Cher Public


On this day in 1857 Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary was published. Feel free to waltz or to discuss off-topic or general interest subjects, cher public.

Born on this day in 1898 soprano Lily Pons

Happy 91st birthday bass-baritone Franz Mazura

Born on this day in 1927 baritone Thomas Hemsley

Born on this day in 1933 baritone Peter-Christoph Runge

Happy 82nd birthday soprano Montserrat Caballé

Happy 81st birthday baritone Hans Helm

Happy 67th birthday soprano Mariella Devia

  • zinka

    The happiest of birthdays (Apr.14),to dear Aprile Millo, one of the very last of the “old school” divas…A sweet,caring person who represents the great traditions!!

    (Zinka and Renata loved her!!)

  • zinka

    OOOPS..Missed her birthday Apr.12, 1933…Glad she showed up to sing the longest high B since La Cieca sat on a nail……. FABULOUS!!!!!!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    The N, B, Cs of opera!

    • Gualtier M

      This is the cast for this “Rosenkavalier”:
      Wilma Spence (Marschallin), Ralph Herbert (Ochs), Frances Bible (Octavian), Manfred Hecht (Faninal), Virginia Haskins (Sophie), Andrew McKinley (Valzacchi), Rosalind Nadell (Annina), Robert Marshall (Italian Tenor), Robert Holland (Innkeeper), Lloyd Harris, John Kuhn, Brooks Dunbar, Florence Forsberg, John Johnson, Frances Page, Louise Whetsel, Virginia Shuey, Edwin Bruce, Gladys Spector; conducted by Peter Herman Adler.

      Gianni Schicchi: Also conducted by Adler. Here is the cast: Ralph Herbert (Gianni Schicchi), Virginia Haskins (Lauretta), Robert Marshall (Rinuccio), Jean Handzlik (Zita), Ruth Kobart (Ciesca), Evelyn Keller (Nella), Kenneth Smith (Simone), Robert Goss (Marco), Paul Ukana (Betto), Hubert Norville (Gherardo), Emile Renan (Spinelloccio), Lloyd Harris (Amanzio)

      • zinka

        SPENCE!!!! My first Tosca ever…but

        1. Candles would not go out even after blowing…she went away aND THEN THEY WENT OUT..SOMEONE WAS SLEEPING.

        2.jON cRAIN WAS dead..BUT HE HUGGED HER!!!!!

        tHIS was my first Tosca..and it was NOT La Puma

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    This looks like fun

    • thirdlady

      Just back from the Cav/Pag…soooo sick of these super-busy, Broadwayesque productions. Why must the set rotate this way, and then that, for no apparent reason? Why must the chairs on the rotating set be endlessly rearranged by random slightly-more-in-shape-than-the-chorus dudes, for no apparent dramatic reason, while being held head-high?

      And why, why, must everyone DANCE incessantly? (I cannot even begin to discuss the choreography, which, in Cavalleria Rusticana, at one point involved some speed-skating-Sicilians). It seems as though there’s a recent rule at the Met that there must be something in motion at all times onstage…especially during those boring choral/instrumental moments (when, god forbid, anyone might have to pay attention to actual music).

      And I’m not sure that featuring a chicken puppet and some random vaudevillians did much to create a fresh approach to Pagliacci…not to mention lowering the curtain in the middle of “Vesti la giubba.” But why should anyone be allowed to sing, alone, onstage, without anything going on behind them…perhaps that’s too boring for the HD. And Alvarez was sounding great…or at least great relative to recent tenor performances at the Met…

      • johns33

        Totally Agree- too much needless movement-- I recall that totally distracting swinging lamp in the MacBeth Sleepwalking scene -- and also the photographer posing people during the Lucia Sextet. This has been going on for long enough at the MET that some critic should ask “someone” there why some of us are noticing a distinct trend and what their point is. It is happening in too many productions to ignore.

        • Yeah, and the Chinese New Year dragon in the first act of Turandot: it’s like they don’t WANT us to listen to LA VOCE.

          • And the ballet of the fat-bottomed women in the cow costumes: what does that nonsense have to to with Traviata?

            • thirdlady

              Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that dance in the Decker “Traviata” was specifically referencing the “Zingarelle and Matador” chorus?

            • Quanto Painy Fakor

              “Testè giunti a godere del chiasso
              Che a Parigi si fa pel bue grasso”

            • You’re wrong, and I’m correcting you. The fat-bottomed women in the cow costumes were a feature of the Met’s previous, greatly-lamented “authentic” Zeffirelli staging. That and the pointless scene change in the middle of the last act that invariably managed to get the audience reflexively pounding their paws together just in time to drown out Alfredo’s entrance.

              BTW: reviews of the 1970 FZ Cav/Pag complained that the productions were too elaborate and busy, so this disturbing trend you’re fluttering your hands about dates back at least 45 years.

        • Hmm. Too much needless inertia is a problem, too.

          • thirdlady

            I am not asking for “authenticity”! I am just asking for opera productions that are dramatically involving. For me, the Decker “Traviata” represents a vast improvement over the Zeffirelli. But this Cav/Pag seemed as clichéd and old-fashioned as something from the ’80s.

            • johns33

              LaCieca, I do remember those overstuffed Zef productions as being busy--but when key moments of singing arrived, things settled down and the singers held the moment without someone cavorting around them or other stage business distracting attention as often.

            • armerjacquino

              How can it be representative of a ‘recent rule’ and simultaneously ‘old fashioned’?

          • steveac10

            ” things settled down and the singers held the moment without someone cavorting around them or other stage business distracting attention as often.”

            Act Two of La Boheme would like to politely disagree with you. You need a laser pointer to keep track of the principals.

            • 98rsd

              And finding Scarpia during the Te Deum in the Zeffirelli production wasn’t easy.

      • Krunoslav

        Surely the sagest deployment of a chicken puppet since Felsenstein’s Emilia picked up Desdemona’s handkerchief with one decades ago (at Wind Level 3).

        • thirdlady

          By “a recent rule,” I mean that the majority of new productions I’ve seen in the past few years at the Met feature a generic and overly similar type of super-busy and distracting staging. The stage rotation in the final moments of this Cav/Pag was completely reminiscent of that in Eyre’s “Carmen,” for instance, and really detracted from the endings of both operas. The last few things I’ve seen (Lucia, Don Giovanni, Cav/Pag) featured unnecessary and unwanted onstage flashpot effects. The “Donna del Lago” had the chorus rhythmically banging on their breastplates and thrusting their spears in the air at key musical moments. I thought the point of replacing the fussy old productions was to do something slightly more…interesting…and less…flashy?

          And by “old-fashioned” I mean super-clichéd Bob Fosse jazz hands choreography? Overly detailed and unflattering costumes?

          This just has been a pretty dire season at the Met…sorry to vent in such a contradictory fasion!

          And I’m really not against chicken puppets, if they’re deployed effectively…

          • Krunoslav

            One wishes some brave director and bass would re-create Chaliapin’s famous moment when Godunov--dying--tries to get a rise out of the frightened Fyodor by making shadows with a chicken puppet.

            • luvtennis

              But now it can be a “ROBOT” Chicken Puppet.

              God I miss Buffy.

