Cher Public

La deserta donna

La Cieca hopes the cher public won’t let poor Manon Lescaut get too lonely out there in the bayou or the heath or whatever it is, because you’ll want stay close to listen to our latest Identification Quiz, 15 sopranos in full hysterical wail.  

The following sound clip, as researched and curated by our own Chris Corwin, features the aforementioned 15 singers performing a fragment of Manon’s final aria “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” from Puccini’s opera. Your task, my dears, is to identify all 15 (or as many as you can) in the comments section.

The first reader to name all singers correctly in the correct order in the comments section will win a crisp new parterre box t-shirt. In the unlikely event that no participant can name all the artists correctly, the prize will go to the one having the most names correct when the competition ends on Friday, February 12 at midnight, i.e., not long after the premiere performance of the new production of Manon Lescaut at the Met.

The competition is open only to those parterrians who have not won a a vocal ID competition in the past year. (If you’re uncertain about your status, please contact me at always, La Cieca’s decisions as to eligibility and any other topic under the sun must be considered irrevocable.

Ready for the anguish? Then listen!

  • Oh, man, great selections.

    1. Licia Albanese

    I need to listen through again to see if i have a prayer of getting any of the others.

  • UpB7

    Irontongue, don’t worry. Your guess is as good as mine. Mine are simply wild guesses.
    Here it goes:

    1 Dorothy Kirsten
    2 Antonietta Stella
    3 Renata Tebaldi
    4 Licia Albanese
    5 Renata Scotto
    6 Carol Neblett
    7 Mirella Freni
    8 Maria Callas
    9 Leontyne Price
    10 Martina Arroyo
    11 Elena Sulioutis
    12 Magda Olivero
    13 Leyla Gencer
    14 Anita Cerquetti
    15 Karita Mattila

  • Lohengrin
  • Yikes!!!! The ONLY one I have a clue is Number 1:Albanese

  • Tamerlano


    3. OLIVERO
    13. CABALLE

    • Tamerlano

      Soviet = Soviero

  • moi

    Chapeau to all who had the courage to throw themselves into the game…
    All I can say is that I did not seem to hear any Freni nor Mattila there…
    Fleming , Caballe , yes Olivero … Zampieri (???)
    And Sylvia Sass was present, Tebaldi… not sure

  • roland

    The last one is Eva-Maria Westbroek.

  • jacobelli

    I’m only sure about a few of these.

    1. Licia Albanese
    2. Magda Olivero
    3. Clara Petrella
    4. Karita Mattila
    5. Mirella Freni
    6. Montserrat Cabbale
    7. Daniella Dessi
    8. Renata Tebaldi
    9. Maria Callas
    10. Eva Marton
    11. Veronica Villaroel
    12. Renata Scotto
    13. Rosalind Plowright
    14. Sylvia Sass
    15. Eva-Maria Westbroek

    • jacobelli

      Here are my updated guesses based on some of the hints that were given:

      1. Licia Albanese
      2. Dorothy Kirsten
      3. Clara Petrella
      4. Gilda Cruz Romo
      5. Mirella Freni
      6. Elena Souliotis
      7. Adriana Maliponte
      8. Renata Tebaldi
      9. Maria Callas
      10. Eva Marton
      11. Veronica Villaroel
      12. Teresa Zylis-Gara
      13. Rosalind Plowright
      14. Sylvia Sass
      15. Eva-Maria Westbroek

  • armerjacquino

    Haven’t heard the clip yet but I’m intrigued by the one that’s Fleming or Price or Callas!

    • la vociaccia

      I don’t think it’s either! Vibrato is far to fluttery on top to be Callas or Fleming and the ‘tutto e finito’ wasn’t camp enough to be Price…

  • Watching the Tucker gala. Beczala sounded awful. Bocelli murdered Edgardo, and Costello looks gorgeous in his double breasted tuxedo and also sounded pretty good. And nor Angela in another fugly gown. But not as fugly as that Bollywood monstrosity.

    • jacobelli

      I don’t understand why the Tucker Foundation included Bocelli in this year’s gala. What’s the point? It doesn’t make any sense. Too bad Nadine Sierra had to sing with him. I think she’s great and would like to have heard her with a real tenor.

    • diva2themax

      lo Angela always errs on the side of too much. She needed to wear huge diamond studs not those oval hoops, no necklace& that would’ve improved the overall look by so much. At least her hair & makeup looked great & she sounded great.

    • la vociaccia

      Missed the first hour. Sierra and Costello are night and day. Her voice is incredibly phonogenic and his has no glow whatsoever.

      Brownlee still bores me to death.

      Complaining about Bocelli feels old hat but it was really distressing watching his head shake on the high notes. they should have just gave him his damn microphone and let him croon.

      Renee looked and sounded great. Good for her.

