Cher Public

Peace in our time

On this day in 1971 President Richard Nixon declared the “War on Drugs.”  

Born on this day in 1818 composer Charles-François Gounod

Born on this day in 1882 composer Igor Stravinsky

Born on this day in 1912 conductor James Robertson (Kiri’s Carmen in English!)

Born on this day in 1924 conductor Edward Downes

Happy 83rd birthday mezzo-soprano Mignon Dunn

Happy 57th birthday countertenor Derek Lee Ragin

  • Interesting, Norman Lebrecht points out that the Met’s two principal flutes have both resigned to take similar position with major orchestras. He blames the whole thing on Gelb. Of course, the music director has nothing to do with it…

    • chicagoing

      Love the quote in the comments from a musician; “Life is short and opera is long.”

    • Camille

      Why is this even a news item, even for Mr Lebrech,t and why should either Gelb or Levine be the source of blame when it would possibly only be a case of justifiable career advancement in a young and gifted flautist, at least in the case of the Ukrainian fellow. Not to worry, there are sure to be scores more of the highly gifted at the ready to leap into the pit. Slow news day, I guess, for Mr Lebrecht.

  • Camille

    Oh goody, it’s Gounod day!

    Here’s a little tiramisù pour nôtre Madame manou:

    There is also this délicieuse morsel, only just discovered recently by me and which Is quite a sterling example of this unsung opera:

    Finally, as I see my BeLOVèd Mireille is already posted above, I shall desist from putting up the entire œuvre but instead indulge myself and the parterriat in, perhaps, one of the greatest, text-book perfect, examples of staccati ever escaped the throat of that early 20th c. nightingale, Madame Tetrazzini. Even Dame Joan was jealous—

    • Camille

      So I’m jot going to desist and if one doesn’t listen to Mireille on Gounod’s birthday and in June, in any case, when should one?

      Starring the not-as-well-known-as-she should-have-been Michèle Command and some tenor I don’t know anything about, with the BIG bonus of Rita Gorr in one of her old crone rôles. In extrait only:

      The entrancing little opening “Choœur des magnarelles” which opens and closes the first act was particularly noted back in the day and succeeds in evoking the impressionist palette of the featured locale, which Madame manou could tell us all a lot more about. Anyway, I do hope some of you will have the perseverance to get to know this sweet little opera, perhaps too heavy on the miel for our times, mais bonne divertissement!

      • Camille

        That should be ‘ magnanarelles ‘ and I always get that word mixed up and wish Madame manou could straighten this one out as I see either word used.

        Here is a more recent version, starring Nathalie Manfrino, whom I recall œdipe saying was a sister-in-law of Roberto Alagna:

        It is just a small advert but one may refer themself to their website to investigate which appears at the end, if one has further interest.

        I won’t bother you all more with Mireille, as I know it is a real bit of victoriana and not to modern tastes, except to say the recording featuring Mirella Freni is a bit of a disappointment to me, excepting the always exceptional Alain Vanzo.
        There is also the production done in 2009 starring Inva Mula at the Opéra Comique, but which looks less interesting to me, au moins.

        • Chanterelle

          That production was actually at the Opéra de Paris (Garnier). I saw it on TV, which didn’t tempt me to see it in house. I might now be more curious--but then again, maybe not. Perhaps I should read more Mistral.

  • Jamie01

    Any other Parterrians planning to attend this evening’s Met in the Parks at Brooklyn Bridge Park?

    • Ilka Saro

      Bring a sweater or a jacket. I’ve been in DUMBO all day, and it hasn’t been warm. Out there by the water it will get chillier as the sun descends. All the same, I can’t go and I wish I could!

  • Ramadan Mubarak to observing Parterriani.

    In celebration, Umm Kulthum sings her classic “Enta Omri”. Translation here.

      • (not “her” classic, of course. Music by the greatest Mohammed abdel-Wahab, lyrics by Ahmed Shafik.)

      • Cicciabella

        What lyrics, m.croche! No wonder her audiences went wild. That sound and feeling, combined with the words, as very powerful.

        • Cicciabella

          *are (very powerful).