          • johns33

            Wow thirdlady-our reactions are so similar—I had the same reaction to those spear thrusts in Donna Del Lago and the rotating stage at the end of Carmen- what was the point of removing our gaze from the two protagonists in their final moments? I want to soak that in, but no.. there they go round the bend. I am not going to get into the marching around in the final act of Tosca so close to lunch.
            And I consider myself a progressive opera lover-- the Wilson Lohengrin- loved it , Satyagraha saw it twice , Dexter Traviata -- great , Two Boys enjoyed it, Boy Puppet in Butterfly- loved it.

            • thirdlady

              krunoslav: i wait in hope!
              johns33: glad i am not alone!

          • Okay, I am seeing your point here. I still think the staging of the Sleepwalking Scene effective (once you get past the walking on chairs, which I find fussy — but it’s not while anyone is singing at least.)

            The broader point here is that for better or worse the bulk of the Met public are theatrical idiots: they only rarely attend actual non-opera theater, and when they do they choose the most conservative and traditional of commercial theater. For the past generation (say, since around 1981 or so) the standard way of doing opera at the Met is to create a “production” that is huge, expensive and undramatic, a sort of diorama that impresses with its sheer massiveness.

            So in a way the Met is stuck between a rock and a hard place: there is a loud vocal minority that cries out like a wounded animal any time a single spangle is touched in one of the Sainted Zeffirellis; then there is a big quiet group in the middle who basically are at the opera because they’ve had a subscription for as long as they can remember and they keep forgetting to cancel, but they do know they spent a lot of money and so they want to see a lot of STUFF onstage; and then there is another (currently) small minority who want opera as theater. It is impossible to please all three groups at the same time. The current strategy, which I don’t think is working particularly well, is to do something very mildly “modern” but to make sure there is plenty of eye candy for those who frankly would prefer that opera not be theatrical at all.

            I won’t try to defend the camera bit in Lucia: it’s obtrusive and it’s a cliché besides. (I used the identical business in a Cosi I directed in 1982, and I didn’t think I’d invented it.) That moment in Lucia is a function of a director’s not understanding how 19th century Italian opera works, or rather being ignorant of the convention of the concertato as a “frozen moment.”

            The answer, though, is not to say, “less theater” but rather to call for better theater. As for direness, frankly most Met seasons are dire when seen from the inside in real time.

            • Krunoslav

              Excellent post.

              “The current strategy, which I don’t think is working particularly well, is to do something very mildly “modern” but to make sure there is plenty of eye candy for those who frankly would prefer that opera not be theatrical at all.”

              I think this is exacerbated by what seems to be the, um, managerial preference for anything headed for HD to have not one minute of inaction- so all the preludes and interludes of NPs get staged, and- to lease the same, er, commercial sensibility, we get added dancing bits ( as, disastrously, in CAVALLERIA, as happened in KLINGHOFFER ( or was it TWO BOYS, or both?

              Better theater would be welcome-- and, t my mind, extend t eliminating the tension-killing pauses like the one after “Vesti la giubba” last night. They have marked many of the recent NPs and fly in the face of any idea of the Met incorporating ‘way theatricality into its work. That would NEVER pass muster on B’way.


            • Krunoslav

              “I used the identical business in a Cosi I directed in 1982, and I didn’t think I’d invented it.”

              Don’t forego bragging rights on your “Chicken Puppet Voice of Neptune” in Shreveport’s 1985 IDOMENEO.

            • Though to be sure people were staging overtures and interludes before there were HDs: remember Santuzza lurching about the pre-dawn town square in the earlier Cavalleria?

            • Krunoslav

              Sure-- especially at Lucine’s Santuzza. But now it has become de rigeur, which it did not used to be.

            • armerjacquino

              Staging the overture isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. You just have to have some kind of story to tell, and execute it properly.

            • I think it’s hard to prove one way or the other whether overture-staging is driven by HDs. The thing is, there are many, many opera performances around the world that are not produced for “Live in HD” but still stage the overtures or interludes. All of Stefan Herheim’s productions that I know of stage the overture, for example, and several of them (Rusalka, Eugene Onegin, Rosenkavalier, Meistersinger) even begin the stage action before the music starts.

              Renata Scotto “staged” the prelude to Act 1 of Traviata at NYCO ages ago (not very well), and if I”m not mistaken in a prior production at that theater, Frank Corsaro had moving men taking away Violetta’s possessions during the prelude to the last act.

              As Armer implies above, the crux is whether the overture-staging actually adds something to the meaning of the piece, or is simply “visuals.”

            • antikitschychick

              well, I actually thought that camera bit in Lucia, as seen in the HDs was kind of cute, since I had never seen that done (wasn’t around in 1982 to witness your Cosi Cieca, though I’m sure it was wonderful). But I can see how, for the more experienced opera-goer it might be perceived as cliche and not really adding anything of substance to the drama…and while the concertato “frozen moments” can be quite thrilling musically, dramatically it is kind of a static moment, but I can definitely see how a dramatic touch that doesn’t serve to “excuse” why everyone is standing still (which is what the camera bit essentially did) would better serve the piece. Think its one of the major challenges for a director…

              I haven’t as of yet seen a non-traditional staging of Lucia and I’d definitely like to. Are there any that are available online you would recommend? Does anyone else have recommendations?

              Thanks in advance :-).

            • opera_newbie

              akc — I’m not exactly an expert (see my username) so take my rec with a grain of salt, but I did like the Bayerische’s recent 50’s Lucia. The whole thing isn’t up but the mad scene is on YouTube (let’s see if I can do this right…):


            • armerjacquino

              I’ll give a tiny squeak of support for the LUCIA photographer, with the proviso that I haven’t seen the entire production so don’t know how it fits. What I like about it is that it serves as a theatrical representation of what the sextet is doing in the context of the opera- ie that six people are experiencing internally things that they can’t say publicly. Smile for the camera, and keep to yourself what you’re actually feeling because it would be against the rules to express your true emotions. La Cieca is right to say that it’s a much-used theatrical trope, but I’m not sure something has to be original if it works.

            • armerjacquino

              By the way- that Corsaro TRAV that La Cieca mentions gives me the shivers just reading about it. What a brilliant way to reveal the stakes of the final scene. Surely much more involving than just playing the music while everyone looks at some nice velvet curtains?

            • Funnily enough, large-scale productions with plenty of “stuff” and lots going on yet dramatically effective are what Francesca Zambello is capable of when on form. I’m thinking of Billy Budd and War and Peace at the Paris Opera.

            • quoth the maven

              antikitschy--The Lucia sextet may be “static,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dramatically charged (static electricity, perhaps). As is the convention with the 19th-century pezzo concertato, the drama freezes at the point of its highest tension. The problem with stage directors like Zimmerman is that they’re uncomfortable with the stasis: they think, erroneously, that if nobody’s moving, nothing’s happening. Zimmerman’s imposition of the photographer in the sextet seems like a nervous tic: “Good god--we can’t just have them stand there and sing!”

