22 November 2007

Something to give thanks for

La Cieca hears that our dear Aprile Millo (who recently had to cancel a Teatro Grattacielo appearance due to illness) is ready to bounce back big time in 2008.

Word on the street is that Millo will join longtime colleague Dolora Zajick for a bel canto duet in OONY's spring gala, followed by a return to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for the 2008-09 season.

While we wait, here's some prime Millo via YouTube.

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11 September 2007

Anything I can do, she can do better

Multifaceted Aprile Millo has branched out into blogging, and her site, operavision, includes some of the smartest online opera commentary La Cieca has seen. Currently she's expounding on Opera in 3D, a fascinating article if you can tear yourself away from the image of Renata Tebaldi shaking hands with an astronaut! La Millo naturally has penned a most moving tribute to her late colleague Luciano Pavarotti and includes some rare video of the legendary tenor (and other great performers, including herself!) on the site. Explore!

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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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16 April 2007

Avant le deluge

La Cieca is no big believer in omens, but she must say that within a hour of Aprile Millo's final curtain call on the Met stage Saturday night, all hell broke loose over New York. Not exactly "stars with trains of fire and dews of blood/Disasters in the sun" but certainly a messy and unseasonable Nor'easter. Time will tell whether this downpour foretells the end of an era. Meanwhile, La Cieca will do her job and report that among La Millo's public she glimpsed Elaine Stritch, Rufus Wainwright and Patti Smith, all of whom made the pilgrimage backstage to meet and greet the diva. Also in evidence were Violeta Urmana and Salvatore Licitra, plus of course every opera queen you might care to mention. A few fans attempted to serenade Millo with "Happy Birthday" during her solo bow, but were inaudible over the applause and cheers.

Curiously, the great moment in Millo's performance wasn't "La mamma morta," (which was very good if a little hectic) but rather the phrase "Benedico il destino! Benedico la morte!" just before the final duet. If you need a definition of what Milanov called "vocal message," that's what Millo demonstrated in this handful of notes. And need I say she communicated more in those few seconds than many other artists do in a whole season.

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12 April 2007

The gala continues

In further celebration of our 200th podcast, La Cieca presents a second program of superstars and their superstardom. Featured in the current episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera are Karita Mattila, Rolando Villazon, Renee Fleming, Dorothy Kirsten, Renata Scotto, Elena Obratszova, David Daniels, Ruth Ann Swenson, Renata Tebaldi, Giuseppe diStefano, Marilyn Horne, Montserrat Caballe, Kostas Paskalis, Alain Vanzo, Krassimira Stoyanova, Marcello Giordani and Aprile Millo.

And don't forget Part One, starring Maria Callas, Cesare Valletti, Rosanna Carteri, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Tito Gobbi, Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek, Alfredo Kraus, Jeannette Pilou, Cesare Siepi, Jessye Norman, Joan Sutherland and Leontyne Price.

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13 February 2007

Cessarono gli spasmi del dolore?

A highly-placed source for Opera Orchestra of New York has expressed the hope that all is not quite lost for the company. In an email sent to a long-time supporter of OONY this morning, the source concedes "big problems because of the dramatic drop in box office" and admits the board is "hard pressed to make up the difference." OONY is is "sure of one opera next year," we are told, but they are "not sure about the other two evenings." The source further suggested that very strong ticket sales for the upcoming L'arlesiana might rescue the 2007-08 season.

UPDATE: An OONY spokesperson confirms that the company has scheduled Bellini's La sonnambula (featuring the well-received tenor Dimitry Korchak from this year's Dom Sebastian) for February 27, 2008 and promises that further plans will be announced "very shortly." Meanwhile, La Cieca has heard that one possible event for OONY's next year would be a gala concert headed by Marcello Giordani and Aprile Millo.

