Cher Public

The trouble with troubadours

Verdi toyed with calling his opera La zingara but based on Monday’s Met season premiere he might have named it La zingara ed il conte as Anita Rachvelishvili and Quinn Kelsey towered over an otherwise pedestrian if still exciting Il Trovatore. 

Although my last Trovatore was just two years ago I had for a moment forgotten how much I adore this opera. It was the first Verdi to capture my imagination and the highlights LP of the old Leontyne Price recording was the second opera record I owned—the Zubin Mehta version hadn’t yet been released! That mysteriously yearning introduction to both verses of Leonora’s “Tacea la notte” never fails to transport me back to the 11-year-old me just discovering opera’s wonders.

Monday’s performance was the Met’s 648th, far fewer than the much-loved works that directly precede and follow it–Rigoletto (885) and La Traviata (1011.) I could easily forego either for the next five or ten years but not Trovatore. While acknowledging that Rigoletto and Traviata may be more satisfying and coherent music-dramas, and that the Marx Brothers were perfectly correct to skewer the piece in A Night at the Opera, I’m always swept away by Trovatore—even if I sometimes have to put my brain on “standby.”

Seventeen of the Met’s performances this month feature productions by Sir David McVicar but it must be said that Trovatore, his first work for the house, holds up pretty well. Charles Edwards’s revolving monolithic set allows the opera to flaw in two swift acts with no pauses for scene-changes building an irresistible momentum; it’s now hard to imagine that the opera used to always be done with three intermissions.

The propulsive production however wasn’t helped much by the merely adequate, unilluminating conducting of Francesco Molinari- Pra… I mean, Marco Armiliato. True, he kept everyone together and the orchestra played well enough but the music rarely soared as it can when led with more care and insight.

The chorus had a particularly lusty night reveling in Verdi’s infectious writing and McVicar’s Anvil-boyz © ably added to the din at the beginning of the second act. Sarah Mesko’s plummy Ines and Eduardo Valdes’s aging Ruiz got the job done while Stefan Kocán’s gravelly Ferrando roughly began the opera lacking both the delicacy and menace to make his opening narration redolent of dark foreboding.

Yonghoon Lee’s Manrico got lost in the last revival, obscured by Anna Netrebko, Dolora Zajick and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Monday his strengths and weaknesses were more exposed. He does throw himself into it but his wild stock gestures and glazed look of constant anguish grew tiresome and he sang lustily in what only sometimes resembled Italian. While not everything was done fff his mannered attempts at soft singing verged on crooning.

“I don’t bray!” Well, yes, you do. It was disconcertingly obvious when Marcelo Álvarez did it when the staging was new but now I believe McVicar’s staging demands that the Manrico gulp water onstage both during the duet with Azucena and before the blasted high note at the end of “Di quella pira!”

I remain baffled as to so many Verdi productions at the Met are riddled with cuts. All too predictably Manrico did only just verse of “Di quella pira” while both of Leonora’s cabalettas were reduced to a single verse. But on this occasion I wasn’t so dismayed as I didn’t long for more of Jennifer Rowley’s rough and unwieldy heroine.

The young American soprano scored a significant success last season as Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Roberto Alagna (which I missed) and was duly rewarded with a performance of Tosca this month and then two weeks ago was tapped to take over Leonora when Maria Agresta took ill.

For all her dramatic commitment and occasionally interesting musical ideas, Rowley’s performance was grievously marred by consistently wayward intonation and harsh tone. There were rare lovely moments or nicely turned phrases but one often felt she was in way over her head. High notes sometimes blazed, sometimes squalled. Dramatic moments like the “Miserere” and the duet with di Luna worked well enough but one hoped in vain for the repose and floating beauty needed in “Tacea” or “D’amor sull’alli rosee.”

Her bio revealed that she’s to sing Medea in Mayr’s opera this summer for the inaugural season of Will Crutchfield’s Teatro Nuovo; I admit that Monday’s Verdi cooled my interest in attending that revival.

On the other hand, Kelsey’s brutal yet dreamily beautiful di Luna made me want to hear him again and again in just about anything. Although he won the Met’s Beverly Sills Artist Award three years ago, the house until now has been oddly reticent about featuring him.

This season, finally, New York is getting a good number of chances to learn what the rest of the world has known for some years now: Kelsey is one of the best baritones on the opera stage today. Last month, his Peter in Hansel literally made me sit straight up in my seat—the pointed vividness of his voice combined with the effortless clarity of his English diction were arresting.

But Verdi is where he has been making his mark worldwide and a gorgeous Germont (substituting for an absent Ludovic Tézier) several years at last gave us a glimpse of why. His di Luna had an urgent immediacy; it wasn’t that he pushed out the volume but the warm burnished sound effortlessly enveloped your ear. “Il balen” has never been one of my favorite Verdi baritone arias but on Monday time stood still as the most magical minutes of the evening.

And it provided the arresting paradox of this di Luna: how can he pour out such intoxicated rapture after violently manhandling Leonora just hours before? Rowley deserved extra battle-pay for spending a good half of the night being thrown to the ground, crawling across the stage or climbing the cell door to Manrico’s prison!

If I was expecting Kelsey to be special, I was absolutely surprised at the consistent excellence of Rachvelishvili’s Azucena. At my first encounter with the Georgian mezzo I walked out at intermission dismayed by her wild, undisciplined Carmen. Her Principessa de Bouillon at Carnegie paled next to the high-wattage star power of Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann in Adriana Lecouvreur.

Although I enjoyed her Konchakova in Prince Igor well enough, I just couldn’t keep my mind off how much those damned poppies must have cost. But clearly in the four years since Igor she has transformed herself.

A friend heard her as Amneris last summer in Orange and raved that it was remarkable so I had some inkling that the Trovatore might be special. Indeed it was the most interesting, nuanced Azucena I’ve ever heard. Usually I just grit my teeth during “Stride la vampa” waiting for it to be over but Rachvelishvili’s rendition, done with quiet intensity, riveted me despite the lack of trills.

Her rapt and haunted “Condotta ell’era in ceppi,” which closed with the most harrowing despair, proved a revelation. Her consistent care for dynamics contrasted dramatically with the many other gypsies content to barnstorm their way through the gypsy’s music. If she as yet lacks the addled “crazy” that can make Azucena such a fascinating figure, this performance, hailed by a roaring, stamping ovation, alerted the world that she has become major Verdi mezzo..

Despite the bandmaster conducting and a brawny unsubtle hero and an erratic, miscast heroine, this Met Trovatore is a must as I can’t think of another mezzo or baritone today that I’d rather hear in it. But Kelsey only sings the next three performances (including the broadcast) before Luca Salsi takes over for the final four.