            • antikitschychick

              quoth the maven: I absolutely agree with you; ‘static electricity’ is a very apt term to describe the energy and focus of a concertato ensemble…it’s quite thrilling to hear (presumably) world-class voices complimenting each other so well and serving the music in a climactic moment as you say…I think armerj very articulately described the intended effect of the photography bit in the Lucia production, or a valid interpretation of it anyway. Another interpretation might be that it serves as a (rather literal) metaphor for “capturing” the drama and energy of that particular moment and personifying the spectator’s gaze in a way, as a nod to the self (and selfie obsessed) culture we live in, which serves to lighten the mood of the moment in a campy/meta-theatrical sort of manner…but I agree with yours’ and Cieca’s assertion that oftentimes such stagings reflect a misunderstanding or discomfort with the concertato, whereas the work might be better served if the director approaches the staging of that moment from a place of understanding of the tradition and admiration.

              But I think a lot of directors deserve more credit than this, since we can’t really pretend to know what’s in the minds and hearts of every director and just because the staging isn’t effective, or as effective according to certain standards doesn’t mean they don’t understand or appreciate what’s going on. It’s a difficult task and while the music is great in a lot of the standard rep, the librettos are oftentimes stale, outdated and alienating to a modern audience…this is why I’m not against updating the libretto under certain circumstances because, especially from a woman’s pov, the text just no longer resonates with us in some respects, which isn’t an insurmountable barrier but its a barrier nonetheless. This I think is counterbalanced in the manner by which opera undoes and unveils itself, because once you get past the silly conventions and the pageantry of it all, there are moments of truthfulness about the human condition within the core of many works. But what the directors choose to do with those truths, is oftentimes subjective and not very linear or coherent. I’m not super troubled by that since I like to embrace the paradoxes, but, for someone who just wants to escape their everyday life and be entertained, I can see how they might be bothered with that approach. As many have articulated, I think that’s the major quandary the art form is currently facing in this transitional period: what is its role and purpose in this ‘post-modern era and why is it still relevant, esp in America? Not an easy question by any means lol.

            • antikitschychick

              opera_newbie: thanks for the clips. I had watched a little bit of the mad scene, but I wasn’t loving DDs singing, so I didn’t finish it, though the staging looks interesting and her acting is good in a OTT way…I’ll try and watch more if I can.

          • Cicciabella

            Excuse my ignorance, but what is a chicken puppet?

            Also, would anyone care to report on how the singers did? Alvarez? Westbroek? Racette? And the conducting? How was it?

            • A chicken puppet is a puppet of a chicken. The one used in Pagliacci [SPOILER ALERT!] is designed so that Tonio’s actual right arm works the puppet, and there is a dummy right arm that seems to hold up the chicken.

              The “chicken” leers at Nedda and I think there is some pretense at ventriloquism, i.e. that the chicken is pretending to sing Tonio’s lines. Eventually the puppet is stuffed into a cooking pot.

              The chicken is of course clearly mentioned in the libretto.

            • Quanto Painy Fakor

              Sounds like the MET budget supervisors missed an opportunity to quash the vaudeville chicken. Amazon has rubber chickens on sale for only $7.67 !

            • Cicciabella

              Thanks. I thought it was a semi-technical term for a type of puppet. Colombina asks Taddeo if he’s bought the chicken…Good to know that in this production he did not forget.

            • manou

              A pox on the chicken!

            • It is a truth universally acknowledged that opera audiences, and Parterrians in particular, love a good cockfight.

            • TenorPitcher

              As one might have suspected based upon the casting, the singing wasn’t great, though a couple of the performers surprised me.

              First and foremost, I was pleasantly delighted by Marcelo Álvarez! He lost a bit of steam by the end, but overall it was a much better sound than I was expecting. I still think that pushing his voice in this way won’t be good news in the long run, but for now, it’s quite enjoyable. The rest of the cast, however, didn’t fare so well. I am a huge Westbroek fan and was expecting her Santuzza to be vocally thrilling. Instead I found her performance to be marred by an unconvincing characterization and unusual wobble in her high notes. This surprised me, particularly given her stunning performance earlier this season in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. I almost wondered whether she was under the weather, though no announcement was made. And speaking of wobbles, Racette’s seems to be ever increasing, unfortunately. In what should have been a beautiful duet between Nedda and Silvio, Racette and Meachem combined vocal forces in the most unpleasant of ways, and the two usually charming performers seemed out of their element with their characters. One can hope this will improve as they get more comfortable in the production, though I’ve seen enough tattered performances from Racette lately for me to think that there’s not much hope for the voice at this point. As for Gagnidze, I found his vocal performance to be stronger in the Pag half of the evening, though his voice tends to excite me more in HD transmissions than it does in the house, oddly.

              All in all, I’m sorry to say that I, too, was disappointed with the new production. I’m not opposed to, as someone mentioned earlier, “Broadwayesque” touches, but they need to be done well and make sense within the production. I had the same WTF response to the choreography in Cavalleria Rusticana, but what I found particularly disappointing was the dance/shtick in Pagliacci. There was so much talk by David McVicar of how it was going to be funny (a most exciting prospect!), yet the only laughs I heard the entire evening were canned guffaws from the Met chorus as they were seated onstage, playing the role of the audience. I suspect that more use of the acrobats, whom I quite enjoyed, and less use of Gagnidze and Racette (neither of whom seem to have a sense of comic timing) would have helped in this regard.

              Too bad. I was looking forward to this new production most of all. Such great pieces. Here’s hoping that a stronger cast and a few adjustments can make for a better evening.

            • Of course, the best cockpuppets perform the salto mortale.

            • Cicciabella

              Thank you for the report, TenorPitcher. A pity the Met Cav/Pag is not an qualified success. Particularly sorry to hear that Westbroek was not at her best, but very nice to hear that Álvarez did well in the monster double-role. I took a peak and the Saturday matinee is sold out except for the 400-dollar seats. I hope this is mostly true for the whole run and that New York enjoys the double-bill in spite of the warts.

      • Lohengrin

        See Cav/Pag from Salzburg at YT:

        • armerjacquino

          On the subject of CAV, an old live version of ‘Tu Qui Santuzza’ came up on my itunes shuffle tonight, with Suliotis and A.N Other. It reminded me what a loss it was that she burned out so quickly- it’s just ideal in pretty much every way. Conversational on ‘qui t’aspettavo’ and ‘non vo’, then really delineating the difference between the two ‘debbo parlarti’ before slamming into chest for ‘quella cattiva femmina ti tolse a me’ and breaking your heart with the lyricism of ‘battimi, insultami t’amo e perdono’ with rubato for DAYS.

          Not being necrophiliac here, I don’t think it’s something which has vanished never to return- just paying tribute to how good she was in that brief prime, and feeling sorry that the prime was so brief.

    • almavivante

      This looks absolutely wonderful, and I hope it gets shown in NYC. (That said, the original Hercules in the Haunted World is pretty terrific on its own.)

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Dear Lord, protect Nicole Car’s beautiful talent from harm and may she develop to be an important artist.

    • I see she’s in the ROH schedule for 2015-2016.

      • lyrebird

        And, en route, she’s singing Tatyana in Berlin in May. There’s a joyous youthfulness still in her voice.

        She was btw Marguerite to Michel Fabiano’s Faust earlier this year in Sydney and what a delicious pairing it was, plus big bald Teddy was a surprisingly effective devil.

  • zinka

    Just go to 3:30 and you will know why Leonie SCARED us…..Greatness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 98rsd

      I loved Rysanek as much as the next guy, but it’s annoying when there is a conversation going on and you show up and yell Corelli! Tucker! It’s pretty much all you do here.

