Cher Public

The Rusticana at the end of the universe

UPDATED: Jonas Kaufmann in a wifebeater is but one of the attractions of the Salzburg Easter Festival production of the double bill of Cavalleria rusticana, and Pagliacci, telecasts of which you can peruse after the jump.

  • LT

    So does this mean Kaufmann is the only attraction or one of many? These “but” expression are always very confusing and I’m always left perplexed.

    • Rackon

      Be perplexed no longer. “But one…” in this context means one among “several”, “many” or supply your own multiple.

      • LT

        Thanks. I also know that “all but” means “almost”.

  • degan

    Even more fabulous was Monastyrska! One of her best roles along with Lady Macbeth…

    • Bluevicks

      Yes! She was the saving grace of an evening which would have been very dull otherwise (Thielemann’s conducting is surprisingly tepid among other things…).

      • Gualtier M

        Nice to see Antikitschychick’s favorite diva in more dramatic form than we have seen from her at the Met as Aida. La “Lumi” is doing more effective specific acting than we have seen from her and doing more with text -- not on the Cossotto/Bruna Rasa/Simionato level but more than adequate. And she sounds good. I think next year’s Met revival of Cav/Pag with Alagna and Lumi sounds like that cast will beat this year’s premiere lineup by a country mile.

    • Lohengrin

      Was there yesterday. No wonder that Turido prefers Lola…..

  • Cicciabella

    La Cieca has thrown caution to the wind and revealed all…You all enjoy Monastyrska in a real Star Turn. Maybe parterrians who were there can tell us how it all played out in the house.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Heavens! What long bows they schlep over those strings.

  • Camille

    Ak Chica, fasten your seatbelt, and have a safe trip!

    • eric

      Ak Chica… Gesundheit!

      • antikitschychick

        LOL she means me…thanks Camille; ever the gracious lady you!

  • LT

    Well, send me to the guillotine.

    Lumi is doing her usual just-saw-a-ghost/schizophrenic faces. Her singing is good, but really does nothing for me. Not to mention the blatant lack of chest voice in key places. The way she cut short the climax in Voi lo sapete alone is a cause for excommunication.
    I never imagined the duet with Turiddu could be so boring, in large part thanks to JK as well.
    The production is very intriguing in the beginning but gets old very fast which is telling for such a short opera.
    Nice to see Toczyska in good voice. Her acting was laughable but that wasn’t entirely her fault.

    All in all, not for the history books IMO. I give it a solid B-.

    • That’s disappointing. “Tu qui Santuzza” should be the heart of any good Cav.

      Anyone else briefly mistake Jonas for Jose Cura?

      • Bluevicks

        In terms of lack of the vocal line and boring forte throughout, yes, there was some similarities. That said, Cura was a far more convincing De Grieux than Kaufmann vocally.

        • I’m talking about Jonas’s picture, not the singing. And I can’t agree with your assessment of Kaufmann’s singing.

          • Bluevicks

            I didn’t expect anything else…

            • They both have a baritonal vocal timbre. But I think Kaufmann has a fine command of line. And to say that he sings forte throughout goes against all the people constantly complaining that he sings piano so much. In fact, one of the best things about Kaufmann is that he is always modulating the dynamics and doesn’t sing at one volume like a lot of tenors.

    • Bluevicks

      In terms of acting IMO, it’s hard to beat this:

      And it’s only a rehearsal…

      • Paris Athenes

        I was about to post this yt clip! Yes, so true. (Alagna / Uria-Monzon 2009; Callas / Di Stefano 1ast concerts?)
        It must have been a different experience in house of course, but watching the broadcast last night was at times boring. In my opinion, not enough communication / chemistry between Turiddu & Santuzza

        • LT

          Also Carreras/Baltsa.

        • Bluevicks

          I somehow like Alagna’s Pagliacci as well. Let’s what he will bring to the table at the Met.

          • Bluevicks

            *Let’s see* sorry…

      • Those people are dead, you know.

        • Bluevicks

          Yes, and because of that, it’s not allowed to post their works/videos near singers who are alive and well.
          Brillant logic.
          However, thank God, Alagna seems quite alive to me (as is Cura) and hopefully will remain so for may many years.

          And your point was?

          • That you’re making a false comparison. Nobody should have to “beat” singers from half a century ago, or else nobody would ever sing anything ever again.

