Cher Public

Carol Neblett 1946-2017

The New York City Opera reports the death of American soprano Carol Neblett

  • Camille

    It IS sad for me, as I remember La Neblett in her heyday very well.

    Forever sorry I hadn’t the guts to hear the notorious Ponelle Dutchman here at the Met in which she made her debut, alas, years ago now. The papers yowled and screamed about it all and I was as yet rsther Wagner-shy, so didn’t go — Dora Dumbell!

    She made a big impression on me as Chimène in Le Cid in the early eighties, and of course, her quite wonderful Minnie from Covent Garden, again with PláDo.

    I believe she was a teacher or docent of some order at Chapman College in Orange County in pater times. I am sorry to note her passing. Requiescat in pacem.

    • Frank

      Camille’s sentiment is lovely, but her Latin is somewhat incorrect. It should be “Requiescat in pace.”

      • Camille

        Dear Sir:

        Frankly, Frank—
        If one learns this useful phrase in what Ethel Merman used to call “Christian Church”, it is, indeed, more likely than not to be just as you have stated here, and using the ablative case ending (pace) is the usual common coin of this phrase.

        As I am proceeding from quite another background than that of rigorous church going (and once upon a time actually frequented ancient Roman monuments and their respective inscriptions on a quasi daily basis) and, further, have quite a different philosophy regarding death and dying, here I am choosing to employ the phrase in the accusative case (pacem).

        Now then, WHY would I fuss around and about such grammatical minutIæ, you are wondering? Or not wondering, but in any case:

        That would be because it depends upon the precise sense of the word one wishes to employ. In the case in which I intend it, the sense of place reflected in the ablative case is not my objective nor intended inference, but RATHER, mine is the sense that the decedent should be becoming INTO a state of peace, or grace, or what-have-you, which would Indicate the usage of accusative case. As the Catholic church dictates one dies and goes to purgatory (if not damned by Dante Alighieri, that is!), one has not yet achieved a beatific state, ergo, one’s state is transitory. The Lutheran church has quite a bit to say, or nay-say, about all this matter but I leave that to the ecclesiastics among us, certainly not such as my pagan and hoydenish self.

        As well, and this is a petty personal preference to which I freely admit, the word “pace” appears nominally as superficially a bit too Italian and not Latin, even if, en effet, it most definitely is and depending upon the case .

        Thank you for your concern in this matter and
        Signed sincerely,


        Camille Moke de Beauchamps

        BONUS: Further pedantry in the poetry of PACEM!

        • Camille you remind me of a late friend who was both a legal scholar and a classicist -- so much so that when Justinian’s Digest was being translated he begged them to give him two volumes to do… I often travelled with him and well remember his comments on mistakes in both Latin and Greek inscriptions in what had in their day been remote provinces…

          • Camille

            That is indeed most flattering and very courtly of you, mon vieux, but, fact of the matter is: Io non son che una povera fanciulla, oscura e buona a nulla.

            Je t’embrasse!

        • Christian Ocier

          Wow, Camille. You never cease to amaze me with your eloquence, erudition, and precision. :)

          • Camille

            Golly, jeepers! I would be amazed as well, if I, in fact, actually possessed any of those qualities, but I do humbly thank you for your kind regard. Very much appreciated.

            I heard Miss Davidsen’s entire performance as the title character of Medea in last Saturday’s broadcast from Wexford, and this girl is the real thing. All I have left to say is — Habemus Brünnhilde et Isolde!!!

            • Christian Ocier

              I anticipate her Freia, Ortlinde, and Third Norn with bated breath. September cannot come soon enough! While it is unfortunate that I am catching Nina Stemme’s Brunnhilde this late in her career (she’ll be 55 by the time I see her in the Pappano Ring), the artist in her will undoubtedly still command the stage. For whatever shortfalls a few critics have ascribed to Stemme’s voice (e.g. not “Nilsson” enough is the recurring theme), I still find her to be one of the most complex and compelling singers to ever take on the great roles of Wagner and Strauss. I recently heard Goerke in Chicago, and as much as I admire the security and amplitude of that sound, the abundance of verbal nuance, color, and dramatic acuity Stemme brings to her performances. How lucky we are to live in an era populated by the likes of her, Goerke, Pankratova, and (in five years perhaps) Davidsen.

              Have you heard her Libera Me with Luisi? I find that her voice possesses two qualities absent from the larger fraction of hochdramatische instruments--a beautiful lyric foundation, and an elegant lift that allows her to sing parts like Verdi, or Medea, or the song I post below. It’s the very same meltingly gorgeous quality Stemme possessed during the time she won Operalia in 1993.



            • Camille

              Yes, I had resourced that Luisi Requiem and had intention of listening this weekend but my listening time has been so overtaken by Hvorostovsky that I hadn’t yet.

              And Yes, aber JA! About what you said regarding the necessary “lift” to the voice, really necessary for a fierce role like Medea and in particular in the last act! I listened in considerable delighted surprise as she negotiated one difficulty after another but never whitening out or losing the center—something so many of them do. It all seems to proceed from a calm, stable, and deeply rooted, no-nonsense technique which is absolutely stabilised, even now. And I dread saying it as my tongue may fall
              Out!!! BUT it does recall to mind that similarity in Flagstad’s emission of voice. She gives me great hope. I DO hope your experince of her in the upcoming Ring will vouch for what we are now glimpsing, ever so faintly.

              Thanks for the link and I shall listen in, once more thinking of our dearest fallen star, Dmitri.

              PE-as I saw Stemme’s Brünnhilde in 2010 and was thrilled by it, let me say this: it’s better to get her remains of the day than many other’s best efforts. A great artist.

