30 January 2008

Frocked up

UPDATED: Now with even more operatic tackiness!

A sampling of Diva Dress Disasters submitted by the cher public.Seen worse disasters? Email La Cieca!

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03 December 2007

Where Nobody Knows Your Name

In order to stem what seems to be a rising tide of anonymous postings (and to save herself the hassle of deleting them) La Cieca offers these instructions on how to post comments using a Nickname.

When you click on the "POST A COMMENT" link, you go to the "Leave your comment" form. At the bottom of the form, select the second button, "Nickname" and type in the name you want to use on this posting. Then enter your comment in the box above.

When you click the "Publish your comment" button, your comment will appear with your Nickname, but with no other identifying information. Your email address will not be sent to Blogger or to parterre.com.


06 November 2007

Sweet November

La Cieca's DVR hard drive will be overflowing by the end of this November since the indispensable Turner Classic Movies has scheduled a whole month of "guest programmers." Among the celebrities gracing the tube to introduce their favorite flicks will be some of particular interest to the parterre crowd. For example, this Thursday, November 8, playwright/actor Charles Busch will take a brief respite from his Die Mommie Die duties on the New York boards to present a quartet of women's pictures: I Could Go on Singing, The Hard Way, Escape and A Woman's Face.

Iconic Harvey Fierstein arrives on November 26 to introduce The Catered Affair (upon which his upcoming Broadway musical is based), as well as the camp classic The Women and two lesser-known pictures, The Boy with Green Hair and The Devil is a Sissy.

November 18 heralds the arrival of "one of the world’s most beloved and recognized figures in the worlds of opera and jazz," Renée Fleming. Films featured that day will include Red Dust, Captains Courageous, Test Pilot, Gone with the... oh, La Cieca begs your pardon, that was Victor Fleming.

In fact, "The Beautiful Cineaste" has selected for our enjoyment a quartet of musical extravaganzas: The Great Waltz, Song of Love, Interrupted Melody and Maytime.

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31 October 2007

"Brokeback" it is!

An interview with director Krzysztof Warlikowski in the current issue of Takt, the house magazine for the Bayerisches Staatsoper, confirms that you, cher public, were exactly right about the "slant" of his new production of Yevgeny Onegin opening tonight in Munich. In the interview (available online, as is the rest of the magazine, in pdf format), Warlikowski draws parallels between Tchaikovksy's life and several plot points of the opera, concluding
Homosexualität verbergen zu müssen und nicht verbergen zu können, das ist für mich der Schlüssel zu diesem Werk. Denken Sie nur an den Film "Brokeback Mountain" von Ang Lee: kein Schwulenfilm, sondern die Geschichte von zwei Menschen, die gegen ihre Leidenschaft ankämpfen müssen, weil die Gesellschaft sie ihnen nicht erlaubt – zwei Menschen, die ihre Liebe zueinander jahrelang nur in Blicken oder kurzen Berührungen leben dürfen.

The interviewer, naturally enough, goes for the followup: "Was hat das mit Tatjana und Onegin zu tun?" As it turns out, Warlikowski's take is pretty much standard queer theory:
Auch Tatjana will gegen die Regeln der Gesellschaft leben – genau wie wie beiden Jungen aus "Brokeback Mountain". In der Briefszene bietet sie Onegin ihre bedingungslose Liebe an, sie will sich das Recht nehmen, ein glückliches Leben führen zu dürfen – in einer Zeit, in der die Frauen, siehe ihre Mutter oder die Njanja, eben nicht glücklich waren und nicht aus Liebe geheiratet haben. Tatjana will genau das . . . . Für mich ist [Onegins] Duellszene mit Lenski fast eine liebesszene. Ist es nicht bemerkenswert, dass Lenski fast nie Olga ansingt, sondern immer nur Onegin? Für mich ist Onegin verliebt in Lenski . . . . So tötet Onegin Lenski in einem verzweifelten Akt der Selbstbehauptung, mit dem er nichts anderes herausschreit als "Ich bin nicht homosexuell!".
The Staatsoper's website offers a short video trailer for the production (unfortunately at the moment available only in a skimpy dialup-size stream) and the audio of the opening night will be webcast live beginning at 2:00 PM (via OperaCast).

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05 October 2007

"Hunkentenor" makes broadcast debut

UPDATE: And now, my dears, we've even reached the AP! (How long before we're on the UP and every other damn P?)

La Cieca's young, young, young friend Maury D'anatto writes: "Too funny, La Cieca: did you coin hunkentenor? Because there was just this intermission interview with Joseph Kaiser that went somewhat off the rails as Margaret Juntwait asked JK if he had heard people call him a hunkentenor, and then through some rather complicated chain of associations, he revealed that he sleeps naked. It was awkward/hilarious."

Well, yes, La Cieca will have to plead "guilty" to coining this suddenly mainstream term; however it is you, cher public, who have catapulted it into the lexicon. Brava, you go on like this!

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04 October 2007

Whatever happened to Marwdew Czgowchwz?

Ever since everyone's favorite apocryphal diva (with the possible minority exception of Lena Geyer), the oracular Oltrano herself, Marwdew Czgowchwz, vanished across the ocean at a time (time out of mind) that was somehow both 1956 and 1975 and yet neither, La Cieca, like all the rest of you, has reread her first copy of James McCourt's novel to tatters, purchased the sempiternally-awaited reissue, and wondered, wondered... well, after all, what's left for her?