            • Bluevicks

              I wasn’t making a comparison. Maier’s Cavalliera (and Isolde) clip is also ”hard to beat” as is Scotto’s Tabarro. In this context ”hard to beat”, means ”hard to achieve”. There are various types of excellence possible and I didn’t imply that current singers will be never be able to reach them. You could have also noticed, that I didn’t make any vocal comparison either.

              I’m just wondering if we have the right to post works from singers who are dead. Is that allowed? Or are we to assume that current singers and their listeners are existing in a vacuum.

            • Do whatever you want, just so long as you stop whining.

            • Bluevicks

              Whining about what? Your ageism issues?

            • Moderation for a month, asshole.

          • Orion

            You’re right Bluevicks, Cura and Alagna are well alive :) And as regards Alagna his lively and forceful Turiddu is just an evidence. Here is an upload of his full performance in Cavalleria Rusticana at the Chorégies d’Orange in 2009. I find it’s gorgeous.

            CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA -- Alagna/Uria-Monzon/Ko/Toczyska/Gillet//Prêtre

      • la vociaccia

        Well Corelli looks pretty disengaged at the beginning of this clip, and then he forgets the words at 1:00, so there’s that.

        • Bluevicks

          Well, I had Simionatto in mind rather than Corelli when I posted this clip, so ”there’s that” as you say.
          And given the live recording of the performance which followed this rehearsal, ”disengaged” is not what comes to mind when Corelli is concerned.

          • Oh like clockwork here’s Bluevicks to threadjack into doing his “Jonas deserves to die and I’m jerking off to Franco Corelli” thing.

            • Bluevicks

              Please try to not project your sexual fantasies on my humble person, dear.

              I guess you were disappointed when I didn’t react to JK’s (dull) Chenier then. But then, I cannot always be around to please you sorry.

  • Satisfied

    Curious to know if anyone has spotted Álvarez in town rehearsing Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci.

  • rapt

    • Bluevicks

      You’re a brave man (or woman?) rapt, considering that Jerry Hadley is sadly no longer among the living.

      • armerjacquino

        Aw, come ON. People post videos and sound clips of dead singers all the time. It just gets a little wearing when it’s accompanied with ‘NOBODY now could EVER do this!’

        Tebaldi (to choose an example) was great. I love her. I get it. I have a lot of her recordings. However, she retired when I was spitting up rusks so I don’t need to constantly be told that current singers aren’t as good.

        And anyway, it’s all in how it’s done. Someone saying ‘singer X should listen to the way Leontyne Price sang that phrase’ is something that gets us somewhere. ‘Dead singer Y was better than living singer Z’ is a dead end.

        • Lady Abbado

          I would add that sometimes posting the recording of a dead legend works in favor of the alive singer presumed to be made inferior by the comparison.

          Dead singers have the obvious disadvantage that they can’t improve their craft by learning from the renditions of those who came after them. Deep, I know :)

          • Cuban_Stallion

            Where is “like” button, please?

        • Bluevicks

          ”Dead singer Y was better than living singer Z’ is a dead end.”

          I agree. But then again, I never implied that.

          • armerjacquino

            Wasn’t saying you did! Just having my two pennorth.

            • Bluevicks

              thanks armer.
              And I’m very happy about Monastyrskaya. She’s great!

  • Signor Bruschino

    Was at the working dress of Cavalleria today- wait until you see the break dancing sicilians in the new Met production (and I’m not joking)

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Maybe it will be Gelb’s undoing

    • SirDavid

      Dear Signor Bruschino, excuse me…… Whilst we welcome the presence of interested patrons at working rehearsals, we do expect them to respect and understand that they are witnessing artists at work and it is very sad for all of us involved to read negative comments online about a rehearsal that is indeed a working period for us. What you witnessed was the first orchestra rehearsal and not a dress. There is, incidentally no “break-dancing” in the production of Cavalleria Rusticana at the Met. I would like to ask this writer to be more sensitive and circumspect.

      Thank you

      Sir David McVicar

      • Satisfied

        SirDavid: Bravo!

        • mandryka

          Ditto. And how graciously posed.

  • antikitschychick

    waddup ya’ll :-)

    Someone has graciously uploaded a slightly better quality vid of this:


    we now have the Pagliacci as well. I haven’t seen this so am going to watch laterz.

