Cher Public

Just shoot me!

On this day in 1821 Der Freischütz premiered at the Schauspielhaus Berlin.  

Born on this day in 1850 composer Richard Heuberger

Born on this day in 1854 librettist Maurice Ordonneau

Born on this day in 1904 composer and conductor Manuel Rosenthal

Born on this day in 1927 tenor Robert Ilosfalvy

Born on this day in 1942 conductor Hans Vonk

Happy 72nd birthday soprano Eva Marton

  • Will

    Nina Warren’s dress is surely an OMG! moment of diva fashion. Unbelievable that anyone would wear that in public.

    • Cicciabella

      It looks like a collapsed tiger soufflé.

      • Camille

        Hahahaha! Very effective for singing something like Lied der Lulu, however —

        And I’ve seen waaaaaaay worse!

  • Lady Abbado

    Angie as Elvira…:)

    1. A te o cara

    2. Qui la Voce … Vien Diletto

    3. Vieni fra queste braccia

    • phillyoperalover

      OH it’s so lovely to hear Angie screaming those high notes, always brings me such pleasure. And that E flat? Where did that come from? *sips tea*

    • Evenhanded


      I’m not sure how Gheorghiu’s half-hearted attempts at highlights from “I puritani” came up in conversation, but by total coincidence, I listened to the mad scene yesterday. The recording shared above is from her “bel” “canto” CD (yes, I own it).

      I specifically revisited the ‘Vien diletto’ in order to refresh my memory concerning her (only??) attempt at a high e-flat in the studio. Probably the less said, the better, since she uses something very close to a Broadway-style belt singing technique in order to produce the note… Not pretty and VERY dangerous. What really astounds me, though, is the amazing number of wrong notes she sings. In fact, prior to the Puritani, I had been listening to her Callas tribute disc and was also quite surprised that the Act 1 scene from Traviata (one of her signature roles) is also loaded with wrong notes. Now, I’m not talking about her occasionally wayward pitch, but rather WRONG pitches entirely -- especially in fast moving sections.

      I love the color of her voice and was very enamored of her singing until I heard her in person at the Met, where she was a cold, curmudgeonly actress and the voice was just miniscule. Thereafter, I pretty much stopped following her career (except for purchasing a couple of CDs, obviously). So my question to those who know better than I: does she sing wrong notes frequently? Or are the two examples I mentioned exceptions to the rule?

      • figaroindy

        By no means am I a fan of Gheorgiu’s singing, and certainly not the Eb, but that’s not a belt of any sort, it sounds to me like she’s shoving too much air through it for fear it won’t get up there, but you can’t “belt” that far above the passagio at all. She’s using the same “pop up from the octave below” thing that Lily Pons and so many of the other high note queens used to do, but her fear of not making it means she’s keeping the air connected from bottom to top, which leads to the swoop up. But, not a belt. That said, I’m much more irritated by the random body flailing at the end of the 3rd clip….what’s that all about? it’s like she has to show the watching audience how hard the work is….by throwing her body and arms all over the place. Or she can’t cut off the sound of the final note without some physical effort. Either way, it’s annoying.

  • Camille

    Just published last month—a Salzburg Freischütz with Furtwängler conducting and the peerless Agathe of Elisabeth Grümmer—can’t wait to listen to it and what a treat for today, hooray!

    And I would be remiss to not include one of my favorite of all memories live in the opera house, or a facsimile thereto:

    and dedicated to Master Not-so-armerjacquino. Pretty wunderbar, if you ask me!

    • Feldmarschallin

      Never liked Janowitz but here a favorite of mine. Always thought GJ just so dull.

      • Camille

        Ja, ich denke you just had to be fortunate in encountering Janowitz, as I was on one occasion and in sining some music which called for “stillness”, as does this excerpt. I certainly can understand the complaints lodged against her--she is not to everyone’s taste and not equal in all things.

        I will listen to Lemnitz but fear there may be a reprisal from some party herein, because of her politics, and I jope to listen to just what she does as a singer and forget the rest of the mess. I’ve only heard her in bits and pieces, I think some Elisabeh??

        Anyways, I do hope you agree on Grümmer, my Agathe when I was growing up, and still a big favorite of mine, if not so well known or talked about as are many others, nowadays.

        • armerjacquino

          I will say ‘politics’ is the politest of euphemisms and leave it at that.

