It may seem quixotic that La Cieca subscribes to Opera News, and the print version at that, but, after all, the dear people there were kind enough to interview Our Own JJ last summer on the subject of this very cum-blog, so, well, noblesse oblige and all that, you know. Since the mag is showing up on her doorstep more or less monthly now, your doyenne thought she might as well get some multipurposing out it, so here goes a new feature provisionally called “Opera News Watch.”
For La Cieca’s purposes, this is pretty much an ideal month to start watching Opera News because the current issue offers an object lesson in the perils of the long lead time book. Just in time for the opening of the fall season, we are treated to an in-depth interview with the (ex)director of the Met’s new Boris Godunov, Peter Stein. Kremlin-watchers (and who better than Boris fans?) will be intrigued by a couple of moments of possible dramatic foreshadowing in Stein’s discourse: “The United States has no serious theater tradition…. Times have changed. Even singers who earn a lot of money, they know acting is necessary—not like thirty years ago, when divas didn’t want to rehearse. The problem is, if you want to introduce acting, you have to rehearse more.”
Hunkentenor fanciers (and you know who you are) will be delighted to hear that there are multi-page spreads devoted to Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano, the latter in his trademark “mean, moody, magnificent” mode.
Opera News being Opera News, the cover story is about above-the-title (i.e., singing) talent, in this case Mussorgsky supertsar René Pape. Mr. Pape, you will be interested to note, doesn’t care much for the current European trend of minimal stage makeup, and he is a fan of big hair.
On the canard-watch front, La Cieca is surprised to see that an editor let past without question Philip Kennicott‘s sloppy and unsupported assertion “It’s not just that [Siegfried] embodies the worst political and personal traits that bedevil Wagner’s reputation as a man—the anti-Semitism evident in Siegfried’s treatment of Mime, or the blithe and hollow murder of Fafner in dragon form.” Now, La Cieca is familiar enough with the politically correct “scholarship” that “proves” that every unsympathetic character in Wagner’s oeuvre must necessarily be intended as a Jewish caricature (one has read one’s Norman Lebrecht, after all), but this is the first your doyenne has heard that Wagner actually murdered anyone.
Oh, there’s tons more, literally quarters of an hour of reading enjoyment, but La Cieca will leave that to you. Jumping to the back of the book, we have another installment of “The Performance I Can’t Forget,” this time from author Jane Stern, perhaps best known for her tomes The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste and Roadfood Sandwiches: Recipes and Lore from Our Favorite Shops Coast to Coast.