  • armerjacquino

    Just back from seeing FLIGHT at Holland Park. It’s a patchy work- the libretto tips into doggrel at times, and some of the pacing in the second half is dodgy- but it’s a really glorious score and this production does it more than justice. Really terrific singing and acting all round- and a name to watch in Jennifer France. The Controller is pretty much an impossible sing and she made it sound thrilling and easy at the same time.

    • Cicciabella

      Whatever ails contemporary opera, Jonathan Dove seems to have the cure. He is extremely prolific, his operas are successful and well-attended, and he’s not above composing for amateurs and children and getting involved in community projects. I’m unable to judge whether his music has real merit and staying power, but, from the little I’ve heard of it, he seems to write varied, beautiful compositions.

      • armerjacquino

        There was certainly a youngish audience for FLIGHT. A massively *rich* young audience, mind, but… baby steps.

        • manou

          Hello armer -- Lost property would like to return the “e” you mislaid in your second line.

          • armerjacquino

            Oh yeah, doggerel. Fat fingers.

  • antikitschychick

    Camille, I can’t locate your post now but just wanted to say thanks for sharing that link to mrsjc’s new blog post. I read it on the way home with great interest; he certainly makes some very valid points and obviously has a well-informed understanding of the major problems this art form is currently facing, especially in the US, however, I think he’s giving us younger folk a bit of a bad rap (though I admit its deserved in a lot of cases, but not all).

    Certainly those kinds under twenty who grew up with access to iphones, Itunes, Youtube, and so forth do seem to have shorter attention spans, but those of us older than say 22 who grew up in the 90s aren’t so skittish, especially those of us who are currently pursuing ‘advanced’ degrees, albeit the social media craze has definitely intensified within the last 5 years or so and it has invariably affected all those in my age group as well.

    Personally, I think the major issue relating to the lack of a younger ‘presence’ at the opera in America (or certain parts of America) is that Opera has become “otherized” by mainstream American culture, thus it’s harder for younger people to connect to Opera (the art form, as opposed to an individual performer giving an isolated rendition of an aria or song sung in operatic fashion) on even a basic emotional or intellectual level because opera, and straight theater as well for that matter, don’t stimulate our senses the same way the technological mediums we interact with on a regular basis do, because it’s not supposed to I don’t think, but, because people aren’t aware of that, they expect it to and therein lies the rub: when they don’t experience the same basic emotions they experience at the latest Avengers movie, or the latest Glee or Game of Thrones episode or even after 10 minutes of playing Candy Crush, that immediately translates into a feeling disappointment, and no one wants to recreate feeling disappointed. A lot of people, not just younger people don’t want to feel disturbed or perturbed or challenged or offended, redefined, dehumanized and re-humanized, because these are alien emotions, which can’t really be easily digested or immediately recognizable, and a lot of times that’s what performance art, or at least good performance art does. One has to be open to those things, and not be afraid to embrace the “other” emotions simply because they don’t comfort us and “deaden” our brains as mrsjc says. I mean, opera is also entertaining but it’s not mindless entertainment; the spectator has to engage with what they’re experiencing, esp while in the theater.

    Anyway, I don’t mean to contradict him since I know he’s a knowledgeable man and I’m very much a neophyte in comparison, but I did want to put in a word for my fellow youngins, or relative youngins. A great many of us are not guppies! (or whatever that fish with a short attention span is lol). But anyway, thanks again. It was a good read.

    • antikitschychick

      Correction: certainly those *kids* under twenty. Serves me right for being condescending :-P. Further corrections: “…that immediately translates into a feeling *of* disappointment…or *be* immediately recognizable. Apologies…had a long day.

    • Camille

      Oh, I am so glad you read it and found something of interest and are speaking up for your own generation. I can no longer recall those exact points but (s)he was probably speaking in a general manner, and you have to bear in mind that you are not a part of the average or “norm”, but a lot more gifted and educated.

      And young people have never liked opera, in the main, I remember well how I was socially ostracized for my interest in “longhair” music when everyone was listening to hootenanies and surfer music and Elvis and The Beatles. It isn’t just now. It’s just “uncool”, and ever was, and considered a snooty thing, perhaps rightfully so. It takes time and discipline and $$$ to learn to master an instrument and most people are simply not interested. Since I started study of music at age of five and it was my religion, I didn’t care what others thought and accepted my lot and didn’t notice that much because I was too busy practising and the recompenses were too great.

