Cher Public

Coffee break

Relax, enjoy a steaming cup of java and celebrate Sunday with a discussion of off-topic and general interest subjects.  For example, did you know that on this day in 1908 conductor and director Herbert von Karajan was born?  

In honor of the maestro’s natal day, our friends at Opera Depot are offering their entire catalog of Karajania at 50% off regular price through midnight tonight PDT.

Oh, and…

Born on this day in 1784 composer Louis Spohr

Born on this day in 1869 composer Albert Roussel

Born on this day in 1925 bass Keith Engen

Happy 82nd birthday soprano Eugenia Ratti

Happy 67th birthday tenor Dano Raffanti

Happy 54th birthday soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci

  • Krunoslav

    Shepherds quaked in Bergen-Belsen the day Herbie was born in a manger.

  • Krunoslav

    Meanwhile, I seem to have found paying employment for Genevieve’s Castle Tours, or whatever he calls himself:

  • Straight to ER for stitches

  • phoenix

  • This, in all probability, is the funniest thing I have ever seen.
    I’m scarred for life.

    • antikitschychick

      sacro fuoco:


      • manou

        Monologue de la Carmélite.

        • antikitschychick


    • Camille

      “The hills are alive, with the sound of Uzis…”

      There was a screening of this magnum opus at Film Forum today which I was almost conned into going to but I am fortunately “ill”, and sent my understudy, Salvatore Podella, in my stead.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Happy Easter.

    • WindyCityOperaman

    • antikitschychick

      WCOperaman thank you for sharing that very uplifting performance!!

      Happy Easter/Feliz Pascuas to all :-).

  • antikitschychick


    (Warning: There’s a static-y noise in the background but the quality of the recording is otherwise very good.)

    That Kyrie tho. Dayum.

    Upon a repeat listening I have to say I was even more impressed with Anita R. Total command of the line, smooth even voice, careful dynamics, wonderful lower register…you can’t even hear her breathe a lot of the time. THAT is a well-produced voice. She has a bright, bright future ahead.

    Thielemann is to be commended as well for his highly nuanced approach, with minimal bombast, amazing range of dynamics, and a superb balance between the orchestra and singers. The ensemble pieces were also great because all the singers really do sound like an ensemble instead of individual voices singing together.

    (lovely photo up top of HvK and Leontyne P as well…).

  • Camille is currently playing my Easter present, the Tucker La Juive!!!. “Si la rigueur” has just now ended.

    Although somewhat truncated, not a bad recording and it is indeed fortunate to have Mr Tucker in any version of this role, which shoud have rightfully been his to bring back to the Met, and which the Fates did not allow him to do.

    Vivent Halévy et La Falcon!!

    • I really like this opera. I have no idea why ;)

      Kidding, the ability to ‘keep a tune going’ is possibly lacking (except in Rachel quand du seigneur”, and some scoring ideas are a bit silly, but there’s plenty of sincerity, the passover prayer is heartfelt, the ensuing ensemble excellent, the scenes of the two women are delicious. And this piece really works on stage.

    • DellaCasaFan

      Camille, — Thank you for this alert, a wonderful Pasover/Easter program. It just finished with a magnificent extra of Tucker’s Kiddush. His Eleazar was thrilling, hard to believe that it was only 2 years before his death. Ovations, rarely hard THIS much in London, were completely deserved. This is the first time I’ve heard this live perf., previously deterred by some mixed reviews of female voices, but none were evident to me. Eudoxie was particularly strong. Happy holidays to you and all.

  • Camille

    Oh, I am so glad someone else got to hear it as it is as highly appropriate and as evergreen as the day it was written for these schisms still all unfortunately exist and will probably continue on and on and on.

    Yes, such a shame Mr Tucker did not succeed in his ambition to sing it at the MET. He always sang Jewish liturgical music so beautifully, it was a pleasure to hear again.

