Cher Public

Arms and the man I sing

If this photo of a dress rehearsal of Parsifal from the New York Times is any indication, maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been doing heavy lifting not only in the metaphorical but in the literal sense as well.

  • Eric Schneider

    And this is not a sexually suggestive post? So much for your hand-wringing about gay stereotypes.

    • La Cieca

      Examples of my hand-wringing?

      And is it a stereotype that a gay man should find a man attractive?

      • Rowna Sutin

        I am neither a man nor a gay -- although sometimes I wish I were . . . however, can’t we be a teeeeeeny politically incorrect and not get out the sex police to put us in jail? Will this be the end to dirty jokes????

        • Camille

          Rowna, you have got to listen to this after show on the Harvard station WHRB, which is playing right now. It’s on Operacast and I highly recommend it as an after dinner mint for the preceding broadcast. He’s playing all Trovatore at the moment.

          • Rowna Sutin

            All opera-ed out for the day. I had a two-for. The Sleepwalker on Sirius with Sutherland and Alexander (FABULOUS) and then Trovatore. And btw -- Sutherland pushed out high notes (C’s? D’s?) like crazy. And held them for loooong. It was a thrilling performance.

        • La Cieca

          Rowna, you should know that the committee met last fall and voted you an honorary gay man. (The poll was unanimous.)

          • Rowna Sutin


            • Dan Patterson


      • Niel Rishoi

        We all have the right to admire bear arms

        • Niel Rishoi

          And life, liberty, and the happiness of pursuit

          • Niel Rishoi

            …and to stand or Niel…I mean kneel doing it…

    • PCally

      There is a very clear difference between ogling a mans muscles in a picture and making unsoliticated sexual comments to a colleague. That shouldn’t really need to be explained.

  • Walraud Riegler

    Nobody talking about Parsifal wearing a shirt…….

    • Juicy Bjoerling

      isn’t parsifal shirtless in act 1? i can’t recall when but i remember jonas was shirtless at one point.

      • Lohenfal

        Jonas was shirtless at more than one point: with the Blumenmädchen in Act 2, and with Gurnemanz and Kundry in the Good Friday scene in Act 3.

  • manou

    His left arm looks like an angry duck about to attack his head.

    • Camille

      That gave both les Camille our Laugh du jour!

    • Armerjacquino


      Oh, DUCK.

  • Christian Ocier

    Herlitzius so strongly resembles Gwyneth Jones in this photo!

    Can’t wait to see it next week!

    • Brackweaver

      This looks like a scene from the musical CARRIE!

      • Christian Ocier

        Carrie meets the Ring!

        • Brackweaver

          Or Agnes Of God.

    • Camille

      I’m so afraid of this and her--I will be cowering next to my radio and praying for divine deliverance!!

      Please have a wonderful time and I hope you will enjoy your experience as well as it will be worth your while. As I have seen one too many a Parsifal (and lost my one golden opportunity of having heard the great Jon Vickers in the role owing to my own jejune ignorance and trepidations!), I seriously doubt I’ll be attending it this time around.

      Viel Spaß!

      • Christian Ocier

        Do you think the artistic quality will be average? I enjoy several of the old new Bayreuth performances--particularly the 1964 with Vickers--but I find that several marvelous ones have transpired even during recent times. I particularly enjoyed the Tcherniakov ones from Berlin, the Lauffenberg from Bayreuth, and some aspects of the last mounting of this production (basically the Gatti minus Jonas and Dalayman, which don’t really strike me as artistic failures but rather a lack of chemistry…it was ok). The cast seems promising, and I hope Evelyn’s voice behaves (I would have preferred Kampe or Stemme). Vogt is wonderful--i hope his voice can travel in the Met. Curious about Yannick in Parsifal. Will keep my fingers crossed.

        • Camille

          It shall be enormously interesting to see how all these elements will play out and I do hope the Herlitzius voice will be in some sort of shape — however, she is said always to be great on stage and as I’ve only seen her in a live concert staged version of Wozzeck where she was vastly hemmed in—so do not know anything real. She has her lovers (Feldmarschallin) and her haters (Jungfer Marianne), and so it goes.

