Cher Public

Winter afternoon’s dream

Netrebko in recitalStandard fare threatened to dominate the final weekend of February at the Met: a routinely-cast revival of Cav & Pag plus two recent productions by the house’s favorite Eyre-head. But then there were also two extraordinary opportunities to indulge in divadienst of the “An(n)a-in-excelsis” genus—Saturday offered another chance, announced only 24 hours earlier, to sample Ana Maria Martinez’s unexpected Butterfly, then Sunday afternoon brought Anna Netrebko’s exceptional, sold-out sui generis all-Russian recital. 

It took the better part of a decade—including two high-profile cancelations—or New York to finally hear Netrebko in recital, which is a rare occurrence at the Met, hers being only the third fourth this century after Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape and Vittorio Grigolo. Though the Met hosted recitals in the 1980s by such celebrated divas as Jessye Norman and Marilyn Horne, Margaret Price and Kiri Te Kanawa, Leontyne Price and Joan Sutherland (the final two in their last-ever Met appearances), it surely never presented until today such an extravagant, deeply-felt, altogether unorthodox prima donna showcase.

In collaboration with deluxe accompanist Malcolm Martineau, the glamourous Russian superstar offered five songs by Rachmaninoff, 10 by Rimsky-Korsakov (along with Marfa’s mad scene from The Tsar’s Bride) and eight by Tchaikovsky. Anyone expecting a reverent demonstration by a singer with “no voice but ggrrreat artistry” (props to Anna Russell) would surely have been disappointed and probably more than a little shocked by today’s concert.

Netrebko didn’t follow the “usual” recital etiquette, didn’t sing a single song in contemplative repose nestled in the curve of the piano. From the opening rhapsodic and expansive “Before my window” by Rachmaninoff to the thrillingly orgasmic conclusion of Rimsky’s “Summer Night’s Dream” which ended the first half, Nebrebko lived each song as if it were part of a staged opera, moving with abandon about the stage, gesturing meaningfully to the front row or to the Family Circle. She performed every selection as intensely, as dramatically as she did that vernal excerpt from The Tsar’s Bride.

The hordes of photo-takers who had initially been relatively restrained in their snapping went bonkers when she crossed to caress the flowers contained the double vases to the right of the piano during Rachmaninoff’s “Lilacs.” She posed gravely in a convenient pool of light against the wall of screens set up on the stage mounted over the orchestra pit to begin Tchaikovsky’s “Why?” and ended it at the lip of the stage her arms thrown wide-open, her rapt face, eyes closed, turned to the heavens. What might have appeared to some pure prima donna self-indulgence instead felt both thrillingly flamboyant and simply, truly sincere.

My occasionally bumpy long-term relationship with Anna began 18 years ago when I fell for her delectable Louisa in Prokofiev’s endearing Betrothal in a Monastery during a Mariinsky visit to the Met. While I again surrendered to her Natasha and enjoyed her palpable if short-lived chemistry as Gilda opposite Rolando Villazón, her uneven, often insecure singing in willful excursions into bel canto, particularly the sketchy Elvira and Lucia, left me wondering why so much of the world had chosen her as its soprano.

Antonia and Mimi exploited her gift for full-throated dying pathos and while I liked both her Manon and Adina more than many, nothing enchanted like her guest appearance with the Mariinsky at the Kennedy Center in 2010 when she sang a “bleeding chunk” of Iolanta with Sergei Skorokhodov. In one of my favorite love duets, I experienced the enthralling Netrebko I hadn’t since those early Prokofiev heroines. For me, Russian music brought out special qualities in her that I had been missing.

Netrebko TealSadly neither her Tatyana or Iolanta rose to my high expectations, but her surprising, thrilling Lady Macbeth and last fall’s divine Trovatore Leonora finally won me over again, convincing me that indeed Netrebko had become one of today’s most exciting, most satisfying singers. Technical problems (some continuing pitch issues notwithstanding) had been conquered and she now sang with a confidence and abandon that occurs too rarely these days.

