Cher Public

Hooray for Holy Land

As the rumored return of I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata to the Met isn’t happening during the just-announced 2017-18 season, Trove Thursday presents as compensation Verdi’s French revision Jérusalem with Cecilia Gasdia, Veriano Luchetti and Silvano Carroli conducted by Donato Renzetti

Although not a new opera, Jérusalem was Verdi’s first work to premiere in Paris: a revision of his 1843 Lombardi. He didn’t compose a brand-new work for the French capital: Les Vêpres Siciliennes–until eight years after Jérusalem’s first performance. Lombardi has not been performed at the Met since its somewhat ill-fated run during the 1993-94 season and has only been revived infrequently elsewhere.

Its French version has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance recently with productions in Bonn and Freiburg and upcoming performances in Liège and Parma, the latter with Annick Massis, Ramon Vargas and Michele Pertusi scheduled to appear.

“Trove Thursday” presented a Vêpres a while back with a completely Francophone cast, but this 1984 Paris Opéra presentation surprisingly features instead three of the leading Italian singers of the 80s. None of them appeared more than briefly at the Met: just four or five performances each. Oddly Gasdia and Luchetti appeared there in just a single French role, she as Gounod’s Juliette; he as Don José. Luchetti had a very appealing tenor that I liked very much but I never managed to hear him live.

On the other hand I did catch one of Gasdia’s rare US appearances–at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Bellini’s Amina in La Sonnambula in which she was charming and moving rather than dazzling. Sharp-eyed readers of the cast-list will also note the presence of mezzo/opera critic par excellence Judith Malafronte in the role of Isaure.

This week’s offering can be downloaded via the audio-player included on this page. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

In addition, this week’s Jêrusalem, last week’s Carmen and nearly 60 other “Trove Thursday” podcasts remain available from iTunes (for free!) or via any RSS reader.

Verdi: Jerusalem

Paris Opera
January 1984

Helene: Cécilia Gasdia
Isaure: Judith Malafronte
Gaston: Veriano Luchetti
Roger: Silvano Carroli
Count: Alain Fondary
Raymond: Kenneth Collins

Conductor: Donato Renzetti

  • Camille

    This is a very interesting opportunity to hear something that is always on the back burner with me but have rarely had time for — actually only have listened to an old recording of Gerusalemme which had Leyla Gencer, if I remember correctly…? That was at least fifteen years ago now so am no longer sure. There was a recording with whom — Marina Mescheriakova and was it Neil Shicoff?? Can’t remember now and don’t remember anything about the recording. hmmm.

    I heard Silvano Carroll a lot back when and liked him, as well as the handsome Mr. Luchetti, husband of the fine soprano Mieta Sighele; a sort of Italian Bob and Angie. He is featured in the Agnese di Hohenstaufen from Rome, ca. 1986, portions of which have found their way (miraculously!) to youtube. Cecilia Gasdia, I remember hearing once in concert singing “Ah, perfido!”, and quite frankly, she had a time of it with that difficult piece, as most of them do. Remembering now I wondered what the fuss was all about, but then, never did hear her sing on the lyric stage.

    I’ve got to go listen to Jessye and Sam pretend to be Bluebeard and Sposa right now — the original marriage made in hell — like many — Women! don’t ask too many damn questions!!! So, will have to wait to hear this. I am wondering how the enunciation of the French text will go….uh-oh! So long as it isn’t like Franco’s!

    • aulus agerius

      The Gencer performance features the young Aragall. Abfab!

    • I saw Jérusalem at the Paris opera way back.

      • I think the first time I saw Gasdia was in Moïse, with S.Ramey, also at Garnier -- in a better production.

    • Apulia
      • Apulia

        I listened to the Gasdia performance this evening and she just didn’t have the thrust and fire for the role; she was very….nice. The little Gencer clip above says it all.

        • Camille

          She had a patent on fire and brimstone. Nobody brings it like Leyla. Bring it on, Lady!

  • Camille

    Oh, and this, too: what happened to the purported projected presentation of I Lombardi at the MET, or is this to be given in the following season of 2018-2019?

    I had already cast it in The Theatre of My Imagination with Michael Fabiano, Tamara Wilson, and PláDo (how can it be avoided, it’s VERDI!) and hadn’t quite come up with the Paul Plishka part yet…..Having recently heard a repetition of it on the Sirius channel, it had reëngaged my interest. Mostly, I wondered why Lauren Flanigan was not engaged more at the MET, but then there is probably a “story” about all that, and I don’t really care but it is kind of a question mark as to why she wasn’t.

    • Daniel Swick

      Flannigan was very very good in that broadcast Lombardi.

      • Camille

        I agree and in a very difficult role. There were a couple
        small intonation issues in places, regrettably in an early aria, but it was all really there and with an unflagging top which the role, and Verdi, absolutely demands. Of course, she went on to a very good career at NYCO but after having come in and saving that production, one would think she would have been back. I’m sure it’s an fugly story, so don’t tell it, don’t wanna know. A Foreign Princess or two is hardly representative of what her potential held.

