Cher Public

Je ne suis pas précis ici

championIf you’ve been following the coverage of the Nézet-Séguin succession, you will note that a good deal of the coverage centers on whether the incoming maestro will “champion” this composer or that, as we are assured that the sainted and revered James Levine did with, say, Debussy. 

For example, [Levine] “stumped for rarities by the likes of Debussy,” says the Guardian, and “The Met performed Berg’s Lulu and Debussy’s Pelléas et Melisande because he loved them,” contends Vulture.

La Cieca wonders if anyone champions or stumps for or even loves facts any more, or if journalists are now given license just to make shit up.

A look at the Met’s annals database reveals that between 1976 and 2016, the 40 years during which Levine was music director, then artistic director, then music director, the Met performed Pelléas et Mélisande 43 times, 37 of which featured Levine as conductor.

During the preceding 40 years, (i.e., 1935-1975), Pelléas was done 41 times.

So, depending on how you look at it, four decades of championship by James Levine (as compared to four decades of no music director at all) increased the Met’s performances of this Debussy opera by two performances, or reduced it by three. (Does anyone seriously believe that Levine was even aware of the Rattle revival of 2010-2011, let alone “stumping” for it?)

And now, a discussion question: assuming anyone else competent had been appointed music director in 1976, do you really think the Met wouldn’t have done Lulu by, say, the early 1980s? And is it at all possible that with a different music director, the rehearsal schedule for that very important premiere might not have been slashed so severely that Teresa Stratas would walk out of the production, leaving the role of Lulu to be created at the Met by (who?) Carole Farley?

  • Bill

    For as long as I recall Pelleas was done at the
    Met every decade or so and when a singer is a available such as de los Angeles in 1953 or Pilou for Melisande
    it is compelling listening. Vienna during this time
    had 3 productions, with Karajan and Gueden or Cluytens and Pilou, then with with
    Abbado and von Stade and it is coming up next season in another new production.
    We must not forget that the City Opera had, for some years, a lovely production with Patricia Brooks as well.
    Of course Lulu would have been done whether Levine was there or not. Two operas Levine brought into the
    repertory were Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito and they have had revivals in part as the Ponnelle productions were effective and Mozart singers were available and Levine likes to conduct Mozart.
    Some trends at the Met developed over the last 40 years which had little to do with Levine -- more performances of Bel Canto operas. I do not recall that Levine
    had much to do with Janacek which entered the repertory more frequently under his realm.

    Personally I think any good conductor who was music director at the Met who had potentially a wide
    range of repertory would certainly champion a few
    favored works. Strangely I do not think Levine
    ever conducted Die Frau ohne Schatten though it was
    done not infrequently when good singers were available.
    And some operas Levine reportedly liked, such as
    the Bartered Bride were not done very often during his 40 year reign.

    for Besz

  • Camille

    The answer is NO, probably not — given the importance of this opera and the excitement and significance surrounding the completion of the third act, but that is only my general observation and memory of those days; certainly coupled with no specific insider information.

    This issue of what Maestro Né-Sé is for, and what he ain’t for, is obnoxious at this point, at least to me, as it is far too premature to make any grand, sweeping announcements of same.

    He does not really yet have his feet on the ground here, plus, there is a lengthy period of engagement to ensue, therefore ensuring that many other factors will play into whatever ultimately will be planned and produced. Let us not forget that Levine will be éminence grise for the foreseeable future and who knows what impact from him will still be felt? Further, in five years time, tastes change.

    Maestro Levine DID, according to my own deep throat source, try like hell to get Volpe to allow him Mahler’s 8th Symphony in the house--this is my understanding so correct me if my source is incorrect--it ultimately ended up being at Carnegie Hall with a Gurrelieder instead. Some compensation. And it is unlikely we would have gotten Moses und Aron, that is certain. About Erwartung, I don’t know who is responsible. I do know that we are finally getting Guillaume Tell, a great and highly significant opera historically, because he is no longer in control, or so I have gleaned from the scuttlebutt.

    So far as the Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito were concerned, why, that was everyone getting into the discovery of those two operas during that period, wasn’t it, not just here at the MET? No longer recall who started the ball rolling. The MET productions certainly did help those two along, however.

    What would interest ME the most to hear--after a decent interval--is how and what our new music director would plan for the MET insofar as giving the wonderful French opera repertoire a slightly higher profile. Something besides the eternal Carmens and Fausts and Roméos, etc., and yes, I know we’ve had Troyens and Bevenuto Cellini and Damnation--none of which really worked that well for me in many respects, and sort of forcefed down the collective craw, it seemed. t mean, a Carmen done up opéra-comique style would even be a welcome change--hasn’t it been done at some point already? And what about another Russian invasion? I’d so love to see Mazeppa once more and I guess Kitezh is in line as well. Or maybe some more Dvorak or Smetana. Bartók and Janacek. And how about implementing some type of composition program aspect to the Lindemanner Thing--wherein prospective composers of nouvel operas would be workshopped within the company with the up-and-coming singers--young enough and FLEXIBLE enough and adventuresome enough to have the ncessary musicianship skills to cope with and deal with 21st c. vocal writing, a far broadjump away from dealing with matters of Verdian linea di canto and tessitura, to be sure!

