Cher Public

Just a little touch of war quality

Happy 68th birthday Broadway diva Patti LuPone

Born on this day in 1899 composer Randall Thompson.

Born on this day in 1911 baritone Leonard Warren.

Born on this day in 1920 conductor and composer Bruno Maderna.

Happy 90th birthday soprano Suzanne Sarroca.

Born on this day in 1931 bass-baritone Bengt Rundgren.

Happy 65th birthday soprano Jill Feldman.

  • Kullervo

    It’s being reported on facebook that after her very long battle with illness, Kristine Jepson passed away. An exceptional artist whose career was sadly cut short due to her health. May she rest in peace.

    • southerndoc1

      Very sad. Saw her in a wonderful Ariadne with Brewer and Dessay. Kept hoping she would be able to come back. Wasn’t she announced at one point for the Met’s last Carmelites?

    • Cameron Kelsall

      Such a wonderful singer and sad loss. She was only 55. Last time I heard her was a terrific Adalgisa (opposite Christine Goerke’s Norma) in Philly in ’08. I noticed that her appearances had become rarer and rarer in recent years, but was unaware she was so ill.

  • A friend just called me to say that Jay Hunter Morris has cancelled
    all of his Erics in the MET’s coming revival of Der Fliegende Hollander.

    • Ivy Lin

      AJ Gluekert is now shown as the replacement on the Met website.

  • Ivy Lin
  • My friend’s review of “One flew over the Gigolo’s Nest.”

    gone to concerts and operas most of my life, but Tuesday night was a
    first -- a concert by two world class artists that was almost completely
    devoid of artistic merit or integrity. Anything even resembling taste
    was surely accidental. The concert in question was Vittorio Grigolo and
    Carmen Giannatassio at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, and where the
    fault lies is open to conjecture.

    From first glance at the
    program, the worst was feared. How was it possible that two singers who
    have known each other since their teens, have sung together in numerous
    operas, and share a repertoire of several others were scheduled to sing
    such a paultry amount. The first half of the concert included not one,
    not two, but THREE overtures! And we are not talking about an
    orchestra like the LA Phil or even the LA Opera -- this was a pick-up
    group, admittedly made up of many talented players. But nobody bought a
    ticket to hear them play the overture to William Tell (a treacherous
    piece to attempt to open a program with, given the large number of solos
    and nuanced playing from a group not given ample rehearsal time). Two
    pieces later, the Marriage of Figaro overture served one important
    purpose -- it showed exactly how talented the musicians of the orchestra
    were -- balance issues aside (they needed two more celli, and to swap 1st
    and 2nd stands, and needed one more bass). These are fine musicians
    who clearly play chamber music either in small or large groups and are
    used to listening and following. That following has litte to do with
    the conductor, whose merits were hard to gauge since it seemed at least
    the string players followed the singers independantly. It was, by and
    large, nuance-free playing.

    All that aside, Grigolo had the time
    of his life. Take all the mugging of Pavarotti, the audacity of
    Bonisolli, and the mania of Villazon, multiply it times one hundred, and
    that comes close to what Grigolo presented to the audience. The duo’s
    firs piece was the last part of the Lucia/Edgardo duet (for reasons
    unknown). But instead of walking out with the conductor, Grigolo
    thought it would fun to leap out from the wings to an ovation. But it
    wasn’t a good enough ovation, so he went back and got another one. He
    sings well -- very well in fact. But the actions were that of someone
    who belonged in some kind of institution that has very little to do with
    music. Giannatassio gave a glimpse of marvellous singing, from her
    covered timbre and yet crystal clear fioritura. Would that they sang
    the entire duet.

    After the Figaro overture, we got Carmen singing
    “Oh mio babbino caro” which was fine, but unmemorable -- and certainly
    continued the paucity of actual singing from either of the soloists.
    Grigolo then came out and sang “Firenze e come un albero Fiorito”, also
    from “Gianni Schicci”. Grigolo obviously likes the episodic nature of
    this piece -- most likely a hold over from his conservatory repertoire --
    and manically ran back and forth across the stage, much to the delight
    of the audience.

    Time for another overture. Although what was
    billed as the Overture to “West Side Story” was some odd melange
    designed to take up yet more time. Giannatassio then came out to sing
    “Somewhere”, which lay too low for her and sat primarily in the
    passagio. She left with the conductor and then Grigolo and maestro came
    out for a plausible “Maria” -- although someone should explain the
    difference between “S” and “SH” when singing in English. Once again,
    conductor and soloist left the stage, and then came out with Carmen to
    sing a truncated “Tonight”, also from “West Side Story”. And that was
    the end of the first half.

    Reflecting on the first half during
    intermission, the most vivid impression I had was these people did a
    whole lotta walking! In fact, they did more walking than actual
    singing. Maybe they had to get more steps in on their Fitbit! Here’s
    another observation -- why, oh why, are singers and conductors crossing
    IN FRONT of performers???? Does nobody teach this stuff in the
    conservatory? The conductor walked in front of the soloists to get to
    the podium. Grigolo kept crossing in front of Carmen…even AS SHE WAS
    SINGING the Lucia duet. For her part, Giannattasio just looked
    bewildered, as if wondering, “Maybe this is how they do it in America”.