      Did you see “Yardbird” in Philadelphia, by chance? Today I finally came across a review of it by our old correspondant and friend “Unfaithful Zerbinetta”, on her blog “Likely Impossibilities”, up above and to your left. It is pretty thorough and may be of interest to you. I am happy Lawrence Brownlee had a chance to be featured prominently, a pretty decent fellow.

      I highly recommend a little film called “The 5,000 fingers of Dr. T”, a story by Dr. Seuss tuned into a feature in 1953 which since has become a cult classic, and currently being screened at MoMA, to get an idea of the weirdness of being a nerdy little kid forced into playing the piano who’d rather be playing ballgames, and to get a load of the ETERNAL super “unkewlness” of being a junior musician in training! Very weird and a lotta fun, and as golden today as it was in 1953!

      If you want to, go over and tell all this to Mrs Claggart, I am sure she would love to converse with you! Besos y cariños, queridachica!

      • antikitschychick


        I didn’t realize you were a trained musician, though I obviously knew you had more in-depth knowledge of opera and classical music than the average fan, but I didn’t realize you had studied from such a young age; you mentioned the piano so I’m assuming you’re a pianist? Hope you don’t mind me asking.

        Also, yes I’m familiar with Zerbinetta’s blog, it’s great and I sometimes frequent it and no I wasn’t able to get tickets to go see “Yardbird” which was a real bummer :-(. I picked up a philly magazine by chance and saw that Lawrence Brownlee was on the cover and there was a short article (about Yardbird) in it but alas when I went online to try and find tickets, they were all sold out; hopefully it will continue to be performed and I’ll get to see it in the near future though…

        Sorry to hear you were ostracized for your interest in “longhair” music when you were young; I would have probably been a big fan of Elvis and the Beetles (surfer music not so much) given that I do listen to pop music and I like to dabble in other genres too; I honestly can’t say I’ve been ostracized; most of my friends and acquaintances actually think it’s cool I listen to opera; in fact there’s a considerable number of people my age or thereabouts, pejoratively known as ‘hipsters’ who are all about alternative music; ironically it’s become a trend so that ostracism you experienced isn’t so strongly felt these days, I don’t think, at least not within certain circles. Snootiness otot, is unfortunately still a problem, but one finds gradations of that in almost every form of human interaction.

        Thanks for the movie tip as well; I’ll check it out when I can :-).

        • Camille

          Iit wouldn’t surprise me if you mistook me, frankly and just between us, for a trained monkey with the antics I indulge myself in here in Parterria, so, no matter. The social isolation is just what you get when you spend hours alone with an insturment, part and parcel of the compact you make with the devil you dance with, you know. And it’s a choice, isn’t it?

          For some reason your comments end up in my junk file and I don’t always get them so only have seen this now, KitschyChica. Keep in practise and don’t lose your chops. I know it will be difficult to find time, but don’t lose at you worked for. The good news for Capricorns is this: we start out old ladies and shoulder a lot of work and burdens and work and gradualky over the ciurse of a lifetime, all that dross turns to told with the passage of time and that which was such a burden, becomes a support and makes it all someho more easy, lighter, and somewhere along the line, one becomes young. Hard to explain, but that is what happened in my case.

          • Camille

            Dross into good. Typos still abound however!! Sorry but you get the picture

          • Camille

            Good god, it’s gold, gold, Gold!

            • antikitschychick

              haha no worries, I know that’s what you meant ;-). I appreciate your replies, but no worries about not always getting my comments; it’s hard to keep track of all of them sometimes and God knows we all have other things to do.

              Also, please know that when I said I didn’t realize you were a musician, it’s not because I mistook you for a trained monkey or anything of the sort (and when it comes to antics, I’m no one to judge!). You always have something interesting or enlightening to share, and I always enjoy reading your comments, but a lot of regular commentators/contributors who are also knowledgeable have gained that knowledge through years of opera-going experience and/or by virtue of their own self-education and curiosity rather than any formal training…and I don’t like to make too many assumptions (bad or good) about ppls backgrounds without really knowing them in real life, unless they’ve explicitly divulged certain things, so if I gave that impression I apologize. Seriously though, thank you for taking the time to read my comments and for all the wonderful advice and tips, it is all very much appreciated :-).

