Cher Public

Tired business, man

On this day in 1955 the legendary flop musical Ankles Aweigh opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater, inspiring Walter Kerr to write in the New York Herald Tribune, “Some of us have been campaigning lately for a return to the old fashioned, slam-bang, gags-and-girls musical comedy. Some of us ought to be shot.”

Born on this day in 1819 composer Franz von Suppé

Born on this day in 1882 conductor Leopold Stokowski

Born on this day in 1899 conductor Zdenek Chalabala

Born on this day in 1910 soprano Sylvia Fisher

Happy 83rd birthday soprano Nadezda Kniplova

Happy 81st birthday tenor George Shirley

Happy 69th birthday tenor Robin Leggate

Happy 67th birthday soprano Catherine Malfitano

  • Lady Abbado

    Nel Villaggio d’Edgar

  • Bluebeard

    Regarding Don Carlo Wednesday. I wasn’t sure if there was a discussion of the opera, so i thought i’d pitch in. On the whole, it was fine, but rarely more than a “professional” performance.

    I remember loving this production when it premiered, but it has gotten so dull lately. Talk about the importance of having the original director present. Anyway, starting with the familiars. I always think Furlanetto does excellent work, yet oddly I found him much more moving two years ago. Despite how much I didn’t like Maazel’s work then, the start of the fourth act through the grand inquisitor was overpowering, whereas it merely felt like going through the rounds this time. Maybe I miss Halfvarson’s hunched over Inquisitor. Morris simply sang it and nothing more to me.

    As you probably know, Yonghoon was sick and pulled out after three valiant acts. Tamura stepped in. It was unfortunate to see the youthful, athletic Lee and then the much larger and ill at ease Tamura. In terms of the voice, it’s big and a bit rough, not exactly right for a role that demands sustaining gorgeous line after line. I’d imagine he’d be better in some verismo roles, but Carlo is not a good use of his talents.

    I’m surprised at how much I liked Salsi, after the complaints about his Lucia earlier this season. Not the most charismatic baritone, but he was deeply involved, and he handled the challenges of the part better than Hvorostovsky in 2013 and was clearly audible (unlike when I saw Keenlyside in the Family Circle a few years back0. Krasteva was good on the whole. I didn’t get to see Gubanova, but Krasteva did well enough. She uses so much chest voice in the lower register (often to thrilling effect), but it clearly impacts her upper register which is nowhere near as powerful.

    The opposite problem might be said of the soprano Lianna Haroutounian, who I thought was fantastic. Her middle voice was gorgeous, but this is a voice that likes to be high. The upper register is simply massive. It struck me that Haroutounian isn’t a dramatic soprano, so much as a big lyric soprano. She simply breezed through this music unlike anybody I’ve heard at the Met lately. She also knows how to use her (somewhat brittle) chest voice well, the “la pace dell’avel” section was just terrifying. Regardless, what a relief to hear a soprano who, at the end of it, would seem able to sing it all over again.

    Out of all the covers that night, there was no doubt that Haroutounian was the one who should be doing this entire run. I’m just surprised she hasn’t been asked to sing the entire run of Boccanegra next season yet. It’s hard to think of a more ideal voice for that part right now, and the Met should get her now for just about any opera for which they need a strong, reliable voice. It’d be great to hear her in Boccanegra, Butterfly, Trovatore, Pagliacci, Boheme, and more!

    • armerjacquino

      Talk about the importance of having the original director present.

      I hate to be stagey, but where DON CARLO is concerned I think it’s worth mentioning what an extraordinary director Nick Hytner is. I have been lucky enough to work with him, and he gets the best out of anyone in front of him because he knows how to give notes. It chimes in with what La Cieca was saying- a production without its original director is not that director’s production. That DON CARLO without Nick is just some sets and costumes. I have a suspicion that when people talk about how Poplavskaya, for all her vocal ups and downs, was at her best as Elisabetta it may have had something to do with spending a lot of time with a top quality director. It’s something which isn’t mentioned as much here in the discussions about productions as it could be- that a good director will not only make a singer act better, he’ll make her SING better, because she will be certain of what she needs to express.

      • Bluebeard

        I absolutely agree. I’ve loved Hytner’s work before, including the first run of this production. Without him, it’s so dull frankly.

        FYI, after all the recent discussions of Fabiano and Poliuto, I’m sure people will be interested in the current broadcast of the Callas/Corelli Poliuto from La Scala 1960 on wkcr: https://www.cc-seas.columbia.edu/wkcr/story/donizettis-poliuto-saturday-night-opera

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        That’s absolutely right ArmerJ, and I’d add that the singer might sing better not just because she’s sure of what she needs to express, but also because an inspiring director will take her mind off the singing altogether.