Cher public, we're about to find out. This month, Turtle Point Press releases Now Voyagers: Some Divisions of the Saga of Mawrdew Czgowchwz, Oltrano, Authenticated by Persons Represented Therein, Book One: The Night Sea Journey. This flamboyant followup tells the story of the charged atmosphere surrounding the legendary diva (and possible CIA agent) turned psychoanalyst. According to Publishers Weekly, the novel
resurrects the literary, musical and gay scene of 1950s New York. About half relates to Czgowchwz's 1956 trip across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary with her consort, Jacob Beltane, to Ireland, where she is to star in Pilgrim Soul, a Douglas Sirk–like movie about the Irish revolt of 1916. Much of the rest relates to the Gotham-centered peregrinations of Mawrdew's friend, the gay poet S.D.J. Fitzjames O'Maurigan .... The most stylistically astonishing chapters are intermezzos of conversation caught on the wing at Everard's Bath house, the book's pre-Stonewall place to meet and greet in gay New York.
This fall's must-read is now on sale at Amazon.com.

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28 September 2007

E Susanna vien

La Cieca predicted a cast change earlier, and what do you know, so it came to pass! Soprano Lisette Oropesa will sing the Tuesday prima of the Met's revival of Le nozze di Figaro and at least one more performance. She is jumping in for the enceinte Isabel Bayrakdarian. Ms. Oropesa is not only a member of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program but (even more impressively) she is La Cieca's homegirl since she is a graduate of LSU in dear old Baton Rouge! It should be noted, however, that she and La Cieca matriculated in different centuries.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Angela Gheorghiu has been fired from Lyric Opera's production of La bohème which is scheduled to open Monday, October 1. Thundered General Director William Mason, "Miss Gheorghiu has missed 6 of 10 rehearsals, including the piano dress rehearsal and both staging rehearsals with the orchestra. She missed one of the most critical stage-orchestra rehearsals when she left the city for New York without permission, a direct violation of her contract." La Gheorghiu was in fact spotted in the audience for the Met's prima of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette on Tuesday night.

The news is somewhat less dire for other members of the Gheorghiu famille. Those of you cher public who missed out on Roberto "Million Dollar Legs" Alagna's stylish Roméo this week may get another chance at seeing his collaboration with Anna Netrebko in the Gounod love story. La Cieca hears that Alagna will return in December to fill the "TBA" slots on the 8th, 12th and 15th, including the broadcast and HD telecast. Matthew Polenzani, La Cieca hears, will take over the role on December 20.

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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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23 September 2007

Something to chat about

La Cieca's chat returns Monday night to welcome in the new Met season. Topic of discussion: the evening's prima of the new production of Lucia di Lammermoor, as broadcast on SIRIUS Internet Radio. Please check back on this site after 5:00 pm Monday for a link to the room, which will open at 6:15 pm for the 6:30 start of the opening night performance.

Note that any of you who do not have a current subscription to Sirius can get a trial 3-day pass in time for the Opening Night chat. The event is also broadcast on RealNetworks.

Are any of you cher public attending this Lucia at one of the outdoor simulcasts? If you are, why not bring a laptop along and chat along with the rest of us? It's easy, now that the Lincoln Center plaza has WiFi!

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04 September 2007

On the cheap

Those of the cher public who want to attend opera on the cheap or who just want to get a jump on the season should check out New York City Opera's Opera for All program. The NYCO is offering three performances this week with all tickets priced at $25: a gala concert on September 6, La boheme on the 7th and Don Giovanni on the 8th. The outreach effort continues during the rest of the season when the NYCO plans to offer "50 or more" orchestra seats to each performance at the $25 price.

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30 August 2007

Hedge fund

Congratulations to NYT writer Michael Kimmelman, whose post-mortem on Katharina Wagner's Bayreuth Meistersinger contains a sentence that beats all world's records for running, standing and equivocation:

The approach is not, in the abstract, without merit, Beckmesser having always seemed a proto-Jew to Wagner, awaiting modern redemption; the opera’s end comes across as the screed it always seemed.
La Cieca leaves it to her cher public to debate whatever ideas might be teased from this morass of weak passive voice; she'll get the ball rolling by asking, "What exactly is a 'proto-Jew' and what qualities of the character of Beckmesser would tend to make him "seem" proto-Jewish?"

(More on Kimmelman's column over at Sounds & Fury.)

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28 July 2007

Dutch treat

To wind up this summer's Wagner festival on Unnatural Acts of Opera, La Cieca plans to play the composer's first "canonical" opera, Der Fliegende Hollander. But which live performance, she wonders. That's where you come in, cher public. La Cieca lists below a selection of exciting live Hollanders, and you get to vote on which you would most like to hear. Voting will be open until 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, at which time La Cieca will declare a winner and proceed to post the performance.

UPDATE: Voting is now closed, and the winner is the 1955 Knappertsbusch performance from Bayreuth. Here is the final tally:

Be sure to listen in to this special "democratic" edition of Unnatural Acts of Opera.

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26 July 2007

Das Traumboot

Bayreuth scion-apparent Katharina Wagner's production of Die Meistersinger opened yesterday at the Festspielhaus.

As you can see, this production is rather curiously cast with David Beckham as Walther and Aprile Millo as Eva.

Oh, well, all right, La Cieca must have her little joke, you know. The tenor is in fact Klaus Florian Vogt, whom many of you heard sing Lohengrin at the Met back in 2006, and, if this photo is anything like accurate, is indeed the "Traumboot" above referenced.

Now, be honest, cher public. If you saw this fellow approaching on a boat, would you even notice that it was drawn by a swan? No, La Cieca didn't think so.

Oh, and of course, that's not La Millo up there with the paint-spattered decolletage. More's the pity, La Cieca must say, because surely if it were Millo singing the soprano part in the quintet, it would be more nearly in tune than this snippet from the Generalprobe.

For those of you interested in Ms. Wagner's Konzept, here's a feature from German TV.

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23 July 2007

She got through all of last year and she's here

More proof (as if any were needed) that 70 is the new 50: "Viva la Diva: Gala zum 70. Geburtstag von Grace Bumbry." The concert (performed at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival on July 17 of this year) featured the septuagenarian siren in a demanding program of arias and scenes from Aida, Ernani, Les Troyens and the complete third act of Tosca!