    It will be interesting indeed to see how he will handle the Fliegende Holländer coming up next season, along with a very strong cast (and something to which I look forward greatly!) It would seem a wise choice for him to start with here at the MET, before going forward with the daunting and endless Ring et al.

    The answer is, about LULU anyway, yeah, he did have a lot to do with it and his WOZZECK, which I was again listening to today from Chicago under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, was really good, and he showed himself to an advantage there but this is just an impression, as I have neither the actual tacts nor was I present at the premiere of the LULU. My husband remembers it well and it was a Very Big Deal to him, making him a LULU Liebhaber for Life.

    • mjmacmtenor

      Don’t know when Idomeneo debuted at the Met, but I saw it in the summer of 1979 at Covent Garden -- with Janet Baker! Idomeneo was certainly appearing in places other than the Met.

      • Krunoslav

        New York City Opera had done IDOMENEO and TITO both several years before the Met tackled them- the latter in 1975 with Richard Taylor, Veronica Tyler and Maralin Niska, the former in 1979 with Thomas Moser, Carol Vaness and Ann Murray.

        San Francisco had also done CLEMENZA in 1971, a summer student-y staging with von Stade as Sesto and then again in 1977 with Brenza Boozer and Ms. Vaness, plus IDOMENEO in 1977 with Eric Tappy, Carol Neblett, Maria Ewing and Christiane Eda-Pierre ( and George Shirley as the High Priest!)

        And Lyric Opera of Chicago also did IDOMENEO in 1977, similarly cast (Tappy, Neblett, Ewing, Eda-Pierre/Ellen Shade, Shirley).

        So the Met and Levine were not exactly pushing the envelope with IDOMENEO in 1982 and CLEMENZA in 1984…

        • overstimmelated

          “Levine…not pushing the envelope with CLEMENZA in 1984”

          But Levine was doing CLEMENZA with Ponnelle and Troyanos et al. in Salzburg in 1976-79. Five year plan!

          And by the way, I think the Davidson statement quoted above would be fair enough if you substituted “Moses und Aron” for “Lulu” and, oh, let’s say “Benvenuto Cellini” for “Pelleas”…

          • Krunoslav

            Wiener Staatsoper:

            Sonntag, 30. Oktober 1949 | 19:00 | in deutscher Sprache

            Staatsoper im Theater an der Wien
            Hans Curjel, Bernhard Paumgartner | Für die Bühne bearbeitet und neu übersetzt
            Josef Krips | Musikalische Leitung
            Hans Curjel | Inszenierung

            La clemenza di Tito -- 22 April 1974

            Cond, Colin Dais

            Tito Vespasiano
            Emperor of Rome Eric Tappy
            a Roman patrician, friend of Tito and in love with Vitellia Yvonne Minton
            a Roman patrician, friend of Sesto and in love with Servilia Anne Howells
            Captain of the Praetorian Guard Robert Lloyd
            daughter of the former Emperor Vitellius Janet Baker
            sister of Sesto Teresa Cahill

            Julius Patzak | Tito
            Hilde Zadek | Vitellia
            Marta Rohs | Sesto
            Wilma Lipp | Servilia
            Richard Holm | Annio
            Otto Edelmann | Publio

            Montag, 12. Dezember 1977 | 19:30 | in italienischer Sprache

            Julius Rudel | Dirigent
            Federik Mirdita | Inszenierung

            Werner Hollweg | Tito
            Marita Napier | Vitellia
            Teresa Berganza | Sesto
            Hilda de Groote | Servilia
            Trudeliese Schmidt | Annio
            Kurt Rydl | Publio

            Sonntag, 14. März 1971 | 19:00 | in italienischer Sprache

            Jaroslaw Krombholc | Dirigent
            Vaclav Kaslik | Inszenierung
            Josef Svoboda | Bühnenbild

            Waldemar Kmentt | Idomeneo
            Werner Krenn | Idamante
            Sena Jurinac | Elettra
            Lisa Della Casa | Ilia
            Reid Bunger | Arbace
            Manfred Jungwirth | Oberpriester des Neptun

            LA SCALA: Saturday 27 January 1968 ore 21:00

            ELETTRA LEYLA GENCER Soprano
            ARBACE DOMENICO TRIMARCHI Basso baritono

            GLYNDEBOURNE: IDOMENEO revived by Bush 1951. Also 1952,1953, 1956, 1959, 1964…

        • Krunoslav

          Just out of curiosity:

          Tanglewood 1947 IDOMENEO cond. Brois Goldovsky w/Joseph Ladéroute, Anne Bollinger, Paula Lenchner

          Philharmonic Hall 1963 CLEMENZA with David Lloyd, Beverly Wolff, Martina Arroyo, Betty Allen, Margaret Kalil (!)

