Cher Public

Don’t axe me why

Conceived to showcase homegrown star soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, the Metropolitan Opera’s much vaunted so-called “Tudor Ring” of three royal operas by Donizetti got off to a bumpy start Saturday afternoon with a revival of Anna Bolena that stubbornly refused to cohere either musically or dramatically.  

Bolena has been grouped with Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux (as well as Il Castello di Kenilworth, which the Met will not be performing this season) for no other reason than they all feature royal personages from around the same period of English history. Although Beverly Sills was not the first modern soprano to sing all three leading roles—that was surely Leyla Gencer—it was New York City Opera’s mounting of the trio for her along with her recordings that likely occasioned the “Tudor Ring” tag, one that has stuck for over 40 years.

When it was announced that the Met was mounting these operas for the very first time, there was a lot of speculation that the announced Anna Bolena, Anna Netrebko, would sing all three. That rumor was quickly dispelled when Maria proved to be Joyce DiDonato. However, I was perplexed when I learned that Devereux would star Radvanovsky and that she would headline the inevitable troika.

Whenever these operas have been produced by a major opera company it has nearly always been done as a vehicle for a star bel canto soprano—besides Sills, one thinks of Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé, Mariella Devia, Edita Gruberová. Indeed these sopranos sang all three Tudor queens except Sutherland who eschewed Devereux’s Elisabetta. However at 46 and in her prime, Radvanovsky made her way to the top of the opera world as a Verdi soprano rather than as a bel canto specialist.

She has said that her recent assumption of the role of Norma in Bellini’s masterpiece had encouraged her to accept the offer of the Donizetti queens. But wasn’t her Norma more of a throwback to big-voiced Verdi singers like Zinka Milanov or Ghena Dimitrova or even Maria Guleghina who took on the Druid priestess? Although I enjoyed much of her Met Norma two years ago, it scarcely seemed a harbinger of other bel canto roles for Radvanovsky.

And, indeed, for much of the first act of Bolena on Saturday afternoon I was shaking my head and giving quizzical looks to the friend seated next to me. In her first scene, the voice was just not flowing with the expected ease: the cavatina was inelegantly shaped, the cabaletta slow and labored. Subsequent scenes did little to dispel my alarm, particularly the famed “Guidici ad Anna” phrases in the first-act finale. Here and elsewhere, Radvanovsky’s familiar sins of cloudy diction and disdain of singing off the words suggested a troubling unsuitability for this role.

Possibly because she had finally warmed up or because it just contains better music, Radvanovsky’s second act showed definite improvement. The heated duet with Seymour sizzled and the trio with Percy and Enrico was nearly as effective. Much of the demanding final scene was cleanly and eloquently voiced; “Al dolce guidami” in particular was beautifully phrased, and her quiet singing more tastefully integrated. Earlier she frequently resorted to quickly fining down the tone to a near-whisper—more as a stunt than as a meaningful gesture indicated by the music.

Usually one can count on blazing high notes from this soprano and indeed she interpolated quite a number of them, but there were as many strident misfires as successes—a disastrous final E-flat squawk to conclude “Coppia iniqua” was the most jarring. Judging the famous succession of trills in that cabaletta was complicated by Radvanovsky’s prominent vibrato; one wasn’t always sure if she was trilling or just exaggerating that feature of her voice.

I felt equally equivocal about Radvanovsky’s acting—never a charismatic performer, she failed to dominate the opera. Her characterization arrived in sentences, rather than chapters. Anna as victim came to her more naturally than Anna the proud queen, and the myriad emotions which cross Anna’s fragile mind during the “mad scene” failed to register. Her sudden lurches across the stage looked awkward rather than pitiable. Sir David McVicar doesn’t seem to have been much help to his leading lady, and, while this revival still looks quite handsome with its two enormous crowd-pleasing dogs, unfortunately it was mostly routine “stand-and-sing” business as usual.

One had to admire Radvanovsky for tackling of this daunting role; she could easily just keep singing lots of Toscas and Aìdas around the world. Perhaps later performances of Bolena will find her top register in better working order and maybe she’ll refine some of the more awkward interpolations and ornaments. It may prove illuminating to chart her journey through a season of Donizetti, on to Maria Stuarda and then to the role for which she seems best suited, Devereux’s Elisabetta.

Her erstwhile lover, Riccardo Percy, at least looked better than he did when this production premiered. During that run with Netrebko and Meade (both of whom I saw) I remember being distressed at Stephen Costello’s stage deportment. He shambled aimlessly across the stage rarely even looking at the singer he was addressing. This time, at least, he stood up straight.

Initially it seemed he might have conquered some of the issues that had been plaguing his singing in recent years. The voice retains its inviting Italianate sheen and gleaming virile high notes, but Percy’s challenges often were too much for him. The tessitura of his first aria proved a strain, and the athletic cabaletta of “Vivi tu” occasioned some missed notes. While Donizetti’s music might ideally suit him better than the Verdi and Puccini he’s been singing, Percy’s nearly defeated him—why then was he engaged to sing it again at this revival?

Enrico isn’t the dominating role that one might expect— he has no aria although does anchor several important duets and trios. As before, Ildar Abdrazakov reveled in playing the villain, looking like a Holbein portrait come to life and strutting around the stage like every old movie portrayal of Henry VIII. While one might have liked more bass solidity than this lighter bass-baritone was able to offer, his otherwise was one of the more satisfying portrayals of the afternoon. Slim and strikingly tall and boyish, Tamara Mumford too returned as a touching Smeaton, but her lovely warm low register has grown even more detached from her tight reedy top than it was four years ago.

As at the 2011 premiere, Giovanna Seymour should have been sung by the glamorous Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca but once again she withdrew, this time due to the recent tragically early death of her mother. However, any disappointment turned to rejoicing as the Met was able to engage Jamie Barton, the rising mezzo who had had such a striking succès d’estime there two years ago as Adalgisa. Barton who had not been otherwise engaged to sing at the Met this season was luckily able to fold six of the seven Bolena performances into her busy schedule.

Giovanna is the first character one hears and her short, guilty arioso immediately introduced (or reintroduced) listeners to the arrestingly opulent quality of Barton’s creamy voice. She and Abdrazakov made something dramatically interesting of their often brutal duet which is unfortunately one of the score’s more pedestrian sequences. Her fiery, anguished scene with Radvanovsky was the afternoon’s pinnacle, although it was unconscionable that both singers omitted so much music in order to blast their admittedly crowd-pleasing high notes at the end.

One wonders if bel canto will end up being a major part of this enormously promising singer’s career. The second-act aria was lovely but there was some unease in the cabaletta suggesting that florid music may not be her strength, and Giovanna’s high tessitura found Barton occasionally under strain. I was still extremely grateful, though, that Gelb and company had secured such a potent replacement for the elusive Garanca.

Marco Armiliato and his orchestra and chorus had a happier outing than they had had the night before at the mostly wonderful, occasionally harried Trovatore. Everyone stayed together, although the exhilarating stretta that concludes the first act threatened to run off the rails more than once. Bel canto does appear to play to Armiliato’s strength as an ideally supportive “singer’s conductor.”  But if one is going to mount this opera, why not do it with the musicological respect it deserves? The overture was omitted and there were troubling snips and “lay-outs” beyond that truly egregious one in the Anna-Giovanna duet.

One might want to catch Taylor Stayton when he subs for Costello on October 9and 13; the former date also sees Milijana Nikolic in for Barton as Giovanna. Radvanovsky next tackles Maria Stuarda (presumably minus DiDonato’s downward transpositions) opposite the returning Elza van den Heever and the debuting Celso Albelo in late January. McVicar concludes his production of this “Tudor Ring” with the Met premiere of Roberto Devereux in March with Radvanovsky hoping to repeat her Toronto success as Elisabetta while Matthew Polenzani and Garanca attempt to hide their illicit love from the jealous queen.

Photos by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

  • isoldit

    am seeing it Thursday, basically sums up my feelings about Radvonovsky in most operas, even Verdi, never compelling, and an effortful technique. Will also be seeing Gruberova do it in Wien in October, will be an interesting comparison. seeing Devia also in Roberto Devereux in Madrid, love those geriatric sopranos with great techniques. Speaking of geriatric, Did anyone else go to Millo’s half appearance in New York yesterday, billed along with Francisco Cassanova as the headliners of a gala for Amore Opera, This has-been was booked only to do the duet from Aida and LA LUCE LANGUE at the end of the program (She was the reason many of us bought tickets) She sang the duet respectably and then walked off and decided she would not do the aria) It was like giving the finger to the audience. She is at the stage in her career she cannot afford this diva nonsense. People came to pay respect to her past career and honor the artistry they remembered. Her attitude was a disgrace and I will never pay a penny to see her again.

    • la vociaccia

      I’ve never gotten Sondra and I find her especially difficult in bel canto, but Gruberova version 2015 is hardly doing anything better in this repertoire (I mean maybe her acting is better).

      RE: Millo -I don’t know why you’re being so vicious. It’s more depressing than anything else.

      • isoldit

        just watched a video of Gruberova’s 45th anniversary, she is in amazing shape, some pitch problems, and while the voice was never Italianate, she is still a great singer with an amazing technique that has allowed her to continue in this repertoire, along with Devia, way past the age of expected retirement. I have always gone out of my way to see Millo over the years, A friend of mine from out of town went to a lot of trouble to see her. It is not depressing, she was not in bad voice, it was simply her craziness. She always talks about serving art and opera, she did a disservice to her audience, art and herself yesterday. It was offensive. Depressing would be when Bergonzi crashed during the OTELLO at Carnegie Hall (I was there and it is the most depressing experience I have ever had at an opera) This was different. This is just her batshit craziness

        • la vociaccia

          Yeah we’re just gonna have to agree to disagree about Gruberova. What she has preserved of her voice is impressive and I appreciate her desire to continue her journey as a musician and interpreter but I can’t force myself to enjoy any of it, so that’s that.

