Cher Public

Crowned heads

On this day in 1774 Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette became King and Queen of France.

Born on this day in 1697 composer Jean-Marie Leclair

Born on this day in 1901 tenor Max Lorenz

Born on this day in 1914 tenor Richard Lewis

Born on this day in 1919 conductor Peter Maag

Born on this day in 1920 tenor Hans Kaart

Born on this day in 1920 stage designer Josef Svoboda


  • Feldmarschallin

    Logengrin I am off now. Flieder and grey are the colours today with golden doves flying around.

    • Lohengrin

      Discovered Your post this moment……
      Waiting for Your mail!
      Forza was simply great

  • I went to the last performance of the Met season last night:

    • DeepSouthSenior

      Thank you, Ivy, for the fine review of Ballo. It’s nice to hear an opinion that a singer (RadVan) was actually too loud at the Met! By the way, at 63 Dolora Zajick is in her seventh decade, which is even more impressive.

      I also like the picture of you with Jamie Barton. As often happens when I travel, I came down with a bad cold or the “crud” or whatever after the Houston Grand Opera performance on April 30th and have been out of commission for over a week. I’ll long remember Barton’s powerful and appropriately “bitchy” Fricka in the HGO’s Die Walkure. And this in spite of wearing a costume straight out of “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” This was her first performance, I believe, since receiving the Richard Tucker award, and she made the most of it. Christine Goerke was outstanding as Brunnhilde, and effective even on that hot plate (Bunsen Burner?) at the end, surrounded by Loge’s Little Helpers with their metal fire sticks. Karita Mattila seems to have a new lease on life, career-wise, as Sieglinde, and valiantly overcame having to walk on all fours or waddle around the stage like a duck during most of Act I. The women outshone the men by miles in this performance. (I actually did enjoy the production in the moment, but on sober reflection, you know how it goes.)

      Hello again to John L! Hope you had a safe trip home from Houston. I wish you the best on your career. Opera has a bright future if all young fans are like you.

      • DeepSouthSenior

        Valencia 2008, transferred to Houston, 2015. Have Appliance, Will Travel:

        • I will say that I was next to some girls who looked like it was their first time at the opera and they were all raving about Sondra. I think the sheer volume of her voice is a thrill to anyone. It’s just that sometimes (IMO) she doesn;t know when to dial back the volume.

          • And glad to hear that you had a great time in Houston, DSS.

          • DonCarloFanatic

            Agreed. Saw her in Anna Bolena and IMO she was too loud early on and then didn’t have quite enough left for the final moments.

            • javier

              Agreed. I saw Sondra in Los Angeles last year and the sound of her voice is huge, no question. But in the final dramatic moments of a bel canto role where she is supposed to still sound fresh and deliver a ringing eb6, she really can’t do it. Or maybe as she has gotten older she has lost control of those particular high notes? She’s still a superior artist.

      • John L

        Yes! I made it home OK. Sorry to hear about your cold. There was alot of coughing going on at the theater.

        I was biased into opera because my parents listened to it. Hopefully opera will engage those who have no background in it but are open enough to new things!

    • Thanks for the review, Ivy. It’s nice to read an account of the final performance of the Met season.

    • LT

      This review is very affecting. Especially the fact that Fabiano is apparently a “she” :D

    • I was there lsat night s well. I splurged and was in row C center Orchestra. The high C in ‘Ma dall’arido stelo divulsa’ blew the roof off the Old Barn, in a good way.Sitting that close to all that sound was quite and eperience.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      I had a similar “all that sound” experience at the Houston Die Walkure last month. The few moments of Brunnhilde’s entrance in Act II were a triumph for Christine Goerke. She had obviously decided to pull out all the stops with her first appearance -- No easing into the part, no tentative phrases to get her footing. She came out blasting with a laser beam of sound, nailing the highest notes with ease, and not a hint of a “scoop.” No one could do this in every performance, but when it happens, it’s glorious.

  • Krunoslav

    I think Richard Lewis was always at his best in English and Welsh; here, despite the sludgy orchestra common enough in the 1950s, is one of his great Handel cuts, showing spectacular breath control:

    and here is “All through the Night”:

  • Cicciabella

    Tomorrow the Berliner Philharmonic musicians will choose their new principal conductor, in conclave. As I understand it, The Chosen One will be called and must immediately accept or refuse the position. Whoever takes up the position will be one less possible candidate for Music Director at the Met, should it be vacated in the very near future.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      At this moment, I’m watching/listening live to Berlin Phil. on Digital Concert Hall, Mariss Jansons conducting Bartok’s “Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta.” Jansons is one of the “old guard” suggested as a possible replacement for Rattle. Speculation in the press has bounced between a brief Indian Summer for a respected older conductor such as Jansons and Barenboim, and a bold move toward the rising young generation such as Dudamel, Nezet-Seguin, and Nelsons. (My apologies for leaving out your favorite; it’s not intentional. I want to concentrate on the concert.) One article noted the relative scarcity of established masters in their 40’s to 60’s of “Berlin quality,” such as Christian Thielemann (please, no, not Thielemann!). Given the importance of Berlin’s choice to my personal musical life -- Immense -- I’ll be on pins and needles for some time. This vote is 1000X more significant than anything going on anywhere in sports, wouldn’t you say?

