30 January 2008

What do you think you are? A pair of queens?

The Met officially announced today that the company will stage Anna Bolena for Anna Netrebko for the opening night of the 2011-2012 season (old news to you, cher public!) and, the following season, Maria Stuarda for Joyce DiDonato.

The company has no current plans to produce Roberto Devereux. In what La Cieca is choosing to consider a stinging slap in the face to -- well, at least one soprano -- Peter Gelb explained, "The problem is casting ....There's no singer around today who can sing [Elisabetta]."

And you may make what you will of la Netrebko's statement about the Bolena: "Fortunately, it's far enough in the future that I'll have time to learn it really well."

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15 January 2008

Anna as Anna?

La Cieca is loath to scoop dear Bradley Wilber, but rumors are swirling once again about future seasons at the Met. Perhaps the most controversial (among the cher public, at least) of these plans is a new production of Anna Bolena to open the 2011 season, with Anna Netrebko's pretty head on the chopping block. Further casting at this point is not set, though La Cieca is confident that speculation will run rife in the comments section.

Now, La Cieca is just going to suggest that we all don't go off the deep end instantly and unanimously here, despite what at least some of may regard as perfect justification for doing so.

It does seem apparent that if Netrebko is determined to do bel canto (not saying "should be doing" mind you), then Bolena does make more sense than, say, Puritani or Lucia. Anna (Mrs. Tudor, I mean) relies less on vocal brilliance qua brilliance than those two roles, and the "fiery" character of the rejected queen is the sort of dramatic type that appeals to Ms. Netrebko's lively theatrical instincts. We should also keep in mind that she now has more than three years of lead time and the availability of Scotto as a coach; as such she does have the opportunity to delve beyond a superficial reading of the music. (Again, no guarantees...)

It will also help, I think that the only "obligatory" sopracuto is the D at the end of the first act, a high interpolation so relatively that even Carol Vaness used to sing it.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Need La Cieca remind any of you that the duration from 2008 to 2001 is the equivalent of a century in Gelb Years. By that time we may end up with Christine Ebersole opening the season in Pikovaya Dama.

Your doyenne further has heard that the title role in Simon Boccanegra (2010-2011?) has been reassigned to Placido Domingo, with Thomas Hampson shifted into a revival of Macbeth -- opposite whom, La Cieca cannot venture to guess, though it's a safe bet the cover will be Cynthia Lawrence. Domingo, La Cieca hears, is already preparing an "out of town tryout" for Verdi's noble corsair with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

But speaking of Macbeth, La Cieca regrettably has a previous engagement and so will not be able to take in this evening's Lawrence/Ataneli version of the Scottish Opera. Any volunteers to serve as Guest Critic?

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26 February 2007

Hello, Mister Wilson!

The most startling news from tomorrow's press conference at the Met (as released early to the New York Times) -- in 2011, a new production of Bellini's Norma, starring Renee Fleming and directed by Robert Wilson. The casting of Cecilia Bartoli as Adaligisa is La Cieca's own whimsy, but, hey, stranger things have happened. (For example, a Wilson/Fleming Norma...)

UPDATE: The role of Adalgisa in the Fleming/Wilson Norma scheduled for 2011 will not, as La Cieca puckishly suggested, be sung by Cecilia Bartoli. In fact she has just been informed by one of her most impeccable sources that the part will go to Elīna Garanča.

And in other exclusive Decca recording artist/avant-garde legend related news, the Schwartz gallery at the Met is awaiting installation of a Robert Wilson "video portrait" of La Fleming. La Cieca will inform you when the Wilson film makes it on to YouTube.

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26 January 2007

The Verdi is always greener

La Cieca's cher public are, as in so many aspects of their existence, well ahead of the curve on foreknowledge of casting at the Met in the bel canto and German wings. Perhaps this wintry Friday is a good time to move on to a more semi-substantiated gossip, now on the subject of the operas of Giuseppe Verdi. (Do keep in mind that none of this is set in stone. In fact, given the Gelb administration's penchant for last minute switcheroos, one should probably hold off on booking tickets for 2012 until, oh, 2011 at the earliest.) But, anyway, herewith a few possible highlights of the next five years:

Next season's hot ticket will surely be a rare revival of Ernani starring Marcello Giordani, Sondra Radvanovsky, Thomas Hampson and Ferruccio Furlanetto. That certainly sounds more fun than the new Macbeth "starring" Andrea Gruber, Leo Nucci. Carlos Alvarez, Marco Berti and Roberto Aronica. Will anyone be surprised at massive audience attrition following the second-act demise of Banco (John Relyea/Rene Pape)? Fans of Mr. Berti (if such there be) may expect to hear him as well in revivals of Ballo (shared with Salvatore Licitra, and featuring Dmitri Hvorostovsky's first local Renato) and Aida (alternating with debutant Nicola Rossi-Giordano in an otherwise dismal cast). Renee Fleming offers repeat engagements of La traviata and Otello, with Ruth Ann Swenson optimistically double-cast as Violetta and Johan Botha as the Moor.