          Philadelphia 1967 IDOMENEO with William Cochran in the name part, Univ. of Penn. Choral Society

          Philadelphia 1968 CLEMENZA at AVA, dir. Tito Capobianco

          • Camille

            Very interesting, Knyaz Krunoslav, at least to me as I’d not known of the Tanglewood performance. Thanks for your due diligence.

    • About Erwartung, I don’t know who is responsible.

      I’m sure Levine championed that and he deserves credit. But it was probably a one-two-punch. Jessye Norman was one of the world’s most famous opera singers at that time and she always championed the Second Viennese School. The production probably would not have happened with just either of them championing it but it was good showcase for both maestro and soprano, both of whom were at teh top of their game. (And might I say, Jessye sang the hell out of it).

      And I completely agree that YNS has plenty of time to carve out his areas of specialty in the repertoire. People seem to want him to declare his complete vision *now*, not realising that he doesn’t take the post officially for four years.

      • Camille

        Little doubt about it. Once I saw him attending a very small recital in Merkin Hall of Schönberg’s “The Book of the Hanging Gardens” (of Babylon), accompanying and tagging along with Milton Babbitt. As I recall, this was not even a MET event, so there wasn’t a lot of rationale for him being there, other than his interest in this composer. These songs aren’t performed all that often.

        Long time ago now, but it was a memorable occasion.

    • leonora3

      Thank you for reminding Dvorak and Smetana. Few years ago Maestro Levine signed his book JL-40 years at the Met in a Met lobby for me and when I mentioned I was from Prague he told me how much he loved these two composers. He conducted The Bartered Bride with Julliard students that unfortunately I didn’t have chance to see, but I could hear wonderful concert in Carnegie Hall ‘All Dvorak’ with briliant Cello Concerto in May 2014. Of course, these two composers’ operas are often performed in Czechia and perhaps not everything would sound the same in US. But I believe, there are at least two operas Wagnerian-heroic and monumental Dalibor by Smetana and especially Jakobin by Dvorak that would be loved by Met audience.

      • Bill

        I agree -- I have seen Jakobin twice, once in
        Prague and once in Brno and there is some wonderful
        music in this opera which is rarely done outside of the Czech Republik -- Dalibor is a special favorite --
        has been done in England and in several productions in Vienna (in German) with Rysanek, Spiess, Waechter and
        Lotte Rysanek but it did not last in the repertoire.
        A previous production was under Bruno Walter with Hilde Konetzny and I think Max Lorenz -- sort of a Fidelio
        rescue opera -- but for the Met to do these operas
        it would take a special conductor and perhaps some
        favorite singers to draw the people in. We must
        remember that the Met had not done Rusalka until they brought in the Vienna production for Benackova and
        then it remained in repertoire occasionally with
        Fleming and a new production is upcoming. One discovered (belatedly) Dvorak’s wonderful score and Rusalka now seems to be produced all over. The Met was also a bit slow to discover Janacek I think with only some Jenufas (in German) produced for Jeritza -- then a very long lapse until it returned with eventually also Katya and a few other pieces. As I mentioned before I do not recall Levine conducting Janacek or if so, only rarely.
        I find Janacek’s operas really grow on one with repeated

        • gironabalie


          It is likely that Janá?ek will never be truly popular or a sure box office draw -- his idiom is too gnarled and personal, too painful, too strange.

          • If history teaches us anything, it’s that predicting the future is a mug’s game.

          • Camille

            “too gnarled and personal, too painful, too strange”.

            Why, I find that quite interesting as I was of a similar opinion, even if listening upon occasion to some of his non-operatic work, like the Letters. Then, I heard Sir Charles Mackerras conduct the Vec Makropoulos and all such consideration forever flew out the window. He opened my ears up to that entire world, for which I’ve always been most grateful.

            Maybe it just depends upon the conductor and how he plays it? I don’t know, but that was my experience.

            Jungfer Marianne: you make no mention of Dvorak’s Armida, a big opera. Wonder if it ever gets done at all?

            • gironabalie

              Camille honey,

              In “V?c Makropulos” we have an art of considerable subtlety, and its effect on the listener is likely to be variable. Many are still repelled by its rough, declamatory style. In a sense, it takes a gifted listener to make sense of Janá?ek’s jagged, naturalistic rhythms, and his telegraphic melodic style.

              It requires an agile mind, and a developed ear to respond to its real nature.

            • Camille

              You think so, gironabalie?

              I’dda thunk anyone’s earwax and brainfogs woulda been trounced by listening in to Mackerras?

              He was revelatory and I remember those performances within a golden shrine in my heart.

