Cher Public

Lady from Sweden

Born on this day in 1918 soprano Birgit Nilsson

Born on this day in 1866 composer Erik Satie.

On this day in 1890 Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana premiered in Rome.

Born on this day in 1901 composer Werner Egk.

Born on this day in 1902 conductor Fausto Cleva.

Born on this day in 1906 soprano Zinka Milanov.

Happy 93rd birthday baritone Gabriel Bacquier.

  • La Cieca

    Good morning, cher publc! Our own JJ has asked me to announce that he has been ill for the last couple of days but it now on the mend and will catch up over the next couple of days with his parterre duties. Thank you all for your patience!

    • manou

      He is lucky to have you to dispense TLC and chicken soup. Hope for better news soon.

      • Luvtennis

        That conjures quite a funny image. Thanks, Manou!

        Good to hear that JJ is feeling better!

    • Jamie

      thanks for the update and please convey our best wishes for a speedy and compete recovery

  • chicagoing

    Speaking of absence .. I stumbled on a survey asking which artists who do not appear on the Met roster for next season will be most missed. The winner (with 23% of the vote) is…Elina Garanca, followed by Juan Diego Florez (19%) and Diana Damrau (18%).

    • quoth the maven

      Damrau will be missed only by those who had the good fortune to avoid this season’s Puritani.

      • Bill

        Maven -- I agree -- Damrau’s voice was disappointing both in the Puritani and the Romeo and Juliet -- there remains the technical skill and her youthful acting
        (or overacting) but the voice itself has lost quite a bit
        of its allure and beauty of tone. But is she not coming back to the Met for a new Traviata in the future ? I would rather vote for Stemme, Kaufmann,
        and such

        • Cameron Kelsall

          I imagine that Damrau’s diminished vocal brilliance this season was caused by her very public, months-long struggle with severe bronchitis. It’s a terrible position to be in--sing when you’re less than your best, or cancel and disappoint a lot of people that way. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I thought she sounded better than fine in R&J, far less so in Puritani.

          • CKurwenal

            It’s also reasonable for some sort of wear and tear to manifest in the voice after 20 years of career, especially if virtually every role involves stressful acuti, and especially if you run at your roles with the kind of gusto which Damrau does.

            • Bill

              Cocky -- I agree -- few voices remain completely fresh after 20-25 years of
              performing -- it is at that time when a singer
              must rely more and more on artistry, technique, interpretation. I think that Damrau’s voice, even in her Queen of the Night and Zerbinetta days, was a bit hard
              driven. Exciting yes -- but maybe not the tender flow of others. Damrau, of course,
              can more around physically more than many singers. It must be difficult for any singer who has had spectacular success earlier on
              to keep trying to maintain the level they had
              previously achieved when the voice begins to fade. Also many female singers after childbirth notice changes in the coloring of their voices and have to adapt (and sometimes adopt other roles). Some female voices become deeper in the lower depths while the freshness of their higher
              notes tighten up a bit. And singers with a very open manner of vocal approach (di Stefano or Welitsch for example) use up much of their capital in the first 20 years and then thereafter the voice is never quite the same or diminishes dramatically. A singer such as Evelyn Lear can attempt to explain
              early vocal decline on her choice early of taking on difficult modern works such as
              Lulu and others can say simply they gave too much of themselves early on (and some do) or did take on roles which they knew might shorten their careers (Sills) and when that occurs, considerr they did the roles knowing they might have damaged their voices (but most likely hoping that would not be the case) -- nature can be fierce.

            • CKurwenal

              Yes indeed Bill. I think it is harder for the essentially lyrical voices and perhaps particularly the coloraturas, because they don’t always have a lot else to offer once the singing is no longer so impressive. Dessay had a bit of a mismatch between the temperament she felt and could display as an actress, and what the voice would accept, and having heard Damrau’s performance from the recent gala, it seems a little bit like a similar scenario. But her career is far from over and I am sure she will continue to be effective for some time yet.

