Cher Public

Backwards and in high heels

Born on this day in 1911 dancer and actress Ginger Rogers

On this day in 1782 Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail premiered in Vienna.

Born on this day in 1784 librettist Jacopo Ferretti.

Born on this day in 1832 librettist Camille du Locle.

Born on this day in 1928 tenor Ticho Parly.

Happy 61st birthday playwright Tony Kushner.

  • Satisfied

    Excerpt from a Financial Times article about the Salzburg Aida (doesn’t sound like the Egyptian spectical Anna was hoping for):

    Their Aida will stress, Muti says, “intimacy, not the Egypt of postcards. Aida is about people from different cultures, religions and societies — just what we’ve been talking about.”

    • manou

      Sceptical about the spectacle?

  • A couple of days back, France celebrated Bastille day without much dumbing down…

    • Antikitschychick

      I started watching this last night and am finishing it now. A great concert; I liked the Russian orchestral pieces and Anita R’s rendition of O ma lyre immortelle was great. It was a very delicate interpretation, and she looked beautiful. Nadine Sierra and Bryan Hymel were great too.
      On a not so positive note, it’s sad to see how Diana Damrau’s voice has sort of deteriorated…that je veux vivre was painful to listen to. She resorted to a lot of veristic effects and constant diminuendos because it seems she doesn’t have such great handle on her upper register anymore; when she sings forte what comes out is a shrill wobble. Very sad. She’s a great artist; the Morgen for instance was lovely. I hope she is able to find repertoire that suits her voice as it currently is, but I don’t think roles like Juliette and Violetta are it.

      • Porgy Amor

        If this is true and what she is going through is irreversible, I am glad her Milan and Paris Violettas were filmed when everything seemed to be working for her. The Paris is one of her great performances. Even if Violetta was a role she could not sustain (again, for the sake of argument), for a time she was an outstanding Violetta.

        • Antikitschychick

          I agree since I thought she was really great in that Tcherniakov production of Traviata from a couple of years ago. I’m not sure if maybe the amplification also made the flaws seem worse than they are, it’s certainly a possibility but I’ve heard a number of her recordings and my general impression is that she did not have the limitations and mannerisms I’m now hearing in her singing. Tastes vary though so perhaps what I’m hearing isn’t as bothersome for some, but I had seen similar remarks on here and I didn’t want to say anything because I’d never want to tear a singer down but sadly I think they’re right and for me, it’s gotten to the point where I can’t ignore it or try and just focus on the positive aspects like with some other singers.

  • La Cieca

    More Ginger, with assistance from Steve Allen.

    • gryphone

      It’s no accident she got an Oscar for Kitty Foyle. Talent!

      • PCally

        Maybe it’s just me but that Oscar really seems like a career/popularity win for never having been nominated for way better work. She beat out Fontaine for Rebecca, Davis for The Letter, and Hepburn for The Philadelphia Stories. I think Rogers is quite good in Kitty Foyle but I can’t really imagine a case being made that her performance is better than the other women mentioned above, all of whom are doing close to career best work in what are IMO much harder roles. And the movie is hardly a masterpiece.

        Rogers made her best impact for me in Stage Door and the smaller parts in Busby Berkley movies where the pre-code era allows her to exhibit a dirtier sense of humor (her Annie Time Annie pretty steals 42nd street for me even though I’m always surprised peripheral she is for most of the movie). And I adore her in the major and the minor.

        • Davis deserved the Oscar simply for her delivery of “No I can’t I can’t I can’t! With all my heart… I still love the man I killed!” Hepburn is marvelous in “The Philadelphia Story” but it’s Cary Grant’s performance that I love the most.

          • PCally

            Davis deserved the oscar for that entrance alone (the movie is a masterpiece imo, one of her best). 1940 was also the year Grant made His Girl Friday which is an even better showcase for him. Odd that his Oscar nominations came for performances most people tend to forget about.

            • Ivy Lin

              Ah, old movies, my favorite topic. I agree about Grant’s performance in His Girl Friday but also think he’s wonderful in The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, Penny Serenade, Notorious …

              Anyone read a biography of Grant? Talk about real life not matching the screen persona. Grant’s father sent his mother to an insane asylum when Archie/Cary was very young, then told Archie/Cary that his mother had abandoned the family and died. Then his father remarried, had little interest in raising his son, and Archie as a teen joined a circus troupe. His father admitted on his deathbed that he had lied all those years about the mother, and that she was very much alive in the asylum. Grant got his mother released and provided for her for the rest of his life.

              But this model of suave sophistication ran away from home and joined a circus when he was 14.

        • Porgy Amor

          Rogers and Pauline Kael were guests on Judith Crist’s radio show once, and Rogers was talking about Kitty Foyle, how her agent had discouraged her from taking the part, but she felt strongly about it and did it, and she won an Oscar. Kael snapped, “Your agent was right!” Awkward. Crist was doing most of the talking for a while after that.