            • Bill

              Camille -- Lise Davidsen just a few days ago
              made her Vienna Opera debut as Ariadne to stupendous reviews. Apparently a very large even voice with rich lower tones in a
              repertory performance conducted by Peter Schneider surrounded by a good cast.
              The only quibble I read among the reviews was that her acting was not special but she probably had little rehearsal. The Viennese
              critics are already salivating about the possibility of her eventually singing Isolde etc.
              I believe she is 30 years old. Davidsen cancelled the second Ariadne due to illness
              (Megan Miller ? stepped in) but Davidsen is scheduled to sing it again tomorrow night. The Medea sounded interesting -- other Wagnerites have sung it (I saw Rysanek do it in Vienna and she was splendid and ripped through the florid parts with surprising aplomb) including Jones.
              Medea might have been a good part for Netrebko -- the tenor in the clip with Davidsen sings attractively by the way.
              It will be very interesting to see how
              Davidsen’s career unfolds -- what roles she
              chooses and in which venues?. The Ariadne Davidsen had already sung in Glyndebourne but the Vienna Opera, being a larger house would have allowed her to sing out more freely if her voice is as large as alluded to by a couple of the Viennese Critics. .

              Flagstad also sang the Third Norn and Ortlinde twice each in Bayreuth in 1933 but never appeared there again. She was 37 at the time and had sung her first Isolde one year earlier after a career of 19 years mostly in Scandinavia and often in operettas but Minnie in 1921. Nilsson was something like 34 when she first hit Vienna and Bayreuth.

              In any case, for all of us the discovery of Davidsen as a potential Hochdramatische certainly is one of optimism for the future

            • Camille

              O thanks so much for letting us know and yes, I had wondered how she had fared and am thrilled to hear the news. About the acting: time and more practical stage experience will help all that out. She is a very tall girl so it is likely better she doesn’t hurl herself about on stage! What I like about her is her steadiness and genuineness. She doesn’t sound as though she is ambitiously striving upward, but solely expressing her inherent qualities, which are those that they fortunately are!

              Another fledgling diva, Fräulein Hangler seems also to be doing so well now and that makes me so happy as she had such touching qualities as our tree nymph Daphne.

            • Christian Ocier

              I’m stunned at the maturity of her technique for someone so young! Davidsen and I are around the same age, but she’s about two inches taller and many decibels louder than myself. As Camille mentioned, her voice possesses a grounded and honest quality. I’d be honored if she were the Valkyrie who whisked me to Valhalla.

              Didn’t Nilsson only start singing the powerhouse roles at Bayreuth around 1957? She’d played Elsa in that 1954 Jochum broadcast alongside Varnay’s Ortrud. There was a Sieglinde somewhere in the Kna Rings, and the first Isolde’s with Sawallisch in 1957. I don’t think took over Brunnhilde from Varnay until 1960 when Kempe came along.

            • Christian Ocier

              The best way I can describe Flagstad’s voice: lyrical and supple in quality, devoid of those metallic shards in Nilsson’s arsenal, but at the core of it lies a glowing, molten orb of gold that seems to resonate and shimmer at all registers. It’s that imagery that comes to mind when I visualize the shape of her voice. At all levels of her voice, Flagstad emits this generous schwung, and yes, Davidsen appears to have that in her instrument as well.

              Regarding Stemme’s Brunnhilde: are you referring to the Scala ones with Barenboim or the Runnicles one from SF? I’ve only heard the broadcasts from San Francisco and marveled at her complete identification with the character, not to mention her vocal security and palette of colors. I was unfortunately a student at the time and couldn’t even fathom attending a Ring cycle. Thank the gods that I am able to witness a Ring cycle with her as Brunnhilde before she retires the role.

            • Camille

              I will be back tomorrow as must go “a letto, a letto” presently.

              Yes, the Runnicles Ring from San Francisco, 2010. It was a most beautiful and memorable incarnation of that fearsome role.

              Ciao, a domani!

            • Bill

              Christian -- I was fortunate to see Flagstad
              live thrice -- as the Walkuere Bruennhilde
              (my first ever live opera) and then as Alceste and in her farewell Carnegie Hall concert
              singing the Wesendonk Lieder (with orchestra), the Liebestod and the Immolation Scene. Her voice was rock solid -- one of the richest I have ever experienced live. Her gestures were telling though at that stage
              she did not do much running about the stage stately with a rich outpouring of sound.
              Seefried, who had also performed with
              Grob-Prandl, Nilsson, Rysanek, both Konetznis, Moedl, Goltz and many other dramatic sopranos of the time, said of Flagstad, “Hers was the voice to end all voices; the grandeur, nobility, security -- all were awe inspiring, and these qualities were reflected in her as a human being”

              And Camille -- you could hear Davidsen
              and Hangler this very same week in Vienna,
              Hangler essaying Daphne. Vienna has 6 Strauss operas in about 2 weeks, Salome,
              Ariadne, Daphne, Elektra (Herlitzius), Rosenkavalier (with Stoyanova) and Arabella. Now if only the Met would have such a schedule !. And Capriccio is yet to come in Vienna later this season. (Frau only in 2019 with Thieleman, Kaufmann, Stemme and the rest of the cast tba).

              Nilsson was first in Bayreuth in 1954 and Vienna the same year in 5 or 6 roles -- she stayed true to both houses. Jones first appeared in Vienna in Feb of 1966 replacing Nilsson as Fidelio. (I was there -- no wobble at all) but I think only at Bayreuth in 1972 as Elisabeth.

              I do like what I hear from Davidsen on Utube
              The voice seems so very solid -- a good omen

            • fletcher

              Bill, your memories and insight are always appreciated. Can I ask -- how is Herlitzius sounding these days? I’ve shelled out nearly two month’s rent to see her Brünnhilde in SF and am praying I’m not too late…

            • Christian Ocier

              I’m seeing Herlitzius as Kundry in the Girard Parsifal this coming February and I’ve heard a recent broadcast of her Ortrud from a phenomenal Lohengrin mounted earlier this year (great cast: her, Konieczny, Pape, Haller, Kaufmann, and Jordan conducting). I suppose she’s sung Brunnhilde for more than a decade now, and the same criticisms one would levy at her inconsistent vocal production remains true today. She is definitely a stage actress and a risk taker. I remember a broadcast from Vienna with her singing Brunnhilde in Gotterdammerung. Rattle conducted, and that final HEIL in the dawn duet was of an indiscernible pitch. She was in better form a year later as Ortrud for Thielemann. I’d say that at this stage of her career, she sounds better than 90s Jones.

