Cher Public


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

From the perspective of current identity politics, Puccini’s Turandot is a disaster of epic proportions: a dumpster fire of misogyny and racism. Its plot concerns a Pekinese princess who avenges her female ancestor by slaughtering a host of misguided suitors. That is until a mysterious prince named Calàf melts her icy, bitter heart with his virile advances—a conflict and resolution tantamount to rape. 

It gets worse. Along the way, the audience encounters a host of cultural appropriations (including, if one can believe it, characters named Ping, Pang and Pong—not to be confused with a similarly named Dim sum restaurant, located at the Gold Coast Casino in Las Vegas, NV). There’s also a great deal of yellowface, and, for good measure, some disgusting theories on the nature of women—in short, the opera is relentless in its efforts to consume, ridicule, and degrade.

And what does one make of the Metropolitan Opera’s treatment of this ignorant mess, a production that had its premiere at the house back in 1987? A tacky tornado of glitter and fabric, assembled with a manic, homosexual glee by that carnival barker of the opera world, Franco Zeffirelli.

His approach can be described in two modes, both insipid. In one sense, the production strives for a perverse permutation of hyperrealism, with a dash of old school, showbiz panache. For example, the interior of a Chinese palace is rendered with a ridiculous amount of detail, leaving nothing to the imagination. And within this tableau, Zeffirelli irresponsibly parades a sampling of cultural practices in order to lend the proceedings a bit of verisimilitude.

However, these gestures swing so wide, and miss so remarkably, that the staging reads less as an invitation to another time and place, and more as an exercise in glib, camp aesthetics. “Don’t take it so seriously!” the production seems to command, archly winking, reveling in its own vulgarity.

This is especially true of the handling of Turandot, who undergoes many costume changes—veils, caftans, headdresses, studded with rhinestones—and is directed to scowl, simper, tip-toe, and snap her head, all while wearing a hideous black wig. She is a drag queen of the highest order. Unfortunately, this is a strain of drag deployed by out-of-touch, surreptitiously misogynistic gay men.

The opera had its season premiere on Thursday night, and the current cast did their best to assume these roles with as much dignity as possible. Standing regally in the midst of this hurricane of bad taste was Oksana Dyka as the title character. Her laser-like soprano pierced through the muddle and into the house.

All of the princess’s ferocity, anger, and bitterness were embodied in that iceberg of a voice. While at times there was a wild, unwieldy quality to her singing, almost shrill, her Turandot was, in general, a vocal success. And her zany, over-the-top acting seemed the only legitimate option in light of her character’s insane situation.

As her suitor/rapist Calàf, Aleksandrs Antonenko sang in a rich, hearty tenor that was a pleasure to hear. However, his intonation went awry during the most climactic moment of the Act III showstopper, “Nessun dorma,” marring an otherwise strong performance.

As Turandot’s foil Liù, Maria Agresta remained nondescript and forgettable. Her stage presence exemplified the character: a pathetic servant girl, devoted to Calàf because he smiled at her. She followed the tottering King Timur (sung with warmth and elegance by veteran James Morris), popping up when least expected. Agresta made the best of an idiotic role. Her voice was sporadically beautiful, warm and lush. And she was most successful when it counted—during the arias “Signore, ascolta!” and “Tu, che di gel sei cinta.”

Then there were Ping, Pang, and Pong, who fluttered about the stage, often doubled with fierce, fan-snapping dancers (not since Paris is Burning has so much shade been thrown). Alexey Lavrov, Tony Stevenson and Eduardo Valdes did what they could with these caricatures. Their singing was especially effective during the more lyrical sections of Act II.

Maestro Carlo Rizzi’s conducting was merely perfunctory, lacking the noble grandiosity Puccini’s score invokes. He also rushed the singers through the opera’s flashier moments—including Liù’s “Signore, ascolta!” and the climactic ending of “In questa reggia…”

Despite their moments of success, one wonders what sort of project these performances were ultimately contributing to. In 2015, in his review for the New York Times, David Allen had the sense to ask, “Is it right, today, to show Turandot so unquestioningly, and so unashamedly?”