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21 November 2006

Bright shining as The Sun

Fred Kirshnit joins the legions dazzled by the radiance that is Millo. In The Sun, Kirshnit writes

People who love Aprile Millo really love Ms. Millo, and so interspersed among the nearly capacity crowd dressed in their finery as the National Italian American Foundation honored the soprano were the occasional young man or pair of young men tastefully outfitted in smart jeans and strategically placed around the hall for maximum claque impact. Whenever their girl appeared, there were noticeable exclamations of pure joy.

. . . .

As for Ms. Millo, she dismissed the printed program as irrelevant and offered an entirely different couple of selections . . . . But the undoubted takeaway memory was her knockout version of the "Suicidio" from the Orfano Canal act of Amilcare Ponchielli's "La Gioconda," which she is currently singing at the Met. This is properly classified as a dramatic soliloquy, and never have I heard it sung quite this dramatically. Ms. Millo, in addition to possessing all of the requisite vocal tools, has a highly developed sense of acting. Her little pauses and flashes of the eyes were mesmerizing. This was one of those rare performances at which I heard a loud exhalation of breath at its conclusion, and realized it was mine.

Those flashing eyes (not to mention the vocal tools) may be witnessed at Millo's first Tosca of the season on November 25 at the Met.

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14 November 2006

Three tenors

La Cieca must be brief as she is on jury duty (can you imagine, La Cieca being asked to pass judgment?) Anyway. Highlight of the Tucker Gala was definitely Marcello Giordani, who was in absolutely ideal voice for the "Improvviso," and only slightly nervous for the "Vicino a te." (He sharped on the very final note, noticeable of course since Aprile Millo's high B was so solid and gleaming.) Biggest surprise was Joseph Calleja, who sounds like a different singer in person: the voice is quite large and the fast "Schipa" vibrato, so intrusive on his Sirius broadcast, resolves into an energetic throb in the vast spaces of Avery Fisher Hall. La Cieca is still not 100% convinced of this singer's insistence on pulling a diminuendo on every other high note, but he is a born artist, with geniunely aristocratic phrasing in the "Ah leve-toi soleil."

And then there's Jose Cura, beefy of voice and physique, and obviously of the opinion that he is always the life of the party. Honestly, Verdi is serious music and does not need all that showing off. His Desdemona was Pat Racette, who also sang "L'altra notte." The voice is big enough for this rep but La Cieca thinks utterly wrong in color: it all sounds like Baby Doe. Racette wore the least flattering dress of the evening, a matronly beige and gold thing that clung to every bulge. And her hair was very flat. Best dress of the night: a tie between Elizabeth Futral's filmy black strapless and Sondra Radvanovsky's classic off-the shoulder aubergine silk.

Uncharacteristically, La Cieca was most interested in the low voices, especially Rene Pape, glamorous in Boris, and Sam Ramey, shedding a couple of decades for "Ecco il mondo." Even James Morris was in good voice, particularly for a gorgeous aria from Rachmaniov's Aleko.

The Roberto Benigni-style podium antics of Asher Fisch were not to La Cieca's liking, but she couldn't argue with the results: rich, vibrant playing from the orchestra and chorus, and sympathetic collaboration with the singers. For the first time in years, the Tucker concert really amounted to a gala; this was an evening worthy of the event's namesake!

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08 November 2006

Midweek midtacular

Where else would La Cieca be this Sunday but basking the the star radiance of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation's annual gala? Now! With 100% more Met artists, including Elizabeth Futral, Samuel Ramey, José Cura, René Pape, James Morris, Marcello Giordani, Patricia Racette, Joseph Calleja, Angela Marambio, Sandra Radvanovsky and Aprile Millo. The galalicious fun begins at 6:00 PM at Avery Fisher Hall.

