Cher Public

Ah! Manon, mi tradisce

Our Own Chris Corwin (not pictured) has taken a peek at the current guesses for the “Sola perduta” quiz and notes that fewer than half of the selections offered have been correctly identified. He has consented to offer a few hints after the jump.  

Says Chris:

1) “Three of the thus far unidentified eight Manon selections derive from Met broadcasts.”

2) “The following celebrated interpreters of the role of Manon are not represented on the quiz: Magda Olivero, Montserrat Caballé, Leontyne Price, Renata Scotto and Antonietta Stella.”

3) “Also not represented is this current Met interpreter of the role.”

All guesses at the identities of the 15 mystery Manons should be entered by midnight Friday night in the comments section of the post entitled “La deserta donna.” Remember, the commenter who identifies the most sopranos correctly will win a lovely new parterre box t-shirt!

  • marshiemarkII

    Well gurls and assorted Qs, just passing by for a quick visit, but I didn’t want to leave the Qs wondering about how the replacement tenor would work out in Manon Lescaut, and the short answer is a resounding MAGNIFICENT!!!!!!! He was everything one could dream in a Des Grieux, overflowing with Italianita and gorgeous portamenti, glorious diction, and above all, audible at all dynamic levels, from the caressing phrases of Donna non vidi mai, to the stentorian and demented outbursts of Pazzo son guardate, he was on all the time, OK a couple of the very highest notes were a tiny tad strained in Act I and III, but when the portrayal is of THAT scale and magnificence, I say to hell with single high notes here or there, plus it was 11AM!. I am a confessed fan of Alagna since that glorious Don Jose of last year, but I was not prepared for the liquid beauty of this singing. I certainly didn’t miss anyone else that’s for sure.

    The big surprise for me though was Opolais, I had heard some YouTubes of Don Carlo and was not impressed, the voice sounding rather unattractive and not particularly musical (OK OK Tu che la vanita is the ultimate queen aria and if not Mariiiiaaa or Montserraaaat there is no one else right?) but in the theater, at the Metropolitan Opera, in Manon Lescaut, the voice was gorgeous, even and round, big and musically impeccable! If you add to that the fact that as an actress (yes she did have the reputation of a “good actress” preceding her) she IS music, every single millisecond motion is informed by the music, her turns, arms up in the air, recoils in horror in Act IV, every single move is with the music, a tour de force that I cannot recall how long I saw something that good and original. She truly inhabits the role better than Freni and Scotto, who were the last two I saw. And I dare say the singing is as good, and with a younger fresher voice. The girl is simply sensational!!!!! The Tu tu amore tu was pure sex, you could almost FEEL the stickiness :-) and what can one say of the sublime Sei tu che piange, grand scale singing from both of them, the Sola perduta soaring with gorgeous top notes and amazing plunges into the voce di vagina for the Io la deserta donna, really amazing stuff! I predict it will be an immense triumph for both of them, the rehearsal audience jumped on their feet howling and screaming as if it was the end of Elektra! (Luisi was of course fantastic and probably a major reason for the all the immense success of the whole proceedings)

    The production I won’t say much, for obvious reasons, but it is quite beautiful, and with those two amazing singing actors, well, it is all just incredible, extraordinary theater. The last act however, it is very strange, it is so amazingly wonderful for all the wrong reasons, in other words it is really good because it is so wrong, never saw grander desolation, but so at odds with the actual dramaturgy, more after the premiere…..

    • Porgy Amor

      Thanks for the report, marshie, but are you sure about seeing Opolais in YouTube of Don Carlo? I don’t think she has yet sung Elisabeth/Elisabetta. Maybe another soprano or another opera?

    • marshiemarkII

      Yes it was Opolais, if I remember correctly it was a concert version somewhere in the east block (maybe Russia?), and I picked it because she was making big waves here, and I just wanted to size her up in something I really know and love (the ultimate queen aria ;-)). I think it was quite early in her career also. Anyway, as Manon Lescaut I’d say she has no equals today! and the voice that sounded grainy and unattractive in YT, is actually quite beautiful and smooth in the theater! the old story, NEVER judge a singer from a YT clip!!!!!

      • SF Guy

        Could this be it?

