Cher Public

How fatal was my sdegno!

The video after the jump is all pretty fabulous, and I think we can all agree that this Anna Pirozzi is the real thing! But there are at least two scrumptious “Easter Eggs” for the connoisseur of operatic camp  in the video as well, so let’s take a closer look!  

Please do enjoy Ms. Pirozzi’s art at your leisure, but for now, La Cieca asks you to fast forward to about the 8:45 point of this video to check out…

a) Abigaille’s high-fives with the Assyrian army

b) The mad queen super who makes a whole Martha Graham thing out of handing Abigaille a spear.

Ben io t'invenni o fatal scritto…

Posted by Anna Pirozzi on Monday, December 28, 2015

  • danpatter

    She is definitely an exciting singer. I was particularly gratified by her apparent fearlessness in singing this difficult aria, and in her willingness to decorate the repeat of the cabaletta -- I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it done (and of course it’s often cut). Thanks for sharing this!

    • You’ve never heard it done? Oh, wow! then there is a small sample of others who did it before her:

      Guleghina at the Met:

      Andrea Gruber (also at the Met):

      Lauren Flanagan in Naples:

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Monastyrska varied the repeat of Salgo gia at the ROH too.

      • danpatter

        Now that I think about it, I saw Guleghina do it in Houston, and she did vary the repeat.

  • Cicciabella

    Pirozzi has been a well-kept secret in Italy for years. She’s apparently in her early forties. Now the Anglo-Saxon world has discovered her. I hope for her that this increases her fame and fortune, but she does not need to prove anything to anyone.

  • mrsjohnclaggart

    I give her points for 1/singing BOTH verses of “Salgo gia del trono aurato” and 2/just as important DECORATING the second verse. The spear handing off (and withdrawing) are … precious.

  • Will

    I love that she sits for a moment at the beginning of the aria. It sets up a contemplative moment beautifully and humanizes Abigaille, taking her right out of the brass-bound villainess role and making her a more fully rounded character.

  • Amnerees

    I think we need to fly Pirozzi over here right away, assuming she can be lured away from her devoted Italian public, and she should bring her spear bearer with her. Perhaps she can learn to trill on the airplane, but Italians don’t seem to pay much attention to that refinement (and neither to most Abigailles, Italian or otherwise).
    Anyone who hasn’t seen a provincial production of this opera in Italy at some point hasn’t lived. They can be very good and often hilarious. I saw one in Lucca years ago in which the elaborate stage equipment malfunctioned repeatedly with drops going up and down at the wrong time and a tower rising sideways and pointlessly from below and disappearing the same way. The singers carried on with great professionalism, and the audience didn’t seem to find anything unusual about this.

    • Porgy Amor

      Isn’t Pirozzi scheduled for San Francisco’s opener next season with Y. Lee and Gagnidze? It’s the Giordano opera, so it’s not something I would go see unless I were well compensated and had a quick path to the bar during the breaks, but it might be of interest to others.

      • armerjacquino

        I was talking about her yesterday with antik -- I’m very tempted to see her in the new TROV that Covent Garden in the summer. The other scheduled Leonora is Haroutounian, who is presumably her own cover and will replace herself should she cancel.

      • grimoaldo

        “Isn’t Pirozzi scheduled for San Francisco’s opener next season with Y. Lee and Gagnidze?”


        I do like “Andrea Chenier”, maybe I would be tired of it if they did it as often as “Tosca” but I have only ever seen it once before, years ago at Covent Garden with Domingo and Anna T-S and Zancanaro, it was great. Somebody posted on here that it was going to be Alagna in the title role which got me all excited and I was looking forward to going to see it, SF’s beautiful opera house is my favourite place to see opera in the US, but then I was very disappointed that it isn’t Alagna after all, not going to see it with somebody else in that part.
        My ticket came yesterday for Michael the Fab in Don Carlos in June in SF though, really looking forward to that!

        • armerjacquino

          Do you *only* see operas with Alagna now, grim? ;-)

          • grimoaldo

            No! I will also go if Fabiano or Oropesa are in them!;-)

  • aulus agerius

    What a scream…..the spear carrier, that is. hahaha

  • antikitschychick

    VERY, VERY impressive! What a smooth, even voice and the tambre sounds eerily like Callas, esp in the top register which I love. I agree the ornaments were fab and the alt high ending to “Anch’io dischiuso un giorno” was also fab! She is a real gem, not to mention she sounds idiomatic in this rep and sounds like a true dramatic soprano. I looked at other videos of her, which can be found on her Youtube channel:

    and enjoyed everything I heard. She seems to have a pretty wide rep of Italian roles she sings including Aida. Wish the Met would cast her opposite Stoyanova in Aida next season (assuming her voice can project in a theater as big as the Met)! Or opposite Liudmyla M in Nabucco. Not that Tatiana Melnychenko (the other scheduled Abigaille per the Met Future Wiki) is a bad singer from what I can tell from hearing her on YT but Pirozzi would provide a better contrast with LM in that role. I think they should have cast LM as Jenufa instead of Oksana Dyka rather than Aida for the 3rd time. Not that any of this will actually happen since these contracts were presumably signed a while ago but…a girl can wish can’t she?! lol.

