11 January 2008

Doge star

La Cieca's spy in San Francisco whispers that the 2008-2009 season will open with Simon Boccanegra with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the title role. Later productions will include a revival of Bohème with Angela Gheorghiu and the company premiere of Die Tote Stadt featuring Emily Magee and Torsten Kerl. Also expected is the world premiere of Stewart Wallace’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter, based on the novel by Amy Tan.

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31 October 2007

Enter Madame

One of La Cieca's intricate network of spies has been keeping his ear to the ground in San Francisco where a supernumerary friend whispered to him that "there was concern amongst the SFO backstage ranks that since La Gheorghiu had yet to show up for any La rondine rehearsals, that she may go the route of of her recent Lyric Opera contretemps and be dismissed as a no-show."

Signor Spy assured his super friend that Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna "were merely enjoying a personal idyll in NYC ... that once Mr. Alagna finished up with Pinkerton last Saturday, she (or both) would probably be winging to the West Coast to keep the SFO commitment." He then passed along to La Cieca a report on the soprano's "first rehearsal appearance."

UPDATE: Well, now it seems our original spy has reconsidered the hearsay he shared earlier and asked that the "Super" quotes be removed. Fair enough, La Cieca thinks, since she's not entirely clear on whether Super gave Spy carte blanche to share the "insights" in the first place.

La Cieca does not plan on making a habit of putting the toothpaste back in the tube, but this appears to be a special case. Okay with you, cher public?

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19 October 2007

"Bizarre and nondescript characters corralled from every stratum of society"

La Cieca thanks the visiting Enzo Bordello for pointing out to her some recent updates to the indispensable Met Futures Page so painstakingly maintained by Bradley Wilber. Most of it sound plausible enough, but every now and then a piece of casting leaves La Cieca so stunned she hardly manage to quote a Waldo Lydecker quip. Such is the case with a projected 2009 revival of Adriana Lecouvreur with Maria Guleghina and Jonas Kaufmann.

That show at least seems possible actually to transpire, unlike the new Carmen in 2010. The announced team for the Bizet, which includes Matthew Bourne, Richard Eyre, Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Barbara Fritolli and James Levine, surely adds up to ten pounds of diva in a five pound bag!

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25 April 2007

She never does anything twice

La Cieca is totally in awe of the insightful (and totally enjoyable) reporting her baby sister OperaChic is doing on the most recent Angela Gheorghiu scandale. In what La Cieca chooses to regard as an early 50th anniversary hommage to one of the most infamous moments in the career of Maria Callas, la Gheorghiu has, yes, walked out of a production at the Rome Opera. It seems that at the prima, Renato Bruson took a bis of "Di provenza," which (so OperaChic whispers) the soprano interpreted as an act of war. Gheorghiu obtained a doctor's certificate and canceled her second (and final scheduled) performance.

Permit La Cieca to say: maybe this is why they stopped allowing encores in the first place.

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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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22 January 2007

One night only

Angela Gheorghiu will replace Krassimira Stoyanova for a single Met performance of Traviata on Saturday, March 24.

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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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26 December 2006

Soon and later

UPDATE: Gregory Kunde is now listed on the Met's site for the prima of Puritani.

La Cieca hears that Eric Cutler did not sing the dress rehearsal of Puritani (anyone there to confirm/deny?) and, though his name's still on the Met's site, he won't go on for the prima Wednesday. Thoughts?

And the tittle-tattle about (of all things) the 2012 Met season continues to filter in. The latest: the Donizetti "Tudor cycle" shared amongst Angela Gheorghiu (Anna Bolena), Anna Netrebko (Maria Stuarda) and Renee Fleming (Roberto Devereux [??!!]). All that, plus new productions of Guilliame Tell and Rienzi. Or, on the other hand, Earth may collide with a giant comet, so hold off on locking in the dates quite yet.