La Cieca offers her cher public a pair of Querschnitten from this historic concert:

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20 July 2007

Let it snow!

As La Cieca is sure her cher public has heard, the term "to ski" is now used widely in Craigslist personal ads to indicate an interest in recreational use of cocaine. The divine Grace Moore here demonstrates how these ideas became associated.

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18 June 2007

Druidesses three times three

La Cieca is startled and delighted to note that there are already some very competitive entries in the "Nine Normas" quiz, including a likely prize winner. So that all you cher public may have the chance to put your vocal identification skills to the test, here's the clip of The Nine Normas.

Feel free to make your guesses in the comments section!

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09 May 2007

Which Puritani: discuss.

La Cieca has finally found a way to harness the massive intellectual prowess of her commenters for what she hopes is a good and peaceful purpose. From time to time she is asked for recommendations on, well, this and that, and she's realized that you, cher public represent an paralleled resource for advising, counselling and general kibitzing. Our first question for the group: what's your recommendation for a recording of I puritani? "A.R." writes:
The frisson that Anna Netrebko created at Met recently piqued my interest in the work again- but I find myself dissatisfied with the array of recordings available. Joan I’d have to quickly count out- a lot of the time it sounds like she’s singing the phone book. Not a Bonynge fan either. Ditto La Sills- I just don’t like the timbre of her voice. I own the Caballe/Kraus recording and enjoy it- even without most of the high notes and no trill from Montsy. Despite that she always wins me over and Kraus makes a good fist of Arturo- I don’t understand the negative crits he got for this recording. When are people going to realise that the high D’s and high F were not meant to be sung full voice- I feel sure they were supposed to be sung in head voice- esp as Arturo is at his most miserable when these notes pop up.

Devia is good, albeit a little colourless. Mateuzzi has the high notes- shame everything under a G is flat, flat, flat. Have you heard the Freni/Pav recordings? I’m interested to hear them. I also have the Callas recording- but I can’t BEAR Di Stefano- too much scooping and painful open high notes. Is there a fabulous recording I’ve missed? If only La Scotto had done it- she would have been ideal. (I too am a Scotto worshipper!)

Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

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03 April 2007

Sing a little, chat a little

La Cieca (not pictured) reminds her cher public that tonight's 40th Anniversary of the Met at Lincoln Center gala will be the subject of an online chat right here at parterre.com.

The program, starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, begins at 7:00 PM and so the chat room will open at 6:45. Maestro Bertrand de Billy will lead the duo in staged performances of La bohème, Act I (with Mariusz Kwiecien as Marcello); Manon Act III, scene 2 (with Samuel Ramey as the Comte des Grieux); and L’elisir d'amore Act II with Mr. Kwiecien as Belcore and Alessandro Corbelli as Dulcamara.

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28 March 2007

Balcony box

Something new and interesting (La Cieca hopes) on Unnatural Acts of Opera: a 2004 concert performance of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, starring Anna Netrebko (Giulietta), Daniela Barcellona (Romeo) and Joseph Calleja (Tebaldo). Act One is the current podcast, with the second to follow on Friday.

Speaking of the lovely Miss Netrebko, she and Rolando Villazon will headline a gala celebrating 40th Anniversary of The Met at Lincoln Center next Tuesday. The concert will be webcast over the Met's RealNetworks (and of course Sirius) beginning at 7:00 PM. Unfortunately, La Cieca has a prior commitment that night, but she is sure that you, her cher public, will want to chat about the gala here at parterre.com. As such, La Cieca is sending out request to you parterre.com regulars for volunteers to host the web chat. (Quite simple, really: you'll need only to be online and on the chat site beginning at 6:45 and continuing until the finish of the broadcast.) If you're interested in helping out, email La Cieca at [email protected].

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25 February 2007

It's not a comeback

The final act of Loreley is hardly the only attraction on the current episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera. La Cieca also salutes the birthdays of three of the greatest sopranos of all time, and, can you believe it, presides over the return of one of your all-time favorite features, "The Enigmas of La Cieca." Once more, cher public, you can play "opera quiz" from the comfort and safety of your own lovely homes, without the difficultly of slogging through the snow to List Hall, or, for that matter, the difficulty of slugging Anthony Laciura once you get there. (Who knew it was possible to channel Eddie Cantor? Who knew anyone wanted to?) But anyway, as La Cieca was saying, do lend an ear to the new Unnatural Acts of Opera, listen to La Cieca's enigma, and (if you dare) send you answer to the question to [email protected]. The first correct response received will win a tantalizing gift from handelmania.com.

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20 February 2007

The chat that never ends

In her unceasing effort to keep you, her cher public, in touch and yakking, La Cieca has discovered a way to set up an always-open, always-active chat room launching directly from parterre.com. (For the technically minded among you, it's an applet called Yaplet, and, yes, La Cieca realizes that it sounds about as silly as "a Woozle named Peanut.") Anyway, to join in the chat, just click here or else on the "Chat Here" Yaplet badge in the sidebar.

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01 February 2007

Ghostwriters in the Sky

La Cieca is [adjective] to announce that over [number] of her cher public were moved to [blank] the "MadLibs" competition. The [adjective] five entries will win an [adjective] DVD for their authors.

The first-among-equals grand prize winner's composition will be performed on Unnatural Acts of Opera as the next installment of the "Apocryphal Opera Anecdote Theater" segment. The four other winners La Cieca will publish here at parterre.com.

