Cher Public

A midwinter day’s cast change

Jennifer Rowley will sing the role of Leonora in all performances of Il Trovatore this season replacing Maria Agresta, who is ill.” So says the Met press office!

  • Camille

    Yeay!!!!!! Go-go-GO Jenn-Row!!!!

    • I rejoice too! I was entranced with Rowley’s Roxane in Cyrano last season. Agresta has a fine voice, and is a good singer, but something about her voice doesn’t click for me. I imagine Rowley can do very good things with Leonora’s music. And she can act!

      Speaking of good things, and since I haven’t seen any comments yet, did you happen to catch last night’s Nozze di Figaro either in the house or on Sirius? I have to say I haven’t enjoyed a Nozze that much in a while. That first round early in the season was so dreary, but last night the cast was totally on, buoyed by Mr. Bickett’s excellent work. He let the singers do their thing in the arias, and elsewhere in that ever-coruscating flow of recit into song into recit into ensemble (matchless! Falstaff, a la 1786) he kept a tight (but flowing) rein over the proceedings. And the continuo was delightful. The ladies all sang like angels, Perez especially. She has become a star. And sounds it, knocking both Porgi amor and Do’ve sono out of the park. Leonard, never a favorite, won me over with her beautiful vocal acting and tone, even doing a few old-fashioned (but effective) ritardandi and diminuendi. Susanna seemed a custom fit for the much-lauded Sierra, whom I like, but did not love, as either Ilia or Gilda. The gentleman were equally fine (some blunt tone on high from Kwiecien, but no big deal), even to a Bartolo who delivered that marvelous first act aria, a cunning and improbably difficult piece of buffo declamation, like a master. Very impressive, a good night for Nozze.

      • Camille

        I am so gratified to hear this good news. For three months now I’ve been packing a ticket for tomorrow night’s Tosca and will hear it first, and then see how I feel about her abilities again. Much better she maintain a line and sing correctly as Leonora, than scream and shout a run of Toscas, and with which she has experience. She will sing again Leonora in the autumn with our dear Maestro Luisi, in Florence (Firenze). That’s good, too.

        No I did not listen to Figaro, not having much interest nor no longer keeping a Sirius link. Supposing I should hook it up. Glad to hear of Pérez, a darling lady whose Thaïs should have been better attended. Oh well, French Opera, sniff!

      • cielo e mar

        As heard over Sirius, Perez and Sierra were extraordinary. They together gave the whole performance an electricity sorely missing in recent months. What a shame they ended up in only two performances (the snowstorm, or “illness,” knocked Sierra out of last week’s third outing).

        • Electricity. Good description of the vibe last night.
          Camille -- I hope you hit the Tosca jackpot tomorrow night with Rowley. Let us know! I’m curious about the size of the voice. It seems to have flash and power. From what I’ve heard of her, Trovatore seems a better good fit, so yes, she wants to be careful about over-singing in Tosca. I listened to both broadcasts of Cyrano last year and she was marvelous in the second broadcast; first night, not as good for I heard too much of that harshness jacobelli describes. I like her timbre too: one of those cool-ish blue-flame types. Striking.

        • Greg Freed

          I think the Met has now effectively yoinked Sierra from SFO. She was a regular here, and gave some lovely performances. Her Lucia was on the light side but extremely artfully sung.

          • fantasia2000

            I actually wasn’t too impressed with Sierra the few times I saw her here at SFO. I thought her Lucia was underpowered, and her Countessa was totally wrong! However, I liked her in concerts from YouTube, and I’m glad she seems to be growing strong these days!

  • southerndoc1

    What a great photo!

  • manou

    As it happens I have travelled to Lille to hear Rowley as the Trovatore Leonora (actually we went for Igor Golovatenko but no matter). She was very very good. They toured this cast to many other cities in France:

    Conductor Roberto Rizzi Brignoli
    Director Richard Brunel

    Le Comte de Luna Igor Golovatenko
    Leonora Jennifer Rowley
    Manrico Sung Kyu Park
    Ferrando Ryan Speedo Green
    Inès Evgeniya Sotnikova
    Azucena Elena Gabouri
    Ruiz Pascal Marin

    • Manou: I hadn’t heard of Golovatenko until I read your post. I listened to his “Il balen” and “Di Provenza” on YT. Not bad at all. How was he live?

      • manou

        He is very young and very promising. We first saw him in Poliuto at Glynddebourne (with Fabiano), and he made a tremendous impression:

        • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

          Clearly worth the schlepp to Glyndebourne (and I assert licence to deploy a double p on account of your double d).

