Cher Public

When I have sung my songs to you I’ll sing no more

Which octogenarian fixture of the operatic world is preparing to make a farewell of sorts, perhaps as soon as late summer of this year?

  • Countessa Salome

    mt guess is Voigt. We already know Fleming is retiring.

    • quoth the maven

      Voigt isn’t an octogenarian. My guess is Domingo--officially 76, but probably four years older.

  • Armerjacquino

    Before people rush to guess at Domingo (not an octogenarian if one believes his published birthdate) there’s nothing to say this is about a performer.

    • Camille

      But armer! NO one believes his published birthdate and we have it on ultimate authority from many, many, many persons that he is actually 124 years old!

      Now that nonsense is out of the way, I’d like to say that I *actually* knew someone, and very well, who sang with his parent’s company in the early fifties, and, when speaking of Plácido in 1969-70, when he was just first hitting the ceiling, my friend referred to him as “a leetle boy in chort pants!”; that would have roughly been sometime 1951-1953. Since little boys stop wearing short pants at puberty, usually, you can do the math. All I know is that my friend’s remark was totally off the cuff and spontaneous and in those days there was no reason for him to corroborate nor veil the true age of Maestro Domingo, for as of then, he was just one more hunky tenor making the scene and trying to eclipse Corelli.

      So, I tend to always disbelieve all those stories, considering the level of jealousy and rancor his phenomenal career may incur in others, you know what I’m saying?

      • berkeleygirl

        On the other hand, some years back, I shared a role with a very well-known soprano, and longtime colleague of Maestro Domingo who, according to “official” bio is 6 months older than he. She’s one of the two most generous souls I’ve ever met in this business, never speaking of ill of anyone, yet she did say that, at some point, he became the younger singer.

      • Lisa Hirsch

        When is this supposed to have happened? A Times article from 1966 refers to him as a “24-year-old Mexican tenor,” so if he changed his age, he was still in his 20s when he did so.

    • rapt

      The careful qualifier “of sorts” and the noun “fixture” do seem to support a non-human identity.

      • Lisa Hirsch

        You’re saying Matthew Shilvock has found the funds to replace the War Memorial Opera House?

  • Elsewhere1010

    Director Jonathan Miller? He’s 82, not sure how active he’s been lately, but he’s directed productions all over the world.

    • Bill

      maybe Otto Schenk who has still been active
      in Vienna though not as an opera stage director -he is about 86 and is still connected with the Josefstadt (theater). As few opera singers are on stage singing after 80
      (Moedl was an exception singing in Pique Dame in
      Vienna at the age of 80), it could be a conductor.

  • Camille

    It’s Vera GaLOOPy Borscht!!!

    Or Lucine Amara! o no, she’s in her nineties.

    It’s LA CIECA!!!!!!!!

    • Camille

      Zinka MILANOV!

      o no, she’s Tod!

      • Camille

        It’s La SCOTTISSIMA!!!!!!!

        Where do I go to collect my coveted Amazon Gift Card, La CIECA????

    • La Cieca

      La Cieca is ageless. Move on, please.

      • Camille

        Haha, girly--I’ve seen the acres and acres of latex you wrap yourself in, so don’t feed me that line!!!

        I happened to remember La Bumbarina after my *triumphantly* correct guess of La Scotissima. Maybe she is going to play the old Countess again?

        Oh, and then there is General HORNE! Maybe she is going to sing “It’s a grand old flag!”, again at July 4th and then cash in her chips.

        • rapt

          Well, it is true that Horne is no longer going to be hosting The Song Continues--maybe she’s also giving up her position at the Music Academy of the West?

          • Camille

            She’s an awfully (as in AWEsome!) good docent, I’d hate for her to give it up as she really knows how to get those little all-knowing whipper snappers out of their own way and singing much better.

            Well, everyone has to hang it up sometime, ‘cept Tio Plá, of course!

            Who’s going to be the new host/hostess with the mostess? I think DiDo has been lobbying for the position for some time now but god only knows, not I.