    • CwbyLA

      Costello aged a bit and he indeed looked very handsome. He sounded great, too. Also surprised how great Fleming sounded.

      • aulus agerius

        I just watched Costello sing La Storia on the Tucker Gala [the whole thing is on under Live from Lincoln Center]. I has impressed with his performance. I have been down on him for a number of years now but this was encouraging. I once heard Villazon sing this at Opera in the Park in San Francisco and he tore a passion to tatters and Pamela Rosenberg oohed an aahed about ‘isn’t he the real thing, folks?’ Well, we know what happened to him, don’t we? I would expect Fabiano to sing it in a similar fashion. But Costello was quite understated, to the betterment of his effect. His stage deportment also seemed improved and he was involved in what he was singing.

        Incidentally, Villazon was in SF for Traviata with Fleming and Hvorostovsky and it was the best Traviata I’ve ever seen live.

        • aulus agerius

          Not Fleming -- Swenson. Ruth Ann….what am I thinking?

          • You had me there for a second -- it was indeed Fleming, and I’m with you on best Traviata I’ve ever seen.


              Swenson. I meant Swenson.

    • Vergin Vezzosa

      @Sanford et al. -- speaking of murdering, how about Isabel Leonard in the Cenerentola finale? I have only seen her before as the page or whatever in R & J, Zerlina and in The Tempest, all good enough. But I thought tonight’s Rossini was dreadful, accentuated by a fit of inappropriate shimmying a la Daniele DiN as the aria concluded. Yes, Bocelli was embarrassing and I found RF’s Cilea OK but on the bland side and the Faust very effortful and with too much singing with a very hollow sound. On the plus side, both Costello and Brownlee, (neither of which have done much for me before) seem to have improved noticeably of late, both tonight and Brownlee in LDDL seen live in Dec. and Costello as heard on the Bolena broadcast a few weeks ago. I really liked everything else tonight, especially Ms. Barton whose Didon scene just sent me.

      • Tamerlano

        Angie was a fucking pig. My god, she just tore those arias to shreds…jerky tempo changes and overly precious pianos…puke.

    • armerjacquino

      Sigh. And once again, the daily OT thread, RIGHT UNDER THIS ONE, wonders what it did wrong.

    • Interesting, Beczala sounded great in Lucia in SF this past fall.

  • Tamerlano

    Sierra fascinates me. She reminds of me Moffo in the way that the voice is fucking gorgeous and there is incredible instinctual musicality. Bocelli has never had a voice and when he sings with someone like Sierra it becomes rather painfully obvious.

    • la vociaccia

      It’s a great voice no doubt but a bit too cloudy in the vowels (especially the the French) for me to invite comparisons to Moffo.

  • Patrick Mack

    I find Stephen Costello a tiresome sad-sack with his introverted palms clutched in front of him like he doesn’t want to actually ‘give’ his performance to the audience or to his colleague. He’s boring. And put on a God damn tie.

    How nice did Beczala look in tails like an adult?

    Barton and Goerke were magnificent together and I loved that Georke sand the ‘Don fatale’. She’d probs. be a hell of an Amneris too. Nothing wrong with a Dramatic Soprano in those high Verdi mezzo roles.

    I thought it was nice of Gheorghiu to let Bocelli dress her for the occasion.

    • jacobelli

      I thought the exact same thing about Goerke. I’d love to hear her as Amneris.

  • Krunoslav

    The idea that Ms. Leonard headlines CENERENTOLA in major venues is disconcerting. She just does not have the technical chops. Period.

    Not without talent, but a supposed star ONLY by virtue of her looks.

    BTW, was no one else put of by Fleming joining Beczala in what is Faust’s solo high note?

    • la vociaccia

      Re: your last question, no, it’s a Gala. And Beczala was probably grateful since his highest notes always come off worse on recordings than in person, while hers don’t.

      • armerjacquino

        And I doubt she did it on the spur of the moment.

    • dgf

      I am in complete agreement. Leonard is a beautiful woman with an attractive, if not particularly distinctive, voice. Her voice and technique, or lack of technique, really, are not suited to Rossini. Her tone is occluded, her registers uneven, given to a labored production, and much of the fioratura is approximated, what I call “approximatura.”

      • There was a big cut taken in the rondo too, and she still couldn’t handle it.

        • jacobelli

          I agree with you Ivy. I, too, saw her live as Gilda and thought she was great. And at only 27 years old, she has a very bright future ahead of her. Also, given her involvement with the Tucker foundation already, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her get that prize in the not too distant future as well.

          • jacobelli

            Sorry, I was replying to Ivy’s post below about Nadine Sierra, not this post about Isabel Leonard.

  • springspring

    Angela looked impeccable.Dress and make up. Wonderful performance. As Jamie B. twitted: Beauty &class!

    • aulus agerius

      Well, I think AG’s getting perilously close to looking like a caricature of herself, somewhat like Pavarotti. I like her voice though. :-)

      • oscar

        But Angela can still throw her arm up at the end of an aria like no one else can.