    Thanks to armerj and phoenix for sharing those videos yesterday. Armerj you should definitely go see that Trovatore and let us know how it goes :-).

    • Cicciabella

      For her sake, Pirozzi should never sing at the Met. She’s the kind of singer who will debut at the Met, possibly with much fanfare because of her reputation in Italy (bravo Anthony Pappano, fot catching on.) Some will like her singing. Many will complain about her nonglamorous looks/lack of charisma/ridiculous acting. Others will say she was barely audible. General verdict: good voice, good enough for the provinces (Italy), but not good enough for the Met. She will then be remembered as an Italian soprano who did not make a big enough splash at the Met, instead of a good singer with a cult following who might have been a success at the Met.

      • antikitschychick

        Lol that’s a pretty accurate summation of what some of the commentary we see on here can be like in regards to some singers but I don’t think those comments or any of our comments really represent the majority. The majority of opera goers arent that picky or scathing. Thus I don’t think any singer should be denied the opportunity to sing at a major house (doesn’t have to be the Met) because of a few grumbling posts on a blog. To give an example, I’ve seen lots of complaints on here about Gheorghiu being inaudible but I don’t think they’ve hindered her from getting major assignments at the Met. True she hasn’t been a major presence there over the last few years but that’s more to do with certain high profile cancellations than any complaints/critiques about her singing. The truth is not even really bad reviews prevent singers from getting re-hired sometimes albeit they need strong debuts which you’ve conceded she will probably have. Liudmyla Monastyrska and Oksana Dyka both received bad reviews for their performances in Aida last season (yet the former is singing Aida again next season and the latter Jenufa per the Met Future Wiki) and Ricardo Tamura had a bad night in Don Carlo last season yet he’s singing in Cav this season. She deserves her chance just like everyone else I think and by chance I don’t mean just a debut but a few role assignments. I’m not denying that what you say can’t happen qnd you certainly have more experience as an opera goer thsn me but it’s a bit pessimistic to make up your mind before it actually happens.

        • armerjacquino

          Antik, I agree with you both that Cicciabella’s post is very accurate and that it doesn’t matter.

          Nobody reading this site would, for example, believe that Renee Fleming was one of the most popular opera singers in the world.

          • antikitschychick

            LOL yeah there’s also that.

        • antikitschychick

          Sorry I meant to say: I’m not denying that what you say (about Pirozzi) *CAN happen. I blame my phone, once again.

        • Cicciabella

          Anti, I was also thinking of the critics, not just the august parterriat. I wouldn’t want to deny any singer success at an important house like the Met, or Met audiences the chance to hear talented singers. Met debuts can be a let-down, however, and I don’t wish that for any singer, especially those who have appreciative audiences elsewhere. My post was somewhat exaggerated, but I do think the Met has a slightly different set of criteria to other venues. Big voices, obvioiusly, but also glamour and personal charisma seem to be more important than at other places, where a singer might be very successful mostly on the strength of vocal talent. And why not? Audiences have local taste and favourites. Daniela Dessi is a case in point: a singer who, on the strength of her talent and performances, should have had a more “international” career, which does not mean that she is not an important singer.

          • antikitschychick

            Yes the Met does have a certain set of criteria being that it’s a very large theater and I totally get what you’re saying about how disappointing a Met debut (or any important debut for that matter!) can be BUT the thing is, hers seems to be a world class voice and thus deserves international exposure, which she would be able to get at the Met through an HD performance. That’s what I think attracts most of the top singers/performers to the Met these days and for good reason. It’s worth taking the risk just for that imho and I’m sure she would at least get a good review from Anthony Tommasini ;-). Besides, her Italian public will love her regardless and she will probably always have an audience there. But we’ll see how she does in that CG Trovatore this summer first.

            As an aside, this conversation has made me realize how fortunate LM was because she got an HD at the same time she debuted. (So did Oksana Dyka but she wasn’t the protagonist in Prince Igor). True, it’s been her only one in 4 yrs but she’ll probably get at least one next season (I hope). And next week I’ll have seen her for the third time in 3 different roles so I really have nothing to complain about lol except that she hasn’t recorded an album yet and she should! I’ll see if I can ask her about that next week. Anyway the point is, a lot of singers get the Magda Olivero treatment when it comes to important debuts and she didn’t. Those that had pointed that out to me a while ago are right.