The answer, as it was back in 1987, is no. Think harder; do better—either with an eye toward the opera’s more egregious crimes against intelligence and taste, or not at all. If Turandot is to remain in the repertory, then someone has to find a thoughtful, more responsible way to present this work, with both questions and shame—indeed, there are aspects of the text we should be ashamed of. Otherwise, we end up with soft-minded nonsense, an example of which one has found on the stage of the Met for the last 30 years.

Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

  • Antikitschychick

    Well, there are certainly some thought-provoking comments in this thread much like the review itself, which was pungent, in a good way imho. Honestly, when I read the now infamous phrase “manic homosexual glee” within the context of this blindingly kitschy Zeff production, which I have seen live, it didn’t come off as homophobic to me and I was surprised to see that reaction from ppl.

    First off, as a practical matter, I’m not sure how/why La Cieca would have someone who is homophobic, or espouses homophobic views writing for Parterre. Of course, one doesn’t have to be “straight” or cis-gendered to espouse and perpetuate homophobic ideas/attitudes and yes Ivy is right that sometimes what passes for ‘pointed criticism’ or ‘political correctness’ is nothing more than veiled homophobia and sexism which is pretty awful. Certainly that’s something we have to be weary of, especially in this day and age, but I just disagree that this review exhibits any of that.

    I don’t think that just because the author associated a penchant for “manic glee”, or gaudy excess, if you will, as opposed to true artistic vision and direction, with Zeff’s homosexuality, or “gayness” it was used as a result of some general prejudice against gay people or gay behavior in other contexts outside of opera. I took this review to be a very specific criticism of a particular director’s operatic production, catered to a specific audience that is mostly comprised of other gay men (with some exceptions ;-)). That’s not to say that the review can be generalized as “gay speak” as that would be reductive but there is definitely that zest to it, which I particularly admire and appreciate, because it takes real skill to write like that and it’s entertaining and subversive. Plus, surely Zeff isn’t representative of every gay director or gay man everywhere…

    As for the opera itself, I have said before that I am not such a fan and I agree with La Cieca’s take on it. That the the final scene involving the “kiss” becomes more appealing the more physically and outwardly forceful the Calaf is, like in that ROH production where he (Calaf) literally tackles Turandot into “submission” is utterly disturbing in a certain sense and a good director will at least address this by either modifying how this scene is staged or by setting it up in a way that makes it seem less gleefully rape-y as La Cieca and Mr. James suggested. That is ultimately the point that this review makes, which I utterly agree with.

    • Armerjacquino

      The phrase ‘no gay friends’, strewn liberally about this site by straight and gay people alike, relies on the stereotype of a gay sensibility focused on fashion and style and is greeted without a murmur. Substitute kitsch for style and the infamous ‘homosexual glee’ is no more or less reductive. But subsequent posts made it clear this was seized on by someone who has a problem with the reviewer in general, which probably explains a lot.

  • Antikitschychick

    Something else that I wanted to say, which I think is appropriate given the subject of this thread, has to do with the late Albert Innaurato, aka Mrsjohnclaggart. Before I do so, however, I would like to given a full and fair warning that what I am going to say will sound unpleasant to many of you and is contrary to many of the opinions expressed recently on this blog after his passing, except for what La Cieca said below which I agree with. Accordingly, if you don’t wish to read what I’m going to say I understand and it’s fine. I would also like to clarify that my intention in writing this is not to be offensive to anyone, least of all to a now deceased man. Further, I fully recognize and respect the belief that he greatly contributed to this art form that we all love, via this blog, and of course on a personal level to many of you who were fond of his musings here and elsewhere. Very little that I can say will change that. But…

    I do have to say that I found it deeply troubling how, in the wake of his passing, many if not most of you except maybe Niel Rishoi and a couple others, who no doubt witnessed his countless vicious personal attacks toward people who simply had different opinions than him, characterize his behavior as that of a “tortured and poor misunderstood soul”. One person shockingly and oddly even referred to him as “a gentleman.” I couldn’t disagree more with this characterization. It is, to me, wholly inaccurate. What’s worse, the lamentably condescending and self-gratifying attitude of “oh well he was only ever nice to me” so I will dismiss the downright hateful and vituperative attitude he had toward others as not only inconsequential but in some cases justified is not only very disappointing but just, disturbing quite frankly.