  • grimoaldo2

    Excellent review, a lot of the same reactions those of us listening in the chat last night had.
    “I remain baffled as to so many Verdi productions at the Met are riddled with cuts. ”
    Hear, hear! It is just lazy, stupid “tradition” to cut repeats and snip out a couple of bars here and there. Very disrespectful.
    “the merely adequate, unilluminating conducting of Francesco Molinari- Pra… I mean, Marco Armiliato.”
    Funnily enough, I thought of Molinari-Pradelli last night as the equivalent in the old days to Armiliato but how much better M-P would probably have been.
    Yes Kelsey and Anita R totally, utterly rocked!

    • ER

      I have to respectfully disagree. First there’s a difference between an actual cut and not doing a second verse repeat. In the latter case, you at least get to hear all the music once. Plus I like

      Anita Rachvelishvili probably has the most difficult to spell and pronounce name in the business today! But she’s so phenomenal that it’s worth learning how to do so.

      • CCorwinNYC

        Those of us who were fans of her fellow Georgians, the prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili and soprano Makvala Kasrashvili, have had some practice.

      • Rick

        Actually, you don’t get to hear all the music if “only” a verse of the caballetta is cut as you also loose the bridge, eg in “Di tale amor” a short solo for Inez and in “Di quella pita” a short solo for Leonora.

        • ER

          Valid point!

  • PCally

    Great review! Anita Rachvelishvili and Quinn Kelsey were INCREDIBLE, the best I’ve seen in these roles but a stupidly large margin that it’s not even funny. Rachveslishvili was a singer I’d always enjoyed but never really thought of as a fully formed artist but Jesus she blew the roof off the place and the detail of complexity of the character was really an incredible surprise. Kelsey is just an amazing singer through and through (but as the review mentions, that’s been NY’s best kept operatic secret for a while now). Rowley had her moments and I actually think she’s probably the best I’ve seen in this production in terms of drama and commitment (Rad gets points for commitment but I think her hysteria looks rather silly and Netrebko was as ever charismatic as all hell but still mostly did her thing), but I agree that there’s a streak of acidity and harshness in her tone which, in this role at least, is less than ideal. This role, more than virtually any other verdi soprano, really requires that repose CC mentions above, and it was missing. I thought her Roxanne was absolutely lovely, but this was disappointing and I definitely and I missed Agresta, whom I’ve yet to see live.

    • Armerjacquino

      “Rad gets points for commitment but I think her hysteria looks rather
      silly and Netrebko was as ever charismatic as all hell but still mostly
      did her thing”

      This is absolutely forensically spot-on.

      I saw Agresta as Leonora last year and she was… fine. Didn’t do anything wrong or anything interesting. At least Rowley seems to have provided something to talk about. That night belonged to A-Rach too, one of the best performances I’ve seen and heard in (gulp) thirty years of operagoing I STARTED VERY YOUNG OK?

      Kelsey has a wonderful instrument and I loved him as Germont, but in London I felt he lacked a certain delicacy for di Luna- ‘Il balen’ felt a little cautious and I came away thinking I’d much rather hear him as Rigoletto or Boccanegra. I’m glad that seems to have been a blip as I think the voice is tremendous.

      • Tamerlano

        Has the production really had a great Leonora?

        • Armerjacquino

          When I saw it the Leonora was Hasmik Papian, which may or may not answer your question.

          • Tamerlano

            Well, yes.

        • Juicy Bjoerling

          as i wrote in the chat, the two that were the most technically accomplished that i saw were guanqun yu and di giacomo. quite lovely both, just lacking a bit more in personality, i think.

          • Tamerlano

            I forget about Di Giacomo…she’s a sort of Maria Spacagna type.

            • Juicy Bjoerling

              is that a good or bad thing? i don’t know spacagna…

        • Are we talking about the McVicar production at the Met or something else.

          Certainly, Netrebko’s performance in the HD was some of her best work. So, I’d say she’s been a great Leonora in this production. And if I recall, she sang most (if not all) the repeats.

          When Rad did the first HD, I felt that it wasn’t her best work, even though Leonora was one of her best roles at the time. I just felt like she wasn’t in top form vocally (even her “D’amour” which was always a knock-out was less than great) and dramatically, McVicar’s choices (or maybe her own) didn’t seem to work for her.

          • PCally

            Kashania, to be clear. I thought Netrebko’s Leonora was maybe my favorite thing I’ve seen her do. Vocally it’s an absolute perfect fit and I certainly found her to be engaging and often moving. I’ve just always found Netrebko to be more of an amazing performer than an actress per se. So I do think she fit into the production but I thought she was mostly very tough and forceful. That’s refreshing for the part but I still think it’s an approach that she tends to apply somewhat haphazardly to a lot of what she sings. I personally missed some of the nuance in performance style that I heard in her singing.

            Leonora is probably my favorite overall Rad role. I don’t think she’s a bad actress per se but I don’t think she’s all that charismatic. Since she premiered the production, I’m sure she was mostly following McVicars direction (all that rolling around and crazy lady stuff was in the first run at the met as well). But she’s just imo not that kind of stage animal to pull it off.

        • Parpignol

          I thought Radvanovksy had some great vocal nights in that production, but you have to admire her sound; certainly her acting was all grimaces--
          and the Netrebko performances with Hvorostovsky were never-to-be-forgotten. . .

      • PCally

        A-Rach certainly ranks with the best I’ve ever seen in the Italian rep for sure. I haven’t seen the ones from the supposed “golden age” but I seriously can’t imagine she wasn’t in that league. No problems vocally and unbelievable acting skills that I shamefully admit I wouldn’t have thought she had in her.

        I tend to cut Leonora’s some slack dramatically speaking because it’s a VERY hard character to make plausible.

        • I really think Anita Rachvelishvili is the real deal. So far I’ve seen her twice (and should see her again soon, this time as Azucena) but I would be ready and willing to travel specifically to see her more often.

  • Great review, Christopher, and thank you as always. I knew that Kelsey would shine (in addition to the impressive voice, he’s a very musical and tasteful singer) and I knew A-Rach would do well. But I’m glad to hear of her great triumph. The last time I saw her (an excellent Carmen at the COC), I found her singing more refined/finished than my first couple of encounters with her. It’s always great to see someone of great potential improving on their skills.

  • Porgy Amor

    Seventeen of the Met’s performances this month feature productions by Sir David McVicar but it must be said that Trovatore, his first work for the house, holds up pretty well.