          • Camille

            Well, I wasn’t there and don’t know the facts of the matter and there may well be fifty thousand shades of grey that apply. There are many reasons why people do what they do in times of war, especially those without a crystal ball nor not named Nostradamus, and why they are sometimes forced into doing those things, maybe many times without sufficient knowledge and naïvely. I am not excusing any of the atrocities nor condoning them but it is sometimes very difficult to separate fact from fiction and especially if one was not there. In re casus Lubin, mentioned on another thread--a very great singer who maintains she tried to protect her countrymen through her pre-existant liaisons with the Germans—and who know—she may be telling the absolute truth and was ultimately exonerated—she maintains it was only the jealous spite of her enemies that was at the bottom of it all. I have not listened to her interview, available in YouTube, and only en français, in which she explains herself, but I suppose I should take the time and try to focus my waning concentration to sort out what she has to spak. My distrust of divaspeak, in any language whatsoever, though, may give it all a huge discount….

            For instance, my mother used to recount to me that she heard “wild” accountings from persons escaped from middle-European countries, during the Second World War years, but they were just such outrageous ones, that they were given little credence. Guessing that nice white people in the U.S. didn’t want to believe the awful truth. An idea of the “hardship” which my mother encountered was her being restricted to nylon stockings instead of the then common silk ones. I know, laughable. Now that we have incontrovertible evidence of some of the facts, there are still those who would rather deny or duck them, and so it goes. It’s all ultimately unknowable, despite the rigorous scholarship and research by countless learned commissions and persons.

            And I’d best go back to my beLOVèd Der Freischütz and stop perusing this hopeless and irresolvable quandry.

            • armerjacquino

              Yes, I think Lubin had at the very least cause for complaint and I agree with you about grey areas.

              With Lemnitz, not so much. But I don’t intend to diminish any one else’s enjoyment or her singing- just to explain why I can never enjoy it. Same as I find it hard to love The Wasteland in the knowledge that A Cooking Egg exists.

            • On the subject of wartime hardship. The very grand grandmother of a friend of mine had meatless days as part of her war effort, when they only ate sausages, bacon, liver, kidneys, etc. It was she who once, when I was visiting, asked her grandson, “Colin, do people *really* eat baked beans? I thought it was just a wartime thing”. This was in the late 70s; still, every evening ,she made cocktails, from an art déco cocktail cabinet.

            • Camille

              Armerjacquino dearie—you are certainly talking to the wrong person regarding TS Eliot, as I am the farthest thing imaginable from an Oxbridge scholar, but my better half did know the poem and was puzzled as to your meaning. It sent him on a merry chase down the rabbithole of the world wide web, and he succeeded in finding the scholar who maintains that the reference to Mr Mond (Sir Alfred, that is), is emphatically anti-semitic. However, mayn’t it not just be that he is referring back to the epigraph in French which precedes it and making use of the fact that it is similar to “monde”? You’d have to speak further with Monsieur Camille, and he of course, eschews any parterre contact, as “You are bad enough, Woman!”, as he regularly tells me, while shaking his head in dismay and disbelief. at my parterrian utterances. He found it very thought provoking, nonetheless, and thanks you for the thought as he loves to spring Prufrock on unsuspecting, sleepyheaded and indifferent scholars st 8 a.m., to see them twist in the wind. Sadistic, no?

              Anyway, honey, Lemnitz did sing beautifully.

              Philip Larkin is getting a little space in that Poet’s Corner next Decemeber, by the bye.

              Here’s the poem, for others to parse, better than I. I frankly took exception to Lucrezia Borgia’s vilification, a woman more sinned against and victimised than perpetrator of crimes herself!


              Madame Blavatsky was, however, Madame Sosostris Herself! I once had a piano teacher who looked like her! Scared the scheiße outta me!

        • PCally

          Camille, the Furtwangler Agathe is her very finest performance of the role IMO. Ditto the Donna Anna she did with him. Extraordinary collaborations both from two of all time favorite artists. I love the section of fischer-dieskau’s memoir where he spends almost an entire page rhapsodizing about how perfect Grummer was in her ENTIRE repertoire.