To start off the collaboratory festivities, let's hear from Goodbye Ernest:

Margaret Junktrunk
Hello. I'm your announcer Margaret Junktrunk. Welcome to the Sirius Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Arvo Part's beloved masterpiece Die Walkure, a work that illustrates the idea, first expressed by Sartre, "Seize the day!" -- or, as the libretto puts it, "Dove posso prendere i biglietti per il concerto?" In today's performance we will hear tenor Rolando Villazon, baritone Peter Mattei, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, and a young soprano appearing for the first time at Metropolitan Opera debut this season, Renaay.

Of Renaay's debut here two fortnights ago, Alex Ross wrote in Teen People, "Not since Maria Callas melted the heart of a nine year old fan seated far up in the parterre of the great Second Temple has any artist managed to ravish both the enchanted and cursed aspects of Arvo Part's obstinate little athlete-girl. Her high F#s are pure, with the instrumental timbre of a alpenhorn, and she is not afraid to use ankle resonance when necessary."

In tonight's performance, Renaay will wear a kneepad that was specially created by the famous designer Galliano for Renata Tebaldi when she sang this role at L'Opera Bastille in the 1969 season. We have with us in the studio this evening Nathan Lane, a freelance janitor and stage director, who will share an anecdote with us about tonight's opera.

Nathan Lane
Thank you, Margaret. This story takes place exactly 3.14 years ago this week, when the famous divas Renata Tebaldi and Kathleen Battle were rivals both on the opera stage and for the affections of The Marquis de Lafayette. One of the ladies had a precious ruby-encrusted kneepad that was a gift from Caligula following a particularly icy performance of Le Nozze di Figaro in Padua. What she did not know at that time was that Leopold Mozart had written a special Gregorian chant for...

Margaret Junktrunk
I'm afraid we're running short on time; can you just jump to the punchline?

Nathan Lane
"And so, a dispute over a kneepad was the cause of the First Crusade."

Margaret Junktrunk
Thank you! In our next intermission, we will have a discussion on the subject of the "farfallone" musical style, with panelists Beyonce, Serena Williams and Rudy Giuliani, moderated by our very own wooden hostess Beverly Sills. In just a moment, we will hear the egregious opening measures of tonight's opera. Yes, now Maestro Tommasini is entering Paris and our opera will begin merrily.

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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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25 January 2007

Collaborate with La Cieca

A radio script that La Cieca promised to deliver tonight sits unfinished, and only you, cher public, can save the doyenne's bacon. The best completions will be eligible for lavish prizes. If you care to give the old girl a hand, just follow this link.

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21 December 2006

Be among the First

Don't forget to join La Cieca at 8:00 tonight for a live chat about the prima of The First Emperor at 8:00 p.m. Would any of La Cieca's cher public care to give her a hand as moderators in the chatroom tonight? To serve, as it were, as Roger Alberto to her Vecchia Madelon? Well, if you'd like to help out, please drop La Cieca an email and she'll give you the brief instructions necessary.

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Block that Met-aphor

Cher public, you all know that La Cieca just adores Beverly Sills, and your scribe simply dotes on the Met's new web presence. But, entre nous, given the new quizmistress's recent viduity, is this caption really in the very best of taste?

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17 December 2006

First, among equals

Join La Cieca on the evening of Thursday, December 21 for a live chat about the world premiere of Tan Dun's The First Emperor. The chat room will open for this special event at 7:30 p.m. and the yakking will continue until the final curtain. Check back at parterre.com on Thursday for a link to the chat room.

In the meantime, La Cieca has managed to obtain several minutes of video of the top-secret dress rehearsal of this production. So, for your pleasure, cher public, a sneak preview of The First Emperor.

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The Inner Voice of Reason

You may well be surprised to hear La Cieca say this, cher public, but she's bellowing a lusty "brava" to none other than Renee Fleming. On yesterday's matinee Met broadcast of Rigoletto, Fleming took on a role associated with Geraldine Farrar, that of intermission commentatress. One of the first questions she lobbed at Joseph Calleja (Duca in the performance) was his opinion on the Roberto Alagna brouhaha. Calleja sensibly non-committed, but Fleming spoke eloquently off the cuff, essentially becoming the first member of the opera establishment to defend the "walkout" tenor.

Now, admittedly, Fleming has some personal stake in this argument since she has herself been booed rather violently in the same theater, as you all recall. But La Cieca definitely agrees with Fleming's contention that Alagna should be allowed by La Scala at least to attempt the further performances of the run. It's a very reasonable and pro-artist attitude, and La Cieca thinks very likely representative of Fleming's offstage personality. (By that La Cieca means really offstage, i.e., away from the grand persona Fleming adopts when giving interviews.)

Now, is it too much to hope that, just perhaps, Fleming might allow some of that offstage wisdom and good humor to infuse her operatic and concert performances? Her onstage vocal antics are just as unnecessary (and just as counterproductive) as Alagna's offstage tantrums.

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15 December 2006

Panic at the disco

You asked for it, cher public: the Renee Fleming dance remix.

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14 December 2006

John McCain hates La Cieca

Senator (and presumptive Republican Presidential nominee in 2008) John McCain is wasting no time in getting started with the necessary pandering. According to cnet.com, McCain has proposed legislation that would require "[m]illions of commercial Web sites and personal blogs ... to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000."

That word "illegal" is associated with child pornography and "obscenity" in McCain's bill, but in theory at least it could hold poor dear La Cieca (or any of millions of other bloggers) responsible for a link inserted by one of her commenters. Not that any of her cher public link to kiddie porn, but we all know that "obscenity" is a notoriously slippery thing to define. Bloggers like La Cieca (or, especially more popular and widely-read bloggers) do not have the resources to monitor and track every blog comment.

Under the provisions of McCain's legislation, a blogger could be fined if he failed to report, say, an "obscene" image included in a commenter's profile page. Fear of liability could lead many bloggers to restrict or eliminate altogether the "community" elements of their blogs.

In short: John McCain hates La Cieca. That's reason enough to vote Obama/Clinton in '08.


