30 January 2008

"Shirtless Teddy Tahu Rhodes Doing Push Ups"

pen palOh, what more delightful headline can be imagined? Well, perhaps "Florida free-fall sends Giuliani from hero to zero" -- that's great news too. But back to important matters. Did La Cieca mention that for his current stint in Dead Man Walking The Teddster has shaved his head?

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17 January 2008

Tit for tat

La Cieca has Maury D'annato to thank for (passively) calling her attention to the blog The Opera Tattler, which in recent days has been detailing next season's plans in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other opera companies of the Transhudson. (The) Opera Tattler also reviews a lot of West Coast opera, and at least so far as La Cieca has read, his (?) blogatorial voice is either very arch or very sincere, either of which is fine by me. ("However, perhaps I should go to Bayreuth in 2009, since I will have the time," writes the Tattler. How can you not love that?)

More bloggerei (in Italian, but it's penetrable enough) may be found on the wild 'n' wacky site Opéra Bouffe, one of many various efforts by the lovely and apparently tireless Giorgia Meschini. At the moment attention at the Bouffe is split between the"new" Zeffirelli production of Tosca at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and the recent purchase of "le boat slippers dell'Adidas, blu e oro. Con 'Respect' stampato sulla linguetta... 'firmate' da Missy Elliott." Bloggy!

Then Opéra Bouffe pointed your doyenne to the utterly necessary Schrott-Locator ™: ¿donde está Erwin?. Even Barihunks doesn't have this level of detail.

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24 November 2007

Do you come from a land down under?

Here's Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Don Giovanni at Opera Australia. La Cieca is, for once, speechless.

UPDATE: Imagine La Cieca's surprise when she found out there is already video of this production!

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03 November 2007

Lookism? Again?

Yet another rehash of the great voice vs. waistline debate, this time in the Chicago Daily Herald. Nicole Cabell laments the scarcity of European gyms, while "hunken-tenor" Joseph Kaiser plants his feet firmly on both sides of the fence by declaring, "Essentially if you can be healthy about being healthy, that's the balance to find because there's a lot of unhealthy ways to be 'healthy.'"

Usual suspects Deborah Voigt and Nathan Gunn offer no comment, but "bari-hunk" Mariusz Kwiecien is willing go on the record that he is "not an extremely good looking guy." (Obviously he didn't take a good look at this photo accompanying the article!)

Is anyone surprised to hear that the most sensible one of the bunch is the mezzo? "There is no denying the influence of the mass media culture of today on opera, but I think it's naïve to think that the idea of 'glamour' is nothing new to opera," says Joyce DiDonato. "Look at all the old diva photos from the 1920s and '30s and you see many svelte, sexy ladies at the height of their powers."

La Cieca herself couldn't say it more eloquently, so she'll turn the program over to radiant Rosa Ponselle. The diva is 39 here, just a year before her retirement from the Met:

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26 October 2007


More photos of Erwin Schrott and (by the way) a story about the Washington National Opera's new production of Don Giovanni at PlaybillArts. (A Don G. this hot may well transform DC to AC!)


03 October 2007

Too darn Schrott?

Reactions to last night's Figaro prima? Anyone?

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26 September 2007

Bendel bonnet, Shakespeare sonnet, Mickey Mouse

21 September 2007

Return to Oz

Teddy Tahu Rhodes stars in the first Australian production of Dead Man Walking.

To which La Cieca can only respond, "Nathan Who?"


12 September 2007

Flash Mab

The Met's star-crossed revival of Roméo et Juliette has just hit another bump. Nathan Gunn, announced for Mercutio, has dropped out of the September and October performances of the opera due to illness. Jumping in will be baryhunque Stéphane Degout, who performed Mercutio in this production back in 2005. Gunn is still on the cast list for the December portion of the run.

UPDATE: It just gets worse. Rolando Villazón is now off the Met roster for the season. His Roméo performances (December 8, 12, 15 and 20) have been updated to TBA; the tenor's Carnegie Hall recital is also canceled.