    I think it helped that his serviceable Trovatore followed two Met productions of the work that were fabled bombs (1987 and 2000). You’d have to look long and hard for anyone who would ask, “Why don’t they just bring back the beautiful old Melano produciton that I saw with Dame Joan?” or “What was wrong with the Graham Vick production? It wasn’t even that old!” The conditions were right for an auspicious house debut. (I love a lot of Graham Vick’s other work, but everyone has an off-day.)

    Excellent review. I tuned into this stream at the worst possible time (right at the end of III/i, too late to hear much of the soloists therein), so I got a very long listen Lee and Rowley, who were as you describe them. It was a relief when Quinn Kelsey and A-Rach came on and we got some proper singing on the programme.

  • GiacomoPuccini

    Is one of the gypsy women wearing a top hat?

  • Der Fiakermillo

    What a dire night for me. I agree that Rach was an impressive Azucena -- she was musical and it is a lush voice. She was the only one who was really impressive. Rowley is a mixed package and ultimately pretty provincial; a mostly dry sound used sometimes interestingly but with lots of odd pitch issues and little Verdi style or spin. Lee remains crude and inadequate, although it is loud. I know we live in a Manrico poor era but this was really dreadful -- badly phrased and un-musically crooned. The Ah si was painful to anyone who loves line. I know many disagree but I find Kelsey’s tone colorless and dull, especially in his soft singing. When he puts pressure on the voice, there is no cut at all; it’s NOT EVEN Mark Delevan, let alone a real Verdi baritone. Obviously I am an outlier but it’s just not acceptable for me as DiLuna. Salsi will be a major improvement -- a much better voice. I don’t get any admiration for this production -- it’s completely without character or distinction. Dull and dark, then dull and red, all the while spinning spinning spinning with all the requisite extraneous McVicker supers there to dance and frolic and clutter the stage.

    • ER

      Fiakermillo, were you listening online or in the house?

      • Der Fiakermillo

        in the house. Dress circle.

        • ER

          oh so was I!!

  • Alyssa

    Jen is a great Leonora…she has solid vocal technique and a beautiful timbre -- both of which Agresta would lack. I listened to the broadcast last night and I definitely didn’t hear any “harshness” that this reviewer is referencing. I’ve heard her sing these arias in recital before and they were polished and moving…so I would have to disagree with this reviewer.

    • Luke Lemmeier

      Amen to that!!

    • CKurwenal

      It’s nonsense to say Agresta ‘would lack’ solid vocal technique and a beautiful timbre. I don’t think she’s the most complete artist around, but she has definitely ticked both of those boxes. Why can’t you write nice things about Rowley without resorting to pointlessly denigrating Agresta?

      • Alyssa

        Have you seen some of the recordings of Agresta singing the Tu vedrai cabaletta? I think it’s safe to say that her technique is not solid when it comes to coloratura and the high register. I was just giving my objective take….no need to be so offended.

        • Armerjacquino

          Your last sentence is, in the circumstances, a smidge ironic.

        • CKurwenal

          I’m not remotely offended, I don’t have a horse in this race.

          I haven’t seen any recordings of Agresta singing Tu vedrai, but I have seen her do it in the theatre. I’ve also seen her as Lucrezia Contarini and Desdemona. She is far from a favourite singer of mine but she is famous for being competent and for making a beautiful sound, if nothing else.

        • PCally

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmfcjIt5iMo

          Here is a recording. Bland sound IMO and not exactly exciting I guess but other than a slightly ragged way of getting off of phrases, I can detect no real issues with either the coloratura or the high notes. Certainly compared to Rowley, at least how she sounded the other night, this is far more effortless and smooth.

          And your take is hardly objective, considering that other people who were in the theater felt differently about what they heard.

          • Armerjacquino

            The takeaways from this thread would seem to be:

            1/ When new accounts are registered purely to defend a particular artist, people will get suspicious.

            2/ This kind of thing is really easy to cross-check with FB.

            3/ Defending a pal is an honourable thing to do but it’s best to declare an interest rather than claiming to be objective.

            4/ It’s possible to defend said pal without feeling the need to slag off the artist they replaced.

        • La Cieca

          You don’t seem to know the difference between “objective” and “subjective.”

          Hint: adjectives like “great,” “polished” and “moving” are not objective.

  • Our Own JJ

    “As Jane Powell, Kathryn Grayson and innumerable state-level pageant contestants have so often reminded us, ‘Love is where you find it, / Don’t be blind, it’s / All around you, everywhere!’ And so it is with good singing in the Met’s current Italian opera performances: it’s there, but you do have to do some digging to turn it up.”

    Our Own JJ in the Observer: http://observer.com/2018/01/review-quinn-kelsey-anita-rachvelishvili-steal-mets-il-trovatore/

    • southerndoc1

      Featuring the Parterre Box Dancers:

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

    • manou

      Did Our Own JJ review Cav & Pag? If so I must have missed it -- a link would be good. Thanks

    • grimoaldo2

      “Everything seemed focused on making the loudest and longest high note possible at the end of the aria “Di quella pira,” an effect Lee accomplished only by omitting half the music….conductor Marco Armiliato, who took big, disfiguring cuts in number after number”

      Thank you!
      Perhaps I will go and stand outside the Met with a placard that says “STOP THE CUTS!”

      • Brackweaver

        There’s an applicable bris joke somewhere I think.

        OTOH…Both L and M’s big cuts cut repeats of the same words and probably the same orchestration. The other night the singers and perhaps the audience might have been better off to NOT have repeats of both singers shortcomings.

        The smaller cuts totally baffle me. They don’t really save time or even save the singer or audience in any way.

  • Der Fiakermillo

    I think Agresta would have been a substantial improvement, at least if we take this La Scala telecast as evidence. Both tonally and stylistically, she is a lovely and very musical singer. She has always impressed me and I hope she recovers fully from her recent illness. From hearing the Cyrano and reports of the Tosca, I suspect Rowley is better suited to verismo roles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBEVW4U1sXI

    • ER

      I’m not agreeing or disagreeing-- Agresta is a lovely singer but the voice has no bite whatsoever, and when I heard her as Liu, the voice got completely lost in the MET auditorium. Rowley’s may not be a “larger” voice but it definitely has more ping.

      • Luvtennis

        In the Trovatore posted above, Agresta reminds me a bit of the young Devia -- vocally well-schooled (less so than Devia) but so correct as to be dull -- and the opaque sound does not have any glamour. Devia matured into an important singer. Agresta was 35 in that clip so perhaps she has found a more compelling, tonally varied approach to her music and a better projected sound.

        Is it just my ears or does she cover her lower register so much that the vowel sounds are distorted.

    • PCally

      I would take Agresta over Rowley in this role certainly but I do think we currently have a few Leonora’s who are preferable to both. There’s a recent DVD starring a lady I’ve never heard of, Anna Pirozzi, and she sounds pretty great. Not to mention ladies like Harteros, Netrebko, and Stoyanova.