  • jacobelli

    I wasn’t really familiar with Ms. Rowley, so the moment i read this I went to YouTube and started listening. I have to say I really didn’t like what I was hearing. Her tone sounded kind of harsh to me, and she seems to cut short her high notes. But I’ll probably go see her anyway. I want to see Il Trovatore, and she might sound different live.

    • Camille

      Yes, I know what you mean about the harshness as there is a kind of metallic, or cutting edge to the voice. I wouldn’t put too much faith into a youtube recording.

      In the hall the voice travels well and her way of negotiating the ins and outs of the music is easy and without those nerveracking registral breaks and there is no wobbling, but a fast vibrato. Her big selling point is her vividness in the characterisation of the part coupled along with that ease of singing. She conjured up and commanded the character into life, and also held her own with Roberto Alagna, no mean or easy feat for someone of her experience.

      I will know a lot more after tomorrow night’s Tosca, which I hope she doesn’t Shout Out and do a lot of hammy corny dramatics with the voice. Thank goodness it’s a run of Leonoras, far superior music for the voice.

      • Tamerlano

        Yes! The sound is compact and spinny and I LOVE that kind of sound. She can get a little heavy in the middle…pouring tons of tone into the upper passagio FEELS good but can be tough to sustain. The high Bb piano is lovely and the final one sounds nice and big (she tires a bit and who can blame her). I would like to hear here in Wagner.

    • Greg Freed

      I sometimes have this impulse to check out singers on YouTube and in fact did so with Rowley yesterday but, as Camille says, I think it provides limited information. Some singers you simply have to hear in the house.

  • Antikitschychick

    Oh wow. Now I wish I could go see this, esp since Rachvelishvili is singing Azucena. Drat….and I unfortunately made the mistake of thinking the Nozze was getting an Hd and it isn’t. I am very sad to have to miss that and now Trovatore. I hope to be able to listen to a recording or broadcast at least. It really is a stellar cast they’ve assembled, especially for the female roles! #Latinasbegettinit #yasqueens

  • Camille

    Just crawling back in after the Tosca and can report a BIG success for Miss Rowley — a huge loud acclamation of BRAVAS after her “Vissi d’arte”, finely judged and executed.

    This weather has set me back a couple weeks in my recovery from illness so must go to bed and will be back with more gory details tomorrow.

    Basta e buonanotte a tutti quanti.

    • Thanks for the positive Rowley Report, and feel better!

      • Camille

        You are more than welcome and have a lot more to say but recovering from not only Villaume’s conducting but Luisotti’s as well, and trying to collect all my thoughts first.

        Suffice it to say for now that I suspect Leonora to be a FAR more appropriate role for her vocal personality as it requires a lot of skilled singing in the passaggio and a continuous outburst of lyrical cantilena. Tosca needs a good barker with a coloration that is truly “bruna”, as her lover calls her in his first aria. And a tough broad.

        More anon. Bobby has left me “breathless”.

    • Nelly della Vittoria

      There are gory details? About that nice and delicate little entertainment, Tosca?? You surprise me. I’m glad it was a success, as one hears too often only the dismal report ‘No one left to sing this music—no Puccinians—no Verdians—addio del passato bei suoni’ etc. Will be pleased and annoyed if she has a big success in the Trovatore, an opera I can’t live without but can never have in the flesh as it always avoids me—I’ll still be in drizzly London when it’s on.

      • Camille

        It was like old Londontown here last night, too, and it’s given me the vapours!
        I’m moving to Tahiti!! Me old bones are talkin’ to me.

        Nelly, there will be a Listen Live on the 22nd and there is the Big Broadcast on Saturday as recompense. I know, small potatoes. Not like *being there*.

  • August

    Contrary to some, I do believe YouTube does give a good indication of what a singer and his or her voice are about. More than an indication, a fair assessment of their artistry, I’d say. And let’s face it, we all rely on YT. What I heard from Jennifer Rowley, most of it from recent performances, shocked me in its rawness and as an unfinished product. My assessment is that this is not someone fit for the big leagues or even faint praise. No there there.

    • PCally

      You’re more than welcome, if not encouraged, to occupy yourself listening to Studer’s Leonora, while some of us look forward to hear this young artist in the flesh in a complete performance as opposed to little chunks of YouTube. Some of us are actually excited by the prospect of a talented singer.

      • August

        If, based on what’s up on YT, JR gets you excited despite evident absence of stage persona, body language, voice quality and the technique to produce it, then fine, as it is your prerogative. But please don’t berate others who see and hear things differently. The courtesy is appreciated.