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25 October 2006

The return of the cigar-makeress

"There is a noise inside the tabago factory and the revolting cigar-makeress bursts into the stage," reads the classic fractured English synopsis of Carmen. Now a Korea-based English-language site steps up to the plate with a season preview fetchingly entitled "Glamorous Opera and Moist Aria." Some highlights:

The set of the Roman Theater that reproduce the stage with the handwritten signature of Puccini, the clothing, items, and lights will be moved in as a bunch. It will bring the audience pleasure to see the original when the modernized interpretation is a boom as it is these days.

Director Lee So-yeong, who developed a good reputation last year through "Un Ballo in Maschera" and "Faust," presents a Verdi opera "Don Carlos" with her unique simple and symbolic stages. She plans to direct in a modern way by reviving the awesome Inquisition through the red blood on the white wall and the scene where 200 crosses rise up all at once.

"La Traviata," presented by the National Opera Company of Korea and directed by Wolgram Mehring, focuses more on the cruel tragedy created by social prejudice than on the love between a man and a woman . . . . "I intend to present the world of dreams that do not exist in reality through the stage art with dreamy airs, and I believe that the true reality will be brought to relief in this way," says Mehring.

"La Triviata" . . . is performed by soprano Stefania Bonfadelli, who is reputed as the first world-class Violeta since Angela Gheorghiu

Initially tenor Richard Margison, who is performing in the U.S. Metropolitan Opera, was expected to act the part of Don Carlo along with Kim Jae-hyeong, but he dropped due to such matters as the North Korean nuclear testing.


23 October 2006

The one that got away

Anna Caterina Antonacci is not, in fact, coming to the Met. Admittedly her scheduled debut was Donna Elvira and nothing definite after that, but still, she's an interesting artist who isn't heard enough in the U.S., and a few Elviras is better than no Antonacci at all. Apparently Antonacci was bumped in favor of Angela Gheorghiu, an artist whose participation in an ensemble opera La Cieca will believe when she sees it. La Antonacci talks about this imbroglio and other more elevating topics in an interview with Rupert Christiansen.

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25 September 2006

Sound the alarm

A few tidbits in reference to the impending Sirius broadcasts of the Met Opera. First, La Cieca's backstage spy reports that the Met has installed literally dozens of permanent microphones in various spots in the auditorium. These mikes are described as being reminiscent of CIA spy equipment, "the kind of technology that kind pick up a whisper a hundred yards away." (This sort of sensitivity will surely come in handy when Angela Gheorghiu sings Carmen a few seasons hence.) Our source went on to say that the Met and Sirius are trying for a completely different sound mix and balance from the familiar Saturday afternoon broadcasts.

La Cieca herself has signed up for the online-only Sirius service. The Met channel has not launched yet -- amusingly, the station is at the moment running a "tune in tonight" announcement backed with what sounds like Robin Byrd-era porn music. And that's for listeners who actually can access Sirius online: it seems that for some platforms (e.g., Safari) the stream may not be accessible until tomorrow. (Stone-age La Cieca is still on IE, which seems to work just fine. Right now she's listening to Miss Rosemary Clooney singing "In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening" on Channel 75 "Standard Time.")

Following tonight's performance, La Cieca will podcast her reactions to the plaza experience along with the third act of a 1967 Madama Butterfly featuring Renata Scotto. Check back here, oh, elevenish when La Cieca returns to base for debriefing and cocktails!

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12 September 2006

Endless Love?

The Artists Formerly Known As The Love Couple made one of their now-rare duo appearances last weekend singing something called "Come Prima" at a BBC concert in London's Hyde Park. The poster for the event suggests that Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna are shall we say, growing apart.

Why the distance between the once-inseparable team? Don't go blaming Sir Terry Wogan! But could it have something to do with the unbilled appearance of "hunky Romanian pop singer/actor" Stefan Banica Jr.?

Mr. Banica, star of such film epics as Liceenii rock’n roll (1990) and Sexi harem Ada-Kaleh (1999), recently created the role of Billy Flynn in the first Bucharest company of Chicago. He is seen here soulfully duetting with compatriot Gheorghiu.