Gossip elsewhere on the web suggests that Villazón may be off the stage for as long as a year.

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17 August 2007

Rocky Mountain low

UPDATE: A source at Opera Colorado informs La Cieca that there is in fact no exodus currently in progress from the company's costume shop. La Cieca apologizes for the confusion.

Earlier, La Cieca reported that her "mile-high informant" whispered that "Colorado Opera's entire costume department just quit in a huff. Or was fired in a huff." Apparently La Cieca was either misinformed or else misunderstood the tip she was given.

In any case, we continue with the latest installment of News of the Hard to Believe. America's Singing Slab Nathan Gunn is quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying, apparently with a straight face, "To be honest, I don't think that much about how I look."

No, John von Rhein wasn't buying it either.

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07 August 2007

Royal, with cheese

Which one of these things is not like the others?

[Nathan] Gunn is part of a new generation of performers, including Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, British soprano Kate Royal and Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez, who have helped fuel a debate about the physical attributes of opera singers.

Once again, La Cieca's Rule of Journalistic Insularity* applies: if there's a singer you never heard of, and yet she's being talked about as if she were a household name, chances are she's British. (* Sometimes called "the Jill Gomez paradigm.")

The source of this odd paragraph is a Reuters article about Gunn's chiseled physique. Apparently he also has a CD coming out or something.

As for Ms. Royal, she does exist (she recently signed with EMI Classics) and, oh yes, the homeboys do adore her. "We have cricket. We have strawberries and cream. And we have the English soprano. She’s a rare breed, but instantly recognisable: aristocratic bearing, a golden, elegant voice, an eye for textual detail and a magnetic stage presence. Kate Royal fits the bill perfectly." -- Neil Fisher, The Times. And what of La Royal's future? Only time will tell whether she blossoms into the next Dame Felicity Lott or suffers the humiliation of being merely "another Amanda Roocroft."

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11 May 2007

"Well, when you're from Pittsburgh, you have to do something."

Interesting choice of words in this PlaybillArts headline:

Nathan Gunn Pulls Out of Billy Budd in Pittsburgh

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20 March 2007

Enchanted April

Karita Mattila, bottomBeginning April 1, San Francisco Opera will begin broadcasting its regular season again for the first time since 1982. The opener is Manon Lescaut featuring Karita Mattila as the notorious party girl.

Says General Manager David Gockley, "After decades with no regular broadcast series, this is truly a landmark announcement for San Francisco Opera. Through these broadcasts, audiences in the Bay Area, across the United States, and internationally will have the opportunity to experience the great performances that San Francisco Opera is producing."

Following programs through November include Orleanskaya Deva (Dolora Zajick), Tristan und Isolde (Thomas Moser, Christine Brewer), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Nathan Gunn), Un ballo in maschera (Deborah Voigt), Don Giovanni (Mariusz Kwiecien) and Der Rosenkavalier (Joyce DiDonato, Soile Isokoski). Broadcasts may be heard on SF's own KDFC and on the WFMT network. More details.

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01 January 2007

Tony's Award

"The Papageno, Nathan Gunn, was certainly cute enough." -- NYT

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28 December 2006

Bel canto lushinghier

Anyway, La Cieca hopes you'll find plenty of fodder for discussion in the following grafs.

Next season (as you all know) opening night will be a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor starring Natalie Dessay. Sharing the role of Edgardo will be a trio of toothsome tenors: Marcello Giordani, Marcelo Alvarez and Giuseppe Filianoti. Further upping the hunk quotient will be Mariusz Kwiecien and John Relyea. The Mary Zimmerman production will be led (on opening night at least) by James Levine.
Per La Cieca's sources, Mad Lucy will pay a couple of return visits in following seasons, first with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon in the fall of '08, and then with Mlle. Dessay again sometime in 2010. Ze French diva gets the unusual honor of opening two new productions next season, the Lucia, of course, and then a new Fille du Regiment opposite puppylicious Juan Diego Florez.
JDF and Dessay reunite in the fall of 2008 for a new Sonnambula. The tenor will reprise his Tonio during the 2009-2010 season, this time with Diana Damrau as Marie. And that pairing will be repeated in the Met premiere of Rossini's Le Comte Ory the following season.
And then comes 2012, aka "The Year of the Jackpot," when just possibly we will hear the Tudor Trifecta (Fleming, Netrebko and Angela Gheorghiu) as well as a new Giulliame Tell (presumably for Giordani) plus revivals of L'elisir (Netrebko, Florez, Kwiecien), L'italiana and Semiramide.