          Re: Millo- When I said ‘depressing’ I was not referring to her voice but to the ‘batshit craziness’ that you mock. She’s not mentally well and hasn’t been for pretty much ever. There wasn’t anything funny about past-it Moffo and there’s nothing funny about past-it Millo.

          • isoldit

            but we paid good money to see her, if she is that insane, then amore opera should not be using her to sell tickets. she sold the tickets. not because we wanted to see a crazy lady have a temper tantrum, but because we wanted to see the artist we knew

            • la vociaccia

              Well I’m sorry you felt it was money wasted but I don’t know what you expected. She was unreliable in the 90s; why would it be any better in 2015?

            • isoldit

              what you seem to be saying below, and correct me if I am wrong (and I assume you were not at the concert) but you are saying anyone who is stupid enough to pay for a concert with Millo should not complain because she is so crazy we should not have counted on her even showing up or behaving any differently then she did.

            • la vociaccia

              Minus the crude name calling, yes, that’s what I’m saying. You’re smart enough to see the writing on the wall. Between the kickstarter campaign for a recording that hasn’t apparently happened, the Toscas in Genova that were cancelled and just about everything else that has (not) happened in recent years, if I were you I would have just been happy she sang the Aida duet.

            • Rudkin

              La Vociaccia, the kickstarter raised the money to do the Christmas Through the Ages, it asked for money only to do that as the proceeds were to go to saving animals from Kill Shelters. It is on ITUNES as she said it would be. The Genoa Tabarro was wonderful, and she was asked to return in Tosca. Tosca was indeed canceled, she went on to perform a recital in Toronto 2014, which was advanced by her web page, and the appearance with Teatro Gratticielo in Nov. as well for their twenty year anniversary. The summer was spent in Italy launching the Operavision Academy which will be returning next year for its second year, and featured master classes with Richard Bonynge. All announced and completed. You have the right to your opinion, but saying someone is mentally ill, is out of your pay grade.

            • la vociaccia

              So you’d prefer I didn’t defend her against vicious personal attacks on her character? No problem.

              The Tabarro was a ragged mess, by the way.

            • Rudkin

              the Tabarro is on youtube. for those who see you have no objectivity when speaking about Miss Millo. Decide for yourselves. There are also wonderful clips from this summer’s Concert in Carrara, which are quite good, Youtube as well. The Tabarro in Genoa was far from a ragged mess, but again, your opinion. You have an absolute right to your opinion. Defending someone by saying they are mentally ill? Defending by saying things are announced and not completed? Your gallantry falls short. The last word will be yours, I am not in a pissing contest with you. You will win.

            • la vociaccia


              Thank you for playing.

              And you know fuck-all about my appreciation/opinions on Millo or her singing, just that I A) think people should be kinder about her as it’s pretty obvious she hasn’t had the easiest time in the past 20 years, B) that she has been unreliable recently which she has and that I thought her Tabarro was rough, and I assure you I’m not the only person with that takeaway (as it stands only 18 minutes are on youtube- there used to be more).

              You can twist and turn it all you want, but if you think I have an axe to grind with Millo you’re barking up the wrong tree, darling.

            • Rudkin

              You are so much more the expert at the twisting, so I will leave it to you. We shall just agree to disagree. The Tabarro complete is up on Soundcloud and the clips from this summer are on Youtube. As is the recital in Toronto which shows the voice in pretty obviously good order. If you do know “-uck all” about her voice, you will be glad to hear it. Whatever the case, You win, darling.

            • la vociaccia

              I just find it curious that you have nothing to stay to the originator of this thread, who *actually* said some pretty cruel and offensive things. All I said was, in a nutshell “Be nice,” “she hasn’t been reliable for a while,” “Be thankful you were able to hear her” and “the Tabarro was rough.”

              Was ‘Christmas Through The Ages’a “new offering filled with Bel Canto arias not yet sung by Miss Millo, never recorded pieces of Italian Melodies, unknown Opera arias, and 2 special bonus selections” ? Because that is what the gofundme campaign purportedly was for. I apologize if I misrepresented facts by stating the kickstarter campaign did not come to fruition if that is indeed the case.

            • isoldit

              vocciacia, you are the real bitch here, I gave an honest assessment of what happened. you were not there and you just want to prove you are right. defending her by calling her insane is not actually a good defense. Millo has had a bumpy career, but given many of us great joy, even if her performances were often uneven. My anger was that in the autumn of her career she showed a total disregard for her fans who had to sit through a lot of mediocre and some wretched singing to see her. and then to have her walk of the stage and the utter confusion that followed until the conductor,then the first violinist and finally the rest of the orchestra just walked off stage and then we were told she was not feeling well, was offensive. A friend of mine came with me and we both planned the day around this event. It was not depressing, it was insulting. Millo had many great qualities, unfortunately, she is probably her own worst enemy and has hurt herself with not only many professional companies, but also with her fans. Your defense is nastier than my criticism. comparing her to Moffo is also ridiculous, Moffo literally was living in seclusion with no engagements whatsoever while talking about singing NORMA in Paraguay, etc. Millo has given a lot but has also not always behaved in a professional manner with either her coworkers or her audience. An audience will only remain loyal for so long.

  • Gualtier M

    The role of Giovanna Seymour was originally performed by a soprano Elisa Orlandi. Like Adalgisa in “Norma” and Agnese del Maino in “Beatrice di Tenda” this is meant to be a younger sounding lyric soprano to contrast with the darker, more mature soprano singing Anna Bolena. In fact, during the La Scala season Giuditta Pasta created “Norma”, “Anna Bolena” was done there as well and Giulia Grisi performed Giovanna Seymour to Pasta’s Anna. Casting mezzos is a 20th century tradition -- Pasta never encountered a contralto Giovanna or Adalgisa in her career. It was always sopranos judging from the repertory these singers performed and the scores that were written for their voices.

    Also, Pasta did not showcase sopracuti above maybe a C sharp touched on in a scale early in her career. Ditto Giulia Grisi who didn’t sing much above a fine high C for most of her career. So these coloratura high notes interpolatiosn so beloved of Sills (who needed something to end her arias dramatically since the voice was kind of light and slender for the roles) are another 20th century false tradition. Read Mrs. John Claggart on the other thread about the fact that the pauses in the music were for cadenzas which might touch a high note but end on a tonic in the middle register.

    Poison Ivy mentioned in her blog review that the final scene was restaged with Anna in a white gown and shorn hair in the manner of a mad scene.

    I agree with her that a fully dressed Anne (as she was on the scaffold) who is proud and almost defiant is closer to the character and history.

    • Camille

      Yes, that is all quite so, the soprano lirico business which you bring out, and it is very important to be aware of all this when listening in. That is what I initially liked so much about Ms Barton’s singing, in the Beatrice di Tenda, I could see she was being challenged by the tessitura of Agnese’s music. but she was smart, and knew just HOW to lift to get at her opening arioso, e.g.. They usually just try to pull it up or force it upward, and that just doesn’t work.

      I like the balance to be the original and the fact that this has been turned upside down in our current tradition should never failed to be pointed out.

  • Camille

    “…two enormous crowd-pleasing dogs” Yes, the two dogs got applauded upon their entrance and poor Tamara Mumford got none after her little scene.
    Since when do dogs get applause?

    Jamie Barton may be better off in Wagner. She bears an unfortunate resemblance to Melissa McCarthy and I had the curious sensation of watching a rerun of “The Gilmore Girls”, singing with Radvanovsky. Compared to Garanca, well, there is no comparison. It’s a very good voice, but I find really none of this Gelb-dubbed “charisma”…just nonsense. Very good and smart singer but there have been and there will be many more similar.

    It was wonderful to hear Stephen Costello on a day when he singing while awake. Only the very cut to shreds cabaletta of “Vivi tu” was a bit embarrassing. Otherwise, of the three times I have hitherto seen him in this role, this was the best. He was legitimately ill at the time of the original prima, so I’ll give him that. An operation of some sort, something like that. Now that I have seen and heard him again, I’d say that he was under undue stress back in 2011.

    As far as Miss Sondra is concerned, I hope she can continue to grow in this role but I would rather hear the Stuarda and, of course, the Elisabetta. I believe she has sung this twice before, in both Chicago (along with Barton) and in DC a few years back? So, it is not the first Sitzprobe for her and I would have expected a lot more. As there is a great deal of zinka’s CHEST involved in this role, perhaps the least congenial.

    What of the cuts to the Anna/Percy duet, Mr Christopher, mentioning egregious cuts? I am going to listen with my score during the broadcast to see what they did this time but I am betting that Philip Gossett is still one very unhappy camper about the decisions made in this.

    In the beginning, wasn’t it Maria Stuarda to Netrebko, Anna Bolena to Gheorghiu, and Elisabetta was…..was that Miss Fleming who was the designated Queen Elect? In the beginning, though, and that was years and years ago. From a YouTube I have seen of Angela Gheorghiu’s final scene in Bolena, I am thinking it would once have suited her very well.