    P.S. wanted to give a shout out to Mr. BlueBleard who very sagely told me (and the rest of us) on these here pages not too long ago that this role would be a great one for her and he couldn’t have been more right. Of course I’d still like to hear her sing Trovatore, and the Tudor Queen Trilogy, and Elisabetta, and Norma and Isolde and Taunhauser AND AMNERIS!! :-P but dramatically she is EONS better in this than in Aida.

    Also, from now on am calling her Glammyla :-D.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Kaufmann’s rockabilly Canio is FANTASTIC. I love this production so much. Splendid camera treatment too. Best wigs since Bayreuth 1958. Very special ensemble work.

      • nachEule

        The Cav was a worthy effort, but I’m with QPF, this Pag is a gem. The scale and intensity of the production perfectly matches the scale of the opera — IMHO it hit the sweet spot of innovative staging while really digging into both its commedia and verismo hearts. JK wrung the last drop out of vesti la giubba, literally. But QPF is right — great ensemble work, and the story so well sung by all that no subtitles are necessary. Hope someone emits a DVD at some point.

        • Lohengrin

          Heard that officially a DVD is planned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • nachEule

            Good news, Lohengrin, I hope it comes to pass (although I bet they’ll politely back away to a long shot on the “ridi del drool” moment!). Of course I wasn’t there, but it seems as if one of the strengths of the staging was that it works on screen as well as in house.

            • manou

              “Ridi del duol” -- but I do adore drool.

            • Camille

              Oh g-d…..!!!!! Does Jonas DROOL again? I just love it when he does.

            • manou

              Caspita! Is there actually saliva dribble?

            • nachEule

              LOL, yes, Manou — there is real duol in Pagliaccio’s heart, but also substantial drool on his chin! Canio must laugh off both, it seems!

            • Camille

              O goody! JonasDrool{tm}—The spume of the spurned lover!

          • Milady DeWinter

            “Kaufmann’s rockabilly Canio is FANTASTIC”-
            oh, that’s what is was.
            The Pag “curtain” slow bald cap pull- wasn’t Bette Davis doing that in 1936?
            Send me to the guillotine too; the efforts to be hip and dramatically true are admirable and I thought it was an honest effort, but the multi-unit stages, or whatever, are perhaps effective in the theatre, less so on video. Another shirtless barihunk Silvio? Yawn. Why? I mean, I know why. But I find it distracting when all I can do is stare at his pec contractions as he sings. I suppose I have a naturally salacious nature, but discrete peeks and sexy costuming is an art; mere exposure is just awkward. To me. And these days just as tired as some “golden age” ton o’fun divo/diva in front of a painted drop with a foot on the prompter’s box.
            On the plus side, both Cav and Pag were well very well sung by all parties. Ms. Agresta has a lovely and engaging vocal gift with a memorable quality, although undermined by the tempo of the “Ballatella”, which was a serious drag. JK vocally fine, as usual.

    • Camille

      I can’t believe it took me this long to suddenly realise whom it is La Liudmyla reminds me of: suddenly, when seeing her as Santuzza, I got it—she’s Dimitrova’s daughter!

      Got to watch this. If I were Jonas, I’d be afeeeeeeeeerd of that lady--no wonder he starts drooling as Canio.

      • Milady DeWinter

        All that drool -- strictly from the Sandy Dennis School of Drool Method. Very 1966.

        • manou

          Have you seen Juliet Stevenson in Truly, Madly Deeply?

          • Milady DeWinter

            Alas, yes. Ms. Stevenson surely had to be hospitalized for complications from total body fluid dehydration following the production. The ghosts were sweet, though.

      • She looks a bit like Cherry Strudel

      • antikitschychick

        LOL! Yes, yes I’ve seen lots of comments on YT saying that she is reminiscent of Dimitrova, though I think the likeness concerns vocal qualities more than physical traits, albeit I never had the opportunity to see/hear Dimitrova live so you and others who did would certainly be able to tell more than I. Based on the recordings and performances I’ve seen of Dimitrova on YT I do hear some vocal similarities but I don’t think they resemble each other all that much physically (save for the dark hair and maybe body size/figure?). LM’s features are more sinister looking than those of your average diva me thinks, esp in this production; the dark hair, pale complexion and large green snake eyes are very specific physical traits that are traditionally associated with villains, especially in film. Given that this production is very cinematic, it seems she was encouraged to get her dracula on. All she’s missing are the arched eyebrows a la Meryl Streep in Evil Angels; that poor kid that plays their son would have been scared for life but hey, all in the name of art no???