      • Henry Holland

        The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T is shown on TCM about once a year, it’s a really fun movie. From the IMDb trivia section:

        According to producer Stanley Kramer, the film’s budget would only allow him to hire 150 boys for the piano sequence, instead of the 500 boys he intended to use. When he threatened them with dismissal after they misbehaved, many of them stood up and cheered

        Hahahaha. Here’s Tommy Rettig from the movie as a 21-year old, he grew up nicely:

        Thanks for reminding me of this fun movie, I’ll have to watch it again when it shows up on cable.

        • Camille

          Glad you like it too, HH, and wish you could have been there to have been a part of the happy crowd of viewers. The Hans Conried “Dress me” number had people literally screaming in their seats. I felt pretty happy for little Tommy when he managed to escape with his catcher’s mitt and his dog at tale’s end and I can just imagine those litle boys standing up and cheering when they got fired, haha!

    • Camille

      Hey, you maybe are a neophyte in comparison, and from a certain perspective, but don’t sell yourself short: at least you bothered to study music at school and go through the drill and the boring part, of which there is plenty, and try to base your thinking upon that which you acquired through that grinding course of that study. And knowledgeable people always need more knowledge. No one can ever possibly know enough.

      Happy interning!

      • antikitschychick

        thanks, that’s sweet of you to say. I definitely need to refresh my memory and re-learn a few things given that I’m not currently doing anything music-related; luckily I have some good musician friends that can help lol…and I kept some of my books. Good night, y que duermas bien! :-).

    • Henry Holland

      A lot of people, not just younger people don’t want to feel disturbed or perturbed or challenged or offended, redefined, dehumanized and re-humanized

      Yes, a lot of people don’t want to feel those things, but a lot of people *do*, they just don’t care about getting it in the form of opera.

      I mean, opera is also entertaining but it’s not mindless entertainment; the spectator has to engage with what they’re experiencing, esp while in the theater

      I used to proselytize for opera years ago and I took about 6 or 7 of my friends who knew nothing of opera apart from having seen What’s Opera Doc? (“Bwunhilda! Bwunhilda!!”) as kids and the stereotypical image of (to quote Chapman in the movie version of Maurice) “fat women with horns on their heads singing at the top of the lungs about how glad they are to be dying, it’s a horrible noise!” in commercials.

      I’d take them to Puccini or Mozart operas, to a person they all said variations on what my friend Mike told me after I took him to Madama Butterfly: “It all happens in slow motion, I knew what was going to happen five minutes before it did but they’d keep singing, I got bored waiting for the plot to move along”. Some of them flat-out didn’t like the operatic style of singing, nothing I could do about that. Note that these were people who were cultured to various degrees, they loved movies, art (painting, sculpture, video stuff), books, musicals and so on, they just didn’t connect with opera.

      It does take a certain amount of work to “get” opera, I don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t want to invest their time and effort. Or: I’m glad that people love Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, I gave up after 100 pages of the first book and gave my copy to a friend who wanted to read it.

      • antikitschychick

        Yes youre right HH, and Ive been told those exact same criticisms by very intelligent peers whom I admire and respect, though my comment was mostly a response to mrsjc’s specific assertion that most people under 30 have shorter attention spans, and can’t really be expected to endure a long performance.

        His exact words were”one can’t expect American youngsters, even those from “good backgrounds” to know anything, to have a frame of reference, to concentrate for long, to retain information, to know much of anything other than what is hot right now, what is “happening” that the corporations are using to make massive profits while deadening their brains.”

        Again I think he’s selling us a wee bit short (not that I’m the spokesperson for ppl under 30; Camille is right in pointing out I’m not the typical mid-twenties gal) since you & I both agree that many intelligent and educated young people just aren’t into opera, but not because they have short attention spans and can’t retain information but because they can’t or don’t care to connect with opera.

        Opera is as we all know, a self-enclosed and highly stylized art form; that works for some people and doesn’t for others. Having said that,hes right that many from my generation are too concerned with fads and celebrity news fodder…I try not to get too swept up in it (I don’t watch any reality TV at all; in fact I dont even own a TV anymore) but we’re just bombarded with it so it’s hard to avoid. Anyway thanks for sharing your anecdotes. It’s interesting to engage in these sorts of discussions :-).

        • Henry Holland

          [blushes] Thanks!

