Cher Public

Arms and the man I sing

The opening night of the Bayerische Staatsoper’s new production revival of Aïda, featuring Jonas Kaufmann in his staged role debut as Radamès, was captured informally on audio, and can be heard in full after the jump.  

  • Feldmarschallin

    The production was new in 2009. Originally it was to have featured Frittoli who wisely decided Aida was too heavy. The Aida in the Premiere was Kristin Lewis and Gatti was heavily booed.

  • Feldmarschallin

    Opernwelt Preisregen für Bayerische Staatsoper
    Petersen Sängerin des Jahres
    Neuenfels Regisseur des Jahres
    Petrenko Dirigent des Jahres

  • I only listened to the “Celeste Aida” to hear how it compares to the studio recording. Kaufmann does very well with it. As in the recording, he takes the last line in one breath but does a quick messa di voce on the final note. Beautifully done. (The audience response is disappointingly tepid).

    • Feldmarschallin

      That is because all the singers including Kaufmann were phoning it in until the 3rd act when things picked up. Then he was on fire but before very disappointing and all the people who were in Rome kept looking at each not believing what they just heard.

      • Well, I was only commenting on the applause which greeted “Celeste Aida” which I thought beautifully and admirably done. But audiences often need to warm up and don’t always cheer the first aria.

      • Lohengrin

        Have You any idea what could have been the reason? I am looking forward to tomorrow Aida.

  • JackJack

    It’s Germany. The audience is constitutionally tepid. :)

    • Feldmarschallin

      So tell me how many performances have you seen at the Nationaltheater? The first Aida was rather dull and got the applause it deserved. The second was slightly better but still with an Aida that you cannot hear in the ensembles. Beautiful voice in the pianos and when she can sing lyrically but the drammatic moments do not come across she doesn’t force and she just goes under. And the Aidas which have sung here in recent memory (mine at least) have been TS, Varady and Zampieri all who had the voice to sing Aida not mark it. I kept thinking of what Karajan said to Schwarzkopf during a rehearsal of Falstaff when she wanted to save her voice since she had to record the Missa Solemnis in the afternoon ‘louder please I cannot hear you’. I felt like yelling that down. That she is completely dull on stage doesn’t help matters.

      • Hippolyte

        “Recent memory”? Wouldn’t the three sopranos mentioned have been singing Aida 30+ years ago?

      • spiderman

        Yawn! Always the same when it is about singers sharing Repertoire with holy godess Anja …
        For the record it was Stoyanovas debut in the role with probably very limited rehearsal time. I think it was not her fault that the production in rome where she should have debuted got cancelled, so she had to find everything by herself. She might not be the natural stage actress but when she is paired with a good director she can be very effective (thinking about Desdemona in Vienna or Marschallin in Salzburg).

  • PushedUpMezzo

    And another debut

    Katherine Jenkins has given birth to a daughter

    • Let’s hope it keeps her occupied for a while.

  • mia apulia

    completely off any topic posted--a day or two ago I heard a performance of the Strauss 4 Last Songs conducted by Schippers, from Venice, I guess in the 70’s, with soprano Lou An Wyckoff. Anyone know anything about her?

    • ML

      I believe the Milan Ballo Kruno mentions below was Wyckoff’s only complete opera recording, although I find no (pirate) label for it:


  • EarlyRomantic

    What a nasty night in Bavaria! This performance struck me as worse than mediocre. Much worse. The routinier, Ettinger, must be sleeping with someone in the business in exchange for his services to the Bavarian SO. Stoyanova a Verdi soprano? Ha! May have been a possibility (unachieved) when she was in her prime. No longer possible or desirable. What is left of her always unimpressive instrument is a mess. The squally and technically deficient (like the Aida) Amneris, Smirnova, belongs in one of those cheap Naxos recordings made with pick up Slavic forces. No one remembers any of them. The less said about the Ramfis, Anger, and the Amonasro, Vassallo, the better. That leaves Kaufmann. I don’t blame him for phoning it while surrounded by so much incompetence. What were they thinking with casting? On the evidence of this disaster, I look forward to the new Pappano Aida. While no Verdian, at least Harteros can sing the notes (if not their meaning) and has, in comparison to the disgraced Aida in this performance, a pleasant (if unidentifiable) instrument.

