29 July 2007

Le belting

Régine Crespin does her "New York has neon, Berlin has bars" routine on a French variety TV show "Palmarès des chansons" circa 1967. She sings her version of one of the greatest hits of the evergreen entertainer Mistinguett, the chanson "C'est vrai!".

A video excerpt of this performance (featuring Mme. Crespin "entourée de danseurs avec plumes") may be found on the Place aux Chansons website.

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05 July 2007

Régine Crespin, 1927-2007

Régine Crespin in Recital
  • Wolf: Blumengruß - Der Schäfer - Die Spröde - Anakreons Grab -Epiphanias - Mignon I, II and III - Philine - Kennst du das Land
  • Debussy: Le Promenoir des deux amants: Auprès de cette grotte sombre -Crois mon conseil, chère Climène - Je tremble en voyant ton visage
  • Milhaud: Poèmes Juifs (exc.): Chant d'amour - Chant de forgeron -Chant de nourrice
  • Rosenthal: Chansons du Monsieur Bleu: Quat' et trois sept - L'éléphant du Jardin des Plantes - Fido, Fido - Le petit chat est mort - La souris d'Angleterre
  • Encores: Berlioz: Le spectre de la rose; Poulenc: Fêtes galantes; Wolf: Ich hab' in Penna
John Wustman, piano. Hunter College, New York City, November 11, 1967.

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26 June 2007

Tu che le vanita project

La Cieca must first of all express how startled she is that this particular item didn't appear first on NYC Opera Fanatic -- after all, Lana Turner as Elisabetta in Don Carlo? Well, in fact, Miss Turner never did sing any Verdi, on- or off-stage (unlike her precursor Joan Crawford), but my goodness, doesn't she just look the part?

It is only with slight disappointment that La Cieca notes that La Turner is not even pretending to be an opera singer here. It's a moment from the beginning of the 1969 film The Big Cube, portraying Lana's character, the celebrated stage actress Adriana Roman, performing one of her celebrated stage roles. (Now, that does seem like a missed opportunity, doesn't it? I mean, with a name like "Adriana Roman," why waste your time in legitimate theater?) Well, anyway, this little scena is only the beginning of a dramatic roller-coaster for Adriana/Lana. Before you know it, her stepdaughter's skuzzy gigolo boyfriend (George Chakiris) will be spiking poor Lana's sleeping pills with LSD in a sinister plot to drive the poor diva mad, mad I tell you.

Now, let's see if La Cieca can remember why she brought all this up just at this particular moment. Oh, yes, now she has it. The Big Cube has just been released on DVD in a boxed set (like Proust!) fetchingly entitled Cult Camp Classics 2 - Women in Peril. The collection also includes our Joan's theatrical swan song Trog and the echt women's prison movie Caged.

Which reminds La Cieca: did you realize that an operatic version of Caged could be cast easily with the singers from Dialogues des Carmélites? (Mignon Dunn as Warden Ruth Benton? Lucine Amara as Matron Evelyn Harper? Régine Crespin as "Vice Queen" Elvira Powell?)

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15 March 2007

Most grating

Many tears will be shed in heaven today by Nellie Melba, Claudia Muzio, Lotte Lehmann, Adelina Patti and (we suppose) the young Jill Gomez, since none of them made the list of "The 20 Greatest Sopranos of All Time" featured in the April issue of BBC Music. (Don't bother to click on that link, since the content isn't online.) The magazine's panel of "experts" selected the following 20 divas in ascending order of greatness:

20. Elly Ameling
19. Rosa Ponselle
18. Renata Tebaldi
17. Christine Brewer
16. Elisabeth Schumann
15. Karita Mattila
14. Gundula Janowitz
13. Galina Vishnevskaya
12. Régine Crespin
11. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
10. Emma Kirkby
9. Kirsten Flagstad
8. Margaret Price
7. Lucia Popp
6. Montserrat Caballé
5. Birgit Nilsson
4. Leontyne Price
3. Victoria de los Angeles
2. Joan Sutherland
1. Maria Callas

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23 February 2007

Happy Birthday, Régine Crespin!

The legendary French soprano celebrates her 80th birthday today.

