Cher Public

Beauty comes from the inside out

Born on this day in 1908 actress Dolores del Rio

Born on this day in 1823 composer Francisco Asenjo Barbieri.

Born on this day in 1912 tenor Richard Holm.

Happy 59th birthday bass Barseg Tumanyan.

Happy 58th birthday baritone Simon Keenlyside.

  • Camille

    What ho!?! NO Götterdämmerung Thread?

    Act I has just now concluded.

    • eric nyc

      Just started listening it in the first scene of Act III. Stefan Vinke is terrible. Although he did make the high C at the end of the Rhine maidens scene, though not a pretty sound.

  • chicagoing

    Is it curious that there does not seem to have been a single word or report coming out of Santa Fe regarding the season there? I have yet to check it out myself but I am always curious to hear any news.

    • Camille

      Me too and è strano!

      The Steve Jobs opera starts in a couple more days.

      No Richard Strauss though--is Santa Fe now no longer a deeicated StraussHaus I wonder?

      • Dr.Malatempra

        The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs opened on July 22nd. Audience response has been so enthusiastic and ticket demand so strong that an extra performance has been added on August 22nd. As to Strauss, Capriccio last season, Ariadne, next.

        • Camille

          Okay. Guess I just noted the existing performances going forward.

          Why have we not heard anything about any of the season at all though? That’s unusual.

          • Donna Annina

            It was slammed in the NYTimes. “Failure” was the operative word.

            • Camille

              Ah so. The entire season or just the Bates spettacolo? Oh never mind I’ll go dredge it up for myself. Hope it wasn’t TT who reviewed it. Oh no, he would never call a failure a “failure”.

  • Camille

    Act III of The Twilight of the Gods is now beginning. Achtung

    • eric nyc

      What did you think of Vinke?

      • Camille

        Well now--let me just say I’ve heard FAR worse—--he just sounds to be a bit under weighted (as so many are) and struggling. And makes a very big deal out of the C’s as a compensatory factor and which are just supposed to be in passing--I mean this is not Turandot.

        I heard him in Avery Fisher/David Geffen a while back and he strikes me as the efficient plumber that goes in with his snake to get a dirty job done. More power to him for having a working high C, though.

        I’ve also heard this year’s Tristan, Herr Gould, in this role in this opera and he fared a lot better even if the stage persona was from from Helden and more schlumpisch.

        Whaddaya want? What can we do about it?
        Lauritz Melchior ain’t answering his calls these days. It’s one hell of a brutal sing.

        • eric nyc

          Catherine Foster just finished the Immolation Scene. She sings well, but unfortunately sings flat on the high notes.

          Opera just finished. I can’t stand the way the audience starts clapping the very instant the music stops. Even in Bayreuth. I figured that in Bayreuth they’d be more respectful. But no.

          I’ll be in there the week of Aug 14-18. My first visit to the Green Hill. Can’t wait.

          • Camille

            Oh very best wishes to you on your first trip there and here’s hoping you will get in a couple exceptional performances.

            Yes, she is woefully and consistently flat or out of a just intonation, and it seems the price her voice pays to cope. Nary a wobble, though, nor other vibratory annoyance, however. A sturdy, utilitarian singer who perhaps presents something on the stage which helps to compensate for the lack of color and variety, not to mention any sort of depth or ringing overtones or tragic pathos to the vocal palette.

            It will be interesting for you to compare your actual live experience to the radio broadcast und Gute Reise!

            • eric nyc


              We’re only seeing one of the Ring operas — Walküre. Though Brünnhilde of course has a major role in that. Other than the Walkürenritt scene, she has not too many high notes, as far as I recall. So we won’t have to worry about her singing flat too much.

              We’re also seeing Parsifal, Tristan, Meistersinger.

              I’ve just finished the 1994 Spotts book on the history of the festival. Fascinating.

              Now I’m preparing myself for Parsifal by reading Lucy Beckett’s book on Parsifal from the Cambridge Opera Handbooks series. I’ve always found Parsifal problematic both musically and dramatically. It has some wonderful music, of course, but there’s a lot of music and story that just doesn’t grab me, including most of the second act. So I want to see if I can get beyond that and appreciate it better.