              I know a friend who saw her recent Goneril’s at the Salzburg Lear (wonderful opera! I think only SFO has produced it stateside so far). Her Goneril was apparently dramatically riveting, although I doubt she possessed Helga Dernesch’s rich vocal palette. Wish they’d produce that opera at the Met sometime.

            • PCally

              I tend to go back and forth with Herlitzius. The roles that always seem to work for her (as in I’ve seen her multiple times in these parts and she was astonishing each time) are the Dyer’s Wife and Elektra. Something about her persona and vocal qualities fuse ideally in those roles in a way that they don’t always seem to in others. I thought the Scala Ortrud was embarrassing vocally and not very specific dramatically other than general snarls and menace, I thought the Bayreuth Isolde was pretty weak (though she should be cut some slack I guess seeing how it was sort of last minute and she’d been singing Elektra all over the place that summer), I saw a totally misguided Sieglinde, and the Fidelio in Dresden was the worst I’ve ever seen, including dramatically (the least convincing male impersonation I’ve ever seen).

              Better than 1990’s Jones? Hard to say. I think there are some performances of Jones up until about 1994 that are might impressive, including those met Elektra’s. From 1995 onward it seems to go downhill but it’s worth remembering that at that point she was almost sixty and had been singing since 1962.

            • Christian Ocier

              Jones’ Elektras from the early to mid-90s were indeed quite exceptional. I’m not fond of the majority of Herlitzius’s big Wagner roles--the voice is too squally and penetrating to achieve that theatrical, middle voice rich parlando singing needed to make Wagner succeed in the theater. But as you mentioned, she’s riveting in those big Strauss hochdramatisch roles. Almost like Inge Borkh, who didn’t make much of an impression in Wagner, but was incredible in the same roles you had mentioned.

            • Never heard anything anywhere like Jones’s Elektra in those days, before or since. And that was at the Bastille, a cruelly vast house.

            • PCally

              If you haven’t, you might want to track down Borkh’s wonderful Sieglinde, which she sang opposite Varnay at Bayreuth (1952 I believe). Very sexy and feminine.

            • Christian Ocier

              Oh yeah, I’ve heard that 1952 Ring! Isn’t that the one with Max Lorenz as the Gotterdammerung Siegfried? I do remember the Walsungs--Treptow I think, and Borkh. Borkh was in another Ring opera--either Freia or Gutrune. Probably Freia, since Modl had done Gutrune in 51 and may have repeated the role for a second year, along with her magnificent Third Norn. Borkh gave a wonderful reading as Sieglinde, according to my recollections. I wish she could have returned to Bayreuth for a Senta or one of the Tannhauser roles.

              That being said, very few Rings have equaled the intensity of the 1953 Keilberth with Modl as Brunnhilde. The 1953 Krauss is rightfully praised by many Wagnerians, but Modl was searing as Brunnhilde, and actually had high notes to spare. A few of the words did get muddled up, as they did in the Krauss Ring, but the entirety of character was captured beautifully by Martha. Her interactions with Hotter were quite remarkable as well.

            • Camille

              Thanks for speaking up about Inge Borkh’s Sieglinde as, other than the “Du bist der Lenz” I have never listened to it and I do love her quite a bit.

              About Herlitzius: Christian, I started reading things about her fifteen to twenty years ago and THEN I think she was probably still fresh and really something. A LONG while ago it was. Now, she’s worn out and finally coming to the States, so———let’s hope for the best and maybe it’ll be a lucky night.

              When Wienerphilharmoniker came with Welser-Möst here to Carnegie a few years back she sang Marie in Wozzeck. It was not a pretty sound. It was not staged, however, so I think most of her expressive capacity was not allowed into play. So, that is that. Maybe Mr Vogt will bring out her best? Here’s hoping.

            • Bill

              Christian -- the other role I heard Herlitzius
              sing live was the Dyer’s Wife, Here her type of voice was certainly better and more suitable than for her rather wretchedly sung Fidelio -- Dyer’s Wife is a role that has suited most all I have seen, Dvorakova, Christa Ludwig, Nilsson, Jones, Borkh, Schroeder-Feinen, Ralik , among others and probably will be a good role for Stemme as well. Goltz is very good on tape as was her Salome at the Met. I do not think one has to have a completely steady voice for this stupendous role, the Dyers wife -- Goerke was good also
              and quite sympathetic though I found her voice harder driven than some of the others mentioned above. .As usual Nilsson and Christa Ludwig sharpened a bit on the high notes. Lyrical singers such as Janowitz, Gessendorf, Studer have sung the Kaiserin
              successfully but I have never heard a totally
              lyrical soprano attempt the Dyer’s Wife.

            • Christian Ocier

              Schroeder Feinen must have been a magnificent Dyer’s wife during her few good years. I’ve never heard any broadcast with Dvorakova, but Ludwig and Borkh are probably my favorite Farberins. Nilsson was a vocally impressive Dyer’s wife, but by the time she sang the role, her middle had started taken on this metallic color that wasn’t to my liking. I imagine that the microphones had something to do with that, since I heard Stemme’s Elektra and Isolde in New York both live and on the radio, and the vocal tone captured by the mics was very different from the sound I heard in the house. So I’m eager to think that she probably sounded better live. I can imagine Stemme owning this role for a few years--I’ll definitely try to get a ticket for that Vienna Frau.

              I’m curious to know more about your opinions regarding Goerke. She was vocally a phenomenal Brunnhilde in Chicago, and I’ve heard her other post-lyric work at the Met (Foreign princess, Farberin). But the voice to me has a quality similar to what Stephanie Blythe brings to Wagner. It’s powerful, but it lacks that color palette I love so much in voices like Varnay, Stemme, Modl, Waltraud Meier, a very well directed Nilsson, and Dernesch. I can’t fully describe it. She’s so impressive in the role, but I’m not fully transported by her vocal acting.

            • Magpie

              I saw Jones in the 90’s.. Los Angeles singing the dyers wife (A bright technicolor production which everyone seemed to hate although I thought it was so effective) and she was incredible, I thought. The sound was huge, the wobble was restrained, she never shrieked, acted well, and she actually pulled back and sang. I have not heard one single recent performance that come close… The nurse was excellent as well although I can’t recall her name..