Those sterling qualities, along with a clearly deep connection to the songs she had chosen, were in conspicuous evidence during Sunday’s recital. The richly soaring voice of increasingly dark velvet never sounded better–from thrillingly full-throated fortissimo high notes to finely-spun gossamer pianissimi that were literally breath-taking. She did tire a bit in the second half, and her crowd-pleasing Dvorak and Richard Strauss encores drew cheers but showed her at less than her best.

As to the all-important “couture report” she wore different ensembles from what she had worn last week in Baden-Baden. In the first half, with her hair down and crowed with a bejeweled cap, she appeared in a knockout white beaded caftan with a high slit in front which revealed glimpses of killer legs and vertiginous high heels. After intermission she emerged in a luxurious teal ballgown with jet beading at the bodice and down the front (credited in the program to Pamella Roland) which was, I thought, less becoming. One of the more endearing moments of the afternoon occurred during the prelude to “Reckless nights” when she—with perfect sang-froid—bent down to pull off something that had stuck to the heel of her shoe.

Her obvious enthusiasm for and commitment to the music was marred by a star-struck, packed audience that mindlessly applauded after every selection even when she signaled for silence between a set of “rose” songs by Rimsky. The maniacal picture-taking lessened during the Tchaikovsky during which I saw a stealthy usher chastise more than one offending audience member. But Netrebko took it all in stride (including returning for her final Rimsky set to see a good portion of the audience by mistake already exiting for intermission!) and seemed to be having a genuinely good time too. How often can one say that after the average lieder program? And how many sopranos get to put a big dent in their daily fitbit regimen while singing a recital?

The overriding melancholy of so many Russian songs began to pall by the end, but she did choose a most revealing song with which to end. Tchaikovsky’s “Amidst the day” concludes with the lines “My thoughts, feelings, songs and strength—they are all for you!” which beautifully conveyed Netrebko’s wishes to her listeners, but that song ends with a gorgeous extended piano postlude during which she just turned away from the audience and listened to Martineau—a most generous and moving gesture.

Figaro 1A less exalted Met excursion occurred Thursday with the lively if uneven return of last season’s disappointing new Le Nozze di Figaro led this time by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi whose lithe, transparent reading was one of the best things about the evening. Occasionally though one wanted him to slow down and savor the moment, particularly in passages like the bewitching Letter Duet. The orchestra responded with wonderful buoyancy to his fleet baton and in particular the woodwinds played gorgeously.

Unfortunately Luisi, like his unfriendly “boss” James Levine, disdained appoggiaturas—I counted maybe three all evening and one was probably a mistake. Luisi also condones the bad-old policy of cutting both Marcellina and Basilio’s arias, which was unfortunate since Robert McPherson made a most welcome Met debut as an unusually young and tartly-sung music master. Have those two fizzy Act Four arias ever been done at the Met?

Most of Nozze’s smaller roles were excellently done—one rarely notices a Don Curzio as it’s often cast with a nearly voiceless aging character tenor but Scott Scully’s pungent notary demanded attention. Maurizio Muraro has rightly become one of the Met’s go-to buffo bassos, and Paul Corona made an exceptionally full-voiced and authoritative Antonio. Ashley Emerson’s petite Barbarina did much with little: her “L’ho perduta” was an exquisite bonbon, and this production unusually had her and Cherubino sing the little duet in Act Three usually done by two bridesmaids.

Over the past decade many houses worldwide have turned to casting retired Cherubinos (or Susannas) as Marcellina with decidedly mixed results. A veteran of last season’s premiere Susanne Mentzer who debuted 27 years ago at the Met as Nozze’s randy page returned Thursday in improved form. But although she cannily portrayed the vain yet ultimately warm-hearted woman there’s not a lot of voice left.

Unfortunately I was prompted to wonder just how soon Isabel Leonard, the evening’s Cherubino, might too be taking up Marcellina. Although she traipsed about with infectious vim, her colorless voice sounded perilously thin, its top pinched. Since the role is usually considered a gift to lyric mezzos (or sopranos), it was a shock to encounter a Cherubino so vocally labored and unendearing.

