Cher Public

Bridled enthusiasm

“Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all.

“As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to debut singer, all the while weaving a complicated web of romance, obligation, and political intrigue.”

  • Cher public, La Cieca thinks we may have to revive the Parterre Box Book Club to delve into this one.

    • gustave of montreal

      It stops after ” experience burried…..”

    • laddie

      I would love to have an audiobook version. Audible, are you listening?

    • Camille

      La Cieca — thank you so much for finding me the absolute perfect Noël gift, even if it’s not available until around Valentine’s Day. Whatever…twofer.

      And--I am all for reviving the Parterre Box Book Club!, but as I recall, your valiant attempt(s) to get that endeavour up and running ended in diffidence and vague, evasive excuses of all sorts—for that matter, a Remedial Review Course in Mardew Czgowchwz Studies should be once again offered to the parterriat, just as a sort of Basic Hazing 101 experience.

      New Year’s Resolutions and all that entails, dearie.

      Anyway, “I *WAS* Lilliet Berne”. Still have chapped thighs.

      • Milady DeWinter

        And coming in March 2016:
        Scarpia ,Read Piers Paul (Author)

        ISBN: 9781632863249 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (

        Annotation: Based on one of the central figures from “Tosca,” Puccini s classic opera, “Scarpia” is a powerful story of love and political intrigue set in Rome after the French Revolution.”

        from Booklist: …Those with prior knowledge of the opera will also recognize how shrewdly its heartless villain, Baron Scarpia, has been refashioned into a tragic hero. Vitellio Scarpia is a flawed protagonist, a hotheaded Sicilian adventurer possessed by the spirit of vendetta.

        • Camille

          Oh boy! Vitellio Tonnato alla Vendetta!
          A bowfull of fun fun fun!!!

          Thanks Milady! Hope you are getting along with Sybil of the Tour Eiffel acuti!

          • Milady DeWinter

            Can’t you just hear the “Godfather” theme playing in your head while turning the pages of Mr. Read’s new opus?

            And a very Joyeux Noël/Happy Holidays to you and Mssr. Camille, ma chere, -- and indeed, to all parterrians!

            • Milady DeWinter

              p.s. the Tour d’Eiffel acuti are still, alas, in my Amazon shopping cart as I was absolutely constrained to re-order my (damaged by a Scottish terrier) copy of Michael Scott’s Record of Singing, vol. 2, Astrid Varnay’s memoir, and a weighty coffee table book essentially about my beloved Marie Antoinette’s panniers.

  • “When it began, it began as an opera would begin, in a palace, at a ball, in an encounter with a stranger who, you discover, has your fate in his hands. He is perhaps a demon or a god in disguise, offering you a chance at either the fulfillment of a dream or a trap for the soul. A comic element—the soprano arrives in the wrong dress—and it decides her fate.

    “The year was 1882. The palace was the Luxembourg Palace; the ball, the Sénat Bal, held at the beginning of autumn. It was still warm, and so the garden was used as well. I was the soprano.

    “I was Lilliet Berne.”

    • pasavant

      She was a simple country girl. You might say a cockeyed optimist, who got herself mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue.

  • Rowna

    I know this is way off topic, but in accordance with free speech, here is a long awaited (by at least 2 people who actually asked about this on Parterre -- I think in a chat) audio review/talk of the Bastille’s Damnation. I only got to the production. I had a lot to say. Maybe someone will comment . . .

    • Cicciabella

      Hi, Rowna. I’m just about to watch Damnation on Culturebox, so I’ll save your video for after. Just heard Hermanis say that the production tries to get into Stephen Hawking’s mind. That’s ambition for you!

    • Cicciabella

      30 minutes into the video I almost nodded off. Thank goodness Bryn Terfel came on. The videos are like BBC Horizon on superslow motion. I like the Mars mission idea and having dancers to act out what happens, but I don’t like the choreography so far: it’s boring and clumsy. And what happens to these poor Mars pioneers? Are they poisoned by a chemical leak?

    • Cicciabella

      Rowna, I’m glad you liked this production: you probably understood it better than I did. The concept is good, but Hermanis lost me with all the references: space pioneering, genetic engineering, nuclear holocaust… I don’t know what Faust is supposed to be selling his soul for. Video and dancers good idea (the dancing got better after the first scene), but the singers and chorus are left standing with nothing to do, especially Kaufmann, who has lots to sing. But this is definitely worth watching for him and Terfel. Sophie Koch must sound totally different live to how she does recorded. It always sounds to me as if she’s working very hard to join the notes together. D’amour l’ardent flamme was laboured and often flat e. All in all this production is more interesting than the one with the big red pencil from La Monnaie, with a younger Kaufmann and Van Dam, but that one has Susan Graham, who is a spectacular Marguerite. Curious about Part II of your review.

      • Rowna

        So sorry the audio and video go in and out of sync. This was about my 3rd try. The first try which was almost done and my beloved Mr. Opera walked behind me and distracted me! The 2nd try was also aborted due to my dog -- don’t ask. Here is try 3 -- a little talky -- don’t watch -- it will make you nuts.

        • Cicciabella

          LOL Rowna. I don’t know why they don’t call you either. In this case, the production could have been much clear with some preview feedback.

        • Lohengrin

          Thank You for Your great review!

      • Krunoslav

        ” Sophie Koch must sound totally different live to how she does recorded. It always sounds to me as if she’s working very hard to join the notes together.”

        Sounds that way live too, to me. One reputation I just do not get.

        • Rowna

          I think Ms. Koch is a serviceable singer. Period. She had the good fortune singing Charlotte in Werther with Mr. Kaufmann, which was released as a DVD. Their romantic interludes were so beautiful that it carried the day. When the Met announced a new production of Werther, Garanca was the first choice and she cancelled. Then they tried for Ms. Coote who was too booked. I think they felt they needed a name and that Ms. Koch with her DVD success as the next in line. I heard them in the house and her insufficiencies were many, starting with off pitch singing. I really didn’t pull apart her singing (in the Damnation of Faust) as I feel I don’t even have the right to be as negative as I feel I could be. I know how hard it is to have a career as a vocalist, and even the greatest singers have off days, so one performance shouldn’t be over analyzed to point out every flaw.

          • Cicciabella

            Koch is reliable, committed, serious about her work (rarely cancels) and photogenic. Plus her basic timbre is attractive. Because of these qualities, it is not a mystery that she has a major career. A performance I really liked from her was Mother Marie in Oliver Py’s Dialogues. The music and character seemed to suit her very well.

    • Lohengrin

      Dearest Roena, You are speekinig out of my heart! Yearningly waiting for the second part of Your review!

      • Rowna

        Thank you Lohengrin. Scroll up for the vocal review.

  • zinka