      • Der Fiakermillo

        Yup, I’d probably take any of them (and Radvanovsky, of course) over Agresta but to be fair to the Met, Leonore’s don’t grow on trees and Agresta was certainly good casting and a fitting opportunity for a major singer. Rowley not so much but they had to replace Agresta quickly, apparently, and Rowley was around (cover?). Not sure why Pirozzi’s career is so limited at the moment but hope to get a chance to hear her live as she seems interesting. Didn’t she sing Maddalena in SF last fall, or am I imagining that? Anyone here who has heard her live? I’d also certainly take Tamara Wilson over Agresta -- she sang it beautifully in Barcelona and it’s probably the most “Verdian” of any of these singers. She is currently singing Chrysothemis in Houston or probably would have been a better Met replacement. I prefer her in Verdi to Meade (again, a personal taste.)

        • PCally

          I liked Wilson a lot when she sang Aida and her Empress is also quite impressive, so I’m certainly looking forward to hearing her again. Meade I saw when she sang the part here and I personally thought she was pretty dreadful, with much of the same problems written here about Rowley (only better agility) except she couldn’t really act at all. Blythe was the Azucana. It was a very shaky night overall.

          I didn’t actively dislike Rowley per se, and I thought as an overall performance I preferred her to Lee (who I remembered liking when he sang the role here last and who really sounded pretty meh this time around). In this role at least the flaws of her voice just seemed to be put under a microscope more than they should have been and it was frustrating as I liked her a lot the last time I’d seen her and was looking forward to seeing her in a meatier part.

      • CKurwenal

        I saw Pirozzi as Leonora and I’m afraid that, while she sang very well, it was about as dull as Agresta’s. There had been a bit of a buzz about her here on Parterre in the months prior so I was very interested to hear her, but it wasn’t a memorable experience.

  • Luke Lemmeier

    I don’t know what you all were hearing, but I thought Jennifer Rowley did an amazing job last night. Her voice was rich, present, and was consistently able to be heard clearly over the broadcast. There has not been a Leonora at the Met in the last decade who has the agility and dramatic vocal color and power as Rowley does (and I have seen other live performances of this production). Her voice is consistently ringing in the house and it resembles true golden age singing. Not to mention her Tosca was amazing and had me in tears. She is a true singing actress and we should be lucky to get the opportunity to see her perform. I mean look at the video the met posted last week. Where else have you heard so powerful of a high C with such rich color, focus, and beautiful timbre the past few years within this repertoire? I haven’t. She is a burst of fresh air to the opera industry, and I would have to disagree with these negative comments, as it seems we listened to two completely different shows. Go, Jen!! Keep killing it!

    • Luke Lemmeier

      To add- I heard Agresta a few months ago as Liu at Lyric Opera and was frightened for her throughout the show as it sounded like she was going to blow out her voice. I cannot imagine her singing Leonora with ease.

      • Armerjacquino

        I heard her at Covent Garden and she did. She wasn’t particularly interesting, but she was vocally very comfortable and secure.

    • Tamerlano

      Jesus Christ, calm down. Are you her manager?

      • Luke Lemmeier

        I am not. I am just stating my opinion. The success of American opera singers has dwindled in the past decade because of lack of proper vocal technique, and she is a prime example of a solid American opera singer with a voice for this repertoire. I just do not agree with those stating that this repertoire isn’t suited for her voice.

        • Tamerlano

          I think she sounds great in this clip… totally the right music for her:
          https://youtu.be/evJ1-tcom_c
          But, I cannot agree that hers a voice meant for Leonora. Perhaps she will grow into it (Rad did) but for now she doesn’t have the right sound for this music…spin, point, flexibility, trills, sense of Verdian arc…not there.
          As for American singers not having “proper” techniques ( whatever the fuck that means), I call bullshit. There are loads of well trained American singers on the American and European opera scenes. The issue, I would contend, is that American singers often have a boring, homogeneous sound…good technique, no point of view .

          • Yige Li

            “The issue, I would contend, is that American singers often have a boring, homogeneous sound…good technique, no point of view.”

            Well said.

            • Luvtennis

              I think the same could be said of many singers. I don’t think nationality is the determining factor.

            • Tamerlano

              Yes, I do agree.

            • Yige Li

              True that it could be said to many singers. But if we talk about the ratio… No, I don’t think nationality is a factor. I would say it’s the “school” playing a major factor.

          • Luke Lemmeier

            Yeah, I just all around disagree. I don’t know what you mean about “spin, point, flexibility, trills, etc..” She has all of those qualities (I have heard her live numerous times). I would like to know who you would would want to hear sing this? Netrebko basically screams the role, and Sondra sounds uneasy. And I beg to differ. Look at the number of American singers singing at the Met- the number is small. Not many singers know how to actually resonate openly in an opera house and use their voice in that capacity.

            • Armerjacquino

              “Netrebko basically screams the role”

              This is… a Bad Take.

            • Luke Lemmeier

              I mean, I heard it live. It was beautiful, but it sounded like she was struggling at times. Watch the videos from it online- she is doing weeeeird stuff.

            • Resitopiu

              Don’t seem to remember this happening to Agresta! ‘After much deliberation and consultation following the final rehearsals, it has been agreed between Royal Opera and soprano that the role of Isabelle would not be the right part for her debut at Covent Garden.
              ‘The Royal Opera considers Jennifer Rowley an important voice of the future and we are keen to build a continued relationship with her. However, voices do develop and we have to recognise that this role is not ideally suited for her now more dramatic voice.’
              The statement said that, ‘despite all efforts until the last minute by all parties to make it work as well as possible’, it had been mutually agreed that Rowley would not appear and that her Covent Garden debut would be postponed.
              At the same time, Covent Garden said that the Royal Opera was ‘proud to announce’ that it had been agreed that Rowley would return in 2015 ‘in her celebrated role of Musetta in La bohème’. The statement said that another important role was under discussion for the future.

            • grimoaldo2

              I remember that incident involving Meyerbeer’s “Robert le Diable” but had forgotten the singer concerned was Rowley. Maybe she was better off out of that dismal travesty , one of the great turkeys of our time-(not talking about the production, which I did not see, only the musical performance as heard on audio.)

            • Armerjacquino

              Here’s what I think, and it’s meant with kindness so I hope you’ll take it in that spirit.