Is this the face of Opera Chic?

Intrepid girl reporter Opera Chic has lead the blogosphere in her coverage of the recent Alagnadammerung. But who is this mysterious Opera Chic? An important piece of evidence has made its way into the greedy mitts of La Cieca: soon the truth may be told.

Here we see a photograph of the poster for tonight's performance of Aida at La Scala:

This photo was published on Opera Chic's site, and we can assume it was taken with Opera Chic's very own digital camera. Now, cher public, La Cieca asks you to fix your gaze on the lower right-hand corner of the photo, just past the "Y" in "Chailly." The keen eye will discern a reflection in the glass covering the poster:

Aha! Opera Chic has carelessly allowed "her" reflection to appear in the photo! And so we see that Opera Chic is, in fact, no "chick" at all, but rather a dignified-looking middle-aged man with a mustache and full beard. La Cieca could swear she knows this fellow, or at least she has seen his picture before. Oh, this is just so infuriating!

Oh, yes, yes, now, I have it! Now I know where I've seen that face before:

Oh. Well. Perhaps we should wait for further facts before we make a decision on Opera Chic's identity; purely for confirmation, you know.

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13 December 2006


Well, it had to happen sooner or later, and so it did happen, sometime between last night and tonight. La Cieca has decided she's taking Roberto Alagna's side in The Scandale.

Yes, yes, La Cieca hears your gasps and snorts of disbelief and contempt, but you know, cher public, La Cieca is, deep in her bleeding heart, always on the side of the underdog. And, yes, by this point Alagna is the underdog.

Of course La Cieca knows that Alagna brought this upon himself. But in life (as in opera) there are very few pure heroes and villains. Do we not, for example, weep for Manon as she so movingly expires, whether at Le Havre or in the desert near New Orleans? And yes, she brought most of her misery upon herself. If the poor dear thing had even a shred of morality, she could have saved everyone (particularly Des Grieux) whole cartloads of heartache. But morality wasn't what Manon was about; that's not how she was made.

Is it supposed to be news that Roberto Alagna is a hothead? Does he have a track record of behaving coolly and rationally in a crisis? Has he ever been known to say, "no comment" when asked a question, any question? So why is everyone so shocked, shocked to witness what should be -- by now -- familiar behavior?

La Cieca is of the "fool me once" school, frankly, when it comes to opera singers. And, to tell the truth, it's Stéphane Lissner who ought to be saying "shame on me" these days -- at least to himself. In other words, Lissner is not helping the situation by acting so inflexibly, refusing to negotiate with Alagna over his return to the theater.

Now, please understand, La Cieca is not saying that Lissner should simply cave; rather, she's suggesting that there is a win-win possible here, and Lissner is dropping the ball. It's not a particularly impressive act to fire a recalcitrant artist; basically the lawyers and the press office will have to do all the heavy lifting anyway. A great impresario is one who can bring an unruly tenor to heel, and, what's more, trick the tenor into thinking it was his own idea.

Take Rudolf Bing with Franco Corelli, for example. No artist was more "difficult" than Corelli, and yet Bing got him onstage for over 300 performances -- far more than he sang anywhere else in the world. Bing once joked that handling Corelli was what he was "underpaid" for, but in fact, that's what a general manager is supposed to do, to get important artists on the stage and before the public. Firing a singer is, in a sense, an admission of failure. In fact, Bing even admitted in later years that his inability to come to terms with Maria Callas was one of the worst blots on his record as General Manager of the Met.

In contrast, consider Lissner's inflexible behavior in the past few days. Yes, he's showing everyone who's boss, but meanwhile, he's presenting a sold-out "gala" Aida with Walter Fraccaro and Antonello Palombi alternating in the star tenor role. Yeah, I'm sure the audiences who have to sit through that are saying to themselves, "Well, it's excruciating, sure, but at least somebody put his foot down! Thank God La Scala has returned to its artistic mission of upholding the Rule of Law!"

Since last night, a couple more tidbits of information have surfaced suggesting that Alagna's sense of persecution is not 100% paranoia. To begin with, the video of the walkout.

Doesn't it strike you as odd that a television station should have such access to video footage that was recorded for DVD release? Does anyone think that someone in the Decca crew might have leaked it? Hardly. The only way the clip of Alagna's "exit" could have emerged was for the management of La Scala (i.e., Lissner) to make it available. And why ever would an opera house want to publicize so sordid an event? (Can you imagine, for example, that the Met's press department would supply the media with a sound bite of Domingo's being booed last week?) The answer is simple: La Scala is actively working to make Alagna appear the bad guy.

Furthermore, doesn't Palombi's "save" strike you as just a bit too miraculous? How often does it happen that the second cover is standing in the wings, warmed up and ready to bound onto the stage, when there is no prior warning that the artist he's covering might be in vocal distress? In other words, did Palombi know in advance that Alagna might be booed?

If you must know, La Cieca's tipping point on this issue was reading Norman Lebrecht's predictably anti-artist and pro-bandwagon comments this morning. The Alagnas are difficult, the Alagnas are self-absorbed, lot of opera houses are pissed off at the Alagnas, but of course this slap in the face of the honorable public of Milan is the last, the very last straw.

Well, Norma, your middlebrow maunderings are wrong yet again. This might be the end of the line for the Alagnas -- if they were the sort of dull, uninspired singers that mostly populate the world of opera today. But they're not. Despite their vocal flaws and outrageous behavior, they are something special and rare. The main reason that opera is in such dire straits today is that nobody wants to shell out hundreds of dollars for a ticket to hear some well-behaved mediocrity. (That is, unless that mediocrity's name is Fleming, but she's not working much at La Scala lately either.)

La Cieca will have more to say about this later; cher public, do chime in.

