Cher Public

Evergreen soprano

Marta EggertBorn on this day in 1912 soprano Marta Eggerth

Born on this day in 1914 soprano Janine Micheau.

Born on this day in 1927 soprano Graziella Sciutti.

Happy 76th birthday soprano/mezzo-soprano Anja Silja.

also Happy 76th to tenor Siegfried Jerusalem.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    The new Latvian National Opera production of Manon Lescaut has an elaborate subplot in the first act, involving a deaf woman who encourages Manon to elope with Des Grieux (quite a fine young tenor named Sergey Polyakov). Apart from Manon’s deaf servant who opposes the elopement in the Prévost novel, does anyone here know what the source of the Latfian director’s subplot might be?

    In the meantime, here’s the 1926 silent film with Marlene Dietrich in the small role of Marlene:

    • phoenix

      Heard the opening night audio bdcst from Riga last season, but not this new video. Grigorian was good enough but not as great in Manon Lescaut as she was in Butterfly, where she was able to maintain her seductive vocal lure and keep the drama going simultaneously.
      -- But as Rachel in La Juive in Antwerpen, she just plowed through it with the same merciless unchanging breathless hysteria, bordering on but not quite getting into distress. I assume that in the Antwerpen La Juive, as in most of her work at Die Komsiche Oper, this is the way the powers that be wanted her to do it. It’s a shame because there are still some of us tone queens out here that would like to hear her beautiful singing again.

  • DonCarloFanatic

    Just back from the local simulcast/rebroadcast of Boris Godunov from the ROH with Terfel. (They’re going to do the supposedly controversial Lucia, too, so check out the ROH website if interested in dates for your area; it isn’t one date for the entire U.S..)

    This Boris had a nice number of very positive reviews, but stripped bare, the 1869 version, the opera seems…uh..bare. From the camera work I have no idea how many times they showed Dmitri’s murder; one critic objected to the haunting in Boris’s mind being visualized repeatedly. I think they showed it three times, but with a dummy mask for the boy’s face, so it was quite depersonalized.

    Terfel and others sing well but I was underwhelmed.

    • Satisfied

      Field trip, LC? To the Lucia that is.

    • phoenix

      Conspiracy! The international houses (with the exception of the Met -- so far) seem to be hellbent on phasing out the great 1872 version of Mussorgsky’s masterpiece. Shame, shame, shame. By removing it from the rep, they can save money for generations -- who will never realize what they have missed. If they are too cheap to put on the 1872 version, just admit it instead of tooting the ‘artistic superiority’ of the 1869 version.

      • Just poking my nose in to remind Phoenix that the Met, like many other houses, does not perform a straight version of the ’72 Boris, but rather a mishmash of the ’69 and ’72 versions. Boris’ monologue from Scene 3 / Act 2 is, if I recall correctly, a little from column A and a little from column B. For obvious reasons, Musorgsky never countenanced having both the St. Basil’s scene and the Kromy Forest scene performed in a single production. The duplication of the Yurodivy’s lament itself becomes a lamentable dramatic hiccup.

        • fletcher

          I, for one, appreciate you poking your nose in, and am glad to see you’re still commenting here. I was looking to buy a Godunov recording and everybody seems to recommend the Gergiev, which is apparently both versions? I only saw the opera once, at the Met in 2010 I think, but I don’t know enough about Mussorgsky to tell you which it was.

          • Porgy Amor

            Fletcher, my favorite recording with Mussorgsky’s orchestrations is Tchakarov’s on Sony, with Ghiaurov as Boris. It was made in the mid 1980s but not released until 1991. This is a very restrained, melancholy take on the opera. Some love it and find special beauty in it, as I do; others find it too subdued. Imagine a sort of Russian equivalent of Carlo Maria Giulini. But Tchakarov was a gifted conductor with real vision and passion for Russian opera, and his death at a young age was a great loss for music.

            That recording is one that has the Holy Fool being robbed twice. Rostropovich’s on Erato does the same. Other recordings that include both St. Basil’s and Kromy Forest have minor editing to prevent this duplication. I believe Abbado’s, also on Sony, does this (however, I found that Sony recording with the BPO very disappointing; CA’s live one from La Scala 1977 is considerably better).