Oh, and for Druid fanciers, the outlook is not quite so rosy: a single revival of Norma next season with Dolora Zajick, Maria Guleghina and Franco Farina -- or, as Mme. Vera Galupe-Borzkh might sum it up: "Can Belto, Can't Belto and Can't Canto."

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20 November 2006

Cuir eye

A couple of photos of barihunk Simon Keenlyside in full leather...

... from the Royal Opera House's season brochure!


10 September 2006

Nackt und Träume

La Cieca is always quick to encourage the clever use of Photoshop, especially when it involves her two favorite subjects, i.e., opera and naked guys. That's why she strongly recommends a look at the site called Bare Naked Men, where the Vancouver-based "Michael" digitally strips such hunks as William Burden, Nathan Gunn, Simon Keenlyside, David Daniels and Erwin Schrott. (Warning: on the Bare Naked Site, the naughty bits are not digitized, as La Cieca has done on this photo of Mr. Burden. So proceed with caution if you're at work!)

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16 August 2006

Bleak bummer

Which soprano's sudden cancellation of all her future engagements thankfully has nothing to do with illness, and everything to do with, well, spite? She was in love, and he she loved proved bad, and did forsake her. For his secretary. Since the songbird's soon-to-be-ex-husband still has an interest in her future revenue stream, she has decided to sit and sulk rather than financing the love nest.

Meanwhile, the casts, they are a-changin' over at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Simon Keenlyside is out of Iphigenie en Tauride, replacement TBA and obviously soon, since the production opens in a little over a month. And mezzo-soprano Jane Irwin will be Mere Marie in LOC's Dialogues of the Carmelites, replacing the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

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22 March 2006

Tony has died and gone to heaven

Among the extra-musical delights in the New York City Opera's production of Mark Adamo's Lysistrata, definitely front and center is baritone James Bobick, who rocks the role of Kinesias. (He is seen pictured with Jennifer Rivera. Try looking a little up and to the right and you'll see her.)

Mr. Bobick next appears at the Wiener Staatsoper in an eagerly anticipated mounting of Auber's opera Le premier jour de bonheur (Whew, that's a long way to go for a dick joke, but La Cieca thinks it's worth the trip!)

Turning our thoughts from the profane to the sacred (segue!), La Cieca presents a performance of Wagner's Tannhaeuser on Unnatural Acts of Opera.

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10 January 2006

Dirt, cheap

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, the "Dirty Colin" site was taken down almost immediately. So, until the coveted tape emerges, here's a little something to help you keep the thought: Colin Farrell on Bruce Willis.

Here's news that should delight all you Nathan Gunn fans. The long-awaited Colin Farrell sex video has finally been released, or (La Cieca supposes) has escaped. According to the ever-alert scribes at defamer.com, free stills and pay-for video (both, obviously NSFW) may be found at dirtycolin.com. Now, obviously you are asking, La Cieca, whatever has this to do with opera, and La Cieca has to admit that she simply doesn't doesn't have a ready answer for you. But who isn't interested in video of Colin Farrell having sex, even if it is with a girl? And if that explanation isn't "operatic" enough for you, well, you can shut your eyes and pretend it's Eileen Farrell having it off with Colin Davis. Or, for that matter, Colin Graham.


08 January 2006

And one for Mahler!

