Cher Public

Everybody wants to take a vow

On this day in 1966 the Harvey Schmidt-Tom Jones two-character musical I Do! I Do! opened  at the 46th Street Theatre, to run 560 performances. 

On this day in 1890 the first complete performance of Berlioz’ Les Troyens was given in Karlsruhe.

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Born on this day in 1898 soprano Grace Moore.

Born on this day in 1911 pianist W?adys?aw Szpilman.

Happy 81st birthday soprano Jeanette Scovotti..

Happy 71st birthday tenor José Carreras.

Happy 57th birthday composer Osvaldo Golijov.

Happy 55th birthday tenor José Cura.

  • Rosina Leckermaul

    Went to PEARL FISHERS at the Lyric last night. Kitschy production with lots of beefcake and sets by Walt Disney but wonderful singing from Rebeka, Polenzani and Kwiecien. The third act Leila/Zurga duet was thrilling. Great conducting (Davis) and orchestral playing. Enthusiastic, packed house.

    • Camille

      Happy to hear Miss Marina had a success there and wish she had been our Leïla here as well. A very estimable, stylish and lovely singer.

      I’m hoping the Fishers will stay in the repertory so we all have another chance to hear it and familiarise ourselves more fully with its charms. It’s a bit hard to get to inow because of the uneven structure, due to the youth and inexperience of the composer, yet its beauties are indeed both subtle and seductive.

      • Rosina Leckermaul

        Pearl Fishers is one of my guilty pleasures. It was good to hear a Leila with such a full voice. The men were terrific and Mariusz acted up a storm.

        • chicagoing

          I thought it curious, given that Pearl Fishers was the beginning of my regular attendance at LOC, that this particular opera would be presented again . All of the others that have cycled back have been more expected i.e. Tosca, Butterfly, Rigoletto. I do have one small complaint about the remarkable cast. The program notes mention that this is Andrea Silvestelli’s (Nourabad) eleventh role at the house since 2000/2001. He is also part of the cast of Turandot (with Amber Wagner) which opens tonight. In fact, he was even in the Don Carlo at SFO when I traveled for that production. Enough? I would like to hear some other bass voices.

          • Rosina Leckermaul

            He sounded like he was well past his prime.

  • actfive

    Who is the soprano with Cura & Hrovo? Don’t recognize her…

    • rapt

      Villarroel, according to the YT post.

  • Camille

    Mr Szpilman, featured above and parenthetically speaking—what a wonderful name for a pianist—is not just any old pianist but “The Pianist” in the eponymous 2003 movie starring Adrien Brody in his Academy Award winning performance as best actor. It was a harrowing accomplishment, I’m sure, for him.

    Anyway, here is first a scene from that movie and then Mr Szpilman himself playing the same piece by Chopin. So—next time you’re having a real bad hair day, or the car tire flatted out, or your subway train just shut down under the River, or you got a B+ when you needed an A for your grade curve—sit down and watch this movie about REAL problems, stresses, and verifiable ANGST, and your troubles will have magically been cured.

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=aS4YDuTfJ7Y

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=n9oQEa-d5rU

  • Cameron Kelsall

    The Met has just announced that Villaume is taking over the December/January performances of TOSCA.

    • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

      Bertrand de Billy will do the spring series (the Netrebko performances).

      • grimoaldo2

        Hello JML! I don’t know why “Monntag mit Marianne” stopped here and it isn’t my business, but I still follow your mixcloud.
        Thank you for Meyerbeer’s “Margharita d’Anjou”, really enjoy it, and pretty please is there any chance of recent performances of “Le prophète” from Karlsruhe, Essen, Toulouse and/or Berlin?

        • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

          Ciao Grimoaldo! I have missed so many Parterre regulars, especially you and Camille. I’ve seen some of your comments here about my more recent Mixcloud posts and deeply appreciate your thanks and enthusiasm. I will check my sources and see if I can come up with any performances of “Le prophète”
          which you suggest. Just FYI: I have weekly uploads for Mixcloud planned thopugh September 2018 (!) and will of course add the new and unexpected things that come my way, like all of the live broadcasts upon which I keep stumbling (like the Tokyo “Die Walküre” with Vogt and Pankratova which I recently posted). It’s good to be back!

          • Camille

            Jungfer! whimper, whimper!
            I am so happy to see you and wish you Herzlichen Grüßen for the season!

            I do not care to pry into any situation regarding Montag mit Marianne, but just am happy and grateful you are alive and among the land of the living.

            With love and best wishes—to the best Duenna a girl ever had!

            Camille Moke de Beauchamps.

          • PCally

            Jungfer!!! So glad to have you back !!