              You’re not really doing Rowley any favours by suddenly turning up to disparage anyone else who sings Leonora. I’d be mortified if a friend of mine started taking potshots at fellow professionals on my behalf. By all means stick up for your friend’s performance: as I said above, that’s an honourable instinct. It’s clear that Rowley’s performance the other night divided people, with some enjoying it more than others, and that’s fine. Your enthusiasm for her singing is admirable. And of course if you hear technical faults in Agresta or screaming from Netrebko, they’re opinions you’re perfectly entitled to hold. But with the best will in the world they don’t make you sound like a dispassionate observer.

              Anyway. Unwanted advice from a stranger and you may find it condescending as hell. But I really don’t think you’re helping Ms. Rowley much in this thread.

            • Luke Lemmeier

              I am not trying to do anyone an favors. I am stating my opinion (as all of you are as well). I am just confused as to why people don’t think she is right for the role, but think Netrebko and others are. Describing her singing as “uneven, and out of tune” which are characteristics I have never associated with Ms. Rowley at all. Like I said, we all can have our opinions, but there is a reason the MET had her cover this role, and chose her to sing the run instead of another “named” singing as they usually do. Also, they keep having Ms. Rowley “save the day” and go on for these singers. Its because she is a special voice, and if you all don’t want to realize that, your loss! Because I suspect there is more to come.

            • Armerjacquino

              ‘Jennifer Rowley? Oh yes, she’s the one whose friends turn up to disparage other singers if anyone offers any criticism of her’

              That’s not a reputation anyone would want and it’s why I suggested your intervention might not be particularly welcome.

            • PCally

              Your logic makes no sense. First you agree with the above comment that Agresta is poor, you say Netrebko screams (then backtrack completely) then you say Rowley has to be good or why would the met want to have her go on. By that logic Agresta and Netrebko must be as great or better since they sang they were actually first choices for the role. And unless you are a mind reader you have no clue the met didn’t reach out to others before casting Rowley, who is not some unknown cover but has been touted by some as a potential star. So it’s not like they threw on some unknown.

              If you liked her performance good for you. But other people who were actually there felt differently and have been able to specificy what it is they felt she was lacking. It’s also worth pointing out that I’ve yet to see anyone actively trashing her or saying she’s a bad singer, it’s pretty clear that at worst people think she was miscast

            • PCally

              So did she “basically scream the role” or was it “beautiful, but it sounded like she was struggling at time”? Those are literally not the same thing at all.

            • Luke Lemmeier

              One can sound beautiful (you have a beautiful timbre or you don’t), but one can also sound like they’re struggling at the same time. I have struggled singing, but still managed to sound beautiful.

            • PCally

              But one can’t sound beautiful while basically screaming the part. And your modesty is touching

            • grimoaldo2

              “Sondra sounds uneasy”

              OK, gotta say, which I have restrained myself from doing at mentions of her on this thread so far but now my self restraint has fled, that I saw Radvan in the same production but in SF not at the Met and I totally adored her singing. That was with the dearly loved and sorely missed Dima, the whole experience was HEA-VEN as far as I was concerned

          • Camille

            Mostly I agree with what you have to say here, especially as not being very well cast and eventually growing into it.

            For me, singers and she, in this instance, have entirely too much manufactured “technique” and clamp down on their instrument and try to control it in ways that are not natural. Whatever she did in Cyrano which still sounded a bit too quavery at times (but yet manageable) at least worked, as evidenced in the video above, the acclaim she had from most everywhere, and my surprise and delight that she had morphed into considerably a better singer and performer from the one I’d seen and heard in Charleston at the Spoleto Festival in 2013. A lot of growth between then and last May.

            This Trovatore was like viewing yet ANOTHER singer, again, to me! So, I will be patient and see how this settles down, as learning to sing a great role like Leonora in a huge airplane hangar like the MET may take her time, or she may well be better off with Musetta, or Magda, or Marguerite, to name some few roles which would seem more appropriate. Yes generic, obedient and observing all the rules as she must, she somehow loses the way for herself. I dunno, as it really kind of stumps me and I don’t want to withstand another Meade type merry-go-round.

            Thanks for your thoughts, Tamerlano, as they helped me organise my own as I was left feeling very badly after the performance, and did not know which way to turn.

            • Tamerlano

              She really finds the MUSIC in that Cyranno (in fact she makes it sound like better music than it is…) The voice “speaks” well and that’s so important in verismo. I sense a real singer in there somewhere but as Leonora she’s micromanaing the crap out of the voice and in the process she loses spontaneity and freedom… she’s afraid to give the music room (Something dear Nebs really knows how to do).

            • Camille

              Yes—micromanagement: that’s more or less the word for it. Too much arranging and thinking and organising according to a schematic--or something. It will be interesting to hear again on Saturday’s broadcast and then again on the Listen Live of the 12th. Additionally, I plan on attending the 6th, so I am hoping for something a bit better. It could also be the adjustment of singing in such a large space as opposed to the smallee French and Luxembourgian theatres, where she accustomed herself to th role ???

              Have you heard her sing that treacherous aria from Guillaume Tell, for which she covered here for Rebeka? It is both croce e delizia in one fell swoop! Should I get industrious, I’ll go seek it out and import it here. I fear another Angela Meade, is all.

            • Tamerlano

              I HAVE heard that aria and she does well by it…my preference is for the wonderful Francoise Pollet but Rowley handles it very well and integrates the lower part of her voice beautifully into the whole.

    • Der Fiakermillo

      We have been discussing Agresta and Rowley. No one until now has compared either to golden age singing to which their only resemblance is that they open their mouths and sing in Italian. I suggest you listen to some golden age singers recorded in this music, of which there are many starting with Alda. I would start with Ponselle and work my way forward if I were trying to learn. Callas, Tebaldi, Caballe and Price offer a lot. That is golden age singing.

      In addition, Rowley’s “Di tale amor” posted by the Met, much of it frustratingly under pitch, does no one a service, especially not Rowley, the Met or Verdi. She was better in the first performance that in this tape (from the Dress?) but not by much and it just reinforces what I heard. She is an interesting but uneven singer who may have proven a good Tosca but certainly not an adequate Leonore, which seems to show up her weaknesses. Also, I’m not sure how such uneven singing is a burst if fresh air to the opera industry, which has had so much of it for many years.

      The video is at http://www.metopera.org/Season/2017-18-Season/trovatore-verdi-tickets/

      • ines

        It is also curious, that Agresta is being judged for an evening , that she actually canceled.
        And one will almost always get disappointed , wanting to hear the equal of a studio recording comparing it to a live experience in the theatre ( in good and bad ).
        A good example could be the Caballé miraculous studio -Aida.
        Get your hands on the Scala live recording and you will get a more real picture

        • Luvtennis

          Callas and Price are very often BETTER in live performance than in the studio….

          • ines

            Yes; and maybe a few of Callas’ best performances took place before her studio recordings in some cases…
            But one should not listen to studio recordings on the way to the opera

            • Luvtennis

              Absolutely agree.