A double-header of Tony Tommasini delights this weekend in the Times. On Sunday, TT puts on his Captain Obvious hat to ask the musical question, "is it possible that [Nathan] Gunn's appearance has drawn attention away from his fine vocal artistry?" You'll find that story right next to the photograph of Gunn with his shirt off.

The day before, an interview with Elaine Stritch in which the veteran Broadway diva tells about her date with James Levine. (Yes, you read that right.) Jimmy, you see, took La Stritch to hear Barbara Cook at the Carlyle; Tony concludes that "this story gives a poignant glimpse into Mr. Levine's private life." Well, yes, actually: in fact, that scenario is just about the gayest thing La Cieca can imagine -- with the possible exception of Ricky Martin reading Valley of the Dolls aloud while getting fistfucked.

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23 December 2005

An American Thorax

"It’s not like there’s anyone who wants new operas to fail. In fact, audiences, critics, and opera companies alike have huge stakes in seeing new works succeed. And goodness knows the Metropolitan Opera, like any reputable opera company, has a responsibility to present recent compositions. However, reviews are not for good intentions; I have to write about results." Our editor JJ reviews the Met's recent world premiere An American Tragedy (starring Nathan "Headlights" Gunn) in Gay City News. Just the thing to read as you listen to the Toll House Cookie/Metropolitan Opera Radio Network Broadcast tomorrow afternoon.

Oh, and when JJ says, "increasingly unflattering," this is what he means:

"I'm supposed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, but I think I look more like Tugboat Annie."

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12 December 2005

Love is a farce of nature

La Cieca has just heard that, following up on the resounding critical and popular success of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy, the Metropolitan Opera has rushed into the pipeline a new piece by Jake Heggie, Brokeback Mountain, based on the short story by Annie Proulx, with a libretto by Terrence McNally. Current plans are to "roll over" the American Tragedy cast into the new work, with Nathan Gunn as Ennis del Mar, William Burden as Jack Twist, Susan Graham as Alma and Anna Christy as Lureen. Dolora Zajick is rumored for the Randy Quaid role. Ms. Graham will include Alma's aria, "You boys don't go up there to fish!" in her upcoming recital tour. Director Francesca Zambello has recently sent out a casting call seeking "buff, masculine, uncut guys with tattoos, no fats or fems," but a source tells us that actually these extras will be appearing in Zambello's production of Suor Angelica.


05 December 2005

"Unnatural Acts" Gala: Divas! Prizes! Filth!

Be sure to check back here on parterre.com at noon (17:00 GMT) tomorrow for the First Unnatural Acts of Opera Gala and Quiz, featuring performances by Leontyne Price, Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Simon Keenlyside, David Daniels, Regine Crespin, Piero Cappuccilli, Regina Resnik, Diana Soviero and Eleanor Steber. (There will be some filth as well, but you'll have to listen to the show to find out who the perpetrator is.) The quiz will consist of three opera-related questions; the first email received will win a pair of tickets to the English National Opera's Billy Budd; three runners-up will receive historical opera DVDs. You can listen to the show directly through a link on this page beginning at noon, or you can download the show through Itunes. Until noon, then!

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01 December 2005

A Place in the Gunn

Through her elaborate network of spies, moles and informants, La Cieca has managed to obtain a photo from Francesca Zambello's production of Tobias Picker's new American Tragedy, opening Friday night at the Met. For an advance sneak preview of the opera, click here.