        • PCally

          You posted a mean spirited and completely dismissive comment about a singer you’ve absolutely never heard live and have heard exclusively through the minimal amount of her work available on YouTube. It’s one thing to have heard a broadcast or a complete recording but you are dismissing an entire singers career based on bits and pieces on the internet. Since you only turn up around here for the specific intent of berating other singers and bringing up Cheryl Studer, the irony of calling out others for berating shouldn’t be lost on you. The dismissive and derisive tone in your post is far nastier than my response, especially since once again, bits of pieces of performances is all you’ve heard from this singer. Not to mention your aggression when others criticize your favorite soprano (whom they’ve had far more experience with than the soprano your currently trashing based, like, the four of five things available on YouTube, almost none of which are from complete performances)

    • Camille

      Mr August — !

      Allow me just to gingerly suggest this much to you, and just between the two of us —

      Perhaps you should take your “assessment” of this singer and discuss it with the obstinately wrongheaded approximate 2,000 to 3,000 persons in the auditorium at the Metropolitan Opera on Friday night, who bravaed this young lady to the skies?

      This occurred after both her lovely “Vissi d’arte” (AGAIN, MUCH different from the one available on youtube, which I, too, have ‘assessed’ and found a little wanting). Then once more, an acclamation at the curtain call at opera’s end, wherein she received more applause than anyone else on stage? This, in a one-off performance of a very tough role, one which does not seem (to me) ideally suited to either the timbre or setup of her particular instrument, in my unhumble opinion.

      And no, it was not the second coming of either Maria Callas nor Renata Tebaldi, or as referenced above, Cheryl Studer, a wonderful singer in her time and in roles which suited her (Elisabeth, Tannhâuser e.g.

      It seemed to me that this was a test run for a young(ish) singer who would most likely be able to pull off more suitable repertoire to even greater effect, (like the upcoming Leonoras in Il Trovatore), or was being vetted as to her qualities as either a future pinch hitter in important roles (something no one thinks of, but a very important matter, one which gave Lucine Amara a career for how many years at the Met?), OR--as a future property to be pushed by the Met. They are so busy pushing their varying successes in the Lindemann program, it’s frankly a wonder anyone else is noticed.

      And may I end in saying this as disclaimer: I neither know this woman, nor work for her agency, nor teacher or coach, nor have any personal connection or cognizance whatsoever, but have seen her in performance three times and four operas in performance in the theatre, and in slightly varying but chiefly ‘veristic’ repertory, and from summer of 2013 to last Friday. In that space of time it would appear to me she has made a great deal of progress since my first experience of her talents. and I look forward to her growth and continued success.

      a plácido domingo to you, and us all!

      • Amika

        Forgive my dissent Camille but I don’t think the Met does well by its Lindemann artists at all. Most of them don’t even sing at the Met anymore, or barely appear at all. The Met pushes “stars.” People with big PR machines, people with record contracts, and specific managers.

        • Camille

          Nothing to forgive because I generally agree with the fact that, once they are squeezed like lemons, they either go off into the rest of the opera world, or, once in a while, they go on to establish careers, and big ones, here. Either/or, but while they are ensconced in the program they are on the stage a fair amount of time.

          I think April Millo is an early example, Sondra Radvanovsky is a later and exceptional one. Wasn’t Dwayne Croft also a part of that program — I don’t know about that but he was a comprimario on the MainStage for a good stretch. Didn’t Lisette Oropesa also start out as a Lindemanner? The point being, the Met needs comprimarios/as in the dozens and it seems to employ them there for a term, like the Lola in yesterday’s performance. What happens to their careers is largely left up to themselves, and depends on the degree of talent, wealth and agency behind them, and just plain luck. Unforeseeable.

          It’s just that, in spite of many of the obvious advantages of superior music training and personnel, it isn’t apparent that it serves everyone so well to develop in a fishbowl the size of the MET, with its notorious picky audience. Much better to find equally good docents and instructors somewhere one can afford to make a mistake, every now and again. Mistakes are fatal on the stage here, for comprimari and protagonists alike — see the case of Rolando Villazón.

          It is a decent initiative, to be sure, but it seems to exist as do many other such programs, to have an ever-ready supply of comprimari at hand.

          • Amika

            Lots of opera houses have fest artists or YAP singers who do all the comprimario roles, take on cover assignments, and are as you said “squeezed like lemons.” I think that’s part of the whole deal/draw of being in the program.
            They give them opportunities to cover and/or perform onstage, with the hope that they continue to engage the singer. San Francisco is very devout to its Merola grads, Chicago with its young artists, Munich, Vienna…you name the place, it’s standard practice. I agree that the Met has produced several stars that were former young artists. I just don’t feel that they are necessarily the ones that will be pushed to starring roles until they have made a name for themselves elsewhere. Even Sondra’s career didn’t really blossom until she was out of the program for a long time.