            Was literally just listening to your recent upload of Lulu

        • Zac

          Speaking of “Prophete,” I wonder if we can expect to see this opera on a commercially available DVD anytime soon?

        • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

          Grimo -- better sit down for this… I asked around and hit the jackpot: I can get my hands on “Le prophète” from Karlsruhe, Essen, Toulouse and Berlin! Please pick ONE! If this helps, the notes on the Toulouse performance suggest that it is spectacular all around. Just let me know which one you want and I will post it at Mixcloud as soon as I get it.

          • grimoaldo2

            Wow, how fabulous, thank you so much!
            Yes I agree I would love to hear the Toulouse performance with John Osborn and Kate Aldrich, can’t wait!

            • La Cote St Andre

              You’re in for a treat if you get a chance to hear the Toulouse Prophete. I attended two performances. This opera was a revelation. Both Osborn and Aldrich were wonderful!

            • grimoaldo2

              Well JML says she will put it on her mixcloud so I hope we will all have a chance to hear it.
              I do think Le Prophete (sorry I cannot be bothered to add the accent thingy every time) is a very very great opera, both music and drama.
              I just crossed to Atlantic to see the Berlin production and envy you for being able to see it in Toulouse with Osborn and Aldrich!

            • La Cote St Andre

              I was in Berlin but had to leave before the opening of Le Prophète at the Deutsche Oper on 26 November. However I was able to attend a lecture-open rehearsal-Q&A for Le Prophète on 16 November.

              The rehearsal was of most of Act III.

              Olivier Py is the stage director. He’s updated the story to today in the public housing ghettos of some city in France. The scenery is more than fifty shades of gray and downright ugly. Act III is full of ballets. (Listen to the music, and you’ll think tutus and Degas.) Well, the choreography for the ballets looked like Le Sacre du Printemps meets West Side Story. The dancing had absolutely nothing to do with Meyerbeer’s music. I guess Monsieur Py didn’t listen to the music, doesn’t like the music, or is deaf.

              To make matters worse Py used the stage director’s chestnut of rotating the revolving stage when he couldn’t think of anything else to do.

              By the end of the ballets I was hopping mad, so at the Q & A, I let Olivier Py (who unfortunately had returned to the rehearsal) and the head dramaturg (Jörg Königsdorf) have it.

              I identified myself and then said

              “I love opera. However, I do not like the style of opera directing called Regie. This is where some stage director, probably damaged in childhood by an overly indulgent mother, thinks he’s smarter than Wagner, Verdi, or, as we’ve just seen tonight, Meyerbeer. What happens too often on stage with these Regie directors is just downright stupid and ugly, and that ballet was, indeed, stupid, ugly, and, worst of all, boring.

              “What can we, the audience, do about this trash?

              “The soloists and chorus can’t do much because if they complain, then they’ll get labeled as ‘difficult to work with,’ and they might not work again.

              “If you, however, ladies and gentlemen, are also offended by such trash, there is something you can do. Just don’t buy a ticket!

              “And finally, if there is a hell, then these Regie directors have a special place waiting for them.”

              A pregnant pause followed my rage aria. The head dramaturg, suffering from a terminal hubris attack, was sprachlos.

              A final thought: Monsieur Py, Herr Königsdorf, and the rest of your ilk, just listen to the music.

            • Cicciabella

              Great! Let’s all blame mothers for opera productions we dislike. After all they have historically been blamed for schizophrenia, autism, impotence, serial killers and a number of other malfunctions. One more won’t make a difference.

            • grimoaldo2

              I do understand reactions like that but as I have said here before, when I go to opera these days, especially if it is a new production or one I have heard nothing about, as for Py’s Prophete since I was there on the first night, I tell myself beforehand “The production is probably going to be some unspeakably ridiculous crap but I am there to hear the music live”.
              I was talking to my good friend in England before I went to Berlin who loves 19th century French music as much as I do but would never dream of going to see a staged opera or even watch a DVD or webcast unless he knew for sure that it was going to be staged the way it is “supposed” to be and I said I could see from the publicity for Prophete that the ballet was going to be included but I was pretty sure it would not be skaters on a frozen lake and of course it wasn’t. No, the music did not fit what they did, the prophet’s revolutionary troops invading a city, running around naked, raping, marauding, plundering and killing on a revolving stage with a car on fire and burning buildings but I really didn’t care to be honest I was so thrilled to finally be hearing that wonderful music live. To me it is just not the same, no matter how enjoyable listening to recordings are, as hearing the music live, the instruments send vibrations into your body when you are there in a way that does not happen when listening to recordings or broadcasts
              The production could have been a lot worse in my opinion, let’s put it that way, and the only thing that really bothered me about it was that they changed the ending. Berthe did not commit suicide onstage as the libretto calls for and the whole cast and the palace did not go up in flames, the prophet just shot himself and the villain had a nice cup of tea.
              Still I was certainly thrilled to be there and had an overwhelming experience, the musical performance was so good and the mind-blowing quality of the drama did come through despite the eccentricities of the staging.
              Sitting next to me was an 18 year old young man from Berlin who is working at the Deutsche Oper as a trainee production assistant who started talking to me, he was very impressed with the opera and the beautiful music. He was also impressed when I told him that Meyerbeer, although Jewish and refused to convert to Christianity as Jews were expected to do at that time if they wanted to be accepted into the “establishment” was made official court composer to the Prussian kings in Berlin and wrote the music for their coronations and balls and ceremonies. Then of course his works were driven off the stage by Wagner’s disgusting attacks in his book “Jewishness in Music” and banned by the Nazis.
              As we were leaving I told him “You are much younger than me -- don’t let Meyerbeer be forgotten again!” He promised he wouldn’t.

