Cher Public

“If they had tried to give me only flowers, I would have spit in their faces”

Born on this day in 1887 soprano Maria Jeritza

Born on this day in 1820 soprano Jenny Lind.

Born on this day in 1880 mezzo-soprano Julia Culp.

Born on this day in 1882 composer Karol Szymanowski.

Happy 82nd birthday tenor Vasile Moldoveanu.

Also Happy 82nd birthday to conductor Leopold Hager.

Happy 74th birthday composer Udo Zimmermann.

Happy 67th birthday tenor Keith Lewis.

  • Sanford Schimel

    To be more accurate, it was Francia White as Jenny Lind.

  • fletcher

    Question for those who’ve seen it -- who awkward / insensitive is the Woolcock Pêcheurs, in case someone were to hypothetically take their Tamil love interest? Asking for a friend.

    • Nelly della Vittoria

      Oh wait, that was ours at the Met, yes? Yes.

      Ahem, this Tamil opera-goer quite enjoyed it, though it should be said that 1. I’m not from Sri Lanka but from, er, the other place, 2. I went for Diana, who was wonderful, 3. I’m maybe too inured to (amused by) 18th- and 19th-century orientalist fantasy.

      But in all seriousness, I think anything annoying about it belonged to the piece and not to the production. My memory of it is fast fading, but I thought the sets and costumes (“traditional” here and there, but full of the discontinuous junk and conveniences of contemporary capitalism) in particular had the virtue of being both convincing and effective.

      The text itself — well — it’s peculiar nonsense, but you know that. I know it too, and should maybe stop laughing at everyone’s names (Leila! Nourabad! Zurga!) one day — but not quite yet.

      • Camille

        What other place, Nelly? Scotland?

        • Nelly della Vittoria

          Ha! I’m sure we’d both be mildly surprised to discover how many things in dusty old Madras had Walter-Scott-derived names if ever I bothered to draw up a list!

          I’m feeling quite pleased at having been useful.

          • Camille

            Do you wear madras plaid by any chance? Haven’t seen them for years but once there was a vogue.

    • Camille

      Not to worry fletcher--fairly inoffensive. The first scene is worth the price of admission. Good luck with La Nino!

  • southerndoc1

    Can anyone explain the Jeritza phenomenon? She was the top soprano in both Vienna and New York for a decade, so she had to been more than just a dimpled chin and blonde hair. The recordings aren’t bad, they’re just . . . dull. Always been a mystery to me.

    • Bill

      Jeritza was widely admired by the likes of Richard Strauss,
      Puccini, Korngold -- apparently she could be electric on the stage -- it is a full voice with no weakening at the top.
      Some of the snippets of her live performances are more compelling than her studio recordings. Some singers need an audience to be their most compelling (Rysanek is a later example). The presence of Jeritza at the Met apparently
      helped rescue the opera house financially at a time when
      Farrar left and big stars were needed. She sang in Vienna regularly from 1911 to 1935 and then some performances from 1949 -52 in tough roles, Santuzza, Tosca, Minnie, Salome -- Some considered her the Prima Donna of the last century ( taking into account Callas, Ponselle etc.) -- perhaps in part as she sang in World Premieres of Strauss and Korngold, promoted operas such as Jenufa which were very modern in her day -- she must have been a considerable musician. Glamour of course as well. Some of her last performances after the war (and she was over 60) were to raise money for the re-building of the bombed Vienna Opera House. Few would be around today who saw her in her prime -- but was a true legend in her day. She had a wide repertoire including many roles not now associated with her such as Massenet’s Manon, Thais, Fedora -- She also appeared in a few Clunkers -- operas which were practically never revived. As far as I can see she sang almost exclusively in, first Olmuetz (from 1910 debut as Elsa) , Brno, then Vienna from 1911 and New York (from 1921) with some
      London appearances in 1925/26.

      • Rowna Sutin

        And just a bit more . . .those old recordings can be very off-putting. I think sometimes you have to have a leap of faith as to how good they were. Believe it or not, I hear star quality when she sings, and yet I could pull apart her technique -- but why would i . . .

        • Camille

          Yes, you are quite right. A considerable adjustment and allowance has to be made when listening to those older recordings AND one must take into consideratiin the different type of vocal pedagogy and ideals of that period. One must remember that each country and much more an individual and culturally specific style whereas these days it’s fairly homogenized

      • southerndoc1

        Thanks, Bill, as always.

        At the Met, she took precedence over Ponselle, Rethberg, Easton, Bori et al -- all of whose recordings are far more immediately enjoyable.

        The gulf between her reputation and her recordings has always seemed the greatest of any important singer I know. Rysanek is a good comparison in that regard; maybe G Jones also?

        • PCally

          Jones is absolutely an example. I think her magnetism rarely if ever comes over a microphone (Whereas for wall her severe flaws, you can practically see how charismatic rysanek was when listening to her. This is just IMO). In fact some of her early Italian stuff in which she sounds pretty fantastic are actually kind of boring dramatically. I remember being surprised at how well regarded her Desdemona is. She sounds fine but IMO totally unmemorable. Yet photos and contemporary reports of her live performances in the part suggest she was wonderful.

          • Bill

            I agree about Jones -- I saw her as early as her 1966 debut in Vienna (replacing Nilsson)
            when she was not known on the Continent and had not developed a wobble and over the years she was one of my favorite Leonoras.
            She could be erratic vocally -- sometimes
            beginning with some vocal squalor and
            ending up in peak form. But she was always committed and I think audiences generally always found her performances rewarding.
            Perhaps Rysanek was a bit more exciting
            to behold on the stage and I believe I saw her more often than any other important soprano. Her acting was always very spontaneous -- never quite the same from one performance to another even in the same production. And one really had to hear and see both of them in person, on the stage for that was the total package.

            Older recordings are very hard to judge --
            I never found Caruso as impressive from his records as he obviously was vocally on the stage -- the sound of the recordings
            obviously did not capture all of the elements of his vocal allure. It is probably the same with Jeritza -- she had a large voice and large voices often were then not as easy to tape. And maybe in those days in a cramped room the singers just stood there and sang and went home -- on stage
            a great artist is communicating with a rapt audience -- both the artist and the audience full of expectation. Perhaps that is why now (other than for cost considerations) most recorded operas are actually
            either from live performances or taped
            simultaneously in a studio while live performances are taking place with the same singers, conductor and orchestra.

            From all reports Jeritza was certainly one of the most important singers of the 20th century for many reasons.

    • Camille

      Have you tried listening to her recording of “Es gibt ein Reich”? (Ariadne auf Naxos). It is of great historical interest and, if my memory serves me, she negotiates it far more easily than many of her successors.

      Aside from that she had one quality in scant availability on the opera stage most of the time: sex appeal. Instead of a lumbering cow with a canary’s throat she had something the old boys went for. And they don’t get all that much of it with A Night at the Opera.

      • Camille

        I listened to that one and think fhis better:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOyJchey_bA

        The Freischütz aria as well. It’s a kind of voice that works well at times and others not as well. Interesting. I have never listened that much to her as before youtube her records were not that widely available.

    • Damianjb1

      I think it was John Steane who said that Jeritza was the only great singer who never made a good record.

  • Camille

    Luigi ROSSI concert LIVE from Carnegie Hall on http://www.WQXR.org 105.9 FM

    Starting NOW.

    The group is called L’arpeggiata. Concert comprised of two singers of arias and a sinfonia or two.

    Ciao!

    Rossi: Sinfonia from Il palazzo incantato playing right now followed by an aria from same.