      • CwbyLA

        I love her voice. So beautiful and distinctive!

  • aulus agerius

    Leonard is replacing DiDonato in Great Scott in San Diego. I shall attend and am a little concerned. I saw her in Cenerentola in Fort Worth some years ago and she was……gee, I don’t remember.

    • antikitschychick

      For a second there I thought you said “Leonardo DiCaprio is replacing JDD in Great Scott” LOL. Wouldn’t that be nice…and kind of weird but still nice.

  • Isobel Leonard was awful. Talk about approximate coloratura! And that gown was hideous. Ugly color, badly designed. The Gioconda duet was fabulous. Jamie Barton is a huge talent. In every sense.

    • Lady Abbado

      If you liked that duet so much…

    • la vociaccia

      I agree about the dodgy Cenerentola but that Gioconda duet was not without approximate pitches either.

  • By the way, all three of the Lucias I’m singing with at Regina Opera sound better than the meh Nadine Sierra.

    • I’ve heard Sierra as Gilda and I somehow doubt this. Her voice makes a big impact live and is the real thing.

  • antikitschychick

    finished watching this year’s Tucker gala online. Kudos to aulus agerius for pointing out it was up on the Live from Lincol Center website. For some reason the link to the “gallery” that has extra footage of performances that weren’t broadcast isn’t working.

    Overall it was a great show and Jamie Barton sounded stellar. I do wish she would have chosen a more exciting aria instead of the one from Le Troyens but her singing was pretty flawless. Those chest notes in Acerba Volutta gave me goosebumps! Also those baby and child photos of her were adorable.

    Have to say I was actually really impressed with Stephen Costello. Not only did he look super sexy but he sounded MUCH better than when I heard him last fall at the Met and at the Gala from 2 yrs ago when his ex Ailyn Perez won. This music seems to also suit him better but I found his legato much improved, his phrasing as well and he did emote more. Just an overall more polished sound and less constricted. The duet with Nadine Sierra was lovely. She sounded great as well and loved her dress! She should have gotten a solo aria. Maybe she sang one and it wasn’t aired. In any case I look forward to hearing her live in the near future.

    I thought Piotr sounded really good in Nessun Dorma but goodness do his eyebrows shake! It’s distracting, esp when the camera does the closeups. The Faust duet with Renee was good but kind of boring imho and her top notes sounded a bit shrill but I don’t think those high notes or anything beyond a B natural have ever really been her forte. Her money notes have always been As, B flats and Bs and her voice is extremely well preserved and can still sing a legato phrase like no one’s business and she sounded great in the Adriana Lecouvreur aria. Her dresses were elegant but I don’t the cuts were flattering.

    Angela G sounded great though she kept rushing in places and I think her dress would have looked much better without those neon stripes and I didn’t like the gloves too much either although they looked elegant.

    I thought the Giaconda duet was good but not great. I was expecting better. Christine Goerke sounded gave a great rendition of O Don Fatale though and I will forgive her for saying “misjustice” instead of injustice lol. Her backstage reactions were hilarious. She’s a fun lady.

    Lawrence sang the bejesus out of that show-stopper aria and it was mightily impressive.

    Andrea Bocelli did his best. what can one say. The head shaking was indeed distracting but at least he got through his pieces and didn’t miss any of his entrances. He is looking rather thin though. I hope he’s taking care of himself.

    I realized after I typed all of this that I had forgotten about Isabel Leonard. Guess that kind of speaks for itself. Lovely woman, very good voice (except her top notes sounded a bit shrill) but bland performer and I agree her gown was not very flattering to her figure and she is not suited to Rossini. I did think she was really good in The Tempest and her characterization of Cherubino in last year’s opening night Figaro was very good but the performance was boring and I stopped watching :-(.

    • antikitschychick

      sorry last season’s new production of Figaro.

  • LT

    Can someone explain Beczala’s French pronunciation? Contempler becomes contempli, eclarte’ becomes eclarti. Sounds bad!

    • manou

      Do you mean “clarté”?

      • LT

        I do.

        • manou

          That clarifies it.

    • I’ve noticed several singers pronouncing “é” much like “i”. Kaufmann does it.

    • My guess is that singers tend toward the [i] or “ee” sound because it is more “closed” and therefore easier to control. Especially in middle voice the more closed position helps to keep the tone on pitch, and in the passaggio area that position prevents cracking.

      There are also breath control aspects to consider. A more closed position means (obviously) that the breath is traveling through a narrower passage. That means the actual motion of the air is faster and therefore more energized, which results in a more vibrant tone.

      It’s essentially a cheat, but it’s a cheat a lot of singers need to resort to for the best musical reasons.

  • gk

    #7 is definitely Adriana Maliponte from the 1985 broadcast.