Usually seen as heavies like Sparafucile and Hunding, Mikhail Petrenko was odd casting as Figaro. He entered strenuously into the fun without ever convincing us that he belonged in Mozart’s buffa coming across as an eager if not particularly quick-witted valet. His bass, which was disconcertingly underpowered last season in Bartók’s dramatic Bluebeard’s Castle, sounded shockingly overmatched by Mozart! He was more than once a smidgen behind Luisi early in the evening, causing some chaotic moments in the ensembles. He did pull it together and ended strongly with a vigorous and authoritative “Aprite un po’ quel’occhi.”

His Susanna was much more happily cast: Romanian soprano Anita Hartig, who recently shone as Liù opposite Nina Stemme, eschewed soubrettish cuteness. Instead she embodied a sexy, wily maid who recognized the hurdles to her upcoming marriage and triumphed over them. Her large, silvery soprano could occasionally turn white and glassy on top but otherwise it glowed warmly particularly in her heavenly “Deh vieni, non tardar” for which Luisi at last slowed down and accompanied with loving attention. She sounded as if she might soon be ready to step into the role of the Countess.

Figaro 2As Hartig’s mistress, Rachel Willis-Sørensen repeated the role of her December 2014 debut but suggested that Mozart may no longer be best suited for her. Her big, plain, slightly unwieldy soprano seemed heavy for the Countess. I suspect Donna Anna could still work well for her but she may be better suited to a heavier German repertoire as some recent engagements suggest. She scored a success as Eva in Die Meistersinger in San Francisco last fall and sang Lohengrin’s Elsa at the Deutsche Oper Berlin as recently as Valentine’s Day.

One especially missed the vocal glamour one associates with this role, and the two big arias in particular did not go well. Her unsettled “Porgi amor” was less troubling than “Dove sono” which she struggled to control and her attempt at a piano for the reprise in particular faltered badly. That said, she was an endearingly feisty, high-strung Rosina, one who still displayed palpable chemistry with her callous husband.

Luca Pisaroni had previously performed Figaro at the Met in 2005 and 2009 but more recently has turned to the role of the Count which he carried off Thursday with insouciant ease and a cocky attitude. Although a more comic than dangerous figure with a parcel of amusing double-takes and slow burns, he sang with easy command making a decent stab at the florid conclusion of his powerful aria. It was a shock that he failed to kneel to plead for his wife’s forgiveness during the finale, but then this vapid busy Richard Eyre production doesn’t pretend that Figaro is anything other than a lightweight sex comedy.

At last season’s gala opening night when I first saw Eyre’s “vision” of Mozart and da Ponte’s inexhaustible masterpiece, one of greatest works ever written and perhaps my favorite opera, I was gravely disappointed. I had thought his debut Carmen was fine enough (except for its superfluous choreographic interludes by Christopher Wheeldon) but found his subsequent Werther downright peculiar especially its perversely looming sets. Their designer, Rob Howell, returned for Nozze creating a towering, hulking castle of ugly bronze grillwork that occasionally spun on its turntable just because it could.

By populating that castle with lots of silent extras who were first set in motion during the whizzing overture, Eyre’s production does a plausible job at evoking the busy Almaviva household on a “crazy day.” But the transparent whirling set undercuts most entrances by showing the characters arriving on stage even before joining the action.

Moving the opera to the 1930s makes little sense nor did any of it look at all Spanish. The production’s resemblance to what Downton Abbey might look like a decade later has been mentioned by many. One might have expected Eyre to exploit that precarious time period to suggest a more modern equivalent of Beaumarchais’s world of masters and servants on the edge of a precipice. Jean Renoir’s masterpiece La Règle du jeu, for example did that superbly but Eyre suggests nothing of the kind. His Figaro couldn’t be less rebellious or dangerous: he just wants to get married; the Count is not a powerful despot headed for a fall: he’s just a sex addict.

This season’s revival wasn’t as much of a letdown as last year’s premiere as I already knew what to expect and had lowered my expectations. The inoffensive production will no doubt provide an adequate frame for revolving casts but it really has nothing to say about an inexhaustible opera that shouldn’t ever be allowed to become routine.

Photos: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera (Nozze); Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera (Netrebko).

