Cher Public

She was a gypsy woman

CarmenOn this day in 1875 Bizet’s Carmen had its disastrous premiere at the Opera Comique in Paris. 

Born on this day in 1891 composer Federico Moreno Torroba.

Born on this day in 1903 soprano Margarete Teschemacher.

Born on this day in 1921 bass Miroslav Cangalovic.

Born on this day in 1924 tenor Hermann Winkler.

Born on this day in 1929 American tenor Robert Nagy.

Happy 78th birthday soprano Rachel Yakar.

Happy 72nd birthday mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar.

Happy 67th birthday soprano Roberta Alexander.

Happy 51st birthday soprano Christine Schäfer.

  • The Poet Lenski

    Did anyone catch Latonia Moore’s Butterfly last night?

  • zinka

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UUPEo849_s

    The above clip is a hilarious reminder of a true tale that my dear friend Bob Fazio narrated about 50 years ago. I only recalled this tale after so long, having come upon this clip; be aware that I am totally sympathetic about stage flubs, but this guy did not belong in public owing to the total lack of command.

    Bob studied briefly with Enrico Rosati,teacher of Gigli,Lanza,Lauri-Volpi and had a few lessons with Schipa, and finally worked with the wonderful Martinelli,who became a dear friend, but Bob was rather frustrated as a singer, fine musician as he was. (The doity rat once accompanied my “Non piu andrai”which felt “funny.” YEAH..He played it a third up!!!!

    One night, Bob dreamt he was at the Met and someone announced that Mr.Tucker will be right back (Radames) because he forgot his toupee…In the dream I guess there was no thought of a wig, and we all know Tucker’s toupees were bought at the 99 cent store.

    Bob said, “I can start it,” and so he began, “Celeste Aida, forma divina,” knowing there was a B flat coming up…and he continued..”Mistico serto,di luce e fior…”NO TUCKER!…. Then came…”Dal mio pensiero..” NO TUCKER!! SWEAT!!!! Finally it came time for “Ergerti un troooono” (like in the clip) and Bob “threw up on the note,” awakening in a terrible REAL SWEAT!! The way Bob told it had me hysterical…but the above clip was as close to the dream as possible.

    Hey…did any tenors out there ever dream like this..or maybe FOR REAL do it on stage????? Reminds me of my Minestrone crack,only it was not a dream!!!!

  • PCally

    Happy Birthday to the divine, and underrated (at least among those on Parterre) Christine Schäfer. Her somewhat premature decline really saddened as I pretty much found value in just about everything she did. Among the women who’ve recorded the Winterriese hers is the one I find the most captivating.

    The finest Violetta I’ve seen live and her phrasing during this duet is among the most moving recorded IMO. There used to a video of the final three minutes of so and her death is the most devastating I’ve ever seen.

    My first Lulu and my favorite

    And IMO she is the finest Cherubino, even if the Met production caught her a bit too late. Beautifully sung and one of the strangest and most captivating interpretations of anything (and clearly the audience favorite on the sublime Guth Salzburg DVD).

    • Lohengrin

      PCally, thank You for all the clips with Christine Schäfer. Her Violetta is the best I ever heard/saw (only on TV, but happy about that); she and the so young looking Jonas were great in singing and acting.
      Also love her Cherubino!
      Hope she will be back on stage soon.

      • Bill

        I have a feeling Schaefer’s voice, for some reason, lost much of its freshness and beauty and it is unlikely she will be back on the stage much -- maybe some concerts
        where her vocal problems can be covered by singing
        suitable and not taxing songs.

        • damekenneth

          Bill, I seem to remember that you prefer a soprano Komponist in Ariadne. Did you hear/see Schaefer’s in Wien a couple of years ago? I thought she was pretty good, passionate, but underpowered in the lower register.

          The slow part of the Non mi dir clip above is really gorgeous. Such gleaming tone and beautiful legato. She seems to me less successful when the music begins to move. And her diction has always been a bit mushy. That marred her Gretyl a bit for me at the Met, though I found her performance incredibly touching, especially in the dream ballet/pantomime when she was “dressing up” in the fancy adult clothes, with the shoes many sizes to big.