      • Luke Lemmeier

        I do not think the video is under pitch at all! Do not know what you are hearing. And to my ears the registers of her voice are very even. Seems that we just have different ears. Her voice is one of the few singers at the Met right now that rings constantly in the hall and has solid technique that is built all on air and resonance.

      • Luke Lemmeier

        Also, where is the “Di tale amor” clip? They only posted “Tu vedrai”.

  • Apulia

    I love Trovatore, and I almost always enjoy Azucena, although sometimes in a guilty way. ,Sometimes she steals the show, particularly when, as last night, the soprano is less than perfect (because Leonora has to be damn near perfect since the character is not the most interesting but the music is so demanding and revealing) and the tenor is having a bad evening. But I did not expect to have my heart tugged at by Azucena the way I did last night. Brava Anita Rachvelishvili!

    • I think there’s often the risk that Azucena or Amneris steals the show when the soprano isn’t obviously outstanding. Eboli too, for that matter.

  • ER

    I think Leonora is one of the harder Verdi roles to pull off. Partly because the music is so demanding in different ways at different times, but also the character is so flat and not naturally sympathetic. Rowley may not be a Leonora for the ages but it’s to me the right ‘type’ of voice. with lots of shimmer, and it projects beautifully into the hall.

    She was really incredible in the Cyrano though.

    • quoth the maven

      A good Leonora is sympathetic (viz., Netrebko). Beautiful singing tells you a lot about the character; it lets us hear why di Luna and Manrico are both in love with her. But Rowley her sound ranging from ordinary to painful, was indeed unsympathetic.

  • Juicy Bjoerling

    it’s possible that people in the house liked her much more than people following the livecast because of the miking, which sometimes distorts or captures some flaws that you might not hear live. i hope to catch this next week and will see/hear it in person. hopefully she’ll sound better live.

    • Our Own JJ

      I was in the house.

    • Christopher’s review is also an in-house account.

    • quoth the maven

      I was there. She was n.g.

    • Der Fiakermillo

      I too was in the house. I can imagine that the issues I had with Rowley would be magnified even more by the mikes.

      • Luke Lemmeier

        She sounded lovely over the broadcast. You could hear her voice ringing in the hall over it.

  • CCorwinNYC

    All this Leonora talk reminded me of a fun vocal-ID quiz I cobbled together in 2013--twenty-five sopranos and four tenors negotiate the big act 4 scene from recitative through to both verses of the cabaletta.

    The link includes the complete audio track as well as all the answers--

    http://parterre.com/2013/08/15/e-dogni-re-maggior-il-trubadur/

  • Yige Li

    I have a question, who can decide the cut? I doubt Armiliato is the one being responsible to this. Is it the singers or someone sitting at some higher position at MET?

    • grimoaldo2

      I think the conductor is indeed the one responsible, my feeling although of course I cannot say for sure is that the conductor just takes out a score marked with the “traditional” cuts and tells everyone that is what will happen in the performances under their direction.
      They are the “standard” cuts that lazy “tradition” mandates.

      • Yige Li

        I’m asking this because last time MET did Trovatore was 2015/16, and during the fall run, Netrebko did all (if not, then almost all) the repeats, while during the spring run, Meade only did one verse. And it was Armiliato conducting as well.

        Earlier this season he conducted Rigoletto in Chicago, and I remember the only cut was the repeated cabaletta of Duca in Act 2.

        Also, last season at MET, with the same conductor (Nicola Luisotti), Sonya Yoncheva did both verses of “addio del passato” but Carmen Giannattasio only did one.

        • ER

          I don’t think that taking cuts is always a sign of laziness. Several factors play a role-- opera length, timing of performance, singers’ vocal considerations and fatigue.

          Leonoras like Netrebko and Radvanovsky have such copious amounts of voice the repeats may hold no problems. But for many sopranos who sing Leonora, this may be at the heaviest end of their vocal repertoire…

      • Porgy Amor

        Grim, on that subject, Bing wrote about a ’60s tug of war between Schippers and Cleva over Luisa Miller. The opera had not been performed by the Met in nearly 40 years, and Schippers had prepared an edition with many cuts. Cleva, as the price of taking over, insisted on opening the cuts, and did so for his performances. Schippers fan Bing considered this a “nuisance” to cast, chorus, and orchestra, but I would have been on Team Cleva. In terms of what was performed, anyway, without getting into a side-by-side of their respective merits as conductors.

        In more recent times, Frau ohne Schatten had its first note-complete Met performances with Thielemann conducting in 2001-02. When Auguin conducted the first revival of the production two seasons later, there were cuts again. With Jurowski in 2013, it was back to note-complete. (Per Albert Innnaurato’s claim here, Jurowski had to battle to be allowed to do that, and was told he had better move it along briskly, or something to that effect).

        • fletcher

          Don’t the union employees start earning time and a half and then double for longer rehearsals and performances?

        • grimoaldo2

          At least one can see why there might be cuts to a long opera such as Frau ohne Schatten or cut a cabaletta repeat in Rig Trav or Trov even though I do not like that practice.
          But as Brackweaver says above there are also baffling “traditional” small cuts which they also performed at the Met the other night, for instance the trio at the end of the first act --
          complete here
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIdh20vGs-0
          The “traditional” cut is from 1;50 to 2:00 in that performance, yes, cut out *ten seconds*, as in this one
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BqrVB6hxuQ
          What in the world is the point of that?
          Or in the duet between Azucena and Manrico at the end of Act 2 scene 1 --
          complete
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcUd3k3q4E4
          The “traditional” cut removes *15 seconds* of that, from 2:00 to 2:15, as here
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDS3eCogHu4
          It just makes no sense that I can see, there are similar little snips elsewhere and in Rig and Trav as usually performed, it seems that since these operas have been very popular since their premieres these idiotic little mutilations have crept in somehow and yes it does seem to me laziness to perpetuate them.

          • ER

            There’s also the opposite case to be made at times. They opened every possible cut in the Norma this season- e.g., end of Act I N/A duet, and the trio that closes the Act and the endless repetition noticeably robbed the building climax.

          • Luvtennis

            I hate that cut in the Trovatore trio!!!!! I learned the opera from that recording and was shocked to learn that it was routinely cut. Hell, the Sony recording with Millo, which was recorded in the early 90s, has the cut. Grrr.

  • ChesterS

    Thanks for the review! How about Dinara Alieva as Leonora? Has anyone come across her in the role?

