Cher Public

Enzo Bordello

Jason McVicker, one of the first contributors to parterre box under the name “Enzo Bordello,” was a private clinical social worker/therapist at Lakeview Center for Psychotherapy and a visiting faculty member at the University of Chicago School of SSA, the Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC and Loyola University School of Social Work. Jason’s grandmother instilled a love of opera in him at a young age and he carried that passion with him until his death in 2016 at the age of 54. His husband, Michael Worley, notes, “Jason was a walking encyclopedia of opera, which he discovered at the age of eight. He could tell you the year of any major singer’s debut at a certain opera house, recognize the singer in most audio recordings, and tell you the whole cast of most Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. Jason worked as stage manager at the New Orleans Opera and later traveled extensively to the great American and European opera houses. He wrote numerous opera reviews for Windy City Times, and most recently for an Italian online opera zine, GB Opera.”

Remembering Shirley Verrett

Shirley VerrettWhen handing out the goodies, the gods weren’t stingy with Shirley Verrett.  Few opera singers were as prodigiously gifted as Verrett:  the perfect amalgam of Kunst and Stimm housed in a frame of voluptuous allure.  In addition to an instrument of stunning natural beauty and easy range, Verrett displayed superior musicianship, dramatic intelligence and searing interpretative commitment.   Read more »

Lavender lady

pilou_thumbAccording to Mary Garden’s autobiography, Claude Debussy first encountered the Scottish-born diva at the Opéra Comique.  After rehearsing her at the piano in a few scenes from his newly completed opera, Debussy said to Garden:  “To think that you had to come from the cold far North to create my Mélisande.”  He then turned to the theater’s impresario and exclaimed:  “I have nothing to tell her.”

This 1983 Met broadcast of Pelléas et Mélisande (included in James Levine: Celebrating 40 Years at the Met – CD Box Set), features an Egyptian-Greek enchantress whom Debussy may also have found similarly beyond reproach:  lyric soprano Jeannette Pilou.   Read more »

The last days of disco

Stratas_thumbThe Met’s 1979 telecast of Mahagonny exposed one of the lesser-known factors contributing to the demise of disco:  the global supply of eye shadow, rouge and lip gloss was exhausted for the next decade by a cast featuring Klara Barlow, Louise Wohlafka, Nedda Casei, Gwynn Cornell, Joann Grillo and Isola Jones—and stilettos, garter belts and hairspray were pretty hard to come by, as well!  (Ethel Merman had already cleaned New York City out of reinforced girdles, so the Met was left to its own devices.)   Read more »

Snake charmer

A long-awaited DVD from the Met documents one of the great “42nd Street” episodes in operatic history: on December 20, 1980, a largely unknown Julia Migenes (or Migenes-Johnson, as she was called in those days) stepped in on a few hours’ notice for an ailing Teresa Stratas as the anti-heroine of Berg’s Lulu. A prodigiously gifted and multifaceted artist, Migenes had already graced Broadway and German television prior to making her Met debut in 1979 as Jenny in Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. 

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