          • Bill

            damekenneth -- unfortunately I did not see Christine
            Schaefer’s Komponist in Vienna when Welser-Moest did a
            new production there a couple of years ago. I believe
            also that Welser-Moest utilized Schaefer BECAUSE she was a soprano -- I did not hear her performance either on any taped rendition of those Vienna performances -- I definitely prefer a soprano in the part (it is indeed a soprano part actually) but the soprano must have some
            strength in the lower register as well -- one of these creamy voices such as Seefried or Jurinac both of whom had very rich middle voices even very early in their careers. That is not to say a Mezzo with a high extension cannot have a success in the role (Christa Ludwig certainly did) but there is a B flat and it must gloriously ring out and not be strained. Schaefer was essentially a lighter soprano but some others have also sung the Komponist at least a few times, I think Elisabeth Schumann did in Vienna before the War and Anneliese Rothenberger sang two performances of it in Vienna in 1969 but only those two.

            The current Komponist in Vienna now for the next run
            is Sophie Koch, a Mezzo, who has sung the role (and Octavian) for 15 years there. Just a few days ago
            Sophie Koch has been announced to be Vienna’s latest
            Kammersaengerin, a rarity for French singers in Austria I guess the last being Dessay who was popular in Vienna from 1993 on until her retirement from opera.

            I think at the time of Schaefer’s Komponist in Vienna her voice already was diminished in quality and strength, alas but surely she cut a wonderfully boyish figure in the role as her Cherubino also illustrated.

            I still think that Elina Garanca, who has something of a soprano timbre, made a mistake in dropping the role of the Komponist, which was once booked for Vienna, London and New York, before ever actually singing it on stage. I have admired Garanca’s Octavian above all others this past decade.

        • PCally

          Bill-Schafer seems for all intents and purposes to have retired. She’s currently teaching at a university in Germany.

          • Bill

            PCally -- thanks she seemed to be (in interviews as well as on stage) a very intelligent artist so no doubt
            that may bode well for her to be a successful teacher
            as well.

  • Hippolyte

    Brava Yakar!

  • Born on this day in 1857, composer, critic, and ami de Zola Alfred Bruneau.

    • manou

      • gustave of montreal

        Merci pour l’Attaque et Messidor. J’adore Bruneau qu’on doit jouer au piano car les c… de français ne le chantent pas.

        • Once in a blue moon we find ourselves in agreement, which is nice.

          • Camille

            Thanking very much m. croche for getting this ball rolling, M gustave for his loving endorsement, and mme manou for posting that lovely, heartfelt interpretation by RA, who is, in fhe rightful words of monsieur œdipe (whose presence I bitterly miss--just yesterday wondering where he was during the ML transmission) carries on the tradition of this manner of singing which may be heard in another fine, beautiful interpretation, that of Georges Thill:

            (Un cadeau JUSTE pour VOUS, cher monsieur gustave de M.)

            Bruneau, a composer about whom I’ve held a mild curiosity for several decades now, has finally become a welcome new friend, thanks to these three parterrians.

            Grand Merci!

  • Thanks for that Quivar clip. When I was in the first years of opera fandom, I saw the PBS broadcast of that Ballo with Pavarotti/Millo/Nucci and Quivar made quite an impression. Nice to revisit it these many years later. What a warm voice she had and what a vivid account of the aria. Too bad about the tepid audience response.

  • Opera Teen

    Salut, Parterrians. I’m going to be in Milan in a few weeks and was hoping to get to see I DUE FOSCARI at La Scala on March 22 (after Domingo leaves). The thing is that I just cannot afford the tickets at €252. Have any of you had any experience purchasing the Loggione tickets that go on sale the day of the performance in a queue at the box office? What time do you think I’d need to be there if they go onsale at 1? Any other suggestions for securing moderately/cheaply priced tickets at La Scala? I’m so used to 1)bhouses never seling out and pricing dependent on section and 2) getting a heavy student discount that the European system has thrown me for a loop. The press folks haven’t returned my emails (and I don’t expect them to). This would be the ABSOLUTE highlight of my Milan trip. Please send any and all suggestions!

    • Bill

      Operateen -- just curious. Some time ago you wrote that
      you were waiting to be accepted at the college of your choice (assume it was early admission) but I never
      recall reading if you were successful. Guessing you
      are heading for college next year, what are your choices if I may dare ask ?

      • Opera Teen

        So nice of you to remember, Bill. I worry about mentioning any school by name for fear that an admissions person might find this comment thread (yes, I live in that paranoia) in searching me. That particular application resulted in a deferral, so I’ll hear the result at the end of this month. So far, I have only been accepted to one school (a great one and a top choice), and will wait to hear more at the end of the month. I applied to 14 places in total. If you’re interested, shoot me an email and I can go through my whole process for you! Operateenblog@gmail.com. Thank you again for thinking of me!