    I don’t wish to make this just about me, because it’s not, but I don’t want to speak for anyone else either that doesn’t wish me to do so, so I will just focus on my own personal experience. The last time I ever had the “privilege” of interacting with Mr. Innaurato, was precisely in a discussion relating to the ending of this opera. Although Porgy Amor says that AI believed Turandot was “one of Puccini’s weakest operas” he was nevertheless a great fan of the Alfano ending and vehemently believed that it was vastly superior to the Berio ending (a belief which he admitted he didn’t always have but that nevertheless became the correct and superlative one once he did; any opinion to the contrary was instantaneously ignorant and moronic).

    The disagreement started because in engaging with another commentator I deigned to enthusiastically express my preference for the Berio ending. Then uut of nowhere, Mr. Innaurato interjected by going on some grossly misogynistic psycho-sexual (and totally irrelevant) tirade about how my opinion didn’t matter because I wanted to engage in sadomasochistic sex with my favorite singer, who to him was a “clueless screamer.” He also insulted at least three other commentators while on this tirade, dismissing them as “fools” “idiots” and “snobs” for liking Wagner. What exactly my preference for a certain singer, who was always going to be disliked by him anyway, by virtue of actually having a successful career, had to do with a musical exegesis of the Alfano vs Berio ending to Turandot I couldn’t tell you. I can only hazard a guess that because I had the “audacity” to defend my opinion, it only enraged him further and he took it as some sort of personal affront. Truth be told, when this went down I found it rather amusing, especially upon seeing that he went ahead and liked his own comment in order to match the number of “likes” my last response to him had…really, I can’t make this stuff up…

    I certainly wish the “beef” would have ended there. Unfortunately it didn’t and things took an ugly turn. Within the next day or two, in response to an unrelated comment in an entirely different thread he fabricated some ridiculous story about how I had called him fat at the Philadelphia Opera, proceeded to describe me as ugly and made a defamatory remark about the law school I attended. I don’t know how he came upon that sort of personal information as I had never interacted with him outside PB, but one thing was clear: there really wasn’t a boundary he wouldn’t cross when he decided to go on one of his bullying escapades. That is simply not the behavior of a tortured soul or a gentleman. It is needy, egotistical, cruel and borderline sociopathic behavior which I can only equate to people like Donald Trump.

    But even despite his “mood disorder” I wanted to engage with him and overlook the nasty outbursts like the rest of you, but it got to the point where I simply couldn’t. Anyone, whether it was myself or any other “useless nonentity” who didn’t share his opinion on something simply wasn’t worthy of expressing an opinion in his view, so he resorted to diminishing and belittling said person(s) continuously and unrelentingly. And truth be told, the treatment I got was nothing compared what other people on this blog and elsewhere were subjected to and I simply don’t wish to go into the details of that, because it just gets ugly.

    What I feel compelled to say in response is that I honestly don’t think any supposed level of knowledge or erudition justifies that sort of indecent behavior. Moreover, while he definitely had great musical insight at times, a lot of what he wrote consisted of gossip and/or stories he fabricated, probably because he needed an outlet since his career as a playwright had diminished. Of course, one could also simply admire the manner in which he wrote, as there is no denying that he was a great writer. I just ultimately find it sad that the sooner he would write a detailed and insightful review of a work, the sooner he would turn around and label someone, anyone, a fool or an idiot just to put them down, in order to assuage whatever insecurities he had and assert his intellectual superiority. Perhaps there were times in which he genuinely felt a need to connect with people and simply share his point of view in order to have fruitful discussions, but more often than not it came off as a type intellectual bullying and as La Cieca pointed out, simply engaging with him meant running the risk of being maimed and ridiculed.

    So is a person that exhibited this type of behavior really the cause for such celebration and reverence? Unfortunately for me the answer is no and not by choice. I didn’t choose to view him in such a negative way and it’s not because I’m an idiot and not worthy of any opinions. Of course I’m far from right about everything, there’s a lot I don’t know and probably never will and I certainly don’t think myself superior to anyone or more entitled to express my opinions because of what I do know and if, God forbid, I ever become a bitter old hag who bullies people the way IA did I hope to someone takes me to task for it!