            • fletcher

              That would have been the David Hockney production. LA Opera used to do interesting things! The Nurse in ’93 was Jane Henschel.

            • Camille

              Jane Henschel? She was the Kkytemnestra in the celebratory 2008-09 Elektras which Maazel conducted with the NY Phil and Polaski sang. She was fearsome. I wonder why I don’t remember her Ammr? Too much Dame G., as I said before.

              Anyway, the best Elektra I ever saw. Twice. Schwanewilms in her first effort here.

            • Camille

              Magpie maven! Just today my spouse asked me to go to the Met Museum of Art to see a Hockney show and I said “No! I had enough of him in the L.A. FRAU for a lifetime!” Haha!!

              Never will forget it and in retrospect I think I like it better than when I saw it. It certainly was Colorful!!

              Dame Gwyn’s greatest moment in my experience. The wobble? WHAT wobble? Where’d it go? And she looked slammin’ glam as Barak’s Weib and not a fat frowzy frump! No one of the three or so succeeding Weibers could hold a candle to her incandesceknt turn. No one. The Kaiserin was sung by that Shade lady, either Nancy or Ellen but I have no recollection who sang Die Amme, nor anyone else! Dame Gwyn just wiped the others off the stage. Good Times!!

            • Susan Szbornak

              I watch this video and cry at the beauty of the music and the magical Hockney sets that capture the exoticism and mysticism of Frau ohne Schatten.

              I’m incredibly jealous that you saw this production live.


            • Magpie

              Thank you for the video Susan. I thought it was beautiful. The singing was spectacular, and the conducting as well!!… but like Camille, the lasting impression was Dame Gwynett’s only. One notable thing, however, is that during the intermission, people were pretty much shredding the production. I recall people bothered by the use of “primary colors” “childish sets” “sets too literal” “not imaginative enough” and so on…
              I wish you had been there!!

            • Camille

              Yes, it was the “primary colors” aspect which bothered at the time. Now, when seeing this—I wonder if I was seated too close up in the orchestra ($10 student seats--fabulous—and didn’t have the necessary perspective? There seem to be many other colors as well and the blue is very fairy tale blue-azure.

              Also, I’ve seen crap tonnes of crap ever SINCE, ergo—

            • Documentary evidence of this production seems to be elusive other than this video and a few still images that come up on a google search. Does anyone know of anything else?

            • Magpie

              Camille! please take my hand and let us go back to that year while we watch the video provided by S Szbornak ( You come too Susan), and this time let’s pretend we knew each other and we are just reveling in Dame’s sheer ocean of sound and singing! We will discuss the sets and then go buy the T-shirts. Lastly we will make a date for decades later to see the Hockney’s Met show that your spouse suggested!!!

            • Camille

              Yes, dear, it brought back so many memories and was so grateful to see it again. Thank you so much, Susan!!!

              In retrospect I have a VERY different perception on these sets and, most particularly, after having sat through innumerable blinding Wernickeand black-and-red-things I’ve been too since. Plus, a lot
              of other sets ever since then, FARless successful. Very, very interesting to walk this time tunnel.

              Thank you SO much for this kind thought Susan and may others remember as well.

            • Solovyov

              I attended that 93 Frau in LA. Jones sounded great. I recall her wearing some kind of harem pants, she looked vaguely like one of those Matisse odalisques. There were some quintessential straight tones (she did those, too) from her. Grundheber was the Barak, and David Daniels (costumed as a light green Michelin man) was the Guardian of the Threshhold. Good times.
              That same weekend San Francisco had Meistersinger with Heppner sounding absolutely great, Mattila, Weikl, and Robert Orth.

            • Bill

              Christian -- I have not heard Herlitzius much --
              first her debut in Vienna as Fidelio in 2000 (I thought she was just awful vocally) and then later just twice more so I cannot assess her current vocal estate -- a powerful singer and a committed actress but a bit unruly vocally.

            • That’s been my experience too, most recently as Ortrud (her, not me).

            • PCally

              No doubt your Ortrud would have been something to see

            • Well, different.

            • Camille

              Likely sung more in tune at any rate!

            • Bill

              Christian, PCally -- speaking of Herliitzius, she has cancelled ,reportedly due to Illness, her upcoming Elektras (3 of them) in Vienna early in December in Vienna during the Strauss Wochen there. Her replacement is Elena Panktratova, a singer I have yet to hear on stage (and a role debut in Vienna)

            • PCally

              I haven’t heard Panktratova live but if she sounds anything like she did in the Parsifal’s from Bayreuth and the Dyer’s Wife from Munich, then Vienna is very lucky indeed.

            • CKurwenal

              She was fabulous as the Dyer’s Wife when the ROH last did the piece.

            • Christian Ocier

              Pankratova sounded incredible in her Bayreuth Kundry, her Munich Venus, and the Farberin from the same house. Vienna is lucky to have her replace Herlitzius.

            • agh1

              Bill was luckier than I, for I only heard Flagstad twice. Once in a piano recital (with the Wesendonk Lieder) and then on her last day on the operatic stage as Dido in Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’. As Bill writes, her voice was big, warm and rock solid. Nilsson, whom I first heard at Bayreuth in 1954, never rivalled her for warmth, hence my misgivings about her Walkuere Brunnhilde. ..

            • Camille

              You are indeed among the blessed to have heard such a performance —(Flagstad’s last)!

              Dame Joan memorably responded to the question “Who, in your opinion was the greatest singer you have ever heard?” by immediately responding that it was Kirsten Flagstad, in those Mermaid Theatre performances long ago in London. She was adamant in her response and that kind of sums up Flagstad in a way, that she was utterly unique and an empress among queens.

            • Bill

              agh1 -- You were so fortunate to hear Flagstad as Dido in what I gather was the intimate Mermaid Theater -- I have an LP of her Dido from that era but have not played it in years.

