Cher Public


On this day we at parterre box are always reminded of the heartwarming words of the immortal Hedda Hopper, who wrote in 1943, “For more than 2,000 years Jews and Christians alike all over the world have tried to follow in the footsteps of our Saviour.”  

Born on this day in 1815 librettist Temistocle Solera

Born on this day in 1888 composer Gabriel von Wayditch

Born on this day in 1900 contralto Gladys Swarthout (with music for the holiday)

Born on this day in 1908 writer and actor Quentin Crisp

Happy 83rd birthday bass Bonaldo Giaiotti

Happy 34th birthday soprano Sonya Yoncheva

  • gustave of montreal

    Sonya takes gloriously the high ad libs in the duet. If I remember well Leontyne did not sing it in Chicago nor did Géori Boué on the old recording.

    • mrsjohnclaggart

      What do you mean “ad libs”? The high D’s are written and not only that, there are marked tenuto (to be held within reason given that they are eighth notes within a phrase, but Massenet inserts breath marks before and after). There ARE no “ad libs” in Yoncheva’s performances, or indeed, any I’m aware of. Many sopranos sing the high D’s, famously Dorothy Kirsten with Robert Merril (YouTube can be found, I won’t post You Tubes here again for reasons explained elsewhere). Fleming with Hampson and in her first performance of the role in DC (recorded in house) sings them, so does Doria with Massard, Sills with Milnes and even poor Anna with Bacquier.

      Being practical Massenet wrote what is called an “ossia”, a composer sanctioned alternative to those four notes, where a C sharp 6 is followed by a B 5 (as opposed to the D6 being the final note). That is NOT an ad lib. Since the duet is written in D major it’s a pity to omit the high D but there you have it.

      And how do you KNOW that Lee Price didn’t sing it? I’ve never known of a tape of her only performances in Chicago in 1959, which didn’t go well even according to her. But her account of “Dis-moi que je suis belle” is stunning and includes a written high D6 (but in the score there is an “ossia” here too — the B5 below.)

      • Krunoslav

        Indeed, I wondered what the hell Gustave was smoking.

        The wonderful Andrea Esposito, also with Massard, also sings them.

        • mrsjohnclaggart

          I THOUGHT so Krunoslava, but didn’t feel like getting it out (I mean the Esposito) and wasn’t positive. Since I AM she (but prettier) I am glad you mentioned her. Isn’t that the one where they do one-half the score and just stop now and then and start up somewhere later without transition? Thank you.

      • 98rsd

        I did hear Price sing the Mirror Aria in Newark and she sang the high D.

      • gustave of montreal

        so I should have written ” ossia ”

        I know Price did not sing it because I WAS IN THE AUDIENCE for Christ Sake !!

        • You know, you might have have said that to begin with.

          • gustave of montreal

            Balcony first row center, Matron.

            • Camille

              Cher gustave —
              I remember you speaking about Leontyne’s Thaïs in the past and have always wondered about it and how she fared in the role and why she never sang it again.

              Can you, would you? — do us le beau geste to remember a bit of that rather legendary performance, as I think you are unique here on parterre in having attended that performance, n’est-ce pas?

              Merci bien et bonne année et bonne santé à Vous!

      • Camille

        Besides, Madame, they were written for SYBIL, for whom a D6 was no sweat, and as you would well know.

        In Martial Singher’s book he does make a statement about his preference for the soprano to sing a B flat, rather than an all out balls-to-the-wall attempted strillata high note which so many times falls flat and wish I could remember where those breathing marks lie, mrsclaggartessa, as I no longer do, and am unsure if la Yoncheva is observing them or is doing what needs be necessary for her.

        Myself, I love the extra high, high note and think the beatific estasi that Thaïs is experiencing at that moment warrants it. Certainly, SYBIL, the Sybaritic transports. would have known how it felt.

        Further, Yoncheva impresses in that she seems the Maddalena penitente here, and not the coyness one may sometimes encounter…..I would like to hear her sing it if she does come here with the production.