At least one former winner of the Tucker award won't be appearing, darn it, because she's just finished a gala benefit of her own at La Scala. It's Renaaay, of course, and the new (to La Cieca) blog Opera Chic describes the scene:
Interestingly, La Fleming had arranged to be basked in the glow of a peachy, pinkish spotlight. Hartmut Höll instead was replete in the flat, sterile, blue/white light, which by default, is implemented for every other normal recital. I mean, homegirl looked good, but it was like Liz Taylor and her vaseline filters.
La Cieca feels like she was there, I tell you, and wait until you read the breathless paragraphs detailing The Frock (by Gianfranco Ferré, of course.)

And did La Cieca mention that they're bringing back Big Gay Date Night at the Met? For just $95 you get an orchestra seat, pre-performance hors d’oeuvres, intermission champagne and dessert, and, just possibly, some post-performance nooky. Boheme is on November 21, but La Cieca thinks that the best husband material will be found at the February 2 Jenufa. (For that matter, surely the combination of Karita Mattila and Anja Silja will attract an upscale lesbian crowd as well.)

Plus: don't forget the Smart Singer Tricks on The Late Show With David Letterman tonight, beginning at 11:35 pm (US Eastern and Pacific time) on CBS-TV.

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27 October 2006


Peter Gelb's motto for the week: "Those Swarovski crystals are going on with or without you." Maria Guleghina sings the first Tosca of the season tomorrow night, jumping in for Andrea Gruber who is under the weather. A report from the dress rehearsal notes that "Gruber had nothing above about an A, Cura was rushing the conductor the entire time, and they both ended the opera by marking the 3rd act down an octave." Gruber was wheezing and sneezing all over Margaret Juntwait last night during the broadcast intermission, too. She's supposed to go on for the next performances November 1 and 4. Aprile Millo dons the tiara beginning on the 25th.

Oh, and if you're wondering what the proper term is for the matched set of tiara, necklace, earrings and whatever other sparkly baubles the well-dressed Floria flaunts, it's called a "garniture."

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24 October 2006

Gently down the stream

Beginning tomorrow night with the season premiere of Rigoletto, the Met will offer weekly free (yes, that's right, free) streaming broadcasts of opera performances over their website, metopera.org. Further broadcasts through the end of the year will include:
  • Rigoletto (Siurina, Calleja, Pons) Wednesday October 25

  • Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci (Guleghina, Racette, Licitra) Monday, October 30

  • Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Damrau, Flórez, Mattei) Friday November 10

  • Madama Butterfly (Gallardo-Domâs, Giordani, Croft; Levine) Saturday, November 18

  • Tosca (Millo, Fraccaro, Morris) Saturday, November 25

  • Idomeneo (Röschmann, Deshorties, Kožená, van Rensburg; Levine) Wednesday, November 29

  • La Boheme (Netrebko, Villazón) Tuesday, December 5

  • Don Carlo (Racette, Borodina, Botha, Hvorostovsky, Pape, Ramey; Levine) Monday, December 11 (7:00 PM/EST)

  • The First Emperor (Futral, DeYoung, Domingo, Groves; Tan Dun -- world premiere) Thursday, December 21

  • I Puritani (Netrebko, Cutler) Wednesday, December 27

These broadcasts will be streamed with "support from RealNetworks®, the leading creator of digital media services." In honor of this innovation, La Cieca will host one of her legendary live chats tomorrow night during the Rigoletto streaming broadcast. Check back on parterre.com Wednesday afternoon for a link to the chat page.

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19 October 2006

Millo in the house

To begin with: everybody was there. People you haven't seen in 20 years were there. People you were sure were dead were there. (They were alive, at least as of the third intermission.) The house was quite nearly full, and there were no significant defections as the long evening wore on.

Miss M herself began in slightly rough voice (nervous, surely), but after that note that Zinka spoiled for everyone, she settled in, and there was a lot of glorious singing, most especially the quiet introspective moments in the last act. She looks better than La Cieca has seen her for years, slimmer and handsomely costumed.