    • Krunoslav

      I have heard Stoyanova give wonderful performances in LA TRAVIATA, OTELLO, UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO and SIMON BOCCANEGRA.

      Agree in re Ettinger…

  • Krunoslav

    Lou Ann Wyckoff was an American soprano whose career was reportedly destroyed by backstage dust allergies. She had a fine voice and much promise, apparently.

    She did sing at La Scala-- the VLL under Schippers in 1967, ISREAEL IN EGYYT in 1968 under Gui with a cast of my favorite kind of second-rank distinction ( OK, maybe Oralia D early on was first class)


    and also BALLO IN1972 with Domingo and Cappuccilli under Gavazzeni.

    Some Ortrun Wenkel fan has posted a Jean Fournet Verdi REQUIEM with John Michinson and Gunther Reich along with Wyckoff on YT:

    • Arianna a Nasso

      Thank you for the information on Wykoff. I was always curious how she wound up singing the season opening performance at La Scala. Back when La Scala was La Scala, one would have expected Caballé, maybe Price or Kabaivanska, as Amelia for such a high profile night in the company of those men. Was Wykoff indeed the intended Amelia, or did she deputize for more famous colleague?

      • Krunoslav

        I believe I read ( years after the fact) that Montserrat had cancelled. (Just imagine!)

        Kabaivanska sang many heavy roles but I believe she sang (just) the final scene of BALLO only right at the start of her career, at the Sofia Conservatory, circa 1958.

        Leontyne Price did sing BALLO at Scala- her last engagement there, in 1968, with Bergonzi/Luigi Ottolini, Glossop and (Mrs John Claggart favorite) Jolanda Meneguzzer under Votto.

  • mrsjohnclaggart

    Forget ye not O Krunoslav (and yes, I AM Jolanda Meneguzzer), that Shirley was cast as Amelia by Abbado and booed off the stage. Mara Zampieri a great artist with an immense voice and a big facial mole floated on mid act two. Beside herself, Shirley tried to kill Mo. Abbado and bad mouthed him all over the world for “forcing” her to sing the part. But she did return to La Scala as Lady Macbeth, forgiving Abbado and getting one of the most hysterical receptions from the loggione I have ever seen.

    Abbado (who had been very unpleasant to the orchestra at the rehearsals) even SMILED at her as she was cheered to the echo and drowned in flowers.

    The “Pugliese” party (Muti supporters, he was raised there) who hated the Abbadiani as they were called said that Abbado had abandoned Italian vocal tradition by banning singers like Rita Orlandi-Malaspina who had been bought out of an extensive Scala contract that included that Amelia. She had a huge exciting voice and a big personality (and body), but Abbado wanted elegant pretty ladies like Katia, so he would get all of the applausa.

    I don’t think the greatest Raina had such a big Scala career (mostly in the ’60’s) though she achieved a big fan base in Italy. You haven’t lived ’til you’ve seen her in Turn of the Screw (I LOVE her in it, but it would have killed Ben) and Of course, Lady in the Dark, with the COMPLETE Moss Hart book done in ENGLISH by no native speakers (his book is as long as Hamlet), and of course The Merry Widow, several times with odd interpolations. She was GREAT in Francesca da Rimini better with Franco Tagliavini but then there is the one with Cura, young, in tight, tight, tight-tights and Raina, still beautiful but older than he is, QUITE turned on. She was also wonderful in Francesca with a tenor and conductrix I dast not name, in concert in NY.

    And Lou Ann was very good, Arie was very good and Oralia was great (greeted her in line at a restaurant in Mexico City with awe. She was so thrilled I knew who she was, had seen her in Philly, Trieste, Venice and Berlin, had all of her records and most of her tapes she invited me to join her and her party for dinner. Since we only talked about her, I don’t think they were pleased). And I also thought Kozma had a lovely voice. And Gui was a lot of fun (he wore at least five layers of sweaters and would remove one after another as he became more exercised).