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21 February 2007

Comeback kid

The Metropolitan Opera has just announced that Lorin Maazel will return to the Metropolitan Opera for the first time in 45 years to conduct six performances of Wagner's Die Walküre beginning January 7, 2008. These performances will be Maazel's first with the company since the 1962-63 season. (To give you some concept of how long ago that was, Maazel's assignments that season included Der Rosenkavalier with Regine Crespin making her Met debut, directed by Lotte Lehmann.)

The Walküre performances run through February 9, 2008, with a cast that includes Lisa Gasteen (Brünnhilde), Adrianne Pieczonka/Deborah Voigt (Sieglinde), Stephanie Blythe/Michelle DeYoung (Fricka), Clifton Forbis/Simon Dennis O'Neill (Siegmund), James Morris (Wotan) and Mikhail Petrenko (Hunding).

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02 February 2007

More junk from the trunk

Margaret Junktrunk
Hello there! I'm your announcer Margaret Junktrunk. Welcome to the Sirius Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Ligeti's beloved masterpiece Tosca, a work that illustrates the idea, first expressed by Hegel, "A stitch in time saves nine," or, as the libretto puts it, "Basta!" In today's performance we will hear tenor Ian Bostridge, baritone Thomas Hampson, mezzo-soprano Regine Crespin, and a young soprano appearing for the first time at Metropolitan Opera debut this season, Kathy Battle.

Of Kathy Battle's debut here two months ago, Alex Ross wrote in Popular Mechanics, "Not since Rosa Ponselle melted the heart of a six year old fan seated far up in the mezzanine of the great Mayflower Hotel has any artist managed going both the weird and large aspects of Ligeti's silly little dentist-girl. Her high e flats are pure, with the instrumental timbre of a clarinet, and she is not afraid to use thigh resonance when necessary."

In tonight's performance, Kathy Battle will wear a toga that was specially created by the famous designer Halston for Leontyne Price when she sang this role at Covent Garden in the 1955 season. We have with us in the studio this evening Peter Allen, a freelance massage therapist and stage director, who will share an anecdote with us about tonight's opera.

Peter Allen
Thank you, Margaret. This story takes place exactly eleven years ago this week, when the famous divas Leontyne Price and Mirella Freni were rivals both on the opera stage and for the affections of Napoleon. One of the ladies had a precious ruby-encrusted toga that was a gift from Winston Churchill following a particularly licentious performance of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in Naples. What she did not know at that time was that Poulenc had written a special chorale for...
Margaret Junktrunk
I'm afraid we're running short on time; can you just jump to the punchline?

Peter Allen
"And so, a dispute over a toga was the cause of The Hundred Years War."

Margaret Junktrunk
Thank you! In our next intermission, we will have a discussion on the subject of the "ragazza" musical style, with panelists Kylie Minogue, Bobby Orr and Tony Blair, moderated by our very own silly hostess Beverly Sills. In just a moment, we will hear the ponderous opening measures of tonight's opera. Yes, now Maestro Riccardo Muti is entering Paris and our opera will begin eventually.
-- John Welch

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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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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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24 August 2005

Little people to be thanked

James Conlon, Régine Crespin, Plácido Domingo, Susan Graham and Dolora Zajick are to be lauded at all-new set of honors, "The Opera News Awards," the occasion to be marked with cocktails, musical performances and other revelry at the dear Pierre Hotel on November 20. If La Cieca may offer just one teensy opinion (and who's to stop her?), it's that the title of this event is just not quite glittery enough. May she suggest "The F. Paul Driscoll Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence?"

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03 August 2005

Digital Dementia

Antonietta Stella as AmeliaLa Cieca notices that those lovely people over at Berkshire Record Outlet are offering what might fairly be called a plethora of opera performances on DVD, for just $8.99 a pop. Particularly drool-inducing selections include La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein (Regine Crespin), Lakme (Joan Sutherland), Carmen (Denyce Graves, Roberto Alagna), Un ballo in maschera (Carlo Bergonzi, Antonietta Stella), Norma (Montserrat Caballe, Tatiana Troyanos), Faust (Alfredo Kraus, Renata Scotto, Nicolai Ghiaurov) -- and even a 1988(!) La Gioconda starring Grace Bumbry and Fiorenza Cossotto! Now, you all know how quickly great stuff like this sells out at Berkshire, so what are you waiting for? Get over there now!

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