Cher Public


forzaThe Met has canceled its new production of La forza del destino, which was to have been directed by Calixto Bieito. [AP]

  • Sanford Schimel

    I can understand canceling a new production to save money but why not mount the current production?

    • Porgy Amor

      I would like to imagine it is because that Del Monaco/Scott monstrosity left this earth at some point after the 2006 series (its only revival), and is no longer an option. I may have seen equally bad Met productions, but never a worse one.

      I refreshed my memory by looking at the July 2010 parterre entry “Gingerbread Housing Shortage.” This was La Cieca’s report (citing a source close to the Met) that 60 containers in the storage facility in New Jersey had been emptied of materials for productions the house had no plans to present again. Indeed, La Cieca wrote: “Among newer, perhaps less-beloved sets headed for the dumpster are the Michael Scott Forza which was seen 20 times between 1996 and 2006 […].”

      • Colin Ungaro

        It’s my understanding the previous Forza production no longer exists. One would think there must be more to The the cancellation than the $1 million savings, especially considering that the Met had already committed to the production. And why the Forza and not one of the other five new productions, at least one of which you would think would save even more? Maybe we’ll never know, but this is disappointing. Love this opera!

  • I love the Requiem but this is a serious disappointment.

  • Gualtier Maldè

    Okay so this was the projected cast for the “Forza”
    Verdi’s La forza del destino
    Production: Calixto Bieito
    Leonora: Sondra Radvanovsky
    Don Alvaro: Aleksandrs Antonenko
    Don Carlo: Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Note -- Hvorostovsky has said that he is stepping back from staged opera performances due to his health)
    Fra Melitone: Nicola Alaimo / Valeriano Lanchas
    Padre Guardiano: Ferruccio Furlanetto

    According to the AP: “The Met said Friday that “Forza” has been postponed indefinitely and will be replaced on its schedule by four concerts of Verdi’s Requiem led by music director emeritus James Levine, running from Nov. 24 to Dec. 2…The Verdi Requiem will include soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk, tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto.”

    So did Sondra drop Leonora di Vargas when she took on the new “Norma” production that same 2017-18 season? Did Krassimira Stoyanova replace her in it? Were there really only four performances scheduled of “Forza”? Antonenko and Furlanetto were already on board as Alvaro and Fra Guardiano. Semenchuk I guess was the Preziosilla? Perhaps the loss of Hvorostovsky as Don Carlo was another factor in not simply reviving the old Giancarlo Del Monaco production? No Verdi baritone of the same quality could be found at this late date?


    • berkeleygirl

      Was Tamara Wilson unavailable? She received tremendous notices for her Leonora at this production’s premiere at ENO.

    • Luvtennis

      Is anyone wondering what’s up? Kicking Bieto to the curb
      fairly late in the game in what would have been his Met debut without comment or apology or even a blurb from him looking forward to a future debut seems odd. I wonder…. This is how things start. And that interview sounds uncomfortable.

      Or not. ????????

      • Satisfied

        Question: Anyone care to offer an idea as to why this production was cancelled over the rest of the 2017/2018 new productions? I know the Met would never cancel the new Aida least they risk losing Anna nor should they cancel the stunning Exterminating Angel….but the rest of the new productions?

        • southerndoc1

          Norma’s opening night, Tosca is New Year’s gala -- couldn’t dump either of those; Cosi is a Levine project -- hands off; Ext. Angel and Cendrillon got good to rave reviews elsewhere; so that leaves Forza. It got tepid reviews as I remember in London, and Gelb probably decided it wouldn’t be worth the fight.

          • Satisfied

            Persuasive response. Though I thought the reviews were slightly better than merely tepid. Anecdotally, I know many who saw it and loved it having initially gone in with a certain amount of dread.

            Thank you.

            And, sorry, I meant Tosca and not Aida as stated in my previous post.

          • George Marc Alderman

            Too bad, they don’t need a new production of either Cosi or Norma, they have perfectly good productions. Cendrillon on the other hand, with a female prince, bores the hell out of me.

            • Rosina Leckermaul

              The CENDRILLON is the Santa Fe production that the Royal Opera has also used. Hardly a new production.

          • Luvtennis

            Maybe. But i find it odd that the GM of the Met is apparently the one getting the short end of the stick. And losing out to an already pastured conductor? Come on! It was a huge gambit by Gelb to book that production -- which the Met surely has already paid something for. I cannot see him making this decision without clear direction from his board.

        • Luvtennis

          My experience with boardroom politics suggest a leash tightening. The Bieto represented a real coup for Gelb. I can’t believe this was his decision.