              Looking forward to the Jenufa coming up to see how Mme Mattila moves from one pole to the next. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed for her and a return that is glorious.

            • Krunoslav

              ” Mme Mattila moves from one pole to the next”

              From Wieslaw Ochman to Piotr Bieczala, as it were?

            • Camille

              Nyet, Knyaz Kronoslavsky!

              “Ich bin bereit” @ 2:35——-

              “BELIEVE, o heart…”

        • Krunoslav

          Odyssey Opera in Boston has announced Dvorak’s DIMITRIJ for Fri Sept 16.

          • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

            I’ve seen “Dimitrij” in Prague and enjoyed it immensely. (Do you know it’s the sequel to “Boris Godunov?”) I’ve also seen “Vanda” (which is on my Mixcloud site), “Jakobin” (which is just a masterwork), several productions of “Rusalka,” plus a bunch of others from composers basically unknown outside of the Czech Republic (several of which are also on my Mixcloud site, such as Skroup’s “Der Meergeuse,” Kittl’s “Bianca und Giuseppe” with a libretto by Wagner, and Mechura’s “Marie Potocká).

            As far as Janácek, here in Wien Dominique Meyer has initiated a highly-acclaimed cycle at Staatsoper. So far we have had “Osud” (in German), “Jenufa” (sung at first in German but now in Czech since the chorus finally relearned its part), an utterly glorious “Kát’a Kabanová” (perhaps the best production under Meyer’s watch to date), “From the House of the Dead” in a Peter Konwitschny production, “Vixen” in a gorgeous production by Otto Schenk, and “Vec Makropulos.” I think all we are missing is “The Excursions of Mr. Broucek.”

  • The MET has never done Vixen, which seems like a no-brainer to me -- so I’d say, sure, anything is possible in the counterfactual, Levine-free universe La Cieca is proposing.

    I would say, though, that absent Levine, it seems less probable to me that the MET would have done two Bolcom operas.

    • (Not saying that’s a good or bad thing. I’m just sayin’)

      • (And before people think I’ve had a stroke, will correct the above to “the Harbison and Bolcom operas”)

    • Bill

      The City Opera did do Vixen several seasons at least
      and we had a production at Julliard a couple of years back. I know that the NYC Opera and the Met did not
      generally coordinate its productions but it would have
      been usual for both opera houses to program the same opera (Cunning Little Vixen for example) for the same
      season if it was not a repertory standard. Vixen is a lovely opera but with the Met only doing 25-28 different operas per season and with the necessity for them to program many chestnuts each season to keep subscribers
      happy, many novelties which one might want to see
      occasionally, have been passed by. That is true of
      almost all opera houses -- there simply are repertory
      lapses everywhere. What is curious though is with the demise of the City Opera at Lincoln Center, attendance
      at the Met seems to have diminished rather than swelled
      (for lack of competition). I think that in general
      during the Levine era, as he often conducted the
      greatest works, there was a lapse in engaging
      some of the other fine opera conductors in the world
      with great frequency --

      • Yes, City opera had it’s Vixen, but I think the absence of a Met Vixen speaks more to the priorities of the Metropolitan (“Five Donizetti operas! Count ’em! Five!”) Opera for the past few (several) decades. A different music director might have pushed harder on Janacek or Prokofiev or Schreker or Korngold or Massenet or Heggie or more verismo, and less on Berg and Schoenberg. (Don’t ask me to name names and game out scenarios -- I’m not interested in delving deeply into alternate universes. I just didn’t think that the suggestion that an early-80s Met Lulu was an inevitability was an entirely convincing one.)

        • (“Its” -- autocorrect fail)

        • Camille

          Even if I like a lot of Donizetti, five is just too much and I would love to understand the (assuredly excellent) reasons for this programming. It seems to either to be a game of Glut or Famine at times, and it doesn’t work out so well for everyone.

          Add to the four I heard at the MET, the exceptional circumstance of having been able (due to the kindness of a friend) the interesting Poliuto and the even more (alas for me I had to leave before the denouement) Parisina d’Este, I have concluded that there is not enough time left to understand the many sides to this composer’s work and wish I’d digged a lot deeper at an earlier epoch in my life, when it might have been possible. If I could have my ‘druthers for further Donizetti, however, it would be a grand refurbishment of Dom Sébastien I’d most like to see and hear at the MET, maybe with Hymel and Garanca, with lyric baritone X. That, or Maria di Rohan which I sorely missed at Caramoor a few years back.

          • Rowna

            I am not so much into facts but NO WAGNER for at least 2 years is ridiculous. Especially painful was there was all that Donizetti. Not sure this is going to appear in the right place here.

