Cher Public

Broadcast: Roméo et Juliette

Here’s where you can discuss this afternoon’s performance of the Gounod tuner starting at 1:00 PM.

  • leoniceno

    Very impressed by both leads-- an excellent acting job (I saw the simulcast), and they had total mastery of the music as far as I could tell.

    • Bill

      I did not hear the broadcast save for the first ten minutes
      (chorus a bit wobbly as often is the case at the Met) but I attended Tuesday’s performance -- set conventional,
      nothing to offend anyone, conducting okay. Diana Damrau
      acted youthfully dashing and flitting about and her singing was quite lovely when singing softly, but with a bit of a spread in the voice in the louder passages.
      Grigolo has an odd voice, it takes a while to adjust to the timbre but his voice is also more attractive when singing
      softly. It can be a bit grating when he forces his volume.
      Both seemed to act well off each other. Other Juliets I have seen were Pilou (the loveliest), Freni, Rost, Gheorghiu, Hong (who was surprisingly good and it was late in her career as she filled in for another singer). The rest of the cast was mostly, at best, average. Reasonably strong applause at the end, perhaps the most for Damrau.

      • Apulia

        Hong was often “surprisingly good” instead of good; too bad

  • Amnerees

    On the WQXR broadcast there was one audience member who wouldn’t stop yelling “bravo” for both Damrau and Grirgolo, sometimes the second either of them stopped singing. This was in contrast to the lukewarm audience applause that greeted much of the performance. The person in question didn’t seem to be aware of the word “brava.” Since he is probably paid for his efforts, someone should enlighten him.

    • Zac

      That voice came through quite loudly on the HD broadcast as well, although I’m pretty sure he used the proper “brava” for Damrau and “bravi” for their duet. He even added a “Bravo Vittorio” at one point, which caused my wife to whisper to me, “Do you think that’s his dad?” I responded, “If he’d been sitting next to me, I would have been tempted to punch him,” and I’m a pacifist by nature.

      • manou

        You can listen again for a month here:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08bb7qs

      • Porgy Amor

        Virginie Verrez got a “Brava!” too.

        • manou

          Very well deserved too!

          • ducadiposa

            Really? I know she has received several awards lately and seems to be the latest in a long line of lyric mezzo ‘it’ girls, but what I heard in the HD transmission was a lot of under-pitch singing and a strange revision of the final cadenza of her aria that obviously worked around the high note [not sure, but I think it might be a B or a B flat?]. Lovely tone, attractive stage presence etc. and I’m sure she can work on these details but there are countless very good lyric mezzos who can totally kill this aria out there so I’m surprised the MET would cast her given the choices…

            • manou

              I imagine they cast her because she is in the Lindemann Program. I liked her a lot, but you are obviously much more au fait with the aria -- and my guess is you were not the one shouting “Brava!” at the end!

            • Daniel Swick

              It’s a C I think.

  • What i heard in Ms Damrau’s performance yesterday was an unsteadiness and borderline shrillness on some occasions that was worrisome. It was worst in her first appearance and did settle down a bit later but never entirely disappeared. I know that she was ill with “severe bronchitis” recently as her Boston recital was cancelled (was she able to do the New York recital?) and I wonder if the rehearsals for R&J didn’t contributed to some strain and unsteadiness of voice.

    • Porgy Amor

      I saw the HD, and I generally agree with this. She got off to a bad start, and throughout the performance she gave the impression of powering through an illness. Anyone who has heard her at her best would have been able to tell she was off-form. Some good effects were compromised, such as pianissimi that “submerged” more than they flickered and glowed. But she is a trouper with a sound basic technique, and so she made an effective Juliette anyway, especially when seen as well as heard. It is not her best role, but the shape of a strong performance was there.

      Mattei is also singing sick lately, and I suspect both Belosselskiy and Monastyrska were too. ‘Tis the season.

      • I finally watched the HD last week and Belosselskiy definitely sounded sick on the day of the HD. Many of his highest notes sounded strained and a bit hoarse. When I saw it live a couple of weeks earlier he sounded much better though still lacking in low notes. I thought Monastyrska sounded congested the night I heard the performance live but no announcement was made and once she warmed up she sounded better. The intermission features during the HD were fun.

        I watched the 2001 performance with Juan Pons, Guleghina, Samuel Ramey (excellent!), Franciso Casanova, et al as well and enjoyed it very much. Pons I thought sang well but was static and impassive. Was not familiar with him or Casanova, the tenor who sang Ismaele, but both were very good and I found Levine’s conducting better as well. I enjoyed Ramey’s sonorous base even though he too was very static and expressionless. Oh and the infamous Wendy White sang the role of Fenena. She’s not the world’s best actress but sounded lovely in her aria. Guleghina really put on a show, and not only that but she actually carried the show. Singing-wise I found her a bit uneven; some parts were labored and not in tune while others were more secure and well-sung…most of all I enjoyed her energy and enthusiasm, and her acting during the duet was excellent. My only quibble is that I thought she overdid it at the end and mugged a bit too much. But I will say that the timing of her entrance for that final aria was perfect and there was a lovely closeup of her hand as she pressed it against the large stone wall while entering/walking across the top layer of the set piece as the oboe solo began. She lacked pathos for me but had plenty of gusto, so de gustibus.

        I thought the first act of the HD was a bit lackluster and lacking in energy, mostly because of the slow tempo, but it picked up after Domingo entered the stage. All of the ensembles were great and there were some new camera angles that were aesthetically pleasing.