            • ines

              I’m watching Vienna State Opera’s
              placido domingo-fest. ( costs about 15 bucks )… waiting for Yoncheva as Violetta.
              What makes me always laugh about these concerts , is the singers sight reading every line from the score ( = A M Martinez singing Morrò from Ballo in maschera etc ) .. Don’t we all know that damn aria by heart?? ( And yes, I know the answer too…)

            • ines

              I went to Sweden last month and was pleasantly surprised to find Birgit Nilsson on their 500 -- crown bill ( a bit over 50 dollars ).
              Ingmar Bergman on the 20!
              I heard Finland had Sibelius before euro.
              Can someone tell other culture figures or singers on money bills? Sutherland ? Callas?

            • Big Finn

     The last set of bank notes in Finland before the Euro, we had the multiple Olympic champion runner Paavo Nurmi in the 10 mark bill, the author Väinö Linna on the 20, architect Alvar Aalto on the 50, Jean Sibelius on the 100, Elias Lönnrot (19th cent) a medical doctor, poet and scholar who collected the ancient & living folk lore, analyzed and brought it together as the Kalevala epic (the Finnish version of The Iliad and Odyssey), and finally on the 1000 mark bill, Anders Chydenius (18th cent), one of the most powerful representatives of “enlightenment” in the North, a priest, a politician and “the father of economics” in Scandinavia. -- Men only! ;(

            • Mozart is on the Austrian €1 coin, probably the most-used piece of currency here.

              How was the Domingo gala? (I literally slept through it.)

            • ER

              Lovely and informative thoughts, Bill.

              What exactly does “open manner of vocal approach” mean? I’ve heard the term being used (so-and-so sang with a very open throat) but what precisely does it mean? And what is the opposite? Covered?

          • ER

            you mean, damn-raued if you do, damn-raued if you don’t :)

            I agree though, the Romeos were much better than the Puritani, but it may also be because Puritani is so much more voice and star dependent.

        • quoth the maven

          Bill--I found her “acting” in Puritani as distressing as her singing--horribly mannered and offering no real insight. (Of course, it’s not a role that allows a performer to offer insights if she’s unable to sing it well.) It seemed like overcompensation for her vocal inadequacies. geared to elicit the unknowing response “Well, she’s a wonderful actress!” A deeply dishonest ploy.

          • Bill

            Maven -- yes Damrau did embarrassingly overact as Elvira in Puritani when I saw her and she was indeed that evening truly vocally indisposed. But I have seen other singers who had acting ability (Rysanek is one example) who sometimes overacted when in distressed voice perhaps to compensate for the inability to sing as well as normally. Some of the singers who I saw truly shine in Puritani (Sutherland, Gruberova) were not specifically great actors -- and in that role it really hardly mattered if they could sing the role in such masterly fashion.

  • fletcher

    Lucky that I got my Garan?a fix in NYC, because it looks like she’s withdrawn from her Mahler concerts at LA Phil (Das Knaben Wunderhorn & Rückert-lieder, each paired with two Schubert symphonies), replaced by Sasha Cooke. I saw her last as a very lovely Anna with Susan Graham in Troyens.

    • fantasia2000

      Sasha was truly memorable in SF Symphony’s Das Lied von der Erde last season with MTT, and in SF Opera’s Meistersinger (as Magdalene)

      • Cameron Kelsall

        She just performed Bernstein’s Jerusalem symphony here in Philly two weeks ago, and was wonderful. I’ve regularly wondered about the paucity of her Met appearances over the years, particularly when I hear a mezzo with a much less interesting voice in a role I’d rather hear her sing.

        • fantasia2000

          I often wondered about that myself. Her only SF Opera performances (and I confirmed it with the Archive) were those two memorable turns in Troyens and Meistersinger, and in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Could it be that it is a personal choice? Lucky for us, MTT seems to really like her and feature her in many concerts. She will be in next month’s Berlioz’s Romeo & Juliet, and next season she will be in Mahler’s 3rd.