          • grimoaldo

            Donizetti’s “other” full length operatic comedy other than L’Lisir, Pasquale and Fille, Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali, almost unknown in the US and UK, is practically a guaranteed crowd pleaser, hilarious satire of the opera world of his day, but has been quite popular in Germany since the 60’s, often under the title “Viva la Mamma” is really the Donizetti piece that ought to mush more widely known imo.
            It has an extended turn for a basso buffo in drag

            One of highly esteemed coloraturafan’s “opera in 10 minutes” with highlights of a performance with Luciana Serra

            • Camille

              Thanx for the ten minute version, grimoaldo, as god knows there is not enough time left in my life to tool through all his œuvre and, as I found with Rob Dev and Parisina, there is a lot of stuff left to suss out which I might like a lot.

              Bon voyage on your wonderful trip upcoming!! I will look forward so much to hearing about the La Juive, an opera which interests me for its important place in history much more than perhaps its actual felicitoes. There is some interesting stuff, true, but it is by in large the opera I think of when the word “Academic” turns up. As well, I have read somewhere ( and know not where so as to substantiate this) that the actual creator of the role of Éléazar was responsible for the idea of “Rachel, quand du Seigneur”, and the words and/or music to it as well. I wish I could remember where I read this. Maybe in that little sad book anout his life?

              It shall be interesting to see how Kurzak fares as Rachel--quite a turn of events. From the performance I heard of her Arina, I would say that she is well advised to be thinking past the florid-coloratura roles and moving on down the Fach line--however, from Eudoxie to Rachel is a hiant leP. Should be interesting. Wish they’d bring it to the MET eventually. At least there is a transmission and/or webcast!

            • Camille

              Sorry, it’s felicitIes, and not happy TOES!

              And ADina in Elisir, as you may think I was referring to Amina with my thpo.

            • grimoaldo

              Thank you dear Camille, I will be sure to report back on La Juive!

      • mjmacmtenor

        One of the great strengths of NYCO was presenting repertoire that the Met would never touch (or long before the Met did) -- Handel, Die Tote Stadt, Donizetti Queens, etc……

      • Camille

        Indeed, the NYCO did have their Vixen for I have NEVER forgotten the line hurled out by that nice lady (a mezzo I think and she died of cancer a while back now), in midst of the performance:

        She’s got a MUFF!!! A fox fur MUFF!

        A most infelicitous translation fom the original.

        It was a cute production and I’d love to see it done, by anyone, again sometime. But in Czech and with a better translation, doubtless.

        • Krunoslav

          Are you thinking of Mimi Lerner?

          • Rowna

            Seeing the name of Mimi Lerner on Parterre -- made my day! A college student colleague of mine and later my mentor into the world of Jewish music, she was beloved by all. Missing her, very much. For those who don’t know here, try this:

          • Camille

            No sir, and this cost me a half hour’s intense dredging up from the slough of despond which is my memory, it was a lady named Carla Wood, whom I remember reading had passed on.

            Of Mimi Lerner I know nothing but her name. Never heard her sing at all.

            And thank you so very much for pulling up all the information of TITO and IDOMENEO. Of the latter, I was aware of the Glyndebourne performances as having been possibly the first or the most instrumental in the re-launch of this greatest of opera serias, the TITO I was less aware of. It is interesting to see if was given auf deutsch. I wonder how all those voluminous recitativi worked out…? Perhaps some of it was cut.

        • redbear

          Speaking of Vixen, Parisians have it (among others rather interesting operas) in the new season at the Theatre Athénée Louis-Jouvet which will be back after one year of cosmetic surgery. The Opéra-Comique, also undergoing the same facelift, will return in January of 2017. While we welcome their return, Theatre Chatelet will go under the knife next season for some two years. The coming season at Athénée is on their site.

          • Do you know anything about the Ensemble TM+ that will be in the pit for this Vixen? Will they be using the “reduced” score that was used in Aix some years ago? I didn’t see any info on the website.

            • The Athénée, the Opéra Comique… so much more money to spend…

            • But some things are free. “Operaoke” on the Champs de Mars, for example…

            • Camille

              NPW! Did you happen to attend a performance of Spontini’s Olympie given one performance on June 3rd, par hasard? I just noticed it yesterday on an Opera Snooze listing and was wondering about it, as I am gery fond of Spontini and always hoping for some serious revival movement to get moving. Probably only a one-off performance and therefore it would depend greatly upon the soloists. Can’t remember but perhaps this was at the TCE??? Or amother similar venue. Sorry, I didn’t notice which.

              About the translation--I would have no idea as I am ignorant of the original Czech word in any event—and it was the word coupled with the ascending exclamatory phrase which rendered it so unfornately as to leave an indelible stain in my memory…..

            • No, sorry Camille, a concert perfomance of Spontini, even with K. Deshayes, would probably notr be for me; it realli isn’t my period!


            • Camille

              Grand merci pour le link, mon ami.

              Je le chercherai sur Forumopera

          • Thanks very much for these tip-offs, Redbear. I see the Opéra Comique is opening with Offenbach’s Fantasio, a great idea if they do it justice.