      • zinka

        So when you see my name..;do not read it…go to Operas-l with some of the nasty people…..,I do what I no like???/Tough!!!!

  • decotodd

    For antikitschychick — check out the Met’s ’82 LUCIA with Sutherland and Kraus. About as traditional as it gets, but the singing is quite glorious even with Lucia and Edgardo in their late 50s.

    • antikitschychick

      thanks for the suggestion decotodd. I didn’t know Joan sang Lucia into her late 50’s. That is very impressive…then again she’s Joan Sutherland lol.

      • rapt

        Sutherland and Kraus sang it again (last time for her, I believe) 6 years later at the Liceu--clips on YouTube.

        • antikitschychick

          #oldschool #mustache #bigcurls #squillo #Donizetti


          • Also, this:

            • antikitschychick

              well she’s definitely not sounding her best, and Pav has an artificial tan it seems, which is odd…but he’s rocking a nice beard and he sounds great as usual.

              (I’m actually not a huge fan of Alfredo Kraus…I did enjoy him in that old Spanish movie “Gayarre” which someone posted here a while back, and I’m sure he was probably thrilling to hear live, but on video he always sounds kind of nasal to me. #sorry!)

            • armerjacquino

              Antik- come and join me in the quiet corner of people who were too young to see Kraus live and don’t really get it. He always sounds reedy and thin to me on recordings, and I know I’m obviously missing something special.

              (Same applies to Gedda for me, but I know I’d really have to duck down low saying that. In my defence, I first came across him as Ferrando in the Davis COSI, and even his biggest fans say he’s a bit dry and dusty on that one)

            • antikitschychick

              armer says: “come and join me in the quiet corner of people who were too young to see Kraus live and don’t really get it.”

              Me: tip-toes toward corner…:lol:

            • antikitschychick

              smiley fail :oops:

            • steveac10

              “Antik- come and join me in the quiet corner of people who were too young to see Kraus live and don’t really get it.”

              Fear not a few of us who are old enough, and did see him live don’t get it either. Granted it was late career, but I found the voice smallish and nasal and his stage demeanor starchy and uninvolved.

            • lyrebird

              Amerjacquino, he could cut through which wasn’t always easy when you were up against the singing wardrobe.

            • rapt

              Well, for me the effect of music is a mystery. I only saw him once: nasal, check; stiff, check (he was remarkably refined for the bumpkin Nemorino); voice probably smallish, but so was the venue (Comunale in Florence); just looked at my journal from the time, where I sagely noted “display of professionalism” (this was probably the second opera I had ever seen). Yet I thought (and think) he was great, and would chalk it up to “style,” but that term, admittedly, doesn’t get us very far.

            • Krunoslav

              I am just old enough to have seen Gedda and Kraus in their last decade o so of performance and they remain great favorites of mine.

              I think some, indeed many of gedda’s recordings give one the idea

              …but with Kraus you really had to be in the room, since that voice needed ambient resonance. ( Lorengar was somewhat similar, though the recordings are more enjoyable. )

            • “…but with Kraus you really had to be in the room”. Perhaps that’s the nub. I’ve never been keen on his recordings, but heard him sing La Fille du Régiment with June Anderson in Paris and even at that age it was quite a triumph (though she got all the flowers: it mus thave been srpingtime, I seem to remember her slipping on daffodil stems…).

            • la vociaccia

              Ok, well I just spent the last two days experiences kraus related eargasms, so here we go:

            • la vociaccia

              listen to Elvino’s lines at 1:20

            • peter

              I heard Kraus as Werther at the Met in the late 70’s from the Family Circle standing room and in his opening aria I was struck by the elegance of his singing. I was hooked after that.I heard him sing a lot of bel canto but I think his voice and style were particularly suited to the French repertoire:

            • rapt

              Well, if nothing else works, peryhaps this tug at the heartstrings will win them over…

        • manou

          I saw Sutherland and Bergonzi sing Lucia at Covent Garden -- combined ages over 120.

          • Tubsinger

            I know this won’t show up in the right place, but I feel exactly as Steve does about Kraus: I did see him (as Werther, not in the prime of his youth) and have listened to several recordings. Far less versatile than Gedda (to whom he’s being compared here in some contexts), Kraus’s voice, to my ears, far less enjoyable. I know he had legions of fans, and critics loved him much of the time--but I never “got” it. Dry, nasal, stiff…

            • Fritz

              Alfredo Kraus master class. The “tenor” at 3:20 is un-freaking-believable.

            • phoenix

              Another example of what I find to be a flaw in the THREAD system used on this site and others. It’s impossible to pinpoint a reply directly to someone in the long lined threads without using my limited explanatory capabilities & try to pinpoint or reiterate their original comment. At any rate, this is one of my remembrances of things long past: a reply to Krunoslav’s comment above on the recorded vs. live in-house audial qualities of the late and great singers Gedda, Kraus & Lorengar.
              -- Agree with you, kruno. Of all of them, Gedda recorded best: on recordings, he sounded very much like he did in-house. In spite of the unusually bright tone, he had excellent technique, maintained a full, even-scaled, refulgent tone into late career. Here he is in his mid-50’s in Warszawa:

              -- Kraus and Lorengar both had compelling personalities -which in-live performance swayed the audiences as much as their singing. I’ve written this before, but Kraus in the early 1960’s was one of the handsomest men I ever met. All he had to do was walk onstage and the audience was mesmerized. Like Gedda, he was an excellent singer, probably even more of a musician in his own distinctive way. As someone else noted above, Kraus’s elegant phrasing put him in a class of his own -- something he maintained into late career, despite the ravages of age and poor health. In his prime & with perfect pitch the tone had plenty of beauty & ambience, perfectly balanced.
              -- Of all the singers I ever saw onstage and met off, Pilar Lorengar had the most irresistibly magnetic ROMANTIC persona of them all. She was also one of the moodiest & subjectively temperamental individuals I ever encountered. There are lots of stories, but it doesn’t really matter anymore -- what is most important is the memory of her great performances onstage. Very few performers in the course of an evening’s performance can achieve what she did with only a glance or a movement of her shoulders, but the most amazing thing was her instinctive spontaneity -- nothing appeared to be contrived for any specific affect -- and it wasn’t -- often colleagues had to work around her innovations. In the 1960’s, she had the purest lyric tone of anyone around, but by the 1970’s her tone had become a bit frayed & the voice did not record very well in live performance. Her best audio recordings are from the studio (my favorite are the studio Dvorák works and her Tu che le vantia’). Onstage, she always seemed to be pre-occupied with becoming the role.
              -- Yes, kruno, from 1970’s onward they both needed more ‘ambient resonance’, but remember, they both once had it in spades.

            • tatiana

              A note to phoenix (a couple of posts down, talking about the thread flaws--for some reason I couldn’t reply directly underneath)-- Gedda is still with us.

            • I didn’t hear either live. Gedda was Mr. Versatility and Kraus famously reduced his repertoire to a few select roles (like Schwarzkopf). So yes, on the versatility front, Gedda wins hands down.

              As for the voices themselves, I think Gedda had the more “inoffensive” tone but it could also be bland. Mind you, I quite like his voice (except for things like Puccini; his Pinkerton opposite Callas is a turn-off) but it wasn’t particularly glamorous.

              Kraus had the more distinctive tone and more squillo and “texture” to the voice. I can see people not liking the vocal quality but I sure did.