    I will give it another few trials as I’ve always had unhappy experiences of this opera, and that includes the one in 1984 with Dame Joan. Sorry now I was boycotting the Carol Vaness ones in Seattle, when I had opportunity to have heard them — now I regret that decision, but as that was in her period of Callas imitations, I tended to avoid them.

    And, once more to please zinka, Olivia Stapp, was not chopped liver in this part. I can still recall the flaming apostrophe of “Coppia inquia”; back in the royally rich past of NYCO, R.I.P.!

    There is a recording on YouTube of a performance in Carnegie Hall with Elena Souliotis, with Janet Baker, and Domingo, and I think it is Horne — from back in the day. As her recorded version is less successful, I’ll try to listen in to that. For some reason, I have always had a difficult time with this work and I am not quite sure why.

    • Lady Abbado

      Hi Camille, as far as I know Gheorghiu recorded only part of the end: Piangete voi…Al dolce guidami -- but left out Coppia Iniqua (maybe on her next album :) one can (still) hope…

      • Camille

        thank you, Lady Abbado.

        There was a live recording from Bucharest in which I saw a rather young version of Angela sing this aria and it seemed to suit her so very well and makes one rather regretful it didn’t go forward. As Bolena has a great deal of singing and ‘parlato’ passages in the middle of the voice, however, that may have held her back. Probably the role of Maria Stuarda would have been placed in the most felicitous portion (the upper fifth and that marvelous high C) of her voice.

    • grimoaldo

      Camille said
      “I believe she has sung this twice before, in both Chicago (along with Barton) and in DC a few years back?”
      Dunno about Chicago but yes I saw Radvan in this part in DC, I enjoyed it so much I went back and bought a second ticket and saw it again. I thought she was absolutely splendid all the way through, she held the audience in the palm of her hand from her first aria, which she knocked out of the ballpark. The final scene was a tour de force.
      Giovanna was the wonderful Sonia Ganassi, who I had enjoyed often in London performances and the other members of the cast, whose names I cannot be bothered to look up, were I thought much better than those in the opening night of the Met’s production, which I only heard on the broadcast. The duet between Radvan and Ganassi was opera at its hair raising best.
      “The overture was omitted”
      Man, that is outrageous. I would have been so angry if I had paid money to go to Anna Bolena and they did not play the overture, which I love.
      Had I not gone to SF for Fabiano in Luisa Miller, I would have gone to NY for Trovatore and Anna B and I am convinced I made the right choice, I am still under the spell of Mr Fab himself (swoon).

      • Camille

        Right. Thanks for your corroboration, as I thought it had been you. Yes, Clita del Toro heard her and Barton in Chicago sing it, I think it was last season. So, they are experienced as a pair singing this work.

        Oh gad. Whatever happened to Sonia Ganassi? I only know her from an Elisabetta in a video of Maria Stuarda and thought she was terrific…am guessing she sings mostly in Italy. Very good voice and very good technique.

        I think Radvanovsky may have been under a whole lot less pressure in those performances in DC and this was really too much pressure here. It may change considerably over the course of the set of performances, or I do hope so……………………………..

        Please, you must make time to see the HD either this coming Saturday or the repeat on Wednesday, for you will be glad you did! I promise, or your money back!

        • grimoaldo

          OK Camille I will go to the repeat on Weds!

          • Camille

            Dima is counting on YOU!

            I would not urge you to do so but for the misery of that awful Trovatore we heard a year or so ago. This one will redeem the memory of that other, and that is why I want you to go. When you have a kick in the solar plexus like that it sometimes takes a long time to get up the gumption to believe in the art, but when you find it again, well, it is the redemption of all badness. I am no longer able to metabolize really bad performance anymore, they tend to make me kind of physically ill, so I do very well understand what you have gone through. At this point I try to screen things thoroughly but I sometimes jump the gun and go anyway. I had two bad experiences and one excellent one in the last week, so I am not quite steady again and will have to lay low for a while.

            Take your rosebuds where ye may and enjoy this Trovatore and lots of love from Camille.

            • grimoaldo

              I did see this same production Camille in San Francisco, was it six years ago? with Radvan, who I loved, Blythe who at least at that time was fine in the role unlike in that miserable broadcast you mention, Marco Berti and yes, the divine Dima.
              It was a great, unforgettable evening.

            • Camille

              Oh, was this the McVicar in San Francisco?
              I did not see it, unfortunately, I’ve forgotten now why that was.

              Well, you will know what to expect from Dima but he did very very well for someone under this terrible cloud of illness. I do so hope he will be able to completely beat this terrible disease and will have a full return to health. There was absolutely no sign of weakness in his performance in any way I could discern; clutching my opera glasses and monitoring his every movement as I did. I hope you will enjoy it when/if you go.

              They are tiving a La Favorite in DC in the spring--would you be going to that one? It stars Kate Alerich who, if challenged vocally the times I’ve heard her, is at least experienced in this role and a good stage actress. Washington Concert Opera I believe the name of the group is.

            • grimoaldo

              Yes I will go to that if my work schedule permits.

        • Cicciabella

          I believe Ganassi just sang the Verdi requiem in Amsterdam. If it was her, she got good reviews. PUM was there, so she can give you a live report. I didn’t go because Stoyanova cancelled “because of illness”, which, in this case, probably meant “because she’s rehearsing Aida in Munich.”

          • PushedUpMezzo

            Yes Miss Ganassi was very fine in that Requiem, if sometimes a touch over the top a la Cossotto. The voice has deepened a lot since I first heard her in Cenerentola, and she seems to be singing more than ever in Europe -- particularly Adalgisa, Sara in Roberto Devereux and Eboli. Loads of her on Youtube. The fondly remembered Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda might have been the one I saw in Verona with Mariella Devia -- polar opposites as it should be. The acting performance was all-out melodrama -- which I can forgive in this context, and at the curtain call she did a triple pirouette, raised her palms to the skies and (I think) kissed the stage floor. Glorious.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    That photo of Costello looks like a bear chaser at a rennaissance festival.

    • Camille

      you are so bad!!!

      • almavivante

        That’s not Costello in that photo; it’s Ildar.

    • DerLeiermann

      I think he’s handsome. I’m seeing him in recital in less than a month. I like Olga Borodina or else I’d go Giovanna Seymour on her.

      • manou

        …or on Barbara Frittoli?

        • DerLeiermann

          Someone outrun me already? I’m too self entitled to be one of the other three wives.

  • However at 46 and in her prime, Radvanovsky made her way to the top of the opera world as a Verdi soprano rather than as a bel canto specialist.

    Oh dear lord, are we STILL falling for that bullshit? With all due respect to the reviewer, he needs to take a little book are read a little more before he makes statements like this. For starters, every single Verdi opera up until Simon Bocanegra is a bel canto opera. Traviata and Rigoletto might be transitional works, but even those 2 are firmly rooted in bel canto with Rigoleto moving a little further away from it.

    Radvanovsky, from the beginning has positioned herself as a bel canto artists primarily. Her early roles have been Traviata, Leonora (in Trovatore), Elvira (in Ernani), Elena (Vespri, in both languages), Lina in Stiffelio (along with the seconda part in the same opera even earlier in her career) and Lucrezia Borgia. I want to say she has also performed Luisa miller, but that I am not sure if I am remembering correctly. with at least 7 bel canto parts in her rep how many more bel canto parts does she need to sing before she is given her due?

    • Correction: 8 Bel canto roles, as I forgot to include Norma

    • Camille

      Yes, you are correct, she did sing Luisa Miller, according to the Archives and not my faulty memory, twice in November 2001.

      I missed it, unfortunately, as I seem to miss every Luisa Miller. There is one projected for a couple of years from now with Yoncheva/Beczala.

    • So you’re saying Traviata, Trovatore, Ernani,Vespri, Stiffelio and Luisa Miller are not Verdi operas?

      • So you are saying that being a Verdi soprano an a bel canto specialist are mutually exclusive or are you saying that Verdi did not write a bel canto opera in his life, Cieca Crissima.

        • armerjacquino

          I don’t think anyone’s saying either of those things. I feel hairs are being split here. I think most people would understand the distinction between a Verdi specialist and a bel canto specialist, and most people would place Radvanovsky in the former camp. You’re right that early Verdi falls into the bel canto category, but we’re talking Venn diagrams here, not separate worlds.

          “Radvanovsky sings Verdi, bel canto Verdi, and non-Verdi bel canto, and is probably best known for her work in the first two of those categories.” That would be a strictly accurate way to phrase it, but dear god it’s so pedantic I could die.

          • However you want to see it, but I disagree. Starting a conversation about La Rad’s suitability to bel anti with the phrase “she never sings bel canto” is dumb.

            Any conversation about her suitability of these roles, which in my opinion is a valid conversation and there are valid reservations, have to start with the fact that for most of her early career she sang pretty much nothing BUT bel canto, and separating Verdi from that is inaccurate, unfair, and shortsighted.

            • armerjacquino

              Oh well, I tried. Someone else can have a go.