The acting was in the trademark Millo-grandiose manner. It's not perhaps what you'd want to see in a Minghella Butterfly, but this is a melodrama played on 40 year old sets, and Millo is not embarassed to play it big. La Cieca has heard the top in more consistent form, but it never lacked for power, and Millo doesn't tiptoe around the high C's the way Violeta Urmana does.

La Urmana was in the audience, by the way, and she's exotically attractive in person, far more so than in photos. Marcello Giordani was there too, and he is not exactly hard on the eyes himself. Ildar Abdrazakov showed up backstage to escort his Mrs. (Olga Borodina): she very blonde in a pink linen jacket and low-rider jeans; he just the right degree of scruffy. Onlookers viewing Abdrazakov up close agreed unanimously that Borodina is one mezzo who will never have an excuse to go lesbian. (As La Cieca left the building, Mr. A was being accosted by one of the autograph crazies in the tunnel. She -- the crazy, not La Cieca -- was cackling, "So, in Faust, do you have a tail? Do you have a tail?" La Cieca wanted to say "I'm sure he has all the tail he can handle," but you know one must be polite, even to crazy people.)

One bit of gossip to be passed along: Dwayne Croft is jumping into the Met's Pagliacci as Silvio, replacing the originally scheduled Pavel Baransky -- who departed after the dress rehearsal.

Oh, and another bit: La Cieca was told that Sirius now has about 6 million subscribers total, including approximately 440,000 new customers in the July - September period.

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14 October 2006

More mystery from Venice

UPDATE: Per Robert Tuggle of the Met archives, the "cancellation" of Millo's Gioconda broadcast was actually a clerical error in the database. The show (and the Sirius) go on as planned on Wednesday night!

Now, this is puzzling. As we all know, next Wednesday's Met performance of La Gioconda (featuring Aprile Millo in the title role) is on the schedule of broadcasts published on the Sirius website. However, the new section of the Met Archives database devoted to the Sirius broadcasts does not include this performance. Instead, the database lists the following night's Faust as a broadcast. La Cieca's gut feeling is that the Met database is updated more frequently than the Sirius page, so it certainly begins to look like the Millo Gioconda will not be going out over the airwaves.

La Cieca will update you later after her operatives have had a chance to ferret out more information.

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18 May 2006

Generation gap

Astute Anne Midgette (glimpsed earlier this week among the faithful throngs at the Millo Tosca) wonders today in the Times whatever happened to singers like Richard Leech, Sharon Sweet, Susan Dunn, Francisco Araiza, June Anderson, Cheryl Studer, Carol Vaness, Aprile Millo and Dawn Upshaw. All these artists were mainstays of the Joseph Volpe 1990s at the Met, and yet not one of them is appearing in Uncle Joe's farewell gala on Saturday. Midgette points out that these singers are in their late 40s and early 50s now, certainly not elderly in their field. Ironically, the gala does feature a number of stuperstar singers of the previous generation, including Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, Kiri te Kanawa and Frederica von Stade.

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14 April 2006

Happy Birthday Aprile Millo!

To salute the American spinto soprano, an assortment of podcasts from Ed Rosen, Charles Handelman and yours truly. Just click on the "play" button and turn up your speakers!


12 March 2006

O tentatrice!

On dit that America's leading verista, Aprile Millo, will sing her first Manon Lescaut in the fall of 2006. La Cieca is not at liberty to divulge the venue, other than to say that it will not be in New York City.

Rumor has it that the process of replacing James Levine as conductor for the Met's spring season is already in full swing, under the close direction of Maestro Levine himself. Expect to see Maurizio Benini leading Don Pasquale. Asher Fisch will likely helm both Parsifal and Lohengrin; presumably his own scheduled performances of Rigoletto will be delegated elsewhere. For Fidelio, La Cieca hears that Paul Nadler will be in for the entire run. No word yet on who will conduct the Volpe Farewell Gala, but so long as the ticket sales don't suffer, Uncle Joe will muddle through somehow.