        Re: Jonas’s drooling…thank goodness it happened in Pagliacci as you say and not Cav since LM was sweating BULLETS from their duet onward in Cav…Now I love me some good camp as we all know but profuse sweating and excessive drooling DO NOT mix!! Kudos to Jonas for knowing when to let go and let flow! :-P

        P.S. thanks for your erudite comments about the overall performance; agree that vocally there is room for improvement (on her part) since this role doesn’t really pose any major challenges…am really looking forward to seeing her in this and Tosca next season as well :-).

        • antikitschychick

          above comment was in response to Camille; apologies for neglecting to mention that.

    • Cicciabella

      antiKC, you made my evening with this Pagliacci, thank you. What a great production! Thielemann is better in this than in Cavalleria, although sometimes he sounds like he’s about to fall asleep at his Leoncavallo homework. Once or twice he loses sight of the chorus. Platanias’ big gruff baritone really suits the brutish Tonio and Agresta’s a very fine Nedda, after a slightly unsettled beginning. It’s a mystery what Nedda sees in the nerdy, clumsy-pawed Silvio. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s not a switchblade-clicking maniac, like Canio. Kaufmann’s really great: his dark timbre suits Canio much more than Turiddu and he is very scary! His character reminds me of Christoph Waltz’s circus master in Water for Elephants. A gripping performance: delirious ovation deserved. I was beginning to suffer from Kaufmann-ennui, because his obsessed fans have to bring him up for comparison every time another tenor sings anything anywhere, which is rather trying. But for this performance: Bravo!

      Now awaiting Rowna’s Toobometer on the double-bill.

      • antikitschychick

        you’re very welcome Cicciabella…thanks be to the gracious person who uploaded the performance as well, whomever they are!

        I haven’t had a chance to watch the Pagliacci performance yet but am planning to within the next couple of days…

        Also, Lohengrin is totally right about this getting a DVD release:

        Jonas+Sexy/Emo/Rockabilly Clown Outfit+HD=WIN!!! :-D.

  • Possibly the greatest recent Cavalleria.

    Meier isn’t one of nature’s Santuzzas, but her ability to act with her facial muscles during the physical act of singing (most opera singers only express the music when singing and act around their phrases) and her stage instincts turn the Turiddu Santuzza duet into a very specific emotional arch.

    • One might say that Meier is offering Acting in Opera as opposed to Operatic Acting.

      • I agree. I’ve only watched the Turrido/Santuzza duet and the acting in it is incredible (from both). And Cura looks yummy.

    • PCally

      Simply put: Waltraud Meier is a genius

      • I firmly believe she is just that.

        • Camille

          And I just as firmly believe she is a Hexe. A conjurer. A magician.

          I don’t know how she does what she does, but she does.

          • Yes, when you see her in an interview, she comes across as a regular person — an intelligent woman with reasonably good features, etc. But when she’s on stage, she transforms into something else. And she has this energy that one can feel even through a television set. When she makes her entrance in the third act of the Chereau Tristan, one just feels the whole performance lifting to a new level.

            • Camille

              That was my impression the first time I ever saw Waltraud—through a television set—as her magesterial Kundry back in 1993 or so. She just lept out of the screen into some hyper-reality all her own, as she did in that single staged Isolde she did—this time I saw it live—at the Met.

              Considering I had seen a half dozen Eaglens, a couple Dalaymans with a last act sub-and poor Watson at the end of the game, it was absolutelly like seeing a different work. I felt so privileged to have had that opportunity for she revealed more in that one performance about the character and nature of Isolde’s plight than all of the above others (plus, throw in one Johanna Meier performance years before). And I really can’t describe the voice at all—I know she sang the performance—it was something other which she transmitted, something so unusual, and so beautifully clear, and what I suspect Wagner may have been getting at, particularly in the second act in the long duet.

              I mean, Flagstad will always be my touchstone, followed by Traubel, but if Flagstad was the diamond to Traubel’s ruby—so Lauritz Melchior opined—then Waltraud was the rarest of Tahitian black pearls. At least, to me. Or maybe La Peregrina. Nope—black as the deep, dark sea was she.

