24 January 2008

Mad about the boy

La Cieca is all for crossover, but...

In response to several questions from commenters, La Cieca will say, no, she does not believe that Vitas takes "the" high e-flat. However, there is another genetic male on YouTube who does have the note: Lallanzinho!

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16 January 2008

Front burner

A legendary Lulu crosses over.

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10 January 2008

Karita... after hours

28 December 2007

Forced to bend her soul to a sordid role

Pint-sized Broadway dynamo Kristen Chenoweth will make her fully-staged role debut as Cunegonde in Candide at the English National Opera this summer. The Bernstein/Wilbur, Latouche, Parker, Hellman, Sondheim, Bernstein & Wheeler operetta will be performed in the Robert Carsen production previously seen at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and La Scala, Milan. Performances begin June 23 for a 13-performance run.

According to The Stage, "popular tenor" Toby Spence will take on the title role, with other casting TBA. By an odd coincidence, the ENO are presenting a concert only a few weeks prior to this Candide starring a diva some might consider "dream casting" as The Old Lady. La Cieca supposes we should just dream on!

And will someone please wake La Cieca when the New York City Opera gets around to announcing the casting for their revival of the creaky Harold Prince staging of Candide?

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21 November 2007

Trouser role, or is it?

Stephanie Blythe and Julia Sweeney offer twice the gender confusion.


15 October 2007

Paris tout en fête

Missed the Met's cattlecall for War and Peace supers? Don't worry! All the really cool kids are going to Toronto to be extras in the opera house sequence of Repo! The Genetic Opera, lensing this week.

According to the myspace site of director Darren Lynn Bousman (auteur of Saw II), the production is looking for "200 people to volunteer each day as opera patrons on: WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 17 and THURSDAY OCTOBER 18. It is an opportunity to see an amazing cast of renowned artists perform on stage during the making of a feature film .... We're looking for men and women between the ages of 25 and 75, and the wardrobe requirements are tuxedos/black suits for men and formal attire for women."

Bousman promises no pay for the two days' work, but participants are promised glimpses of such "renowned artists" as Paris Hilton, Sarah Brightman and Paul Sorvino, who are featured in the opera house scenes.

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12 October 2007

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be countertenors

06 October 2007

The names he used to call me!

Aided and abetted by Noel Coward, the scintillating Mary Martin crosses over into operatic territory.

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02 October 2007

Marked Down Woman

La Cieca's old, old, old friend and role model Charles Busch returns to the boards this month in the New York stage premiere of one of his greatest film triumphs, the eponymous matriarch of Die Mommie Die. Busch (who is of course the author as well) stars as Angela Arden, a legendary screen chanteuse bedeviled by adultery, incest, blackmail, murder and the servant problem.

The play is a send-up of those 1960s horror films (sorry, "psychological thrillers") like Dead Ringer and I Saw What You Did, with the added twist that the plot is "borrowed" from the Oresteia. In other words, this is the funniest version of Elektra you're ever likely to see.

Die Mommie Die opens at New World Stages for a limited run beginning October 10, and for an even more limited time you can purchase tickets for this not-to-be-missed theatrical event for only $35.00! To take advantage of this near-felonious discount, Click Here and enter code DMTMC35. You can also phone 212-239-6200 and mention code DMTMC35.

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15 September 2007

Off her Crocker

30 August 2007

Where is style? Where is skill? Where is forethought?

Yes, another YouTube posting, but this one is something very special indeed. Legendary Zarah Leander is seen in a few moments from her 1975 triumph as Madame Armfelt in Das Lächeln einer Sommernacht (A Little Night Music) at the Theater an der Wien. La Leander also cavorts about a studio, lipsynching a medley of her hits with Les Boys. Once she lights up the cigarette, doesn't she look exactly like Bette Davis doing a musical version of The Little Foxes?

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28 August 2007


That utterly addictive web presence Vinyl Divas has just updated their fascinating, wide-ranging collection of operatic LP covers with high-quality scans of albums featuring every opera lady you've ever heard of (and more than a few you haven't.)