              In an earlier post I quoted Seefried’s comments on Flagstad. It is interesting
              that both Flagstad and Seefried (who sang together in Furtwaengler’s 1949 Salzburg Fidelio) made their professional operatic on stage debuts as Nuri in Tiefland. Then both made their London operatic onstage farewells as Purcell’s Dido. But otherwise they had few roles in common save Agathe, Eva, Michaela. After 1937 Flagstad sang only 3 new roles -- Rezia, Alcestis and Dido. Flagstad sang 182 Isoldes from 1932 . Curiously she never sang any role in any Richard Strauss opera. She studied Elektra in 1942 for Zurich but did not like the text. Bing asked her for the Marschallin in 1953 but, though tempted, she did not accept (Varnay asng it instead). She apparently once sang “Es gibt ein Reich” in a concert in Paris. and she sang some of Strauss’ songs such as Wiegenlied in her lieder recitals and of course introduced the world to the Four Last Songs. .

            • Christian Ocier

              Six Strauss operas!!!!! I’m going to try to be at Vienna for that Frosch! Can you advise me on how I should go about buying tickets? Is there a membership that one can purchase to receive buying privileges ahead of the general public?

              Also, someone from the Met informed me that the house will be producing Frau with Stemme in the near future. I’ve looked at the Met Futures page and see no Frau in any of the listed years, but I”m hoping that it will be mounted at least within the next three years. Does anyone know much about that?

            • Camille

              NO, I certainly do not know anything but would love to know if the information you received is from the musical staff or the adminstrative end of things? Was it a person placed higher up the food chain, as well? It would be a great end of the line role for La Niña!

            • Christian Ocier

              A Met staff who worked at the ticket office informed me about this last April. I was deciding on an opera for my next visit and chose the Parsifal. At one point in our conversation we touched on the subject of Nina Stemme. Hence, the talk about the Frau’s.

            • PCally

              Bill I’m not sure where you got your information about Jones at Bayreuth but she sang there virtually every single summer from the late 1960’s through the early nineteen eighties, including every performance of the Chereau Ring from 1976-1980, a legendary production which even you must be aware of. Her last run there was in the Kupfer Hollander as a sub. Her Elisabeth, Brunnhilde, Kundry, and Eva have been available commercially forever. Kind of surprised you don’t know that as those performances get mentioned here quite frequently and are often excerpted.

            • CKurwenal

              There is a useful summary of Jones’s Bayreuth appearances on her Wiki page:


              1966 -- 1982, except for ’67 and ’81. She certainly had some busy summers there -- all 3 Brunnhildes plus Elisabeth and Venus, in 1977.

              I hadn’t appreciated that she had done the Elisabeth/Venus double at more than 1 festival -- turns out she did it in 4 different years.

            • PCally

              I think the only other lady to sing those roles in that production was Marton, in 1978. Otherwise I think they were all Jones. Interestingly I read somewhere (I’m looking for the interview) that Jones was actually supposed to share the Chereau Ring with Roberta Knie, who pulled out because she couldn’t stand the production.

            • CarlottaBorromeo

              Actually I believe Roberta Knie did sing Brünnhilde in 1976 (the first year of the Chereau Ring) in two Siegfried performances (one of them a ‘closed’ performance outside the cycles) and one Götterdämmerung. The cycle was the second cycle where Sotin replaced McIntyre as Wotan. But Jones sang the Walküre Brünnhilde… of course the Bayreuth
              performance database may be incorrect about this.

            • Camille

              Well Bill— I CAN’T hear them in Vienna as I have been grounded and can’t go gallivantin’ around no more. That is over for this lifetime.

              Now what you say about Flagstad’s gestures interests me as EVERYONE has always said just that! She had an economy of gesture and they all meant something. Plus, a couple of those old lady primadonnas from that book of Rasponi’s praised her for the effectiveness of her acting. All quite intriguing to me, and unexpected.

              Well, consider yourself uniquely blessed by the goddess Euterpe, for surely she stood at your cradle bestowing you with all the best opera-going Glück!

            • “Opera-going Glück reminds me of something OT: there’s a lovely concert performance of Gluck’s Le Cinesi available on

            • CKurwenal

              A lot of people have made the Flagstad comparison but on hearing Davidsen live last summer, I found her strongly reminiscent of Nilsson in lots of different ways -- basic sound, the way the voice is balanced, some mannerisms, and yes even some slight shortcomings when it came to negotiating passages that didn’t really seem to be her natural territory. I thought she was absolutely thrilling and I really warmed to her, but I didn’t get any hints of Flagstad. Normally in the Albert Hall you have to make an adjustment -- people start singing and you think goodness, I really can’t hear very much, but over the next 10 minutes, they warm up, your ear adjusts and everything is fine. None of that happened with Davidsen because from the off she managed to make the hall seem inimate, small, and generous of acoustic (it is none of those things).

            • PCally

              Never heard the lady live but I do think it’s a brighter more forward sounds reminiscent of a Nilsson than a Flagstad, or at least the Flagstad at the time of the performances Bill mentioned.

            • Christian Ocier

              The top is definitely brighter and purer compared to Flagstad, but the middle is warmer and more flexible. I hope she maintains some non-Wagnerian/Straussian roles in her rep for some years to train the other lyrical aspects of her singing. It’s just such a special voice. I was trying to choose between the Kriegensberg Ring at the Munich opera festival and the Warner from London for my first Ring, and when I noticed Davidsen in the cast for Pappano I decided then and there that I would go to Covent Garden.

            • CKurwenal

              I think she’d be well advised to do a few appropriate verismo roles where she can let it all hang out, let the breath flow freely and try to let go of some of the control. If she could just let go a little bit, I think it would help her legato which is the only aspect of her singing I found a bit unsatisfactory. Desdemona and the like would also probably be good to do.

            • PCally

              I’ve seen both productions and I think you’ve made the right call. I’d give the edge to Kriegensberg production wise but only by a small margin (I think the Warner production is better than people give it credit for and the Kriegensberg way more variable than people want to admit). I guess it depends on the casts your going to see. Munich’s ring tends to cast each opera differently so if continuity is key I think you were right to go with London.

            • Christian Ocier

              Munich is actually consistently cast for the opera festival. Stemme is the only Brunnhilde, Koch takes all Wotans, and Stefan Vinke is the Siegfried. Stemme are Vinke are consistent with both London and Munich, although I wish Schager were doing the part in London--I’m not partial to Vinke’s voice.