    Surely, very stageworthy. Especially for that vat of bubbling oil! And how to play Éléazar as a sympathetic character when he is just another Azucena, set on vengeance. Difficult to portray. I wish the MET production had been better but I did not like the sounds I heard coming over the radio so I did not go and am a little bit regretful now. Maybe they will bring it back with, I don’t know, Hymel and someone—Alagna will be doing it in München next year, and Feldmarschallin is trying me to seduce me into attending. Hmmmmmmm…

    • manou

      Fabulous La Juive cast in Münich:

      Kristine Opolais
      Roberto Alagna
      John Osborn
      Aleksandra Kurzak

      • Camille

        Right, it is now Opolais. That gritty dark sound in the middle voice would work in this part and Kurzak should be terrific as Eudoxie. Very good cast, even if I am not fond of Osborn, he’ll do al right with that crazy high tessitura of Leopold the Louse, and if I don’t make it and I doubt I can, make sure to go, Madame manou, as it is not as far a hike for you. Tell Mr manou to bring along his fishing rod and fling it into the Rhine. He might catch some gold.

        • In TLV we had a very good Eleazar in Francisco Casanova. He was very very moving in Rachel, without being lachrymose the way Neil Schicoff used to do it, utterly destroying the music IMO. Casanova also presented a very credible human being on stage.

          • Camille

            Oh my goodness, he sang it here too with OONY over a dozen years ago and then it was quite good and at the promising stage. He was a serious singer and had another gig at the MET in the Nabucco as Ismaele. He was kind of big and not much an actor but he was sympathetic and skillful in his singing. He is on a recording of Ponchielli’s late work Marion Delorme, with the Gavazzenis, soprano and conductor. I will listen in as I have wondered a bit as to what became of this fellow. Glad to know you had a listen in Tel Aviv. Apparently, it was even done here in the States at the beginning of 20th c. in Yiddish, and fairly regularly. Yes, I know what you mean about Shicoff and I am sorry that he probably got to the role too late as his heart and soul was certainly in it, as evidenced from the video he made of the aria, separate from the filmed version in Vienna. I cannot remember the director’s name right now but it was harrowing and totally convincing, whatever the vocal quibbles may have been.

            Thank you for reminding me of Casanova.

            • aulus agerius

              He also was the Arrigo in the Met Scicilian Vespers with Radvanovsky and Nucci in 2004 IIRC. He was very good. I made a cassette recording off the radio which I listened to many times. I believe this performance is on Sirius this very week. I also have a Poliuto featuring Casanova.

          • Camille

            Well that was weird, to hear something again after sixteen years—no idea it was actually the concert I attended when first tuning in. It now seems it was a lot better than the memory I had held all these years.

            He was very grateful for he applause, as I recall now. Nice fellow.

      • DellaCasaFan

        Good to know it! I see it now here:

        Hope there will be a webcast.

        P.S. Sorry for my single ‘s’ typo above; of course, it’s PASSOVER.

        • manou

          The BSO needs a sub-editor.

          • DellaCasaFan

            Au contraire. Their current translator/editor gave me much pleasure while I was “enjoying my expedition” of their next season “broschure” and “watched trailers on premieres.” I also learned that I could “press correspondent icons” for more information. :-) I actually think it’s cute.

      • Ariosto

        We have here in Antwerp and Ghent an earlier chance te hear this work. The cast is less stellar (A-list: Roberto Saccà, Asmik Grogorian, Randall Bills and Nicole Chevalier). I hope we get the full Juive, but without the ballet, because the timing is 3u35, interval included. The director is Peter Konwitschy, so I don’t know what to expect, after seeing his Don Carlos and Aida productions.

        • DellaCasaFan

          Ariosto says:
          “The director is Peter Konwitschy, so I don’t know what to expect”

          I noticed that Bieito is the director for the Münich Juive, so… ditto. :-)

          • Camille

            Expect lotsa toilet seats!!!

      • mjmacmtenor

        Great cast!

  • zinka

    …and to all my dear buddies……(KIDDING!!!!)

  • Camille

    zinka! A TE! La BUOOOONA Pasqua, auguro!!

  • Camille

    Last post, like last dance, goes to Stepan Atamian in thanks for last night’s WKCR opera, the Kubelik Parsifal which I had not ever heard and which pleased me greatly.

    Keep up the great work, honey, and don’t worry too much about explaining it all and trying to make sense of it all to your listeners. They’ll figure it out for themselves. You are such a great improvement over those other poor, struggling kids, and we appreciate your hard work, so we hope you’ll stick around.

  • Buster

    Finally saw the famous Cologne Turn of the Screw by Benjamin Schad, which won him the Götz Friedrich prize in 2011. After making a quick return in 2013, it was brought back once more to the intimate Trinitatis Church, where it had its eighteenth, and final performance yesterday evening.