Rumors of Ms. Radvanovsky's "buyout" should be dismissed once and for all since she is on the books for two high-profile assignments in 2008-2009, a new Trovatore (opposite Mr. Lictira) and her first in-house Traviata (alternating with Anja Harteros). Those two up-and-coming tenors Giuseppe Filianoti and Joseph Calleja share Duca duties in a Rigoletto otherwise notable only for Diana Damrau's Gilda. And speaking of tenors, Placido Domingo is supposed to cross over to the bass clef for the title role in Simon Boccanegra, but La Cieca will believe that when she hears it.

The big news of '09-'10 is the Met debut of Riccardo Muti leading the company premiere of Attila. There will be singers as well in this production, notably Violeta Urmana and less notably Ramon Vargas, C. Alvarez and Ildar Abdrazakov. Mme. Urmana will also join two other golden-age physiques, Dolora Zajick and Mr. Botha, for Aida. La Radvanovsky's career continues full-tilt in a revival of Stiffelio heavy on hunk-appeal (Jose Cura and Mr. Hvorostovsky), and the Gruber doesn't seem to be going away either: she's up for a repeat of Nabucco.

As we move into the twenty-teens, we can foresee new productions of La traviata (with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon in the Willy Decker update) and Don Carlo (probably not with Angela Gheorghiu, though the rest of the cast seems firm enough: Mr. Villazon, plus Luciana D'Intino, Simon Keenlyside/Anthony Michaels-Moore, Rene Pape. Antonio Pappano and Nicholas Hytner will reprise their Covent Garden duties. Also: revivals of I Lombardi (Giordani) and Il trovatore (Fleming). That year may also see Mr. Hvorostovsky's Boccanegra.

The "jackpot" year of 2012 is still pretty much up for grabs, La Cieca hears, with only Falstaff (Bryn Terfel, James Levine) a definite maybe.

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26 December 2006

Cieca plays Criswell

This is the biggest limb La Cieca has ever gone out on:

Expect James Levine to make his official Met farewell at the end of the 2011-2012 season. (First hedge on this prediction: Levine will make occasional "guest" appearances with the Met after 2012.)

Remember, you heard it here first.

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14 March 2006

"The truth is on the march and I will stop it"

Do any of you out there ever wonder exactly what it is an "Artistic Administrator" does -- I mean, besides collecting an annual salary and refusing to hear auditions? Well, finally La Cieca has uncovered at least part of the job description. An Artistic Administrator (for example, Diane Zola of the Houston Grand Opera) is a sort of lackey to the lawyers who run the opera company, assigned to such busywork as writing threatening letters to poor powerless bloggers like La Cieca:

Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 10:05:18
From: Diane Zola
To: [email protected], [email protected]
Cc: [redacted]
Subject: Copyright Infringement

This e-mail serves written notice of copyright infringement regarding the video entitled "Sempre Fleming" located on your site at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5Ix9vDQyt8&search=Traviata. Houston Grand Opera demands that the video be removed from this site immediately, and that the User, La Cieca, cease and desist from all current and future unauthorized use of this video in perpetuity. Houston Grand Opera asserts in good faith that it is the owner of the copyright to this video excerpt of its live performance of LA TRAVIATA, and that it has not authorized the offending party to display this video in any format. Legal action against your site and the offending party will be taken if the video is not immediately removed. The above information is accurate, and I aver that I am authorized to act on behalf of Houston Grand Opera to protect its copyright against such infringement.

Sincerely, Diane Zola
Artistic Administrator
Houston Grand Opera
E-mail: [email protected]
Ph: 713-546-0293

Naturally La Cieca has removed the video, if only so that Ms. Zola can get back to planning the 2011-12 season.

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08 January 2006

Magic time

La Cieca hears that the Met has promised Renee Fleming a production of Rossini's Armida in 2010-2011. The five years advance notice should allow plenty of time to complete all the necessary tranpositions to the score, and no doubt the ultra-busy diva is already figuring out how she will balance rehearsals against quality time with her grandchildren.

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02 November 2005

New broom

Another one of those talkative "Met insiders" has spilled a whole canful of beans regarding the upcoming Peter Gelb regime at the Met. The new GM, we are told, plans to import "alternative" productions of the warhorse operas (e.g., Boheme, Tosca, Traviata) to serve as a kind of artistic counterpoint to the ultra-traditional Zeffirelli & Co. stagings currently in the repertoire. According to La Cieca's source, the old stagings will not be junked, just shelved for a season or two and then dusted off again. One point of the exercise seems to be to tempt megastars to sing standard rep at the Met. For example, Gelb is reportedly shopping around for an innovative production of Tosca for the Karita Mattila's first Met performances of the Roman diva in the 2010-2011 season. La Mattila, we are told, is now turning up her nose at revivals of productions that were not "built around her." (One can almost hear the Finnish soprano sniffing, "Like here in little Dallas, my God!") The problem, our confidant continues, is that Mattila has been less than pleased with "her" productions thus far at the Met, to the point that she refuses to reprise her smash-hit Salome here in New York.

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