    Again, my intention in writing this was not to create further discord or be disrespectful to anyone, and I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who wishes to continue to enjoy his writings. I honestly do hope he is at peace. But I do not agree with the perception that he was some sort of sage, benevolent genius. He was far from that and it has to be said by someone, because to excuse behavior like the type he exhibited is to negate the point of living in a civilized society where people treat each other with if not kindness, then at least respect despite differences of opinion. When it comes to matters as subjective as art and especially when there are consequences to hurling nasty insults at people, we all should try and comport ourselves with some common decency shouldn’t we? Or does that not apply to certain people?

    Again, the sad thing is, I’m sure he knew this yet just didn’t care. He often even said so. That is pretty deplorable no matter what sort of tragedies and personal disappointments he went through. There is just no fucking point to anything if we glorify that sort of behavior. We may as well build the fucking wall and start marching around with the KKK spewing hateful, racist, bigoted, homophobic and misogynistic shit against anyone who isn’t Alfano, I mean Aryan. I don’t want to live in that world and I hope there are at least a few other people who don’t either.

    • Porgy Amor

      Antikitschychick, I remember the incidents you describe, and many others. I remember his bullying a Deborah Voigt fan here several years ago. There was some unforgettable imagery involving a prop spear and Vaseline, and I’m sorry to say, yes, that comes to my mind when I read AI’s name or his internet handle. It isn’t the only thing, but it’s there in the jumble of impressions, and that’s on him. He made that (and things like it) part of his identity and legacy.

      I had my own clash with him years ago on another forum, over a mid-20th-century Italian soprano he loved and whom I found flat too much of the time to enjoy her. (No, not that one. The other one.) At least, it was “over” that in the sense that that was my initial transgression. The other stuff he brought into it had nothing to do with same. I probably only got “Albert on 5,” though, the prop-spear person getting 10.

      Then, on the other hand, as you mention, he was a great critical writer, and he wrote some successful plays, and he was unfailingly gracious and encouraging to me here when I started writing, and he had a good way of distilling his knowledge about things he loved into something elucidating. His piece on Missy Mazzoli’s opera Breaking the Waves is something I very proudly shared, both at the time he wrote it and some more after he died. It captured that elation you feel when you discover something new and you cannot wait to help it on its way out in the world. I read that and it went beyond making me want to see Ms. Mazzoli’s opera myself; it made me feel that all of us in our way can be caretakers of art, just in raising awareness of what is worthwhile.

      I was always a little wary, because I know that just about every person who was a target of his abuse had once been a friend. I just didn’t believe that in every single case, these other people he raged at had been the only offending party. Such longstanding relationships as he had were stormy, and the reversals could come so quickly. So he was a person who inspired conflicting feelings for me, and I imagine it was that way for many here.

      If the initial spate of commentary the wake of his death was a little too one-sided (and, okay, there was no “if” about it, it just plain was), well, this is the way of such things. Except in the most extreme cases of murderers and dictators, people try in moments of loss to emphasize the good, even when they remember the good and everything else.

      So, that’s where we are. He was great and he was terrible. He can neither hurt nor help anyone anymore. He will be missed, except insomuch as he will not. And all of us, nice or nasty or some combination, are heading in the same direction.

      • had my own clash with him years ago on another forum, over a mid-20th-century Italian soprano he loved and whom I found flat too much of the time to enjoy her. (No, not that one. The other one.).

        Oh her! She was awful!!!

    • manou

      That is why I would prefer to have my funeral when I am still alive -- I want people to say nice things about me, and also check out who attends and who cries (and who does not cry enough…).

      As the noirest of MrsJC’s bêtes, I was initially taken aback by the coarse vituperation directed at me. I did answer him at first, but quickly found that if I was armed with a puny stiletto, he had several bazookas and hand grenades at his disposal, and so I took the craven way out and did not engage with him directly. This was not enough for him to desist from tormenting and insulting me whenever he felt like it.

      This being said, I came to feel pity for him because he seemed such an unhappy character. When someone consistently needs to abase others to magnify his own achievements, it is a sure sign that he not leading a blissful and balanced life. He was quick to point out his own shortcomings as he saw them (“Je me les sers moi-même avec assez de verve/Mais je ne permets pas qu’un autre me les serve.”>) to forestall anyone else alluding to them.

      I was not at all surprised by the encomia which greeted his demise -- many people here admired his musical erudition and his consistently penetrating opinions and they expressed their sadness at his passing in the way they felt it at the time.