        • Porgy Amor

          Completely agree with PCally re: Fontaine in the two Hitchcocks. She’s very touching in Rebecca, insufferable in Suspicion (which I think is a lower-tier Hitchcock anyway).

          • PCally

            Yeah the movie’s bad and Grant isn’t doing much to help Fontaine either. It’s a dud.

        • Davis does deliver that line really well. And she’s arresting in that opening scene. But I also find her acting a bit overwrought. I know it’s the style of the time but I could have done with more subtlety.

          The Oscars have a long history of giving the statuette in lieu of other work. Speaking of Philadelphia Story, James Stewart won the Oscar that year to make up for losing for Mr. Smith goes to Washington the year prior.

          Agreed about Roz Russell in His Girl Friday.

          • PCally

            I’m not the biggest Bette Davis fan but I have to admit I think this particular performance is actually surprisingly subtle. I think it’s absolutely extraordinary how she manages to maintain this tense coiled aspect of respectable womanhood whilst communicating through her eyes and small gestures the sexual frustration and masochism of this woman. To me, more than most Davis performances, this results in a complete arch that climaxes when she finally loses it and confesses to her husband. It’s not really a fair comparison given that talkies were more or less brand new in 1929 but Jeanne Eagles in the original film, though perversely compelling in her own way, plays the role as an all out psycho which both mitigates any arch from the narrative and kind of ruins whatever fascination that character holds over other people. Part of what Davis and Wyler achieve so perfectly imo is this supposed veneer of upper class placididity masking uncontrollable sexual desires.

            • It’s my general response to Davis. I love her charisma, glamour and the sheer power of her performances. But her delivery has always been too over-the-top for me. Mind you that is the style of the time so her performances are perfectly contemporary for that period. So, it’s actually less about her work as an actress in that particular role than her overall style. I have similar feelings about Garbo.

              For me, Hepburn, Stanwyck and Crawford’s performance styles have aged better. And then there’s Bergman who was ahead of her time.

              Anyway, all this talk has made me want to revisit The Letter.

            • PCally

              You should, I think its one of her few films that actually qualifies as an amazing film beyond Davis. It’s perfectly paced and directed and the entire cast does amazing, very complicated work.

              Hepburn and Stanwyck are two of my all times favorites. A few years ago and lovely book about Stanwycks work was published which made me actively see out as much of her films as possible and I literally cannot think of a single actress who is as consistently stellar across the entirety of her career. Past the point where she was A-list there are ton of ignored gems from the 1950s that have some of her finest work.

            • I am having a good-natured laugh over this thread: Davis and Garbo are my two absolute favorites, and I own every bit of footage of Garbo known to exist (even the screen tests done in the 1950s), and almost every Davis film.

              But I also love Hepburn (from her first film, “Bill of Divorcement” by Cukor) and Stanwyck. I even own a copy of “Cattle Queen of Montana.” “Double Indemnity” is simply one of the greatest films of all time.

              I can only view Crawford as a hoot, from “Grand Hotel” through “Susan and God” (talk about “over-the-top!”) and her other lesser films to the great comeback of “Mildred Pierce” and then the long, long slug downhill (“Female on the Beach,” etc.) toward “Trog.”

            • Of the actresses we’re discussing, I’m by far the most familiar with Hepburn’s work, followed by Davis and Garbo.

              I’m actually not terribly familiar with Stanwyck’s work. I’ve seen Double Indemnity in which she’s great and one or two others things (including The Thorn Birds!). But I like her acting style and find it more to my liking than that of Davis or Garbo, though I’m far more drawn to the latter two and have seen more of their work. I’m an opera lover and a lover of divas, so I’m naturally drawn to charismatic, glamorous women. Davis and Garbo fit that bill extremely well.

              I’ve managed to cherry pick Crawford’s work and have missed her bad films entirely (though I’ve heard of them). So, it’s Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce, and Whatever happened to Baby Jane. Again, in those films, I prefer her more restrained style.

              As for Hepburn, I’ve seen as many of her films than probably all the other ladies’ combined and I simply love her, even in that dreadful Suddenly Last Summer.

            • I have every film by Montgomery Clift, so of course “Suddenly Last Summer” is on deposit in the Leitmetzerin Sammlung. I also have all of that early Hepburn stuff like “Alice Adams” and “Mornig Glory,” and “Sylvia Scarlet.” (And, as I mentioned before, her very first film, “A Bill of Divorcement.”)

            • I love Hepburn in Morning Glory.

              From what I understand, Clift was heavily medicated during the filming of Suddenly Last Summer.

            • Clift never quite recovered from the painful facial reconstruction he went through after a car wreck during the filming of “Raintree County” -- he managed some good work, but with his drinking, pills, and totally insane sexual habits, it’s a wonder he got any work at all. Another really sad, sad end, and an early death. I have a couple of bios of him and some of the details are startling (to say the least).