              A quality they shared was their elegance and their stylish French singing.

            • armerjacquino

              phoenix- interesting that you should say that Lorengar was best heard in the studio, as the received wisdom states the opposite. I’m with you, though- having heard various live recordings as well as her studio TRAV, it was in her ‘Gluck, das mir verblieb’ from the ‘Prima Donna in Vienna’ album that I finally heard the famous ‘shimmer’. It’s truly exquisite singing.

      • lyrebird

        Just because:

        She may be 56 but in the house you saw the voice and it was a lot more lassie than grandmother. As one comment says, check out 2:25 …

        • antikitschychick

          hence why I have knighted her as Joan Otherland :-D.

    • The Met video was my intro to Lucia and it still holds a special place in my heart. It should be said that Sutherland transposed the cavatina of the mad scene by a full tone lower than the traditional key (not the original key). But she sang it like buttah. Kraus was in better voice overall. And then, there are those ovations! As a teen, I would sit and just watch Sutherland take her curtain calls (no, I wasn’t the cool kid in highschool — lol).

    • luvtennis

      Winner, winner, Chicken (puppet) dinner!

      I think the biggest challenge today is how to fill a stage when all but a very few singers lack the physical AND vocal AND musical charisma to focus an audience’s attention.

      We have a significant number of game, artistically sensitive, good singers who will do what the composer asks and are totally committed to the production. I am not so sure we have that many riveting artists who can command a stage with the presence of their voices snd personalities.

      And if the singers cannot fill the stage, then the director must find other ways of doing so (we are not talking concepts or regie -- I am talking the basics -- keeping the audience interested and focused on stage between act endings.)

      Thinking back to the time of La Cieca’s Cosi, the Ponnelle(?) Tristan (that can be seen on DvD) with Johanna Meier, Kollo and Hanna S. is for me SUBLIME visually but it works because the two female leads are absolutely riveting vocally and visually -- Meier is like a prima ballerina in (on?) Xtasy and Hanna is her usual incredible self.

      By contrast, a relatively recent production like the Copenahagen Ring -- despite all the stage business -- fails because the singers do not command attention.

      And it seems that stillness is a lost art in our lost art.

      • antikitschychick

        great post luv and I agree with your assessment of the contemporary crop of performers, except I would add that the scarcity as to riveting performances is limited to certain rep, as opposed to being an across-the board-type malady. Think the rep that is suffering is the heavier Verdi and Puccini rep.

        Currently, we do have some amazing Wagner and Rossini singers (and we’ve had great Lucias and Violettas in the last decades also) that are not only vocal prodigies but can also command the stage with the presence of their voices and personalities, but when it comes to roles like Aida, Tosca, Otello, and the (figuratively) big bel canto heroines, there’s definitely a void there. True, we have Sondra’s assumption of the Donizetti Tudor Queens to look forward to, and I’ll certainly be rooting for her…but on the men’s side, there is a very, very small number of tenors and baritones that can sing those heavier roles without coming to grief, plus the Italian school of singing/tradition seems to be dying down, and opera houses there are struggling financially and that’s a real shame. Otot, we have many Eastern European, American and some Latin American singers making strides, which is great :-). This is definitely a period of change and transition though.

      • Not to take anything away from that superb Tristan, but I don’t think it’s quite fair to hold performers in a repertory performance to the same standards as can be attained at Bayreuth, with a full rehearsal period and a long series of performances each summer for (in this case) three summers in a row.

  • antikitschychick

    here’s a nice NT Times piece by Mr. Wolfe, with some fun and interesting historical bits about Cav/Pag and it’s genesis as a double bill (didn’t know that tradition started at the Met)…

    Also of interest:
    Mr. Kaufmann, who appeared in a new McVicar production of “Andrea Chénier” in London in January, released a disc of verismo arias in 2011, and the soprano Anna Netrebko follows with her own later this year, so opera’s two biggest stars are on board.

    Mr. Gelb said that Ms. Netrebko would bring Cilea’s “Adriana Lecouvreur” (1902) to the Met in a coming season in a production directed by — who else? — Mr. McVicar.”

    This is great news. Some of us have been saying that she should record a Verismo album and now we have proof that it’s happening; yay :-).

    Now, if only SHE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED would get a move on and record her album too…then all will be right in the universe :green: :-P.

    Oh and Luisi’s comments were pretty hilarious as well I thought.

    • antikitschychick

      whoops, its :mrgreen:.

  • zinka

    You two missed your profession!!!!!

  • almavivante

    I’m not sure which thread it was in, but someone described the current final perfs of Aida as “Death on the Nile.” Now, I love Aida, and no matter what others of the cher public have said, I love the Met’s Aida, but even I’m avoiding this cast (particularly the inexcusable Barking Berti) like the biblical plague. Out of morbid curiosity, I checked ticket availability and for tonight’s perf, DC, Balc and FC are all sold out. It would seem that the Met doesn’t care how badly cast (or in this case conducted) Aida is, as long as it sells. Like Boheme, the production itself is a cash cow.

    • Yeah, Verdi doesn’t have a damn thing to do with it.

    • LT

      I wonder what percentage of the ticket sales is due to the name of the conductor.

  • almavivante

    About the poor Aida casting: I recall James Levine saying some years back, before the recent revivals of Puritani, “And then there’s our lovely production of Puritani, which we can’t cast.” Well, the Met keeps giving us Aida, with whatever singers they are able to engage. Honest question to our doyenne and the cher public: Does a first-class Aida cast exist in 2015?

    • Yes, casting Puritani has always been at the top of Levine’s list of priorities.

      • almavivante

        Sad but true.

    • antikitschychick

      Well, almavivante, you raise an interesting question, and in my humble opinion, for the purposes of a recording, I think the cast that was assembled in Rome and led by Pappano was an A-list cast, except, I’d substitute Semenchuk with Elina Garanca or Jamie Barton, or possibly Anita R. This is not to say that Ms. Semenchuk was subpar, its more based on personal preferences of mine and again I only heard an in-house amateur recording, but based on that it was audible that Anja struggled with the highest notes, which was mentioned in a couple of reviews I also read, but she was otherwise outstanding and sang with incredible pathos and beautiful phrasing. Jonas might not have the power & heft of a Corelli or a Vickers, but he sings a more musically nuanced Radames than many of his colleagues, and for that alone I think his performance is satisfactory, at least on record. Papanno is a of course a great conductor and the orchestra & chorus of Santa Cecilia is also excellent.

      For the purposes of a staged performance with a cast of singers who currently have all the requisite roles in their rep, well, that’s a different animal and I think my fellow posters who have more live-opera going experience might be more qualified to address this…albeit I’ve seen Aida live at FGO and at the Met with reputable casts and conductors so I do have some points of comparison.

      If we’re talking absolute dream team in terms of achieving the best dramatic performance, I would cast either AN as Aida (DUH), Michael Fab as Radames, Glammyla as Amneris, Dmitri Belosselskiy or Rene Pape as the high Priest, Solomon Howard as the King of Egypt and Stephanie Blythe as Amonasro :-P. Or Zelko Lucic…or maybe Quinn Kelsey.

