her last Met performances in “Falstaff,” “La Gioconda” and Gianni Schicchi” (1975/1976) so for me the real surprises at the event were Irina Arkhipova and – even more so – Anita Cerquetti, who gave me a huge autograph on a British LP pressing of her Decca recital, which has on its cover that awful photo of her with lipstick on her teeth and her hair a bit frizzy. She flipped it over and signed on the back.

            • Gualtier M

              The “Cossotto” incident was after a vocal competition not at the one Puccini Foundation gala Barbieri attended. Barbieri was friendly and very accessible until she saw Cossotto’s signature in the score. Her Callas comments were more throwaway diss than angry.

      • Her Amneris with Milanov/Bjoerling/Warren is possibly my favourite of them all. And her high notes were really working for her in that recording (much less so as Azucena with the same cast). She sang with such personality and I always loved the timbre of her voice.

        Her Ulrica (on the studio recording with Callas) is good but could have been better. The role was tailor made for her and I feel that she could sung it with a lot more gusto and fire.

        • mjmacmtenor

          Last week I was listening to a Met broadcast from the 1950s of Aida with Milanov, Barbieri, and Warren (Baum instead of Bjoerling). The women were spectacular. I truly appreciated Barbiere for perhaps the first time. Her upper voice was much better than I expected and the coordination in the middle was amazing. There was no “mezzo hole”, and in duets and ensembles where the mezzo usually my disappears (swamped by the soprano and/or tenor), her voice cut through like a cannon (in a good way). She had line, she had drama, she had it all. I was familiar with her wonderful Azucena from the film with Gencer and DelMoncaco. She was definite “over the top”, but she was fully committted (and her low notes were scary good). For a truly demented performance, check that out,

          • Thanks, I will!

            One moment that always stands for me is in the Verdi Requiem. In the “Kyrie”, the mezzo gets the short end of the stick on her first line compared to the other three, and usually doesn’t have a chance to make an impression. But Barbieri (with Toscannini) makes the most of those two “Christe”s.

            • armerjacquino

              Yes, you’re right that it’s less flashy for the mezzo there. But a really deep sepulchral sound on the Christe can go a long way. I’ll have to seek out Barbieri’s.

            • mjmacmtenor

              Here a bit from the Trovatore

          • zinka

            I recall bits and pieces from early operas I saw..One night (I think Rigal was Aida)..Fedora, at the end of the Judgement Scene sang the last “Anatema” before “su voi” in CHEST…..Ain’t that a bit high to bring chest up???
            It was a fabulous organ-like voice…

  • Buster

    Even in rehearsal Elisabeth Grümmer is radiant. I had never seen this clip before -- what a presence she has here. Imagine a complete Meistersinger on film with her:

    • Feldmarschallin

      Radiant is the perfect word for her in this Buster. She is only seen briefly but that is enough.

  • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

    Natalie Dessay performed in Dublin tonight with regular partner (and 1985 Dublin International Piano Competition winner) Philippe Cassard. Opening with eight Schubert lieder (with Erlkönig to kick things off and Gretchen am Spinnrade to close), followed by four Mendelssohn songs, she had her music with her and relied on it to some extent for three numbers.

    She seemed somewhat ill at ease at times, and the voice sounded a little reedy, but let’s take it as a warm-up for the all-French second half. No music stand this time, and she and Cassard really coloured in the sound-worlds of Duparc, Fauré, Debussy and -- the fulcrum of the proceedings -- Poulenc’s Fiançailles Pour Rire.

    All communication was through the songs themselves and she said not a word until introducing the encores. There ensued some un-Russian (but gorgeous) sounding Rachmaninov and then Rimsky-Korsakov, during which she lost the words. We were charmed, but she is professional and was annoyed at herself, studying Cassard’s music at the piano, regaining the line and really letting rip. So when they returned for the third and final encore (Delibes, Lakmé -- “not the Bell, the short one -- the most beautiful one!”), at last she spoke to us and made light of her lapse. a good night and worth it for the French programme alone.

    We’re back tomorrow night to hear Tara Erraught, Celine Byrne and Ailish Tynan essay the final trio from Der Rosenkavalier with the RTE NSO under principal conductor Alan Buribayev. Looking forward to it.

  • zinka

    I went to a Bolena for Galvany and Sam (birthday tomorrow)..and this mezzo opened her mouth…..Mamma mia…Olivia was superb,and later became a soprano…..Great singer and sweetheart of a person…Beats them all!!!!

  • zinka

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY,SAM (Mar.28)..When we started our first Bolena rehearsal,who would DREAM that Sam would emerge as one of the great singers of our time?? I am so fortunate to have been in this performance (Paterson NJ w.Galvany also) and in Hoffman,Barbiere,etc.with dear Sam…
    Great guy….My best always!!!!!!

    • semira mide

      I heard Ramey sing Attila in Houston many years ago. I’ll never forget the reaction of “unsuspecting” opera goers ( some, anyway) who were not prepared for the absolutely riveting almost “animal” presence. One could really sense he was a leader -- and feared.

      His Assur at the Met in Semiramide will probably never be matched -- a really diabolical yet mesmerizing character.
      How lucky we have been to have him, particularly in Rossini.

  • zinka

    There are so many Milanov stories…..But I do know TWO real ones.

    1.Butcher threw her out for smelling the chickens…..Willi Lerner,beloved owner of Music Masters once said, “I bet SHE couldn’t pass the test.”

    2. Resnik did a Zinka for me….BETTER than Zinka…Regina made a surprise Trovatore debut,replacing Zinka….Resnik as Zinks said, “I VAS NEVER SSSSEK.”
    Hey you Kunc..look in the Met annals…..

    BTW Rumor…Zinka a black eye…..mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  • zinka

    Excuse me..Zinka HAD a black eye…Two separate sources said she did more than just ppppppp…..

    • WindyCityOperaman

      Wasn’t it because her husband punched her in the face?

      She was probably smelling chickens in preparation for one of her terrific dinners . . . she was a marvelous cook by all accounts.

      My favorite is still “A dog is a dog, a cat is a cat, you are what you are!” (this in reference to mezzos transitioning to sopranos). Admire that Moffo and Ludwig both sought out her advice when they got into vocal trouble.

      • rapt

        Crespin, too (as advice-seeker, not face-puncher).

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    DIVA WATCH: Anne Schwanewilms has cancelled the premiere of the new “Elektra” at Wiener Staatsoper on Sunday; her replacement is Ricarda Merbeth (Nina Steme will make her role debut as Elektra). Hopefully Schwanewilms will recover in time for the broadcast in two weeks. I just saw the production photos: Elektra wears a man’s suit (daddy’s?), Klytänestra is an old Viennese lady in a wheelchair, and the set is part cruddy white-tiled public bathroom, part field of rocks (or potatoes or possibly both) and an elevator shaft in the middle. My enthusiasm is waning by the minute.

    Also: Peter Schneider has cancelled the upcoming run of “Parsifal” and will be replaced by Adam Fischer.

    • Buster

      Ricarda Merbeth has a new website (about time), and facebook. From that we not only learn she will sing her first Isolde in Hamburg next year, but that she will be Senta again in Bayreuth. The rest of this year’s Bayreuth casts also seem to consist largely of the same ususal suspects: Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde, Claudia Mahnke as Fricka and Waltraute, Vogt, Dash and Mayer in Lohengrin.

      http://ricardamerbeth.com