Cher Public

Cervelli! Cervelli!

Our dear sister publication BBC Music Magazine has crafted the ideal experience for conservative opera buffs: Tosca as performed by the corpses of long-dead singers, reanimated as bloodless zombies.  

  • fletcher

    I love Peter Grimes, but the fifth greatest opera of all time?

    • PCally

      Personally I don’t find that any sillier then boheme as number two.

    • Dan Patterson

      You know, I’ve seen Peter Grimes five times in my life, including once with Vickers. It’s nothing I ever want to listen to, though, aside from the Sea Interludes. When it comes to Britten, I like MSND the best, but perhaps that’s because of the play?

      • MSND?

        • Dan Patterson

          Sorry! Midsummer Night’s Dream.

          • Heheh, thanks -- I got there in the end, running them all through my head. I like MSND very much -- but I like most Britten, including PG, which I now haven’t seen for a long time. I’m thinking of making the trip to Madrid for Gloriana next year.

            • Dan Patterson

              Of the 8 Britten operas I’ve seen, GLORIANA is not one of them. I’ve never heard more than excerpts. Aside from MSND, my favorite is RAPE OF LUCRETIA, which I found intensely moving the first time I saw it.

            • It’s hard to see Gloriana, that’s why I’m thinking of making the trip to Madrid.

            • PCally

              Antonacci in that opera is a very interesting prospect and should be worth seeing even if she doesn’t kill it.

      • PCally

        Not an unequivocal Britten fan myself (turn of the screw is probably my favorite, though I think all of his operas work for me when done well), I just personally am not really over the moon about Puccini in general. I think he was a master craftsman and that his operas are thrilling when done well but I don’t really understand how his scores taken on their own terms are superior to Janacek, Monteverdi etc… none of whom make the top ten here.

        • fletcher

          Poppea is in fact no. 7 on this list, and L’Orfeo 17 -- overrepresented, if anything. Anyway I’ve become something of a shill but I think the score to Fanciulla can safely stand beside Kát’a or whatever.

          • PCally

            Haven’t seen the whole list. I don’t personally feel the same way about fanciulla but it’s probably my favorite Puccini along with Manon Lescaut.

            Katya is not my favorite Janacek btw, and I probably would put boheme ahead of it. But Jenufa and Mak and House of the dead are basically perfect imo, even in weak performances. I pretty much worship Monteverdi even if the scores aren’t perfect per se.

            Perhaps I just haven’t seen enough good Puccini live. I’ve never seen a great Tosca, Butterfly, or Turandot in the house. It’s probable that I’d feel differently if I had.

            • fletcher

              Interesting. I’d rank Kát’a and Vixen way ahead of Markopulos, but to each their own. I wonder though if we don’t hold the tentpole operas to higher standards in performance and so are more frequently disappointed by them. Janá?ek remains somewhat of a novelty on the west coast, and Puccini ubiquitous, so the excitement of seeing something unusual lends it some dramatic energy (and the opposite for some workaday Bohème). I’ve never seen a great Carmen either but I still think it’s a masterpiece.

            • To me personally there isn’t much to be got from ranking Janacek’s operas as they are all so good. Few composers managed such a consistently high standard.

              As for Monteverdi: I wouldn’t complain if Orfeo were at the number one spot.

            • fletcher

              True about Janá?ek I guess. I have a similar problem with Handel, a composer I enjoy slightly less, but whose best six or seven operas seem uniformly excellent and impossible to rank.

            • Typically, at the end of a Händel opera, I emerge thanking first and foremost the composer himself. His invention is just phenomenal: every aria a beautifully-wrought objet d’art in itself.

  • Leontiny

    La C I love you, but there are no clickable links. Yes, I have functioning fingers and know how to Google, but thought you might like to know.
    And in other news, any updates on what happened to Loft Opera? Not looking for gossip (ok just a little), but mourning the passing of something we admired and loved.

    • Everything I click on results in a message that whatever I’m looking for doesn’t exist.

      • Sounds exactly like my own internet provider.

        • Satisfied

          Hello NPW! Wondering if you were at Don Carlos tonight and curious about your thoughts. It’s almost 3am in Paris and I’m only now getting to bed, but briefly: this was such a wonderful evening overall…completely worth all the headaches involved with trying to obtain a ticket!

          • Yes, I was there -- on the front row, which isn’t the best place to be, though it has it merits. I’m still thinking my thoughts and will write about it in the next few days. Basically: an exceptional cast but a disappointing job by Warlikowski -- and I don’t personally like Jordan’s style as much as many people might.

            • Satisfied

              I agree with you about the consistently fantastic singing. One could Quavo about a moment or two, but overwhelmingly the night was musically very rich. I also agree with you about Jordan. He rarely comes to New York (ever?) last time I saw him was several years ago in the production of Don Giovanni. I was not at all impressed then, and my mind has not changed after this performance.