        • marshiemarkII

          Yes exactly carisssimo SF Guy!, you see carisssima Porgy poor MMII still has her marbles fairly intact after all :lol:

    • marshiemarkII

      And while I am at it, the whole cast is actually incredible down to the smallest roles. British import Sherratt (yes Kruno!) is a spectacular Geronte, elegant in the outside while seedy and nasty-to-the-bone in the inside, with a great powerful voice, and Cavalletti a marvelous Bro’ Lescaut singing grandly the line from the duet right before the duet (in act II of course), and handsome as a God. The debuting Edmondo, beautiful voice and marvelous projection, right into your ear! and even better the lamplighter, what a meal he made of his short little arietta. One of the best things all around in a long time.

      • Lohenfal

        Liebster MMII, thanks for the review. Your words are very encouraging, since I’m scheduled to see Opolais/Alagna in Butterfly in April. I’m not planning on seeing ML, but it isn’t because the famous absentee is missing. Having watched him on the Internet, I didn’t feel it necessary to go to this, but I thought he was admirable in those other stagings. It’s good that the Met was able to find a successful replacement at short notice.

      • marshiemarkII

        Carisssimo Lohenfal, this is indeed a very high wattage pair, I am sure you will not be disappointed. Look at this little snippet of the rehearsal I found, and you may understand a bit why I was so overwhelmed, the GLORIOUS Sei tu che piangi:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7BQYMN1WC4

        • Lohenfal

          Sorry, MMII, I tried the video but couldn’t get it to work. Likewise, some of the videos on the Met website aren’t working either. What I could hear of Alagna (Donna non vidi mai) was fine--his voice is much brighter in tone than JK’s, also the Italian is more idiomatic. Still, I feel that “der Abwesende” made the role his own, adjusting it to his own personality and looks, as he usually does with any role. He probably is aware of the uproar over the cancellation--he issued a statement of regret, after all. I’m always willing to forgive an artist I really like.

      • marshiemarkII

        Try again:

      • marshiemarkII

        Carisssimo Lohenfal, I am really sorry about that link, it was working perfectly fine this morning, early in the AM, and it was supplied by metopera.org, and then suddenly it disappeared. My guess is one of the two singers must have objected. Why is totally beyond me, because both were unreservedly MAGNIFICENT, as I will not tire of repeating :-) .

        It is too bad, because while YT could never reproduce the overwhelming effect of the in-house experience, it definitely gave a good idea of the grand scale of the singing. Yes, Alagna’s voice is much brighter than the other gentleman’s of course, but it has a lot of body and unbelievable presence, he is always right on your ear, whether soft delicate singing or full blasting the big stuff. His voice is perfectly suited for the Met, unlike Kauffman, who in my experience, sings a gorgeous Parsifal on the DVD, but I know the in-house experience was of no impact to me, especially when he was surrounded by Pape and Mattei (or Dalayman for that matter).

        Des Grieux has some fiendishly difficult passages that I am not sure how he would/could negotiate, I guess he has sung it to acclaim elsewhere, so I should be always open minded, but can’t say I am in any way unhappy with this turn of events, and I hope and feel that both Alagna and Opolais will have a huge triumph tomorrow. I feel so thrilled and grateful I was able to hear Tuesday’s magnificent rehearsal though.

        • marshiemarkII
          • Lohenfal

            I figured that the disappearing link was the result of Met censorship. That wouldn’t have bothered me if their own website had all the videos working, but such was not the case.

            As the Times article indicates, it’s to Alagna’s credit that he was able to master the role so swiftly. He’ll probably have a great success tomorrow. Unfortunately, as mentioned, the Playbills (and also the Season Book, Broadcast Guide, and who knows what other documents) will remind everyone of who was scheduled to be des Grieux. The Met’s marketing now emphasizes not only what’s being performed but the star singers appearing therein. That wasn’t the case before Gelb.

            Der Abwesende (my new invention) was able to master those difficult passages you mention, in both the ROH and Munich videos I watched. He brought his usual baritonal sound to them, but I had no problem with that, nor with his clear but not quite natural Italian. Maybe it’s because I find the whole package so attractive: voice, personality, intensity, and looks. Ever since I saw his Met Werther 2 years ago, I find it hard to imagine anyone else in that role. Before that, Kraus had been my ideal, and he probably still is in purely vocal terms. In theatrical terms, however, what happened with JK was a complete reinvention of the part, far beyond my wildest expectations. In effect, he made me not want to see that piece again with anyone else in the near future, and especially not with Grigolo. Better no Werther than that!

