31 January 2008

Bess, is you our woman now?

Or, to put it another way, could this soprano be what the Met needs for Roberto Devereux?

While you ponder the future, you can enjoy the past: the final act of Verdi's Macbeth is now on Unnatural Acts of Opera.

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30 January 2008

When Ladies Meet

And now, the solution to the "Sleepwalking Scene" quiz.

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28 January 2008

No Sleep 'Til Sunnyside

Not a whole lot of news on matters operatic in the past couple of days, so La Cieca has decided a competitive quiz is in order. The clip below is the "Sleepwalking Scene" from Verdi's Macbeth divided among 14 sopranos and mezzo-sopranos. All you have to do is name the 14 singers in the correct order. (La Cieca has decided to be merciful this time and omit overly obscure singers. Each singer in this clip is or was internationally famous. However, La Cieca cautions you that not all these singers included Lady Macbeth in their onstage repertoire.)

When you believe you know all 14 voices, send your answer to [email protected]. First correct answer will receive a gift certificate from amazon.com. Should there be no entry with all 14 correct answers by midnight on Tuesday, January 29, La Cieca will choose randomly among the entries with the highest number of correct answers.

In the meantime, please feel free to discuss and make wild guesses in the comments section.

UPDATE: As of Monday evening, La Cieca has not declared a winner. There is a tie for first place with two entries each naming 13 out of 14 correctly. Interestingly, they both mistake the same Lady. For those of you who might want to do a little more intensive study of the Ladies (and La Cieca doesn't mean only the lesbians in the audience!), here's the mp3 to download.

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27 January 2008

Villazón sings again!

La Cieca's dear friend Ed Rosen (doyen of Premiere Opera) sent along a clip from Rolando Villazón's first recital since his return to the stage early this month. According to Ed, "He first sings Massenet's "Ouvre tes yeux," followed by Tosti's "Ideale." Rolando's voice sounds as beautiful as ever! The recital took place in Barcelona on January 13 of this year."

While we're on the subject, do be sure to check out Ed's always fascinating podcast.

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18 January 2008

This is my belief, in brief


That grand old man of music André Previn is writing another opera, following up on the clamorous success of 1998's A Streetcar Named Desire. The commission for Houston Grand Opera is Brief Encounter, based on Noel Coward's one-act play Still Life as well as the screenplay for the eponymous film. (First Tennessee Williams, then Noel Coward ... surely a collaboration with Jean Genet is the next logical step!) Well, anyway, the premiere of Brief Encounter, most likely omitting the above imagery, is set for May of 2009. Too long a wait, you say? Well, in the meantime, sit back and enjoy an excerpt from Previn's one universally recognized masterpiece.

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16 January 2008

Front burner

A legendary Lulu crosses over.

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10 January 2008

Close harmony

La Cieca thanks you all for your patience. And now, at the proper playback speed, the "Cherry Duet" as sung by Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez at their London recital Tuesday night. Iain Burnside is the pianist.

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04 January 2008

A teeny-weeny admonishment to dear Signor Bellini

Noel Coward offers a few observations on the standard operatic repertoire, assisted by Margaret Leighton.


30 December 2007

La parola scenica

At yesterday's matinee Hansel and Gretel at the Met (broadcast and simulcast), a disgruntled audience member expresses his distaste for the "forest" setting, just as Lisette Oropesa makes her entrance as the Dew Fairy. Top marks to Ms. Oropesa not only for singing her solo so enchantingly, but for continuing without a flinch despite the clearly audible shout of "Boo! Change the set!" (At least the fellow didn't yell, "Bravo! Bravo Robert O'Hearn!")

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22 December 2007

Christmas is here, bringing good Cher

02 December 2007

Lady in the dark

Not the clearest sound, but, oh my dear, could those girls ever sing back then!

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15 November 2007

Sorge il tremendo fantasma

10 November 2007

And all he said was "woof"

In a controversial performance (condemned by Stephen Colbert, praised by Andrew Sullivan), bass-bearitone Kurt Rydl grrrrowls the role of Hagen.

Legendary diva Rosa Ponselle was so impressed by this Götterdämmerung that she dedicated an encore song to Herr Rydl.

The (ahem) versatile basso replied with a video tribute to Nancy Sinatra:

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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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20 October 2007


12 September 2007

No answer?

Curiously, the response to La Cieca's challenge to identify the ten "wrong numbers" she reached whilst trying to phone Milton Host has evoked something less than the usual excitement associated with an Unnatural Acts of Opera quiz. As such, your doyenne will make it easy for you by making available an excerpt from the Vestale podcast with just the " riotously funny" bits. So, it's up to you, chers commentateurs: who are all these people?

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31 August 2007

Bella è quell'ira, o vergine!