            • rapt

              Oops, I was wrong, as so damnably often--off by a year. Here’s the poop, from the WQXR blog. Note sentence #2:

              “Horne’s last year at the helm of The Song Continues will be 2018. After
              that, it will be placed in the secure hands of Renée Fleming, herself an
              excellent teacher.”

            • Camille

              Don’t worry Mr. Rapt--no one is more rong than me!!

              And I’m glad General Horne is going to stump on--she’s such a smart, savvy old pro. And Mme Fleming is certainly a born teacher, if ever there was one!

              The thing is, the more I think that the word “fixture” could mean just that and I am trying to suss it out but not really feeling it yet.

              Maybe the War Memorial Opera House is going dark for a while? More earthquake renovations? Lyric Opera? No, they just have wind are always in the black, too, so I am chump up the stump!

  • Williams

    Nello Santi?

  • Camille

    Wait, wait….fixture, you say?

    Just how old are those Chagalls in the windows of the MET? Do they somehow pre-date the actual building?

    It couldn’t be the Swarowski crystals--no--!

    I still think it’s La Scotto! Gimme that crown, La Cieca, gimme!!!

    • Luvtennis

      La Scotto is hardly a fixture of sorts!?!? She is a stah!!! Lol!

      • Ramon Figueroa

        And like I told a friend, stars never retire. They may stop performing, but if they are truly stars they are branded in the brains of of all her followers and in the bosom of history.

  • Benrenki

    Dohnanyi canceled Das Lied von der Erde in Cleveland last night (replaced by Runnicles). He’s 86.

  • Matthew B. Tepper

    I still think Renatissima. She transitioned superbly into character roles, and I can see her retiring leaving her adoring public wanting more.

    • Lisa Hirsch

      Yeah, Scotto was my first thought here.

      • Cameron Kelsall

        Scotto hasn’t performed in a stage opera since 2002. She’s done some work as a stage director since then, but she doesn’t seem to fit this blind item to me.

  • southerndoc1

    An octogenarian -- someone in their eighth decade -- is in their 70s.

    • Dan Patterson

      Sorry, no. An octogenarian is between 80 and 89 years old, according to the dictionary. I’m thinking Scotto, but no idea, really. Caballe?

      • southerndoc1

        My bad. Thanks for correction.

  • Porgy Amor

    Eve Queler. She’s an octogenarian. “Fixture” could be a dig at her inanimate conducting.

    No, I think others are on the right track and it’s really an object of some kind.

    • Camille

      Eve Queler and her OONY, as the “fixture” element. That’s a good guess, too.

      Some while ago I plopped down on a bench in front of the Box Office at the MET (prior to the Roberto Devereux) and who should already be seated there, just as still as a stone and quietly contained? It was Mme Queler. I was so moved by her serene demeanor that I invented some blarney of an excuse to speak of the upcoming performances of that Donizetti opera she was to conduct. She asked “Are you coming to the performance?” as if it were of the most urgent importance that I be there, and actually, at that time I was only debating it, but ultimately decided to go. She seemed so genuine, unaffected and human, that she very much impressed me and I was left feeling very happy to have had this chance encounter. NOT a diva nor a grande dame, nor even a “Maestro”, but just another opera lover, like any of us.

  • Luvtennis

    The Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts?

  • Porgy Amor

    Got it. The print version of Opera News. Has to be.

    • Luvtennis

      Or that!

    • Camille

      By George, I do think Porgy has got it.

      It must cost them a considerable amount in printing and postage and probably everyone who still reads it, does so online.

      Well, DAMMIT! There goes yet ANOTHER coveted Amazon gift card!!

    • Williams

      Oops! Sorry Porgy. Nicely done. Hadn’t seen that. Not a fixture of the world really but how about WQXR?

    • Dan Patterson

      I think you’ve got it, Porgy. ON is 81 years old. I will be sorry to see it go, as I do not read it online. Not sure why, but I suppose I’ll have to learn…

  • Williams

    Opera News?