          About the man with the arms, well, I have had such WIDELY varying experiences of his conducting, it is hard to hazard a guess but one hopes for the best, naturally. The Holländer,
          a year or so ago was LOUD and fast moving, is what I recall now. You may want to consult with our late preceptress, mrsjohnclaggart, about him as there was quite a bit of ink spilled on the subject, here, and possibly on opera-l and his/her blog, since Philly was mrsjohnclaggart’s beat.

          As to Vogt’s vocal projection, I am not one to ask as I’ve only heard him in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, much smaller than the MET so accordingly have no idea how the voice carries in that huge football field arena. And so far as the Girard installation, you will have to speak with one of its myriad of admirers. There is an interview with the director in the current program from the MET and which I’d intended to read to gain a further understanding of the production which is in the director’s own words, but passed it on to a friend who had use for that information before doing so. I just hope that Vogt is not required to doff his shirt as it made Kaufmann look uncomfortable to me.

          Parsifal is always an experience though, and for those of us who love it (and I count myself as one, even if I am no Perfect Wagnerite by a long shot), there is always something to be gained by listening for its infinite and fascinating variations. There is always something new to discover. And it’s live…it is happening in the here and now, which is always an important element.

          • Juicy Bjoerling

            vogt was perfectly audible in lohengrin on his debut (oh my, can it be that it’s been over 12 years now?). when he started singing, my jaw dropped to the floor. it was ethereal and otherworldly.

            • Camille

              Yep, it is uniquely suited to these two principal roles and it should be a very interesting role assumption for people to witness here in NYC after the very different vocal qualities of Kaufmann, and the usual other assortment of brawny Helden types who inhabit this role, which requires far more craft and skill in the interpretation than the actual singing, if I explain myself here.

              I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of lamenting it isn’t Melchior or Herr xxxyyyzzz, and there will be a number of notable skirmishes.

          • Bill

            Camille -- my limited experiences with Herlitzius were that she sang a completely dreadful Fidelio in Vienna -- vocally unruly and often unpleasant to the ear and then a very reasonable Faeberin in the same locale. Interestingly she is reported to be the Nurse in next season’s “Die Frau ohne Schatten” new production under Thielemann in May/June 2019 in Vienna. The Faeberin is Stemme in a role debut. Kaiserin tba --
            maybe Nylund

            Vogt has the type of voice which penetrates very well even when singing softly -- there was no trouble hearing him also in Fidelio at the Met last season. It is an instrumental voice which is much to my liking (though not everyone’s) -- when I have seen him his pitch has been perfect and he has considerable
            vocal control.

            • Christian Ocier

              OMG can you help me get a ticket for that Frosch Bill? I’ll pay you since I’ve never purchased anything from Vienna and I can’t predict it like I can the Met’s sales system.

            • Bill

              Christian -- in Vienna I have no special influence and generally stand (3 or 4 Euros).
              The tickets for next season are not on sale
              yet of course and the Frau is to be presented
              5 or 6 times 2 in late May 2019 and 3 or 4 in earlier June with a reprise in October of 2019
              but perhaps not with Thielemann or the identical cast. In Vienna when something is attractive to the Viennese, they snap up all the tickets very rapidly -- if not so attractive
              the Viennese stay away and the house
              (almost 99 percent sold out in season 2016-17) are grabbed with many tourists in attendance. They do have over 550 standing tickets available most of them sold only on the same day of performance so it is easy to
              get into the house (for the most popular evenings a long wait for standing tickets may be required -- most Mozart operas there sell out very quickly no matter what the cast or conductor and like everywhere else performances with Viennese “Lieblings” in the cast. They also have in Vienna a number of
              outside ticket agencies which sell tickets
              (at elevated prices).

              In Budapest I have better connections but
              in most instances tickets are available on line and sometimes at sold out performances some come up at the last minute at the box office (plus the main opera house is closed this season for technical renovation -- most everything is at the Erkel and a few performances like Die Frau ohne Schatten at MUPA.