      Now, I realize I am not taking into consideration things like vocal fach and age, but in 5-6 years time I don’t see why it can’t happen, at least in theory. First of all, Michael Fab is still young, true, but he recently disclosed in that interview manou shared with us that he plans to sing all the major/heroic Verdi tenor roles, which would presumably include Radames. Moreover he seems to have to a considerably large voice that carries well, so he might be able to take on the heavier roles sooner than Jonas did, i.e in less than a decade. Plus he has the requisite italianita and squillo for Radames…:-D.

      Re: the Amneris, after having watched the Cav from Salzburg, I am convinced that Glammyla is far more suited to the role of Amneris than Aida. In fact I’d venture to say it might be one of her best roles period. She has also said in interviews she feels more drawn to that character, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been offered to her by some houses here in the US. If I were her I’d throw caution to the wind a la AN, drop Aida and take on Amneris. Sure it’d be a risk, but it could also be a great opportunity for her to work on her lower register and it would spare her having to make every major debut in a role she can certainly sing but is ill-suited to dramatically. Also, any excuse to have her and AN in the same opera is a worthy cause imho. Surely the Met would have a field day (or a field season!) with all the press from the protests that would surely ensue ;-).
      So that’s my 2 cents on that. :mrgreen:

      • almavivante

        Yes, Rene Pape as the high priest occurred to me, too. Yes to Jonas, too, though I’d really like for Alagna to take another stab at Radames. As much as I admire Stephanie Blythe…okay, hate me for saying it, but can you really picture this full-figured girl as glamourpuss AN’s rival? It would be like the Don Carlo where Dmitri shows Elisabetta the picture of Carlo in the first act and he turns out to be Johan Botha--she’s going to swoon for big Botha after seeing Dmitri? Not gonna happen. I’d prefer Sondra as Aida; I saw the one perf she did at the Met and liked it, but then--so shoot me--I do like Sondra in spite of (or maybe because of) some of the idiosyncracies in her voice. WAIT! I just reread your post: Stephanie as Amonasro? Oooh, you naughty thing, you!

        • antikitschychick

          haha glad you noticed that… yeah…well I was mostly joking but, in actuality she is more of an alto than a mezzo me thinks, so a lower tessitura would suit her. Also, let’s not throw shade at poor Botha…yes he’s a big dude but he’s got a hell of a voice. He’s like one of 3 guys that can actually sing Otello (the other two being Antonenko and Jonas). For that alone I’d cut the guy a break.

          Have to disagree about Alagna as Radames. Although he had good stage presence in the HD with Glammyla, and was very good in the duet with Amneris, I don’t think his use of falsetto was appropriate and he sounded dry and coarse in various other parts. Think he’s great in other rep, not just French rep, but I think his voice is too lyrical and soft-grained for Radames.

          • I wouldn’t say “soft-grained” these days.

          • I didn’t mind Alagna’s falsetto. My problem was that even on the PBS broadcast (with the opportunity for editing and splicing in from other performances), they couldn’t put together something that didn’t have him on the verge of complete disaster. The role just isn’t for him.

            • antikitschychick

              hi Kashie :-). Well I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was on the verge of complete disaster, but he did come to grief in Act IV duet with Aida, and then by the tomb scene he just couldn’t sing softly in full voice so he switched to falsetto. It also didn’t help that Glammyla was gliding effortlessly through her part, to the point of being uninvolved really, and just letting out pianissimo after gorgeous pianissimo without breaking a sweat; that probably made him look and sound more labored than he would have opposite other current Aidas, except maybe Radvanovsky…I remember at one point he squeezed LMs upper arm while trying to hit that highest note during the duet in fear that he wouldn’t reach it perhaps,…or maybe he was hoping some of that effortlessness would transfer over :-P.

            • nachEule

              I agree with those who point out that bovine epithets for singers are best left to those of us raised in a barn. But I think some are in it merely to make hay until the cows come home. (Oh, wait, is that a mixed metaphor? Not unlike the alarmingly varied definitions of antikitschychick’s “rug moonger”) ;-)

            • nachEule

              Woops, wrong place for above comment — meant for cow string below!

          • I wouldn’t call Alagna’s voice “soft-grained.” It has a bright metallic edge to it. I don’t think Radames is his role but I also think that during the time of the HD he was going through a rough vocal patch. It was close to the time of his concert Andrea Chenier which was the true disaster.

            • antikitschychick

              Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I don’t think his voice is generally soft-grained, I meant that it’s too soft-grained for Radames. I think that role requires more hefty and “brassy” sound than he has…and I don’t disagree his upper register sounds bright and that he prob has nice squillo, but the tonal quality is not right for the role… and I will concede that he may have indeed been going through a rough vocal patch at that time…if you concede that LM had an off night when you went to go see her :-P.

            • I concede nothing. “Glammyla” has a great voice but has all the charisma of a cow except the cow probably has better diction.

            • armerjacquino

              Bit unpleasant. She’s not much of an actor but she’s not totally lacking in stage presence. There was a certain camp fun about her Lady M which wouldn’t have arisen with a singer totally lacking in charisma.

            • manou

              “The brindled cow
              Has taken up
              A Kreisler theme in G…”

            • antikitschychick

              Unpleasant indeed considering I was obviously joking. I have no qualms with you not thinking she has good stage presence, as you are entitled to your own opinion but there is no need to compare her to a cow.

            • manou

              It’s a moot point.

            • Batty Masetto

              The cow comparison was udderly indefensible, but let’s not milk the issue. That would be cheesy.

            • antikitschychick

              …@Batty: not to mention cowardly ;-).

            • manou


            • Batty Masetto

              Manou, I’m still ruminating on your last comment. Could you rennet by me again?

            • manou

              I thought I had it down pat.

            • Batty Masetto

              I still fail to get to the marrow of your argument. It behoofs us to treat this with all seriousness. There’s so much at steak.

            • manou

              What’s your beef? We are only amoosing ourselves.

            • Cicciabella

              Bravi, manou and Batty. But could we perhaps stop comparing singers to cows, horses and other livestock?

            • Batty Masetto

              Well, I guess I will just have to butt out and vent my spleen elsewhere.

            • manou

              Ciccia -- you are kind and absolutely right. Nobody wants the feelings of livestock to be hurt.

            • nachEule

              Oh manou and Batty Masetto: Do not let them dis-suede you! Your wordplay is udderly delightful — it behooves you to keep on until you’ve milked it dry!

            • manou

              Kuh! New blood. Now we can mucca bout.

            • Cowmyla has a nice ring to it. Or Bovimyla.

            • antikitschychick

              @Ciccia: what a salient proposition. Beats acting like a bunch of rug moongers for sure.

              (for manou: :-P).

            • I think if the Don Carlo of last Saturday proved anything, it’s that the Met needs a better farm team.

            • manou

              I am not going to be cowed by the neighsayers.

            • Low.

            • antikitschychick

              @manou lowe that; we should move on before someone hits a new low.

            • manou

              Let’s moove on to this:


            • DeepSouthSenior

              At least no one has stooped so low as to compare the sound of certain singers to bovine flatulence.

        • I’m quite an Alagna fan but I just don’t think Radames works for him. Yes, Kaufmann would be great.

          Radvanovsky was already a good Aida when she sang it here in Toronto a few years ago but she has since fixed her pitch problems and is at her peak. Yes, she’d be great.