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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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16 November 2005

Previewing the Gelb era

La Cieca, ear to ground as always, has picked up some reliable-sounding scuttlebutt about the incoming Peter Gelb regime at the Met. The first decade will probably be known as "All Villazon All the Time" since (per our source), Rolando Villazon has inked a pledge to sing two operas a year at the Met for the next ten years. A major highlight of this package will be a new Contes d'Hoffmann in '09, with RV opposite Anna Netrebko, Diana Damrau and Rene Pape. Gelb is ready to put his mark on the house as early as opening night of next season, which he hopes will showcase the new Anthony Minghella production of Madama Butterfly in lieu of the "Tenors" gala currently skedded. (Gueswork on La Cieca's part: Cristina Gallardo-Domas as Cio-Cio-San opposite Marcello Giordani or Salvatore Licitra?) This project is supposed to inagurate a new policy of unveiling a new production each opening night, e.g., Lucia for Natalie Dessay in 2007 (assuming she pulls Romeo off this year, we guess) and Tosca for Karita Mattila in 2009. In the nearer future? Aprile Millo's first staged Gioconda next season, alternating with Violeta Urmana.

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07 November 2005

Millo sings again!

La Cieca's latest episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera features Aprile Millo. The occasion is her upcoming appearance at Alice Tully Hall here in New York on November 12 -- a concert performance of Leoncavallo's verismo gem Zaza with the Teatro Grattacielo. The podcast features selections from two previous concert opera performances by Miss Millo: Verdi's I Lombardi (1986) and Ponchielli's La Gioconda (2004).

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20 October 2005

Aprile Aircheck

parterre box fave Aprile Millo is on WQXR tonight at 9:05 PM EDT in a broadcast of a concert given for the George London Foundation. Sharing the bill are tenor Garrett Sorenson and Ken Noda on the 88s. You can listen in to the excitement here.


12 October 2005

Enchanted Aprile

Beginning tonight on "Unnatural Acts of Opera," La Cieca presents a potpourri of operatic scenes and arias sung by latter-day stimmdiva Aprile Millo, including selections by Rossini, Verdi, Beethoven , Dvorak and Cilea.


24 September 2005

A grand night for (not) singing

Rodgers and Hammerstein is as far as Aprile Millo is willing to cross over at Carnegie Hall, and that's what led to the rift between her and promoter Ron Delsener -- and to the cancellation of the October 14 event. La Millo tells her side of the story: NYT.


23 September 2005

The rumor Millo

Sister Sieglinde summarizes the roiling controversy so far in her Diary, and the most recent whisper La Cieca has heard is, "if that rock promoter wanted Avril Lavigne, he should have hired Avril Lavigne; Aprile is an opera singer."

Among the rumors La Cieca doesn't believe:

  • Millo is afraid to sing high notes. [Duh, she just did Fanciulla!]

  • The concert wasn't selling. [Well, everybody La Cieca knows was planning to be there, and a month before the date practically nothing is already sold out. Note, for example, that a Met performance of Manon starring Renee Fleming only a week from today still has seats available at all price levels. ]

  • Millo was being capricious/difficult/herself. [Again, anyone who shows up to sing Fanciulla -- and off book at that! -- is not going to be panicked at the thought of a recital with piano.]

Now, La Cieca knows she would be a hypocrite to lecture other people on the perils of Schadenfreude; she recalls, for example, practically peeing herself with delight when she heard about the dogs yapping at Cours-la-Reine in Renaaay's previous Met Manon. However, she will say she just doesn't quite grasp the glee with which some of those online greet the news that an admired and important artists is not going to sing.

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22 September 2005

Breaking: Millo @ Carnegie canceled

La Cieca just heard this on opera-l just now, and checked the Ron Delsener Presents web site, which states, yes, "this show has been canceled." No idea why, but La Cieca will ask around.