        • Lohenfal

          Good assessment of the 2001 performance. Yes, Guleghina did really put on a show and was highly effective, despite the uneven vocalism. Also, the production was new at that time, and the opera hadn’t been done at the Met in decades, so that contributed to the excitement. The encore of Va, pensiero didn’t seem at all manufactured 16 years ago.

          • Word (about the encore). You know, when I saw it live I didn’t think the set looked old or worn out as some have said. I think it looked relatively the same as it did in the 2001 video.

            Am listening to the Boheme broadcast from last Saturday rn. I enjoyed both Ailyn and Fab though I think neither of them were warmed up during their respective arias. O Soave Fancuilla was lovely though. I’m bummed that I was sick and had to miss that but oh well. Hope I get to hear them in other operas or even that same one in the near future.

            • Lohenfal

              Although I promised not to comment on Puccini (too controversial), I can still speak about a particular performance. I’m glad that you liked Ailyn and Fab--they weren’t at their best but still not at all poor, as some bloggers thought. They brought more to their roles than most of the recent interpreters thereof.

              BTW, the Puccini discussion found its way onto Opera-L, courtesy of our dear Geneviève, of the Castle Room, who likes to quote what transpires on Parterre. This time I wasn’t quoted, but my interlocutor was. Since I originated the controversy with my comments, I feel slighted by GCR. Maybe he’ll give me equal time in the future. :)

            • Lohenfal, it is up to you of course and I certainly understand the urge to censor yourself but I think if you’d like to talk about Puccini you should ?.

            • Lohenfal

              Thanks, Antik. Maybe at some time in the future, I will go back to that topic. For the present, however, it’s not likely. The Puccini champion we dealt with finds it difficult to handle dissent. After all, he wrote the (very fine) program note for last year’s Met Butterfly and is very committed to this particular composer. What I found amusing is that he assumed my ignorance of what he was talking about: how Puccini assembled his operas, in other words his compositional technique. I understand that technique all too well, and appreciate Puccini’s other talents likewise. If however, a composer’s musical language or a particular work of his doesn’t appeal to me, no amount of erudite analysis will sway my mind. Reactions to music and the other arts are after all highly subjective.

              I would also add that I’m accustomed to endless criticisms of my boy, Richard Wagner, for everything from the music itself to his personality, nationalism, prejudices, linkages to the Third Reich, and God knows what else. If I can handle that infinite barrage of negativity, others should be able to adopt the same stance of tolerance regarding their icons.

            • Armerjacquino

              “If I can handle that infinite barrage of negativity, others should be
              able to adopt the same stance of tolerance regarding their icons.”

              Not sure about this one, it’s a bit morally relative, isn’t it? I should stress I’m talking generally here, not about the specifics of any Puccini/Wagner argument, but not all ‘icons’ are equally honourable: some behave or behaved in a more reprehensible way than others.

              Or, to go back to the specific example of Wagner- is it really ‘negativity’ to point out, say, someone’s antisemitism? That’s an important point for discussion and analysis with reference to the work- hardly in the realm of haters gon hate.

            • Lohenfal

              Armer, I didn’t say I disagreed with all the criticism of Wagner. Certainly, his prose writings awaken ambivalent feelings even among some of his followers. What I was trying to emphasize was the level of tolerance I’ve built up over time to anti-Wagner comments, from Nietzsche to the present. If I hadn’t built up that tolerance, I would be constantly on the defensive for my Wagnerliebe--not a good situation to be in.

        • Porgy Amor

          I believe the telecast Ismaele was Gwyn Hughes Jones. Casanova did sing other performances in the series.

          I cannot add much else about the 2001 Nabucco, as I never have seen it. No one in it was a big draw for me, and so I stuck with Muti and Bruson when I wanted to watch that opera at home. The recent HD was my first encounter with the production, and I did not think it impressed as one of Elijah Moshinsky’s best for this house. But of course, it is 16 years later and this is the shell of it, if it was ever more than that. Neither the set designer nor the costume designer ever did anything else for the Met.

          Pons I thought sang well but was static and impassive

          I usually found him dull. Big guy, though, so he could convincingly kill a tenor with his bare hands in Tabarro. That was something, anyway.

          He’s still going, although it seems he sings mostly in small houses in Spain now.

          • Oh you may be right about the Ismaele. I got the names off of a review but did not double check the credits to make sure I had the right singers. I’ll go ahead and do that and and fix my comment if necessary. LOL @ your comment about Pons. Impressive that he is still singing although not terribly surprising given that sans Domingo, Fleming and a few others, in lower voices generally tend to last longer esp if not pushed. Nabucco seemed like a good fit for Pons and he didn’t sound strained at all.

      • Laura

        I heard those problematic pianissimi too -- reminded me uncomfortably of the ill-fated Traviata HD broadcast with poor N. Dessay. But Damrau is obviously in much better vocal shape than Dessay, and she did a good job, I thought. Ditto Grigolo. I thought the other singers were barely adequate, and some (the tenor -- can’t remember his name ) sounded downright weird/ugly to me. Of course, Live in HD and seeing it the house are totally different experiences, so the voices might sound very different at the Met.

  • Amnerees

    to Zac
    My apologies to the anonymous claquer. I guess I was too annoyed to acknowledge his knowledge of Italian grammatical gender and number. I was also disenchanted with the singing in general. It certainly helps to SEE Damrau and Grigolo. I wonder if there’ll be any alternative sopranos singing with Camarena later in the Met season.

  • Amnerees

    “Claqueur” not “claquer.” This is what comes of correcting the grammar and/or spelling of others. See below.