      I am an ancient granny and I am probably more able to distance myself from this kind of unpleasantness -- as a bright young thing you will soon learn not to be affected by events that do not matter much in the scheme of things.

      • rapt

        Dear Manou--I’m impressed (and not surprised) by your ability to take this generous perspective on AI’s bizarre (and, to me, inexplicable) animosity toward you. So it’s with some trepidation that I presume to disagree with one point you make. I’m pretty old myself, but I find that, as I move from “pretty” to “very,” my sense of what matters in the scheme of things moves increasingly towards an emphasis on the nature of our human interactions. Magnanimity in sloughing off unjust treatment of oneself is certainly admirable, as is the effort to understand the psychological sources of such mistreatment. But I think it’s a mistake with incalculable consequences to ignore or let pass such mistreatment of others. One source of my pleasure in this blog derives from the standard of civility (not to mention wit and intelligence) established and maintained by the moderator in the midst of the human, inescapable, and often delightful whirl of passions, furies, errors in relation to a topic itself rich with those complexities.

        • manou

          Dear rapt -- thank you for taking the time to answer me. You are of course right to point out the importance of civil discourse and exchanges based on courtesy and respect for one’s interlocutors (and Jeremy Bentham agrees with you). I just feel that if you are in a difficult situation you have no influence over, the best option is to let it go and not worry about it to any degree.

      • grimoaldo2

        I must say I did and do feel ashamed that I never told him off for his outrageous attacks on you manou, please forgive me. And I am sorry that Antikitschychick experienced what she did.
        I was afraid, not of being attacked by him, but that he would stop posting here if everyone was hostile to him. He did disappear from this blog for years at a time and I found what he wrote so uniquely insightful that I wanted to be able to continue to enjoy his posts.

        • manou

          Thanks Grim. I have had quite a few private emails from people who I am assuming felt exactly the same.

        • Antikitschychick

          Thanks Grim. I appreciate the kind words as well.

      • Antikitschychick

        You know I was thinking of you when I decided to write that post above. Those comments he made towards you and others, which I believe were his last on this site, about the handicapped children…well they were awful and I’m only sorry I didn’t say anything at the time. Thanks for the compliment as well and thanks to La Cieca for tolerating my rather lengthy take on AI.

      • Betsy_Ann_Bobolink

        I first engaged the late gentleman because he was attacking a lady whom I respected, a lady who has since assured me both personally and by her own skills of discourse that she did not need protection. I apologize to Manou for misjudging her and for trying to act macho when I’m not. However, in that exchange I noticed that there was one thing about his writing — when he was in the mood for invective he was quite honestly boring and banal. That led me to pity him.

        Setting aside all pretext of decency, one of the proudest moments of my life was when I called him on a grammatical error he had made and thereby sent him into a total frenzy..In my little lair I chortled and chortled. I tee hee still, and will.

        • manou

          Thank you lovely Betsy.You may come to my live funeral. Please cry lots.

          • Betsy_Ann_Bobolink

            Why should I? You didn’t come to mine.

            • manou

              All my black clothes were at the cleaners.

    • CKurwenal

      Years ago I got told off by him fairly aggressively -- I can’t remember any details, I think I was wrong to like some singer or other, or wrong to be more fixated on voices than music, something along those lines. I just made sure not to engage with him directly again (although that didn’t save me from being dragged in now and again, and lumped into a general category of clueless idiots or something, if I happened to have commented on a thread on which he subsequently weighed in).

      Nevertheless, I would rather he hadn’t died as I will miss his contributions (those of the kind where he stayed ‘on message’ and actually talked about opera and music). I don’t think he was right about everything he said, but I found them entertaining, thought provoking and I learnt from them often.

      Antikitschychick, I certainly felt at odds with most of Parterre on reading the responses to his death because of the tone struck which seemed to revise the reality somewhat, and I agree with a lot of what you say above.