            • grimoaldo

              “I see the Opéra Comique is opening with Offenbach’s Fantasio, a great idea if they do it justice.”

              That is indeed exciting news!
              Highlights of a production from Karlsruhe in German

            • Cicciabella

              Just read your very enjoyable review of Tristan and Isolder, for which many thanks. Sounds like Audi had ideas for Act 1 and then gave up, but good to everything else was so good. Jean Kalman is a master lighting designer.

            • Act one was certainly very handsome and videogenic.

            • Camille

              At least you may pat yourself on the back for having made it through the entire thing, and that’s something.

              Very interesting what you had to say about Torsten Karl--do I remember him as the Menelaus here in Aegyptische Helena, or not? Suppose he has a busy career in Europe so we see him but rarely here? Glad you had such a positive experience of his third act which can he terminal for the audience as well as the tenor if not well executed, which is nigh unto impossible but does occur miraculously from time to time. It seems you caught kne so that was lucky.

              Also share the opinion about La Bastille and other similar type of “Barns”, more suited to hogcalling than good singing, which seems to be echoed over and over and over again about its inhospitability to the singers, and it’s good you got to hear this opera in a venue more conducive to both the singer AND the audience’s enjoyment.

            • lyrebird

              NPW-Paris needs no seconding, least of all from me, but having chanced upon the first night of that T&I, and on my first visit to Theatre des Champs Elysee, I can’t help but heap more praise on Torsten Kerl who fairly sang the sht out of it, thrilling to the end, death by singing as they say, Gatti letting him have his way with it, and he surely did. The titty-tatting was very much about Ms Magee’s flight back to the USA, for personal reasons, after three weeks of rehearsals, you join the dots.

              The Bastille Barn has some advantages -- like the Wonderful Wernike Der Rosenkavalier which simply must be seen in the flesh on the vast stage to be appreciated in all its deliciousness. Sit close.

            • Oh dear, Wernicke’s Rosenkavalier is one I left after the (second) interval, even with Fleming, Bonney and Graham.

            • Camille I haven’t seen Kerl often. Only, I think, in Die tote Stadt a long time ago at the Châtelet, and then Siegfried at the Bastille. If he’s busy in Europe, perhaos it hasn’t been in Paris, or perhaps he’s been singing in things I didn’t buy.

        • What should it have been?

          • The translation I mean? If not “muff”?

            • Camille

              Ik weiss gar nix. Ik sprech’ gar nx Czech!!

      • mirywi

        I believe I saw the City Opera Vixen on TV. It was done in English with subtitles in English. I couldn’t tell you who was in it.

        • Krunoslav

          Gianna Rolandi
          Richard Cross
          Nadia Pelle
          John Lankston

          Michael Tilson Thomas

  • Camille

    This is a link to the whopling commentary (over 300 comments!) of Nézet-Séguin’s débuts--just in case anyone is interested in the initial impression he made upon the parterriat. It’s headlined by a nice picture of Mariusz :

    I was curious the other day but forgot to post it so I’ll park it here, fwiw2allofU. It could be interesting.

    • Camille

      Just would like to warn anyone going to the above thread for comments about YNé-Sé: stick to the first two pages. There are many rants, attacks and otherwise wholly unrelated if entertaining tirades contained therein which have absolutely nada to do with our new MD.

      It was fun to read. The very last entry is an importation of the review by Bernheimer but you must be a subscriber. There is a (typical) TT column referred to somewhere but he seemd to be concentrating in a “Cocky toreador” somehow “straddling” something--I know not what.

      • Porgy Amor

        There are many rants, attacks and otherwise wholly unrelated if entertaining tirades contained therein

        Oh, it’s that Parterre thread.

        • armerjacquino

          What’s most entertaining is the way people are queuing up to say how useless ‘the mezzo de Niese’ Elina Garanca is, and how she’s only cast for her looks.

        • Camille


          Yes, as rants rarely, (like the rain in Spain staying mainly in the plain), ‘ardly ever ‘appen!!

  • PCally

    I knew Stratas had cancelled a couple of performances of the 1980 revival (including the telecast) but I’d had no idea she was scheduled for the met premiere of the two act version. Makes sense since I’ve never even heard of Farley. Still glad Levine cared about that particular opera though and that it’s been consistently well cast at the met with two solid productions.

    The Pelleas stuff is nonsense, that opera has been a semi-staple of the repertoire forever and there have been many notable performances of the opera at the met before Levine took it over.

  • Porgy Amor

    Thank you, La Cieca. I’ve never understood why Berg is discussed among some New York-centric opera buffs as if he were an avant-garde Levine pet project. Bravo to him for continuing to program Wozzeck (which the Met had already done 18 times before Levine ever had his foot in the door) and for adding Lulu, but to me, that’s not “daring.” It’s just the Met not being embarrassingly out of step with every opera house on its level.