    Trinitatis Church is one of the surprising locations the Cologne Opera has been using during renovations of their big house, which is scheduled to finally reopen coming november, with Benvenuto Cellini. Other places they used have included the Palladium, a stunning sub-urban industrial building, and a courthouse (Clemenza di Tito!). Unfortunately, the subway Fidelio was too expensive, and never happened.

    The cast has remained more or less the same since 2011, the most remarkable presence being the great Helen Donath as Mrs. Grose.

    Helen Donath made her European debut at the Cologne Opera in 1953. What followed must be one of the longest, most succesful and best documented careers by an American opera singer in recent history. What is so utterly remarkable about her is the total absence of routine, and the joy she still exudes on stage. Her entrance last night immediately made clear the voice has lost none of its flexibilty and youthfulness. In its lower regions it has a beautiful warmth, and her acting was vivid, and she had enormous presence. It is not an easy production to move around in, most of the action taking place on a high and narrow runway.

    Claudia Rohrbach (a German Mireille Delunsch) was fantastic as the governess, so intense I found it hard to watch her at times. Just when you think the opera could not possibly get any spookier, the remarkable Adriana Bastidas Gamboa shows up as Miss Jessel. Bastidas Gamboa is a flaming beauty, with long black hair with which she covered her face during one scene, scaring the wits out of the two little girls in the front row opposite me. Her laments soundly deeply distressed and tragical – unbelievable! The Quint was excellent too, John Heuzenroeder. Outstanding Flora and Miles (Stella An, and Yorick Ebert). Of course, the evening ended with ovations, bravos, and a standing ovation (a real rarity in Cologne). The visibly moved Donath was hugged by Rohrbach, and Bastidas Gamboa even let a loud bravo! Unforgettable.

    The night before in the big, half empty Oper am Dom, I caught an excellent double bill consisting of Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero, and Zimmermann’s Ekklesiastische Aktion. Bo Skovhus was great in both works. The Zimmermann in praticular was a real find, not containing a lot of music, but the little you heard was deeply impressive. Dalapiccola is much easier on the ears, and comparatively harmless, but it was great to experience both works for the first time in this moving production.

    • Buster

    • Cicciabella

      Thank you for this report, Buster. Sounds like it was quite a show. People who take two little girls to Turn of the Screw are my kind of parents!

      • manou

        …or they were taken there by Peter Quint and Miss Jessel.

      • Buster

        My guess was they were related to someone in the cast. It was a geat show, I had not seen the opera since Stephen Langridge directed his father as Quint -- another unforgettable production.

  • Camille: Did you know that there was a Spohr opera called Jessonda? The things one learns on parterre!

    • Camille

      Oh, mais oui, mon chéri!! And I think Our Own Jessonda would have made a meal of the rôle!! She being the SATB phenom she is!

      Actually, there was a Wagner Society presentation of this opera, which I missed by a day or two, arriving here to late to see it, and this I regret for it won’t happen again in my lifetime! Perhaps if I go hunting and pecking around the Archives I shall find a review.

  • DeepSouthSenior

    Hey everyone, I’d like some suggestions on a DVD Tristan und Isolde to watch during a “guy’s night in” next month.

    On May 7th, Mrs. DSS and her sister are traveling to the Biloxi Coliseum to see The Celtic Clones -- er, sorry, Celtic Woman. The trip is about 90 minutes each way, including parking, so I’ll have time for a complete Tristan, with a few extra Liebestods via YouTube for good measure.

    I’ve tried to convince Mrs. DSS, thus far to no avail, that she needs to stay for only about a half-hour of the concert, then head back home (but don’t stop at a casino). That’s a long trip for what you can see every night during PBS Pledge Week. CW has a repertoire of four songs, repeated on an endless loop: A pop standard orchestrated in atmospheric schmaltz; A slow ballad of indeterminate provenance; A faux-folk song about flowers and trees and such, with my wonderful love in the meadow; and a jiggly jig with twelve choruses of eye candy. And, of course, an authentic Celtic, HIP electric violin solo in every number. I haven’t endeared myself to the Mrs. with my constant refrain, “Some women really should be seen and not heard.”

    At any rate, our schnoodle and I are taking in some real Irish culture that night, courtesy of R. Wagner. On DVD, I have the 1999 Bayreuth with Waltraud Meier, Jon Frederic West, Mehta conducting. This is the one with the bizarre staging on what appears to be a run-down cruise ship, shaving cream and all. The “Popeye the Sailor Man” sequences are especially memorable (that is, once watched are in your mind forever). Meier is glowing and gorgeous, as usual.