    The second half was not much better. It kicked off with Grigolo
    singing “Recondita armonia”. Actually, strike that -- it started with
    him making an impromptu and largely inaudible speech. He said something
    about Carmen (presumably Ms. Giannattasio and not the opera). And then
    said something about singing Tosca at the Met next year, but wanting to
    try out the aria on us because we were “like family”.

    Then, you
    guessed it -- time for another orchestral piece. This was purported to
    be the Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila, but what I heard was a rare
    Saint-Saens concerto for castanets and orchestra!

    Grigolo then
    reappeared to sing “Pourquoi me reveiller”. At this point, it should be
    mentioned that despite all the extraneous gesticulations and clownish
    behavior, he sang beautifully. He even took to conducting -- he gestured
    to change the beat and even quiet the orchestra constantly. But his
    actual singing was quite thrilling -- and that invasive fast vibrato
    which hampered many of his previous performances appears to have worked
    itself out.

    Giannattasio then came out to sing “Vissi d’arte” and
    came to horrendous grief. One could see the problem a mile away -- the
    tempo was just a tad too slow and she constantly appeared to be doing
    everything to make it to the end of phrases without running out of
    steam. Alas, she broke up a phrase with a breath and by the time she
    got to the climactic “Signor”….she started the note and then gasped.
    The rest of the measure and the subsequent was a blur as she attempted
    to simply get to the end of the aria.

    Of course, we needed
    another overture. This time, we got “Carmen”. Maestro left the podium
    to return with Grigolo for the flower aria. But Grigolo had other
    things in mind. As the music started, he took off his jacket, sprawled
    on the ground, and tried valiantly to wrestle a flower away from the
    hideous arrangements at the foot of the stage. While singing about how
    much he cherished this flower Carmen threw to him before being sent to
    prison, he mangled it so much that by the end he sprinked the petals
    onto the audience members in the front row. They loved every second of

    Although the program listed “Overture (La Traviata)”, we
    actually got the prelude to act 3 of Traviata. Then, in an unlisted
    excerpt, Giannattasio sang “Addio del passato” (preceeded by an awfully
    stilted reading of the letter). The aria was beautifully crafted and
    gloriously sung. Of course, after the aria she and the conductor left
    the stage only to emerge two minutes later with Grigolo for “Parigi, o
    cara”. Giannattasio, having just sung the role at the Met, was in
    character, leaning into him for support, and singing with a thread of a
    voice. Grigolo, on the other hand, ignored her and had both arms in the
    air as if he just won a soccer game!
    As for the inevitable encores,
    of course there was the Brindisi with the clapping. Then Grigolo sang
    “Non ti scordar di me”, Giannattasio sang “Torna a Surriento”, and then
    Grigolo ended with “A Vucchella”.

    All in all, it was a
    disheartening evening. Why? Because the people who were there loved
    it. People talked about it being the best concert they had ever seen,
    how much they loved the excitement, etc. I’ve always been of the belief
    that as artists, we are obliged not only to entertain, but to educate
    and enlighten. Schlocky performances and over the top grandstanding
    only serve to diminish the art form. They may entertain the crowd, but I
    don’t believe they have a place in a serious concert -- which this was

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    7 Maria Protopopov, James Miller and 5 others


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    • Cicciabella

      Very entertaining review, but it sounds like a standard star soloist concert: underrehearsed orchestra, hours of overtures and intermezzos that no-one wants to hear and tempo battles between singers and conductor. This type of concert is not where one goes to hear “serious” music. They’re money-makers for the soloists and a bit of fun for the audience. You also need to accept that crazed fans of certain singers will elbow you and tread on your feet to get a better look at their idols. That said, when there is more than one soloist there is no excuse for so many instrumental fillers. They can rest during each other’s arias.

    • Liz.S

      Thank you Zinka. I’m not a big fan of galas or singers’ recitals for the reasons Cicciabella has mentioned but still this was a fun read.
      Also in my inbox yesterday was a link to Grigolo’s Instagram. According to my friend, apparently Grigolo decided the street performer can use some vocal advice from him. He may be crazy but in a good, fun way :-D

  • Olivero Fan

    Was anyone at the final dress of Dutchman? How was Amber Wager? How was YNS’s first house Wagner?

    • Porgy Amor

      I read an enthusiastic report elsewhere from one of our parterre box regulars, who was most impressed with Amber Wagner and YNS, but really liked everything except the replacement Erik, who didn’t get into the zone until late in the opera and may still be finding his legs.

      Perhaps she will expand on that here.

  • Ivy Lin

    I went to Der Rosenkavalier last night. Thoughts here:

    • Peter

      Thanks Ivy. What a wonderful review and it’s nice to read something positive about Fleming here for a change.

      • Ivy Lin

        It was really a superbly sung evening. It’s a shame Garanca is also retiring her Oktavian. She’s still beautiful in the role.

  • The Cuban Stallion

    Thank you, WindyCityOperaman, for having made me discover Suzanne Sarroca. What a wonderful voice!