      • Bill

        I did not post anything about Albert upon his death on Parterre though I certainly enjoyed his postings for the most part. When he had a snit about something someone said about his postings he sometimes left Parterre abruptly for a stretch and I always welcomed his return to Parterre -- over the years we had seen many of the same performances and artists and I was actually surprised that he was
        as much as 8 years younger than I. Only once
        did I meet him when our beloved Claire introduced me to him at one of Stemme’s Tristans. We walked him to his bus and he fell badly on the steps leading to the bus -- shaken up but unharmed -- we accompanied him to the train station to assure
        that he got back to Philadelphia in good hands.
        He sent a couple of personal notes of thanks but then later attacked both of us, Claire and me (separately) on this blog for one reason or another.
        We both ignored it for obviously Albert was not
        particularly well, had trouble walking and not able to get around easily -- it is not easy to be in ill health -- he had tremendous girth which also was a detriment`

        • Bill

          continuing -- detriment to his mobility or even to squeeze into a seat at the opera.
          His stories were often hilarious (and perhaps a wee bit historically exaggerated) and he obviously knew a wide range of artists involved with the theater and music. My take was that probably he was not inwardly a happy person and his occasional perpetual attacks on some parterre writers were cruel and without merit. I noticed he often wrote his negative posts quite late at night probably sitting alone wherever he lived. He sometimes degraded himself and reflected on his personal misery (widowhood, burnout or whatever) as he wrote -- but he wrote often in enchanted fashion, a master of words and the ability to communicate his thoughts, memories and personal knowledge of theater and music.
          Could one like him personally -- perhaps not, at least on some occasions. Could one
          want to emulate him. Could one enjoy his numerous operatic experiences, his vast
          knowledge of artists and their artistic and
          personal histories -- indeed. A very
          unique person to be sure. I shall miss his postings, glowing praise of some, venom about others, his way with words soulful or pithy. A unique person writing on this blog and one whose actual identity was well known by most. Now whatever happened to Feldmarschallin who reported so adeptly from Munich ? And so many others. Bill


      • Antikitschychick

        Thanks Cocky. It’s always a pleasure to engage in discussions with you about vocal production or anything else really as you always have something insightful to say. I enjoyed many of his posts too and I even bought some of the books he recommended to me once. Still haven’t read them but I will get to it at some point.

    • PCally

      Perceptive and fairly accurate comment. I often found his comments about the music in particular informative because I’ve never been much of a musicologist and a lot of Alberts posts helped me rethink notions I’d had and seek out singers and performances I was otherwise unaware of. That being said, and I say this as someone who more or less got along with him (and am probably guilty of not addressing some of his crueler and more obsessive aggressive posts) nothing excused the nastiness that motivated his usually random and exaggerated attacks and conspiracy theories about why one might disagree with him. I was on a couple of occasions called (comparatively less severe) things for comments that I hadn’t even posted.

      And as someone who is not of fan of Hildegard Behrens, I have to say I found that idea that she was somehow the worst singer to have ever sung literally anything to be a pretty extreme opinion and his obsession with attaching her was just as strange and marshies devotion to her.

      • grimoaldo2

        “am probably guilty of not addressing some of his crueler and more obsessive aggressive posts”

        I definitely feel and felt at the time that I am and was guilty of that, seeing these horrible attacks on manou and others and saying nothing about it. It isn’t really my job to try to enforce good behaviour on this blog though, La C does that. Bill mentions Feldmarschallin from Munich and I also miss oedipe from Paris, a lot of people found both of them obnoxious also , which I understand, but at least they were active opera goers in those cities who could tell us what was going on there.
        Are we here to be a group of nice warm people exchanging friendly chats over a cup of tea or to share and learn insights and experiences to do with opera? Even people who are objectionable in some ways can add to knowledge and are worth putting up with.
        Having said all that I don’t feel good about myself for not having challenged mrsjc’s attacks, but I feared he would just go away like oedipe and Feld did and I didn’t want that.

        • Camille

          You are wrong grim, as your objections or defenses would have done nothing to help anyone. There was nothing to be done in dealing with him.

    • Porgy Amor

      What exactly my preference for a certain singer, who was always going to be disliked by him anyway, by virtue of actually having a successful career

      I do not mean to pile on, but I am not even sure he disliked her. He certainly praised her ROH Lady Macbeth on his blog, in the course of trashing Anna Netrebko. “And now, one even wonders about Netrebko’s usefulness in this rep. At Covent Garden Liudmyla Monastyrska buried her, given what she does here (that telecast is very easy to find). True, she wasn’t subtle or Italian but that was one wallop through these arias. In comparison to all these ladies [Monastryska and some retired or dead Lady Macbeths], Netrebko sounds like an amateur[.]”