              The only time in my life I was not able to get into a performance anywhere I wanted to see was in Munich in 1965 -- I arrived in Munich
              in the afternoon not having a clue as to what
              (if anything) might be playing and found it was the opening of the Munich Opera summer festival -- an Arabella under Keilberth
              with della Casa, Rothenberger, Fischer-Dieskau -- I rushed down but everything had been sold -- I waited around hoping someone in the elegant audience might have an extra ticket -- to no avail -- then as it was almost
              curtain time, a Mercedes Limo drove up and the German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard hopped out alone but I did not have the guts to approach him and see if he had an extra ticket (plus my tux was back at the hotel and in those days everyone dressed formally for
              the opening of the Festivaland at Salzburg for every performance -- but fortunately I had ordered tickets for 12 performances in Salzburg in advance and all 12 performances cost a sum total of $ 90 -- those were the days!).

              When are you in NY, Christian ?

            • Camille

              Oh you must be getting set to listen to this, right about now? Well, we’ll see what happens. I would be interested to hear if the staging is modified or if so, how.

              Ah, you know I have read reviews about Herlitzius for years now, at least fifteen going on twenty, and it just seems too bad she will hit here rather too late in the game, (like Stemme’s Isolde), as I am guessing ten to twenty years ago she really had the voice far more together. Well, voice not being her essential strong point, so, moot point. If she’s at the point of Die Amme—can Klytemnestra be far off now? Stemme as die Färberin might be a very successful take on the role as it precludes legato singing! And she still packs a punch, as she did in that recent Walküre with John Lundgren, both of them outstanding and stark in their interpretations of that fateful final encounter! Bravi!

              So good luck, and happy hunting! Will you be attending Piotr Beczala’s beautiful looking program later this month at Carnegie Hall? I am anticipating it with a great deal of interest as well as curiosity to hear such an unusual, beautifully varied program as sung by such a musical and beautiful voice, in tune and tasteful as he is.

            • Bill

              Camille -- well yes I intend to go to Parsifal tomorrow evening so we shall see -- in general with this opera in the 1st and 3rd acts the music is so gorgeous that it matters less to me who is singing. As to the second act
              (my least favorite) a well sung Kundry is essential.

              As to Beczala’s recital I probably will not be there as I am flying back from Vienna the evening before and have found with the time
              difference, it is best not to plan for any
              evening performance for a day or two. Beczala had a big success this past fortnight with his first ever Don Jose in Carmen, the critics particularly praising his first two acts,
              particularly the duet with Michael and his aria.
              Some critics felt his voice was stretched in the final act. He is a remarkable tenor,
              at ease in various languages, also in operetta. The Theater an der Wien in Vienna is planning a new production of Halka for him in the 2018-19 season. I do not know this
              opera at all.


            • Camille

              Very well then—I shall be looking forward to your impressions and will pray for the second act not to go too far off the rails.

              I’m very glad to hear of his success as Don José! As I am similarly very glad to have him here as Rodolfo in Luisa Miller We have had little of him here since the Ballo,except Bohème, so this is a chance for once more shine that bright beautiful tenor of his on us. (Halka is considered to be something like the Polish national folk kind of opera, I believe.) He will be singing three Polish composers in his recital, a part of what I am so curious about and which will be a rare treat to hear.

              Have a wonderful time in Vienna and make sure to have Sachertorte. Or Schokolade. Or something!

            • Bill

              Well I shall also see the premiere of Offenbach’s “Rheinnixon” in Budapest,
              an opera about which I know nothing other than the Hoffmann Barcarolle was stolen from it. Has anyone seen this opera ?

            • NineDragonSpot

              I’m thinking James Maddalena dressed as Alberich….

            • grimoaldo2

              Very few people will have seen Die Rheinnixen as it did not have its first full performance as a staged opera until 2005.
              It is not an opera bouffe or even a comedy but a four act Romantic opera, written for Vienna. However the star tenor was ill on the first night so the work was only given in a heavily cut version. It was a complete failure at the premiere and in those days, rather like Broadway musicals more recently, if a show was a flop on the first night it was considered to be a total loss and vanished into utter oblivion.
              Offenbach scholars and enthusiasts have been working on bringing it back into performance, the first complete performance was not until there was a concert of it in Montepellier in 2002 with Piotr Beczala. Some of the music was re-used in the Tales of Hoffmann. The score was unavailable until published for the first time in Boosey & Hawkes’ Critical Edition of Offenbach’s works this millennium.