  • Patrick Mack

    Excellent reviews but “And how many sopranos get to put a big dent in their daily fitbit regimen while singing a recital?” enters the pantheon. Bravo.

  • I, too, have always felt she sounded better in Russian than in western music. I wished back in the day (after her Ludmila and Natasha when we were all in love with her) that she had sung Tsar’s Bride; I wonder if this is still possible. Its done all the time all around Russia but has never been given at the Met EVER. Nor has it been staged in New York at any venue since 1922, I believe. My personal opinion is that it’s a masterpiece and the New York audience would go nuts over it.

    Among recitals I’ve heard in the Met, my favorite was Christa Ludwig’s “Winterreise,” with Levine at the piano.

    Yes, there have been uncut performances of Figaro at the Met — but never by the Met company. When Georg Solti brought the Paris Opera here in 1976, they sang the opera complete. Jane Berbié was the Marcellina. The tides of senility have for the moment obliterated the name of the Basilio (surf’s UP!) but someone here will know it. But you know? it’s a long opera. How the cast managed all that in 1786 (and Michael Kelly, the Basilio/Curzio, says he never heard a cast to match that one) is beyond me.

    • RosinaLeckermaul

      The Royal Opera did an interesting modernist production of Tsar’s Bride 5 or so years ago with Poplevskaya and an excellent cast. The Met likes to borrow from English opera companies. Perhaps they could borrow this one. It’s a fine opera.

  • gloria

    I remember more than one Pavarotti recital.

  • Christopher Corwin

    Didn’t Netrebko do Tsar’s Bride in San Francisco with Borodina and Hvorostovsky early in her career? I heard the opera 1.5 times under Queler (we left at intermission the second time) and it had its moments but I didn’t “go nuts” either time.

    Michel Sénéchal was the Basilio for Paris and he and Berbié can be heard in those arias with the same cast that came to the Met from Paris (except it was Margaret Price instead of Janowitz) embedded here:

  • There was actually more flash photography at the Met yesterday than in this clip.

  • phoenix

    Thanks for a good read, Corwin. When a performer’s hype becomes written-in-stone iconic things can easily get ‘marred by a star-struck, packed audience that mindlessly applauded after every selection even when she signaled for silence …’ I only wish I could hear what you & the others do in her voice & interpretation -- my unmusical insensitivity prevents me from doing so.
    -- Speaking of the iconic, was surprised that Fleming’s recital has not yet reached the Met stage -- was it an accidental omission from the list above or is she saving it for a rainy day?

  • aulus agerius

    I thought Grigolo had a recital at the Met a year or so ago…….

  • Camille

    Disdain appoggiature??? Whatever is wrong with those two? How dare they?!

    In all of the above written on Netrebko, the key is sui generis, for that she most certainly is, and for whatever her perceived indiscretions or lacks may be, she is a world unto herself and brings a theatrical experience and, most importantly, communicates to her audience with a great generosity. It does not surprise me that this staged attitude was taken and all for the better as that is where she excells.

    I am all for The Tsar’s Bride being given, like Mr Lick suggests above, but--at this point--I wonder about its plausibility, not unlike to the situation with Iolanta, just a bit too late past the peak of the bllom on the rose, at least here at the Met.

    Another one I’d have wished for was to hear/see her Lisa in Pique Dame but that is just not happening, ah reckon, and am sorry for that. Maybe the Maiden Fevroniya??? On espère.

    And lastly, long live the Sunday Afternoon Recital1!!!!! Heil dir, Sonne!

    • No, Camille chere. You must not give up hope on a Netrebko Pikovaya Dama Lisa. I think she’d be smashing in it. Unless she’s written the role off and I wasn’t aware.

      • Camille

        Absolutely smashing. But I seem to recall some “list” of roles from an interview which held Lisa as a role she did not care to do, for whatever reasons, but don’t remember exactly when or how I got this impression.

        Pique (Pikovaya) Dama is my most favorite above all else of Maestro Cjai, and am always looking around for a dream cast. Alas, I was not here yet in New York for Leonie’s Last Stand, a fact I still grind my molars around about….