        • Cameron Kelsall

          The repertory that interested Flanigan was not necessarily being done at the Met during her prime (late 90s-early 00s), and you could argue that establishing herself as the prima donna of the NYCO was a smart career move. At the Met, she’d likely be singing not much more than the occasional Musetta or Foreign Princess; at NYCO, she was basically able to sing leading roles regularly in the kind of repertory that she desired.

          I don’t know Flanigan personally. I’ve heard rumors of her being difficult and/or showing up to sing somewhat unprepared--but those are just rumors, at least to me. She hasn’t given a performance at the Met in over 20 years, but I know that they’ve engaged her as a cover since then, as recently as six or seven years ago. So she’s not persona non grata, or at least wasn’t as recently as that. But it doesn’t seem like she sings much anymore. Operbase lists a Tosca in El Paso two years ago as her most recent performance.

          • Camille

            Right, well she did do a lot of new works and had a very broad repertory, that’s true, but I don’t think she would have been disinclined to reject an offer in Verdi by the MET. They didn’t offer, for whatever reason.

            I’ll always remember fondly her performance as Frau Storch in Intermezzo. She made that dud come alive, as much for her skating!! Haha! I still remember her bounding on the stage at the curtain and waving her hands in the air like a big kid, enjoying it all so much. And she did amazingly well in Die Tote Stadt, in a role I didn’t think she’d be suited for, she did it up well. I wish her well.

            • Cameron Kelsall

              Yes, the Met had (and has) its own stable of stars, and Flanigan was never in the upper echelon. You can’t accept offers you’re not receiving. She did well for herself at NYCO for over a decade and got to sing a lot of interesting roles. Her Vanessa in 2007 was really quite stunning, vocally and dramatically.

  • Rick

    Isn’t Roger a bass role? And wasn’t Silvano Carrolli a baritone? Huh?

    • Porgy Amor

      Most of his roles were baritone roles, but I know he did sing Zaccaria (besides Nabucco in same opera, in earlier years) and the Gounod devil.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cglvU4Qpngs

      • Rick

        Thanks, PA. Of course, a famous singer of Mefistophele was the great baritone Faure -- and there are higher ossias throughout the score.
        I wondered if it might be like when baritones have taken over the bass role of Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia (e.g. Wixell on the Sutherland recording), maybe because a jilted lover or jealous husband should be a baritone… (c;

      • Rick

        I see that Mr Carroli sang Zaccaria in Verona as late as 2008!

      • O Great Porgy Amor I return from sorrow, madness and a sick bed to praise thee. But Carroli had a very strange career. He sang one Simon with La Scala in D.C. I saw it and he was wonderful, a big, rich voice and plenty of temperament. I also saw him do Macbeth (with Gilda Cruz who was thrilling), Don Carlo in Forza, Scarpia, and Jack Rance. Then he vanished for a time. I ran into him and he said he was singing as a tenor and had wasted all his time as a baritone! He had Andrea Chenier two weeks later. I couldn’t go but it was a disaster reportedly. He seems to have sung a few other tenor performances. And then post haste return to baritone. I believe toward the end of his career he sang some higher bass roles. Maybe he was a little crazy but he had a great talent and when I hear Lucic and that horror Placid Sunday I am sorry he wasn’t born twenty years later a little saner.

        • Rick

          Thanks!

        • Luvtennis

          I feared, and not for the first time, that you had paid an ill-timed visit to opera l and expired from sheer consternation and righteous moral outrage. Lol!

        • Camille

          Are you feeling better yet? I hope so,
          so much.

          Mr. Carroli was a friend of a friend of mine, also a baritone, and for whom he had a great deal of respect (he didn’t for most others).

          It’s flabbergasting to hear he even attempted to sing Chénier. Jeezus, I thought that tenors were nuttier than baritones but guess that’s not necessarily troo.

          How would you suggest I deal with the Luisa Miller next year? I have got to hear it. Maybe I can buy discreet earplugs, but then I’d lose a lot of the last act, and which I love so much. Any coping strategy appreciated.

          Get well! Don’t think of dying, yet! Think of your next victim!

          Ciao alla grande Clagartessa!!

  • rhinestonecowgirl

    Jérusalem -- Live Web
    SEASON :
    2016-2017
    LENGTH :
    2:45
    SONG LANGUAGE :
    French
    CONDUCTOR :
    Speranza Scappucci
    DIRECTOR :
    Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera
    CHOIRMASTER :
    Pierre Iodice
    ARTIST :
    Marc Laho, Elaine Alvarez, Marco Spotti, Ivan Thirion, Pietro Picone, Natacha Kowalski, Patrick Delcour
    DATES :
    Tue, 21/03/2017
    The Opéra Royal de Wallonie, in association with the production company Jim and Jules, RTBF, Culturebox and France Télévision, offers a live broadcast of this Verdi’s opera. The opera then remains available for several months.

    Coming up soon in Liege and in cyberspace