            • DonCarloFanatic

              I agree that it’s a special thrill to experience these operas live, and after all one can always close one’s eyes at the atrocities aimed at bourgeois sensibility. Better a production not to one’s taste than no production at all. Sometimes there are moments of revelation that seep through the storytelling fads regardless. Most important, there is the music.

            • grimoaldo2

              “after all one can always close one’s eyes at the atrocities aimed at bourgeois sensibility”
              Yes, that’s what I did at the Paris Aida last year during the ballet sequences, utterly loathsome and grotesque, cleaning ladies dusting a model of the Arc de Triomphe during the triumphal march for instance. But I still had a fabulous evening because of the singing of Radvanovsky and Anita Rachvelishvili, some of the most wonderful singing I have ever heard.

            • CKurwenal

              I feel the same about my experiences of Rachvelishvili Grim -- one of the most exciting voices I have ever heard, definitely one to bring up when I’m an old man explaining to the youngsters that of course opera was so much better in the good old days.

            • Camille

              Exacto!

            • Camille

              Good on you, grimoaldo! That’s the spirit and perhaps this reawakening of Meyerbeer’s music will be the beginning of a new acceptance of and popularity of what once was very popular and acclaimed. Little matter the staging, so long as the work itself is given a chance. It will survive whatever staging it has in any case.

              Last year I had sort of a similar reaction to the rather dumb staging of the Guillaume Tell here at the Met, upsidedown cows and all. I was only happy that at last it made it to the stage and for once in my life, was able to see and hear it in the opera house.

              I had not known that Meyerbeer refused to convert in order to have a successful career—that was taking quite a stand when one considers Mendelssohn and Mahler, for examples. Thanks!

            • La Cote St Andre

              Thanks for your missionary work with the 18-year-old because it’s work that needs to be done.

              I taught at a German university for 20 years. When I asked my students what they would go to see in Berlin, no one mentioned anything to do with the Shoah. I did hear “the Brandenburg Gate,” “KaDeWe,” and other tourist attractions.

              When I was in Berlin in November 2017, I went to the Jewish cemetery in the Schoenhauser Allee where Meyerbeer is buried. I spent some time there thinking about his sad posthumous fate. I put a stone on his headstone and left a bouquet of white roses.

            • Porgy Amor

              However, I do not like the style of opera directing called Regie. This is where some stage director, probably damaged in childhood by an overly indulgent mother, thinks he’s smarter than Wagner, Verdi, or, as we’ve just seen tonight, Meyerbeer.

              I think you would have done better to stick to what you did not like about the specific production you were addressing, rather than reciting a political tract about “the style of opera directing called Regie,” with speculations about people’s childhood and the divining of motives (“thinks he’s smarter”).

            • La Cote St Andre

              You’re right. Thanks for the input!

      • Welcome home!

  • Camille

    If you are still bedeviled by the “hawtness” of that “next Domingo”, today’s birthday boy, Sr Cura, you might just want to slap on your earphones and catch up with his latest outing—as the medieval knight Tannhæuser (talk about bedevilment) in the French version which was mounted (you will excuse the allusion) this year in, where else?, Monte Carlo.

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=6tZSEtyXnO0

    As Tannhæusers go, his Bayreuth Bark is no worse than his bite. Woof, woof!

  • DerLeiermann

    I believe Grace Moore studied “Louise” with the composer. Not the type of voice I like to listen to on the regular, but I learned about her while investigating the life of the composer, also learned that she was somewhat of a racist which comes as no surprise given the time she lived in. I believe they made a movie about her life, but I know it’s hard to find, probably. I suppose she was one of the very first soprano of the lirico fotogenico type.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9Xh6mxcmpo

    • dajhilton

      Still the only female opera singer to be nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.