  • antikitschychick

    P.S. loved the spear carrier! He should come to the Met too lol.

  • Batty Masetto

    Unfortunately I find her Maddalena de Coigny a lot less interesting:

    Clean vocalism but the same repertory of stock gestures, right down to the moment of seated contemplation, without the bravura coloratura to compensate. The prospect of her and paint-by-numbers Yonghoon Lee opening the season in SF does not whet the appetite.

  • moi

    Cicciabella, you have a very valid point there….
    In the last decade two adored italian sopranos made very modest Met debuts:
    Fiorenza Cedolins and Micaela Carosi. The latter sang on the capital , and has unfortunately disappeared…
    Daniela Dessi is also well loved in Italy, but less abroad.. and what about Ciofi,
    who the french have ‘adopted’.
    Pirozzi was unknown until her one matinee Ballo in Torino about 4 years ago…
    my jaw dropped w her first aria. Later her Tosca was solid , but slightly generic..
    Aida last October was impressive, even if for me she was working hard in the 3rd act to scale the voice down. I wish her all the best for her Scala debut in about 2 weeks.
    We are happy if she stays in Italy!

  • moi

    Pirozzi is going to be a superior Leonora than Hui He , who is right now covering Netrebko in a live broadcast… intonation problems and imprecisions

    • manou

      I am listening as well -- I have a soft spot for Hui He since I saw this

      and then saw her as Leonora in Orange last year.

      She has certainly had a hard journey to get where she is now.

  • moi

    Actually I’m not sure if it is Hui He.. since The Paris Opera website only announces Netrebko’s cancellation, but not the singer stepping in- not good

    • manou

      It was Hue at the previous performance -- and it sounds like her. But yes, I agree -- the Paris Opera has not behaved well.

      • antikitschychick


        ;-) :-P.

        • manou


          • antikitschychick

            hahaha ok.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Why Netrebko cancel? Did she get sic?

  • Niel Rishoi

    This is startlingly good singing. One of the most difficult scenas ever, and she stays on top of it; you never get the sense that it’s taking more than what she has, in vocal reserves. The very bottom notes are a bit hollow, but she has most of this in quite good command. The recit is strong and well characterized, the cavatina is lovely, shimmering, and well-sustained, and the cabaletta is strongly, but neatly sung -- and, in perhaps a first (to my knowledge), she decorates the second verse.

    I don’t agree that she sounds like Callas. Pirozzi doesn’t hoist the tone up from the chest to the high Cs in the way that Callas did, either.

    In between listening to Pirozzi, I heard the most recent MET performance, twice, of Maria Stuarda, complete on YouTube. Pirozzi’s singing, or rather, her vocal production, threw into strong relief what I find sketchy, overall, about Radvanovsky’s singing.

    Pirozzi’s voice is very resonant, firm, having ping, color, and focus; the vowels are prominent, the quality of them distinct, and which gives some dynamism to her phrasing.

    Radvanovsky’s vocal production strikes me as being grainy and soft-textured -- it sounds laryngeal, produced in the mouth rather than the mask. Her vowels are not clearly differentiated, and they emerge as a hodgepodge of varying quality. “Al” sounds like “I’ll,” for example. There’s a kind of pervasive “oooo”, or an umlauted “oooo” to her tonal color -- and it lends a sense of monotony. Consonants sometimes fail to sound. Emphases are not strongly defined, and it gives a lulling sense of rhythmic slackness. Mishmashes of effects: sometimes a low note will barely sound, other times, a self-conscious “baby chest” will emerge. Many key phrases, buts of recitative don’t flow organically.

    The word “placement” is perhaps a dubious term, and frowned upon, but the soft-textured way she produces her voice works very well in soft passages, but which often make her high notes sound driven and harsh.

    A lot of this limpid, lyrical singing suits the role of Maria, and I suspect this is the role which will garner her the most acclaim.

    One thing is for sure: she has heard one or more of Sills’ recordings. Radvanovsky takes a lot of the high options that Sills utilized -- like taking “os-CEN-a” up. A lot of the textual choices sound very similar.

    Radvanovsky has, by nature, one of the most sumptuous and full-bodied voices in opera today. There is not much of what Steane calls a “voice-face,” in that it is not strongly defined and characterful. Her assumptions of roles strike me as well-learned rather than musically and artistically arresting.

    But -- my opinions hardly matter, they’re only mine, and Radvanovsky is having a wildly successful career.

