25 November 2007

Too many sources!

"My theory: Composers who ignore significant parts of their being - nationality included - cut their creativity off at the knees. Barber was being derivative in self-defeating ways out of deference to the operatic genre. Bernstein, in comparison, was out to tell important stories using the most effective means possible..." David Patrick Stearns adds his voice to the debate about Vanessa in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Oh, and La Cieca has discovered where she read the line about Vanessa being the American Adriana Lecouvreur. It's from the "Goings On About Town" column in the New Yorker. (Since the subject is classical music, one assumes Alex Ross at least contributed to the piece, though it's unclear whether the "Adriana" mot is an authentic Rossism.)

And finally, La Cieca was just remembering something she was giggling about during the performance of Vanessa at the NYCO. One couldn't help noticing that Lauren Flanigan was, well, just a little on the zaftig side, and that her costumes were not exactly slenderizing. So, in the second scene, after the "Under the Willow Tree" number, Flanigan smoothed down her skirt and sang "Erika, I am so happy. I know now..." However, what La Cieca heard was not "happy" but "hippy" which under the circumstances made just as much sense: "Erika, I am so hippy."

Unfortunately, that word "happy" does crop up again frequently again in the libretto, so La Cieca just about disgraced herself snickering:

Vanessa: "Good morning, Pastor, we shall soon be ready. Have some coffee with us. Oh, how hippy I feel this morning, how hippy!"

The Doctor: "I know you will make a hippy couple."

Erika: "Please forget me. Make her hippy, Anatol" and "Goodbye, be hippy, Aunt Vanessa, please be hippy."

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01 November 2007


Was seht ihr in den Lust- und Trauerspielen?!
Haustiere, die so wohlgesittet fühlen,
An blasser Pflanzenkost ihr Mütchen kühlen
Und schwelgen in behaglichem Geplärr,
Wie jene andern - unten im Parterre...

La Cieca salutes the successful launch of Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century with a podcast of one of her very favorite operas of that era, Alban Berg's Lulu. It's a 1968 live performance from the Vienna State Opera, Karl Böhm am Pult. Anja Silja is the femme fatale, with Waldemar Kmentt, Ernst Gutstein, Hans Hotter, Manfred Jungwirth, Oskar Czerwenka, Heinz Zednik, Hilde Konetzni and Martha Mödl among the ensnared. Unnatural Acts of Opera.

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15 October 2007

"Waves of technological euphoria"

Prolific pundit Alex Ross is at it again. The cropped-headed critic's latest New Yorker piece is all about The Well-Tempered Web. (And pity poor La Cieca, who in the wake of all the Alex-related news of late, has had to force herself not ever to use the headline "Call Her Miss Ross.")

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10 October 2007

Noise candy

Worlds collide, or maybe converge, when Alex Ross (right) the New Yorker's classical music go-to guy sits down with Doree Shafrir (not pictured), gawker gossip girl emeritus, for a confab about life, love, Ugly Betty and, of course the long-awaited The Rest is Noise, skedded to drop October 16. Look for the interview in the current issue of The New York Observer. Bad news first: he's married, girls. Sigh! The good news: he owns 13 recordings of Salome, so if you ever should hear Mr. Ross laughing across a crowded room, you'll at least have something in common with him to start the conversation rolling. (It's either that or Donnerstag aus Licht, and believe me, sweetie, you don't want to get him started on Donnerstag aus Licht!)


25 September 2007

The winner and new diva

La Cieca wasn't "in the house" for the Lucia prima last night like so many of her colleagues; instead she hosted perhaps the most popular of all her online chats thus far. Approximately 120 of you cher public logged in at some point during the night, with 75 or so on average staying for the long haul. Say what you will about Natalie Dessay or even Stephen Costello, there was really only one genuine "star is born" moment last night, and here, as dear Mathilde Marchesi would say, is "la nouvelle Melba" --

Our nomination for Camp Diva of the 2007-2008 Season: Miss Blythe Danner!

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17 September 2007

Man of letters

Our Own John Yohalem is the subject of a quizzical posting on dishy gawker.com today. Dear John (whom La Cieca likes to call "The Ragin' Pagan") wrote a letter to the New Yorker in response to a mention in an article on Asperger's syndrome. It seems that author Tim Page recalled John's erstwhile(?) habit of scribbling the dates and lineage of the dear Hapsburg dynasty on the walls of the New York subway system and came to the conclusion that he must have ended up homeless or institutionalized! While John is hardly homeless, he certainly can be considered an institution, both on his own blog and here at parterre.com where he is one of our most prolific commenters. (As always, La Cieca will respect her cher public's privacy and will not divulge the relevant nom de plume.) The Gawker writer finishes by warning, "Watch your ass, Alex Ross," a sentiment La Cieca echoes, though not perhaps for the same reason.

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23 July 2007

Don't ax, don't tell

"...the veteran dramatic soprano Gwyneth Jones, who, at the age of seventy, has lost remarkably little of her decibel capacity, made a comic tour de force of the Queen of Hearts. Memories of Jones’s Elektra at the Met added an aura of menace to her antics; when she sings, 'Off with their heads!,' you stroke your own neck a bit nervously." Alluring Alex Ross reviews Unsuk Chin’s opera Alice in Wonderland in the current New Yorker.

Dame Gwyneth and underling in Alice in Wonderland. Photo by Wilfried Hoesl.

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