          I’m 55, I’m extremely wary of “The Youth of Today” type pronouncements, especially ones by people who haven’t been youths since the JFK administration.

          When I was first getting in to opera in 1988, I was told more than a few times by people who were in their 50’s and 60’s then that I’d missed the golden age of opera, that people my age had no idea what real opera singing was about (they were probably chided by *their* elders who insisted that since they’d never heard someone like Melchior or Flagstad live that they had no idea what opera singing was really about) and why did I listen to that cursed rock music, I was probably a heroin addict. I mean, this old f**k at the SF Opera actually said that to me and he was serious.

          I’d point out that I got in to orchestral music in the mid-70’s via my favorite band, Emerson Lake & Palmer, doing rocked out versions of Ginastera, Bartok, Prokofiev, Copland and Bach, that was even worse, that was desecration of The Sacred Art! :-)

          Having said that,hes right that many from my generation are too concerned with fads and celebrity news fodder

          That’s no different from since the 1950’s, when teenagers were first considered a niche and targeted as a boom market by advertisers. Hello Elvis! Hello Chubby Checker & The Twist! Hello hula hoops! (I got snagged by that one, hahaha)

          Hello TV shows like Batman and The Monkees (loved ’em both) with all the cheap stuff like dolls and towels and puzzles that were cranked out because of them! Waaaaaah, Mom & Dad, if you don’t buy me a Batman cape, I’m going to die, DIE I TELL YOU waaaaaah!!!!! [they caved and bought me one]

          Hello massive bell bottoms, wide lapels, afro haircuts and gaudy clothes in the 1970’s! Hello disco! Hello chia pets and Cabbage Patch Dolls and Rubix cubes and pet rocks! And so on and so forth through the last 30+ years.

          Hello scandal rags like Confidential and Photoplay that obsessed about what movie star was bonking which movie star and would have items along the lines of “Which major star was arrested by the LAPD for drunk driving but had it covered up by the studios?”!

          Here’s a terrific article about Rock Hudson and the culture of celebrity, it’s the same ol’ same ol’ except it’s, Perez Hilton and all their spawn now:

          The only difference is that The Youth of Today (and me and everyone else with a computer) can access that stuff instantly 24/7, instead of having to wait a week for the new issue of People to show up on the newsstands. Or, to quote The Who:

          Meet the new boss
          Same as the old boss

          • Batty Masetto

            What could be more appropriate fare for today’s youth than a space opera! Incredibly fast-paced — ultimate Regie — with a score by Charles Ives at his most demanding!

          • antikitschychick

            He called you a heroine addict?! Nice lol. It seems like the ‘you have no idea what opera singing is about’trope is a lasting tradition :-). Thanks for the link to the article. I’ll read it this weekend.

          • antikitschychick

            *heroin. Think we’re all heroine addicts here lol.

            • armerjacquino

              As a student, my mum used to do a bit of cabaret singing to earn some extra cash. When she and dad got engaged, a friend greeted him with ‘I hear you’ve contracted an incurable diseuse’.

            • antikitschychick

              LOL @armerj; and then she invariably added ‘fever’ to her set after that I’m sure :-D. That’s really not a bad way to make some extra money or even just to have fun.

              Also, been meaning to ask you, have you heard from Monty Nostry? Haven’t seen him pop up here in a while. Hope he’s doing ok.

      • Camille

        Your experiences trying to reach out to people, similarly well-educated in other media or art forms, mirrors a lot what I have experienced as well, so much that I have given it up altogether. The last time I took a neophyte to the opera was a teenaged daughter of our friends, and she just loved Elektra, as she was about sixteen and hated mommy and daddy. So that worked out okay but I don’t ever want to repeat it!

        Opera is a bug you either catch, or mostly, you don’t. In my case, I suppose it was inevitable but without the aid of an evil relative who egged me on and gave me recordings and advices, probably I’d not have started so young nor would it have proved so fatal to my piano practise.

  • Many (manymanymany) years ago, back when cassettes were still a thing, I found a recording in English of arias recorded by Dame Kiri when she was about 19 or 20. It was actually pretty good. I think one of the arias was Una Voce Poco Fa but I really don’t have a concrete memory of the rep. The voice was gorgeous, of course, but still unfinished.