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09 November 2006

Frocked up

Soprano Yali-Marie Williams is currently singing Traviata at the Opéra de Montréal. Now, La Cieca realizes that not every Violetta can literally look like she's wasting away, but surely even a more Junoesque soprano can look handsome and chic if she's costumed intelligently.

This is not what La Cieca calls intelligent costuming.

In fact, La Cieca would go so far as to call this dress a deliberate act of sabotage. Honestly, this gown looks like something Zinka Milanov would design for Renata Tebaldi. (The difference is that Tebaldi would have the sense and the clout to refuse to wear such a monstrosity.)

I mean, look, Joan Sutherland was no size 6 either, but a well-cut and well-fitted bodice really does make all the difference:

It is possible, you see, to wear even a heavy brocade without looking like you forgot to remove it from its sofa of origin.

La Cieca begins to believe that the alarming specter of "No Gay Friends" has not only reared its ugly head but didn't even bother throw a few hotrollers in its hair before going out in public. The situation in Montréal is dire, cher public, dire.

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07 November 2006

Rossini crescendo

Juan Diego Flórez, who -- if this costume design is to be believed-- is planning to play Almaviva as a gay pirate, will headline a mini-company from the Met appearing on "Late Night with David Letterman" tomorrow night, November 8, 2006, at 11:35 p.m., ET, on CBS. The boyish Rossini tenor and his colleagues Diana Damrau, Peter Mattei, John Del Carlo, and Samuel Ramey will perform a fully-staged version of the Act 1 finale from the Met's new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia, conducted by Maurizio Benini and directed by Bartlett Sher. (Dave's other guests include Dustin Hoffman and "Naked Chef" Jamie Oliver -- oh, yes, it's sweeps month, all right!) Of course, Wednesday is a school night, La Cieca will set the DVR, and she is sure the scene will be available for next-day viewing on the streaming video page of cbs.com.

In response to your demands, cher public, La Cieca has scheduled another of her wildly popular live chats for the evening of Friday, November 10. You are invited to join in what will no doubt be a most spirited discussion of the Sirius/RealNetworks broadcast of the opening night of the Barber. The room will open at 7:45 for the 8:00 start of the performance.

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16 October 2006

Veils, song

As if those opera queens (you know La Cieca is talking to you, cher public) don't already have more than enough to listen to, what with Unnatural Acts of Opera, plus Sirius Met Broadcasts, plus various streaming radio on the internet -- well, now there's lots more where that came from. Well, anyway, one more from where that came from -- the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which will resume its broadcasts beginning this Saturday night, October 21.

This will be the first series of broadcasts from the Lyric Opera since the 2001- 2002 season, and LOC is kicking off the new broadcasts with a bang -- the opening night of Salome, featuring Deborah Voigt's first staged performance of the title role. The live broadcast will be on WFMT, 98.7 starting at 7:30 PM Central Time, and La Cieca has just learned that the broadcast will be streamed live over wfmt.com.

This works out particularly well, since there is no live Met Sirius performance that night. La Cieca knows how harried you get, cher public, when you have to choose which broadcast to listen to, and one at a time is all she can handle as well, at least until someone invents the internet radio equivalent of Tivo.

Well, that's Saturday night, but right now it's Monday, and La Cieca has some podcasting to do. Tonight's program, La Cieca hopes, you will find a special treat. The fabulous Regine Crespin is heard in recital at Hunter College on November 11, 1967, partnered by John Wustman on the 88s. This Unnatural Act of Opera program will be available beginning tonight, October 16.

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08 October 2006

Io ne' volumi arcani leggo del cielo

To paraphrase only slightly La Cieca's dear friend Mrs. Lloyd Richards, "This beats all world's records for running, standing and jumping Gaul!"

Yes, cher public, that day we have all dreaded will soon arrive, because, so La Cieca hears, the contracts have been signed for a new production of Norma in Zurich, to be televised and released on DVD. And it stars -- oh, all right, La Cieca has put it off long enough -- it stars Renee Fleming as The Beautiful Druid.

If you'll excuse her, La Cieca is going to start drinking now, so she'll be good and unconscious in time for the first interview using the angle "as a single mother with a demanding career, I can identify with Norma's dilemma."

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20 September 2006

Sirius fun

As La Cieca predicted a fortnight ago, the Met Opera today announced a partnership with SIRIUS Satellite Radio to broadcast live and archival Met performances. The series will begin on Monday, September 25th, with a live broadcast of the Met's opening night gala performance of Madama Butterfly, conducted by Music Director James Levine and directed by Anthony Minghella.

The format for the new Sirius channel, 85, will include four live broadcasts a week during the season plus 10 archival saturday matinee broadcasts. Amusingly, the NYT piece announcing the new channel says the programming "will range widely, including the likes of a 1937 performance of Carmen, starring Rosa Ponselle, and a performance of La Traviata in 2004 with Renée Fleming." Yes, "widely" is definitely the operative word here.

La Cieca must admit that she is not an early adopter of satellite radio. So clue her in, cher public, what are your experiences with Sirius? (And for those of you who are as clueless about Sirius as she is, here's a video that is obviously targeted precisely at La Cieca's core audience.)

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18 September 2006

pARRRRterre box

Avast ye, cher public! La Cieca salutes International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) with music from The Pirates of Penzance and Maria Stuarda. (Don't worry, that makes more sense than you would think.)

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05 September 2006

Opera quiz

If you call yourself a "serious" Met fan -- in other words, if your existence literally revolves around opera, you will be delighted to hear that in the very near future the Gelb-era Met Opera is planning to increase its number of radio broadcasts by as much as 500%. Yes, that's right, four or five broadcasts per week during the season! And how is this possible, you ask? Oh, cher public, La Cieca may have to get stern with you -- because she's given you three hints already!