    • phoenix

      Have you read the reviews or seen the video of the prima? I wouldn’t be too concerned about getting the ticket. If the box office supposedly opens at 1 pm, I wouldn’t get there too much before noon. The day you want to go is Tuesday and there still remains one last performance on -- 25 Mars Good Friday -- in that run.
      -- I don’t know whether you’ve ever queued up for anything in Italy, but the etiquette for such always mystified me. When I’ve been there (mostly in the south), people don’t usually get in a straight line, they just seem to stand around the box office. Oftentimes when she opens up the window, I’ve been in a crowd where everyone just stood there and looked at each other, at which point I have learned to jump forward and get my ticket.
      -- By the way, I recently came across a review of Martínez’ Butterfly at the Met in Huffington Post with your name credited as author. As usual with almost every review I have ever read on your website, I disagree with you wholeheartedly. Harriet Johnson is not one of your ancestors, is she?
      -- At any rate, best wishes for a fun trip!

      • Opera Teen

        Could Harriet Johnson even have any ancestors? I’d be interested in hearing what your perception of the performance was! Thank you for all the advice for getting a Scala ticket. I’d be going on Tuesday, actually. The only date that works for me. Thanks again!

        • phoenix

          -- Harriet was old enough (and then some) to be my mother and I am old enough to be your grandmother. You & I come from a completely different time & place. But of all the critics I have read since Mme. Johnson retired, you remind me most of her.
          -- If you feel that forte high notes are so important then say so -- yet be aware there are those of us who place greater value on other aspects of performance.
          -- You are a professional -- I am not. Don’t be too concerned about anybody else’s opinions, but just be aware they exist: you are the professional whose writing will go into the annals -- mine will be forgotten.

          • Opera Teen

            Ha! Professional! Me? Ha! And I should have written that. It was an opinion I solidified in the days following the review. And I ask because I am curious -- Parterre has been one of the most educational places for me. Y’all know what you are talking about and I like to hear. Overall, though, it was a very impressive performance. And I wish I could have been there last night for Latonia Moore. Ah, so things come to pass.

            • phoenix

              It’s time for you to educate us … again, have a great time -- kindly let us know when you have posted your impressions from the trip so we can come over and read them.

              -- Bon voyage & all the best,

              Granny

    • Camille

      Well, Opera Teen, let me tell you this much and I just don’t know if any of this will still be applicable, as I was at La Scala exactly thirty years ago this month -- but I, too, was a starving studentessa at the time and had very little money so I feel your plight. All I did was stroll up to the box office at the front of the house (Biglietti) and ask for a standing room, on the same day or the day before. It cost about 10,000 Lira (which was maybe $6-8 at that time) Of course, I had to climb, and climb, and climb to get upstairs but I didn’t really care as I had arrived NEL CIELO!! I think I bought one of the tickets the day before and then, the same day. The souvenir program which I bought for 15,000 Lira, for La Sonnambula, actually cost me more than the actual ticket and that program goes to grimoaldo when I die (it was June Anderson’s debut as Amina in Ermanno Olmi’s lovely production).

      There is no opera house in the world like La Scala (maybe Budapest, I dunno, ask Bill), and had I the money, I would have paid 10,000 dollars. Good luck, dear, as I don’t know how it is now and if it possible to do these things online, but for standing room, it was pretty simple and pretty easy to do, of course, speaking in Italian, so get out your phrase book and ask them in Italian, as that will help you out.

      Don’t forget to go to the Museum and to Biffi Scala, should it still be there, and have a caffè. It is an experience an opera lover will never forget nor get over and I remember it all with all my heart, for all my life, especially the divine Carla Fracci as the Black Swan. Divina!

      Buona fortuna, intrepido Teen!

      • Opera Teen

        Thank you for the wonderful story (and advice!), Camille. All my correspondence with the Press Office has been in Italian, and it hasn’t helped me thus far! We’ll see. I’ll call them later this week. This’ll be my second trip to La Scala. Was last there for Tosca with Oksana Dyka and Kaufmann. Just a great experience, but we booked through the hotel then. We’re staying with a friend of my grandfather’s this time. While I would readily do standing room, I’m with my Milanese grandfather (and his friend who is hosting us) and he wouldn’t be able to stand through it. It won’t be a sightseeing vacation for me (more of helping my grandfather should he need something while he’s there taking care of legal matters and whatnot). This (plus the museum, plus Biffi) are the only thongs I really want to do while there nesides practice my Italian. I have to find a way to make it happen. Ah, sigh.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          Send a nice note with a link to your blog directly to Pereira’s office explaining that you have not received any reply from the press office and asking him if it would be possible to have a press ticket. Maybe they will put you even in the proscenio (the box closest to the stage directly over the orchestra pit) often used for company comps). Have a great trip.