    And I AM Ortrun Wenkel, she was Erda and First Norn in the greatest Pierre Boulez, Chereau Ring, I saw season two and could almost hear her (but you could hear a lady mouse in oestrus on the Bayreuth Stage), and then she is in Janowski’s first Ring, one of my faves even it’s not the very best sung consistently and Altmeyer sings like she’s chewing gum whilst (I’m being British) singing, and I have the tape of that insane Henze reworking of the Wesdendonck Lieder, as they do it, it is the story of my sad long life. She also gave a fun concert of Reimann songs with him at the piano in Berlin, which “divided” the audience.

    Ah tempura mutantor … tell me, Krunoslav, what song is that a line from and WHO sings it best?

    • laddie

      Ah, Mrs. JC! We learn so much from you and THANK YOU for coming and posting again. I cannot for the life of me, understand how you can remember so much, but am always grateful.

      Yours, LA

    • armerjacquino

      Mrs JC, what was the issue with the Verrett Amelia? I have a recording of it and she sounds pretty damned good to me. Healthy applause after both arias, too- did she return post-booing for more performances?

      • mrsjohnclaggart

        Well, Amerjacquino, you probably have the January opening night where she was hissed but also applauded. But she did not have a success and there were objections to her. The last January performance she was booed to the echo from the loggione. Abbado was booed but less violently and had vocal defenders. Ms. Zampieri came on. Mara finished the performance and did the performances in February. (Cappucilli told me Patricia Payne had cursed Shirley. She was a witch according to him).

        I ran into Miss Verrett, among the sweetest people ever the next day, we were in the same hotel and she was seething with poor Edgar Vincent her press person, also among the sweetest people ever, who was trying to calm her down.

        Apparently, she had confronted Abbado and cursed him and swore never to sing at Scala again as long as he was even alive, whether he was there or not. I think she felt that he had set her up, having got wind of a planned demonstration against him — he had bought the claque (of course, so had she.)

        But there were in that time two different claques. One was in the part of the loggione where you could sit in those days for a relative pittance. The second and louder and larger was in the huge standing room behind those seats.

        The theater obviously tolerated the sitting claque — in my time visiting, their leader, a kindly gentleman sat “dozing” outside a small room behind the stage near the dressing rooms, it may sometimes have been used as a dressing room.

        In it were either a hat or an umbrella and one dropped the required fee into whichever. I did it for a few singers, alas and alack, and would smile and say that we hoped that Signora X would do well that evening, and proceed on my way.

        Very often, Signora X or her husband would do it. You had to be able to get into the stage door. Sometimes I had a pass since I went to rehearsals, although I also sneaked in by going into the factory next door and opening a side aperture and crossing into the Scala fire stairs, or by walking into what had been the Piccola Scala, which was a generally unattended large room with flats stacked in it at that time and which led directly to the backstage workman’s area from which one could cross over to the administrative rooms on the stage floor and the dressing rooms, outside of one of which this man sat. (If you think they locked all doors, they didn’t. Nor did Bayreuth. I used to sneak in there through the cafeteria and climb the side stairs that led to a door that opened directly into the theater. I was never caught at either theater or any theater I sneaked into, but that is another story…)

        Since he sat backstage in plain sight of an American (Italians see what they choose to see) the theater used this claque.

        Those who stood were organized by a maschere (as the ushers were called at that time). The one I knew was the son of a judge and was studying law. But he got standing tickets for his small army and accepted fees to arrange for demonstrations (for and against). He also was a good way to get in if you didn’t have a ticket and didn’t want to be part of his claque.

        (This is all before the inside of the house was torn down and reconfigured at the orders of Mo. Muti, the loggione was done away with. But I still sneaked in by using the factory and killing time on the fire stairs. And another maschere who I had known before when he was a boy who helped out, would in exchange for a fee seat me in one of the side boxes (or I would stand at the back of one).

        I don’t remember Verrett being terrible, although she did as I recall sing with some sense of strain. She was a big star at Scala. The first run of Macbeths had been so sensational that Abbado had given her a contract for ten years of roles. She turned it down, against Edgar’s strong advice, because her American husband (the second, a painter) had forbidden her to be away that much and she didn’t want to imperil her marriage (Scala contracts weren’t always really binding on Scala, since I knew other singers who had gotten those contracts only to find that somehow the opera had been switched or somebody else engaged).