            • Camille chere, why am I not surprised that you share my high opinion of Traubel’s Isolde?

              I hope Meier keeps on going for a while because I would love to experience her live one day.

              The first time that I “got” her was the telecast of the Levine Gala back in 1997. She strode on stage wearing what can be best described as some sort of cotillion dress and she blew me away with Isolde’s Narration (singing both Isolde’s and Brangäne’s parts). It wasn’t the prettiest voice but I can still feel her performance. That is a great artist!!

            • Camille

              you are not surprised, chéri, as you already knew how Bon chic, bon genre we are, that’s a given!

              I remember you speaking about Traubel. She was truly wonderful and I do love her a lot, but Flagstad is insuperable, for me.

              About a week ago I finally got aroundtuit and listened to the Victor de Sabata, Gertrude Grob-Prandl recording from the fifties. Unfortunately, there was no way to really tell about the voice as the sound recording was so poor there was a little note at the end of the insert that says — sorry for the poor quality of the sound — I don’t know when I’ve ever seen that on a recording!

              I always come back to Flagstad in the end, I am afraid, and I suppose I should try harder, but at this point, what’s the use?

              There is a new film called “About Elly” out, which comes from Iran, or the director is Irani, and I was wondering if you knew anything about it or recommend it as of interest?

              Grand bisou!

          • PCally

            I second Camille’s comment. I’ve never seen a performance of hers that was anything less than utterly compelling, even at times when her voice isn’t really functioning (and there have been a few) I’ve always come away floored by her interpretive skills, her acting, and just her presence onstage.

            • Porgy Amor

              The Meier documentary I Follow A Voice Within Me is one of the best such things I’ve ever seen about an opera singer. I “got” her more than ever after seeing that. She speaks with great passion and enthusiasm about text, about the expression one can find in German consonants. She says she wishes she had other lifetimes, plural, to go on exploring Wagner. You never think for a moment that this is someone who just fell into a career as a singer; she’s on a journey.

              All of her fans should see it, and every aspiring opera singer should pay attention to what she says at 4:03 in the trailer below.

              The fill-up on the current DVD release, a complete Das Lied von der Erde (Bychkov, with Kerl on tenor duty), sweetens the pot and gives it more repeat value.

            • PCally

              I actually have seen it and love it. Her description of why it’s so special to sing in German in the highlight for me, as are the Bayreuth rehearsal clips. One thing that I’ve always wondered is how her Troyens Didon turned out. Did anyone see it?

            • Porgy Amor

              as are the Bayreuth rehearsal clips

              Oh, those are great. Trying to work out blocking with Tom Fox’s tall Telramund so that when she’s supposed to be standing behind him and embracing him, she can be seen at all. Even better, Meier and Jerusalem in a Tristan love duet rehearsal, having to rise from a face-to-face kneeling position, with his 60-year-old knees creaking in protest. She’s funny there: “It’s the pensioners’ version!”

              One thing that I’ve always wondered is how her Troyens Didon turned out. Did anyone see it?

              Not I.

              One curious thing about the documentary is that they apparently did not have the rights to clips of any of her staged Kundrys. We get an audio excerpt and score pages for that. She’s seen on stage in the other big roles she was doing around the turn of the present century, as well as some far from her usual turf (Amneris with Pape as Ramfis).

            • PCally

              I was hoping FM would chime in about the Didons. I wish they had filmed the Bayreuth Kundry because the actual cd is only so-so. Three dvds are more than enough though

  • Camille

    Well, Jonas was surprisingly effective as a wifebeater, although he actually did not fling her down at the end of the duet. I guess one flinging per duet is all the law allows. The Siciliana went for a backstage warmup and he did his damndest in the dialetto and, well, he DOES come from the SOUTH, of Germany anyway!

    I think Monastyrska will have a big success at the MET singing this, if her voice sounds better than on this occasion. Maybe someone has advised her to sing softly as there was a lot of flutter--but she has the physique du rôle, the Sicilian mien and scowl, and the colouring and the hair of a real Maddalena dolente down COLD. I look forward to hearing her next year and by then she will have it practised and finessed more.

    Maestri is a bit of overkill as the capo and you certainly know ahead of time that Turiddu does not stand a chance in that fight, but I just love him and was glad to see him again. They are giving Don Pasquale with him in a couple seasons and I can not wait for it to happen! Best scene stealer was Mamma Lucia als Bookie!! Wow, the best I have ever seen or heard from Tocyska, and I say, you go granny! Lovely Lola, too, for a change, as many times they will be fuglier than Santuzza.