          I’m always frustrated by Janowitz. To me it is THE most beautiful sound I have ever heard but in addition to being somewhat expressively inert, she’s sort of limited musically and technically. Her Fidelio is a bit of mess and I find her surprisingly disappointing in the Mozart roles she’s most famous for except, oddly enough, Fiordiligi, which seems to be the ideal fit for her temperament. I don’t know if you know this Camille, but she sang a very successful run of the Empress under Karajan and she’s actually quite good overall, similar to Schwanewilms in conception but with a freer upper register (later on her top sort of receded) and overall less effortful vocal production, with a timbre that is ideal for the character. Nothing like Leonie but more inward and vulnerable in an otherworldly way.
          My favorite roles of hers were Agathe and Ariadne (her Sieglinde is also weirdly intriguing).

          • armerjacquino

            She’s pretty perfect as Arabella, too- that tendency to a kind of poised placidity fits the character very well, and it could have been written for her vocally.

            I don’t know if you’ve sampled her Leonore on video rather than audio, but (as I’ve banged on about before, apologies to those of you who have heard me say this a million times) something caught fire in her as an actor in that part.

            • PCally

              armerjacquino, I wholeheartedly agree with you that the role seemed to get something out of her dramatically that most of her roles didn’t. And her sound is simply too beautiful for her not to be considered a major singer. I also admit that I’m biased to the all-out heroic Fidelios (Ludwig, Mattila). However on the dvd her performance, beautiful timbre notwithstanding, is a technical mess. She’s flat for large stretches, a lot of the loud high notes are just barely touched, and she sounds exhausted at the end. Considering that there are people who go on about the so-called golden age, it was surprising to me how much of the singing on that dvd is sub-par. Even Popp, one of my all-time favorites isn’t at her best.

            • parpignol

              I heard Janowitz sing Arabella once in Vienna, and yes, it was stunning--

          • Camille

            Thank you for your recommendation as I only know it from the recording with R Schock and can’t remember the conductor and I absolutely loved her there. Buster recently out on a short little video of her in rehearsal for Meistersinger~ which I found fascinating, as she appeared so lively and lovely, and not at all the sober Hausfrau I had seen in photos.

            Janowitz, I had the singular privilege of hearing sing Agathe at Wiener Staatsoper in one of her last manifestations in September 1987, and which experience I hold very, very dear. I grew up with her Ariadne which I found to be very expressive. She belongs to that school of calm lyrico sopranos, Reining was another sterling example, which legato made possible the most wonderful accounting of certain roles and which is now replaced by a lot of nervous, hectic vibrato and over-emoting. No wonder they don’t do poor, abused, kicked around Weber.

            • PCally

              Janowitz is, by a large margin, probably my favorite recorded Ariadne. The role suited her perfectly and I personally prefer the role sung more lyrically than full on dramatic. I unfortunately never was able to see her live.

              How as she sounding in 1987? From what I understand, flat high notes aside, the voice pretty much sounded exactly the same(?).

            • Camille

              Aside from a botched high H in the allegro section of the great scena, it was all there and really cannot recall any particular flatness, and if she were, I would have noticed it as any straying from the center of the note bothers my ear.

              Her “Und ob die Wolke” was just sublime, and one of the most beautifully realized things I have ever heard in the theatre. So, yes, what you have heard is pretty much exactly how I heard it, as well.

              She, further, evoked that kind of magical and dreamy, romantic Caspar Friedrich kind of thing when she looked out her little window at the commencement of “Wie nahte mir der Schlummer”. I will never forget it.

            • PCally

              Sounds like a lovely experience. That legato of hers was ravishing.

            • armerjacquino

              That would be around the time I saw her as Ariadne. With Murray and Gruberova- not too shabby.

      • Lohengrin

        Hi Feldmarschallin,something very close to me about Janowitz: when she was a young singer-student in Graz she one day sang a conzert in my home-village. She told my mother, that she would spend the money of that conzert to by a pait of stage-shoes. I heard her than as a very little girl of about 8 or 9 years age, but forgot the program…..

      • 98rsd

        Janowitz had the diction of an instrumentalist…

      • Camille

        Just exceptionally beautiful for the liquid legato of the line in both the arezit. And the cavatine, and with the most beautiful line to “Welch’ schön die Nacht” I have ever heard from anyone and like something out of a dream of lng ago. Vielen Dank, gnädige Feldmarschallin!