  • ER

    While opinions certainly may (and should) vary, the assumption is they are sincere. If someone commenting has a direct stake in a singer’s performance (e.g., manager, agent, spouse) the right thing to do is to add a disclaimer noting as such.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Luke Lemmeier

      I don’t think any of us here have a direct stake in a singer’s performance. I am just a fan.

      • La Cieca

        No you’re not and I know who you are. I am very sorry that you feel like you are willing to risk your considerable professional reputation to try to spin this poor performance by your… I’ll say “colleague” and leave it at that.

        I’m banning you now to prevent you from making too obvious a fool of yourself.

        • Apulia

          I wondered when I read the original post, but I had no way of knowing….grazie, La Cieca

        • La Cieca

          And now I apologize. The commenter has demonstrated to me he is who he says he is. I am reinstating him as a commenter on moderated status.

          • Luke Lemmeier

            I thought this website was a place for people to talk about opera singers and their singing, and to comment on the various reviews posted here. But ultimately, it seems that certain viewpoints aren’t welcome. While everyone is hiding behind their screen names and avatars, I was expressing my opinion as a REAL person with my NAME. If I had an agenda, I would be making a private account (lol). I am proud and stand by my comments. As someone with a degree in music, I am allowed to decide for myself if someone is singing in tune. Banning someone with a different opinion is absurd. Truly unfortunate.

            • La Cieca

              You’re back on the site and I’ve apologized. Now try being nice.

        • Alyssa

          Ya’ll are too funny…accusing us of being “secretive” or “dishonest” about our identities while WE are the ones who are using our real names and Facebook profile pictures? Seems like many of you are hiding behind fake screennames and avatars. I thought this website was for the purpose of discussing singers, singing, and the reviews posted here. Obviously, it’s been made clear that certain viewpoints are not welcome (I.e. the ones that disagree with the reviewer’s).

          • La Cieca

            Tell me who you are again?

          • Armerjacquino

            Pretty much every review ever posted here has people disagreeing with it. A fair number of us have photos of ourselves as avatars and have made no secret of our real names.

            And despite whatever mistaken identity went on above, it’s nonetheless clear from FB that you and Mr Lemmeier have a personal relationship with Ms. Rowley. If you’d said so (as it happens she’s a friend of a friend of mine too, and I hear she’s lovely) then nobody would have had a problem. An actor friend of mine was absolutely panned in the comments here a while back and I stood up for her without failing to mention that we’re friends. Many others have done the same thing because a lot of posters here have worked in or around opera and theatre, so connections are inevitable.

            But turning up with brand spanking new accounts to rubbish any criticism of Ms Rowley, to rubbish other singers of the same role and then to accuse other posters of ‘hiding’ and being intolerant of different opinions, while not mentioning your personal connection: well, it’s not the smartest behaviour. And as I suggested to Mr Lemmeier, it won’t help Ms Rowley to get a reputation as the kind of person whose friends pile in the moment anyone fails to enjoy a performance as much as they do.

            This absolutely is “a website for discussing singers, singing and the reviews posted here”. You and Mr Lemmeier are clearly hugely well informed and passionate about opera: I hope you’ll stick around.

            • Luke Lemmeier

              This is absolutely ridiculous. I am not here to rubbish any criticism. Nor have I ever even commented on a review before. I only chose to speak my opinion when I read that people were describing her performance as out of tune and harsh, things that I did not hear in her performance and shouldn’t even be associated with her as a singer. After people didn’t understand what I was saying then I gave a few examples comparing to other singers. I am not here to “pile in the moment anyone fails to enjoy a performance”, nor will I probably ever be commenting on this website again, I only chose to write because these comments were extremely strange and I was unable to understand what people were hearing. I did not mean to cause any trouble and I was just commenting on a singer who I admire. Thanks!

            • PCally

              Except you didn’t just speak your opinion. You actively questioned others listening abilities about a performance you didn’t even attend. You also more or less claimed her performance was perfect, which is in and of itself silly since I’ve never come across a live performance of anything that was literally perfect, and then backtracked to more or less say it didn’t matter if she wasn’t perfect because technically accomplished American singers are boring, then backtracked again to saying you didn’t hear an flaws whatsoever. And of course, rather than specifying at any point what about her performance you personally liked you threw shade at other singers, and then of course once again you backtracked again. So your train of thought, in addition to dealing in absurd absolutes, is almost completely impossible to follow. You also said things like “her voice filled the hall” something you have literally no way of knowing since you were listening to her voice over a mike. Beyond that most of the responses to your comments have been exceptionally civil and Armer has in fact encouraged you to continue posting. So I’m sorry if you’re offended but I’ve been here long enough to know that most of the regular commentators, regardless about whether or not they are in the business, know what they are talking about and take the time make it clear what they liked and didn’t like, filtered through the years spent developing their tastes about an art form they are passionate about.

            • Alyssa

              I came to this site to discuss singing, and nothing more. I was not aware that I was supposed to post a disclaimer if I happen to be a Facebook friend with an opera singer whose vocal technique I am talking about (maybe it would be helpful to post a notice of this to avoid future issues?). I didn’t mean to cause an ordeal, but I felt the need to dispute elements of the review which I saw as inaccurate. Obviously, some people mischaracterized my comments as having some “ulterior motive,” which I don’t have. Just a fan of opera, who wanted to voice my opinion.

            • La Cieca

              Hmmmm.

          • PCally

            Except your version of “discussing” has primarily consisted of “she’s great because! I’m right, everyone’s wrong. Not that I was actually there, but still. Oh and Agresta sucks.” No real specific thoughts about the actual singing or even a legitimate attempt to debate what you disagree with in the review. And a recital and an opera performance are not the same thing.

            • CKurwenal

              Exactly -- it’s the lack of specificity or real engagement with the subject that makes these contributions rather dull.

            • Bill

              Mr. Lemmeier -- it is admirable that you utilize you own name in posting -- I looked you up and find you are a singer and quite young..
              That would mean that you would have some understanding of the technical vocal difficulties a soprano would have in tackling an exacting role such as Leonora and also that you probably have not experienced many Leonoras on the stage.. Perfection is, even for the most prominent Divas, hard to achieve in this role and probably few are around today who might have experienced Ponselle. I heard Rowley on the broadcast and did not find her singing of Leonora sufficiently fine to drive me down to the box office to purchase a ticket for a subsequent performance (the Manrico’s singing was also a detriment).
              I saw my first Trovatore in 1951 in a student performance at the Met -- (I believe it was Herva Nelli) and subsequently saw Milanov, Stella (not at the Met), Leontyne Price,
              Sutherland, more recently Radvan, Netrebko and a number of very routine Leonoras such as Lotte (not Leonie) Rysanek. I never saw Caballe sing it but I imagine, if in fine voice, she would have been splendid). I am sure there are many on Parterre who are greater fans than I of this opera who have experienced many fine performances of Leonora and would quibble about Rowley’s
              singing of the role were they listening or in attendance. For Miss Rowley it was an opening night of a string of performances she was not originally engaged to sing -- she
              certainly will gain strength and assurance
              in subsequent performances -- she has good vocal material at her disposal, a strong top and considerable ability with breath control (based upon my sole hearing of her voice). I doubt there is any singer all would positively agree upon -- In my personal opinion of those Leonoras I have experienced live Stella was probably the finest to my taste though others had assets which Stella may not have possessed in the rarest manner.
              I think everyone wishes Rowley well in her future career.