      • BB

        Are you saying that Verdi isn’t part of the bel canto tradition? The first TROVATORE Leonora was Rosina Penco. Here is her repertory:

        Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
        Don Giovanni (Zerlina)
        Vincenzo Bellini
        La sonnambula (Amina)
        I puritani (Elvira)
        Norma (Norma)
        Beatrice di Tenda (Beatrice)
        Il pirata (Imogene)
        Gaetano Donizetti
        Lucia di Lammermoor (Lucia)
        L’elisir d’amore (Adina)
        Don Pasquale (Norina)
        Lucrezia Borgia (Lucrezia)
        Linda di Chamounix (Linda)
        Poliuto (Paolina)
        Maria Padilla (Maria Padilla)
        Gioachino Rossini
        Otello (Desedemona)
        La gazza ladra (Ninetta)
        Matilde di Shabran (Matilde)
        Semiramide (Semiramide)
        Giuseppe Verdi
        Il trovatore (Leonora)
        La traviata (Violetta Valery)
        Un ballo in maschera (Amelia)
        Luisa Miller (Luisa)
        I vespri siciliani (Elena)
        I Lombardi alla prima crociata (Viclinda)
        Giovanna d’Arco (Giovanna)
        Saverio Mercadante
        Il giuramento (Elaisa)
        Giacomo Meyerbeer
        Roberto il diavolo (Isabelle)
        Errico Petrella
        Elena di Tolosa (Elena)
        Marco Visconti (Bice)
        Giulio Litta
        Edita di Lorno (Edita)
        Giovanni Bottesini
        L’assedio di Firenze (Maria)

        • Camille

          Wasn’t she supposedly the one to have sung the first Lady Macbeth but Verdi specifically requested in that letter of his that she be replaced as the voice was far too “dolce”?

          A very lovely looking little lady and with what an impressive repertory.

          • I don’t recall any relationship between Penco and Macbeth. Are you possibly thinking of Tadolini, to whom Verdi objected in the famous letter about the “stifled” voice, but who went ahead and sang the part and in fact had a success doing so?

            • Camille

              Tadolini, yes it could have been she, but it was wait a minute……it was Marietta Barbieri-Nini who first sang the prima assoluta of Lady Macbeth. I no longer remember to whom he referred in that letter, but it could have been La Tadolini. I have a very good book about Shakespeare and Verdi around but it is too dark at night and can’t see anything……..

              As you well know, not only my eyesight but my memory--not to mention my mammaries--are failing

              Rosina Penco was a very lovely little lady from a lithograph I have seen of her…of that I am certain.

            • Barbieri-Nini created the role at the Pergola in Firenze in 1847. After that Macbeth began to make the rounds of other theaters. The next year, 1848, it was to be presented in Naples, where Tadolini was prima donna. Even though she had had successes in Alzira, Lombardi, Ernani and Attila Verdi though her unsuitable for the part of Lady Macbeth and tried to have her replaced, unsuccessfully as it turned out.

              There is a story that Barbieri-Nini was famously very plain, to the point that Giuseppina Strepponi once noted her hyphenated surname and quipped, “If she can snag a husband, there’s hope for all of us.”

            • Camille

              oh thanks! I did not know about her as successor in this role in the Neapolitan set of performances.

              Brings very much to mind the similar case of Grisi succeeding Pasta as Norma, even though Bellini strongly discouraged the idea. Then he died, so she didn’t have him in the way, so…….

              Therefore, that letter was written subsequent to the original production. And yes, he specifically wanted Barbieri-Nini because he wanted and needed someone who looked as ugly on the outside as she was on the inside. I shall try to find that book which specifies all this language….I think I know where it is. Anyway, its title, and it is a very interesting read, is Shakespeare and Verdi in the Theatre by Gary Wills, of review of which may be found in the New York Review of BooksNovember 24, 2011 issue. It could be of real assistance to you in re Shakespearean Verdi. I haven’t read the Otello/Othello portion, only the Macbeth. It was the only good thing which came to out of the infamous Nadja Michael performances of the same opera.

              Beim Schlafengehen for the senior set!

            • Another Barbieri-Nini story is that a few years later, when Trovatore was the latest Verdi hit, the diva approached Verdi about devising transpositions and puntature in the role of Leonora so it would better suit her voice. Verdi replied that she should sing Azucena instead, adding “If I were a prima donna, I would much prefer to sing the Gypsy.”

              So apparently Barbieri-Nini’s voice must have been more mezzo than soprano (as we would think of those terms now) since very few true sopranos could make much of an effect as Azucena.

            • Camille

              YEAY! nearly knocked the bookcase over on myself in the dark but found the book, entitled in my version Verdi’s Shakespeare -- Men of the Theatre (maybe that other title only suggested the article in the NYRB?)

              Anyway—- I had it bookmarked at the very page where I was to have started up reading again…and on that day put the book down….oh wait…..

              It says, on page 31:

              “When the opera went to Naples in 1848, the impresario wanted to cast the beautiful soprano Eugenia Tadolini as Lady Macbeth. Verdi resisted emphatically: You know how highly I regard Tadolini, and she herself knows it; but I believe it’s necessary—for the interest of all concerned—to make a few observations to you. Tadolini’s qualities are far too good for that role. This may perhaps seem absurd to you. . . . Tadolini has a beautiful and attractive appearance, and I would like Lady to be ugly and evil. Tadolini sings to perfection, and I would like Lady not to sing. Tadolini has a stupendous voice, clear, limpid, powerful, and I would like Lady to have a harsh, stifled, and hollow (cupa) voice. Tadolini’s voice has an angelic quality. I would like Lady’s voice to have a diabolical quality.

              Verdi did not get the first soprano he wanted in 1847—Sofia Loewe, who had sung in the premieres of Verdi’s Ernani and Attila. She withdrew from contention for Lady Macbeth to have an abortion. As it turned out, Verdi was happy to get Marianna Barbieri-Nini for the role, not least because of her striking bad looks. In 1851, when she sang as Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia in London, the famous music critic Henry Chorley wrote of her:

              Unsightly is a gentle adjective as applied in her case. There is an expressive ugliness which can be turned to a certain account on the stage —an unmarked meanness of feature which genius can light up and animate, but Madame Barbieri-Nini’s uncomeliness was at once large and mean, a thing to be escaped from, and unvarying. ”
              Und so weiter. Then it goes on to describe Felice Varesi and his attributes. No beauty queen, he.

              Goodness me, how Chorley would be excoriated for his un P.C. ness these days.

              Well now that I have written out My Corrections, I shall never, ever again forget that it was La Tadolini and not La Penco whom he described, as I don’t know how many times I have read that letter and STILL managed to forget and confuse the matter. Think there may be a letter about La Penco somewhere which I am thinking as well, in which V. describes her voice3, but don’t know where.

              This really IS a good book. Thinking I’ll read up on the Othello/Otello section now.

              Basta e buonanotte! I just had to put that issue to bed, too!

            • “YEAY! nearly knocked the bookcase over on myself” -- risking death like Alkan.

            • Camille

              You know, NPW,
              and you may not believe this—
              but I did think of him in that very terror-struck moment when the entire case wobbled back and forth. And I couldn’t remember HIS name, either! Except his Christian name which I recall as Charles? Or Yves, or Jean-Baptiste, or maybe even Tom, Dick or Harry. At any rate, Monsieur Camille has told me that it is possibly all a legend that grew up around him. Wasn’t he reaching for a kabbalistic book while he was at it? I don’t know as I wasn’t there.

              This bit about my memory playing such tricks on me has me very perturbed and am headed for the vitamin store to buy more lecithin. Helps with the grey hair as well.

              What is going on at Théâtre Champs-Élysée at the moment?
              Oops, better put on my granny glasses. I never do first thing in the morning and then later have to contemplate my orthographical horrors.
              Au revoir!

            • The first thing I have at the TCE will be Theodora. It will be my first live experience of Jaroussky (he isn’t singing Theodora, though).

            • Camille

              I’d be interested to hear about it as I ordinarily wouldn’t be all that interested in this EXCEPT for Jaroussky, who has kind of caught my fancy from the bits I have heard of him on YouTube, as much for his good looks as for his unUSUALLY pleasant timbre of voice. I’m not proud of being influenced by his good looks as I try to be as impartial about that as possible. Sometimes I fail, and in his case, I have done just that.

              It will be given here sometime in the upcoming season and had been debating about going, soooooo, let me know!!!

            • I’ve been told that he’s a very musical singer but that his voice is tiny. We’ll see.

            • Personally, I’m not an unconditional fan of male altos in opera. Often they seem to me turn out to be the weak link in a cast -- underpowered and at times grotesque.

        • BB

          The point being that do you think Penco saw Trovatore and said, “What is this strange heavy demanding new music this Verdi fellow is sending me? I can’t relate to it. How am I supposed to sing this avant garde stuff totally unrelated to what I’ve been singing for years? And look at all these trills and these fioriture? Who writes that? I mean it’s like some weird Wagner or Alban Berg if I only knew who they were.” No, she sang Verdi operas (some very demanding ones, too, much the same as Rad) AND would have considered them part of the tradition she grew up in.

    • Greg.Freed

      People use the term “bel canto” to emphasize different qualities in a rather large set of operas. I think it’s clear that Mr. Corwin is noting (and I would agree) that Radvanovsky’s florid technique isn’t her strong point, so roles like Leonora in Trovatore, where you can fudge a few runs in “Di Tale Amor” and still be a great success, make more sense for her than ones like Bolena where it just makes up too much of the role.

      And indeed, the clip that was online from “Coppia iniqua” for me was a bit of a wipe-out from a singer I’ve been a big fan of for years. Ballo (also Verdi without make-or-break coloratura) has surely been her best work. I certainly hope she goes more in that direction and does less of this kind of thing, irresistible as it must have been to pull the hat trick.

      • And there lies the problem, when we say green when we mean blue. Bel canto is a specific term that encompasses both a time period and a style of singing, both of which were cultivated during Verdi’s career, or at least during his early successes; so saying, or implying that a singer does not sing bel canto because she sings Verdi is incredibly shortsighted and inaccurate.