      • Cicciabella

        Unfortunately, Jansons’ health is too fragile at the moment, which is why he let go of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. I doubt he will take on the Berliner. I wish you the Pope of your dreams, DSS, whoever that may be. My humble opinion is that conductors like Nezet-Seguin and Nelsons, who have the talent and affinity for opera, should not go to the Berliner, a job that cannot be combined with a major opera house, but should be “put on hold” until an operatic directorship comes along . But this is parterre and I’m obviously biased.

      • DeepSouthSenior

        Thanks, Cicciabella, for that reminder about Jansons. He’s looking regal today, as usual, but rather frail and tentative. I suppose the “Pope of my dreams” would combine Rattle’s “structured control” (not my phrase, I read it in an article) with that extra measure of abandon that Rattle lacks. Sometimes I wish that the Berliners would -- or could -- let themselves go, as it were, and step right up to the edge, without plunging over. In other words, give me the ultimate in excitement, even at the expense of precision and balance. (I feel the same way about opera singers.) That being said, there are far worse things than near-perfection. For me, Gustavo Dudamel may become my ideal, but he’s not there yet. But please, spare me Thielemann’s monumental stodginess (that one is my phrase!).

        • Cicciabella

          Black smoke. After a day’s deliberation they still can’t decide. I guess they’ll resume tomorrow.

          • Deliberations have been postponed to a later date, possibly December.

            After reading Norman Lebrecht’s conclusion (“the brand is damaged.“), I’ve decided that England’s drug laws must be much more liberal than I had previously believed.

            • armerjacquino

              Believe me, croche, *any* English laws that are in any way liberal are about to be repealed in the light of the electoral disaster that took place on Thursday. Pray for us.

            • Cicciabella

              December!? It turns out it’s much easier to elect a pope.

            • Krunoslav

              Choosing between Wigglesworths is a tricky affair.

            • Fluffy-net

              If you think about it it is not surprising that 124 geniuses could not agree. Esp. as it seems a majority greater than 50% is required.

              NL is not the only one to suggest damage to the brand. A commentator on the Deutsche Welle said the same. We will see what they can pull out of the bag in a few months. If they really are geniuses, s/he will be good.

            • Who out there actually agrees with Norman Lebrecht that “the brand is damaged”, and which class of drugs do you suppose they’ve ingested?

            • Batty Masetto

              Here’s one German commentator who does agree, with explanations:


            • Ok, but what about my followup question?

              Bad performances can damage a brand name. Being a bigot in public can damage a brand name. But the stuff peddled by NL and Rick Fulker is absurdly overblown. It reads like the inside-the-beltway gossip that has so damaged our political culture, “Politico” for the “Ehrt eure Deutschen Meister” crowd.

            • Fluffy-net

              “Damaged” as in “never any good anymore,” no. But they would have been better off if they had resolved everything yesterday. The next round will be harder for them.

              Nonetheless, I think this will be all forgotten in three years.

    • Camille

      “Habemus Dirigent”

  • And in 1770, when Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI, the occasion was marked with the opening of the Versailles Opera House with a performance of Lully’s Persée.

    • No Expert

      I love this haunting sleep song, kashania

  • DeepSouthSenior

    Just a quick personal word: Yes, that’s my town, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where two policeman were murdered last night. This horrible event highlights the best and the worst about my state today: Two young cops, one white and one black, working together in our community, gunned down (allegedly) by members of the local criminal class. I wonder how long these young men who sacrificed their lives for us will be remembered. I am certain that all of us in Hattiesburg, black and white alike, will remember for a very long time.

  • Feldmarschallin

    A little bird told me that Simon Kennylside has cancelled the Münchner Festspiele Carlos performances and will be replaced by an Italian baritone who has recently stepped in already to replace another baritone.

  • Feldmarschallin


  • Donna Anna

    Hi Ivy.
    Jamie Barton sings Azucena in Cincinnati next month. This may be our only chance to hear her around these parts. Russell Thomas is Manrico, Stephen Powell takes on Di Luna, Morris Robinson is Fernando and Juliana Di Giacomo is Leonora. I’ve never heard her--anyone care to enlighten me?