Update: a source close to the Delsener organization has told La Cieca that the promoter and the artist had "artistic differences," which could mean just about anything, but LC's educated guess is that the sticking point was repertoire. What La Cieca does know is that this all happened very suddenly; as of Sunday Millo was discussing the upcoming recital with great anticipation without so much as a hint of a cloud on the horizon. Well, whatever the reason, it's a pity to miss La Millo in a rare New York area recital performance, but we do still have Zaza to look forward to.

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21 August 2005

Aprile's really jumpin' ...

... down at Carnegie Hall. Or will be, on October 14, when the soprano performs a solo recital at the venerated venue. Details are sketchy at the moment, but La Millo is always good for golden-age tone and demeanor. Diva-fanciers should find themselves either run ragged or in heaven that week (depending on the quality of their disco naps), since Carnegie also plays host to Renee Fleming (singing Daphne October 15) and Cecilia Bartoli (an all-baroque chamber music program on the 19th).

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03 August 2005

Sternstunde alert

La Cieca's fingers are trembling as she types these words because she has only just learned that amazing, awesome, authentic Aprile Millo will take on the title role of Leoncavallo's Zaza for New York's Teatro Grattacielo this fall. This latest installment in La Millo's matriculation at the School of Verismo transpires November 12, 2005 at Alice Tully Hall. Glance at the details, but for heaven's sake, buy your tickets now, because this, my dears, is an event. (La Cieca will most assuredly be among Le tout New-York in attendance for the hot diva-as-diva action!)

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24 May 2005

Anne Midgette, opera queen?

"Something happens on the opera stage when Aprile Millo and Marcello Giordani are on it together. It may not be perfect. It may even be a little awkward at times. But it's real singing - at best, wonderful singing. And people want it." That's Anne Midgette in today's New York Times, and she's obviously as "starved" as the rest of us for operatic dementia. (There's also a fun Beth Bergman photo of the "Something Happens" duo accompanying Midgette's article.

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20 May 2005

Yes, it is good to be back

You could say last night at the Met was a typical Aprile Millo performance, if that expression were not essentially an oxymoron. "Typical" and "Millo" really don't intersect in this dimension (maybe somewhere on a spiritual plane? But I digress.) Let's just say that, what happens at a Millo night, happened last night, which is to say:

People you never see at the opera were there. Like me, for example, and I actually went through the whole ritual of buying a single out in the plaza ten minutes before eight. But everybody was there, definitely a gathering-of-the clan sort of event. The fussy queens were there; I'm pretty sure I recognized at least one recent facelift. And the cute queens were there, the same ones who generally show up only for David Daniels. And, oh yes, the industry queens were there too. This was definitely the night to catch up on all the gossip, such as which manager had just thrown a hissy fit over which tenor's tardiness, yelping, "That's why I hate to work with Italian singers!"

The prima donna's entrance cued the audience not only to polite applause but shouts of "brava," and, mind you, before a note was sung. The entrance ovation went on long enough to drown the first "Perche chiuso," and when's the last time that happened? Caballe?

She wore her own dresses, or at least not the dresses that come with the production. For the record, the Act 1 frock was a throwback to the more formal pre-1964 mode, a maroon faille pelisse over rose georgette, though with mini-mantilla instead of the big Hello Dolly hat.

Instead of the Zeffirelli fire-engine red peau de soie for Act 2, Millo opted for a deep garnet silk velvet cut on Empire lines but resolutely unfrilly, practically severe by Tosca standards. Her garniture of diamonds included a tall diadem, and she accessoried with a plain gold silk damask stole and the traditional 16-button white gloves. (These were perhaps a half-size too snug and Millo flutzed a bit getting them stripped off, but she gestured with them effectively later on.)

Millo's acting is a lot more sober these days too; less fluttering in Act 1 and all night long I don't think I saw her beat her breast even once. She's plump, to be sure, but she moves with purpose and a kind of stately quality that looks appropriate on the massively oversized sets. Even when the plastique turns baroque, she believes what she's doing, and after all, Tosca isn't supposed to be a simple village maiden, is she? And if anybody can get away with moaning "mea culpa, mea culpa..." during the candle business, it has to be Millo.