        Any discussions Radvanovsky’s suitability to Anna Bolena can not start with the frase “well, whenever sings bel canto” because you automatically lost.

        And tugging lines and coloratura in Verdi is a product of our lowered expectations because of the singers that have been set forth on those roles and not because it is acceptable, as singers like Callas, Dimitrova, Caballero and several others proved through their performances.

        • Correction: any discussion of La Rad’s suitability to Bolena can not start with the frase “well, she never sings bel canto”

          • armerjacquino

            True. Can you point me towards one that did?

            • However at 46 and in her prime, Radvanovsky made her way to the top of the opera world as a Verdi soprano rather than as a bel canto specialist.

              Given how, except for Amelia in Ballo and Aida, every single one of her Verdi roles is bel canto, how is this not a paraphrase of the statement I made above?

            • armerjacquino

              It doesn’t say ‘she never sings bel canto’. That’s a phrase of your own invention.

            • armerjacquino

              I can’t believe I’m having to say this, but saying ‘not a specialist’ is not the same as saying ‘never sings it’.

            • And there lies the problem, what I am saying is that La Rad positioned herself exactly the opposite way the reviewer calls it. With all the early Verdi and Lucrezia in her early part of her career, she positioned herself as a bel canto specialist.

              The reviewer implies that La Rad’s incursions on bel canto are a new thing, when she has been singing bel canto since the beginning of her career. How could you say “she’s not positioned herself as a bel canto specialist” when she basically sang nothing but bel canto with rare excursions to Puccini, Dvorak and Alfano?

              You might see it as splitting hair, but my second point is that you can not separate Verdi from the bel canto tradition he belonged up until he composed Bocanegra.

            • Krunoslav

              ” she basically sang nothing but bel canto with rare excursions to Puccini, Dvorak and Alfano?”

              Funny, I seem to have heard Sondra as Micaela, in FINTA GIARDINIERA, as Donna Anna, as Gutrune and as Rosalinde as well.

              Plus, she has also done Lucrezia Borgia-- better than that of America’s Soprano--as well as her previous Bolenas.

            • la vociaccia

              Sondra also sang (with little distinction) the title role in Susannah with Chicago Lyric some time ago.

            • Funny, I seem to have heard Sondra as Micaela, in FINTA GIARDINIERA, as Donna Anna, as Gutrune and as Rosalinde as well.

              Sondra also sang (with little distinction) the title role in Susannah with Chicago Lyric some time ago.

              Thank you both for the addition/clarification. And also from strengthening my point that the core of her rep was bel canto; given how she dropped the non bel canto roles after a few performances but continued to sing the Leonoras, Violettas and Helenas.

            • la vociaccia

              I’d say that while she certainly sang many roles that fall under a bel canto umbrella, she did not quite display any qualities intrinsic to a bel canto stylist. She never had an even scale and the voice never moved without effort. So while she sang a whole lot of roles a bel canto specialist might excel in, I don’t recall her ever sounding like one.

            • Porgy Amor

              I don’t see a problem with Mr. Corwin’s phrasing, Lindoro. If someone talks of loving bel canto, or wishing there were more bel canto operas in a Met season, my mind is immediately going to Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Not Rigoletto and Trovatore, or even Nabucco and Ernani. I understand your points about the traditions Verdi inherited and about his gradual development of them, and yes, there are remnants of bel canto even as late as Eboli’s Veil Song, but I think you’re pushing back against something that’s just too heavy in popular understanding and shorthand.

            • This is nonsense. In general singers don’t “position” themselves. They look at the offers sent to their managers and then they accept them or reject them. The statement about how SR “made her way to the top of the opera world as a Verdi soprano” doesn’t, I think, imply prior intent, but rather is a description of history. She had some early success in Verdi parts which led to her being offered more in the same genre, and now she is best known as a performer of Verdi.

              There was no grand master plan to work her way into the “Three Queens” or anything else. Peter Gelb offered her the parts and she accepted them.

    • DellaCasaFan

      Lindoro says: “For starters, every single Verdi opera up until Simon Bocanegra is a bel canto opera.”

      Not necessarily all and the roles such as Odabella and Abigaille would hardly fit a traditional bel canto repertoire.

      • My first instinct is to disagree, but before I do that, let’s hear your arguments; clearly you do not expect to be taken at face value without at least backing up your assertions with some evidence or arguments to support it.

        • DellaCasaFan

          Fair enough. The heft, dramatic quialities, and occasional violent outbursts weigh more heavily in some of Verdi’s warrior heroines, most prominently in Odabella and Abigaille, than ornamentations and florid passages. Bel canto dramatic coloratura needs both qualities or “the balance of drama and agility” as Ardoin likened Callas to Pasta.

          It also exlains why, with the exception of Loewe and perhaps a couple of other historic sopranos, most Abigailles or Odabellas are rarely also accomplished as Elviras or Gildas.

          I’m also not sure if most of Verdi’s earlier operas can be labeled in tutto as “bel canto” though they certainly contained a large measure of this tradition. Back to Nabucco, for instance, I see a greater parrallelwith Rossini’s Mose from his grand opera stage than his earlier bel canto period.

  • operaloverga

    Being only acquainted with Radvanovsky from you tube videos, I am amazed that she has garnered the acclaim she currently enjoys. I think she is totally unsuited for Bel Canto works as witnessed by her odd high note interpolations (I heard the Bolena from Chicago) Her habit of skipping so much of the coloratura passages, saving herself for ear splitting screams on high notes is baffling in the extreme. Why she has been given all performances of all 3 operas is puzzling. I think Angela Meade would be far more effective in all of them as after all she is a proven exponent of the technique required to competently sing this music. Sondra in my opinion should not be mentioned in comparison to Devia or Gruberova. Is she the best the Met has to offer us? The other 2 sopranos don’t need the Met and never have.I also include Elena Moscu, I told my friends who live in Brooklyn that I wouldn’t walk across the street to see Sondra in anything even if the tickets were free. I predict if she continues the journey she is on that soon she will sing no more.
    As for Stephen Costello, he is a wooden, totally un-involved singer who should never have been re-engaged. A handsome face and figure as far as they go, but in his case the voice doesn’t go far enough- I came to NYC to see him with Devia in the Devereux and was appalled by his portrayal, never once registering any emotion or even looking at other singers in duets. The role was beyond him and from the glances directed towards him by Devia, it was as thought she was thinking, “Are you kidding me?” But back to Bolena, he has no high D as witnessed in his cabaletta to Vivi Tu. When it suits him, he merely stops singing when the bravura passages come. NYC audiences will easily see the difference when Celso Abelo sings the part. He is a bel canto singer of the first rank and fears no high note. I would love to see the reviews after he sings Percy.

  • siegmund

    I have found it strange that she added these Bellini and Donizetti roles to her repertoire after being recognized as a verdi soprano, not that these bel canto composers are any less then Verdi. I think roles like Salome, Chrysothemis, Empress, Senta, Sieglinde, Turandot and Minnie would really suit her voice.

    • Camille

      Chrysothemis, yes, I can hear that. It is of perhaps interest that she was a part of an Elektra from around the turn of this century in which Deborah Voigt sang the role of Chrysothemis, so it’s not as though she would not have been unfamiliar with the opera.

      She also sang a clump of Musettas early in her career at the MET.

      The first time I recall hearing her voice was as the Priestess in an Aïda with Guleghina or Voigt or Someone. The sound of her voice, from backstage, was truly arresting to my ear and remember noting her name on the program.

      I think the Kaiserin, because of the facility with height and the ability to dominate the orchestra, and also Minnie are also ideas. Very interesting to contemplate, anyway, in the Opera Baseball Fantasy of the Imagination. Now, kashania just mentioned Turandot today, and I had never considered that role, but it makes sense in many ways.

  • Rowna

    Whether you consider Radvanovsky a bel cantist or a Verdi soprano, is immaterial in discussing her performance in Anna Bolena. I found that from the moment she started singing there was so much stridency in her voice. I used to think that the top was steely but the rest was rich. On Saturday I found no warmth in her voice, just shrill tones. Of course it isn’t fair to compare singers, but the last Anna Bolena I heard was Anna Netrebko. Her interpretation of the role was very touching, especially in the final act, up to Coppia whatever. (Yes my Italian is horrible.) Ms. Rad’s final act just missed the mark so much to me, and then the explosive high notes out of no where. What did it all add up to? I must be in the minority because she sure got a lot of cheers at the end and Mr. Tom of the NYTimes had glowing things to say about her. Maybe my headphones malfunctioned . . . but Ms. Barton sounded very good.

    • Camille

      Rowna dear,
      Your headphones were just fine. You heard about the same that I did, and it makes me very sorry to say so, too. I had hoped for better.

      Mr. NY Times writer is between a rock and a hard place. He has got to write positive stuff as people refer themselves to the Times when considering coming to the Met, flying in from out of town, driving in, et cetera.

      I think that misbegotten Eflat at the end was an attempt to distinguish herself from Netrebko’s Bolena. She did not take it. I no longer remember if Meade did, most likely in her case. It all looked to me to be a concerted, conscious effort to distinguish herself as ‘other’ than Netrebko in this role, as she knew very well what she was up against. It did not succeed for me.

      I think the role of Anna Bolena is a very special and particular one (one of Geoffrey Riggs’s “assoluta roles” in his book) and it is a rare combination of qualities that combines to make it work. Maybe Gencer did it best, or, of course, the only Maria. I would not know, but I have heard several of them and none of them have given me really a complete and satisfactory experience. Netrebko’s take on it was better in some ways than many of the others, including the characterization of the Queen as a proud person and of fiery temperament. Sondra’s Anna had a great deal of “victim” stamped all over her from the beginning and the course of the action therefore became rather more predictable.