  • Ken Howard

    My guess is the Opera Quiz which has existed as part of the Saturday broadcasts since the 1940s. In that time a lot of the same questions have been asked in different variations and permutations and the lack of listener participation in sending questions has probably dropped to nothing. (I actually won the gift package of books, recordings, and the one-year OPERA NEWS subscription in 1977, 1985, and 1996.) Sadly the wonderful intermission feature has lost its spark and inspiration (and the gift package itself) ever since the erudite lectures of Father Owen Lee and the late Boris Goldovsky have been replaced by the backstage interviews of the performers, a change that came with the then-new administration eleven years ago. The day of Edward Downes are legendary radio gold. That is my guess.

    • Porgy Amor

      Well…the radio broadcast season typically begins in December. If they were doing away with the opera quiz, all that would be able to happen by late summer would be an announcement that it was not coming back. I don’t think they would announce that months in advance.

      I feel pretty strongly now that it’s the magazine, and the “of sorts” means it will live on as a digital publication. The Silberstein redesign a few years ago did not do whatever they hoped it would do, and then she and Kellow were let go. It has had a “circling the drain” feel about it for a while now.

      I say that as one who gets enough enjoyment out of it to keep subscribing. There is a nice cover feature on Yannick in the new issue that arrived for me yesterday. (He mentions plans in the next few seasons to conduct operas by, besides Wagner and R. Strauss whom we knew about, Poulenc, Puccini, and Verdi.)

      • Ken Howard

        The internet and the age of information have given ON stiff competition, I believe. The interaction among opera lovers/attendees has been inspired by the Web’s expansion. I have vintage copies of ON steadily from the 1960s and intermittently before that time. I love them, but if everything in those issues have been or were to be scanned and searchable (as it is to a point in the online archives) who would want or need my hard copies when I die. If even all of the vintage production photos were scanned and maybe even expanded with the holdings in the archives, ON could become a much more valuable research resource than is it. (I am still wishing I could see the full stage designs of the 1970s productions of FAVORITA, PROPHETE, and THAIS.) If the audiofiles of the Lee/Goldovsky could be attached to this database as well, it could be an incredible gem of a webpage. I know I am pipedreaming in my thoughts, but hey, I’m a knowledge/insight hound who really loved those lectures.

        • Bill

          Ken -- I have kept a tremendous number of
          Opera News magazines from about 1950 -- as it has become glossier it has also become less informative and even many of the interviews these days are far less substantive and more uninformative than in the old days and the articles more and more lack depth. Starting about a year ago I have begun to throw away the new issues soon after I read them. Occasionally I pull out some of the very old ones and re-read them. We used to receive them every week during the broadcast season. They had few adds then except for Knabe Pianos and maybe Cadillacs and Packards. I still prefer to read things in print rather than online but as Opera News began in the 1930s it would be over 80 years old now.

  • CwbyLA

    My first guess was Caballe since she still seems to be singing. But all other guesses make a lot of sense.

    • dirkva

      It was mine, too.

  • Rowna Sutin

    While it might be the print version of ON, I can’t imagine that this could be a good decision. I am going to make a wild guess that many guild members are in their 90s and older, and this segment of the population will not want to read a magazine on line. I still have a few subscriptions and none of my magazines are on line only. I still read books from paper. And I am not even close to 80.

    • Susan Brodie

      Sadly, I don’t think that older audience members matter much to the Met (or most opera companies for that matter), except for the subset who are current or potential donors.

    • Lohenfal

      It probably is the print version of ON that’s going to disappear. They’ve just been celebrating their 80th anniversary, so that fits the octogenarian label. I agree that it probably wouldn’t be a good decision, but that wouldn’t prevent it from happening. Look at the appearance of the magazine now--it doesn’t even have a spine, so it resembles a leaflet more than a magazine. And yes, there are some individuals who don’t have a computer, like one of my friends who is also a Guild member. She would be completely cut off, and as she’s in her 80’s, it’s not likely that she’ll suddenly enter the computer age just to get ON.

  • overstimmelated

    Could it be the Guild itrelf?

    • Lohenfal

      Possible, but not likely. It still does provide some support to the Met, and they recently raised my membership fee to gain some additional revenue. I can’t imagine that this source of income would disappear altogether, considering how needy the Met has become in the last few years.