              I suppose if I am disappointed at all, and I’m not, it would be due to the Warlikowski production. This is my first time seeing one of his operas performed live, and I was expecting to be shocked… even if just a little. I wasn’t. Perhaps I don’t know or understand his ascetic, but this Don Carlos consisted of focusing his actors around one or two central settings, some combination of vintage Hollywood and 1940s Spain. Nothing particularly wrong about that, it didn’t at all upset the story, but I don’t know if it added anything from say a traditional production. In terms of seating, I was 15 Row Center orchestra (really lucked out -- I was in the row that has a walkway in front of it) so had a prime opportunity to notice details. However, nothing in particular stood out.

              Still, even if the production itself didn’t make much sense to me, it was consistently sleek and gorgeous. His ability to shape performances from his actors was also quite impressive!

              All in all it was a wonderful evening. I met my husband at Les Grandes Marches (being he didn’t attend the opera but wanted to meet me nearby after) and for a few drinks after on Rue Amelot. Before I knew it, it was 3AM!

              This opera coupled with a mind blowing lunch at Le Gabriel, made for a truly remarkable 27 hours in Paris! So worth all the hassle involved in obtaining a ticket!

            • DonCarloFanatic

              Thanks for this report. Dying to see (and hear) this production. DVD or repeat streaming in the works?

            • Satisfied

              I don’t know how it’s possible for a cast like this to be filmed and a DVD not released. Especially where everyone is firing on all cylinders! I saw about 7 cameras in the orchestra. I’m sure there were many others throughout the house. I’m definitely buying it if and when it does come out!

            • The Paris Opera is perfectly capable of not bringing out DVDs of its best productions.

            • Satisfied

              Burn.

            • QuantoPainyFakor

              I’ve watched some parts of the video and will try to find time to watch all of it soon. I wonder how they positioned the cameras to cut from the film effect with all the video imperfections to the clear images behind the scrim without raising it. Was the scrim and the video overlay distracting in the theater?

            • Satisfied

              The scrim and the video were not at all distracting. Unnecessary perhaps, but not at all destructing.

              On the issue, and I ask if anyone who might know, of the scrim images (and potential spoiler): I could have sworn that each of the scrim images were the singers themselves, except for the last image of Don Carlos (who clearly, was not my gorgeous Jonas).

              This image was the final scrim image before Carlos is “taken.” Was this intentional or was Jonas simply not around to shoot the necessary video?

            • QuantoPainyFakor

              I still don’t understand how they accomplished the effect. At first I thought everything was a film, but then the characters were obviously not obscured in a brighter lighting but with the shadows of the imperfections of an old film visible on the characters. More important is the version and the performances, so one needs to devote several hours to absorb all of it.

            • Satisfied

              Hmmm…not 100 percent sure what you mean. Throughout the opera, celluloid was projected upon the characters and stage (I couldn’t quite place what character or act prompted the projections, and on occasion a transparent scrim was drawn, but I never saw the shadows of old film. Except perhaps the images of each character (discussed above) was projected on a screen above the set. Perhaps that was reflected differently on screen.

            • fantasia2000

              Thank you very much for the report, Satisfied! My turn is next week (10/25), and I simply just can’t wait! Are you going to other operas too? My trip will include Eliogabalo in Amsterdam, and the opening night of Falstaff with Bryn Terfel. Also, Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring at Garnier that I’m super super excited to get tickets (it being sold out too!)

            • Satisfied

              Can’t wait to hear your thoughts! No, my trip was originally planned for London and I’m sticking to theater while here (just got back).

              Enjoy your trip to Paris!

            • Kaufmann was coughing discreetly at the beginning. I wondered if it was “written in” for the production, but it was so very discreet you had to be at the front to see it so I think he was, just, coughing.

          • Cicciabella

            If anyone’s in the mood for more Warlikowski his Wozzeck for Dutch National Opera is available on demand: https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/076004-000-A/wozzeck-d-alban-berg-au-dutch-national-opera/.

        • CKurwenal

          Does the Paris opera have an online archive? I saw Don Carlos at the Bastille several years ago now and I’m wondering if that was also conducted (unsympathetically) by Jordan -- I have a feeling it was but would like to confirm. Cast included Iveri (boo, hiss), Naef, Hvorostovsky, Morris and I think Secco.

          • Porgy Amor

            Would this have been in 2008, Cocky? If so, I believe those performances were conducted by Teodor “The Mad Slasher” Currentzis. You remember correctly on Secco, and the Inquisitor was Mikhail Petrenko.

            • CKurwenal

              Yes, that sounds like the right year. My memory is faulty regarding the conductor, and if asked I’d have claimed never to have seen Currentzis live! I recall being impressed by Petrenko and also the Monk/Charles V who I think was rather young for the role, possibly American.