      A depressing afternoon for me as I had so hoped she would be able to maintain what she had established with her Norma, which was, for any of its impediments that others may perceive, cut from entirely a different piece of cloth than this royal robe was.

      E basta!

      Nothin’ wrong with your headphones in Pittsburgh. Don’t worry

  • javier

    I listened to the broadcast. Honestly, I am just waiting for Maria Stuarda and Elisabetta because Radvanovsky has already repeated sung Bolena many times before. I think that her Elisabetta will be great. I can’t wait.

    Maria Stuarda also seems like it will fit her voice pretty well, she has to be better than Joyce DiDonato that’s for sure.

  • javier


    When I play Rad and Trebs back to back here’s what jumps out:

    Netrebko is the better actress and knows how to sing for a camera.

    Radvanovsky is singing in a higher key and interpolates high notes (like them or not).


    If we had a singer could combine the acting and looks of Netrebko, the range of Radvanovsky, and the technical precision of Sutherland we’d have the perfect Bolena.

  • melbapatti

    Has everyone forgotten Miss Scotto’s Anna Bolena in Philly in December 1975? Susanne Marsee as Giovanna (good tops in this and as Sara in Rob Dev w/Bev), Ramey as Enrico, the young Katherine Ciesinski as Smeton, and my dear friend Frank Munafo as Hervey. Stanley Kolk was Percy but I think his part was cut to smitherines. Rudel conducted, and it’s readily available on CD. Scotto hadn’t lost any weight yet, but as we all know from her final Met Lucias, she HAD lost her Eb, so thankfully there was no squawking at the end of the opera (HRH St. Maria never took that note either). I was only 23 at the time but I thought it was a thrilling, moving, beautifully sung performance. Still do. At the end of Act 1 she started singing seated from a throne upstage center high atop a Turandot-like staircase. She slowly rose during the ensemble, took a slightly lemony but Academy-of-Music-filling long high D at the end, and during the playout fainted and fell head first down onto the upper steps. It was the most realistic moment imaginable, and got a huge ovation. Her recit before Al dolce guidami remains a lesson on how a Donizetti recit is supposed to be sung. She was so good at Bellini and Donizetti recitatives. She had her flaws for sure, but in my opinion they were greatly exaggerated by her detractors. She made some strange rep choices, too, but Anna Bolena was not one of them! She should have sung it more, but like Rudolf Bing, many general directors at the time thought this opera was a bore. I wouldn’t trade her Butterfly or her Gilda or her Violet for anyone’s and am very glad she’s getting the award next month.

    • Camille

      “She was so good at Donizetti and Bellini recitatives”. YES, she was! A nd never fail to marvel at her textbook examplar, in my unhumble opinion! My delight is in listening to her recitativi in La Straniera, for she makes it all come so alive one can imagine sitting in a parterre box and being time-tunneled back to 1829 or so. She should be drilling this into the heads of her little charges when she works with them at the MET.

      What a thrilling Act I end. Divine madness and all that, sigh!

  • melbapatti

    This was my first reply on this website; please define “awaiting moderation”! Thanks

    • The first time a new commenter submits a comment to parterre it is held until the moderator (that is, me) can review what is written and approve it. This procedure helps prevent spam from appearing in the comments section.

      From time to time a member of the commenting group who has broken the rule of personally attacking another commenter will be placed on “moderation” for a brief period, which means all comments from that writer will have to be approved individually before appearing publicly.

  • thenoctambulist

    Why would Sondra continue to spend large time in bel canto repertoire? Vocal agility, even scale are only one part of bel canto requirements. The other part is her dark voice. I think she has said too many times in the past that when she started her voice was challenging for opera managers to accept. In timbre, it is very similar to Miriciou or Calls (though not metallic as the latter.) For whatever reason, opera companies seem to prefer bright plush voices for Aida and other Verdi non-bel canto roles. This left her to explore Verdian “bel canto” roles which are not done usually by Zinka Milanov , Tebaldi type of standard Verdi Soprano (Lindor’s distinction is very useful). Only when she has made a name for herself singing Trovatores and Italian Vespers, she ventured into Aida and Tosca.

    Meanwhile, turns out that the other star soprano of the current generation, Anna Netrebko ventures into bel canto for similar reason. Renee Fleming has an outstanding low register which is why she did a lot of bel canto pieces as well. Since the top most contemporary sopranos are all getting involved in bel canto revivals, it’s a no-brainer for Sondra to venture more deeper into the core bel canto territory.

    • la vociaccia

      Opera managers had no problem with her timbre when she started; the universal complaint was that she couldn’t sing in tune.

      • thenoctambulist

        The pitch problems are mostly internet chatter. Sondra herself has hinted that the distinctive timber of her voice was the problem. Here’s Gelb agreeing that it was a problem and he changed his mind only after seeing her as a performer.

        I also remember her mentioning this in a couple of interviews. I will try and find them.

        • thenoctambulist

          ““But I’m not cookie-cutter,” she added, describing herself as “living proof” that with patience, an unconventional voice can find its way to success.”

          She compares her voice to Callas’s in the sense that audiences “love it or hate it.”

          Ms. Radvanovsky said she believed that young singers with unusual voices were discouraged by teachers who offer standardized instruction and promote a uniform, pretty sound.

          Should I excerpt more?

          • la vociaccia

            No, because excerpting quotes from Rad herself is not going to be very helpful. Of course she would say it was her voice that caused such divisive reactions, and not any technical issues.

            There was hardly any ‘internet chatter’ to be found when she arrived at the Met in 1995 with consistent tuning problems. That is the time period I’m referring to.

            • thenoctambulist

              Why should we believe the lady who owns the voice and the manager of biggest opera house in the world who is hiring her?

              When I said her pitch problems were internet chatter, I did not mean that they were not real. They might be but that was not the reason why Sondra was facing problems early in her career. I dare say half the opera singers have some sort of pitch issues. But her dark unconventional voice.

              You can read the article again and find Gelb himself confessing that it took time to convince him to use her as a Verdi dramatic soprano and only since then has Sondra sung Aida and Ballo at the Met.

              It is clear that because of her dark voice started singing Verdi bel canto roles those which would not be touched by a standard Verdi dramatic soprano who would rather sing Aida, Forza and Ballo, not Italian Vespers and Trovatore.

            • la vociaccia

              Because she’s a human and humans have a tendency to not tell the whole story if parts of it reflect badly on them. Saying ‘people didn’t get me’ is less damning than ‘people thought I didn’t sing well.’

              In actuality, her voice was far less ‘dark’ and ‘unconventional’ at the start of her career than it is now; it was just wild and uneven, which turned a lot of managers and presenters off.

            • la vociaccia

              And I simply do not know what you are saying about singers who would sing Aida, Forza and Ballo not touching Trovatore and Vespri.

              I mean, do we *need* to list off the sopranos who sang Aida and Trovatore? Because that could take a couple weeks.

          • la vociaccia

            And that second quote from her is dreadful. There’s a difference between being distinctive and being problematic. Teaching someone to fix their vocal problems isn’t stripping them of their individuality (despite how many people seem to think vocal problems *are* individuality.)

          • Cocky Kurwenal

            Dismissing the pitch problems as internet chatter is absurd -- how and why would all sorts of people who don’t know each other from different parts of the world all raise the same concern on forums such as this one if it wasn’t a real thing? It is to her great credit that she seems largely to have conquered this particular issue, based on what I’ve heard of her Anna Bolena -- few singers ever actually improve their techniques once they get seriously busy -- but for a long time they marred nearly everything she did.

            People talk about Radvanovsky’s awkward or inhibited acting, her intonation, her fast and narrow vibrato, her hard edged timbre, her inorganic phrasing -- it’s all 1 single issue, and that is tension. She does seem to be getting better but it’s frustrating and a shame that she just can’t let go. It’s not easy to do and takes years of work.

            And also think that Radvanovsky herself, of all people, is the least well placed to talk about what people experience when they hear her voice.

            • Yes, the pitch issues were very real. And I say this as a fan.

            • Camille

              Pitch, or is it more one of intonation, as, with all that vibrato flutter, due in part I am convinced because the poor lady learned to sing with a big vocal node on her cords/folds, and the vocal mechanism was therefore making necessary compensations and adjustments?

              That node was removed at least ten years ago, but by that time, she was already in mid-career and the habits of many years had set in. I will go get that article when I return later.

              The curious thing about this, kashie, was that her appearance seemed to betray a return to that former insecurity which I DID NOT see on her face (up close in my box and with the opera glasses for the blind watching her closely). Neither did she look that way in the subsequent Tosca, in December. Now, last spring in the Ballo in Maschera, a rehearsal at 11:a.m., I heard a lot of muddy sludgy sounds in the first act, but that would be expected. As she knows this role very well, she was able to recover herself in the second act and the third act was quite good.

              I am quite interested in her example as she does have an unusual combination of strength and ability/agility, coupled with some marvelous, at least in the past, sovracuti, and she seems to be the very quintessential all-American nice woman, so I am rooting for her in this one, however, it was a rocky start. Surely, a 1:00 p.m. matinee did not HELP, as well, as you have previously correctly deduced.

              Next time I attend I will be seated in an entirely different space to see what the sound is like in various parts of the house and how it impacts. As this opera I have some familiarity with and there are great lacunæ where I am at sea, it is an opportunity to finally nail it down some more. As well, I want to determine for myself just how much of the Anna/Percy duet they are doing — probably the same truncated version as before!