        Anyway, it was a big mess in her career but she survived very well. I don’t remember her (or Mara) as being entirely at ease in the role (although both were generally thrilling in a range of parts.)

        • ML

          Opening was Dec 30, 1977, fwiw.

          • ML

            Also …

            * there were no perfs in Feb, per Scala archive

            * Verrett sang first 6 of 10 perfs, MZ the rest

            * no night, per archive, was split betw the two ladies

            * Obraztsova also sang 6 of 10 (alt Payne), as did Cappuccilli (alt Sarabia)

            * Pavarotti sang 8, alts Carreras and Bonisolli (!)

            … so no obvious Verrett disaster.

        • ML

          The second, a painter. Oh, BAD!

        • armerjacquino

          Thanks for this, Mrs JC. It’s a funny one- as I said, she sounds good on the tape, which surprised me as I’d heard (and read in her book) that it was an unhappy experience for her. I guess it was also around the time she was suffering heavily from allergies, too.

    • Krunoslav

      Claggartessa, here I thought you WERE Rita Orlandi-Malaspina?

      • steveac10

        “Claggartessa, here I thought you WERE Rita Orlandi-Malaspina?”

        Thanks for the nightmares Kruno. One of my first experiences with Aida was a Met tour performance of with Ms. Orlandi-Malaspina. I am still coming to terms with it. It wasn’t until years later I realized Aida was not an Oompa-Loompa.

    • Krunoslav

      ‘I don’t think the greatest Raina had such a big Scala career (mostly in the ’60?s) ‘

      Well, after opening the 1969-70 in ERNANI, she did sing Nedda (1970), Cio-Cio-San (1971), Tosca (1974), a concert (1975), the BOCCANEGRA Amelia (1976), Tosca (1980) and then concerts in 1990 and 1997.

      And she also sang BOCCANEGRA in Washington when the Scala company toured there in 1976.

      But, certainly, she was never the ruler of that roost.

      • LT

        Raina had a falling out with the Scala general manager Badini. I remember something to the effect of her being contracted to do some opera but then they changed plans and never get back to her for another run instead. So, she sued for a breach of contract.

        The best part is that at some charity gala Raina went to the after party in some very expensive fur coat and turned to Badini in a loud voice to the dismay of the guests saying: “This coat is a gift from you”.

  • Cicciabella

    Calling Buster…Margiono will sing at the DNO 50th Anniversary Gala on November 6th. So will Lenneke Ruiten. Since this is a big to-do, I’m assuming they will film it for a TV broadcast further down the line.

    • Buster

      Thanks! They have lots of tickets to sell for that one -- it is way too expensive. Besides, I already have something more festive that week: “Eva Lind, German tenors and friends.” Have not heard Lind since her Amsterdam Capriccios… Margiono and Ruiten are both in the upcoming Hänsel und Gretel, definitely going to that.

      • Cicciabella

        Yes, quite pricey. I’m going to the Dialogues premiere, which is the next day, so I won’t be donning my gala wear. Two nights in a row at the opera is too much unless both nights are unmissable.

        • Buster

          Excellent cast for that Dialogues. Jean-François Lapointe, Sabine Devieilhe, Adrianne Pieczonka, Doris Soffel!, Sally Mathhews… I am going to the final performance, curious what you think.

      • Cicciabella

        Buster, Peter Hoare is now listed as Die Knusperhexe! The other day I heard Klaus Bertisch on the radio say that Lotte de Beer wanted a man to play the witch, so I guess Lenneke Ruiten is out. Pity.

      • Cicciabella

        Oh dear. I must be going blind. Of course, Ruiten is Gretel, so I was just talking nonsense!

  • EarlyRomantic

    Did this other catastrophic attempt at the Ethiopian princess go unnoticed here at Parterre?

    • la vociaccia

      No, we discussed it at length. That was a while ago.

    • LT

      Stoyanova sings in tune, at least.

      • EarlyRomantic

        If this Aida by Stonayova is what is known as singing in tune, then God help us. Actually, neither lady’s intonation is well-tempered.