So, just how simpatico were Gheorghiu and Banica onstage? Well, let's put it this way: the Beeb's website captioned this photo "Angela Gheorghiu duets with Roberto Alagna."

If you care to hear how this concert sounded, you can access it at BBC Radio 2. La Cieca's correspondent on the scene in Hyde Park suggests, "Use the 5 min skip button to miss the less interesting items. Angela's first contribution is 10 minutes in. Roberto's, followed by their duet, is about 50 minutes in, and the rest 1 hour 15 mins." Though, be warned, you'll miss "Italian sensation Vittorio Grigolo, plus trumpet player Alison Balsom and special guest, music legend Lionel Richie."

Alas, the afternoon portion of the concert was not broadcast, so you'll just have to use your mind's ear to imagine the performances of "Madness tribute band One Step Behind, irrepressible cockney duo Chas & Dave, and poptastic singer Chico."

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23 August 2006


Isn't that Angela Gheorghiu on the cover of the New York magazine fall fashion issue?


14 August 2006


La Cieca hears that the new regime at the Metropolitan Opera (or the MET Opera, as it will henceforth be called) is moving forward with the recording of selected 2006-2007 live performances, to be sold via download on the "iTunes" model. An agreement reached a couple of weeks ago with the American Federation of Musicians specifically facilitates this sort of recording, and it appears that Peter Gelb's MET will be among the first American opera companies to move into this (one hopes) lucrative field. Ironically, this bonanza may not be shared by some of opera's biggest stars who have exclusive recording contracts, e.g., Angela Gheorghiu and Denyce Graves.

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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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14 June 2006


The event that seemed poised to evoke the year's biggest outpouring of Schadenfreude has finally transpired. The critical response to Angela Gheorghiu's first staged Tosca (Royal Opera, Covent Garden, June 13) could best be described as mixed. The diva's vocal and visual glamour elicited kind words from all the critics, despite general reservations about a lack of dramatic heft in her lyric soprano.

Rupert Christiansen in The Telegraph was perhaps the least enchanted with Gheorghiu's performance. "Coy, flirtatious and manipulative, she radiates kittenish petulance and sings with velvety allure. But of Tosca's heart - of the peasant courage, cunning and command that Callas triumphantly emphasised - there was nothing. This Tosca has the soul of a phoney soubrette, and Gheorghiu's singing was simply too poised, small-scale and self-conscious to carry any sort of emotional impact." On the other hand, the Independent Online's Michael Church tells us that in Gheorghiu's Act 2 aria, "all the vocal glory we have come to expect from her is fully on display."

Tom Service in The Guardian called Gheorghiu's Tosca "a light-voiced, pious heroine," but noted that ". . . in the first act her jealousy is underplayed and you never really believe that this Tosca is capable of real venom or malice." On the MusicOMH.com site, Dominic McHugh reported "Polite applause greeted a bland performance of 'Vissi d'arte'. After this, however, she seemed to move into a higher gear. . . . Gheorghiu held the audience captive in the final minutes of this act, and provided more vocal thrills and a fuller tone in the last act..." McHugh voices the critical consensus when he concludes "this was not quite the debut that one had hoped for." (Photo: Catherine Ashmore)

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22 May 2006

Tough guy

Joseph Volpe's memoir The Toughest Show on Earth (see, La Cieca can get the title right when she wants too) is a book about a working-class kid from Queens who wanted to be Rudolf Bing when he grew up. Or, rather, it's about a stage carpenter who was bright enough and ambitious enough to do catch Bing's eye during the disastrous lead-up to the first Met season at Lincoln Center. I'm not sure how accurate the details are in Volpe's story of how he "fixed" the set of Franco Zeffirelli's Antony and Cleopatra (especially the Zef's meek acceptance of an unknown carpenter's hacking away at his work), but it is a characteristic story. Volpe sees himself and depicts himself as a man who puts his thoughts into action, an autocrat even, like his role model Bing.