              It would be NICE, with this so-called “Tudor Trilogy” (a name which has irritated me for 40 years and I just can’t believe it is being revived once more, sigh), if a real specialist of these romantic period operas and a Donizetti specialist would have been attendant. I remember that it was Edoardo Müller who conducted the Vaness Bolena in Seattle, more than twenty years ago now, and a friend of mine who worked there told me the entire rehearsals and everything that they had previously rehearsed had to be raised up to another level when he came in to conduct and it challenged Vaness to do the best. I remember only vaguely listening to her at the time, over the radio transmission, and now I kick myself for not having attended. Tired of the Callas eyeliner right at that point……..if you know what I mean.

              Sorry to be a long-winded old biddy. Au revoir!

            • Camille

              Pardon, I forgot — I did not see that same insecurity in the NORMA, ecc ad nauseam…….

            • la vociaccia

              I just don’t know how much that node had to do with it, Camille. The anatomy can’t be responsible for everything. It’s causation vs correlation for me. The way she was singing (with the tension Cocky mentions) would definitely have exacerbated the node but I do not believe she would have learned to sing a certain way because she had a node. After all, her problems weren’t particularly out of the ordinary- she was a big talent with a big voice that was (and to me still very much is) unevenly produced.

  • Call me crazy, but after seeing Turandot this week it occurred to me that RADS should sing Turandot. Her voice is huge and the Tessitura should hold no peril for her. Yes?

    • DerLeiermann

      I agree with this. Her high C can be huge and drown orchestra and chorus with her trumpet like sound. It seems like a good fit.

    • Yep, I’m totally with you on that one (and have said so on a different thread). Her huge penetrating top is the glory of the voice. She’d sail through the music with relative ease.

      • armerjacquino

        I want to agree- the logic is right- but her TOSCA has always been problematic for me. She ought to eat it up but somehow the Puccinian line doesn’t suit her the way Verdi does- kind of like Mattila.

        • Camille

          yes, I thought so as well, until I went to hear the Tosca that came after the Norma success — I had forgotten about that. That Tosca came out very well and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, as Bianca Castafiore had exclaimed in horror about her acting in the first one she gave her, a couple years before.

          I think kashania’s idea about the Turandot is really quite a good one as the power and the ease on the top, are what they mostly all lack when they cast with a “Dramatic Soprano” (here I am thinking of that sad scene with Eaglen back in her day, pushing and a shoving and a heaving)--and La Radvan could just go for a stroll in the park with this one. If Dame Joan sang it way down the line after a raft of belcanto works, well then, why not?

        • I only heard parts of her first Tosca at the Met when she was having noticeable pitch problems (though the “Vissi d’arte” was gorgeous). I didn’t hear the second one which apparently went much better (as Camille mentions below). Also, I think Turandot’s vocal writing is a bit more “blunt” for the lack of a better term. And so much depends on how well the soprano can conquer the high tessitura and sail over the massed orchestra and chorus.

          • StageLefty

            I was surprised a few years ago (2008?) )when she was cast as Suor Angelica in a new Trittico in LA -- I had thought of her pretty much as a Verdi singer, period. Good for her in proving me wrong -- I was totally impressed with her vocalism (no pitch issues that I noticed) and moved by her dramatic choices. For me, Senza mama and the finale were probably as good as you’ll get.

            Singers who excel equally and consistantly in bal canto AND verismo (I’m talking live performances) throughout their career arc are rare -- time will tell for Radvanovsky. I think a Turandot could be pretty thrilling with her voice. Not huge, but a gleaming edge to cut through. She would need a tall Calaf -- that may be the real challenge in doing it!

    • Chenier631

      I was at the Bolena on Saturday, and thought Sondra was just sensational.Barton, too. Sondra’s voice has been added to my list of “force of nature” voices!!!
      I too think she should sing Turandot. Her voice can be gigantic at the top and I don’t think Turandot would tax her in the least. Her voice is about a thousand times bigger than Christine Goerke’s, and I am sorry, but I just don’t hear why anyone would think Goerke is a true dramatic soprano. I just don’t hear it. Turandot, for me, used to feature true dramatic sopranos, such as Nilsson, G.Jones, Marton, and Dimitrova,etc.
      Goerke’s voice is just not very big, and her top notes thin out.
      As for Sondra, some people just don’t like her voice, and I can understand that.
      But for those of us who do, we here in NYC are getting plenty of her this season.
      I saw her do Roberto Devereux in Toronto, and it was superb.
      Besides Turandot, I would love Sondra to tackle Lady Macbeth and Minnie…….


      • I’ve heard both Goerke and Radvanovsky in the same venue in Toronto and found both of them to have very big voices. Yes, Goerke’s voice loses volume on top where Rad gains volume. But your comparison of the twodoesn’t jive with my experience.

    • sdika

      I think I read an interview where she sadi she would be singing Turandot at some point. I also thought this would be a great fit for her

  • Milady DeWinter

    Well count me in the camp that found Radvanovsky’s Norma a remarkable vocal accomplishment (much like her spectacular Elena in Vespri) and a definite litmus test that qualifies her to sing the dramatic coloratura roles, whether they be by Verdi, or Bellini, or Donizetti. She shares much in common with our other leading soprano assoluta, Netrebko, namely a dark-hued and rich sound, voice, voice, voice, a workable but not thrilling florid technique, generous range from the top to the bottom, hauntingly beautiful facility singing pianissimo in the top octave, and a troubling but not fatal tendency to neglect razor sharp textual enunciation. It was, in fact, Bolena that “turned” me into a Netrebko believer as she had obviously worked very diligently to improve her bel canto jewel box’ which had previouslt yielded mere paste in both her Lucia and Elvira in Puritani.
    I do believe that Radvanovksy will improve during the course of the Bolena run, that perhaps she was not in optimum voice on Saturday, and I agree with Mr. Corwin that she has laden the role with perhaps too many embellishments and acuti (this, from me, a huge fan of added acuti).
    I think the essential difference between her and Netrebko is that firstly Netrebko has that remarkable “one register from the top to bottom” voice, and that she is more dramatically engaging. In Radvanovsky’s Norma, I did not hear the shade of Milanov (except perhaps in vocal opulence) but the template of Callas. Radvanovsky does not imitate her, of course, but uses that internalized approach and careful attention to line (among her many great gifts) which so distinguished Callas’s work. She has yet to cross the line, as Anna has, into truly sublimating the voice to the requirements of the role, but, pace the missed top notes on Saturday, generally has more reliable Ds and E-flats than Anna. What I heard during the Mad Scene was Radvanovsky being vocally astonishing, and that the listener was acutely aware that she was being astonishing. With Callas, and to a certain extent with Netrebko, you heard pure channeling of the poetry and wistfulness of Donizetti’s elegiac music, that famous art that conceals art. Sondra may yet accomplish that. I plan to hear her Elisabetta in Devereux in the house to hear for myself and I wish her buon viaggio along the way to it.
    Other than that, I agree with Mr. Corwin’s assessment of Jaimie Barton’s Giovanna (a little harried and rough with the roulades; her big future lies in other repertoire) and Ildar, sort of a neutral impression, but then the role isn’t that much either.
    I did think Costello was about to step up to the plate and finally deliver a really unified, vocally successful portrayal from beginning to end, but alas, he was undone yet once again by the demands of “Vivi tu.” Overall I think his desultory vocal manner has improved much over the last few seasons, but I think also that, simply put, the voice is very challenged by lines that rise above B-flat.
    I look forward to the next Sirius broadcast of Bolena with eagerness to see how things have settled in, and hopefully improved, for Radvanovksy.

    • Camille

      I am also an acuti fan, Milady, so one has to be quite ill-judged and inappropriate to not score with me, and also am an admirer of her interpretation of Norma, which I saw twice in the house--I liked it so much that we returned--as well as listening twice over the radio transmissions. That is why I was expecting a whole lot more out of this Bolena and am left quite distressed and perplexed by it -- hoping perhaps an opening at a matinee was perhaps a part of the bad equation. On this one I shall persevere and go several times to hear things as they progress.

      Your description of Costello’s manner-desultory-is the adjective I have been reaching for all this time and not found, so thanks for that. He showed a marked improvement and let’s remember he was not well during the first run, an operation of some sort. I think Ms Barton held back a bit during the first half--one could hardly blame her, entering with that abrupt piece of writing sitting so high on the passaggio as it does--and will show herself to better effect in Verdi and Wagner, although nothing with this singing and those passages Giovanna has to sing, particularly at the end, are ghastly and defeat many. She was coping well and after a few more performances may improve. She has only been on the stage of the Met a half dozen times or so, so……

      I shall have to listen to her Vespri Siciliani—she has sung it in French as well, quite an accomplishment. I wish her the best of luck with this formidable, even terrifying trio of régines. Have a hunch about the Elisabetta, though, and not sure why.

      Have a happy teatime, Milady!

      • Camille

        Although nothing WRONG with this singing….etc.

      • Milady DeWinter

        Thank you Camille! -- today is French breakfast tea. Don’t know that it is necessarily French, or for exclusively for breakfast, but it has lovely vanilla overtones.
        Speaking of which, I agree -- an interpolated acuti has to be a really bad misfire for me not to swoon. Maybe not always tasteful, but I love the sport as much as the art. I think you are spot -on about Mme. Scotto, her gift for recitativo, and Bolena: it surely should have figured more prominently in her repertoire.
        Sorry that I missed that one in Philly as described by melbapatti, but I did get to hear her Norma of similar vintage at the Academy, and it was a triumph.
        Hang in there with Sondra and future Bolenas -- she strikes me as a singer who constantly refines, so I think it will get better before it gets worse. But of the Tudor Trifecta, I agree that Roberto Devereux is probably the one of the three that is a must-see-and-hear in the house. Looking forward to it!