            • PCally

              Crawford is by far the most variable and has more severely terrible movies as well, but I actually think that there are a lot of interesting performances and films, even some of the campy stuff. I think the masochism and pretty relentless style makes Mildred pierce way closer to the character and the tone of the work when compared to a traditional film heroine (like Kate winslet) and I also find a film like daisy kenyon to be suprisingly harsh and mature in its depiction of a very depressing love triangle. There’s a great deal of monotomy in Crawford but I think on the rare insurances where she was working in craftier material directed by interesting directors magic could happen.

              By contrast as absolutely extraordinary as I find Garbos best performances are (Camille is absolutely extraordinary and ninotchka is lovely) I actually find her really subpar in most of her pre-queen Christina films. I personally think Crawford’s performance in grand hotel is quite subtle when compared to Garbo who I think is actually pretty poor in that film and Dressler totally owns Anna Christie for me.

            • I actually prefer a lot of Garbo’s silents to her talkies, especially “Flesh and the Devil,” “Gösta Berligs Saga,” and “Torrent.”

            • PCally

              Agreed about the first two, haven’t seen the last one.

            • MisterSnow
        • Does anyone share my affection for Holiday? I’m unreasonably fond that film, and Hepburn and Grant’s work in it.

          • D’uh? How could anyone not love “Holiday?” Of course it’s in the Leitmetzerin Sammlung! I have almost all of Grant’s films, and a great, great deal of Hepburn.

            • ich bin mude

              So, since we’re talking Davis and Crawford: Best opening scene ever, when Davis shoots down her lover. But best ending ever? As in ever? When Joan walks into the Long Island Sound to the accompaniment of Tristan. Never has a movie ended like that since.

            • I guess you haven’t seen Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia.”

          • PCally

            Quite literally one of my all time favorites, full deserving of the classic status given to Bringing up Baby made the same year. Had she been nominated that year and had I been alive and an Oscar voter Hepburn would have been my choice for best performance of the year.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Does anyone know what’s up with the operacast website? Appears to be down . . .

    • WindyCityOperaman

      Just checked and operacast is back up!

  • Benrenki

    A friend of a friend once attended a talk Rogers gave late in her life. During the Q&A he asked her if she could still remember the Pig Latin lyrics to “We’re in the Money” from Gold Diggers of 1933.

    She could.

  • Ivy Lin

    Speaking of Ginger, did anyone ever catch her in Hello Dolly!?
    I imagine she must have been very charming in this.

    • Cameron Kelsall

      Obviously this was way before my time, but I’ve heard a full audio of her performance and was quite taken with her interpretation. Very unique and unlike other Dollys I’ve seen/heard.

      • Ivy Lin

        Yes from the audio clips I’ve heard she sounds younger (even though she wasn’t a spring chicken). A sort of merry widow rather than the brash yenta type.

        • Sanford Schimel

          Dolly isn’t supposed to be a yenta. She’s not even supposed to be Jewish. Her maiden name is Dolly Gallagher. I don’t know if you lovely folks have heard the cast album with Bette but it is just terrific. She’s wonderful. Didn’t get to see it before I left New York. Yes, I’ve moved. To Israel. Arrived today. SO expect reviews of the Israeli Opera.

          • Mazel Tov

          • MisterSnow

            Interesting that Shirley Booth never got to do Dolly -- probably because she was busy with her TV show Hazel. She had played a good Dolly in the 1958 film of The Matchmaker and was successfully in musicals. In addition to her success in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, she also starrred in By the Brautiful Sea and Look to the Lillies (an unsuccessful adaptation of Lillies of the Field)

            • Betsy_Ann_Bobolink

              I’m surprised you didn’t mention Marc Blitzstein’s “Juno.”

            • Betsy_Ann_Bobolink

              While we’re on the subject of Dollys that never were, one must contemplate the possibility of one with Ruth Gordon, who created the role — at least in the Thornton Wilder incarnation. For the REAL original, one must seek out Kristinus Chenowentius, who worked with Plautus himself.

            • QuantoPainyFakor

              This LP record was a real collector’s item when before it went digital

          • Cameron Kelsall

            I’ve seen both Bette and Donna Murphy. Bette is great--but Bette is Bette. It’s a star performance that doesn’t really do much in the way of building character. Murphy is a bit more integrated into the proceedings and in fabulous voice. Interestingly, both do play up Dolly’s Irishness, including occasional brogue deployment.

    • Cameron Kelsall

      Obviously this was way before my time, but I’ve heard a full audio of her performance and was quite taken with her interpretation. Very unique and unlike other Dollys I’ve seen/heard.

    • DonCarloFanatic

      I saw it in August 1965, as I’ve mentioned previously. Can’t say that Dolly’s big number meant anything to me at the time; still doesn’t. I’m fairly sure my great-uncle deliberately timed our trip to see Rogers. He was the one who set the dates, and he could have arranged to see Channing a few days earlier instead. Scarce tickets evidently weren’t an issue because he bought his B’way tickets from the ticket booth at the Plaza Hotel.

  • chicagoing

    Opera on the front page of the newspaper? The Chicago Sun Times front page yesterday was devoted to a local man, Keanon Kyles, who has supported himself as a night janitor here and will be singing the lead role in Rigoletto in Scotland soon.