      I do not take back anything I said about his efforts as a serious critic, and there is even some good nuts-and-bolts criticism in that piece on Trebs; but in more off-the-cuff comments, and especially in the heat of “battle,” his judgments would shift quite a bit. It depended on the purpose for which he wanted to use a singer, as a target or as a club. The same man who routinely trashed Domingo, claimed to have hated him since his NYCO days, marveled that anyone who had heard great tenors could ever think Domingo was one…is in the Met Guide praising Domingo as a great tenor. (Met Tosca with Behrens: “He sounds wonderful but also shapes his music with the sophistication and love it deserves. This, one feels, is genuinely a great tenor caught live.”)

      • Antikitschychick

        Thanks for that Porgy and for your other response as well. I was not aware of that comment by AI or if I was it had slipped my mind. My perception of his opinion of her was based on that one comment he made which I reiterated above and it was the only time I at least thought he had ever said anything about her. He did also like a comment by PCally that basically said she was very uneven and that he (PCally) didn’t know what all the fuss was about so I think maybe his initial impression of her based on that Covent Garden Macbeth had changed…but I honestly can’t say for sure because his opinions would fluctuate depending on what mood he was in.

        I honestly have no problem with people not liking her as much as I do or even disliking her entirely. In the end it’s a matter of taste and certainly some of the criticisms of her acting (or lack thereof) and her enunciation have been fair.

        But what I do have an issue with is that sort of outright attack that has no relevance whatsoever to what is being discussed and in which the singer is being used as a prop to intellectually bludgeon people with.

        Musical insights aside, which I agree were always great, I also happen to disagree with his almost wholesale trashing of AN’s Verismo disc and her Lady Macbeth. I think AN is pretty great in that role but that’s just my opinion. I think she, Liudmyla and Semenchuk are the best Lady’s Ive seen in that role. Haven’t seen Urmana or Serjan though I would like to.

    • DonCarloFanatic

      I always thought he had a version of Tourette’s--that he simply could not control himself. He said a few coarse and mean things to me, which I did not appreciate, but he also explained a lot of things about music, which I did. Before I knew “who” he was, I saw that on this site he was treated with reverence. Once I read some of his postings, I began to understand a little why. Those of us who are intelligent and educated sometimes think we’re surrounded by idiots. The irony is that there is a hierarchy even of the “intelligent and educated,” and AI felt he was at the top, and the rest of us belonged in the muck with the hoi polloi. It’s quite possible he was correct about our comparative levels of musical knowledge, but his specific attacks on people were amazing as well as obnoxious. Hence my thought that it was Tourette’s.

      I appreciate that on this site no one demands that we always play nice. The only problem I see is that when people get going in a big way with insulting and being mean and characterizing others’ posts as this or that, it shuts down the free flow.

    • Camille

      Why do you feel yourself to be so important you hijack a thread on an entirely different subject and make it about some petty assed insult to your ego from some time back and which should have already been dealt with, to lodge a complaint against someone unable to respond? Isn’t that indefensible cowardice?

      And let me make it clear right here: I in NO WAY condone his behavior which was absolutely MONSTROUS and INEXCUSABLE, to many, many, MANY other persons on this blog and on opera-l, and who knows how many others he frequented in that twilight vampirelike guise of his? What you endured was nothing at all in comparison to Madame manou’s ongoing persecution which was started by god knows what and which no one could do anything to prevent, or the absolutely disgusting, nauseating things he said to Cerquetti-Farrell, with whom he had gotten along swimmingly for a while and which occasioned one of his many, MANY farewells. Just two egregious cases which spring to mind.

      Kitschy, you were dealing with a SICK man, scheduled for heart surgery back in 2012, who feared he would not survive and did not go through with it. So, he survived in a very defective and damaged manner for another few years, cursing the light and everything around him but still clinging on to a bit of his past love.

      He was consumed by hatred. He once proudly told me, “I’m a HATER!”. To which I just recoiled shudderingly, for the insane look of joy and delight told me that one fine day I’d be at the receiving end of his hate, make one misstep, and There It Was. I’d evaded it for years but knew my number was up, and instead of airing my grievances for all on parterre to give me a pity-party, I flagged La Cieca, and explained to her what happened, which is what you could have done, too. You sound as if you think you deserve special consideration.