  • La Valkyrietta

    This is probably off topic, but I love Levine and at the same time I love Yannick. I remember the things he did with Don Carlo (I went twice with a cast that was not my cup of tea, just because of him), and the Otello was marvellous because of him. Can´t wait for the Dutchman. I know he will not bring some of the greatest thrills I ever had at the opera, Leonie, London and Bohm in Dutchman, but they are gone, and I hope Yannick does the trick. Of course, in my life, I will never experience something like the Senta of Leonie, that was just the performance to keep you away from suicide, fantabulous. Still, can`t wait for April 2017 and Dutchman again.

    Still, the Met has been awful. I loved Levine in the Abduction, but I got Family Circle seats and some kids (four year olds or younger) kept making noises behind me, kicking the back of the seats, and did not make me enjoy the Pasha Selim too much. Why does the Met sell tickets to toddlers? I have nothing against kids, but they should go to Disney instead. I certainly will get better seats for Tristan in September, and Dutchman in April. Ah, l’opera, magnifique.

    Hello Manou and Camille, I hope you all are fantastic. And I always love La Cieca, wonderful notices, even if I don´t always agree with everything, but most times I do, and she gives wonderful reviews that make me not to miss great performances.

    Sorry for not contributing more to this site, but what can I say? I am just a vecchia, hope not maledetta (my grammar correction wants me to say “malted”, but that makes no sense), but I love you all, dear Parterre Posters. Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore.

    • Batty Masetto

      In principle, I agree that youngsters too young for the opera shouldn’t go.

      BUT: At the Bieito Boris we saw in Munich in April, a (very) young Italian was behind us with her dad, and she constantly asked questions about what was happening and he answered her. In a whisper so low that I could completely ignore them if I wanted to

      Now that’s the way to get kids interested in opera.

      So, no, bring the kiddies. Just teach them some manners!

      • I was seated amidst a largish crowd of seventh-graders to see a Hakka opera at the National Opera House in Taipei last fall. Well-mannered for the most part (once the pointing and staring stopped), and one entertained me with magic tricks during the interval.

        Would like to get that kid here for next season’s Makropulos, in the hopes that he could make Nadja Michael disappear.

    • manou

      Hello to you too LaValk! Nice to see you back here, and I certainly hope you are well and happy. We have all been alive a long time, which does not necessarily make us old -- just better informed than some callow youth in their early twenties. That’s what I tell myself anyway…

      I would certainly vote for kids to attend as much opera as they can, but not necessarily seated behind me- maybe we should put them in a pen somewhere.

  • jd

    at the Met, there is a house manager at the bottom of the stairs on the left who will help with bad seats. I had a problem with the subtitles in the Family Circle during the Abduction and he gave me a new seat in the Dress Circle. He has helped me two or three times. Not much for talking but he comes through.

    • La Valkyrietta


      I know, but if after a second act when toddlers keep banging your chair kicking it even during Martern Aller Artern, and you give them looks, and they quiet down for a minute, and start again, you are fed up with it. No good seat in the third act would redeem the agony you had in the second act. I just hope for Tristan I get a decent seat further down (Circle, Orchestra, whatever) and hope there is no lady with a big hat, or eating caramels wrapped in noisy plastic.

  • La Valkyrietta


    Yannick will not have Leonie, but I still look forward to what he will do.

    • Camille

      Don’t be a melted “malted”, Valky!!!

      Yes, it is quite so that one may change the seats--at Carnegie Hall, at least--and the MET should similarly be accommodsing when there is just cause. I am sorry you had to suffer the little children. It is dare I see them, excepting the ballet.

      Yes, there will never be anything like what you saw and heard with Leonie and London but at least you saw them! I did not and would give a year of my life to have been able to, no kidding. I have a hunch that Né-Sé will do very well by this opera as it takes a great deal of Energie plus someone who can keep it together throughout its tempestuous passages, so a younger but experienced maestro can make a lot of it. It is so terrifically dramatic and dæmonic--much like a hurricane riding through, I think-- anyway, Valky, buck up! There is lots to look forward to in the coming season--The Tristan and Guillaume Tell I can just hardly wait for. Isolde being a far more congenial role for La Nina (speaking of storms). Have a big chile relleno and feel better!!! My best wishes to you.

    • PCally

      He will have Amber Wagner, who has the potential to offer the goods. It’s been a while since the met had a Senta with a genuinely beautiful voice so I’m looking forward to her as well.

      • armerjacquino

        Went to had a look and you’re right- in the last 25 years the part has been played by a load of interesting and compelling singers, but none with a truly beautiful voice: Gessendorf, Martin, Shh-you-know-who, Patchell, Stemme, and 2010-vintage Voigt.

        • armerjacquino

          Went to *have*. Bizarre autocorrect.