        There is also the example of Trude Eipperle of which I used to be most fond but have not now listend to for years:

        I have to go listen to Grümmer no and do my laundry.

        It is forever my regret that the Met, in its infinite omniscience and isdom, did not put on a production or get the old one out of mothballs anyay, of Freischütz back in the period 1995-2000 with Big Ben Heppner and Debbie Voigt. Yes, I mnow the German dialogue would have posed a problem but it could have been pared down in any case. It would have given the opera at least a chance to have been heard here again. Now it is not since 1971 and god only knos en and if it will be given again.

        Oh, that reminds me of a fiend’s idea for it: do a Regie version à la Duck Dhnasty, the American reality series on some TV channel. TLC or something. It’s all about guns and shootin’ and unhappy wymenfolks……

        • Camille

          Sorry, my iPhone is on its last legs and more typos than usual. Ciao 4 now.

    • armerjacquino

      Thanks, Camille! I really can’t imagine this aria better sung. It’s a perfect meeting of what the voice has and what the music needs.

      • Bill

        Janowitz was an ideal Agathe -- seen in Vienna under Boehm -- she had the requisite legato and always very clear German. I suppose before the war, Lemnitz and Reining were both ideal. Seefried in the Joachum DGG regarding is wonderfully characterful and makes much of the words. Her 1944 recording of Leise Leise is remarkable and extremely fresh voiced. Gruemmer was another wonderful Agathe on recording. We had Lorengar at the Met -- lyrical though with a bit more vibrato than the others above. Beatrix Fodor just heard in Budapest also has a lovely instrumental voice and must be one of the best Agathe’s today. I guess Schwanewilms would also be though I do not know if Agathe is in her current repertoire -- it should be.
        Isokoski some years back in Vienna was also splendid. Some singers however do not identify
        particularly with the role as there is not much
        space for dramatic acting on stage and consider the character too placid -- one must do it with the purity of voice, a flawless legato and with superb diction which most of the singers listed above had in spades. My first ever Agathe was Claire Watson in Munich in 1965 -- also quite compelling with just the right kind of personality for the role though
        not quite with the absolute gleaming vocal steadiness of Janowitz or Gruemmer. If Kuehmeier
        ever comes back on the scene, she might be a fine successor to the aforementioned. But alas her
        performances since the illness and death of her husband are very rare.

        • Krunoslav

          Gruemmer surely the best ever recorded Agathe,good as janowitz and M. Price are.

          I have had good luck with Agathe; Lorengar at San Fran, Michaela Kaune in Paris, Meade at AVA ( with Hymel!), Emily Pulley in Boston.

          • armerjacquino

            I had to re-educate myself about Grummer. Now I can hear what a wonderful artist she was, especially in Strauss, but when I first heard the 1954 (?) DG with Furtwangler I thought it was a flat-out horrible sound. I still don’t like her Anna much.

            • armerjacquino

              Wait: on revisiting it, I am a moron. This is clearly brilliant.

            • Cicciabella

              Grümmer’s Donna Anna is the one performance I always wish Mozart could have heard in his lifetime. I’m glad you quickly re-assessed your opinion, armerjacquino.

            • PCally

              Listen to the Furtwangler Anna. As with the Agathe they seem to be on the same wave length and the gentle aspirates she makes are absolutely perfect.

            • armerjacquino

              ciccia- ‘quickly’ is very sweet of you. It took about 25 yrs!

            • messa di voce

              If you don’t know it, check out the Mitropoulos Don Giovanni with the sublime trio of Grummer, Della Casa, and Streich. The best ever.

            • PCally

              amerjacquino, I also didn’t love her the first time I heard her. The voice doesn’t quite have the conventional blooming sound of Janowitz or Price. But the shimmer is all it’s own and she was arguably deeply touching in a way that has rarely surpassed.


            • Camille

              Absolutely remarkably able to stay inside the tonality at all times. Rarely done. A wonderful performance and thank goodness it is preserved for all those little Donn’Annas out there.

            • Krunoslav

              “Grümmer’s Donna Anna is the one performance I always wish Mozart could have heard in his lifetime.”

              Really- not this one?

            • Camille

              Fermati, briccone!!!!! Please make it STOP!!!!!!!!!

              I didn’t like the Zaïde, neither!!!!!!!

            • Buster

              Mojca Erdmann is Lulu right now in the new Kentridge production. Cicciabella, have you seen this? I might go to the final performance just for Grundheber.