            • Porgy Amor

              Well, that’s the way with the Monk/Charles V. You either get them coming or going. Furlanetto’s second appearance in any opera was in that role, with Christoff as Filippo. Ten years later he was singing the Inquisitor to Ghiaurov’s Filippo, and we know the rest. But then, sometimes you do get an older Monk, such as Robert Lloyd in recent times.

              Anyway, if my sources are correct, your Monk in Paris ’08 was Parisian bass-baritone Paul Gay, who would in fact have still been in his thirties at the time.

            • CKurwenal

              Yes, on balance I think coming is rather better than going, for this role. Robert Lloyd really went for nothing when I saw him in the role -- not enough voice left to convey authority or command attention at the surprise entrance at the end of the opera.

            • I saw it in June 2008. Currentzis conducting. I wrote it up.

          • I don’t think there’s an online archive. But there’s my blog!

            • CKurwenal

              I’ll take a look, thanks!

            • I take all major credit cards.

    • Porgy Amor

      BBC Music isn’t spoiling its entire article on line for non-subscribers. We we lag a little over here, so that is the current issue in North American bookstores/newstands. So this wasn’t intended to have clickable links. It’s just a picture of the cover.

      • fletcher

        This article gives a few spoilers:
        1. Nozze
        2. Bohème
        3. ?
        4. Wozzeck
        5. Peter Grimes
        6. Tosca
        Don Giovanni somewhere in top 20

        3 is presumably Carmen or Traviata.

        • 3 might be Les mamelles de Tirésias.

          • fletcher

            I’m really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but Pfitzner had the greatest opera of all time!

          • Niklaus Vogel

            Or Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen

        • Porgy Amor

          3 is Rosenkavalier, Fletcher.

          • fletcher

            Did they give Renée extra votes?

            • Porgy Amor

              It was one of her picks, but she included in her three choices something else surprising. Some singers went exclusively with their own vehicles.

            • CwbyLA

              what were those surprises?

      • Leontiny

        Thanks, Porgy. I wormed my way in several back doors eventually. Google is my friend.

  • jacobelli

    “Our dear sister publication BBC Music Magazine has crafted the ideal experience for conservative opera buffs: Tosca as performed by the corpses of long-dead singers, reanimated as bloodless zombies.”

    This would actually be so much better than much of what we have today!

    • It actually sounds like an idea for a Warlikowski Tosca.

      • manou

        Add a cowboy and a penguin and you have the perfect Warli.

        • A penguin? Which one was that?

          • manou

            The Bayerische Staatsoper Eugene Onegin -- for some reason there was a large stuffed penguin in that one. To go with the gay cowboys, naturally.

            • Niklaus Vogel

              I think the penguin was a gift for Tatyana on her name day

            • manou

              Quite possibly -- after all what better choice for a young girl… I seem to remember that one saw rather a lot of the penguin (whom I hope had a proper Equity card).

  • Dan Patterson

    Well, I’d be more interested in what the Parterreani think are the twenty greatest operas. Not sure how to go about that, though. We all have our favorites, and of course my list is the correct one, not yours, but be that as it may, perhaps some sort of poll is in order.

    • fletcher

      It’s useful to separate “favorites” and “greatest” (and maybe even “best”). There are plenty of operas that I love but I’m under no illusions that they are the greatest of all time, and there are operas I acknowledge are “great” that I don’t particularly care for. I love Ariadne and Fanciulla to distraction but are they greater than Salome and Tosca? How do you factor in historical legacy and general popularity? (Also there’s the very basic problem in attempting to rank works as different as, say, Orphée & Eurydice and the Ring cycle.) Anyway my point is Carmen is the best opera and any list without Verdi in the top three is garbage.

    • Porgy Amor

      Without giving too much away, let’s not use all our bullets on this thread, which was just about the unfortunate zombie-singers cover.

      • Dan Patterson

        It IS peculiar that they colorized the costumes but not their faces, giving it that zombie effect.

  • QuantoPainyFakor

    Tosca for people who hate opera:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVc-rXp5icY

  • QuantoPainyFakor

    If you like your allegros allegro, the new Don Giovanni from La Fenice is a must see! So much wonderful energy and thoughtful interpretations. Stefano Montanari conducts up a storm and Damiano Michieletto has been tamed to produce excellent results. Alessandro Luongo is becoming one of the best Don Giovannis in recent memory.

    The new Fra Diavolo with John Osborn from the Rome Opera features Auber’s revised Italian version of 1857, but sung in French!

    Both are streaming at: culturebox.francetvinfo.fr

    • I love Montanari’s way with Mozart. His tempi are fleet without every feeling rushed. His is my favourite Cosi that I’ve heard.

  • QuantoPainyFakor

    There is a Chinese RING on Youtube!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2Q1RGQYo60

  • MICATHOS

    Where is the complete list of greatest operas?. Verdi and Wagner below Peter grimes and Rosenkavalier?. Did the singers vote for “my favorite opera? or Opera that I like to sing?