          Of course, it’s just speculation.

    • Lohenfal

      Supposedly, Sondra was to do both Norma and Leonora di Vargas. It’s possible that she changed her mind after the Norma announcement but we don’t know. Obviously, there were to be more than 4 performances of Forza. They’ll have to schedule some other opera to fill out the difference.

      It’s hard to determine the veracity of what Gelb is saying. I had wondered whether or not the Met would go through with this production, considering that it has a fair degree of violence and bloodshed, more than an average Met audience would tolerate. I have the feeling that it’s the nature of the production, rather than the cost savings, that caused this regrettable cancellation. The Requiem is always welcome, but not really a suitable substitute in this case.

    • I don’t know. I don’t see the Met cancelling a new production just because the soprano isn’t ready to take the role on.

      • Gualtier Maldè

        I never said Radvanovsky wasn’t ready but alternating the high florid Norma and heavier Leonora di Vargas is a steep challenge. Lots of sopranos sang both roles earlier in the last century (Ponselle, Mazzoleni, Milanov, Cigna, Caniglia, Callas, Cerquetti). But more recent sopranos take on “Forza” after they have left Norma behind.

        • Fair enough. Putting aside my use of the phrase “not ready”, I don’t see cancelling a production because of the soprano. The Met could find a replacement if it wanted to.

        • Luvtennis

          I feel stupid but did Maria ever perform anything from Forza live?

          • ines

            There were two performances of Forza in Ravenna ( out of all places,) in May 1954.
            They took place between the recordings of her first Norma and

      • Peter
      • Delmonaco

        I seem to remember that the Met cancelled a revival of Forza in the late 90s when Pavarotti, who was to have made his tole debut, changed his mind about the opera ( I think he said he hadn’t had time to learn the role).I believe Volpe replaced it with Ballo, in which Luciano did sing.

        • Bill

          As I recall the Forza which Pavarotti did not sing was indeed done but with Domingo
          and Sharon Sweet among others -- it was not a great success. Forza was done at the Met much more frequently when Milanov and Tucker had a new production done for them by Bing in 1952 and some of the casts at the time were legendary. A bit later in Vienna in 1960 Mitropoulos led a new production with Stella, Simionato, di Stefano, Bastianini, etc. which was sung 84 times in the next 14 years with the likes of Berganzi, Corelli, McCracken , Christoff, Ghiaurov, Siepi, Talvela, Cossotto, Madeira, Christa Ludwig even and lesser singers.
          It was popular fare both at the Met and
          in Vienna and in Italy. The Met production for Milanov was updated to the 17th or 18th centuries and the overture played after the first scene -- this was quite radical in its day.
          to make such a change. Tebaldi also sang
          some Leonoras at the Met, Rysanek a couple and also in Vienna, later Leontyne
          Price The Met also heard del Monaco as Don Alvaro, regularly Warren and Merrill. In the last decades, perhaps due to the lack of
          great Verdian singers, Forza was not
          produced as frequently as in my younger days. It is a pity for there is much beauty in much of the score. By the way Gualtier
          Caballe was another soprano who essayed
          both Norma and the Forza Leonora

          • Solovyov

            Bumbry, too, sang both roles as, for that matter, did Sweet.

            • Juicy Bjoerling

              probably gorchakova as well.

          • Rosina Leckermaul

            Last night I listened to a 1960 Met Forza with Tebaldi and Tucker. Lenora was one of Tebaldi’s best roles. She sounds ravishing. It’s on Met on Demand.

            • Bill

              Rosina -- I agree that the Forza Leonora was one of Tebaldi’s best roles -- also Desdemona. I also feel that the Forza Leonora was also one of Milanov’s best roles
              along with Gioconda -- Milanov was more labored in the florid passages in Norma
              or Ernani. Unfortunately I never heard
              Milanov in Ballo or as Aida for that matter.
              My first Aida was Herva Nelli and Baum and I
              never took to that opera very much since then, But I shall give Stoyanova a try upcoming.

            • Rosina Leckermaul

              My first AIDA was Milanov with Barberi, Baum and Warren. Needless to say, no acting was done that afternoon. I used to be a Zinka fan but have lost my taste for her voice.

        • Yes, that’s story’s correct. And poor rest of the cast (including Voigt) who had bothered to learn their parts.

          But the situations aren’t comparable, IMO. There are probably a handful of singers in modern times for whom the Met might do that. Pavarotti was at the height of his fame (if not vocal powers) and box office gold.