Volpe's rise from middle management to top dog (when he finally claimed Bing's old office) hinged on a series of coincidences. First came the death of intendant-to-be Goeran Gentele, leaving a lacuna hastily plugged with the semi-competent Schuyler Chapin, first of several weakish General Managers who allowed Bing's centralized power to dissipate. Meanwhile, Rafael Kubelik deserted the newly-created post of Music Director, sweeping the young James Levine into power. Volpe found himself allied with the volatile new Director of Productions John Dexter, who relied on Volpe to get things done in the notoriously entropic Met bureaucracy.

As Levine's power and influence increased, so, apparently, did his hunger for love and approval from his colleagues; he simply wouldn't say "no," even when he ascended to the rank of Artistic Director. After General Manager Bruce Crawford accomplished a financial turnaround for the company, he resigned, replaced by the innefectual Hugh Southern, who shared Levine's distaste for confrontation. Thus Volpe's role evolved into that of Bad Cop. For for example, he's the one who had to tell Eva Marton that, despite what "she'd been led to believe," the soprano would not get the plum of recording the Ring with the Met orchestra. (Volpe indulges in passive voice to avoid pointing fingers at the culprit who misled Marton, but it's not hard to figure out.)

Upon Southern's ouster, Volpe was promoted -- not to General Manager (the Bing/Gatti-Casazza title) but rather General Director, on equal footing with Levine and development diva Marilyn Shapiro. The disgruntled Volpe enhanced his power by taking on the most onerous task in the house -- saying "no" to Jimmy. Finally, in 1993, 30 years since he entered the Met as a stagehand, Volpe attained his goal, General Manager, which conferred not only the duty but the power to say "no" to anyone and everyone.

Volpe dedicates a chapter of the book to what is generally regarded as the most controversial action he took as GM, the firing of Kathy Battle in the winter of 1994. He builds a convincing case against her, documenting behavior ranging from difficult to impossible ranging back to 1982, and assures us that he at least went though the motions of offering the soprano help after he fired her. He even admits that the brutal language he used in the press release canning Battle was in part motivated by his desire to assert authority in his new role. What he glosses over, though, is why the Battle problem was allowed to escalate to total war. The answer, of course, is that she was Levine's pet. He deliberately ignored her bad behavior, and (perhaps even worse), everyone in the house was afraid to upset the maestro. Unchallenged, Battle grew into a monster.

Now, in an opera you send in a hero to slay a dragon. But this scenario was more Godzilla than Siegfried, and Volpe was the only one at the Met ready to use the Oxygen Destroyer. The press release accompanying Battle's heave-ho was overkill, but it worked. The problem, perhaps, is that it worked too well. Volpe convinced himself that bullying was the only effective management style, and the second half of the book is littered with examples of failures of that policy and the resultant lapses of judgment and taste that have plagued the Met for the past decade.

Volpe's motto doesn't seem to be so much "the buck stops here" as "he told me it was a buck; how was I to know it was counterfeit?" He claims he foresaw the disastrous problems inherent in the various fiascos helmed by Francesca Zambello, Graham Vick, Giancarlo del Monaco, Piero Faggioni and Franco Zeffirelli, and even says he tried to do a little last-minute fixup (a la the clouds in Antony.) But Volpe offers no sense of how such misquided production concepts could have survived even the talking stage. How could he have looked at set and costume renderings for Zambello's Lucia, for example, and said, "Yeah, this will work?"

This lack of vision, combined with a habit of delegating casting and planning decisions, plus a conservative tendency to go with the familiar (even when the familiar is mediocre or worse) -- what it all adds up to is a picture of a man with little faith in his own abilities as an artistic director. This, alas, is why Joseph Volpe is no Rudolf Bing. During his tenure, Mr. Bing made good decisions and bad decisions, but they were informed and confident decisions. Volpe's big ideas tended to be more of the "do it because I say so" variety.