            Gergiev’s Philips set is a double-decker of 1869 and 1874, both with Mussorgsky’s orchestration, yes. I personally prefer his DVD performance of the 1874, which captures Tarkovsky’s remarkable production (albeit posthumously).

            • Porgy Amor

              Imagine a sort of Russian equivalent of Carlo Maria Giulini.

              I suppose I should have written “Bulgarian equivalent.” The opera is Russian.

            • Just FYI: not even the Gergiev/Mariinsky 69/72 ComboPak gives pristine renditions of either version of Musorgsky’s opera. There is a bit of mutual cross-contamination between the two performances, so that a few passages excised by Musorgsky in ’72 nonetheless still appear in the Gergiev performance of the ’72 edition, and some music only written for ’72 turns up on the ’69 version.

              Such details, though, are probably only of interest to pretentious jerks such as myself. I think the larger issue with the Gergiev set is that few of the individual performances are anybody’s favorite.

          • manou

            m. croche -- I also hope that your nose is swiftly followed by the rest of your invaluable self.

            • As you know, Manou, in Russian opera sometimes noses just wander around on their own.

            • manou

              Noses out of joint are nothing new on Parterre.

            • -Ed.

              Noses being unnecessarily put out of joint are becoming more commonplace here. What is this, World Boxing Association -- Opera Low-Blow Division? Opera dummy me, I always go in my bedroom and put on my cup before posting. I’m so happy to see you again m. croche. It’s all about ticket sales -- er.., I mean page views.

            • manou

              Ed -- cup?

            • -Ed.

              It’s a guy thing, cara manou.


            • manou

              Aha! Not being a guy I wondered. But how wise you are to take every precaution before posting.

          • phoenix

            fletcher, I don’t know any of the commercial studio recordings at all -- the complete audio of the same cast you saw at the Met in 2010 (taken from the radio broadcast, which occurred 12 March 2011 after you saw it & conducted by the excellent Pavel Smelkov, not Gergiev) is still online here (if you can access mms files):
            -- It includes the Polish Act and the Kromy Forest scenes -- Pape as Boris, Antonenko as Dmitriy, Petrenko as Pimen, Semenchuk as Marina & Nikitin as Rangoni.
            -- I assume the broadcast is the Shostakovtich version, which I saw in-house I saw when Gergiev 1st brought it to the Met in summer of 1992 (Mariinsky on tour).

        • phoenix

          -- As usual I have deservedly received another D minus from our notable Proctor -- I probably should have used the term ‘1874 version (St. Petersburg premiere)’ a more well known & more successful event, but the 1872 version was the 1st appearance of my favorite scene in the Kromy Forest. Of the Modern-day performing versions what I really meant to say would required me to type too many words and I am not a skilled writer -- but seein’s how I got caught by the Authority, I have to do it anyway: my preference is for any of these three published versions of the full Mishmash score, take your pick:
          1. 1928 Pavel Lamm and Boris Asafyev
          2. 1963 Dmitriy Shostakovich
          3. 1975 Lloyd-Jones
          -- Again, no lamenting necessary -- Mussorgsky has generously left us with Mishmash of incredible quality -- and that is one of the major selling points of the fascination I have with this opera. For me, the Novodevichiy Monastery, the Chudov Monastery, the St. Basil scene, the Polish Act and the Kromy Forest are indispensable and I await them all with great anticipation in any performance. I do not hold the other scenes as ‘sacred’ so I don’t squawk if they are revised a bit. The Coronation scene reeks of too much monarchial pompous propaganda, the Inn at the Lithuanian Border is a bit drawn out -- as are most of Boris’ scenes. My favorite character in the opera is Grigoriy/False Dmitriy and I prefer him sung by a heroic tenor.
          -- Sorry m., but the lamentable dramatic hiccup is the too often performed 1869 outline version itself, not the double appearance of the Holy Fool, who is not only a main character but the one who gets across the real Russia more so than the rantings of Boris -- yes, the Holy Fool, the antithesis of Boris, justifiably appears twice -- and is robbed twice in true Russian style -- and that’s what audience needs to see.
          — m.croche, it is so good to read a comment again from you. It hasn’t been the same these last few days since your absence -- like everyone who comments on this site, you are unique -- no one can put across scholastic contrariety as objectively as you. Stay around.