          Amneris is a tough one. But how about Semenchuck? Borodina and Blythe don’t have the high notes. Gubanova strikes me as a bit light for the part plus she doesn’t have the temperament. Or, why not give Jamie Barton a shot at the part?? She’d probably rock it.

          • armerjacquino

            I think Garanca is going to be an amazing Amneris. The voice is huge, and her ‘icy’ temperament (which I think is overstated, tbh) would be great for the first three acts. Come Act IV, I just have a suspicion she’d surprise people. It would be hard to play that big scene without touching the sides.

            • antikitschychick

              I totally get what you’re coming from but see, if she’s already known as “icy” then how is it that she’s going to surprise people with her icy rendition of Amneris? I mean do think that she’d be good in the role but I don’t think it’d be surprising at all, given her natural temperament onstage.

              Also, I just realized who the obvious best current candidate for Amneris would be…

              surely it’s Guleghina!!!! :idea: she’s got the big, loud chest so zinka would approve, and she’s got the requisite old school grandeur…plus she’s in good shape, so there won’t be any comparisons to larger-than-life tenors :-D. There. Mystery solved.

            • antikitschychick

              sorry that should have said *where you’re coming from lol.

            • antikitschychick

              oh wait, missed your comment about Act IV. Sowie lol. So you’re saying she wouldn’t be icy in Act IV and that would surprise people…maybe but, the judgement scene is calls for very emotive, singing, almost with a sort of abandon, and she’s very cerebral in her approach so idk. But she has said she’d love to sing it so maybe with a good director she’d really let lose and surprise us. Guess we shall see in a few years.

            • armerjacquino

              Guleghina is an exciting idea, but the spectre of Dimitrova’s bafflingly dull Amneris looms large. I’ve said it before, but when I was a student in Rome I saw Dimitrova as Amneris and I can’t remember a damn thing about it.

              The Aida that night was Nina Rautio, who gets a bad press around here because apparently she had some poor Met nights- but my god she was wonderful in that performance.

            • Gualtier M

              Guleghina has weak chest (Zinka has complained about it) -- but I would like to hear her as Eboli. No Amneris for her. Semenchuk, Barton and possibly Garanca. I heard Garanca’s recital “Romantique” where she takes on Dalila, Sapho (Gounod) and also bel canto arias. She actually is deadly dull in the Vaccai “Giulietta e Romeo” but thrilling in the more dramatic pieces -- Berlioz, Tchaikovsky et al. The voice seems to want to expand and has vocal and theatrical impact. But I think Garanca would really clean up as Eboli in the French “Don Carlos”.

              Also Anna Smirnova was a disappointing Eboli in the premiere of the Hytner “Don Carlo” production at the Met. However, she was incredibly improved when she returned in the role in Spring 2013. She has a huge dramatic mezzo and is doing Amneris all over. The Met definitely needs to find a new generation of Verdi mezzos.

            • antikitschychick

              oh wait, Dimitrova sang Ameneris?? and it was dull?? I didn’t know that. Dang that definitely does raise some doubts…I still have zero doubts about Glammyla though since she’s way campier than Dimitrova and Guleghina put together; to be sure, her performance could be many things, but dull is not one of them I don’t think. That Macbeth she did in Berlin with Domingo, Villazon, Pape et al, which I was told would be released on DVD, takes the cake for ultimate campfest in opera lol.

            • antikitschychick

              Gualtier says: “Guleghina has weak chest…”

              She didn’t when I heard her sing Abigaile live at FGO. The low notes she sings right when she enters were huuuuge. I know as I was sitting in the last row since I got to the performance late lol. But seriously, those low notes were probably the most impressive part of her entire performance. Just sayin.

            • LT

              Yes, she alternated both roles in one run. She was let’s say quite a disinterested Amneri. But you know who was heard above all in the ensembles. :D

              Regardless, I find this duet stirring.

            • LT

              Sorry, wrong video

            • figaroindy

              Antikitschychick, I saw the FGO Nabucco, too, and am glad you qualified that the low notes were the best part of Guleghina’s performance -- the top notes were less attractive for sure! Talk about splatter!

          • RosinaLeckermaul

            I don’t think Radames takes a big, brassy sound. Bergonzi sang the role successfully for decades. One of the major weaknesses in recent Met Aidas was the result of thinking that loudness was the first criterion for a decent Radames. As a result we’ve had a lot of indecent performances of the role — like the recent Sirius broadcast

            • antikitschychick

              well, see I didn’t mean ‘big’ or loud either. Many tenors can create a loud sound or the impression of having a loud voice that doesn’t really resonate much. What I meant was that the overall tonal quality has to have more weight that carries from the bottom to to the top so that all the registers are evenly projected, and that’s what creates the reverberating effect, much like a trumpet. Brassy is a term I associate with vocal color as much as vocal weight; think the two go hand in hand. Tenors with lighter voices (i.e. lighter, less brassy sounding tones) like Alagna can certainly be loud, and can hit all the notes but they also tend to sound dry and pushed because the voice just doesn’t have that natural resonance. Anyway, that’s just my personal opinion. I’m sure many ppl enjoy Alagna’s Radames and that’s fine.

        • Ned Ludd

          I am confused by the Don Carlo reference: in Act I of the five-act version, Elisabetta realizes that the Spanish courtier she encounters in the forest is actually Don Carlo when he shows her *his own* portrait. Rodrigo, whom the audience hasn’t met yet, doesn’t show it to her. Am I missing something?

          But I have seen DC with Botha and DH. I remember being struck by the larger point: as between a somewhat charmless DC and the magnetic DH as Rodrigo, it was challenging to maintain belief in the responses of Elisabetta and Eboli to DC.

        • Krunoslav

          “It would be like the Don Carlo where Dmitri shows Elisabetta the picture of Carlo in the first act and he turns out to be Johan Botha--she’s going to swoon for big Botha after seeing Dmitri? Not gonna happen.”

          Indeed it’s not, since it is Carlos himself (and not Rodrigue, back in Spain) who has come to Fontanebleau to check out his fiancée and shows Elisabeth the miniature of himself.

  • Buster

    Lucky I did not get front row seats for Konwitschny’s La Juive:

    • manou

      Maybe one day they will sing it in French.

      • LT

        Manou, did you attend the ROH season announcement?

        • manou

          Yes I did -- and I learnt quite a few very interesting details, including the fact that JDF will be singing Orphée to open the season.

    • Buster

      Manou, there are two casts, the other one has Jean-Pierre Furlan in the lead, and the wonderful Gal James. I agree Sacca’s French is horrendous, and he bleats away as usual.

      • manou

        Hi Buster -- yes I saw Furlan (and his wonderful méridional accent) in the clip. Which cast are you going to see further away from the front row? Do not forget to wear gloves, and please report.

        Of course one is looking forward to Bieito getting his hands on the BSO(?)La Juive.

        • Buster

          JP and Gal James, Manou. Like Phoenix, I love Grigorian too, saw her in Wozzeck and Bluebeard’s Castle, but I probably won’t make it twice there, I am afraid.