For example, we find out that in 1999 the Alagnas in fact did sign the disputed Traviata contracts, but Volpe held them to the letter of his own arbitrary deadline. He said Thursday, and on Friday morning Herbert Breslin was ready to fax over the contracts. Alagna and Gheorghiu were even willing to work with Zeffirelli, which must have taken a whole lot of persuading on Breslin's part. Volpe had in his hand an opera house's crown jewel: a new Traviata with superstar singers, a celebrated director, and no less than James Levine conducting. But he tossed that all away, saying, "Forget it. The deadline has passed. They're out." Then he blabbed the whole story to the New York Times, making everyone involved look silly and childish. And for what? The Met ended up with a Traviata nobody wanted and nobody liked, and six years later Gheorghiu finally showed up for Violetta -- wearing her own costumes and doing her own staging.

The bit about the Alagnas' signed contracts is one of the few new bits of information in this book; obviously the publishers are thoroughly lawyered up and whatever dirt Volpe might have been ready to divulge has been thorougly expunged. We do learn, though, that when money talks, Uncle Joe listens. He tells with a straight face the story of how Sybil Harrington
hated the flat silver walls that Dexter and the designer, David Reppa came up with [for a production of Don Carlo], but she bided her time until after Dexter left the Met. Once he did, the scenery department, at her insistence, redid the walls with an elaborate pattern more in keeping with King Philip's -- and her -- taste.
Volpe also allowed a more notorious benefactor to dictate that the booking operator at the Met's onsite restaurant answer the phone with, "Good afternoon, Vilar Grand Tier Restaurant," as if seeing the "V" word stenciled all over the walls wasn't enough. Volpe insists that he and Alberto Vilar "had little personal contact," and with crystal clear hindsight, notes that Vilar "always seemed to be harboring secrets . . . . I wondered when all this would go up in smoke." But he didn't let that stop him from allowing Vilar to act as if he ran the place.

That about does it for new and interesting content. There's a nude photo of Karita Mattila illustrating an anecdote about how Volpe strong-armed a photographer who took a nude photo of Karita Mattila. There's yet another rehash of the Lincoln Center redevelopment debacle, a "controversy" that even the New York Times is bored with by now. As expected, the Erica Sunnegardh "breakthrough" is predicted in uncanny detail, with comparisons to Rosa Ponselle and Roberta Peters. And, amusingly, Volpe repeats the urban legend about the first-night reception of Robert Wilson's Lohengrin production ("I had also failed to register a recent development in the history of booing. For months, anti-Wilson forces had been peppering the Internet with appeals for the Met audience to give his Lohengrin the same treatment it had dished out to Zambello's Lucia." If you can't be bothered to use Google, Mr. Volpe, at least delegate that task to a fact checker.)

It's a quick read, with lots of names dropped. The Pavarotti stories are either already famous or else are so characteristic as to sound familiar. Neither Volpe nor his coauthor Charles Michener can be accused of being a stylist; the prose is plain and undistinguished, rather like Volpe's legacy. Volpe's hero Rudolf Bing hired John Gutman to ghostwrite his entertaining, bitchy memoir 5000 Nights at the Opera. But then Mr. Bing always did have style.

The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera by Joseph Volpe. Knopf, May 2006 $25.95

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21 March 2006

Names, names, names, darling!

According to the indispensable Met Futures page, the role of Marie Antoinette in the Met's 2010 revival of The Ghosts of Versailles will be sung by Angela Gheorghiu! And next season will see the debut of the singer with the best operatic name ever: Nicola Rossi-Giordano.


16 February 2006

Ghay for Gheorghiu

According to Gay City News, our editor JJ loved Angela Gheorghiu's Violetta, and he was more than a little enthused about Herr Jonas Kaufmann.