      Why do you think any of this ancient grievance matters to anyone? He’s dead now and out of his considerable misery. We’ve ALL been insulted by him. He was an EQUAL OPPORTUNITY Ad Hominem Feces Flinger. AND, he was a brilliant and very sick but gifted human being, troubled from his early youth--and I could tell you a tale that would make your hair stand on end— flawed and unable to control his impulses—and how would I know that? Just by looking at him. It should be obvious.

      This is the only world you’ve got, Kitschy, so you are going to have to deal with it. I lived through the sixties and well remember all the protests and all the deadheads who were going to change things. Thing is, they never sobered up long enough or shut up and went to work, and so here we are. People like Innaurato are always going to cross one’s path and you either make peace with the Devil or you get the hell out of the Devil’s way, but that’s up to you, and so I hope you learn to be wiser than this long crying towel has shown you to be.

      • rapt

        If a bully’s victim has any right at all, I think it is to state her pain--at any time, in any circumstance. I do not think this cowardice.

      • La Cieca

        Strictly speaking, you’re right about this being on the wrong thread, but I’m not with what amounts to a personal attack. Albert got a lot of praise on this site after his death and so I think it is only fair that we see the other side of the coin.

        Let’s all try to de-escalate at this point and perhaps change the subject?

        • Antikitschychick

          Whoops. Didn’t see this until after posting the above comment. Apologies La C. Feel free to delete it should you wish to.

        • Camille

          What? Say that again? Ludicrous, as certainly you don’t bother yourself when I have been mercilessly attacked by others on numerous occasions and turn a blind eye.

          This was an attempt to make a person who had experinced the vitriol and vituperative nastiness of Innaurato to wake up to the fact it was not a special circumstance, nor Is it required to go on a long dredging up of facts which are done and over with. If there was a grievance against AI, it could have come out at that time, on the couple of threads surrounding his death. And in fact, I expected it to, knowing all the differences he had with others. It made anyone trying to accentuate the positive--as what could one do?--feel foolish, for I know I did after what he pulled with me.

          I don’t think anyone is happy about any of this, for it has all ended badly, but it certainly is not about one person playing the victim card. We all suffered.

          • CwbyLA

            You are being too defensive Camille.

          • La Cieca

            I have written to you privately about this matter.

      • Antikitschychick

        I didn’t hijack the thread over a “petty ass insult” nor was my comment irrelevant. You and several others mentioned him in his thread. But ultimately that’s not for me to decide. If it was I’ll gladly post it somewhere else if La Cieca wishes. That is beside the point though.

        You are mischaracterizing the point of my post and also trivializing the various responses from people as a “pity party” simply because you don’t agree. Moreover, to insist on justifying what literally everyone agrees was vile behavior on his part by putting your own personal feelings and opinions above everyone else’s and proceeding to dictate how people should respond to being maimed and bullied is what I’m afraid seems pretty self-important to me.

        As I repeatedly said in my post, and as the other comments on the matter illustrate, this issue wasn’t just about me. It’s also quite contradictory to tell Grim that there was no point in addressing his rude behavior and then turning around and calling me a coward for not doing so. Besides, as I made clear in my post, I did respond to him the first time. The second comment I ignored because as you yourself said, there was no point in engaging with him only to provoke further insults although I did as a matter of fact send an email to La Cieca about that comment but for whatever reason I did not receive a response. But that is also beside the point because there was nothing La Cieca or anyone could do to control his outbursts.

        Finally I would greatly appreciate it if you would please stop telling me how you think I should behave and what my world view should be. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and Im honestly growing tired of it. This will be my last post on this subject and again if La Cieca wishes me to move it I will gladly do so. My thanks to everyone who responded civilly and honestly.

    • Anti I’m not going to divulge his business since he’s no longer with us but let’s just say he was a very VERY troubled man, and beyond the intervention of traditional treatments (therapy, medication).

    • Ivy Lin

      Anti I’m sending you a PM on Facebook.

  • H_Badger

    Turandot this afternoon. Someone dyed the fountain yellow. Coincidence?