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24 August 2006

Tears in Heaven

You may recall, cher public, that last December La Cieca had some rather unhappy holiday tidings for a pair of Met sopranos. Well, it looks like history is repeating itself. La Cieca hears that two Met sopranos, both in the same Fach (though a different Fach from the two divas discussed in the December item), are to be bought out of all their forthcoming Met contracts. Expect much weeping in Aremberg when this news is made public.


06 August 2006

Schadenfreude bites La Cieca in the ass

You would think that since La Cieca has heard Parsifal quite a few times, and even given the philosophical implications of the libretto a bit of thought, she would have realized that Schadenfreude is just plain bad news. But no, La Cieca had to go and LAAAAAACH-te at the New York Times obituary of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, particularly their gaffe in identifying a photo of Anneliese Rothenberger as the late diva. Then La Cieca went farther and snickered at the Times's correction of the piece. Oh, the bad karma was just aching to bubble to the surface, and so it did. La Cieca ripped and uploaded video clips from a 1980 performance of Elektra to YouTube, proudly identifying the Klytemnästra as "Legendary mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig." La Cieca was really sure that the singer was Ludwig, though on second thought it seemed perhaps a bit odd that the label on the video identified only Gwyneth Jones and Birgit Nilsson in the cast. So then a few of you, cher public, offered the opinion that perhaps the lady in the video didn't sound all that much like La Ludwig. Hmmm. Well, yes, long story short: of course it's not Ludwig. It's Anny Schlemm. Still a pretty spectacular performance, but, well, La Cieca got it wrong. As soon as she posts this, she's off to YouTube to identify Anny Schlemm as the singer.

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26 June 2006

Fleming: I'm no flapper!

Those of you cher public who frequent the left coast have probably seen the new Los Angeles Opera production of La traviata, the one that bumps the period of the action forward from the epoch of Alexandre Dumas fils to that of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Well, of course the svelte and lovely Elizabeth Futral looks charming in Jazz Age garb -- enough so that one would wish to see her in a revival of Harbison's The Great Gatsby -- that is, with different music. But anyway, just like everyone else, La Cieca thought that this new mise-en-scene by Marta Domingo was intended to become the LA Opera's "standard" Traviata. And, just like very nearly everyone your faithful scribe wondered just how well the modernistic lines of bugle-beaded cocktail dresses would drape over the curves of Renee Fleming, who is skedded to sing Violetta in LA this fall. Well, stop wondering, chickens, because La Cieca has just heard that la Fleming's contract for the production specifies that she will not do the "Art Deco" staging; rather, she insists on wearing the traditional crinoline. And she is arguing from a position of power, since Decca has also contracted to tape the fall performances for DVD release. Fortunately LA already has a conventional Marta-helmed Traviata in storage, awaiting only the arrival of la Fleming to be demothballed. The "Flapper Traviata?" Junked after only the one season, La Cieca hears.

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24 June 2006

Giudici, ad Angela!

La Cieca has found a few fragments from last night's performance of Tosca at the ROH -- only about 15 minutes of music, but enough, perhaps, to give a hint of the suitability of Angela Gheorghiu for the title role. La Cieca's take (based on an in-house mike, remember!) is that the Roman diva is a perfect fit for la Gheorghiu temperamentally, but at least a size too big vocally. She banks a lot on the "Vissi d'arte," and, yes, it does pay off gloriously -- but that's not the whole role, is it? An idea of relative volume can be gathered from the performances of Marcelo Alvarez and Bryn Terfel, both in excellent fettle. And if Antonio Pappano can make the whole score sound this rich and exciting, La Cieca says, bravissimo! So, what does my cher public think of these Tosca snippets?

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22 June 2006

Cruda sorte

By now, cher public, you have all heard about the Skandal in Vienna: Olga Borodina was sacked from L'italiana in Algeri (or did she walk out?) because, well, there were a variety of reasons proffered. Short version, though, is that the Staatsoper press office announced "All contracts between Olga Borodina and the Vienna State Opera have been dissolved by mutual agreement." (Those "contracts" included a new Boris Godunov production.) A gallant Agnes Baltsa substituted on short notice. La Cieca would say that Baltsa "jumped in," but, since the veteran diva was announced as having an injured leg, perhaps that phrase would be in poor taste. So, anyway, here are the announcement and Baltsa's first aria, as recorded from the house.

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21 May 2006

She's still here

At long last (but far more than worth the wait!), the latest episode of The Entertainment Beat with Frances Gumm is online. If you haven't listened to this marvelous series, well, you just don't know show biz.

And, before La Cieca slumps into unconsciousness, please let her thank the almost 100 participants in tonight's live chat on the Volpe Gala. Frankly, without the chat, La Cieca would have found the whole thing a crashing bore (all except that Hvorostovsky/Pape/Zajick sequence in the second half) and probably would have switched the radio off. La Cieca promises her cher public that "Chez Cieca" will re-open for business next fall (as the Met broadcast season begins) at the very latest!

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27 April 2006

California dreaming

La Cieca, who only yesterday was perpendicular hanging from a cable car, has been annoying San Francisco natives this week by humming the immortal theme song of that city by the bay while strolling her streets. (That's the Jeanette MacDonald song, not the Tony Bennett number, but that's not the point here.) Providing a welcome break to the incessant "beat my feet up and down Market Street" was a visit to the Berkeley Opera's production of a brand new musical theater piece, Chrysalis, with music by Clark Suprynowicz and libretto by John O’Keefe. In mood and style, it's Lady in the Dark meets Trouble in Tahiti (smart and jazzy) with a Twilight Zone plot oncerning cosmetic surgery. Mezzo Buffy Baggott does a dazzling diva turn as a driven cosmetics CEO. Our publisher JJ will write about the piece in detail for musicalamerica.com early next week, but, in the meantime, La Cieca urges the Bay area segment of her cher public to jump on the BART train to the Berkeley Opera and take in this entertaining and thought-provovking new work. Remaining performances are Friday the 28th and Sunday the 30th.