          • Weekend project for those who can’t get enough of Musorgsky’s Holy Fools: download some garage band software and create a 45-minute dance remix of “Svetnik Savishna”, then enjoy a thousand years of Russian misery while getting your groove on (added bonus: limping 2+3 meter for those of us who can’t dance.)

            P.S. I think we agree that the specifics of the edition matter much less than who is singing and conducting.

            • phoenix

              Ah! I see you are thinking along the same lines as I -- Denoke conducting with Gheorghiu as the Holy Fool.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      It is a total bore.

  • DonCarloFanatic

    I grew up with the Boris Christoff recorded version and that’s what is always in my head. Couldn’t tell you offhand what’s in or out of that, but it is beautiful.

    • phoenix

      DC, the recording you are referring to is advertised as the ‘complete’ Rimski-Korsakov version, which has rather generous portions of the Polish Act & the Kromy Forest accompanied by lush orchestration. Rimski’s version is in 4 acts -- Act 4 scene 1 is the Kromy Forest (which occurs in this version before the death of Boris); the opera ends with Boris’ demise in scene 2 of Act 4. When I started going to see operas in the mid-60’s (1960’s, that is) the Shostakovitch version was all the rage in western countries -- 1st acquaintance with Boris was 1966 in English at SFO with Cassilly as Dmitriy. I only remember seeing the Rimski-Korsakov version once, much later on -- in Tashkent or Baku (don’t remember which -- that was 25+ years ago and I was on the road going across the stans -- the Soviet government would not allow me to ride the trains). I thought the orchestration & the performance was fine but I noticed cuts, although some of the cuts may have been for that specific performance.
      Here is the libretto for the Rimski version:

  • OK, can anyone illuminate on the Vienna Tosca and Gheorghiu not making her entrance after the E lucevan encore that forced Kauffman to ad lib Ah non abbiam soprano?

    Obviously, there are people who are already saying this is just another example of her “diva” antics and how she was mad because of the bis. I don’t doubt anything from her, but the explanation seems simplistic and quite opportunistic.

    • Lady Abbado

      We shall wait for Gheorghiu to publish her autobiography (2036?) to see how she spins the event.

      My feeling was that whoever was responsible for overall coordination did a poor job -- for example my live streaming began late, just before the Recondita Armonia. Then, during the Kaufmann applause it was apparent that there was no agreed upon plan on how to handle a request for an encore (and they should have had such a contingency plan given the encore the previous Saturday). And indeed the conductor proceeding with the music after the encore, with no more stopping for further applause, was rather odd. Apparently Angie has stated in prior interviews she is against encores, and if this philosophy is coupled with the fact that in this particular instance Kaufmann stole the show, then the idea she did it on purpose has some plausibility (especially if she had some agreement with JK not to do encores and he broke it).

      Anyhow, Angie is singing rarely these days, but somehow still manages to create operatic history. Her next opera on stage is five months from now -- 18 September 2016 -- Tosca in Berlin. Until then, la dolce vita…

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Interestingly, the shorter video of the episode posted on facebook and via Lebrecht garnered an amazing 160,531 views in just two days! Maybe they would sell more seats at the MET is they started specializing in perele nere and opera bloopers.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        typos (sorry) if they started specializing in perle nere and operatic bloopers

      • Loge

        On the day I was getting a computer (so long ago) a tenor patient of mine told me about a site called “Black Pearls” where I could see bloopers. He didn’t mention that it was the Italian word for “black pearls”. So when I got the computer set up the very first site I looked up was You can imagine what the very first site I entered showed!

        • Loge

          Just checked and now it links to a site selling jewels. Back then it was a porn site specializing in Black women.

    • Lohengrin

      After the bis one week ago she mentioned in Austrian Television, that she “would never repeat an aria, but she will forgive Jonas because she likes him -- but not the same day….”
      Then o 16. April the audience -including me- clapped and shouted 6 minutes enthusiasticly, so he did it again…… (see the video).

  • armerjacquino

    Apparently Brian Asawa has died. Horrible news.