        As that very great singer Sigra. Medea Mei-Figner created not only the title role of Iolanta, but also that of Lisa, and was originally a “mezzo”, well, one may conjecture that Lisa’s music, so beautiful to me, would suit her in her current vocal estate, ideally, or pretty darn-tootin’ well.
        On espère.

        La grandissima Mei-Figner:

        • Ah, I was afraid it was on her “no no” list. I agree that the role is a great fit her current vocal state, even more so than Tatiana frankly. Like you, I regret never seeing Heppner, Matilla and the one only Leonie in the 90s.

          • Camille

            You know, I wouldn’t SWEAR to it being on the “No Go” list—but it was on some kind of a list I read a couple years back, so I dunno. I am not a lister.

            Well, how is is Big Ben doing these days, a radio broadcaster, right? I just listened to him singing the Prince in Rusalka the other day (with Benackova, and she was, as Bill always maintains, superb), and it brought me back the happy memory of his singing of the same role in Seattle in 1990. He sounded so young and so fresh the voice was so strong and assailed all the high notes with such assurance…it was just a wonderful voice. Now I am hoping he does well in his post-canto career for he seems a helluva good guy, to me.

            Revving up for the RadVan, next month, in the Devereux, and in which I have a suspicion she is going to lay it on in thick, deep layers, at least I am hoping so. On verra.

            • Oh, Big Ben is as charming and sympathetic a host as ever. As usual, he never draws attention to his own career and is full of enthusiasm for the performances being featured.

              As for Anna’s “no no” list, I think her thoughts on roles evolve over time and I hope that it’s a “not now”, rather than a “no, never” kind of thing. After all, Tosca was also on that list and that would be a tremendous loss.

    • Turning to the Russian song repertoire, Leonid Desyatnikov wrote a cycle in the late 80s called “A Poet’s Life and Love”. I think that could work for Netrebko. He’d also be a good composer to create something new for her. I’ve recently become enthralled with Edison Denisov’s hour-long cycle on Blok poems “Snow Mask” -- possibly a fit for Netrebko, though it would require her to expand her musical boundaries some.

      At this point in her career, though, I’m sure composers (Russian or otherwise) would fall all over themselves to write something new for her. Desyatnikov? Lera Auerbach? Aleksei Chernakov? Valentin Silvestrov (politically unlikely)? Vladimir Martynov?

      • Camille

        it may be of interest to you, maestro m.c., that the Gergiev protestors were out in full force on Saturday night, in front of Carnegie Hall. They were particularly fired up as it is just about a year ago that Boris Nemtzov was assassinated….it made me feel terrible to walk past them, and to see them out there. It is all terrible.

        In a Russian mood, we found the most fabulous Prince Igor on youtube from the Soviet era, but, alas, all in Cyrillic. It was so wonderfully done — part as if one the war field, and then with shots of the singers singing to what seemed to me to be the inside of the Bolshoi — so vast and deep and red, it must have been. Anyway, wonderful but we haven’t a clue as to who sang, what, when, where.

        There is a also one of my guilty pleasures, “The Demon”, from 1960 featuring a wonderful baritone, and which has to be seen to be believed — I shall go fetch it.

        In this portion of my existence and to allay my boredom with the same old same old, I am getting up the gumption to finally go for all that Russian music I’ve always wanted to hear but was too afraid to try, as Cyrillic always does something strange to my synapses. Well, to be honest, lots of things do.

        Happy tidings to the Campanile!

        • I think a young, handsome Russian tutor would be just what the doctor ordered. And bury yourself in some Glinka -- he will gladden your soul.

          • Oh, and the singers for film opera of Igor are: Vladimir Kinyaev (Igor), Tamara Milashkina (Yaroslavna), Virgilius Noreika (Vladimir Igorevich), Valery Malyshev (Galitzky), Evgeny Nesterenko (Khan Konchak), Irina Bogacheva (Konchakovna)

            • Camille

              Right Demon, wrong Prince!!! Finally found it--it is from 1951 and that is ALL we are able to discern as everyhing else is in Cyrillic but just take a look at this:


              Hope it fomes out--it’s coming from far away.