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21 March 2006

Meine lippen, sie kuessen so heiss

Leonie Rysanek sings the final scene from Salome in a performance of the Vienna State Opera on tour in Japan (October 2, 1980). Hans Bierer is Herodes and the conductor is Heinrich Hollreiser.

(And remember, cher public, if you're enjoying this content, visit the Amazon Honor System to show your appreciation!)


15 March 2006

She geev too much

Next week, you, mon cher public, along with the rest of le tout New York will of course attend Madame Vera Galupe-Borszkh's 20th Annual Farewell Recital at Symphony Space. In preparation for this epochal event, La Cieca hopes you will listen to her interview with Mme. Vera's alter ego, Ira Siff, on Unnatural Acts of Opera.

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03 February 2006

Septuagenarian Song

The New York Post's Clive Barnes is going to blush beet-red when he hears from the publicists (or the lawyers) who handle Placido Domingo. In a review of the Met's Rigoletto, Barnes refers to PD as "the 72-year-old tenor." Domingo admits to 65, though some gossips have long sniped that this figure doesn't add up with the dates of his earliest documented performances. (La Cieca might as well say right now that there are even a few Placidophobes out there who would add, "and they got the 'tenor' part wrong too," but she's not even going to go near there.)

And in the Times this morning (La Cieca so loves her morning papers!), Ben Ratliff does a Critic's Notebook about rare jazz and pop music videos found on YouTube.com -- the site La Cieca has been using to share a few opera vids with her cher public. La Cieca rather likes the first half of the piece, in which Mr. Ratliff salivates over footage of George Clinton and Sarah Vaughan he'd never seen before. Inevitably (and sadly) though, the larger part of the article is concerned with what the author calls "legal and ethical problems." An anonymous spokesnazi for the RIAA intones, "uploading or distributing copyrighted material, without permission from the copyright holder, is illegal," but an entertainment lawyer offers the opinion that YouTube is protected by a safe harbor in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. In the meantime, remember that you too can upload favorite operatic video content to share with the parterre community (as explained here), subject of course to YouTube's terms of service.

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31 January 2006

A soupcon here, a soupcon there...

La Cieca hears that one of our most popular and beloved mezzo-sopranos is going to drop the "mezzo" part and push up into a higher Fach. Wouldn't it be a tragedy if this American artist were to show such poor judgment?

A quick look-in at Academy Records this evening revealed a tantalizing assortment of CDs on the WH Live Opera label. Promised delights include Anna Moffo as Melisande, Leonie Rysanek as Elisabeth, a Jon Vickers/Tatiana Troyanos Parsifal, and a Trovatore starring Renata Scotto, Luciano Pavarotti and Shirley Verrett! Have any of my cher public purchased these or other recordings on this new label; if so, feedback, please?

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Video Vixens II: Public Submission

La Cieca is just so excited about the new youtube capability that she wants you, cher public, to get in on the act. Do you have a favorite operatic video clip you would like to share with the world (well, with the readers of parterre.com, which amounts to everyone in the world that matters)? Just email La Cieca and she'll arrange to get the clip posted right here on the parterre homepage. What's in it for you? Well, other than the glory (and glory is nothing to be sniffed at!), the source of every video La Cieca uses will be sent a La Cieca's Greatest Hits CD; best video of the month gets an historical opera DVD!

So, what kind of video are we talking about? Something rare and not commerically available that you VCRed or Tivoed, or a snippet you sneaked on camcorder or cell phone, such as:

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11 January 2006

How deep is your throat?

Now (as always) La Cieca is on the prowl for tips on opera-related gossip. We're talking future casting, hirings and firings, onstage and backstage misbehavior, random acts of charity, deliberate acts of skulduggery, and, well, all those wonderful things that make opera seem like it belongs in the same world with Lindsay Lohan.

In order to encourage her cher public to sing like so many beautiful little stool pigeons, La Cieca will offer the following inducements: for the best tip of the week, a CD of "La Cieca's Greatest Hits;" and for the bestest tip of the month, an historical opera DVD.

Excited? Well, you should be. Send those tips to [email protected], and keep reading the box!


21 December 2005

Guerra, guerra!

Well, it's that time of year, isn't it? La Cieca is full to overflowing with the holiday spirit, so full of it, in fact, that she's going to speak her mind, just as if this were a company party. There are some out there who have forgotten the true meaning of this time of year, and La Cieca is just not going to put up with that one minute more. There's a war on, mon cher public, and it's a war on what this special season is all about.

La Cieca is speaking, of course, about the war on the winter solstice, which falls this year on December 21. And what better way to mark this important annual milestone than to listen to a performance of an opera about druids – that is, Bellini's Norma? Anita Cerquetti stars in a 1958 performance of this sublime masterpiece on the current Unnatural Acts of Opera, and long-time friend of parterre box The Urbane Pagan contributes an essay on Shamanic Opera-Going.

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06 December 2005

High Noon: the Gala and Quiz!

Here it is, cher public: the Unnatural Acts Gala and Quiz. To listen, just click on the arrow button. (Make sure your speaker volume is turned up, and allow 10 - 15 seconds for the show to start playing.)

Listen to the Gala and Quiz!

You can also download the mp3 at this direct link. When you know the answers to the three questions, send them to [email protected]. For more details on the gala and quiz, see the posting below.

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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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09 October 2005

Sillsmania continues

A few of La Cieca's cher public wrote in to complain that last week's podcast, the Beverly Sills farewell gala, offered lots of gala but not much Sills. So we're remedying that this week on "Unnatural Acts of Opera," with an all-Sills program featuring music by Handel, Mozart and R. Strauss.

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