    • aulus agerius

      I’ve been thinking for months about coming over for that Trovatore from Charlottesville, Donna, but the train gets into Cincinnati at an ungodly hour both coming and going. I’d love to come but I can’t seem to get myself beyond that. I heard JDG in Mefistofele at Carnegie Hall a couple of years ago. She was entirely satisfactory amongst Chacon Cruz and Eric Owens. I just heard Morris Robinson last week in Philly as the Grand Inquisitor. As phoenix opined: the biggest bass voice I’ve ever heard. Seems wasted as Fernando….perhaps not. I also saw him as the blind street singer in Gloriana at St. Louis some years ago. I saw Russell Thomas in I Masnadieri in Washington a year or so ago -- fantastic! Encouragement needed!!

      • Donna Anna

        Aulus, trains to Cincinnati are the worst. They’re anywhere from two to four hours late. Our doyenne may be having problems with connections in Germany but at least there are options.
        Thanks for the confirmations, especially for JDG. We saw MR in St. Louis for Gloriana--that was amazing. RT has been here before and we’re looking forward to hearing him again.
        Let me know if you can make it.

      • CwbyLA

        Aulus do you live in Charlottesville VA? I am contemplating a move there for a position at UVA and would love to know more about the local art scene.

        • aulus agerius

          CLA -- we can discuss it privately at zenpoazc at gmail dot com :-)

    • jackoh

      What are the good(and the bad)seating sections in Music Hall in Cincy?

      • phoenix

        I liked the sound in the Cincinnati Music Hall, went back quite a few seasons for that very reason. Sat in the orchestra, orchestra boxes and all over the balcony (but I never sat in the gallery). Full, clear sound, even under the gallery overhang in the balcony.

      • coloraturafan

        Like most halls, the best sound is at the top (the sides are usually obstruct half of the stage). Don’t sit in the back of the orchestra level, you will hear virtually nothing.

      • Donna Anna

        Agree with Phoenix and Colorturafan. I would go for center balcony or gallery. Those are the best for seeing and hearing. As CF notes, do not sit in the orchestra section under the balcony overhang.

    • Vergin Vezzosa

      I expect that you will like Ms. Di Giacomo very much. She was to my ear very good in the Collegiate Mefistofele a while back at Carnegie. I have also heard her in a OONY Due Foscari (excellent) and seen her onstage as Leonora and in Stiffelio (x2) at the Met (also excellent IMHO). It is somewhat of a mystery to me that she has not been more generally engaged in more high profile houses, although I have heard that she has been more active in Europe. The whole Cincinnati cast looks great! Enjoy!

      • Vergin Vezzosa

        Oh, and also JDG was also very good as Matilde at Caramoor when they did G. Tell.

  • Amnerees

    Poison Ivy--
    Thanks for the review. This was the first time I’ve attended a last performance of a Met season. The audience was certainly enthusiastic, although the performance was not sold out. Where I was sitting, I heard Beczala’s final high C in the duet very clearly--bright and on-pitch. Perhaps Radvanovsky was aiming in a different direction at that moment.
    RE: “Morro, ma prima di grazia” Radvanovsky attempted a piano high C in her final cadenza, but she wasn’t able to sustain it. She quickly hit the note at double forte and continued as usual. She certainly sings very loudly, most of the time, and her throaty, rather coarse sound would be more appropriate in verismo. Perhaps her fans have come to opera from other forms, such as flamenco.
    In contrast to Radvanovsky, Heidi Stober was audible only about half the time, mostly when singing high notes.
    As for the production, it seemed even more pointless this time than the first time I saw it. Royal courtiers carrying their own chairs? Monochromatic costume balls? Very trendy--for maybe a few months.

    • I thought the production had the effect of emphasizing the built-in cynicism and detachment of Ballo, and thus dampening the emotional impact. I’ve always thought Ballo to be an odd mix of political satire/conspiracy and romantic melodrama. Personal and political don’t fuse together the way they do in Don Carlo — they seem very much like separate operas. And the production further segregates those disparate elements of Ballo.

    • Perhaps her fans have come to opera from other forms, such as flamenco.

      Nope, no flamenco background here, but thank you for the condescension.

      Lad Rad is certainly not the first singer out there with a big voice. In my experience, she’s able to modulate her voice and sing with a variety of dynamnics.

  • redbear

    Netrebko’s “Four Last Songs” (formerly attributed to Richard Strauss) was part of a concert of the Orchestre National de France with Daniele Gatti last night. The concert will be broadcast (and streamed) on the 14th. Has she gotten bigger recently?