            • PCally

              Bill-a singer you might like in the role is Tucci. There’s a La Scala recording starring her and Bergonzi that is absolutely splendid.

            • Bill

              PCallly -- thanks for the tip. Tucci sang considerable Verdi at the Met and I only saw her a few times the voice being beautiful
              though not as rich as Tebaldi’s though Tucci sang in Ballo (one of Verdi’s heavier soprano roles). The reason I saw Tucci so seldom is that her career at the Met (from 1960-71 her last role being Gilda) coincided with my college days, a stint in the army and a few years in the Peace Corps in Africa (1963-5) where I did not see a single opera
              performance or hear even one opera broadcast -- just listened to the limited number of records I had on a battery run portable phonograph). When I was finally back in action attending operas at the Met, Tucci was
              pretty much concluding her career there.
              It is odd but Tucci’s name does not come
              up frequently on this blog -- She sang 17
              major roles at the Met (all in Italian except for Faust). My impression is that she was a very fine artist and the Met management and its audience rather took her for granted. Her Italian roles pretty much spanned the same
              ones that Stoyanova has sung in the last decade -- (though Tucci never sang
              such roles as Rusalka, Ariadne, Danae,
              the Marschallin which Stoyanova now sings).
              Thanks for tip -- Tucci is one of the fine
              Italian sopranos who is often overlooked
              (like Carteri) these days. I see that Tucci sang 14 Leonoras at the Met and 14 additional ones on tour. Any Verdi with
              Berganzi is worth more than a few hearings, another singer whose bulk of Met appearances were when I was not in NYC, alas.

            • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati

              I saw Tucci frequently and in most of her Met roles. She was my first Aida at the Old House. In her prime she was estimable, authentic in style/italianità and someone we would be grateful to have on important world opera stages in 2018. Time, perhaps some technical issues, but predominantly the wear and tear of singing heavier operas like AIDA and FORZA twice a week at the Met for a long time ultimately took their toll. If you look in the Met archives you’ll see a large total of Aidas, the role she sang most frequently in New York. Tucci was essentially a hefty lirico more than a true spinto and she was singing these roles in the vast spaces of the old and new Met. She was a work-horse and Mr. Bing was happy to oblige. On nights that you didn’t get a Tebaldi, Price, Sutherland or Nilsson, he could put on Tucci and no one would complain as she was usually very good. In an era of intense soprano competition with many big, starry names, Tucci held her own at the Met and in other great theatres, and even managed to record a few roles for major studio labels. Fortunately she is still with us (88); one of the few remaining figures of her epoch.

            • PCally

              I was unfamiliar with her until the Trovatore performance and an absolutely amazing Violetta that ranks with the best I’ve heard. It’s not the most luscious sound but it’s very striking and she is certainly I singer whose work I want to get to know more of.

            • Christian Ocier

              Who was originally scheduled to sing Leonora in this run?

            • Camille

              Maria Agresta.

              Also rather ‘iffy’ in what little I’ve heard from her but I’ve not been interested enough to give a real listen. There is a Scala Trovatore which has been placed on this thread to give you an idea of her possibilities.

            • Camille

              Bravo Bill! I am giving you a SO!

              We shall hear a lot more on the broadcast coming up this Saturday, February 3rd, and I hope to catch the performance of the 6th as well.

              This is a work-in-progress Leonora at present, and as such, as much good will as possible should be extended to the debutante soprano. Some very, very big shoes to fill in an iconic role is a painstakingly difficult job, one which may or may not develop further returns, but let us not preclude the possibility. The progress which Radvanovsky has made over the years and whom I once found intolerable, is one such a case and involves this very critical, cruelly difficult role. The problem lies with casting her in such a role as, based on my previous experience of her, I’d not thought this role appropriate. We shall see.

          • DonCarloFanatic

            My advice, for the little that it’s worth: Chill.

  • CCorwinNYC

    Speaking as the author of this review (published under my own name) I will say that I always appreciate any and all comments, pro or con. No two people experience a performance--or a performer--the same way and I learn a lot from reading many points of view.

  • Camille

    The great thing in this performance was the sighting of that great meteor of starshine in the personage of Anita Rachvelishvili.

    Her advent was extremely heartening to me as I considered the fact that Dolora Zajick is down for one performance only and had accordingly concluded this may well be her swansong in this role, so important to her career and so well praised by many. It gave me great hope to hear there would be someone to carry on and pass the torch to and delighted me considerably.

    May it be noted as well that Miss Rachvelishvili sang that fiendish cadenza in her II act duet with Manrico as it is written, including the high C which most duck out of, perhaps not too well or too wisely, but sing it she did. At the ending of her great racconto, “sul capo mio le chiome sento drizzarsi ancor”, which so many of them sing with a closed chest register as they have been so exhausted from the effort of the preceding climactic Bflat, was sung in a fully loaded open chest register rendering it like of lob of dynamite. Brava!!!!!! Aside from all this was the lovely varying and shading of the voice which made for so much more an interesting characterization than the usual firebrand hotheaded nut job, all fortissimo and acting out.

    I would love to hear her Dalila in the upcoming Samson et Dalila and will hope somehow she will get a crack at it. Much as I love and admire Garanca, I feel ARach would absolutely be superior.

    For the rest — I am in substantial disagreement with a lot of what has been said about the trio that remains of the great Trovatore quartet, finding the Bad, as described above and elsewhere, NOT as bad, nor the Good, not nearly quite so good. That, for another time, as time’s run out for now.

    Welcome to the great new Star of the East, The AnitaRach! May she flourish and may her glories expand. Fiat LUX!

  • Camille

    And where was Lianna Haroutounian and what has become of her at the MET? Looking on operBase I found her free during this period of time.

    Her debut as Elisabetta in Don Carlo was successful; the Amelia Grimaldi was probably a bit less so, but isn’t she a go-to Verdi soprano when everyone else cancels? She, at least, has the experience, and the line of Verdian singing in her voice. Whether or not one likes her is yet another matter. She also knows how to project her voice into that vast cavern. Oh well ….