              The Walsungens in London are Skelton and Magee, while the Munich ones are Kaufmann and Kampe. I’ll take Skelton any day over Kaufmann, but maybe that’s just me. His Siegmund recording with Van Zweden blew me away for the beauty of his voice and his dramatic expression. Plus, he is the only tenor in recorded history to outsing Melchior in those Walse cries--12 seconds a piece!!!! Shit. That’s some impressive lung capacity and breath support.

              John Lundgren is Wotan in London, Alberich in Munich. The voice is wonderful and dark, the artist expressive. I heard his Wotan broadcast from Stockholm and from Bayreuth--he’s incredible. London also has great basses all around, but so does Munich. For Fricka, you get Gubanova in Munich, Connolly in ROH. Both great.

              Gerhard Siegel is Mime for London (he is also singing TRISTAN with Stemme in Cleveland this year. There is nothing more bizarre to me than the idea of a Mime graduating to a role as heroic as Tristan), and I think I’ll prefer that to the Munich Mime.

              Also, I’ve never visited London, so I’d be more than happy to have my very first Ring coincide with my first UK visit. :)

            • PCally

              When I saw it Stemme only sang the Gotterdammung. Kampe and Voigt were the Walsungens. I think the only singer who was consistant throughout the cycle I attended was Koch as Fricka (what’s happened to her btw, it seems like overnight she vanished) I love Kaufmann but was underwhelmed by his Siegmund, at least as it sounded at the met (haven’t heard Skelton sing this particular part and my feelings tend to go back and forth from performance to performance with him, though I’m sure he’ll be at the very least quite good considering that he’s by a pretty wide margin the best sung Tristan I’ve seen live). I like Magee better than most but Sieglinde is the best thing I’ve seen Kampe do and the Wagner I’ve seen from Magee tends to be on the low side for her. I guess I also like my Walsungens to be a bit on the demented side and I don’t see Skelton and Magee getting there but I would totally love to be proven wrong.

            • Camille

              Oh salve, CockyK and what are you up to these days? Are you going to hear the Marnie at the ENO? It would be good to have yet another opinion despite the fact I dearly love and hold highly armerjacquino’s theatrical opinions and input.

              Oh! This is QUITE interesting to hear of your firsthand experience of Miss Davidsen’s singing, and will take this information under advisement — as I always say one must never trust recordings but hear a voice in an acoustical space to get a real and accurate sense of it. It might be, it suddenly occurs to me, that the fact Flagstad and Davidsen are both phonating in mid-voice (and where we hear the voice most similar to our speech) from a placement peculiarly Norwegian, and its vowels/consonants and whatever constellation of sounds that language may have — (Ha! I am remembering some of the rather “rustic” sounds Flagstad made in the Haugtaussa Cycle, come to think of it!) that make us “hear” Flagstad. There is also a steadiness and calmness that is reminiscent of her as well, though. She reminds me not at all of Stemme, however, her approach to high notes not at all like the former’s curious “placing” of high notes and which really worked in 2010 but jot when I last heard her, alas.

              In discussion at the intervals of the Wexford Festival, it was mentioned by one of the speakers that Miss Davidsen had requested this role ” before the long and inevitable trail of Wagner/Strauss roles to he coming her way” (paraphrasing lightly). I find that quite an interesting request and individual and do hope she may keep
              It in her repertory (as I’d hope she’d consider Elettra in Idomeneo), and help bring back this marvelous work so that we might see it. In all my life, I’ve never been anywhere at any time in any place where there was mention of the work being performed.

              As well, she has or is to perform Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, so there is that too,
              even if that’s hardly an ideal workout. At least it is fairly a short shout-out! Bexause of her great height I’m afraid her excursions into Italian repertory will he limited. And frankly there are many who can scream out Lady MacBeth and Abigaille and that requires an agility that may not work in her case but then, I don’t know as yet.

              And what you have to say about how she is able to make Albert Hall “work” shows that it is a remarkable instrument. In a similar type of experience, Sir Colin Davis is about the only conductor who ever made the notoriously recalcitrant Avery Fisher Hall work—back before all the retro-fitting tinkering has begun. Always the sign of someone “extra”.

              You will most likely be attending the Pappano Ring, I would think, so we’ll hear more about her from you after that. It is very inferesting what you have experienced and I will keep your remarks in mind when next listening.

            • Christian -- need not worry about Stemme’s vocal state for next year’s Brunnhildes. She sang the SF, Scala and Munich Rings all in the same general time period -- I have heard all three in one recorded form or another (broadcast, dvd, youtube). I was also fortunate to have heard her sole DC Ring last year and can say she was, if anything, more secure without any loss of the nuance or coloration she brings to the role(s).

              I am also lucky enough to have scored a ticket to the Pappano Ring (Cycle 1) -- how did all 4 cycles sell out so fast???

            • Christian Ocier

              I’m headed to cycle 1 too! Want to meet up? I’ve never been to London before and would like to get more familiar with the city.

            • Of course!

            • Christian Ocier

              I got a standing room seat, but one close to the stage. We should keep in touch as those Ring dates get closer. You can reach me at

            • Absolutely -- and I’m at

            • Christian Ocier
            • Camille

              Yes, most of them lose it in this extremely strenuous, and not to mention emotionally and dramatically overwrought ending. There were a couple tiny little intervals that sounded a little out, but only as part and parcel of that terrible stepwork involved. Very fearsome, indeed.

              Oh, and that tenor, Sergey Romanovsky, was very good, too and young and handsome as well.

              Wexford did a great job of this one, even if the set or staging was booed. So what? The singing was terrific.

            • Christian Ocier

              Ha, Sergey Romanovsky looks like Gael Garcia Bernal! I love the color of his sound--very Italianate, rich with overtones. I would love to hear him as Don Carlo!

    • Wally Walburga

      That Tosca was in Caracas (July, 5, 1988) with Giacomo (aka Jaume and Jaime) Aragall and Justino Díaz. I was there, wonderful

    • Angela Saccosta

      Congrats to you Camille that you know that one case of the noun pax is pacem. That’s the accusative case and you’re probably remembering the expression “dona nobis pacem,” ” “give us peace,” where pax is the direct object of the verb and so must be in the accusative case, what we call the objective case in English.