            • Camille

              No, HERE is what I was talking about, m.c.--buried deep in the bosom of Mother Russia--

              Prince Igor--1951 — that’s all I got

            • Camille

              Another link in case it fouls up:

              We found yet another link — a Bolshoi tilm from 1951 directed by Vera Somebody.

            • Camille: Igor is Alexander Pirogov, Konchak is Maxim Mikhailov.

              Here is the complete film from which your excerpt was taken:

            • Camille

              Da, spasibo, Golova crochchski! We found it and juwt now finished watching. Highly entertaining and colorful1-sort of Cold War opera propaganda, one supposes. Dancing wild and wonderful.

              I found another fantastic Georg Ots thing which will post when I have a chance. So happy to rediscover him again as remember coming across him once but forgot him.

              I have been on a Rubenstein kick as I so love his song Nacht (Noch’) and have listened to it many times over… Basta. One thing leads to the next and so on and so forth.

          • And your Demon was Georg Ots.

          • Camille

            O crocheissimo!!! Spasibo muchississimo!!! Yes, Georg(e) Ots, I LOVED him!!!

            No chance of getting a hot young Russian tutor, the old man would NEVER allow that, and with my luck, I’d end up with a heartbreaker like Eugene.

            Thanks SO MUCH!!! I just Lurved Georg Ots!!!!!

          • Camille

            I forgot—-recently heard Dimitri H. sing a clutch of Glinka songs at his recital and was very pleasantly surprised at how much I did like them as I had thought of Glinka as sort of rote belcanto à la russe, or that is what impression I gained from that one-off long ago heard Ruslan & Lyudmila with the Kirov.

            The lesson was: look under the rock and find out more of what is hiding there. Thanks for the suggestion.

            • mrsjohnclaggart

              Camille! You need to hear the Glinka chamber arrangements (instruments only) of Donizetti and Bellini operas — they are absolute heaven.

            • Camille

              Think I have heard them, as a mater of fact, mrsJohn and yes, they were real purty!

  • uwsinnyc

    I can understand and forgive the clapping after every song- but flash photography is absolutely inappropriate unless it’s during the curtain calls at the end.

    Also, did she sing more than two encores? Over the radio we heard the Dvorak and Strauss but then the applause seemed to suddenly cut off and we went back to the announcers. So I’m wondering if there was actually more…

  • overstimmelated

    It’s been said that Andrea Bocelli also give a recital at the Met in this century.

    The Met was including Basilio’s aria in the late ’70s, when I heard Andrea Velis go at it a couple of times too many.

  • Camille

    Yes, I feel that Rachel Willis-Sorensen is served far better by Wagner, at least from a youtube of “Dich teure Halle” I’ve heard….in fact, she seemed to be struggling mightily to hold it in, whilst singing in the December 2014 Figaro performance which I attended, much in the manner of “Mozart is good for young voices”. Well, yes, it is IF they know how to sing his very difficult music and IF they are instructed in it and IF they are so disposed. She didn’t appear to be bent in that direction and the Wagner seemed a far better fit to my ears.

  • Still trying to figure out what costume (or “cost-YOOM”) Anna is wearing in that photo.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Anna is destined to be unique because “she does it her way,” and no one can copy her. They have been and will be better singers, but another Netrebko? Her chest voice is so expressive and powerful, unimaginable a few years ago.

  • Krunoslav

    ” a clearly deep connection to the songs she had chosen”

    Emotionally, perhaps; but I doubt you would say this of her textual work per se were you a Russian speaker.

    Majorly fun event, though.

    Bring on all those “:no” roles: Liza, Elisabeth de Valois, Maria Boccaanegra, Tosca, Angelica, Butterfly, Jenufa…

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      Spot on list Kruno, except, for me, Amelia Grimaldi, in which I prefer a more passive, pure lyric alla Dame Kiri, rather than Anna’s attitude and considerable vocal inciciveness. I think Janacek would be a great direction for her, so would add THAT Emilia, and Katya, and maybe Salome- she’s about as loud as Mattila, and the singing is a bit healthier, so reckon she could.