    What I did not like — was this the Easter edition of LAUGH-IN alla siciliana???? Very distracting and annnnnnOOOOOOYing. Apparently, Santuzza is ‘scommunicata’ becajuse she and Turiddu have been living in sin for, what? a dozen years or so, ’cause the kid looked like a teenager. How could it be news to Mamma Lucia, then?

    Grateful to get a chance to see what the Easter Bunny eggs were in Salzburg and thank you very much. More pluses than minuses for me. I hope Monastyrska was just “ill” and that mid voice flutter will dissapate, though,as it is worrisome and as this will be a great role for her to continue with in the future as a break from the eternal Abagailles and Lady Macs.

    • manou

      Isn’t a “wife-beater” the tank top or vest Jonas is wearing in the picture?

      • armerjacquino

        manou, you’re taking Camille awfy literally today. I think she was using ‘gioconda’s skirts’ as a metaphor for Netrebko’s singing of the role, and here I think she’s punning on the double meaning of ‘wifebeater’.

        *toddles off helpfully*

        • manou

          Che faró senz’armerjacquino…

      • LT

        I think “wife-cheater” is more fitting a term in the context of Kaufmann.

        • armerjacquino

          Oh cool, you know what happened in Kaufmann’s marriage. Why don’t you tell us all? When did the cracks start to appear? What’s her take on things? What’s his?

          I can’t imagine you don’t know all the details. After all, who would presume to judge otherwise?

          • LT

            I’d like to keep matters within the family. Thank you for your understanding.

            • armerjacquino

              Thought not.

      • Camille

        Yes, you are quite correct. As well, it was intimated that they were living together “als Man und Frau”, but surely not married —-- ?

        You must never take me literally as the tongue is always in the cheek. Of my face, that is.

        Listen to armer. AWFY? Another new Britticism I have learned today! Vive la différence! Someday, I may even learn to speak the Queen’s English!

        • armerjacquino

          Heh, the Queen might not recognise ‘awfy’ unless maybe she’s heard it at Balmoral. It is a very very Scottish idiom, most often used by the Broons.

          Saves a lot of time when typing, though!

    • LT

      “Wow, the best I have ever seen or heard from Tocyska”

      Is this supposed to be a compliment? Even her name is spelled wrong.

      • Camille

        Thank you for your orthographic concerns.

        I did not care enough to go back, even knowing I was incorrect, as I have never cared for her or her performances, and it was indeed a pleasant surprise.

        Sorry if that does not elide into your thinking, but I left my crystal ball in the rain last night and it’s cloudy today.

        • LT

          Thanks for kindly clearing that up. Next time, I’ll be more careful in eliding it in.

    • Cicciabella

      Camille, I once saw this sexy Lola:
      Her bouncing bosom alone was enough to make any Turiddu damn his soul.

      It’s interesting that you thought that Turiddu and Santuzza were “living in sin” with a child. I thought they were married, because how would they have a common law marriage in 1920s Naples? That buttoned-up Mamma Lucia would never allow it, and not only Santuzza would be “scommunicata”, but also Turiddu, and the child. The boy could never be an altar boy if he was born out of wedlock. And no-one would buy their wine. But I don’t know…can anyone who read the performance programme tell us if they were supposed to be married or not?

      • Camille

        I just don’t know, Cicciabella. Does anyone have the program notes? Were they supposed to be married? I don’t know anything about the directorial concept, but only assumed the reason she could not “Entrare in casa rostra”. and was ‘scommunicata’, was because of that. Since this is a norther European staging and one that bent the time and place of the Verga novella, well, they are just going to say and do what they want, and frankly, I have never read the original Verga, because it is hard to find and I am lazy.

        It was just supposing she was scommunicata because she had given birth outside of marriage, that’s all. Maybe Santuzza and Turiddu were just making a little spare cash, lodging an altar boy? 1920’s Napoli? What has that to do with anything? That’s idiotic. This is very specifically a Sicilian tale of country mores.