      • phoenix

        Buster, thanks for posting the clip -- it premiered on the 14th of April (1st cast) and there was a performance yesterday with the 2nd cast. I only found one review (in Vlaams), which predictably only critiqued Konwitschny & the production negatively -- no mention at all of any of the musical values in this particular performance he witnessed, nothing of the singers or conducting.
        -- I would go to see both casts if I were over there. Asmik Grigorian is a favorite of mine. Here she is from last November at Kungligan Operan Stockholm:

  • Suzhou Kun Opera Troupe comes to New York, Los Angeles and the SF Bay Area:

    They will be performing three excerpts from “The Peony Pavilion”. Performance time should be around 90-100 minutes, plus extra for speechifying and/or intermission. Suzhou is a historical center of Kun Opera performance.

    They will appear in New York at the Miller Theater this Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are free. Information on the perfomance is here.

    On Saturday, April 25 at 2 p.m. they will be performing at the Baldwin Center for the Performing Arts in the Los Angeles area. Tickets (not free) and more information here.

    On Sunday, April 26 at 7 p.m., they will perform at the Oshman Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto (tickets and info here.

    On Tuesday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m., they will perform at the Music Recital Hall at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara. Tickets and info here.

    Anyone interested in more information about the singers or the scenes being performed can leave word for me here, or contact me at ninedragonspot (AT) aol (DOT) com.

  • Am discovering Ann Hallenberg’s new Agrippina CD. Track 5 is simply bonkers.

    • Crikey, so is track 6.

    • Hippolyte

      It’s not released in the US until next week. My copy is (apparently) on a slow boat from the UK.

      • I have, literally, never heard anything like track 5. Does she never need to breathe?

      • Apparently it’s on Spotify.

    • Tamerlano

      It is utterly glorious! Track 5 rivals Genaux’s “qual guerriero in campo armato”. And the technique is just astonishing.

    • Track 5 is amazing. Julia Lezhneva does a pretty good job with it too!

      Live version:

      Studio version (with other lyrics):

    • Cicciabella

      Spectacular CD. Fortunately for fans of the genre, there is currently no shortage of great baroque singers and conductors.

  • Cicciabella

    Speaking of which, tomorrow, 18 April at 12:30 CET, a live HD webcast from the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, of Vivaldi’s La fida ninfa (in concert):


    La Cetra, Barockorchester Basel
    Andrea Marcon (conductor)
    María Espada (soprano)
    Roberta Invernizzi (soprano)
    Romina Basso (mezzo-soprano)
    Franziska Gottwald (mezzo-soprano)
    Topi Lehtipuu (tenor)
    Carlos Mena (countertenor)
    Ismael Arroniz (bass)
    Luca Tittoto (bass)

  • zinka

    “Hello,mom,” said Jan Kiepura Jr.(by cell phone) in Piotr’s dressing room. It was about 2 years ago, and the legendary Martha Eggerth,born Apr.17, 1912, answered her son… It was as close as I came to this wonderful lady!!!!

  • umangialaio

    Parsifal/Cerniakov/Barenboim in video live streaming from Tattasoper Berlin in 45 minutes at:


    • umangialaio

      Staatsoper, not Tattasoper…


    • Batty Masetto

      Not available in the US :(

  • phoenix

    IS still up and running, not affected by the French strike? France Musique is only airing canned music & hasn’t broadcast any live concerts for quite awhile now.
    -- Is this up & available in UK?

  • zinka


    For what seems like a century, one of my best friends, who may require earplugs, seems to feel we should hide our heads in vergogna if we rave over a LOUD voice, and I keep telling him that among my beloved singers,who do not remind me of Eva Turner,or Mario del Monaco,are such as Kraus,Valletti,Schipa,Sayao,probably Muzio and Favero, and who knows who might be souped-up on old recordings, but they had style and emotion, and technique.
    I think of all the audiences over many years who carried on at the Nilsson/Corelli Turandots, those Elektras, the Tebaldi everythings,etc. Should we deny what these audiences have seen and how they reacted?
    Does this mean that a lovely soprano like Rebecca Evans, who made Zerlina such a joy, or a beautifully-projected Sills voice, not surely Gwyneth Jones, or Cesare Valletti singing “Del cabello mas sutil” and other non-Guleghina voices,are not in their way, marvelous artists?
    On the negative side, we have all heard humongous voices that cause us to say,”please shut up!” We have also heard voices that have little or no projection in the theatre,like that soprano years ago whose Traviata letter was spoken in Braille.(My favorite put-down.)
    I would say that 95% of the many artists I hav e heard live are totally satisfactory, whether or not their voices are large or small, but they project!
    Therefore, my quiet and reserved buddy might thrill to Semele, which is a fine work, but I still want to be uplifted by those 1966 Fraus.
    Nothing wrong with loving Piotr Beczala’s Lenski AND Giacomo Lauri-Volpi’s Huguenots!!!
    Love Carlo, big Cornell MacNeil AND Ted Uppmann fan!

    • stevey


      I have long wanted to ask you about someone, as I value and respect your thoughts and opinions in regards to the world of opera immensely. I appreciate your love for the singers of The Past (you will note the capital letters), people who I (born in the late 70’s) can’t even hope to appreciate the greatness of. Indeed, years ago, I submitted to you a request for a podcast of Verdi ensembles, and you responded with a podcast which I still cherish to this day.

      That being said, I am wondering your opinion of Lianna Haroutounian, our most recent ‘Don Carlos’ Elisabetta, and soon-to-be ‘Boccanegra’ Amelia.
      I love everything I hear her in- she reminds me of singers such as Tomowa-Sintow- a dying breed of true ‘lirico-drammatico’s’. Here are a few clips of her- the ‘Ballo’ Amelia and the final ‘Don Carlos’ duet with Jonas K.

      To me, she’s immensely exciting. I love anybody that can either cut through, or carry over, such wonderful music….

      (but what do I know???)

      Best regards, as ever. :-)

  • Flora del Rio Grande

    stevey -- I’d say you know plenty as regards Anna Tomawa Sentow.
    I heard her Donna Anna early on and she was superb — thrilling and
    stylish. Then soon again I heard her live, sing ‘Ernani involarmi’
    as a single selection in a gala concert -- and she was breathtaking; then
    Violetta . . . and so on and on. She was all over the place for quite a few
    years and got good notices, but not much more than good. I could never
    understand that; I thought she was waaaaay above ‘good’ and said so in my
    own writing. I found her technically superior and surprisingly nuanced in
    a wide German and Italian repertory. I share all Charlie’s good vibes for
    her and want to say here I respected AT-S’s art and revere her memory among
    the very few best of her class.

    • stevey

      Flora, I’m so happy to have gotten your attention, and thank you for responding to my post.

      In regards to Anna T-S, I totally agree, but there’s another (this time, Croatian) soprano whose singing I always found undervalued, at least as far as my untrained ears are concerned.

      Now, I KNOW that some of the ‘cher publique’ (‘public’??) on here will have some thoughts on this that will hopefully help to enlighten me, as this particular lady did have a comparatively substantial Met career so, that being said…. what are my more learned brethren (and sistren)’s thoughts on Ljiljana Molnar-Talajic???

      Here she is in three excerpts- ‘Pace, pace’ from ‘Forza’, the ‘Ballo’ Amelia scena, and ‘O patria mia’ from ‘Aida’… in each, I am left DEEPLY impressed with what I hear.

      What’s the story, then, with her???

      With many thanks, in advance, for whatever comments and elucidation in general!

      Ljiljana Molnar-Talajic:




      Best wishes to all, as ever and always!