The latest set runs the gamut from Alla Ablaberdyeva (performing Bach, Purcell and Handel with the assistance of the intensely bearded Alexander Fiseisky and his massive organ) to Virginia Zeani (rocking a hot-pink cocktail dress and Jackie Kennedy flip for a Verdi/Puccini recital.)

UPDATE: Although the Vinyl Divas site does not include any sound clips to complement the dizzying collection of album covers, La Cieca thought you might enjoy a sampling of late '60s crossover at its best. Ferocious Felicia Weathers is heard in a psychedelic single:

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31 July 2007

Questo popoloso deserto

As if opera weren't dead enough already, this latest news is sure to finish pounding the stake through its heart. Paris Hilton (strike one!) has been signed for a leading role in the film version of Repo! The Genetic Opera. In this futuristic musical fantasy, La Hilton plays the daughter of organ-transplant tycoon Paul Sorvino (strike two!). The film is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, best known for helming sequels in the Saw horror series (strike three!) Ms. Hilton, interviewed at an event called "Feed the Models, Save the World," commented, "I've been rehearsing every day—seven hours a day. We're just in the studio. We're doing dance and singing. We go shoot next month in Toronto."

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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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02 July 2007

Does anyone still wear only one hat?

Iconic Ira Siff temporarily puts aside performing and his busy teaching schedule this summer to direct Cosi fan tutte with the Tanglewood Music Center young artists, in collaboration with Maestro James Levine. The Mozart comedy runs August 11-14. La Cieca further hears whispers that due to the overwhelmingly positive response to Ira's guest appearances on last year's Met/Sirius broadcasts, he will be promoted to co-host status opposite Margaret Juntwait on that series beginning this fall.

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27 June 2007

Gia i biscotti adunansi

15 June 2007

I laughed for art, I laughed for love

"This writer approached the new off-Broadway play The Second Tosca with more than a bit of trepidation, worried that it might amount to no more than second-rate Terrance McNally or, even worse, unfunny inanity like Lend Me a Tenor. What a relief, then, it is to report that The Second Tosca is a delightful, campy, and sincere show, bitingly accurate in its take on opera and the crazy people who create it." Our publisher JJ moonlights as a drama critic in Gay City News.

Rachel deBenedet and Vivian Reed in The Second Tosca. (Photograph by Neilson Barnard.)

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08 June 2007

"Life is like an opera"

Who, La Cieca asks, could disagree with this sentiment? Particularly when it is expressed so, well, expressively by the divine Jacqueline van Quaille in Tintin, the Musical (Kuifje de musical). The scene opens as Bianca Castafiore, the Milanese Nightingale, prepares to go onstage for a performance of Faust. She pauses a moment to read a telegram from Captain Haddock informing her of his adventures with Tintin and Snowy as they search for the Temple of the Sun.

La van Quaille may be heard elsewhere on YouTube singing Isolde in 1970!

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01 May 2007

Sweet and low

Gender-bending diseuse Zarah Leander crosses over into opera to sing "Che farò senza Euridice" in this scene the 1938 film Heimat.

It may be noted that the sub-contralto Leander chooses a lower key for this aria than the written C major David Daniels will sing tomorrow night! For more about the iconic Zarah, see Ben Letzler's appreciation of the androgyne goddess.

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31 March 2007

A chance for stage folks to say hello

Leave it to La Cieca to offer added value to even so glittering a performance as Act Two of I Capuleti e i Montecchi starring Anna Netrebko, Daniela Barcelona and Joseph Calleja. Your doyenne makes her legitimate acting debut in a new episode of Apocryphal Opera Anecdote Theater in the demanding role of "Lady Capulet" in Romeo and Juliet. Unnatural Acts of Opera.

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28 March 2007

Près des ramparts

Opening tonight at Manhattan's Film Forum: U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha, a 2005 film adaptation of Bizet's Carmen updated to the present and transplanted to an industrial community near Cape Town, South Africa. The score, somewhat abridged but otherwise not altered, is sung in the Xhosa language. The NYT's reviewer isn't completely bowled over by the film, but he does admit "the overall conception is so original that even when the movie falters in the moment, it dazzles in the memory."

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25 February 2007

Crossing over

Angela Gheorghiu sings "La vie en rose" at the Paris Garnier Gala conducted by Ion Marin, New Year's Eve 2006.

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