Le public have spoken, and they want their video to stream quickly and reliably. So save this bookmark and visit frequently: it's the parterre box page at Google Video. Here's a sample of the new content:

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12 February 2006

When Ladies (of the Camellias) Meet

The performance of Angela Gheorghiu as Violetta has attracted the attention of another Violetta of the present (Anna Netrebko), who will likely be a future interpreter of the role here in New York. And at least one Violetta of a past generation is expected to pay a courtesy call: Virginia Zeani has accepted an invitation to one of Gheorghiu's performances later this month. La Cieca has succumbed to Gheorghiu fever as well, posting clips of her Marguerite on YouTube.

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08 February 2006

Starry night

Alas, La Cieca can't comment regarding onstage goings on at last night's Traviata at the Met (her evil twin JJ is writing about the event for Gay City News), but things were pretty gala in the auditorium as well. Representing the Blogosphere was one of the Wellsungs, Jonathan Ferrantelli, a deux with the always charming Greg Freed. Down on orchestra level, La Cieca noted Anna Netrebko deep in conversation with scribe Matthew Gurewitsch. (La Netrebko, it is rumored, will be singing her own Violetta in New York a few seasons hence, though not, perhaps, in the Franco Zeffirelli staging she saw last night. On dit that Peter Gelb plans to import the Willy Decker production from Salzburg.) Aprile Millo, swathed in mink, held court at the base of the pole that bears her name. Noted in her orbit were ten-percenter Neil Funkhouser, NYCO tenor Andrew Drost and Premiere Opera's Ed Rosen. And everywhere La Cieca looked, boys, boys, boys, on a cuteness level to rival that of a David Daniels audience. Were they there for Angela Gheorghiu in the title role, or, could scrummy tenor Jonas Kaufmann (left) have something to do with it?

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02 February 2006

Monumentally ill-advised, part deux

La Cieca hears that last night at the Met (i.e, only a few hours after Angela Gheorghiu's dress rehearsal) ushers were handing out complimentary copies of a DVD of La traviata.

Starring Anna Netrebko.

On a less ominous note, Unnatural Acts of Opera presents Beverly Sills at her most scintillating in a 1970 performance of La Fille du regiment.

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01 February 2006

Glamour puss

La Cieca's spy L'incredibile, who has only moments ago slunk home from the Met's Traviata dress rehearsal, predicts a triumph for Angela Gheorghiu as Violetta. "The most beautiful soprano to sing the role here since Anna Moffo," L'incredibile exults, though he adds reservations about the carrying power of Gheorgiu's "veiled" voice and the "frequent disagreements" about tempo between the diva and maestro Marco Armiliato.

New attire for Ms. Gheorghiu includes a flowing "oriental" robe in a deep rose silk for the first act ("think Adriana's first entrance," L'inc explains) which the soprano strips off to perform "Sempre libera" in corset and petticoat. (Apparently this was The Zef's original concept, but for whatever reason it was ditched when this production was introduced back in 1998.)

The spy, though closely questioned, would not commit to an opinion regarding tenor Jonas Kaufmann, since he marked "the entire opera." Kaufmann does, however, appear to be planning on interpolating high C's into the first act finale and at the end of his cabaletta. Anthony Michaels-Moore (Germont) boasts "the loudest voice in the cast, plus he sings directly out into the house the whole time." Incredibile, ma vero! Oh, La Cieca can hardly wait! (In the meantime, she and you can bone up on Gheorghiu 101 in this archive.)

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13 January 2006

Volpe, al giungervi di questo foglio...

So, this is what La Cieca read on the website of the Italian newspaper Il Mattino:
Roberto Alagna
. . . sta male a causa di crisi ipoglicemiche e non potrà cantare per almeno tre mesi . . . . A dare la notizia lo stesso cantante accompagnato dalla moglie, il soprano Angela Gheorghiu, che ha annullato i suoi appuntamenti in giro per il mondo per i prossimi mesi pur di stargli vicino.