      • Camille

        Oh really, for which one? The only one I’ve seen is “The King Steps out”, which I enjoyed enormously at age eleven. It was very deeply glamorous to me at that age, hahaha!

  • DerLeiermann

    I believe Grace Moore studied “Louise” with the composer. Not the type of voice I like to listen to on the regular, but I learned about her while investigating the life of the composer, also learned that she was somewhat of a racist which comes as no surprise given the time she lived in. I believe they made a movie about her life, but I know it’s hard to find, probably. I suppose she was one of the very first soprano of the lirico fotogenico type.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9Xh6mxcmpo

    • Lohenfal

      The name of the film about her life is “So This is Love,” with Kathryn Grayson. I saw it on TV many years ago. Not a brilliant film to be sure, but not bad for its kind and it is readily available.

      Moore was immensely popular during the 30’s and 40’s. No opera singer of the present day could be compared in terms of being in the public eye. Her name would’ve been recognized by many in the non-opera crowd of that time.

      • DerLeiermann

        Thank you so much for sharing this insight. I suppose no one alive today saw her sing live, but I love candid recalls of singers careers (even if second hand given that no person alive and posting on parterre saw her perform live, lol ) . I belive she also had a short career with MGM Studios which would have accounted for her popularity.

      • Niel Rishoi

        It was a fun movie, and Grayson is quite good, and charming. The final scene, with her singing “Mi chiamano Mimi” is very touching, and she does a stellar performance of it -- better than one might think.

        • Rosina Leckermaul

          Ah the days when MGM made those films about divas and impresarios. They were great fun.

      • Camille

        Also notable as one of a few movies Merv Griffin may be seen in. He was quite young and slim and nowhere near the plutocrat he was to become decades later. He played the boyfriend or something along the lines of an inoffensive juvenile lead.

    • Camille

      She came from Tennessee originally and was likely nor more nor less the racist than the average little lady born and bred in that day. I wouldn’t know about any specifics myself, but one must bear in mind people were brought up very differently back then.

      Charpentier was kind of a fascinating character, I think. A couple years back I discovered that with the income he derived from the success of his Louise he actually started up an educational center for grisettes, the type of girls portrayed in the opera and was quite a modern and forward thinking person in some respects. He lived a very long life, until his 96th year and died in 1956, living through not only the Franco-Prussian War but both of the great World Wars as well. Quite a constitution he must have had. After his Julien came out in 1914 and was kind of a flop he apparently didn’t compose much more, so how he earned a living all those years, I don’t know, but it was truly wonderful he was able to see his chief creation, Louise, immortalised on film the way he did. It must have seemed like an incredible dream for him.

      Oh, I remembered something suddenly now—once, reading somewhere years ago, I came across a story about a rumor he had not, in fact, composed Louise’s big aria “Depuis le jour”, but that it was actually an aria left in his possession by a music student/budding composer who died, and after having left his music behind with Charpentier, no one was the wiser, so GC put the aria in his work. Now, I can’t recall where I read this but it shocked me so at the time I’ve never forgotten it. One does wonder, though….

  • swordsnsolvers

    Just tuned in to LOC Turandot broadcast with Amber Wagner on WFMT, anyone else listening?

    • DonCarloFanatic

      Now I am. Thanks for the heads up.

      • swordsnsolvers

        I don’t love Wagner’s diction but her tone is very nice

  • leoniceno

    I’ve been poking around, trying to figure out when/how I can listen to a recording of “Girls of the Golden West.” I wonder if it might be on an SF Opera radio broadcast sometime next year.

    • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

      I wrote to the press office at SFO a few weeks ago and asked if there would be any broadcast or telecast or some way I could hear (or see) a performance on the Internet here in Wien. They emphatically said NO: no radio, no TV, no DVD -- and suggested that I keep an eye on the schedule of the opera in Amsterdam. I am hoping an in-house-recording gets to me before I book a flight to the Netherlands.

      • leoniceno

        Thanks. Sounds like I’ll have to wait then.

    • Christian Ocier

      The performance I attended came off like a first draft. It might improve significantly by the time it hits the stage in Amsterdam, but I’m not certain if that’s going to happens insce the Sellars libretto is, much like Atomic, the opera’s Achilles’ heel. No dramatic pulse, bloated text, no interesting character development. Act 1 was a bore, act 2 improved but still pales in comparison to the Goodman collaborations. The singers in SFO are wonderful though, especially Julia Bullock and Ryan McKinny. The fabric of the work just lacks everything needed for an interesting opera.