    I am, however, VERY excited about Pirozzi. I think that if she could find someone like Muti, she could have someone to further refine the obvious gifts she has.

    • Porgy Amor

      Niel, she has, in fact, found Muti, or vice versa. I don’t know where these fell in relation to the clip above, but she has done with him both Abigaille and the Ernani Elvira (below). Her comments in an interview suggest it was a good experience for her.

      • mrsjohnclaggart

        Thank you, Porgy.

    • mrsjohnclaggart

      Niel, I agree with you and find your observations about Rads tone very clear and persuasive. She is better than most people who sing this rep, but I am never persuaded by her, despite the evidence of hard work and intelligence. The words are not there, and they need to be, and I have some trouble hearing her as really in tune. Research has shown perceptions of accuracy in pitch are subjective to a very large degree but I can never relax into her singing though she is certainly capable of arresting effects. But yes, opinions in these matters are highly individual. BTW Pirozzi sounds nothing at all like Callas to me; she sings like an Italian soprano with a good training who isn’t pushing for volume, artificially darkening her tone by bringing the chest too high and “ventriloquizing” the high notes. So they will stone the both of us — and I (sob) am the larger target.

    • phoenix

      Niel, your opinions do matter … both you & mjc wrote a fair & very generous criticism of a singer I can’t stand to listen to.

    • dgf

      I agree with those who find Pirozzi to be a fluent and exciting singer. The instrument is glorious, well produced with an even scale, and the sound is beautifully Italianate. The quality of the videos posted here do her no favors, and yes, her acting may be limited at this point; however, I’d rather hear a healthy, well produced voice rather than some current sopranos who have to rely on the strength of their acting, such as Racette or Westbroek, both of whose voices are a shambles these days. As for Radanovsky, I have never been a fan myself. Her timbre is acidic to my ears, her diction mushy, and the intonation frequently suspect. As for her acting, it is fairly generic, as I suspect she is having to continually think about her vocal production. A natural singer she is not. Niel Rishoi’s assessment of Rad is one of the most astute I’ve read.

    • antikitschychick

      Niel, thank you for sharing that very articulate and well thought out compendium about La Rad’s voice (and vocal production). I agree with you although having heard her live in the premiere of AB earlier this season, I will say that even given the limitations there is still much to admire and appreciate (though I too hear the intonation problems, which mostly amounts to slightly under-pitched singing imho and in Bolena, there was one chest note during Al Dolci Guidami that went completely awry but tbf it was one note). She is as you say not a natural singer but she has become an virtuosic. Very few sopranos can pull off that Tudor Queen Trilogy, and in one season? Hats off. Although I was a bit flabbergasted at reading in Cieca’s review that she’s been singing at the Met for 20 years(!!). I know she was part of their young artists program but still. I thought it was more like 10-15. 20 years is a long time esp for a singer who has had to deal with vocal complications, surgeries and other health issues. Still, law school has really skewed my perception of time. I feel like I’ve been in school for 10 years yet it seemed like only yesterday was, idk 2007 or something lol. Also, re: my comment that Pizzoli sounds like Callas, I agree the vocal production is different and that she doesn’t carry her chest voice up or anything like that but I do hear a resemblance in the color and weight in upper stretches of the voice, a similar fullness and steeliness, especially in this recording. In others less so.

      Finally, yes this is all very subjective but an informed and well thought-out opinion always matters.

    • SilvestriWoman

      Last night, I saw Serjan’s Abigaille here in Chicago, and was blown away. Beautiful in very way -- physically and vocally -- yet fierce. I sensed a smart singer who, while immersed in the role, always was singing on her interest, never dipping into the principal. It made me long to see her Lady Macbeth, but I also imagined her as Norma.

  • cgambol

    Re: the Denishawn trained spear carrier. He delivers, he holds the delivery pose and exuent omnes. Is it high art or vaudeville? Werk gurl!

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    This clip of Pirozzi in the finale of Roberto Devereux (the whole thing from ‘E sara in questi orribili momenti’ to the end) is far more impressive than the Abigaille I think:

    I can’t think of many singers who aren’t a little bit better in repertoire 1 or 2 notches down from their absolute maximum (in terms of weight and drive) and I’d say she is no exception. This Donizetti gets me far more curious about going to hear her Leonora in the summer, which on the strength of this I reckon will be fab -- based on the Abigaille I didn’t think she was much more than fairly capable.

  • umangialaio

    Starting at 38’50” interview with Anna Pirozzi on Radio della Svizzera Italiana:


    • manou

      Thank you U. Very interesting as I am seeing her as Leonora in Trovatore at the ROH in June.

      • armerjacquino

        I think I’m going to have to book for that too.