  • zinka

    SO SORRY to place this in wrong post but for some reason when I go to off-topics….I cannot post…I apologize…HELP!!!! I do not want to do this or else I will lose my head!!!!!

    One of the greatest joys of the Internet has been one’s ability to discover a treasure-trove of artists who in many cases, many of us do not know. I am always happy when I see posts and/or clips from posters who recognize that opera recordings go back about 120 years. I am in no way denigrating the great singers of recent past and present, but I do not feel it is not arrogant of me to declare that the “serious opera lover” has the “duty” to study the vocal art, like or not like every artist.

    Reading for example, the J.B. Steane books, searching Youtube, reading so many posts from those who discover new names, is an enlightenment,even for nutcases like me who may own every DVD Ring, 200 plus Toscas, because it NEVER ends.

    I always make the statement about the “5 levels” of singing, live on private (I didn’t say “pirated) tape, or commercial recordings dating back through those 120 years, even the almost inaudible Mapleson cylinders, but especially the artists whose voices were probably greater in person, but whose style and vocal technique are obvious.

    My “levels” would be understood better if I named some tenor names as follows:

    1. Augusto Scampini (only members of the Vocal Collectors Society would recognize him. (NOT EVEN ME).

    2. Giuseppe Anselmi Not a household name like Gigli or Melchior, but a very great stylist and technician of the early part of the last century.

    3. Galliano Masini. A brilliant “squillante tenor” of the middle of the 20th Century.

    4. Richard Tucker. My favorite tenor of those I saw live,whose voice reminds me that most of the tenors I never heard were capable of amazing singers.

    5. Piotr Beczala. One of the tenors who helps me restore my faith that there are still present-day stars.

    If you are a so-called opera aficionado,whether you can read music or not, or have not performed on stage, you OWE IT to the history of singing to open up your ears and accept what has gone by, love the artist or not.
    There have been some rather closed-minded individuals who refuse to study what treasures await them, just as I was introduced to Meta Seinemeyer (who?) who may have passed away at 33, but who left fabulous recordings.
    Your assignment now is to download the complete recordings of Gertrude Bindernagel and Fritz Zipper,plus his buddy Edmont Koch.

    …and if this is another boring,annoying,repetitive, article..unfriend me,remove me from e-mail, and leave me solo,perduto, e washed upo
    Your ex-friend Charlie

    • armerjacquino

      I always think Campora is underrated. His Pinkerton on the 1st Tebaldi BUTTERFLY is glorious.

      • zinka

        Hi…..I must say that,despite an intrinsically fine quality,Campora was not too good live..Very tight top..medium size voice..but we had too much of him.I respect him,but we were never impressed(WE means “our crabby crowd.”

        Can you find out from someone why I could not post on the off-topic page??as ever CH

  • Amnerees

    Well, taste and preferences in singers are what it’s all about. Last Saturday night, “Lad Rad” (?) wasn’t displaying much variety of “dynamnics.” One can only judge by what what one hears. She’s evidently a big favorite of the flamenco set.

    • CwbyLA

      Cut out the condescension…

    • Oh, I didn’t realise that the whole “flamenco” thing was “evident”. I thought it was just you being an asshole. My apologies.

      • rapt

        OMG! Does this mean that there’s not only an “angry Obama” but an “angry kashania”?? ;)

        • I’m getting ready to invade Texas as I type! :)

    • The flamenco thing is an incredibly poor analogy because flamenco dancers have to be trained for years. Grace, carriage, sensuality, and musicality are all emphasized.

      My main complaint with Sondra Rad is that sometimes she goes for a graceless, unsubtle loudness over all else. That instead of delving into the character or text she simply chooses an earsplitting fortissimo. So, nothing like a flamenco dancer.

      • That’s the thing. The “flamenco” comment isn’t even a witty insult. I’m all for differing tastes and I can totally appreciate La Rad’s voice not being to people’s tastes.

        In my experience, she does use a variety of dynamics but that doesn’t mean that she did on the night Amnerees heard her. She may have been relentlessly loud. I have no problem believing that. It’s the condescension I can’t abide.

        • No Expert

          Some of the best times of my youth were spent in
          tablaos flamencos…but they were nothing like a night at the opera.

  • Amnerees

    Goodness! Everyone is so serious here. I wasn’t referring to flamenco dancers but flamenco SINGERS. There are lots of them, and these women aren’t noted for their subtlety. Most of them aren’t anyway. I was struck by how much Radvanovsky’s singing last Saturday night actually resembled many of them. I’m glad to hear she can actually sing softly. The one time she tried in the Ballo, she couldn’t sustain it. I also don’t like her voice, but that’s another matter.