      • Camille

        I think you have probably put your finger on the pulse of that one in a most accurate manner, i.e., Poplavskaya, except that her acting as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin was, I felt, altogether exceptional as well and there was not that same one on one Personenregie with the director in that case, was there?

        However, I did miss her very much the other night and remembered well what she was able to accomplish in that fearsome Act V scene. It was really something I’ll always remember and a wonderful realization of that very difficult scene, which almost never comes off well.

    • parpignol

      totally agree about Haroutounian, extraordinary voice, beautifully suited to Elisabetta, and I don’t understand how the Met can be using her just to cover Frittoli for this run (as I suppose); just doesn’t make sense; and someone else the Met should be signing up whenever he might be free: Andris Nelsons conducted a spectacular performance of Mahler’s 6th at Carnegie Hall Friday with the BSO. . .

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        I don’t agree about Haroutounian. Thrilling though her huge and very reliable top is, I think the weakness of the middle is too pronounced and a bit of a problem. Normally I have no tolerance for people calling singers ‘inaudible’ but she is the one singer I’ve seen in a major house where there were real audibility issues, during passages in her middle voice. She also did tire significantly as Elisabetta at the ROH -- it’s good to hear that she’s been able to address that, at least.

        • LT

          I didn’t think she had inaudibility issues at all.

          You can hear an in-house recording here

        • parpignol

          I’m actually remembering her ROH Elisabetta, don’t remember issues of audibility at ROH, and I thought she was at her best in the last act with Kaufmann--

          • armerjacquino

            As CK implies, people complaining about inaudibility is one of his betes noire. That being the case, if he says he couldn’t hear her, I’m pretty sure he couldn’t hear her…

            • parpignol

              of course we could have been at different performances (I think Haroutounian subbed in for Harteros for the entire run) and we could have been sitting in different parts of the house--

            • armerjacquino

              True and true!

        • Bluebeard

          Maybe she’s developed her middle register though, which makes sense given the larger repertoire she’s been singing lately. Her upper register was significantly larger, but I never couldn’t hear her at any point.

          Regarding inaudibility, I only ever use this term to describe someone who I just can’t hear. There aren’t many performances I’d use this for (underpowered is my go to), but I really just couldn’t even hear Keenlyside in 2010 in any moment that he wasn’t pushing. Perhaps it has to do with YNS’s conducting. In performances of his I’ve attended, the orchestra often overpowers singers, another reason I was surprised by Haroutounian’s voice. That said, maybe YNS has conducted acoustically unfriendly productions, which would explain how everybody in Rusalka sounded smaller than usual.

          • Camille

            Miss Haroutunian was quite audible to me in the orchestra, however, there is a noticeable difference in the size of her voice from the middle to the top and she employs an old singer’s trick (which I had not seen for a while), of slightly tipping her head up when she projects outward on the high notes. A lovely lyrical voice, which only failed somewhat in the Act V aria because there was nothing spintoish about her, and that scene requires “Grandezza” with a capital G. I really can’t imagine her fulfilling the role of Hélène satisfactorily as the dramatic aspect is lacking.

            Looking forward to hearing her again, a thorough and polished professional

            • armerjacquino

              Ha- Freni does that trick on the ‘E il pianto mi-OOOOOH!’ of the Act V aria.

              (While I’m on it, the oldskool video cameras that used to film the telecasts always used to catch la Freni’s lovely teeth in the light in an unfortunate way, to the extent that my late dad coined the phrase ‘Vissi d’Arte, doc’)

        • Camille

          She did not tire at all here, Cocky K., and she looked absolutely assured and as if she had been through the entire run here at the Met. After some others i’ve heard, she was a refreshing change of pace overall.

          Greetings to you Cocky K!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Wide screen test

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Regular:

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      with sound

  • Krunoslav

    In the cast of ANKLES AWEIGH was Janet Pavek, whose Met career 8 years later looked like this:

    Metropolitan Opera House
    November 9, 1963 Matinee

    LA BOHÈME {613}

    Mimì………………..Nicoletta Panni [Debut]
    Rodolfo……………..John Alexander
    Musetta……………..Janet Pavek [Debut]
    Marcello…………….Calvin Marsh
    Schaunard……………William Walker
    Colline……………..Bonaldo Giaiotti
    Benoit………………Lawrence Davidson
    Alcindoro……………Andrea Velis

    Conductor……………Fausto Cleva

    Metropolitan Opera House
    November 15, 1963

    LA BOHÈME {614}

    Mimì………………..Nicoletta Panni
    Rodolfo……………..Carlo Bergonzi
    Musetta……………..Janet Pavek [Last performance]
    Marcello…………….Vladimir Ruzdak
    Schaunard……………William Walker
    Colline……………..Bonaldo Giaiotti
    Benoit………………Lawrence Davidson
    Alcindoro……………Lorenzo Alvary

    Conductor……………Fausto Cleva