It's always been a glamorous voice. These days the vibrato is looser, particularly in middle voice. I heard one or two queens use the "W" word, but I don''t think I'd go that far. What matters to me is the easy legato and natural sense of how to make the music "go," and for those qualities, Millo is unmatchable among sopranos singing Tosca today. For the record, the climactic notes of "Vissi d'arte" were frankly flat, but the money notes elsewhere, including the several high C's, hit the bullseye.

There was a lot of buzz out front about a cold, and Millo very noticeably waved a handkerchief about during Act 1, even interpolating a couple of coughs that suggested Tosca might be following in poor dear Mimi's footsteps. Then there was a really long wait for Act 2 to start once the audience was in the house, and you know La Cieca was very much dreading that the lights would come up before the curtain for an announcement. But Millo neither canceled nor asked indulgence, and I for one would never have guessed she was anywhere close to under the weather: she sounded just fine.

We all know that Millo likes to take slow phrases very slowly, sometimes to the point that she has to sneak in an additional breath. And so the last thing she needs is a a tentative and passive conductor like Derrick Inouye, who allowed the performance to stagnate like a bad Pelleas. Actually is was worse than that. Imagine Pelleas actually conducting a performance; that's how aimless and inert this show sounded. This guy makes Nello Santi seem positively perky. Let's hope he gets his act together or at least asserts himself a bit before the park performances begin.

You know, it's amazing how incredible Marcello Giordani can sound when he's given a real role to sing instead of all that Pirata/Benvenuto Cellini freaky repertoire. The nerves or allergies or whatever it was that made the Pirata so erratic (though always thrilling!) have been worked out; he's singing like a god these days. The easiest, most brilliant high B on "la vita mi costasse" La Cieca has ever heard; I was honestly surprised that there was no burst of applause after the "Vittoria" in Act 2. (But, then, nobody applauds much of anything any more, not even when Butterfly sees the ship.)

Now, what I just don't get is why the Met falls all over itself finding opportunities for Salvatore Licitra who thus far in New York has given approximately one really good performance (Forza with Collegiate Chorale), but, until now, anyway, keeps Giordani in the High D Ghetto. How about Faust, at least? Or Lucia, even? Or Werther? (We do get both Ernani and Manon Lescaut in 07-08, so that's certainly heading in the right direction. Met, you go on like this.)

Full disclosure here: La Cieca had to leave after the second act, and now she could kick herself for missing what was described as the house coming down after "E lucevan le stelle." But, as she was saying before, at least she's found the will to go back to the opera house; performers like Millo and Giordani are what make it "worth for."

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19 May 2005

Pole dancing

The Met's so-called "Millo Pole" will no doubt tonight be swarming with cognoscenti, or as we like to call them around here, opera queens. Aprile Millo sings her only staged Tosca of the Met's season, and that's reason enough to shlep over to Lincoln Center. (Millo had a big personal success in Ballo last month, and she's scheduled to do the Roman diva in the parks beginning June 14. Sadly, there were not that many occasions that could draw me into the Met (or any other opera house) under my own power this season. Lately, La Cieca's attitude has been sort of "is that all there is?" Oh, well, maybe hearing Millo, followed by some compare-and-contrast, will give me a clearer idea why nothing these days seems to have the old sacro fuoco. (Well, besides this, anyway!) See you at the Pole!

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04 May 2005

Into the 21st century

La Cieca abandons HTML today and shifts to a blog-driven site. She's hoping that the easier interface will mean more frequent and timely updates, but I guess you'll be the judge of that!

A rave review for last night's Ballo at the Met from the hard-to-please Charlie Handelman, in particular Miss Millo and Mr. Giordani tickled his fancy.

Don't worry: the old La Cieca columns will still be online

And now, on this lovely May morning, a moment of nostalgia for that time when
we all were young.

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