            • Camille

              Well that’s interesting as I could never deal with Parsifal from listening to it on recordings, and it wasn’t until I heard it live that the second act hit me over the head and I became a convert. Parsifal is hard. It’s not like going to Bohème or Carmen where you can jump in and get something from the start. A lot of work and a lot of dedicated listening time to even begin to get some semblance of it. The payoff is that it never gets boring once you’ve got past the initial longueurs and there is always something new to be discovered or ferreted out of a tissue of interlocked motiven.

              The Kundry, Ms. Pankratova, is excellent and I liked Schager (Parsifal) very much this year — although Vogt was also very effective last year. This production, which I saw on some link of a webcast last year, is quite entertaining and may help you out.

              I don’t really know the Cambridge series at all and always mean to get into them so thanks for reminding me. The best thing is to go listen to the music and not think too much about everyone’s explanation and the million and one theories behind it all other than to perhaps bear in mind Wagner’s aborted opera of Die Sieger, but even that is TMI, perhaps.

              Whatever you do--take notes and see as much of the museum and the house as you can as these are all specially unique to the Bayreuth experience and may speak silently to you in ways to give you answers about myriad questions regarding the titan Wagner and his world.

            • eric nyc

              Thanks for the information and the reports.

              I’d call myself a Wagner enthusiast, but I’d (fondly) call my husband a Wagner fanatic. I was brought up Presbyterian, but don’t pay much attention to religion nowadays. I always got a kick out of the fact that every year I would become aware of the approach of Easter because my husband (brought up Jewish) would start playing Parsifal. I’ve seen Parsifal onstage at the Met a number of times, but did not have the same experience as you in appreciating it better onstage. The second act still doesn’t appeal to me, either dramatically or musically. Some of the dramatic situation just seems strange to me. (For example, why does Kundry’s kiss make him think of “Amfortas! Die Wunde!”) But I’m very open-minded about it, and a pilgrimage to the Grüner Hügel seems like a good occasion to try to understand it and appreciate the opera better. That’s why I’m reading the Lucy Becket book on Parsifal, with another couple of Parsifal books on the shelf, if I have time.

              I have mixed reactions to your description of the Parsifal production as “entertaining.” I’m not sure that my goal in attending Parsifal is to be “entertained.” :-)

              I’ve been ambivalent about reading the reviews of the productions. I think I’d prefer to appreciate the drama and production afresh, and not approach it with prejudice or expectations.

              Though we’ve seen the rest of the Bayreuth operas we’ll be seeing (Tristan, Walküre, Meistersinger) many times, I still want to do some serious preparation by reading the librettos, playing through the scores at the piano, reading about them. I’ve become so dependent on titles in recent years to understand what’s going on. Bayreuth of course doesn’t have titles, so I’ll have to go back to the earlier approach, pre-Met Titles, of reading the libretto thoroughly beforehand.

            • DonCarloFanatic

              Dribs and drabs of information. Bayreuth requires that audiences walk up a hill to get to it, has hard seats, has or has not recently banned cushions, expects formal dress, is always hot, has 1-hour intervals, and has no super/surtitles. Anything else I should know? I’m not going this year, but sooner or later I will.

            • eric nyc

              One more that I know about: no knapsacks.

              The FAQ on the festival’s website might be useful.


              You can also find lots of reports online from people who have attended. Pay most attention to the recent reports, because things change. New security measures were put in place in 2016. I understand that the tradition of formal dress has relaxed considerably, although the majority of attendees do still wear formal dress.

              Of course it’s quite likely that things will evolve, so you should check when you get closer to your visit.

              This is all based on reading and information from others in preparation for my visit in two weeks. I can’t yet report from personal experience.

            • Camille

              Kundry’s kuß?
              To the best of my understanding and knowledge it’s a case of clairvoyance: in that moment he has a blinding flash of insight in which he ‘sees’ the previous instance in which Kundry similarly gave the kiss to Amfortas, thus giving him “die Wunde” and turning him into the invalid he became, replete with her passive-aggressive servitude part and parcel of the bargain. “Ich tue night gut”, and all that rot she says in the first act. But that’s just my take. Many others available.

              It’s funny you describe yourself as an enthusiast and your husband as the fanatic as the same holds true for us. He’s the kind who loves the Ring and Meistersinger and I don’t.

              Once, a long time ago, a very refined elderly Japanese couple came up to us at the Met at intermission and very abruptly broke into an animated conversation with Monsieur Camille. After the discussion I asked him how did he know them? “Oh, they remember me….”

              “Remember you, HOW? It’s been at least a half dozen years since the last Ring here, how could they remember you?”

              “Well, you see, it was my first Götterdämmerung and at the end I stood up on my seat (in the orchestra) and yelled bravo, etc., etc., ad nauseam” AT ALTA VOCE, I might add.

              I guess the breach of all etiquette in a height of estasi was something memorable to that nice refined Japanese couple. At any rate, you get the picture.

              Naw, I wouldn’t read reviews or worry about it until afterward. You’ll see what I mean about the entertainment factor, and no, it won’t be Gypsy Rose Lee singing “Let me entertain you…”.

              Tschuß und Viel Spaß!!!!

            • Camille

              oh, and about the titles, I forgot to mention== me, too! I absolutely love them as their are so discreet and one needn’t look at that big handlebar over the proscenium with “THIS is Tosca’s Kiss!” and the like besmirching up the scene. Add to that the big fat bonus that I have finally, after all these years, figured out what Ferrando is singing about in the beginning of Il Trovatore, mirabile dictu!

              Oh the other hand, it makes one lazier. You need to dig out the words and dig into them so you can truly appreciate the myriad subtleties which may (or may not) be brought out by an artist. In the last year or so I am disciplining myself by sticking to the original language and figuring everything as best I can. Of course that doesn’t work in French as for some damn fool reason the Met doesn’t have titles in French. It’s a lot of fun to follow Russian operas in Spanish, something I started with Domingo long ago as I figured that was the language he was ‘thinking’ in, no matter the IPA symbols he actually spat at us all unsuspecting little chickens in the audience.

              Opera is a lot of work, and that’s part of why people don’t like it. You add that all up plus the vibratos of big fat people screaming at you and well, I’d like Beyoncé better, too, if I were still young and dummm.

            • eric nyc

              I also sometimes look at the Met Titles in other languages than English, particularly when less involved with what’s going on onstage. I’ll watch the Deutsch for awhile just for fun. I’m reasonably competent in Deutsch, but of course Wagner’s vocabulary is sometimes so obscure that it’s difficult to follow. I’ve been trying to read some of the librettos in the original before I go, gut time is limited and I don’t know how much I’ll have time for.

              Speaking of titles, my pet peeve with the Met titles is when the English titles don’t translate the original text exactly. Sometimes that’s necessary for reasons of space on the small screen, but other times there’s plenty the translator changes the meaning, presumably trying to “improve” things. Maybe the translator thinks the meaning is hard to understand in the original, but that’s not a justification for changing it, in my opinion. There are other times where the changes seem purely arbitrary. I can’t think of any examples right now, but I notice it often, particularly with operas where I’ve read the libretto in the original.

            • Camille

              Yes I know what you mean about those translation problems but it is a very sticky wicket and a fine line of choices to be made and Batty Masetto, an expert in this fild, couldnperhaps illuminate us all a lot more about the stress and strain of trNslation, particularly fondensing a theatrical action credibly.

              Another problem these days are the Regie choices which nullify the actual text, e.g., the debate about Gluck in Capriccio seems pretty extraneous when Madeleine is done up in 1920’s style. And the list goes on and on.

              There is one translation which had an overreaching effect on my ability to understand: Das Rheingold, a work I’ve always been exhausted by, and it was the one Cori Ellison did for the San Francisco Opera in 2008. It opened up a window on the work and made me learn to deal with it, a mighty feat and one for which i’m grateful.

            • eric nyc

              Regarding translations, there’s omething I’ve always been curious about.

              In the US, most operas are performed in the original language, i.e., not-English. And in a huge hall (3800 at the Met), which makes it difficult to understand the language from the stage. But in many other countries, the operas are performed in the local language — for example, German operas are always performed in German in Germany, and traditionally, many operas were performed in translation into the local language. (My first exposure to Bohème was in Mainz, or maybe Wiesbaden, in the summer of 1965. But it was not La Bohème, but Die Bohème.)

              So what I wonder is: can people really understand opera performances in their own language? I don’t understand much of an opera that’s performed in English, but maybe that’s because the halls are so big, or English is different, or my hearing is bad. What about Deutsch in Deutschland or italiano in Italia or français in France?

            • Bill

              Eric -- generally I would say that audiences are able to understand operas and opera performances in their own languages. But this depends entirely also upon the singer. In singing lieder, the words are of the utmost importance and the well known lieder singers are often quite understandable in German opera. Some singers are a bit mushy in every language (Sutherland comes to mind). By the way in the past up until the 1950s operas in most countries (the Met was an exception) were performed in the language of the country except at festivals such as Salzburg. This changed -- Most of the major German Opera houses perform most operas nowadays in the original language -- most of the more provincial
              German Opera houses still utilize the
              German language extensively though not exclusively in most performances.
              Here in the USA an opera such as the Magic Flute which has extensive dialogue is more likely to be performed in English than say La Boheme. One year early in his tenure Rudolf Bing presented La Boheme in Italian for some performances and in English for others in the same season and the general consent of the audiences was that they preferred to hear
              Boheme in Italian. Singers were often indulged in the past -- when Jeritza introduced Jenufa to the Met, it was in German. Later Jenufa was done in
              English at the Met and then later with Benackova and Rysanek in Czech (though they continued to sing Jenufa in Vienna in German). The power of the music seemed to come over in any language but the consensus now is that Jenufa is best heard in Czech as the language inflections match Janacek’s music best in the original language. The acoustics at the Met are generally good except some spots in the orchestra or under the overhanging balconies -- if something is sung in English one can usually understand a great deal unless the singer in question does not pronounce precisely and ironically some foreign singers singing in English are easier to understand than some native Americans
              or other native English speaking singers.
              It is my impression that singers not native to the language being sung have more
              difficulty with French pronunciation than English or German. Subtitles, now that we have them in most international opera houses, are a great help.

            • eric nyc

              You mention Maria Jeritza. Back in 1970-71, when I first moved to NYC, my boyfriend and I had a Saturday afternoon subscription. I still remember the seats: orchestra I-29 & I-31 (that’s row I -- “eye”), on the far left, under the overhang (with a definite echo). Anyway, Maria Jeritza sometimes attended those matinee performances, sitting on the aisle, in the same section that we were in. Roughly D-1. People would occasionally recognize her and applaud when she walked by. She was born in 1887, so she was in her mid-eighties by then.

              I understand that the Russian operas (Boris, Eugen Onegin) were performed in English at the Met till fairly late.

              Here’s an excerpt from an interesting 1998 article in the Times on opera in English:

              And yet opera in English enjoyed a surprisingly formidable American history throughout the 19th century. As recently as the 1970’s and 80’s, the Metropolitan Opera, no less, presented English-language stagings of ”The Bartered Bride,” ”Bluebeard’s Castle,” ”Dialogues of the Carmelites,” ”Hansel and Gretel,” ”Jenufa” and ”La Perichole” — not to mention the 1950’s and 60’s, when it offered English versions of such staples as ”La Boheme,” ”Cosi Fan Tutte,” ”Eugene Onegin,” ”Die Fledermaus” and ”The Magic Flute.” As it happens, one of the Met’s most performed operas in English is the most performed Russian opera: ”Boris Godunov.” Of 257 Met performances since its American premiere in 1913, 54 have been in English.


            • Camille

              Hah! You just brought to mind an experience I had years ago at Terme di Caracalla, attending a performance of Tosca with my then boyfriend, not only not a musician but also not a music lover either. He was Italian, however, and so I asked him sometime in the middle of the second act how he was (or not) enjoying the performance. I’ll never forget his response: “Mah! Non si capisce un cazzo!” Meaning, he didn’t understand a damn thing. It was shocking to me at the time and I attributed it to his bad attitude. Later that evening he sort of apologized but reiterated the fact he really didn’t understand what they were singing and I said “How couldn’t you? It’s in Italian?” No matter. The stress and strain of overcoming the overhead airplanes and cicadas on a summer’s night and producing enough sound to be heard outside rendered the singer’s clarity of diction to polenta mush.

              So--I don’t know. It depends a great deal on the venue and the individual enunciation abilities of the artist plus whether or not the maestro is willing to keep the orchestra from drowning out the singer as so many times they seem intent on establishing a hierarchy to the detriment of the poor flailing singer. English can be a tricky language to sing in but there are examples of persons able to get the complicated mass of diphthongs and schwa sounds across. I once heard Frederike von Stade give the most astonishing account of English enunciation in the opera Les Liaisons dangereuses, for example. It can be done but it is a challenge for many.

              So far as the German language thing --why, that was the standard for forEVER, for decades, and all the beautiful Czech operas were always given auf Deutsch-(my score of Rusalka, published by The Czech company Supraphon, is given in three languages--Czech, Deutsch and English)--that’s all been changing now since approximately the last 25 years or so, nichts??? It’s my understanding it’s no longer as prevalent, but best ask Mr Bill about that as he has BEEN there and DONE that for the last fifty years or more and would have the facts and would have closely observed the changes.

              Very interestingly to me, last summer I had a chance to hear a favorite opera of mine La Fanciulla del West in an English translation, here in NYC, a pretty good job of it for a fledgling company. Although it was enjoyable to me and more or leas worked--I already knew the score and most all the plot points amd dialogue so it’s hard to say if I got anything more out of it. And singer’s diction and ability to project the text varies wildly and therein lies the rub--you’ve got to have people capable of projecting and putting over the text intelligibly and know how to do that, not just SING!

              So, I think this whole matter is a fascinating and many-headed hydra for which there is no easy solution and one must go on a case by case basis in selection of works to be done in the native language and more importantly, have artists capable of executing enunciation and projecting the text with conviction, along with a director and/or conductor willing to be supportive. That’s a tall order.

              Thank you for all your commentary. It has been a pleasure.

            • eric nyc

              “Thank you for all your commentary. It has been a pleasure.”

              Thanks. Me too.

              If you’re not already familiar with it, get a copy of Frederic Spotts’ 1994 history of the Bayreuth Festival. I’ve recently finished it and I found it really fascinating. Have you read it?


            • Camille

              No, I have not but I thank you very much for this recommendation as it looks as if it may be worth the considerable effort of reading such a document. I am not now nor ever shall be The Perfect Wagnerite and haven’t a lot of knowledge about the entire Festival and is history--as--I have always carefully avoided becoming an acolyte of the Wagnerian KunstReligion. As the Festival has such a great historical significance and casts a towering shadow on other than just the music dramas themselves, and which this tome seems to draw out in an intelligenly and exhaustively researched fashion, perhaps this would be a good starting point for me.

              For a bit of fun, maybe you (or anyone else interested) should check out the BBC produced series on Wagner starring Richard Burton and a dead-ringer Vanessa Redgrave as Cosima. I certainly could not attest to how factually correct the narrative is, but it does have great diversions, such as Ralph Richardson, Gielgud and Olivier as a Ping, Pang, and Pong of marvelously machiavellian dimension, and impressed upon me the dangerous rebel and outlaw Wagner was and the consequences he paid, which all comes out rather in a passive voice when one simply reads an histoical accounting.

              Once more, have a wonderful time on your trip--sure to be something to always remember and cherish.

            • eric nyc


    • eric nyc

      Charles -- Are you aware that your blog has a display problem? Many of the posts are truncated on the right, with the text partly blocked by the gray panel headed “More Great Music.” I’ve tried it with multiple browsers and I have the same problem.

      I’d love to be able to read your posts, but can’t because of this problem.

      • Thanks..My fault..Must use smaller letters..I appreciate your reminding me..

        • eric nyc

          Actually I don’t think it’s just a matter of font size (smaller letters). Some of your posts do have smaller letter and I see the same problem. (Example: your 7/21 post on Dmitri Hvorostovsky.) I’m no expert in web design, but I think it’s a matter of the placement of the “More great music” panel.

          I wish I could offer a solution, but I hope it’s helpful to you that I just point out the problem. Good luck.

          • HI…I just wrote comments without going to end of the line and looks better.I am indebted to you for your help..CH

            • eric nyc

              Glad to be of help.