            • Cicciabella

              Buster, I really liked the production: busy, but consistent of concept and beautifully executed. Grundheber was great as Schigolch and taught them all hoe to do it. William Burden sang and acted brilliantly as the Painter, and Larmore was a touching Geschwitz. Brenna (Alwa) and Reuter (Schön) were very good. The Personenregie could be better: the biggest issue with it is the relationshio between Lulu and Schön, or lack of it. There was just no hint of the strong ties that bind them, as in the recent Munich Lulu. However, when I went (opening night), the salient problems were: 1) the RCO was wasted under the replacement conductor, who did nothing more than get them competently through the score, and 2) Erdmann, who looked the part and sang the music well, but simply lacks the volume and nuance of colour for an effective Lulu. On the whole, it is worth seeing, though: for the production and the high level of the secondary roles, even the bit parts.

            • Buster

              Thanks, Cicciabella! It falls right in between two opera trips, but this sounds too good to skip.

    • Camille

      Just now running through this Freischütx for the second time and am having a hard time adjusting to this recorded version as it does not sound Weberian, but Wagnerian. Methought the sailors from the last scene of Holländer wandered into the first act, for example. The bad guy is super bad so that is a definite plus. Will continue listening.

  • Fidelia

    The French baritone Franck Ferrari died today in Nice at age 52. According to “Le Monde” he was ill with pancreatic cancer. Adiéu l’amic. Avi’es una bella vous e finda una bella anima.

    • redbear

      Stephane Degout tweeted that there was a standing ovation for Ferrari at Palais Garnier tonight. I, and Alagna, were at the opening at Theatre des Champ-Élysées where Aleksandra Kurzak (Maria Stuarda) and Carmen Giannattasio (Elisabeth) are now huge stars. Get your tickets before the reviews. It is one of the grand events of the season.

    • Krunoslav

      Sad; the last time i heard Ferrari sing he was quite moving and effective: Chorebe opposite Polaski at the Bastille, 2006.

  • LT

    Kasarova as Judit in Bluebeard’s Castle; Julia Migenes in La Voix Humaine.

    • WindyCityOperaman

      Interesting to see that Julia is still performing. She’s 66 and looks pretty good on stage. This is not her first go-around for Elle in Voix Humaine (movie version she starred in 25 years ago directed by her ex -- never seen it and am not sure it was ever generally released).

  • Resistopiu

    Cardiff Singer of the World 3rd night winner well worth a listen to this

    • laddie

      Nice of you to post the link but we here in the states can’t do the Iplayer thingy. Maybe it’s on Youtube?

  • laddie

    In honor of all things Der Freischütz, an opera I love ALMOST as much as Le Nozze:

  • Hippolyte

    A most unusual Freischütz pairing:

  • Cicciabella

    I took the venerable (but not in a stuffy way) m.croche’s advice and went to see Chinese opera diva Shen Tiemei at the Holland Festival. She was a young Buddhist nun longing to escape from the monastery in Si Fan, a traditional opera scene combined with a new composition, called The Inner Landscape. The mixed-media performance included a documentary about the making of the new opera,. The documentary and new composition by Guo Wenjing were interesting enough, but Shen Tiemei really kicked ass. She was totally believable as a very young woman and her singing, acting and and movement were all equally skilled. She communicated as only great performers can and the Dutch public loved her. Many a Western diva (and director!) could learn from her about portraying a total character on stage without compromising the quality of the singing. I was very glad there were surtitles and was reminded how much is missed by those listening to Western opera in a language they don’t understand. So hurrah for surtitles, Met titles and what have you!

    If m.croche or anyone else is interested, the documentary (in Mandarin & English with Dutch subtitles) is available here, barring area restrictions:

  • Feldmarschallin

    Herlitzius on fire last night in Erwartung. It can heard on the website of BR Klassik for 7 days free.

  • Resistopiu

    That’s a shame You tube doesn’t have any of the Cardiff but there is this He sang this at the competition better than this you tube version

  • I was supposed to see Andrea Chenier with Riciarelli and Carreras at the LOC in the 80s and both canceled. The replacements weren’t too shabby -- Domingo and Marton. As I recall, the sets hadn’t quite been finished. I think there was a strike or something. I could be remembering wrong, though.