  • chicagoing

    I thought Krassimira Stoyanova sang beautifully as Desdemoda (opposite Antonenko’s Otello) here with the CSO under Muti.

    • LT

      While not the most naturally gifted singer, she is very intelligent and musical. She’s a violinist by training and brings that to the table. She has given great performances in many roles. Aida, however, is not for her at all. I suspect it was Muti’s idea.

  • poppy80

    I’m shocked at reading all these nasty or -- worse -- condescending comments about Stoyanova (based furthermore on a dubious recording!). I’ve had the chance to hear her live as Rachel, Leonora, Iphigénie, Amelia (Boccanegra), Violetta… and she is one of my fav singers ever: beautiful dark voice, great phrasing, heavenly piani. Some singers such as Harteros and Netrebko may have a bigger voice or a more electrifying stage presence but Stoyanova’s superb musicianship is definitely unique. I won’t make it to Munich this time but I can’t wait to see her Amelia (Ballo) in Vienna.

    • Bill

      poppy80 -- I agree about Stoyanova having heard her
      first as Micaela, Antonio, Mimi, Le Villi, Donna Anna then also in Verdi,
      Traviata, Otello and other roles. She is a favorite
      not only of Muti but of Welser-Moest who conducted
      her first Ariadnes and then Marschallins and is slated
      to lead her first Danae (Richard Strauss) in Salzburg next summer. I shall hear her Rusalka in Vienna in
      February and suddenly she is listed for some Aidas (second cast) at the Met next season. One Viennese critic reviewing her Rusalka said he had never heard a bad performances from her. She may not jump over chairs or do somersaults on the stage but if you
      look closely at her facial expressions, the movements of her hands etc. and smaller nuances one finds that
      she is indeed a very touching actress. I definitely preferred her Desdemonas at the Met in the last g0-rounds to the one I saw last money from Sonya Yoncheva though thought Yoncheva was quite effective. I shall
      admit I have not bothered to listen to the Munich
      Aidas (it not being one of my favorite operas).
      Stoyanova started her operatic career at a relatively late age but once she became known in Vienna, she seems to have had a string of impressive engagements in a wide variety of operatic roles in Europe and in the USA. Her voice is flexible (Anna Bolena among her successes). She once mentioned discreetly in an interview that she would not mind to be asked to sing
      Lisa in Pique Dame in Vienna.

  • poppy80

    Glad to hear I’m not the only fan of the divine Stoyanova! Found another interview in which she mentions she will soon be adding Lucrezia Borgia to her repertoire. Also wish she would try Lady M.

    • spiderman

      Lady M would definitely be more than a stretch for her. Stoyanova is very smart and knows in which repertoire she can be effective, concerning Aida it’s the more lyrical side she shines in. Kind of a Freni-way …

      • Bill

        I agree -- Stoyanova probably should not sing
        Lady Macbeth -- hers is a gentler voice and she
        is not a ferocious character on stage (most of
        her roles do not require that sort of emoting).
        With Danae coming up and Eva, and hopefully Lisa
        in Pique Dame here she does not have to rush around the stage and perhaps more forays into German
        Repertoire now with successes as Ariadne and
        the Marschallin under her belt, plus Rusalka in Czech she has enough on her future palate to stick to what best suits her. He Anna Bolenas in Vienna were a success (after Netrebko no less and before the current run with Gruberova) so perhaps Lucrezia Borgia would be okay but I see Stoyanova more as a gentler character interpreter -- more introspective, not fiery. Leave those highly dramatic roles to others better suited. She was supposed to start
        Aida under Muti’s baton and it might have been a success had Rome not cancelled the performances -- great conductors (such as Karajan and Muti) are able to conduct with consideration for a singers vocal limitations when appropriate.

  • poppy80

    I dont’ agree. I think Stoyanova definitely has what it takes including the lower register. Ever since I’ve heard her as Rachel screaming “la flamme est en cendres” I’ve been praying she would tackle the fiercer lirico-spinto parts. The Bolena judgment scene on Youtube is a great proof of her dramatic potential. She’s well over 50 and it’s about time she stops singing Desdemona and Marguerite. Hopefully Muti will convince her to take the next step…