          • Opera Teen

            That’s a great idea. Do you have any idea where I could find such an address?

            • Camille

              Caro OT, go to http://www.teatroallascala.org

              Make sure it is the English page, to make it easier, and search for the “Press” page. Now I do not know if that is correct, but it is a start. There are all sorts of links in both English and Italian, so good luck, darling boy.

          • Camille

            Oh, yes, QPF is right! Try that out. It might work.

            Buona fortuna e tantissime belle cose!!!!

        • Camille

          Oh, I see. Well then, you have got to get to someone on the inside or perhaps just wait until you are there. If you are attending once Domingo is finished with his run, the tickets will most likely not be so expensive nor difficult to obtain I don’t really know but Die Feldmarschallin might know something, somehow, you might ask her, or Jungfer Marianne, but there nets are cast in Germany/Austria!

          It WILL help if you speak Italian as you will get more accurate information. I wish I could offer you something more but have no other suggestions. Perhaps it MAY be just a matter of getting to the box office, after all, and just asking, so don’t give up hope nor worry. Please take advantage to see everything and do a little shopping or ‘lecca le vitrine’ in Via Montenapoleone, as well. One can dream in Armani!

          Take care of your nonno, too, and may the good fairies of the opera be looking out for your welfare and safe trip. My best to you and keep your heart, always; don’t let anyone steal it away from you.

          Forza e coraggio, care ragazzo!

          • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

            OT: Have you been in touch with the press department which deals specifically with Internet media?

            WebSite and Social Media
            Silvia Farina
            redazioneweb@teatroallascala.org
            tel. +39 02.8879.2917

            I don’t know if this is still accurate as I haven’t used it in a decade, but the main press office address was:

            stampa@fondazionelascala.it

            The last tine I was there was in 2006 or 2007 not long after the big renovation. The museum and gift shop were open, but the box office was located in a subway station nearby.

            I may be way out of date on this. I hope someone comes to your rescue.

            Ciao!

            • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

              Oh -- and go to the huge department store across from the duomo (on the left, facing the cathedral) and go to the roof café which looks down on the spires of the duomo and have a Campari and soda -- don’t worry about age -- they will serve you, especially if you are with adults. It’s just a few blocks from La Scala, just past the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (which is also worth a visit). By the way, when I was there the ticket office was in the subway concourse for the Duomo M3 station.

          • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

            One last suggestion:

            Check out Carlo Maria Cella, who was head of press for La Scala as late as 2013 (and was the person I dealt with). Have a look at some of his social media contacts here:

            https://www.google.com/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=vMpwVdrHBui40wWGgoGIDQ&gws_rd=ssl,cr&fg=1#q=carlo+maria+cella

            His address is/was: cella@fondazionelascala.it
            Phone: +39 02 8879 2749
            Cell: +39 335 1938754

            His title is/was Capo Ufficio Stampa

        • manou

          The thongs should be a great help.

    • Opera Teen

      Vittoria! Scala press just got back to me and can set aside two tickets. I am so excited (and a bit surprised!). Thank you all for your advice and general niceness. It will in no doubt come in handy in future visits to La Scala.

      Un abbraccio,
      OT

      • Camille

        Bravo, ragazzo! I KNEW you could do it!

        You owe us all one big old review, a no holds barred, an exclusive “I WAS THERE” on present day Scala. I certainly did find out how hopelessly dated my information was!!!!

        Take care of nonno but still have fun!
        xxxooo!!!

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        Excellent! I used to blog a little bit, and could get press tickets from the Met for sold out stuff on the back of it -- it’s remarkable how open opera houses are to this stuff. Enjoy -- a colleague of mine went last week and said good things about the soprano.

        • Do you think if I told the Paris Opera I have a blog I could save 1,400 euros a year?

          • manou

            Blogueur!

      • Donna Anna

        Bravo!!! Make sure you go to the cemetery--they don’t call it Monumentale for nothing and Casa Verdi is a wonderful respite. When we went, we were the only visitors. You do have to book in advance if you want a tour.
        Have a fabulous time!!

  • armerjacquino

    God, what an auspicious day for really, really good and slightly underrated singers. Yakar, Quivar and Alexander would all pretty much guarantee you top quality singing. And since there’s been some love for the first two in this thread, let’s bear in mind that Alexander’s Jenufa is pretty much definitive (not an easy job when you have to make an impression opposite the extraordinary Silja)