        • Camille

          Would you by chance be drinking the Marriage Frères French Breakfast Tea? It is my newest one and I like it quite well! They are the best, if expensive. I justify the cost by comparing a cup of dregs tea in any restaurant — anywhere from 2 to 5 bucks — to the cost of buying an entire tin of this good stuff, and somehow emerge triumphant!!

          I have never listened to the Philly Bolena of La Scotissima but it does sound very intriguing and it makes me very happy to hear of her Norma turning out so well in the Academia of Music, an appropriate setting for this work, too. Probaby a better house for her to sing it in that the cavernous Metropolitana!!

          Yes, I shall persevere with her as I am hoping she will have a big volte-face. Hoping but, at this late point in the game for me, I never try to be too unrealistic in my expectations as these singers are up against sooo very much, particularly in the shark tank that is the MET!

          My tea says “Thé du matin, élégant & raffiné”, and it is, just that!!
          Au revoir!

          • Milady DeWinter

            “Marriage Frères French Breakfast Tea? It is my newest one and I like it quite well!--”
            Oui, c’est ca, Camille! Yes, a little cher, but worth it. I drink it well into the p.m.

            And yes, the Academia suited Scotto (and just about everyone else) just perfectly. No need to push.

            I also agree about Radvan potentially being a sheer knockout as Turandot!
            -A toute a l’heure

            • Camille

              Proof positive we are soul mates! I drink to your health, Milady!

          • Straussmonster

            Camille, I am a huge fan of their Wedding Imperial, “a special celebration black tea”, chocolate and caramel. Mmmm. And yes, compared to tea out of the house, it’s a very affordable luxury!

            • manou

              Marriage Frères also sell exquisite china, eggshell-thin so that you can savour the tea in the best possible conditions.

              Very refined Parterrians need the complete experience!

            • Camille

              Thank you for that advice. I have noticed it and wondered about it.

              I have more a penchant for the rooibos and am trying to find a white tea in the mix which works for me….the Paris-Provence one tasted like a field of grass.

              Yes, I had a Mariage Frères teapot, which Monsieur Camille promptly broke the top to and which is a bone of contention toujours.

              It may cost a bit more but you savour it more and it really tastes good! (I confess to being more of a coffee addict myself).

            • I have a teapot in the shape of Mr Ahmadinejad, former president of Iran. But as I don’t drink tea, I haven’t used it yet.


        • I also wonder if opening the show on a matinee provided the most optimum conditions for the singers. Some singers have more trouble getting their voices going earlier in the day. And add to that opening jitters… I’m not making excuses but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a noticeable improvement in subsequent performances.

    • uwsinnyc

      I like both Radvanovsky and Netrebko very much.
      One thing I might add is that I find N a slightly more full package singer than R. Just one example: with Netrebko I am always glued to her even when she is not singing. With R I am all focus when she opens her mouth, but she doesn’t have much to offer when she’s not. And Sondra probably has the more exciting top but Netrebko has the more beautiful middle.

      Can’t get enough of either, if you ask me.

  • jrance

    Why does the headline mention an axe? There was neither an axe nor a block involved in the execution of Anne Boleyn. Instead, she knelt blindfolded on the scaffold and her head was struck off with the single swipe of a sword wielded by the expert French swordsman Jean Rombaud.

    • armerjacquino

      Given that we’re talking about an opera where she doesn’t get executed at all, a little licence for the sake of a pun is surely permissible.

    • Maybe I should have made the headline about Anne Boleyn’s Carly Fiorina-inspired auburn bob.

    • la vociaccia

      Cieca should start giving out a ‘pedant of the week’ award. You win this one.

  • mrsjohnclaggart

    I don’t get this discussion. First of all the term “bel canto” is meaningless. It has no historical weight. None of the composers described in this way used the term. One of the early opera composers (Caccini, late Rennaisence) used the term to mean singing that was beautiful and expressive. It’s one of the few uses of the term by a professional in the “opera business”.

    If someone wants to delineate a period where the operas written have various musical and expressive devices in common there are two ways to do it. The mystification way is to use a term invented by a press agent to sell Adalina Patti (“bel canto” = beautiful singing).

    A clearer way is to refer to the period(s) when the writers think this style was in fashion. Italians generally write, “primo ottocento”, which means the early part of the 19th century. That links Rossini (slightly uncomfortably), Bellini, Donizetti and the young Verdi as well as Pacini and Mercadante into a group and extends to French, German and Russian examples of this kind of writing (Glinka for example, was so besotted by Donizetti that he wrote wonderful chamber pieces on tunes from various of his operas, or Auber, Herald, Flotow, Weber and the young Wagner, the last highly influenced by Bellini).

    But the shift from Mozart (who Bellini admired) to Bellini’s mature work doesn’t seem to have been thought very marked at the time, there were changes but not all that many (the endless melody of the slow movement of Mozart’s piano concerto K488 is as powerful an example of limpid expressive singing line as anything in Bellini). For that matter, the first variation on the theme in Beethoven’s sonata 109 (the whole movement is marked Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung, Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo) sounds like a Bellini aria with its gorgeous “vocal” line, filled with ornaments and its slow waltz tempo.

    Composers who adumbrated “grand opera” (many of those had elaborate vocal opportunities), Cherubini and Spontini certainly had the large scale late Haydn oratorios in mind, as well as Don Giovanni as well as Fidelio (some of the writing in which is influenced by Cosi fan tutte).

    One should be aware that the posturing, the sound and fury, seen still today, on other internet lists, one filled by idiots in particular, uses the notion that opera, except for Wagner, is inferior and that Wagner was alone. But all the professional composers of the time were deeply immersed in their immediate intellectual predecessors. Verdi’s teacher made him study Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven quartets for counterpoint and thematic development. He had scores of these quartets by his bedside for the rest of his life.

    So it’s probably clearer if one denotes what is being talked about as transitional classical, early and mid-Romanticism. It was only in the late Romantics that one saw a simpler and more declamatory vocal line with fewer or no opportunities to show off a singer’s flexibility.

    Even so, late Romantic works such as Otello and Falstaff by Verdi, Meistersinger and Parsifal by Wagner have vocal gestures that refer backwards to the conventions of early romanticism.

    In Otello, Iago has his first trill followed by a grupetto in the little dialogue with Roderigo, on the word l’afierre. Iago’s line in the drinking song (marked allegro con brio) is a bravura exercise, a demonstration of florid techniques — runs, most marked staccato, gruppetti, and a trill ending with a descending chromatic scale. Iago has other trills but the most devastating is on the word “Leone” in act three, “there’s your lion”.

    That is a vocal vocabulary that would have been right at home in a Bellini or Donizetti opera. Falstaff, of course, is a tribute to all the conventions of Verdi’s youth, including self-mockery in the form of direct quotation and parody. The vocal line often reflects an earlier style either parodically (as in the “madrigal” with which Falstaff serenades Alice Ford) or for its nostalgic sweetness (the music of Nannetta and Fenton).

    Conventions of forms are also to be spoken of in the way Verdi continues to use them, and so does Wagner though in a long-winded way … but too much of me and probably of no interest. This may even be lost in the endless sea. One point, though, that the ability of a voice to function expressively over a wide range, with flexibility, precise accomplishments (the trill, the various turns, the fast scale passages up and down, chromatic and not, written in the scores) are aspects of great singing regardless of when the opera was written or who wrote it. The first time we encounter Brunnhilde she has florid music with trills for example. Lulu in Berg’s opera is also a role with fioritura technique implied and expressed.

    The question about Rad is whether she can meet vocal challenges that show up in a great deal of operatic music written over a long period, and do so in a way that is “beautiful” in tone but also expressive and “in the music”. It’s a question that started with a Donizetti role but it’s relevant to many of the roles she has sung and might sing.

    • Camille

      Many thanks for this beautiful lesson. I hope others will be reading it.
      Sei grandiosa!

      I picked up the Lied der Lulu in the Juilliard Store the other night and could not but help notice something of what you have iterated here.

      Primo ottocento is of course correct but the “Romantic operas”, or romanticismo is how I think of the bellinian and donizettian works. Rossini is a bit of a separate case as I see it.

      In any case, an exquisite lesson and again, many thanks.

    • DellaCasaFan

      Briliiant, mrsjohnclaggart. Thank you for a fascinating read.

    • Well said, Mrs. JC. And nice to see you commenting with some regularity lately.

  • Constantine A. Papas


    Scotto, we shouldn’t forget, was also the Mimi for the ages. She expressed vulnerability like no other.

    • Milady DeWinter

      You are certainly right about that, Mr. Papas. The initial “Live from the Met” Mimi is arguably the role that opened the door for her to reach her fullest potential, even though she had nearly a 25-year career already behind her and legions of fans among opera fans.

  • Lady Abbado

    Wow: (One of) Joan Sutherland’s Coppia iniqua (1985, Chicago, she was 59):

    • thenoctambulist

      Sutherland’s Bolena is commonly judged to be a failure but I think the Chicago outing was rather spectacular. I have been searching for years for the whole opera. Hopefully it makes its way to youtube sometime.

  • May I please draw your attention to the following comment by mrsjohnclaggart which unfortunately got tangled in the approval queue this morning: