Cher Public

Broadcast: Aïda

Without the graffiti, San Francisco Opera’s Aïda is notable for Leah Crocetto in the title role. The broadcast starts at 1:00 PM.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    For those who aren’t a little Aida’ed out, there’s San Francisco’s notorious 1979 Gioconda (including boos after Scotto’s suicidio) and tonight Carmen from both Utah (last season) and LA (opening night).

    • Lindoro Almaviva

      “Povero Ponchiello”

      more devastating than a boo. (and somewhat undeserved, too)

      • Camille

        Well, Now I Know what you were referring to as I heard that phrase after the “Suicidio” while watching the video last night. Now, while listening to the radio broadcast on Sunday I heard something else entirely.

        Are there two versions of this floating around? Must be, as besides that there were some differences in Scotto’s sound in the video.

        Oh well, agua por el molino, déjala correr.

    • Camille

      Yes. astonished. In 1980 I listened to the first act of this and had no more time that day and never finished it nor had the inclination to do so.

      Over the years I’ve heard how BAD she was and avoided it and of course all that “gente di merda” drama didn’t help.

      So, this afternoon a Jersey station carried a re-broadcast and I was taken aback at actually how GOOD she was, how effective and HOW she Followed the Score Indications!!! Maybe that’s what pissed off some public as she didn’t fake a chest voice like what they usually heard. And Pavarotti sang like a divo, absolutely.

      It has heen posted recently on youtube, maybe there is another so I’m going to watch as well. After waiting to hear the rest for 37 years it’s wonderful to put a happy ending on this Gioconda.

      • Porgy Amor

        Maybe that’s what pissed off some public as she didn’t fake a chest voice like what they usually heard.

        With Scotto and booing, you just never know. It’s just as likely they were Callas widows still mad about something she had said in the New York Times eight years earlier.

        • Camille

          Well—the shock of the loss in 1979 must still have been very raw for The Widows, so…:….

          What I heard (and I didn’t know of beforehand) was some man yelling “Whoa!”, and then some Shushbirds, and then I thought to have heard a sentence probably in Italian? So it was not a massive outburst.

    • Camille
  • Camille

    OR--there is currently the Proms Last Night with Nina Stemme doing her best Zarah Leander impersonation. Must be heard.

    • grimoaldo2

      The last night of the Proms created a fuss in the British press because people waved European Union flags along with Union Jacks during the patriotic songs, which is now considered treasonous by about half the country.

      • Armerjacquino

        Well, in the Express and the Mail, the papers that only really exist now to encourage ever more absurd anti-EU paranoia.

        One of the most encouraging aspects of the recent British General Election was the indication that the tabloids are losing their pernicious influence, becaus the under 40s don’t read ’em.

  • aulus agerius

    I listened to this SF Aida up through Ritorna Vincitor. I thought the soloists were OK but it was overall shapeless and ultimately boring. Luisotti, I guess. I was mainly interested in the tenor -- surprise! Jagde was too 4square for me. I like ’em more lithe and penetrating rather than bulky & occupying.

  • John L

    Anyone saw the premiere of the same production in DC?

    • Cara Speme

      A mixed bag. Some old time opera singing with a very odd concept that worked about 30% of the time. What were little leapfrogging, cartwheel turning pre-pubescent boys in para-military uniforms doing in Amneris’ boudoir? Not sure what Cesca was doing with that. The graffiti as art motif was grating after a while.

      Principals were all good, but not emotionally connecting with the audience. Tamara Wilson can sing the part well, but unfortunately is not an actress. She simply cannot move on stage. A hideous costume that she wore the entire opera did not help. And let’s just face it -- this lady is fat.

      Lee is an old school tenor who can produce, what at first, seemed a heroic ear-popping sound. But he has no control over dynamics -- just loud, louder, really loud and incredibly loud which was wearing all night long. Plus he makes funny faces when he sings. I will say, he gave it his all. The sad thing is that there was zero chemistry between them.

      Gordon Hawkins has developed an alarming wobble. The voice is still there sometimes, but painful to listen.

      Semenchuk saved the evening with her terrific Amneris. A wonderful singing actress. But the curtain came down at the end of the trial scene, which completely ruined her big moment.

      Ramfis was obese and waddled around in another hideous costume.

      The conductor, fought with just about everyone on tempi.

      The chorus was absolutely magnificent. Every section was very strong and obviously very well prepared. Even overcoming some very dumb stage business and blocking straight out of Les Miserables.

      I really wanted to like this, and gave it much leeway. The whole concept does not have much to do with the actual story. All the guys are either in military uniforms or priestly robes with staffs that look like something out of Magic Flute. The girls are wearing caftans and hairstyles straight out of the 1960’s. Why?

      I’m going again to see the 2nd cast. Maybe I’ll change my mind about it after that.

      • Camille

        Very interesting comments, especially about Lee as, frankly, by now I feared he would have shouted himself hoarse. That’s how he was singing at his debut in December 2010 and that’s how he sang a couple years ago even while sick, as Don Carlos. I don’t quite know how he manages it!! And although I like a voice to be loud enough, I don’t enjoy undiminshed continuous ff’s the whole time through.

        Sorry to hear that Wilson is non-navigable—a shame as she has a voice. And my experience of the Semenchuk Amneris was that she is quite a wonderful performer and I will gladly plunk down my coins to hear her. She’d make a helluva Dalila.

        Let us know what you think of the second cast!

        • mirywi

          I sat up close to the stage and found the story to be well told by everyone.
          Semenchuk can hold the audience’s attention, singing or not. That’s either a gift or skill, I’m not sure which.
          Yeah Ramfis and Aida carry a few extra pounds, but who cares really when he makes you believe and he’s loud and she can sing those long phrases without gulping air every half bar and with no screaming? Wilson is an excellent musician and she and the conductor were one in her numbers.
          I believed Aida’s dad too. Lee can get the walls vibrating and when he tries to sing more quietly he loses most of the ping of it. He croons/covers on the way back up to the top of the Aida in the Celeste Aida. Coming out to sing your best song straightaway can’t be much fun.
          The kids are cute of course and I’m not opposed to being entertained that way. I loved the hair and dresses of Amneris’s ladies. Their acting was good too. It reminded me of the party scene in Goodfellas.
          Without all the advance talk of the graffiti, I’m not so sure I would have seen it as that.
          I had a fabulous time. The only thing I have to do now is call the box office to find out if the guy who sat in front of me is a season ticket holder. He’s a giant and sits up straight. The seats cost too much to have to lean from side to side to see round him and I’m moving if he’s coming to Don Carlo.

        • Nelly della Vittoria

          I was at the nutty second-cast Don Carlo two years ago where the second-cast tenor (who was he?) fell ill and Lee, himself ill, stepped back in for HIM, shouted his way through three acts and then collapsed, to be replaced by staggering, shouty tenor #2 after all; it was a very confusing evening.

          • Camille

            Hahaha! That was the performance we attended as well and we’d just recounted to our neighbors the story about the preceding performance (broadcast) about that guy (Ricardo Tamura), when it was announced that Lee was “ILL” and his sub would take over. Thankfully Carlos doesn’t have as much to sing in the last two acts, except of course that gorgeous duet at the end.

            Anyway, I was there to hear Liana Haroutounian’s debut and she did very well so that was some compensation. I do hope that production will find its way to the Jersey shore, sooner than later.

            • Nelly della Vittoria

              Yes, LH was quite fine, but that production and performance were — a mixed bag to say the least.
              Are we ever not at the same events?

            • Camille

              I did not know we were at all these same events, frankly, but nice to know so. I had hoped to hear more of Liana, and in fact DID, in Simon Boccanegra, where she did not fare quite so well. There’s no mention of her on the horizon, so I guess she has gone on to other houses, including San Francisco.

              Are you going to Marina’s Norma début? I’ll be there with bells on.

            • Nelly della Vittoria

              Maybe, maybe! I’m not terribly eager to hear Sondra do it.

            • Camille

              Yes, well, who knows how that will go now. That turn (from where, Chicago?) she took in June was a backward one, so far as I was concerned. Oh, I remember Mr. Neal Rishoi was unhappy with it, as well. But one just never knows with her, and she does grapple with a whole LOT.

              Better for me if I do my Semiramide homework which I have neglected. I’ll have to put up with Meade there so I’m hoping she’ll learn to sing or there will be a substitution. I’m just praying she doesn’t show up in full Caballé drag, that’s all.

              Oh yes! Now I remember--we were at the Miah Persson recital in Zankel Hall the same night? Was that it? Lovely persSoncina and lovely artist.

            • Nelly della Vittoria

              At the recital, yes, and also the Poppea.

              Am preventing self from saying anything about Meade, as I know she makes everyone here get out their axes for grinding etc., but I do want to see the Semiramide one way or another, though I always feel like I’ve aged 100 years between the first and final bars of it.

            • Camille

              oh for god’s sake, Little Nell, get out your own Das BEIL and grind away!! That’s all anyone does around here any old way.
              Warum denn NICHT? Who knows?? Maybe she’ll show up that night in fine fettle or maybe the Joycester will sing it in her stead. These days one never knows what will transpire.

              Semiramide is a lot of hard work and I still haven’t done any of it, so I’d best get cracking or else I’ll be sitting there like the old lady from Canarsie, with egg cream on my face.

              My problem with her is her wild variability and that damn pppppppp stuff she does, but that seems to have ceased somewhat, at least it had when she was doing her Caballé cum Parisina gig a year ago. Who knows?

      • CKurwenal

        I think Tamara Wilson is a reasonable actor, or was in the Bieito Forza when I saw it, in which she was never less than convincing, and it wasn’t an easy or straight forward staging. I wouldn’t write her off in that regard on the basis of 1 performance in 1 production.

      • John L

        I wasn’t too sure what to make of the production either (though I never go to an opera based on the production). I felt like they were using some sort of militarized autocracy/theocracy from the mid 20th century as inspiration for costumes, set design, and concept. Like Iran (which is more theocratic than autocratic) or Saudi Arabia (which is more autocratic than theocratic). The graffiti kind of reminded me of those calligraphy seen in the Hagia Sophia (though it didn’t look Arabic at all, wisely). The caftans the women wore reminded me of pre-Shah Persia.

        Academic pontificating aside, I thought the singing was a bit mixed too. I’ve always found Wilson’s tone a bit acidic especially when pushed in the upper register and singing forte. Her sound was a bit more pleasing in the third and fourth act and she loses that harshness when singing pianissimo. Speaking of pianissimo, I’ve come to the conclusion that Lee just doesn’t have the breath control for pianissimo. So he just sings loud and louder. It does provide for an exciting sound initially but I do agree it gets grating after an entire night. He can sing softly very briefly, but when creating legato or long phrases, I don’t think he can sustain it as pianissimo and then has to belt it out. I don’t know anything about what goes into singing, but I assume this is some sort of diaphragm issue. One has to assume this wouldn’t be healthy for a long term singing career, but he’s been singing like this for several years with not much change actually. Semenchuk did provide the most consistent and seamless singing. There is no gear shift between her lower, middle, and upper registers and I thought she had the best musicality of the principals in the ensembles. I just saw Robinson a few months ago in Rheingold and thought he was more memorable then. As for the conductor Rogister, I thought he was the 6th principal or possibly doubling as a prompter. I was sitting in the front row and he was rather audible from where I was sitting. Especially during the tenor parts he’d being singing the entrances with Lee. He’d also make these guttural sounds at the beginning of entrances for a big section of the orchestra. It was quite distracting and at some points I just had to laugh for all the work he was putting into it. He must’ve been drenched 15 minutes into the first act. Hand the guy a pitcher! But I’m surprised no one in the orchestra or production ever confronted him for his noise making.