        When I once visited Sicily with a bunch of friends, I stupidly remarked upon how SILENT the piazza where the open air market was (in comparison to the hustle and bustle of Campo de’ Fiori, for example, in Roma). I was told, politely and for my own good, to STFU, that I was in Sicily, and people don’t talk unnecessarily. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

        All I do know is that I would be VERY surprised if a staging that far north would take into consideration the reality of life, that far SOUTH. Everyone looks down on the Sicilians. And I have known a lot of Calabresi and Siciliani, and I do know of what I speak, from hard experience.

        Did I hear correctly that the upcoming MET production will be set in Calabria, for both operas? I hope not, because they are two different things, not entirely, but just ask one or the other about the other one. They will tell you so. HA! And how!!!!

        • Camille

          Is Brown, then, commonly associated as a Scottish name, armer?

          The reason I am asking is personal, as my dear nonna’s maiden name was Brown, and she always asserted that there was a lot of Scottish blood in her background. Just curious. That’s all. I have been fascinated with Scotland for a long time now and hope I can make a trip to Lake Katrine someday, or Edinburgh, at least. I’ll be sure not to wear the wrong kilt!!! Thanks.

          Awfy nice of you!

          • armerjacquino

            UK: 1 Smith, 2 Jones, 3 Taylor, 4 Brown.

            Scotland: 1 Smith, 2 Brown, 3 Wilson, 4 Robertson.

            That’s what wiki says, anyway, and it sounds about right…

            • Camille

              Oh my goodness, I had no idea Smith had still such a prevalent number one spot name in the UK. And it is interesting to see how high up Taylor is, as well, as it is fairly uncommon here in the US these days. Seems when I was younger there were lots more Smiths, as well. Kind of interesting to see there are no Mc or Mac surnames in the top few in Scotland.

              Very interesting and nice of you to oblige me with something that even I am capable of looking up. I am guessing my gonna was right in what she had to say, after all. I always like to think my strong streak I take from that Scots blood. You know, the blood which puts my courage to the sticking post. Thank you, dear fellow.

        • Cicciabella

          You are right about Sicily not being Naples or Calabria, Camille, or anywhere else for that matter. It is a universe unto itself, for geographical, historical and cultural reasons. Although both operas are set in Sicily Cavalleria is more specifically “Sicilian” because the plot really hinges on the sociomoral code to which the characters are expected to conform. Pagliacci is easier to displace than Cavalleria, which is probably why its staging was the more successful. There were many things in the Cavalleria staging, which used a kind of cinematic realism, which jar with the suffocating context of the plot: Lola going to church in a sleeveless sundress, Turiddu kissing her on the parvis in front of the priest and the whole congregation, Mamma Lucia staying out of the family business (what Sicilian mother would do that???) by burying herself in the books, black crucifixes in the Easter procession…etc. Because the staging is “realistic”, these things don’t make sense. But the biggest dissonance is this marriage, common law or not. There were none of these problems in Pagliacci.

          The Verga short story is very short. Here’s an English translation: You can easily find the original Italian online. Verga later turned it into a play, which you can watch in Sicilian dialect in this rather boring staging here:

          • Camille

            O goody! The Easter Bunny comes back with more presents!! Now I have no excuse, and just in time for the new production, which I dread for several reasons, and which I’ll go see next year when Alagna and Monastyrska are singing in it and not this season. No further comment on that.

            No, Pagliacci is very definitely set in Calabria. Let me go check — oh I don’t have a score anymore — wait — Monsieur Camille has an ancient crumbling old paper one — let’s see what it says — g-d, it IS old — it only cost $3.50!!! Oh, this is SO SWEET — there is a dedica on the front page which says:

            Alla venerata memoria
            de’ miei genitori
            Vincenzo Leoncavallo
            Virginia D’Auria
            Il figlio sempre memore
            R. Leoncavallo”

            Now THAT is what you call a “BRAVO RAGAZZO”!

            “The scene is laid in CALABRIA, near Montalto, on the Feast of the Assuption. The time is in the nineteenth century (1865--70)”

            Yeah, it is Calabria. The Calabresi are all proud of that and the fact Cilèa is from there, so let’s give them their due.

            Anyway, thanks so MUCH for giving me the Verga story as I never get a roundtuit to find it and now I’ve got it! It makes me sad I never went to the Sicilian puppet theatre in Trastever, not so far from where I lived, to see the exploits of those ancient puppeteers. Stupida.

            Oh, cinematic, yeah. Though that Monastyrska looked like a full-figured model version of Anna Magnani, and do not know if that is what she may have been told to have referenced. I think if she continues in this part she will sweep the floor with all the other little Santuzzas, but I hope she gets her voice together a little more.

            DANK U !!!!!

            • Camille

              oops, italics run rampant. Oh well, it’s Italy we’re talking about.

            • Camille

              The Feast of the AssuMption, that is, August 15th. So, during the hot summer time when temperatures and tempers are blazing.

              I remembered another factoid: Leoncavallo’s father was at some point a judge down n Calabria and he was the one who must have recounted the story to his son, whereby he got the idea. Someone else will have further or more specific information as I am recalling this from years ago. So, hence, the dedication.

            • Cicciabella

              My mistake: it is set in Calabria, the plot inspired by a real court case. And yes, on Maria Assunta, when the heat can help bring tensions to a boil. Thank you for checking that, Camille.

  • I really admire Mona. The sincerity and soundness of it all, lack of chest nothwithstanding. But actress, she is not. She is ‘effective’ in this Cav, but nothing is really internalised or elaborated as acting goes. But a very very good singer.

    • Cicciabella

      Internalised emotion or not, Monastyrska was the only one in the cast that captured the tragic fatalism in Verga’s story, the only one with peasant nobility. The director made her grab Turiddu’s leg during the duet, but through the ridiculous gestures still she preserved the stoicism of a woman who realises it is her lot to suffer, at the same time that she laments her fate. For me she had the right emotional tone for the piece, although Thielemann bogged her down with his leaden conducting.

      • Comparing ain’t fair, and Mona is by far the better vocalist, but try watching the Meier clip to see what I mean.

        • Cicciabella

          Yes, CF, I am familiar with Meier’s Santuzza. Meier is always an astonishing actress. However, I don’t think Santuzza is her role at all. I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

        • PCally

          I’ll gush over Meier with anyone and I will watch her in literally anything but Santuzza is very far from being her best role not matter how exciting she is.

  • I watched both videos. This just confirms my belief that Cav is the masterpiece of the two operas. Pag seems like a pot boiler by comparison. But in Cav, every character and the oppressive feel of the Sicilian countryside is so vividly captured by the music. I liked Lumi in this. She’s not an actress but she has remembered her vowels and she has the look and feel of an abandoned woman. It worked.

    • Porgy Amor

      I feel the opposite, PI. Pagliacci is the more interesting and varied score, and if one of them is to be pulled out to make room for an alternative coupling (Tabarro, for example), I’d much rather it be Cav. It always has seemed to me 45 minutes of music spread out over 70 minutes by means of padding and flogging. And those banal harmonies…

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    The preliminary photos from the MET and their new production of the Cav/Pag double bill look something like Pinky Lee’s bad dream or good Pee Wee Herman. There’s even a hoover upright.

    Makes me wonder how such sets and costume designs are approved in the first place.

    • johns33

      Just read an article in the NYT about the new MET Pag-- they hired a vaudeville consultant for pie throwing and a “microphone routine” for the opening prologue. Am I crazy or is this crazy? The article mentions Alvarez taking exception to some nonsense going on behind him during hi aria. Is this meant to draw in all those vaudeville fans out there? The best Pags I’ve seen let nothing compete with the emotion in the singing and acting. Now we have cream pies.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          When I was a teen the Sunday feature press articles about new productions opening at the MET filled me with curiosity and excitement. No more, that’s for sure. It’s tantamount to being robbed of something I treasured.

          • It’s true that many things are more exciting when one is a teenager.

  • antikitschychick

    someone has graciously uploaded the Cav in HD quality and with a nice intro by herr Jonas…I vote he should host all the HDs from now on…in German :-D.

    1:39. She went for the beard and the curls. Now that is acting. <3333 :-P.

    • antikitschychick

      last two videos are out of order; apologies!

    • Cicciabella

      Yes, antiKC, that introduction to the TV broadcast of Cavalleria was really very well done. After the first few sentences, I was thinking: This new presenter is really good. Then I realised it was Kaufmann! He’s gone grey now, so he no longer looks like his characters onstage. Maybe this is the answer to what he could do after he retires as a tenor: become a TV personality. Beats becoming an antibiotic-resistent tenor-baritone anytime

      • antikitschychick

        LOL word. He is very charming and articulate so I’m sure he’d make a great tv host…would love to see him in a movie as well.