    • Camille

      You confirmed my suspicion, as, reading along with the transliterations of Dmitri’s recital, I was able to at least feebly follow his singing, whereas yesterday —- I got lost numerous times because of unclear sounding consonants and vowels, and so could not really discern as much of what was sung. No idea as to other subtleties or shades of feeling rather than the generalized emotional states being indicated by pp’s and ff’s. Don’t know if that sentence makes sense, sorry.

      If anyone CARES, that was a D flat she sang in the refrain of that gorgeous “Zuleika” song. Highest note I caught in my mitt.

  • zinka

    Posts from people who attended the Netrebko recital and my speaking to some who attended, INFURIATED me…If Netrebko was Vickers (or Vickerskaya), she should have stopped..and said, “If flashes are seen or if people answer cellphones (from Vladivostok???)..I will LEAVE!!!!!!
    Other theatres make announcements prior to the show….no cellphones…and now add “don’t breathe!”

    These people were a disgrace…and I know the reputation of Russians (like the lady who barred me from the men’s room because he daughter had to do her doody..and the line was so long at the ballet at the ladies’ room that just before act 2 of whatever it was…Handelman was barred. I should have pushed through and ….well,I could be arrested…

    Half my family was Russian….so do not acccuse me of prejudice…but the Met ushers have TOLD ME and others about some insensitive bastards…..

    • DonCarloFanatic

      zinka, I suspect quite a lot of the audience at this concert was Russian. At one point they did the rhythmic clapping that Russians typically do.

      Standards of behavior are always getting worse…except when they get better. Imagine how difficult it must have been to enjoy opera in 19th century theaters where rich people talked and visited with each other in their boxes all the way through. After showing up late, of course. Ordinary people who were there to enjoy the music must have despaired. And then it got better.

  • Constantine A. Papas


    That’s not true. Common people sitting in the plateia (today’s orchestra) were also having fun, eating and talking. The sanctity of silence was first introduced in orchestral venues that were part of royal palaces.

    • DonCarloFanatic

      Very true. Everybody talked. I’m showing my bias against the elites.

  • Krunoslav

    The fim is bu Vera Stroeva, who went on to make the KHOVANSHCHINA a few weeks later with the towering performance of Mark Reizen as Dosfifei-- his is one of the great filmed operatic performances by my lights.

    He enters around 1.00

    • Krunoslav

      years, not weeks- around 1959/60.

      Under Stalin and his immediate successors, Reizen was not allowed to film Boris ( so they got the cruder Pirogov, also quite a bass) — no Jews playing tsars in THAT atmosphere. But in the Khrushchev ‘Thaw” he could film an Old Believer patriarch of princely background.

    • Camille


  • uwsinnyc

    Does anyone have a copy of the program or a list of the songs they can post?
    I’d be curious to see.

  • Niel Rishoi

    I liked Anna from the start, her personality, her charisma, her voice. A true star. My sole reservation about her singing as such was centered around her coloratura, which I felt was insufficiently polished and not “worked out” enough. Nevertheless, she charmed me in one of the first moviecasts presented, I puritani. There was no doubting her star quality and appeal. However, her power as a singing actress really registered in Romeo et Juliette. The poison aria, and the scene of her dying with Romeo (Alagna) moved me to tears. I was a bit rough on her regarding the difficult passages in Anna Bolena, but after I saw Rad’s and went back to Netrebko, I appreciated her much more: she is so much more a natural actress in the service of the music, whilst the other one looks carefully directed, and the interpretive moves more “applied.” However, the real shocker for me came when I saw Anna as Lady Macbeth. I would never have even fathomed that as a role for her. But she kicked the shit of it, in the best sense: it was an arresting, magnetic, and thoroughly charismatic traversal. Then came her deluxe Leonora, sumptuously sung and acted. When her first “O patria mia” was posted on YouTube, I listened to it 5 times in a row, something I rarely do. It is the most sustained, difficult piece of singing ever, and she did it without any visible or audible straining. And so, I am really looking forward to her future work. She’s in her forties now, and getting better. That’s the way it should be.