Wow! Who is this Odabella?

As several of you quick-witted commenters have divined, the mystery Odabella is none other than Eva Marton, who performed in Verdi's Attila in 1972. As you watch this YouTube clip of the entire aria, thrill to la Marton's precocious mastery of diva body language!

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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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23 August 2007

Rose Bampton, 1908-2007

The American dramatic soprano is heard in the final scene of Daphne (R. Strauss) in a performance from Buenos Aires, 1948. Set Svanholm is Apollo; Erich Kleiber conducts.

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04 August 2007

Anna's turn

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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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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23 July 2007

She got through all of last year and she's here

More proof (as if any were needed) that 70 is the new 50: "Viva la Diva: Gala zum 70. Geburtstag von Grace Bumbry." The concert (performed at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival on July 17 of this year) featured the septuagenarian siren in a demanding program of arias and scenes from Aida, Ernani, Les Troyens and the complete third act of Tosca!

La Cieca offers her cher public a pair of Querschnitten from this historic concert:

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12 July 2007

Zum Raum wird hier die Zeitgeist

As a warmup for this evening's Unnatural Acts of Opera podcast of Parsifal (Act 1), a short film by Kopernikus1618 demonstrating what happens when "Andy Warhol meets Richard Wagner."

Speaking of Unnatural Acts, La Cieca is once more setting a precedent by offering an alternative to the current program of Wagner's Rienzi, a live performance from Vienna in 1997. Since the Vienna Rienzi is heavily cut and catches Siegfried Jerusalem on an off night vocally, La Cieca has decided to make available the most nearly complete version of Rienzi available, based on a 1976 radio performance of the work conducted by Edward Downes. These mp3s were encoded by the ineffable Mike Richter for one of his invaluable Audio Encyclopedia CD-ROMs. You can download a .zip file containing the five acts of Rienzi here.

If you like what you hear (and why should you not?), you should note that this complete recording is now available in excellent sound on a 4 CD set released by Ponto, and the whole thing will set you back less than a Jackson.

Oh, and did La Cieca mention the video currently on the Unnatural Acts page, a short film in which five divas offer their "regrets" for their non-attendance at the Met's 1983 Centennial Gala? You will be overjoyed (we hope) to hear that this clip includes the celebrated Renata Scotto X-ray Story!

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09 June 2007

Stella for star

Just a few quick words about the magnificent soprano Antonietta Stella, the "tie-breaker" in our recent quiz. She is perhaps not quite so familiar to some of La Cieca's readers as the more celebrated divas also heard on the track such as Tebaldi and Price. La Cieca will quote her dear colleague Enzo Bordello, who wrote eloquently about this singer in 1998:

". . . her 1957 broadcast performance [of Tosca] with Tucker and Warren is sensational. The voice is confidently produced, with plenty of healthy, glowing tone. She tosses off the role's many high B's and C's like they were child's play....

"The long and the short of the matter is that I simply adore Antonietta Stella. What did she do well, you ask? Well, I would reframe the question this way: what did she NOT do well? Although I never saw Stella in the theater, I can honestly say that few singers have thrilled me as much as she on records and video. At its best, the voice represents the highest standard of Italian lirico-spinto singing. There is a morbidezza in the sound that is ravishing. In addition to producing focused high notes, Stella sang with unforced resonance in the lower register. The legato is melting and her pianiszimo singing ranks with the best of anyone."

Antonietta Stella sings "Vissi d'arte"

Stella on YouTube

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05 June 2007

WINNER! Chi e quella donna bruna lassu?

WE HAVE A WINNER!. The lovely and talented Eric M. was the first to identify all six mystery sopranos correctly at 10:15 AM today, followed closely by Fred at 11:47. Congratulations to Eric and Fred, and thanks ever so to all of you who played! (For the correct answers to the quiz, check the comments thread to this post!)

Our sound clip of Soprano #6 was excerpted from one of her seven performances of Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera.

La Cieca is delighted to announce that the lovely people over at The Second Tosca have offered a pair of complimentary tickets to the show to one of you lovely readers. Here's how it works. Listen to the audio clip below of six divas singing "Vissi d'arte" and identify all six, in the correct order. Email your answers to [email protected].

The first entry with all six sopranos correctly identified in the correct order will win the pair of tix to The Second Tosca for Tuesday evening, June 12. (In the unlikely event that there is no correct answer by midnight, Sunday June 10, La Cieca will award the tickets to the most nearly correct entry; her decision in this is, as in all things, final.) Remember, it's six separate sopranos singing, and your hint is that all six of these divas sang the role of Tosca onstage.