    On the way from is the 1995 Bayreuth with Jerusalem and Meier, Barenboim conducting. By May 7th, I should also have the Blu-ray of Glyndebourne 2007 on Opus Arte, with Nina Stemme. It’s a toss-up between these two for concert night, with the other to follow on the weekend.

    Are there other DVD/Blu-ray Tristans that should compete for my attention? Sexist alert: On video, I required my Isoldes to be beautiful, or at least very attractive. Someone “to die for,” as it were.

    • Camille

      You could try the “Bleeding Head” Isolde of good old Waltraud. I don’t know which edition that one is but one of these guys will.

      Or stick with Stemme. At least she’s got the voice for it.

      Waltraud is a witch, though, and that’s what made her Isolde sans la voix juste so amazingly good. I can’t figure it out otherwise as she basically had little business singing Isolde with the voice of Lola. Or Lola Lola, in her case.

      • armerjacquino

        It’s the Chereau production from La Scala in 2007.

        • DeepSouthSenior

          Right, armerjacquino. Now I recall seeing the dripping-blood Liebestod on YouTube, reading reviews, and deciding to give that one a pass. Only a little better visually in another production is Meier’s shapeless gown of gold aluminum foil, under what looked like a plastic rain poncho straight from Disney World. (At least’s that how I remember it.)

          • PCally

            I second the Chereau recommendation. The combination of Meier, Chereau, and Barenboim makes for one of the greatest opera dvds available and the rest of the cast is also good, if not quite on that exalted level. I also want to say that from a purely vocal point of view, on the dvd at least, Meier’s voice does what she want it to and she’s an excellent musician, not just a generically intense presence which IMO sets her far apart from singers generally labeled “singing actresses”

          • DeepSouthSenior

            I had assumed that Meier by 2007 would have suffered vocally in comparison to the mid- and late-1990’s. It’s only age 51, though. Oh my, I could end up with three Waltraud Meier Isoldes on DVD.

            • DSS: the La Scala Chereau Tristan with Meier is absolutely wonderful. But it is very much a “total experience” kind of DVD. All the participants, especially Chereau, Barenboim and Meier, take a very humane, subdued approach the eschews the kind of high-voltage, larger-than-life interpretation many of us are used to. From a purely audio perspective, Meier has had more exciting outings in the part and the score has certainly received more tempestuous, visceral readings. But this production and performance work tremendously well as a whole. At the very least, I think you’d find it a fascinating take on the opera.

            • PCally

              If your looking for one without Meier I would go for the Barenboim Bayreuth dvd from the early eighties. The Ponelle production is pretty traditional but breathtakingly lovely. Johanna Meier gives a very lovely lyric Isolde lacking only in some dramatic bite and Kollo gives the best performance I’ve ever heard from him. Hanna Schwarz is also the best Brangaene on dvd and Saliman is amazing as well.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      I believe that Isolde’s “Bleeding Head” is the 1995 Bayreuth that I have on order. A legend in the annals of stagecraft, as perhaps the longest-running blood squib in opera history.

    • PushedUpMezzo

      Nilsson and Vickers in a hazy mistral-hit Orange arena. Not conventionally beautiful, but one for the ages.

    • CarlottaBorromeo

      The cruise-ship staging is surely the Konwitschny production from Munich (still in the rep there) and not from Bayreuth.

      I would second PCally’s recommendation of the Ponnelle/Barenboim Bayreuth staging. It was an extraordinary evening in the theatre and (at least on stage -- I can’t speak for the dvd) the most beautifully lit production of anything I’ve ever seen. Special memories too for I saw what turned out to be Kollo’s final appearance at Bayreuth -- before the Tannhauser fiasco in 1985.

  • Only posting this because it’s Spohr’s birthday and because I do love it so (though the A=466 takes some getting used to!)

    • Camille

      A= 466?????????!!!!!! W.T.F.??????????

      Are they stoned?

      Oh, it’s Wiener.

      • (A=466 not an exact figure, guestimating based on my ear)

        • Camille

          Give me A = 432 or Give me Death!

          • Where do we send flowers?

            • Camille

              Alla tomba di Giuseppe Verdi! VIVA V.E.R.D.I.!!!!

            • manou

              Vittorio Emanuele Re d’Italia.

