29 January 2008

Tu? Indietro! Fugly!

A loyal reader calls this little number "the worst gown I've ever seen."

La Cieca she agrees that Mme. Guleghina's fashion faux pas here just screams, "that was no lady, that was Lady Macbeth." On the other hand, your doyenne has seen some rather ghastly frocks in her time, and she's sure, cher public, that you have seen worse. If you have, send a jpg (preferably 350 pixels wide or larger) or a link to [email protected]. Let's dish!

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16 January 2008

Wait 'til you've refined it

A controversial new production of Massenet's erotically-tinged opera Manon featuring "it girl" soprano Anna Netrebko opened last night in....

Oh, all right. Obviously that's not our Anna. In fact it's ecdysiast Dita Von Teese performing her signature "cocktail glass" strip. The model and performer (whose adorably mousy real name is Heather Sweet) has accepted an invitation to attend Vienna's prestigious Opera Ball later this month as the special guest Austrian businessman Richard Lugner. The 75-year-old real estate and construction mogul takes a celebrity to the glamorous gala every year.

Previous guests of "Mörtel" Lugner have included Joan Collins (1993), Ivana Trump (1994), Sophia Loren (1995), Grace Jones (1996), Sarah, Duchess of York (1997), Raquel Welch (1998), Faye Dunaway (1999), Jacqueline Bisset (2000), Farrah Fawcett (2001), Claudia Cardinale (2002), Pamela Anderson (2003), Andie MacDowell (2004), Geri Halliwell (2005), Carmen Electra (2006) and Paris Hilton (2007).

La Von Teese is known as a retro fashion muse and was briefly married to goth rocker Marilyn Manson.

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11 January 2008

The ceremony of innocence is drowned

"Directed by Francesca Zambello, this Little Mermaid burdens its performers with ungainly guess-what-I-am costumes (by Tatiana Noginova) and a distracting set (by George Tsypin) awash in pastels gone sour and unidentifiable giant tchotchkes that suggest a Luau Lounge whipped up by an acid-head heiress in the 1960s. The whole enterprise is soaked in that sparkly garishness that only a very young child — or possibly a tackiness-worshiping drag queen — might find pretty.

"....Ms. Zambello, best known as an adventurous director of operas, rarely lets jokes, songs or set pieces register clearly. And the impression is often of costumed employees from the Magic Kingdom of Disney World, wandering around and occasionally singing to entertain visiting children." -- Ben Brantley, New York Times

In related news, the family of Roger Bart send their condolences.

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06 December 2007


Fiorenza Cedolins gets off to a bad start in this performance of Luisa Miller. La Cieca feels that if you're going to sing like that, you really should avoid the Grayson Hall wig.

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04 December 2007

Surely you chest!

And don't call her Shirley! It's the one and only Ruby Hinds singing the cabaletta to "O mio Fernando" at a tribute to Doris Roberts (yeah, go figure) in Beverly Hills.

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Basta diva

La Cieca is sure she doesn't wish ill on anyone, but Maria Guleghina's return to Norma tonight is turning filthy already.


12 November 2007

I'm still waiting for the good news

Only a month before her farewell to Las Vegas, pop hurleuse Céline Dion is already making plans for her future. According to Newsweek, "in February, she'll begin an international tour. Then she plans on settling down in Florida, where she'll see if she can turn herself into a movie star (her dream project is a biopic of the Greek singer Maria Callas) . . ."


05 November 2007

Perché non ho del talento?

This performance of the "alternative" entrance aria from Lucia di Lammermoor illustrates why the road not taken probably wasn't such a good idea in the first place. Note, too, how the technical quality of the video production so aptly complements the efforts of the artiste.

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29 October 2007

Filth in a supporting role

La Cieca hopes you aren't under the misapprehension that only stars (or would-be stars) are capable of filth-level performances. A true "sporcizianista" can fuck up even such apparently foolproof music as the few lines of Ines in the first act of Trovatore:

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24 October 2007

Lassée Come Home

Or, "Fleming Subjugates La Scala." Note the "polite" applause at the end of the performance.

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10 October 2007

Hunkentenor manqué

In the words of the immortal Leonard Pinth-Garnell, "Monumentally ill-advised!"

UPDATE: The video has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been removed from YouTube. There are a few stills, however, on the tenor's website.

By the way, if you think the costume looks familiar, that's because you've seen it before.