              I’m sure there’s a better way to make the text wrap around automatically at the end of the line. You shouldn’t have to do it manually for each line of text. There’s a setting somewhere, or some function in your blogging software, I’m sure. If you ever have the chance to get a bit of help from a web designer, they could probably help you fix it. Not a difficult fix, for someone who knows how to do it.

              Best wishes.

            • Yes..I have two experts..Thanks…The orig. podcast site was done by James Jorden..friend for 25 yrs who suddenly dropped me..saying I write as if I think I am the Pope…Like La Cieca is not opinionated….VERY SAD…it was a shock….but who knows what can be inside a person….

      • Hi..GRAZIE…I did a new one w.the E flats w.smaller fonts..and will go back and edit some..I thank you sooo much…..Charlie

  • decotodd

    Camille, Eric — perhaps you can weigh in since it sounds like you have been attending the Met for many years. At a flea market recently, I flipped through an Opera News from 1977. The Traviata and Boheme broadcasts each had three (!) intermissions. That means a 20 min interval was almost as long as the four individual acts.

    Didn’t that wreck havoc on any sense of drama and what in the world did people do during all of those breaks? It reminds me of the reports of old where opera was viewed as much of a social occassion as entertainment. When did the trend towards fewer intermissions occur? I could understand if the stage machinery needed time for set changes but this was the New Met with all of its modern backatage wizzardry.

    • Camille

      I do not understand the last sentence of your first paragraph and Bohème does have four acts and Traviata used to be carved into four as well — I had an old score that divided the second act. If the intervals were reasonable, like 20 minutes, I’d say that was just fine and what I’d prefer.

      I’ve only been going to the MET for 21 years this fall so I am really not such a hardened veteran as are some here. It is my impression these days that they very heavily push the Grand Tier Restaurants and the bars and god knows what else and the horrible intervals, which I and others loathe, of fifty to fifty=five minutes are all to accommodate the elite who eat. Part of why I stay at home, more and more, sad to say as there are only so many promenades one can make around the house. There is also the horrible problem of “Les Bains”, and the horrendous snaking ladies room lines. I have solved this problem by locating yet another secret powder room, one which I would not reveal under penalty of torture and death. Zip in and out in five to ten minutes most.

      Opera is all about “social occasion” and always has been, and certainly was when the original Metropolitan Opera House was started back in 1883 by a group of rejects from yet another opera house, what was it? The Academy? I can’t remember ’cause I’m old and need to go schlafen

      • Bill

        Generally in the older days there was at the Met
        an intermission after each act (even Rigoletto) and
        the intermissions lasted not 40 minutes as today but maybe 15-20 minutes -- many opera goers smoked then and it gave them a chance to have a cigarette
        though the lobbies reeked of smoke. And Camille is right -- opera was social and probably more of the subscribers who held on to their subscriptions for decades (and even generations) knew each other and wanted to extend pleasantries. Plus it took
        longer to change sets particularly in the grand operas and intermissions were needed for the stage hands
        to move everything around. Figaro was done with
        3 intermissions, Boheme as well even if the 2nd act is not very long. Late comers were admitted as they arrived even in the middle of a scene and that continued at the Met until the 1966 opening of the new house when Bing instituted a no latecomer
        policy -- And as Camille pointed out in the very earliest days boxholders would move from one box
        to the other in the middle of a scene to hobnob and greet friends -- modes change -- in my earlier days at the opera practically no man would attend unless wearing a suit and tie and women were not allowed in wearing pants (also in Vienna in the 1960s) --

        • Even worse then the Puccini, Verdi and Mozart, “Der fliegende Holländer”and “Wozzeck” were also done with two intermissions until the mid-1970s!

          • eric nyc

            Jungfer! Are you / have you been at Bayreuth? Tell us about it!

            I’m preparing for our trip next week (Aug 14-18). Reading Lucy Beckett’s book on Parsifal from the Cambridge Opera Handbook series.

            • Camille

              Just an FYI: Jungfer is indeed in Bayreuth (Our Duenna in Bayreuth Reporting), but chimed in a day or so ago to say she had very limited capacity so far as getting an outside wireless or modem, or whatever magic it is that transmits her thoughts to us. So, in due time she will let us all in on it all and I can’t wait to hear her thoughts on the Parsifal.

              Have fun!