Now, La Cieca is not the world's strongest Italian reader, but this certainly seems to say that la Gheorghiu "has canceled her international engagements for the coming months in order to be near him." Which, in turn, makes La Cieca wonder: is La traviata in New York an "international engagement?" (La Cieca will also add that this is the first time she's ever heard of a singer canceling because of hypoglycemia. Can't he drink a glass of orange juice or something?)

UPDATE: January 14 . . . A veteran diva close to Gheorghiu says this morning, "Angela will sing the Traviatas."

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02 January 2006


Scuttlebutt from the Met says that Angela Gheorghiu hankers to sing Strauss's Salome -- though presumably she would workshop the role in a more friendly venue first. In other whisperings, La Cieca has heard that Peter Gelb is currently ensconced in the office once occupied by Beverly Sills. Apparently he's to remain there until the General Manager's office can be pried from Joe Volpe's cold dead hands. (Something tells La Cieca that Uncle Joe's exit from the Met will be as protracted as that of Nancy Reagan from the White House -- as played by Jan Hooks in the classic SNL sketch.)

Here's a game to brighten up the first chilly days of 2006 for you. Using Brad Wilber's Met Futures Page and your own insider knowledge, can you suggest to La Cieca which artists' contracts Gelb most needs to buy out? La Cieca's nomination: the threatened 2007-2008 performances of Norma by Maria Guleghina.

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26 December 2005

Middle aged blues

Peter Gelb's new broom continues to sweep at the Met. Perhaps to make room for the Gheorghiu/Netrebko/Damrau generation, the incoming General Manager is buying out contracts. Two Met artists in particular are targeted, and, oddly enough, these two ladies have quite a bit in common. Both are 40-something light lyric sopranos, and they have three names (each, La Cieca means.) Oh, and did we mention the red hair?

In the latest shipment from Berkshire, La Cieca has found a dazzler of a DVD: Lucrezia Borgia (Encore DVD 2087) from Milan, 2003, starring Mariella Devia, Marcello Alvarez, Daniela Barcellona and (Encore DVD 2087) Michele Pertusi. Renato Palumbo is the conductor. Excellent video of the stylish traditional production, and superb sound -- which is a particular plus since all the leads are in excellent voice. (This is the same staging that was so famously booed when Renaay appeared in it, and La Cieca has a better idea now why that demonstration was so vehement. Devia's Donizetti is elegance itself, with a pure line and imaginative but always idiomatic ornamentation. This, obviously, is the way the Milanese want to hear bel canto.) Look for the soundtrack to this production on "Unnatural Acts of Opera" within the next few weeks.

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21 October 2005

Morir, si pura e bella?

UPDATE: Not only are Gli Alagni scheduled for Aida at La Scala in 2006 (as noted yesterday), La Cieca has just heard that Peter Gelb has promised them a new production of Carmen at the Met in 2009-10. And, yes, Gheorghiu is the Carmen, not the Micaela. This is all at least four years in the future, so don't book your tickets yet. Actually, this tidbit could have waited a few days (or years) but La Cieca wanted an excuse to post the scrummy photo of Bobby as Radames. Doesn't he look like he's about to say, "My father rules many lands and peoples, and that is why they call me Prince?"

La Cieca has just heard that the honor of opening the 2006 La Scala season will go to Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, who will grace a new production of Aida. Please let La Cieca be the first to congratulate maestro Riccardo Chailly for persuading these two megastars to take on the roles of the Priestess and the Messenger -- now, who do you think he will get for the leads?

The most reliable source of all (i.e., himself) states that a long-term career goal for Rolando Villazon is ... Wagner. Don't panic yet; he's talking Lohengrin sometime around 2015, as reported at Mouvement Nouveau.

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16 July 2005

New broom

La Cieca hears (from very reliable sources indeed) that one of the first initiatives of the new Peter Gelb regime at the Met will be to build up Angela Gheorghiu into "house diva." Apparently the new attitude will be "you're going on, with or without that wig." Another top-priority item on the Met's agenda: a debut (Merry Widow?) and follow-up roles for Andrea Bocelli.

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