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Billy the birthday boy

Today is the "birthday" of Billy Budd, the 54th anniversary of the premiere of the Benjamin Britten opera. To mark the occasion, the popular (?) podcast featurette "The Enigmas of La Cieca" goes international next week when a lucky listener to "Unnatural Acts of Opera" will win a pair of prime seats to the English National Opera's acclaimed production of the opera, featuring Timothy Robinson making his role debut as Captain Vere, while "charismatic" Simon Keenlyside sings the title role and Sir John Tomlinson appears as Claggart. The performance the winner will attend is on December 14. So, all you UK parterre box fans (and anyone else who will be in the London area on the 14th), here's what you'll need to do to win: Listen to a special edition of "Unnatural Acts of Opera" that will become available at noon EST (17:00 GMT) on Tuesday, December 6. (You can download through Itunes or else listen to the show directly on the Unnatural Acts page.) During the show, La Cieca will ask three opera trivia questions. You'll email your answers to the questions to [email protected] and the first received email with all three questions answered correctly will be the winner. Now, La Cieca realizes there are a lot of you listeners out there who would like to enter the contest, but you can't make it to London on the 14th to enjoy the Grand Prize. So, just to keep the competition interesting, La Cieca is offering special prizes to the first three winning (i.e., all three questions correctly answered) entries from North America. Each of these winners will receive an historical opera DVD from the Encore collection. (La Cieca's decisions as to winners will be hers alone, final, and subject to whim.)

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10 October 2005

Thank you, Sir, may i have another, Sir?

Cher public, those of you who have written to La Cieca wondering at the frequency Anthony Tommasini uses the word "strapping" to describe opera singers of the male persuasion -- well, wonder no more. According to the New York Times archives, Tony has flogged his favorite modifer no fewer than 44 times in the past decade. In one of those instances, admittedly, the "S" word is used literally, something about how Shirley Verrett was punished as a child (!!!) But the other 43 uses all referred to the physical endowments of the NYT critic's favorite flavors of singer: tenors, baritones, and basses. Each and every one of those bad boys got a good "strapping" from Tautological Tony.

A few of La Cieca's recent favorites:

"Still, the strapping bass Ethan Herschenfeld made an impact in the role" October 8, 2005

"[Jon Villars] brought many splendid qualities to his performance: a clarion voice; a strapping presence; youthful energy; solid musicianship" September 27, 2005

"Lorenzo Pisoni commanded the stage as a strapping Demetrius" March 19, 2005

"The hardy baritone Kyle Pfortmiller makes a strapping Maximilian" March 10, 2005

"Mr. Gunn, an intelligent and elegant singer, is so strapping, handsome and hunky [Dude! Trifecta! -- LC] that stage directors search for reasons to get whatever character he is playing to go bare-chested . . . . Surely, a good Idomeneo must convey authority and dignity, and pull off mood swings between defiance and despair. But need he be strapping and sexy?"

December 4, 2004

"The strapping, robust-voiced bass-baritone John Relyea" December 4, 2004 [A date that will live in history as "the day of three strappings!" -- LC]

"Figaro, the strapping, robust-voiced bass-baritone David Pittsinger"

October 26, 2004

"the strapping young Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov" October 11, 2004

"The baritone Nathan Gunn brought his robust voice and strapping physique to the role of Guglielmo. " August 12, 2004

"the strapping tenor Brandon Jovanovich as Boconnion" August 4, 2004

"a strapping Westphalian youth" May 7, 2004

"tall, strapping and handsome Swedish baritone" April 20, 2004

"A supremely intelligent artist and a strapping stage presence, Mr. Hampson has long been aware, some would say overly so, of his own attractiveness."

March 3, 2004

"And the robust bass João Fernandes made a strapping Pluto." February 7, 2004

"The strapping and robust baritone Christopher Schaldenbrand" January 5, 2004

"Schoenberg's Naked Virgins . . . cavort with strapping, scantily clad young men during the orgy scene before the Golden Calf."

December 19, 2003

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02 August 2005

Nipped in the Budd

At first glance, the photo from San Francisco Opera's Billy Budd looks like any other opera featuring Nathan Gunn, i.e., pug nose in profile, chin a-jut, freshly waxed chest front and center.

But on closer inspection, it turns out that Billy is getting a tweak from Mr. Squeak:

"Warm as a sailor's pants, gay as a hornpipe dance..."

La Cieca wishes to thank Albert's World of Artsy Fun for the revelation about Nathan's nips, and also for pointing her to SF Mike's Civic Center, which features lots of photos of the campy Pecheurs de Perles production and other sights around the War Memorial Opera House.

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