      • Why do I feel I’m about to discover the expletive case?

        • Angela Saccosta

          Is that a new case in Latin Grammar ? Hadn’t heard about it until now !!

        • Camille

          It’s the case that’s the casus belli on many a thread on parterre, hopefully some now mercifully in the past.

      • Camille

        Declinng is sport for old people, don’t you think?

        Just today I received a card announcing Odyssey Opera’s next event, the Norman Dello Joio opera The Trial at Rouen, on December 1st. Eventually I may drive up for the day and see one of the other in the Joan of Arc series, an idea which is quite a good one and always relevant. Cheers to you!

        • Angelo Saccosta

          Thanks, Cara. I rather enjoyed “declining” even when I was a teen in high school.

          • At my school Latin was one way to get out of sport.

          • Camille

            Really? That is quite exceptional at least here in the States. Of course, in Italy, if one is a serious student in liceo classico, it is more or less the norm.

            The thing I found with Latin, and unlike the study of other languages, is this: it teaches you so much more and about culture, history, philosophy and how it all came about here in Western Civilisation. There’s nothing else quite like it. Perhaps now while traversing my dotage a return to my studies in declension as my eyesight and arthritis continue to decline my vitality may be just the bromide.
            Repetitio mater memoriæ!

            • Angela Saccosta

              Brava, Diva.

  • Kenneth Conway

    Years ago I was the sole waiter and she was the sole diner one evening at the Oberlin Inn in Oberlin, Ohio. Ms. Neblett had either just given (or was to give the next evening) a recital in Oberlin’s gorgeous Finney Chapel (architect: Cass Gilbert). The old-fashioned dining room was nice enough back then, but what was awful was the piped in musak, which used to make me nuts. Since I was all alone and probably manager-less that evening, I reached up to the knob that controlled the volume and turned the music off. La Neblett noticed the glorious silence immediately and looked in my direction, clapping her hands and uttering a single, melodious, quite sexy, and somehow glamorous “Bravo!” I was too shy to ask for her autograph or to even respond to her enthusiastic acknowledgment of my courageous action. I of course attended the recital. Don’t remember much about it except that Neblett was very beautiful and that one of the many encores was “Visa d’arte.” What a Minnie! What a lady!

  • Tom Booth

    Very sad. I was in her Chicago Lyric Opera Tosca as Sciarrone and saw her at NYCO as Louise during my Juilliard days. She once asked me to dinner at our hotel in Mexico while we were there for Aida but I was headed from the hotel to the airport, so sadly I missed a chance to visit some with her and we never did a rain check. She was a lovely artist. Passed away way too soon, she still had much to give.

    • Camille
      • Yalma Cuder-Zicci

        There is a Met Tosca with Neblett, Carreras and Milnes scheduled for 6:00pm today on Sirius.

        • Kenneth Shaw

          So sorry to have missed this on Sirius. But, I attended one of those very performances live. Carol was in top form -- likely the most dramatically believable Tosca I’ve ever seen (and I’ve sung Scarpia with at least 10 different Toscas!). I didn’t even mind her vocal “fail” in Vissi d’arte, after the big “Signor! Ah…ah….” The ah’s were turned immediately into a sob, and then she finished beautifully. Good catch, Carol!

  • fletcher
    • Yes, I immediately thought of Die tote Stadt. An obviously great recording.

      • Camille

        Who had even HEARD of it before NYCO did it and this beautiful recording came out? It was just not done. Had it ever been done again after Jeritza gave the initial performances and what a lost opportunity for Fleming, who sang this so beautifully at the Gala of 2009. This beautiful selection was used in the film “ARIA” which came out in 1987. I’ll go see if that morsel is still on YouTube.

        Nope--that specific segment I couldn’t find except within this review:

        • I have a recording on my computer with Deborah Voigt in excellent form.

          • Camille

            Before or after that surgery and doing what, prithee?

            • Oh, sorry, Die tote Stadt. Before, I assume, as the voice is still like a beam of silver light.

            • Camille

              Like a beam of silver light is definitely pre-op.

              Granny comin’ atcha with a buzz saw is definitely post-op.

              Despite all the protestations from TT and the accomplice publicists et al, it was like two different singers and so deeply disturbing to witness. Luckily, I got in on her good period and hear plenty of them beams of silver light. Her B natural in Acte III of Lohengrin, surely was one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever ever ever heard.

              I’ve never heard her sing “Glück das mir verblieb” (I assume it’s that one and not the Erstes Mal one) so I’ll go check it out. I hope she is doing okay out there in ‘Frisco.

            • Her parting shot as Chrysothemis at the Bastille was u

            • Camille

              Oh goodness—1990—! That would put this in the PRE-prime, fresh and semi-virginal category of vocalisations for her. I’ll BET this is a beam of platinum and not merely sterling!!! How very interesting.

              Interesting to see Henry Lewis’s name once more, as well. Marilyn Horne took a great deal of heat when she married him but SHE, being General Horne, just brandished that voice of hers and conquered all adversity. Remarkable woman. I am not sure I ever got to see Maestro Leeis conduct but he has left us many souvenirs of his work.

            • Yes, that killer top note in the Korngold is a beam of platinum, as you say, with not a hint of difficulty.

        • Wow, I never knew the words Jean-Baptise Lully had been uttered on the show before.

          • Camille

            Yeah, right, stranger things have seldom happened, hahahahaha!

            Additionally here is a small compilation of items from the film and in particular the one Mr Siskel recommended by Jean-Luc Godard:

            Also, after recently watching pour la première fois Mr Ebert’s magnum opus “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”, I find it difficult to lend him the same credibility I once did. Speaking of “mindbending” genre-less” “unclassifiable film objects from iuter space” only slightly gets one an idea of BtVotD.

            Everybody must get stoned, as the song used to intone!

  • Camille

    And the tempest-tossed Thaïs, a true sensation in la Nouvelle Orléans, circa 1973. Something in the archives about this performance, if you care to look.