    • Lohengrin

      Yoncheva will sing Thais in Salzburg the next summer, with Domingo (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

      • Gualtier M

        I hope to God that Plamingo won’t be the Athanael at the Met next season with Yoncheva and Borras!

        • Feldmarschallin

          Domingo is so pathetic he will have to die first before he stops singing. Guess he has no life other than the stage and doesn’t want to be home with Martha alone.

          • Lohengrin

            Seriously: ould be that Werbe is prepared as a sort of “cover” (?!) and PD`s “job” is to sell expensive tickets……..

            • Lohengrin

              sorry, lost a “c”………-> could

          • kennedet

            Heartless and insensitive Feldmarschallin.

            • Bill

              Actually it is unlikely that Thais will be well
              sold when the Met revives it -- the two announced leads
              are not truly famous names to most Met opera goers.
              If Domingo were to sing, a few more tickets might be sold than if a relatively lesser known singer is in it.
              So if the Met does utilize Domingo it may be more for
              financial reasons (box office) than artistic ones.
              When the Met made the last Thais go-round at the Met with Fleming I thought the opera to be rather dull and tedious even though the two male roles were well cast and the set was at least, colorful.

            • PCally

              I’m going to duck and cover as I write this but I thought fleming was pretty fantastic in the title role. The voice was lovely and the e

            • PCally

              *role was challenging enough so that she had to focus on actually singing as opposed to just doing her thing. I think the opera is no masterpiece but with the right cast it can work brilliantly and yoncheva sounds like she will Devine in the role.

              Domingo is one of my all time favorites, but agree with feldmarschallin. He is absolutely destroying whatever good will I may have had for him and making it a lot harder to look back on the many beautiful performances he gave.

            • Bill

              PCally -- I was not criticizing Fleming as Thais --
              actually the only time I have ever seen the opera.
              But I did feel it was a tedious evening which might be
              due to unfamiliarity for the most part with the opera.

            • Krunoslav

              How about THAIS with Betsy Wolfe of Broadway and Tony Winner Paolo Szot?

            • PCally

              Bill-wasn’t responding to your comment so much as just making a case for the performance (or trying to). Trust me, its quite far down on a list of my favorites lol.

        • manou

          “Non ! Que lui veut donc cet homme !
          — Qu’il retourne au désert !


          Qu’elle reste!— et lui qu’on l’assomme!
          Aux corbeaux! — au gibet! à l’égoût!—”

  • Nero Wolfe

    Would someone please give me some more information on the Liza Minnelli song such as: Who wrote the song and was it specially written for this occasion?, what TV show (I assume) was this on?, Who was the gentleman (I recognize him but just cannot put a name to his face)? and any more info you have on this.

    Liza certainly seems full of energy for this, doesn’t she.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Forgot to mention also born on this day in 1876 baritone Giuseppe de Luca

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    The great Kiri Te was not the first Maori to make it in London:

  • And speaking of high notes verses ossia, Moffo complete with written high D Flat.

  • Camille

    A true gentleman, and more than, A GREAT LADY!
    QUENTIN CRISP, “Brunch Whore” a true story………..

    in about the Year of Our Lord 1980-81, as Monsieur Camille was attending high school in lower Manhattan, he, and a group of his familiars, would every once in a while cut class to take Quentin Crisp out to brunch. They always went to Polish places on Avenue A or First Avenue, despite the fact that Mr Crisp DETESTED sour cream and complained “Americans eat sour cream with everything!”

    Mr. Crisp was a delightful raconteur but one who always repeated the same stories and in the same way (you all know what I mean by that!) These Brunch Tales affairs convened at places like Leshko, Odessa, and the ilk, because they were cheap, and HEY!, they were just high school kids. Apparently, he loved to tell a lot of stories about Hollywood in the thirties, even if no one could actually tell if he had actually been IN Hollywood in the thirties, e.g. As well, he self-identified as a “Brunch Whore” — and said he couldn’t eat at home because his apartment was too filthy, and in fact, a friend who helped clean out his apartment after he died did say it was the proverbial Augean Stable.

    Somewhere at that Brunch Bar in the Great Beyond, his Great Lady Bracknell must still be munching away, this time with no sour cream, but the best Devon cream.