          I like Rad a lot but I don’t see Gelb cancelling a brand new production just for her. The real reason, I imagine, is to avoid a controversial Bieito production. Shame.

          • Armerjacquino

            It would seem very odd to announce and part fund a production with a particular director and then cancel solely on the basis of who that director is.

            I think it’s just as likely to be the one production that ‘lifts out’ as outlined below- they can’t cancel the prima, or Levine’s pet project, or the two productions that come with critical garlands and buzz… so if one production has to go, this is the one with the fewest ticks in the ‘pro’ column. It’s never been an opera that particularly sells, the cast was not an exotically interesting one for the Met, and the production didn’t set the world alight when it opened in London. I hope this decision has been taken on those grounds, rather than a sudden realisation that some people might not like the director they hired.

            • Lohenfal

              Armer, it is possible that Forza was not cancelled because of Bieito’s production. Still, the suspicion exists. The Met Board has been extremely supportive of Gelb, but is also fearful of too much change. If some Board members found out about certain details of Bieito’s staging, that might have been enough to cause cold feet on their part. Do you remember what happened when Luc Bondy’s Tosca appeared? Gelb was forced to apologize to those Board members who were offended by some of Scarpia’s actions. We may never know if the affaire Forza partakes of the same timidity within the Board.

          • Solovyov

            That is correct, Pavarotti must be one of the only singers for whom they would make such a switch. However, Voigt had already sung the role the preceding season; she and Sergej Larin were the second cast, following Sweet and Domingo.

            • The Pavarotti Forza was a package deal between Decca and The Met. Decca kicked some money in and made the necessary deal with the unions to record the Met performance with Met forces. Pavarotti was unable to learn the role, despite trying. He was stupid and unmusical (the Italian word for ‘rat smart” — “furba” does not connote intelligence or skill). Later, Decca recorded Manon Lescaut with Met forces. He didn’t know that either. I went to many of the sessions. They recorded everything and went over and over his part until they had enough to cobble together a plausible performance using digital magic. There was some hostility expressed by certain colleagues to this process, while others just laughed.

    • MattBrownComic

      I’m thinking that because Sondra and Dmitri are close friends, Dmitri pulled from the project first and Sondra wouldn’t do it without him.

  • Susan Brodie

    Are they really that frightened of Regietheater, Bieito in particular?

  • John Yohalem

    But wait! Help is on the way!
    On March 24, New Amsterdam Opera will stage the opera at the Riverside Theater.

    • George Marc Alderman

      No help. The reason I wanted to see this was because of the Bieto production. My guess is New Amsterdam will give a straight forward paint by number production.

  • Since this is a co-production, then I assume the Met has already committed the dollars to paying for its share of the costs of sets and costumes. So, it could theoretically be staged at a future time. Or the Met may have decided to eat those costs.

  • southerndoc1

    Caved? Caved in to some or all of the Board?

  • grimoaldo2

    What a terrrible, terrible shame.

  • Rosina Leckermaul

    Too bad. FORZA is not my favorite Verdi opera, but it hasn’t been heard in a while and the cast was promising. I have only seen one Bite production--the ENO BALLO. His choices were arguable but there was a good reason for each one. I liked it. Better a controversial production that is thought through than another empty headed one--or no production at all. Is this really a budget matter or did the Met chicken out? Caution is not going to win new audiences.

  • Lady Abbado
    • hai lui

      Thank you for the clip, Lady A. I was initially not inclined to play it (bias against Ange, smitten with Harteros in that role), but Ange even in concert has communicated a deeper character, mindful of the complex of forces that has placed her there, rather than a simplistic repentant.

  • Dame Kenneth

    I saw this production at the ENO in London. It was gripping but quite disturbing. I remember thinking we would never see it at the Met. Overall, I found it an unpleasant evening in the theater… though I can’t deny that Bieito did his job! He made the best possible case for this opera as having to do with religious fundamentalism, which makes absolute sense given the libretto. The tremendous cruelty in the opera was powerfully conveyed. Indeed, it’s a bleak story and one really felt the bleakness. It was great theater, rather in the vein of Titus Andronicus, a work I always find both compelling and so upsetting that I’d rather not see it often.
    To answer BerkeleyGirl, Tamara Wilson was quite wonderful in this. Terrific singing, but also a very committed dramatic performance. Rinat Shaham was practically voiceless, but the image of her gleeful massacring people felt pulled directly out of today’s headlines. It was a brave performance.

  • Olivero Fan

    Don’t blame Radvanovsky. She could sing Leonora in her sleep.