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09 August 2007

Escalator to Obscurity

From the 1983 public access TV show "Stairway to Stardom," a singer with a fabulous name, Giuseppe Taormina. You know, a name like that is very hard to live up to, and, what do you know, live up to it he doesn't.

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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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16 July 2007

That manzanilla has quite a kick!

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10 May 2007

Crones on notice

A Met insider whispers that new chorus director Donald Palumbo, recently praised to the skies for his "tireless" efforts on Orfeo, may not want to stay tired for long. According to our source, “warning of vocal deterioration” letters have already been drafted to be sent to several members of the Met regular chorus, especially in the notoriously wobbly soprano section. Apparently, this warning letter is the first step in a lengthy contractural process of weeding out unacceptable voices. (Ironically, by the time arrives for Palumbo to rehearse the witches' choruses in Macbeth next season, he may already have fired at least some of the Met's worst crones.)

Continues our spy, "Not a surprising move, but one taken earlier than I would have thought in his tenure, since [Palumbo's] tenure really hasn’t started yet. But thank Goddess for it – the soprano section has been a mess for quite a while."

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02 May 2007

Esser madre e un inferno

A rare chance to hear Evangelia Callas (mother of Maria) tell her side of the story. This audio clip from a 1962 television interview is in rather dim sound, but we do get a sample of Evangelia's singing voice!

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26 March 2007

You are dead, you know

In yet another dazzling example of counter-intuitive programming, the New York City Opera has decided to exhume their quarter-century old ticky-tacky Hal Prince staging of that overexposed snoozefest Candide to replace their scuttled new production of Ragtime. (Gee, how long is it since we last heard Candide here in New York? It must be twenty minutes at least.) If La Cieca didn't know better, she'd think Paul Kellogg was trying to bring the company crashing down (a sort of sound-enhanced Götterdämmerung) before that meanie Mortier can get his hands on it...

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24 March 2007


Our editor JJ's busy week included a review of the Met's Aegyptische Helena in Gay City News, and that panel La Cieca has been yammering about all week. As his presentation on the topic "Opera and Technology," JJ introduced this little documentary about your own La Cieca.

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23 March 2007

Mary Dunleavy joins in the fun

La Cieca has just been informed that soprano Mary Dunleavy will participate in tonight's panel discussion "Opera and Technology" at The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University. No word on whether La Dunleavy replaces or supplements the previously announced Lucy Shelton. Our own JJ will be there of course, along with a veritable constellation of opera pundits: Elena Park, Editorial and Creative Content, The Metropolitan Opera; Beth Greenberg, stage director, New York City Opera; Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and writer; and Anne Midgette, critic, The New York Times. That's tonight at 7:30 PM, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue (between 116th and 118th Streets), second floor.

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15 March 2007

Scandalize my name

Longtime friend of the 'box Joe Conda sends La Cieca a new and exciting example of Filth: Caro nome.

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14 February 2007

All night long

You know those times when you look at your watch, and it's only about 8:15, and you say to yourself, "Oh, man, this is going to be a long, long, long evening!"

This is one of them.

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28 December 2006

Bel canto lushinghier

La Cieca thought that now that Puritani has opened at the Met, it's as good a time as any to review the company's (rumored) bel canto plans for the next five years or so. Remember, everything in this life is uncertain, so please regard these "predictions" as the gossip they are.
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.
Now, jumping back to 2009 again, that's when the new production of Rossini's Armida is skedded, featuring of course Renee Fleming and (among other tenors) Eric Cutler.
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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21 December 2006

Not the type at all

At last La Cieca has discovered Renee Fleming's muse, or at least, as we have so often wondered "who the hell it was who taught her to sing that way."

Meet the divine Naoko Maeda, asking the musical question . . .

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01 May 2006

Burn and crash

It's rare to hear dementia and filth within the same minute of music, but, well, it does happen.

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28 March 2006

Anders als die Anderen

It does La Cieca's withered old heart good to know that, yes, indeed, the filth just keeps on coming. Here's a selection from a CD by Peter Anders Jr., who inherited his name (and that's about it) from his famous father.

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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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04 August 2005

Remember filth?

La Cieca has been listening to so much good singing lately that she almost forgot there was such a thing as filth. Don't worry, it's still around, and filthier than ever. Mara Zampieri, anyone?