            • Bill

              grimoaldo2 -- thanks for the information. I was curious and generally like Offenbach
              particularly Hoffman. Some of his operettas are fun but somewhat silly (but then I suppose many parterriens consider most
              operettas a bit silly) I am not sure why
              Budapest determined to do Rheinnixon but they have become rather inventive, their last premiere, Porgy and Bess, had all white singers and no blackface. I saw
              Porgy and Bess there several decades ago with all the singers white and it was a popular production shown over 100 times.

            • Christian Ocier

              I definitely understand where you are coming from regarding Stemme’s voice. I was listening to excerpts of roles she had performed between 2007 to 2017, and noted changes (e.g. less ease in vocal production) around 2013 or so. Too many Turandot’s? I’m glad I was able to catch her Isolde in 2016, but I’m not entirely sure how much longer she could sustain more legato rich roles like that. Brunnhilde I think she could go on singing for maybe another two/three years from now. Isolde, she may retire soon (although she will be doing it this April in Cleveland with Gerhard Siegel (a MIME!!!!) as Tristan with the Cleveland Orchestra). But I can see her doing much with the Farberin. That most recent Walkure, however restrained she might have been for the hojotoho opening, was masterful for her ability to convey Brunnhilde’s many moods and vocal colors. A couple of years earlier would have been a perfect place for her instrument, but I’m glad that it still works overall better than the majority of dramatics out there, and remains a vehicle for her remarkable artistry.

            • Camille

              She is an entirely admirable artist and one for whom I have the utmost respect, as anyone who was privileged to view her in the 2010 or 2011 San Francisco Brünnhildes would similarly have, a most wonderful realisation of the role. She changes a lot, as I heard her debut here as Senta in 200?, and thought she was fine but not overawed nor wowed. That performance I heard again in the last five years via Sirius and it gave me much the same impression. When I encountered her in the summer of 2010 it was an entirely different and evolved artist.

              Still, in this latest outing from Munich, even though far more rocky vocally, she absolutely won me over at last because of that steely volcanic quality of intensity. It is all very REAL with her and it all suddenly means something which I would like to entertain myself as what the composer had in mind when he wrote it. Even though neither the Elektra nor the Isoldes here were on that once vaunted level of a few years previously, I had once glimpse a goddess and was not wont to forget it and factored that into the viewing. That, coupled with the wonderful division of the strings made the Tristans worthwhile.

              Since she did Elektra, the Färberin ought to be even better for her, and am hoping she will continue on in Character Roles and come back here someday. We now have that Wunderkind Lise Davidsen to look forward to—she is a great light for the future which I am betting upon as she looks very sage and sensible to me. All for now as Ich bin müde, Tetrach! Oh, and Gerhard Siegel should make a fine Siegfried in concert as he sounded more Siegfried than Mime when he sang here, actually!

            • Luvtennis

              What did you think of Amber Wagner? I agree about LD. I really hope she keeps developing and gets the right breaks….

            • Camille

              Not as gifted as either of the other two plus a very heavily plumped out lower octave of the voice which gives the effect of Wagnerian weight voice without necessarily being one. It was uneven and very inexpressive of the text as well, common enough for American singers who attempt Wagner. But the high notes were there.

              As well, it sounded like a different voice than the one I’d first heard in her one night at the MET performance as the Ballo Amelia, getting mauled by Dima! Frankly, because she is so overweight she is getting shoved into Wagner when it might be a Verdi voice or something else entirely. Something like what happened with Heidi Melton, who sang the Verdi Requiem in a splendid manner when first heard in 2009, then went to Germany with Runnicles and now has graduated to all the big Wagnerian roles. She might have been an excellent Aïda or Amelia, based upon her Requiem performance but because she is round and fat, well, that spells Wagner. Last time I heard her at the Phil it was dire, and a far cry from what I’d initially heard. She will be back in a couple weeks as Act I Sieglinde with the excellent Simon O’Neill as her Bruder Siegmund, and hoping to gottheit she’s recovered her voice properly.