  • Porgy Amor

    “Addio, California.” My first Minnie. I had no idea then how many interesting ways there were to play this part, nor that she was stretching a good-sized lyric over that killer role, but she was so warm, feminine, and welcoming, and seemed ideal to me with her all-American strawberry-blond good looks. The Jeanette MacDonald resemblance has been well noted. Both the Mehta recording and the video of the Santi-conducted revival, both associated with Faggioni’s ROH production, are quite wonderful.

    I later learned she had a life with a certain amount of adversity to overcome. She was candid in an Opera News piece about her battle with alcoholism, and how it was her friend Prey who came to her dressing room and told her it was time for her to get well; things could not go on as they were. She had fainted into his arms during a Fledermaus. She became devoted to recovery. There were other misfortunes. If one believes in an afterlife, perhaps she will again see the college-aged daughter she lost in an accident around 2001. We down here have some good recordings by which to remember her…and, of course, memories of a beautiful and bold performer.

    • austin

      My three year old daughter told me she wanted to be Minnie (i.e. Neblett) -- and that I am Ramirez, while her seven-month old sister is Jack Rance. She also sings “Addio California” but today I will tell her that we can sing Addio Carol together

  • MisterSnow

    Neblett was in Follies when it visited Los Angeles, A sadly appropriate song.

  • Armerjacquino

    The best kind of camp: larger than life, fearlessly committed, landing just on the right side of comic. And wonderful singing. RIP.

    • Kenneth Conway

      This is just thrilling singing. And, my god, what an opera!

    • Camille

      Absolutely terrific, in the original sense of the word and thanks much for re-posting as I have had a date to keep with this production for years now and if I don’t hurry up about it I never shall see it.


    Here’s my sad story. A couple of months ago right around the time the Pentatone was releasing their remastered version of the Covent Garden ‘Fanciulla’ with Ms. Neblett I discovered one of my good friends was also her long-time accompanist. She gave me her contact information and i wrote her a big, sloppy, email about what a huge fan I was and how i would love to interview her about her experience recording the ‘Fanciulla’ and segue that into my review for Parterre.

    That evening at about 1am (she must have been a night owl and no surprise there) I got a huge, equally sloppy, response about how she’d love to speak with me and it must have run about a page and a half. It turned out we had a least two mutual acquaintances including a voice teacher we both adored. She was just heading out of town to her daughter’s who had just had a baby to spend time with her. She was particularly proud of her grandchildren (all girls as I recall) and they were all athletic like their grandmother.

    Long story short we said we’d get back in touch with each other and then we checked in back and forth twice and both of us were busy (she was back teaching and I was traveling) and the interview never happened to my great, great, regret now.

    I did see her here in LA as Didon in Les Troyens with Dutiot in the pit which was very impressive and I saw her three times as Heidi in ‘Follies’ at the Music Center when the Broadway revival toured here to LA. We also had Victoria Clark who was far superior to Bernadette Peters. It was a really rich experience.

    I have a bootleg ‘Ballo’ with she and Bergonzi from the Met where she’s altogether spectacular and I remember when it was on the radio because I was amazed that two of my favorite singer were actually singing together.

    Just from the tiny interaction I had with her I can tell you she was a very warm and loving person and I’m so sorry I didn’t take the opportunity to get to know her better.


    • MisterSnow

      I well remember that Troyens. I attended with a fellow sing friend. The costuming was early African dictator camo -- we called her Dido Amin. The mezzo range at times lay uncomfortably in her register shift, but she was fully committed to the role musically and acting. My friend later was in the chorus at Opera Pacific where she sang the title role in Regina. He said her “scenery chewing” was terrific.

      • Wally Walburga

        Saw that Regina, very good indeed.

    • Camille

      Oh, Patrick, that really IS a sad story as there’s nothin’ sadder than “might-have-been”. At least you had a positive experience in contacting her and that was something good to remember her by. It’s very nice to imagine her as devoted granny although a little hard to.

      That pith helmet in the Zambello (was it she???) Troyens just absolutely stopped me dead in my tracks from attending that set of performances and ispsomething now I regret. Dora Dodo!!! Seem to recall Bernheimer reviewing it not too enthusiastically, either. I think the only time I saw her was a Faust with Treigle at Music Center in 1970? Could that be it? It was always amusing to me the description which Enzo Bordello made of her “sauntering out onto the Kermesse Scene like she was Jayne Mansfield”!! (Or words substantially to that effect.)

      I’m so sorry you didn’t get that interview! It would have been great to hear about THAT Thaïs! The problem with aroundtuits is that they hardly ever arrive…! Carpe diem!!! (Another useful Latin phrase)

      Saluti dalla Grande Mela Stregata!!


        She WAS Jayne Mansfield (that’s a great quote) and was Martin Bernheimer ever enthusiastic about anything? What a clod. Molto bacci.

        • Camille

          It is, I believe--ask Cieca--in Enzo adorato’s immortal, evergreen series “Où va la jeune Andouille”.

          So sorry U didn’t nab that interview but at least you had a happy moment

  • WindyCityOperaman

    I think I encountered La Neblett only once, and that was as Donna Elivra. She had to have her costumes refitted because she had had a dramatic weight loss after she was in rehab. She was honest about her problems with the bottle. I saw her ex conductor husband conduct the American Ballet Theater orchestra when they were on tour. RIP.

  • Kenneth Shaw

    Brokenhearted. I met her in the artists lounge way up on God knows what floor at the old State Theater when I was at City Opera, 1989 or 90, I imagine. What a fun, down to earth gal she was! Fearless, clearly! And totally encouraging. She had her moments of incredible success, transcending expectation…as well as her mishaps. But, she carved a unique path in our business, one I admired. And, she’ll keep that for herself and for us into the future, because there’ll not be another like her. Go with God, Carol, and make Heaven smile even brighter.

    • Baron Douphol

      Loved her from the start. Went to everything she did at NYCOpera. A very large unabashed voice, undaunted. Her Manon was indeed unique. Her Margherita in Mefistofele, shattering! Her vocal production, glottal when needed, secure in middle voice comfortable in runs, trills with an expansive top made her L’altra notte” the truly demented mad scene it was meant to be. Immediately ran to see what the competition did with it Callas, Favero, Olivero, Tebaldi (only those soprani who sang on stage performaces) For me La Neblett tops them all. RIP Carol