            • And where did those two esteemed gentlemen keep their A?

          • Rackon

            A=440 or fight!

            (I once had a tee shirt with this slogan emblazoned across the front, given to me by an oboe playing colleague.)

    • Camille

      I just finished dutifully listening in to the Spohr Octet, m. croche.

      It will have future use in my dedicated campaigns on house dust, as I find this to be soothing and comforting. There is something very reassuring in academic music when one needs to right the topsy-turvy world, or attack dust bunnies.

      Alas, the Haydn piano trios are already fully employed at The Port Authority, acting as musical Raid to undesirables and have proven to be a roaring success.

      • Hmmmmm, my preferred accompaniment for this performance (as well as the one of the Schubert Octet on the same CD) would be a crisp Riesling with chopped chicken livers, savored in the early evening, on the porch, at the first hint of autumn.

      • phoenix

        academic? I always found Spohr’s Octet very entertaining. Coincident to m.croche, the Octet (along with his Sechs Deutschen Volkslieder below) are my favorite Spohr:

        • Camille

          one person’s spore is another’s dust…

  • zinka

    We went ballistic over Diana’s Violetta…and then she told us she had BRONCHITIS!!!! Well,her Violetta was probably as great as the lady who had it all her life,and rarely cancelled.Virginia Zeani.. I always loudly declaim that she belongs with Zeani,Scotto,Favero,Muzio…they KNEW!!!! Today??? Angela has the feeling…but voice is too small.

    • mjmacmtenor

      I had they privilege to sing in the chorus of a Traviata with Soveiro in the early 90s in Orange Co. CA. She was a master class in how to do Traviata. I forget who the second cast Violetta was, but she got sick and cancelled just before the performances. 2 different sopranos were “rushed” in to sub. One took over for the final dress (so Soviero could rest up for the prima) and one performance (she went onstage with for the dress with no stage rehearsal) and another soprano came in the next week for the last two performances. Sounds like the recent Met season! Throughout it all, Soviero was magnificent. A great diva in all the best meanings of the word.

    • stuey cheedio

      I’m ballistic too Zinka. This was 1984 but not in San Diego, rather at the State Theatre in Pretoria. Never thought to see this production again, so really delighted you’ve ubearthed it! It was new in ’81 as part of the theatre’s opening season (with Maliponte and Krause) and returned often -- with Soviero, then Coertse (replacing Gruberova), Mazzola-Gavazzeni and Drivala. Neels Hansen, who directed it, passed away a few months ago -- there will be many of us very happy to see this!

      • zinka

        I have a good buddy who always says, “No one knows who he/she is.” In the case of so many singers that we, the 1% (crazy collectors),love….it is so sad that certain FEW people “rise to the top” regardless of talent or deserving of recognition..but it is just the way of things.. If we counted the output of the non-pirate recordings of Gencer,Soviero, Olivero,Stapp,Kabaiwanska,Zeani,etc…the number is TINY….Why??? I guess most people do not understand what the average collector (parterrians) recognize as “special.”
        Do a survey….who is Eugenia Burzio???? DUH!!!
        I guess good agents, politics, luck,etc. make for the few who are “household words,” while we KNOW that therewill probably never b a Magda….and I still put Soviero way up there…but who knows? That’s showbiz!!!!

  • DharmaBray

    The excellently reviewed The Ice Break by Michael Tippett in Graham Vick’s production for Birmingham Opera is being streamed live Thursday 9 April 8pm English time… this company seems to do excellent work in non traditional spaces and it’s an extremely rare opportunity to hear/see Tippett’s opera.

  • zinka

    DIO!!!! Jason McVicker found this…1984 San Diego…I went nuts!!!!!!!!!!
    Note glottal attacks and chest on low notes and clean runs in “Sempre Libera.” GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!

    Vittorio Terranova holds the C forever;Germont is Bob Borowsky…Cond.Bruno Rigacci….

    I am in 67th heaven!!!!

    • stuey cheedio

      Sorry, comment a few above this one belongs with this.

  • Archaeopteryx

    Jennifer Larmore has just cancelled all performances of Médée in Geneve and is replaced with Alexandra Deshorties…

    Having heard Larmore’s recent Belle Hélène from Hamburg, I’m not surprised by the fact that she is intelligent enough to not sing Médée at this stage of her career. I deeply love her and admire her achievements, but I guess that those things are too late for her… sad.