              Amber Wagner has recently sung Turandot, too, so I wonder how that went. Maybe she has changed her “technique” or whatever they do and call it. She seems rather too placid to me to become of interest. Another one, Rachel Willis-Sørensen, sang an excellent “Dich teure Halle” in Operalia competition and I heard her sing a very constrained Figaro Contessa — why? Like she was keeping her voice in a bottle.

              They’re all Fached up.
              Hoping Herlitzius doesn’t holler too much tomorrow night!! I am in a Semiramide toot this month so little Parsifal for me this go around, although I know I’ll get sucked under into a hearing or two.

            • Is it a guess that she might retire Isolde, or is it a fact?

            • Christian Ocier

              Eventually, she will retire the role right? I suppose I’m basing my conjecture on her age and the trends surrounding her recent role choices and additions.

            • Yes, eventually, of course!

          • Christian Ocier

            Vogt’s Parsifal, based on what I’ve heard in various videos, broadcasts, and official recordings (e.g. van Zweden) will likely be welcomed more than not in this production. Of all the Parsifal’s that I’ve heard, his very musical approach and sound fit the character like a glove (although of all the Parsifal’s I’ve heard, I think Gosta Winbergh is still hands down the finest. So unfortunate he couldn’t have committed it under more ideal conditions). Herlitzius is a different matter--the voice has been overused in these high volume, high lying dramatic roles, and I don’t know if her basic sound/timbre carries the necessary colors to convey the entirety of Kundry’s character. She’s a riveting performer, even on video, but you’re right--it’s a role caught too late at the Met. And while Kundry is less of a Stimm role compared with Brunnhilde or Isolde, you still need to command a broad vocal palette and a solid technique to get through Act 2. I wonder if San Francisco made the right decision to cast her as Brunnhilde for their Ring revival.

            As for YNS: I’ve heard only symphonic performances of his on record and the Berlin website. He’s a solid conductor when it comes to ensemble work (not in the league of Jansons or Honeck), but his insights into the music are variable based on the composer. I remember hearing the Hollander on the radio, and it was indeed driven as you had mentioned. I’m still a Thielemann (and Sawallisch…those pirates with London/Crass and Silja are quite amazing) fan when it comes to that opera’s musical vision though, even if he hasn’t really encountered a memorable Hollander cast. But Parsifal is a very different beast, so I have many questions about his take still. I would have hoped that we could have gotten Philippe Jordan for this revival, since I love his particular way with Wagner. Good thing Paris will be broadcasting the new production from the Bastille in a few months. Based on how YNS conducts Mahler, my guess is he will succeed better in Elektra this season compared with the Parsifal, but I might be proven wrong next week.

            • Camille

              Yes, I agree with many, many of your points and understand where you are coming from regarding these artists.

              Funny you should mention the late and very much lamented Gösta Winbergh! The one hearing of his Parsifal (from Chicago around 15 years ago?) was superb. It made me look forward to hearing him live—and the next thing I knew--he had died. It was a great loss. He had started as a Mozartean and gradually worked his way into th heavier repertory and thus not lost his way of singing lyrically.

              Yes, I am a Thielemanner, too, and will always be grateful for the miracle he accomplished with my beloved FRohSCH. YN-S is very gifted and he now has a lot more responsibility placed upon his able shoulders. Let’s hope now for the best outcome. It will certainly be a major learning curve for him as Parsifal certainly IS a different and difficult beast. Very difficult to subdue.

            • Christian Ocier

              I have two WONDERFUL performances with Gosta Winbergh:
              A Parsifal with Thielemann conducting, with the cast as follows:
              Winbergh (P), Urmana (K), Salminen (G), others not so important, ensemble is Deutsche Oper Berlin

              A Tristan with Bychkov from Vienna:
              Winbergh (T), W. Meier (I), Fujimura (B), Weber (K), Salminen (M)

              Do let me know if you are interested in these recordings! You can send me an email via and I can send you the links.

            • Camille

              Thank you. You are a most kind and generous young man.