            • manou
            • marshiemarkII

              Ciao manoucee, mille grazie, unfortunately they did not include the divine Sei tu che piangi, I am obsessed, I must have heard it like 8 times this morning, and would be still listening :-) and suddenly poof it’s gone. Since the Caballe recording I hadn’t heard it so well sung! and conducted actually! credit where credit is due! The accents were just hair-raising, and the singers right above it all….

            • manou

              Hello marshie -- very nice to see your enthusiastic and exuberant posts back here. It is always good to read a variety of comments from the learned and well-informed to the lighter and more gossipy, from the exceedingly long-winded to the short and epigrammatic, and from the grandiose to the trifling.

              Of course your own contributions are sui generis and always fun.

            • marshiemarkII

              That’s very sweet of you manoucee querida. Rest assured that even when not participating, I try to always keep up with reading parterre before bedtime :-) and your byline is always a welcome lesson on matters linguistic, as this very post amply demonstrates.

          • antikitschychick

            oh wow congrats to Alagna on becoming a granddaddy! And good for him that he still has “la fiamma” that keeps him going and working hard and not to mention singing well!

    • antikitschychick

      thank you for your enthusiastic review Marshie and nice to hear from you! After reading what you have to say I’m definitely going to try and hear her live before making up my mind since I too have the impression based on Youtube videos that her voice and esp the upper register tend to be dry and a bit shrill although I heard a recording of her as Butterfly and loved it so I guess it also depends on the role. I looked at all of the rehearsal clips the Met posted (except for the one that was taken down) and I had the same impression of a dry sound although she was somewhat breathy-sounding so maybe her voice was tired when the filmed those. Alagna looks so much better with shorter hair; am glad he cut it! I’ll try and catch the HD of this.

  • marshiemarkII

    Nice to hear from you chikita querida! Oh you must see it in the house, forget about HD, she must be heard live!, one of those voices made for the Met, ample and with great projection, and the sound is very round and even, nothing shrill whatsoever, the mikes sometimes really distort voices that are made for projecting in an acoustic environment. The sets are also really monumental, so the effect live is quite something! You should try for student rush, who knows, at the rate the Met is going maybe even something this good will not sell out? It should be a bestseller, gorgeous music and a cast without a single weak link, but you never know….

    Yes Alagna is not only sounding magnificent but looking it also, although in Pagliacci I found it to be a drawback actually. He literally looked too good to be the cuckolded husband, he looked just as a good as the gorgeous Alexey Lavrov’s Silvio. I think this was a very good move for him. Much as I like him, he sang a stunning, devastating Vesti la giuba, but then he was a bit over his head in the Commedia, as things got rough, he started to shout and scream and the effort showed. He cannot do thuggishness too well I think. As Des Grieux, he is the picture of boyish impetuousness and elegance, and singing like a God throughout!

  • antikitschychick

    Yesss I’m going to try and catch it on March 5th since I will be in NY for a moot court competition :-).

    “He literally looked too good to be the cuckolded husband.” LOL yeah I can totally see that being the case.

    • Lohenfal

      Anti, there are a few seats left in the Family Circle for Mar. 5. Actually, there are quite a lot of more expensive seats available elsewhere, but that’s the norm now, even for matinees. I was finally able to see those short videos on the Met site; as MMII said, it looks like a desirable offering. I’m looking forward to seeing this couple in Butterfly.

      • antikitschychick

        Thanks for the info Lohenfal. I think I will try and get student rush tix as Marshie suggested but I’ll call the box office tomorrow and see if I can get them sooner. I really don’t want to sit in Family Circle again but if there aren’t any alternatives I suppose I’ll have to. In other good news both my final exams this semester are self scheduled so I might actually be able to see Elektra live after all in April. But I can’t say for sure at this point. That’s the other performance I’d really, really like to see.

        • Lohenfal

          Elektra is also on my schedule. Stemme sang exceptionally well in the Turandot broadcast, so I’m hoping for similar results in the Strauss. I also liked the way she handled the text, much more sensitively than most. I didn’t turn it off before the final “completion,” the way I usually do. Too bad she didn’t have a better Prince than Berti.

          • antikitschychick

            she certainly did and I can’t wait for Elektra and Tristan & Isolde! I hope you enjoy Butterfly :-). I’m going to call the box office tomorrow about that March 5th performance.