        • Krunoslav

          Last great Met Senta? ( Her one and only Met turn at the role)

          Metropolitan Opera House
          March 29, 1979


          Dutchman…………….Donald McIntyre
          Senta……………….Johanna Meier
          Erik………………..William Lewis
          Daland………………William Wilderman
          Mary………………..Isola Jones
          Steersman……………William Lewis
          Sleeping Steersman……Robert Remington

          Conductor……………James Levine

          Review of Robert Jacobson in the May 1979 issue of Opera News

          Later, March 29, the cast changed considerably, adding up to a remarkable evening, primarily due to the presence of Johanna Meier in her first house Senta. While a bit of flutter has settled in at her upper-middle voice, the rest of her sound is astonishing in its clarion brilliance, thrusting power and visceral impact. She shaped the ballad with exquisite concentration and sense of architecture in the many strophes and through the vast range, her devotion to the Dutchman through the long duet proved moving, and her final scene confirmed a magnificent Wagner voice at the threshold, if she is careful. Never making a false move and projecting the words with clarity, she left an indelible mark.

          • steveac10

            I’ll never really get the career trajectory of Johanna Meier. I heard her live at least a dozen times in the 70’s and 80’s and she was always far better than her fame would suggest… and far better than many she covered and/or assumed the second cast position for. Those sopranos with the all important recording contracts. Her last appearances on the Met tour as Sieglinde and Ellen Orford were glorious -especially since both paired her with Vickers. The Grimes, especially since the rest of the cast was wonderful too (unlike the execrable balance of the Walkure cast they appeared in that tour) was one of the most memorable nights I’ve spent on an opera house.

  • Tommasini also made ridiculous claims about Levine making Berg, Debussy, and Stravinsky “central” to the Met repertory, which they are not -- I blogged about this last week.

    Alex Ross’s commentary about YNS’s appointment states clearly that the Met’s rep is archaic and needs to change.

  • arepo

    I wonder who will ever REALLY champion “Mefistofele”. It has been on the list for 2 years in a row now and both times scratched.
    It has been more than 16 years since it was performed at the Met.
    Probably the year of my demise they will decide now’s the time.

    • The Carsen production was refurbished and staged at SF a couple of years back -- that’s the same production the Met uses, right? Have you checked the Future Met Wiki….?

  • BB

    Absolutely right, Levine may have loved Pelleas but he had nothing to do with it’s re-appearance in the Met rep. It comes and goes, period. I’m not even sure he did the work a favor when he conducted it with only one intermission, the first three acts all at one go, rather than the traditional two interval performances, as Monteux conducted it.
    But he deserves credit for bringing the “other” Mozart works into the Met rep, Serail in the Dexter production, and Idomeneo and Tito in collaboration with Ponelle. Not to mention Lulu and the two Schoenberg operas which might have been awfully tough to get Met management to mount without Jimmy’s persuasiveness and conviction.
    But Pelleas? Puleeze!

  • BB

    I’d be grateful to the Met music director who brings back Louise to the house. And Montemezzi’s L’Amore dei tre re which is a better opera than Zandonai’s Francesca which we did get. But the L’amore, like Mefistofele, needs a major, charismatic bass.

    • Krunoslav

      “I’d be grateful to the Met music director who brings back Louise to the house.”

      “I’d be grateful to the Met music director who brings back Louise to the house.”

      “I’d be grateful to the Met music director who brings back Louise to the house.”

    • Bill

      I do not think the Met has done Louise since the
      1940s -- we had a nice production at one time at the
      City Opera with several sopranos in the title role.
      If I recall the opera takes a while to get going but
      eventually is very effective -- Unfortunately Louise
      seems to have fallen out of favor most everywhere --
      perhaps even in France.

      Of course one needs a very compelling soprano in the title role and one can who can sing the French language

      • Krunoslav

        Schoolboy Kruno saw the last hurrah (1977) of that staging, with four excellent singers: Beverly Sills, John Alexander, Robert Hale, Frances Bible. Granted, the two leads were ‘mature”, but she acted it beautifully (in an era where most of what she did onstage, in TURCO IN ITALIA for example, was her talk show shtick) and he sang Julien as well as anyone in the world might have done then.

        Glad to have seen it once, but, short of Mary Garden returning among us, I don’t think it’s a piece especially worth reviving.

        • mjmacmtenor

          Sills did a fine studio recording at that time as well (with Gedda). Surprisingly, there w also a a studio recording at the same time with Contrubas and Domingo. 2 Louise recordings within a year of each other. Go figure.

    • Tubsinger

      If you’re in the Gulf coast area next winter, you may see L’Amore dee tre re at the Sarasota Opera company.

  • aulus agerius

    Lotfi Mansouri spent a pile of coin on a new production for Renee Fleming and Jerry Hadley in San Francisco for which I was present for most of in body at least. Never again.

    • I saw that Louise as well. I remember Sam Ramey and Felicity Palmer, as Louise’s parents, better than I remember Fleming.

      I considered the nighttime street scene the most individual and interest part of the opera. I do think the whole would work better with a Francophone cast.