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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27 March 2007

Higher and higher

On the recommendation of tipster La Malipasta, La Cieca presents a snippet or two from a January 14 performance of Meyerbeer's Il crociato in Egitto at the Teatro Fenice. Heard in a duet from the first act of this rarity are two sopranos of differing genders, Michael Maniaci and Patrizia Ciofi.
Part One Ah non ti son piu cara

Part Two Non v'e per noi piu speme

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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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21 February 2007

Do it again


The remarkable OperaChic was in attendance for the prima of La Scala's revival of La fille du Regiment, where Juan Diego Florez encored his first act cabaletta "Pour mon ame." This performance marked the first "bis" of a solo aria at La Scala since 1933. Photos and an account of what must have been a truly dazzling night abound on the Chic's website. And here's what JDF's "bis" sounded like:

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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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05 February 2007

After the ballo

... is over, you can hear a performance of the winning entry in the Madlib challenge, devised and written by the lovely and talented Le Cerf Agile and performed by the Apocryphal Opera Anecdote Theater of the Air Players. The actors have informed La Cieca that they are honored to be performing such top-notch material, and La Cieca has replied "How lovely for you" or words to that effect. Le Cerf and the other four winners should keep an eye on the mailbox for their rewards in the form of historic opera DVDs. Also on the latest episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera, the aforementioned third act of Un ballo in maschera and a wild rant by your doyenne on the subject of the Met's Jenufa.

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31 January 2007

Helmets off, here they come, those Beautiful Girls!

A galaxy of talent sufficient to cast an Arena di Verona production of Sondheim's Follies assembles in the following recording. It's the "Ride of the Valkyries" as sung on February 13, 2003 at a gala performance in Tokyo. Wotan's daughters, in order of appearance: Alessandra Marc (Gerhilde), Eva Marton (Helmwige), Karan Armstrong (Waltraute), Agnes Baltsa (Schwertleite), Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Ortlinde), Gwyneth Jones (doubling Siegrune and Rossweisse) ... and Jochen Kowalski (Grimgerde).

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28 January 2007

Sein Weg

That most versatile of all golden-age divas, Lilli Lehmann, must be looking down from Paradise right now with a peculiarly puzzled expression on her face, for at last she has a rival.

Meet Ingrid Höfer, an artist with a " mission to sing." Mme. Höfer's discography reveals that her range runs the gamut from Traditional folk material through Bach oratorio, Romantic Lieder and even choral music from Wagnerian stage-consecrating-festival-drama.

Along the way, the protean Höfer instrument soars through material more tradionally associated with dramatic soprano, coloratura soprano, and contralto. Die Höfer even takes on the challenge of a form that the mighty Lilli dared not attempt, i.e., the Broadway show tune.

La Höfer points out on her website about these sound clips "Erwähnenswert wäre noch, dass Sie hier die dunkle (nicht tiefe) Vokalfärbung eines dramatischen Sopran und nicht eines lyrischen hören." That is, "It should be noted that you are hearing the dark (not low) vocal timbre of a dramatic soprano, not a lyric." So noted.

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03 January 2007

2007 things to do in the new year

  1. Visit La Cieca's newly spiffed up MySpace page, where you can
  2. Delight in a slideshow of the Many Faces of La Cieca,
  3. Listen to a few of the doyenne's favorite tracks,
  4. Thrill to the latest bizarre opera video,
  5. And, while you're there, become one of La Cieca's friends (as if you aren't all already!)
  6. Meanwhile, you can get ready for the relaunch of Unnatural Acts of Opera this evening at 8:00 p.m., and
  7. Discuss.
Let's see. 2000 more to go. La Cieca will have to get back to you.

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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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14 December 2006

Talking head

Our editor JJ sounds off about the Alagnapalooza on WNYC's "Soundcheck."


Nobel seigneurs, salut!

You've seen the dress. Now you can hear the song!

UPDATE: No, she wasn't drunk, so far as La Cieca knows, and no, the singer is not Joanne Worley, it's our Renaay.


13 December 2006

What it sounded like

22 September 2006


powered by ODEO

The undisputed highlight of this track begins at 02:04.


18 September 2006

pARRRRterre box

Avast ye, cher public! La Cieca salutes International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) with music from The Pirates of Penzance and Maria Stuarda. (Don't worry, that makes more sense than you would think.)

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04 September 2006

Astrid Varnay 1918 - 2006

The celebrated dramatic soprano Astrid Varnay died earlier today in Munich. She was 88 years old.

A few highlights from her 55 year career can be heard in this podcast. Included are scenes from Die Walkure, Tannhauser, Elektra, Der Fliegende Hollander, Der Rosenkavalier, Parsifal, Siegfried, and Tristan und Isolde.

powered by ODEO
UPDATE: one of the few available video clips of Varnay in live performance, from a 1971 telecast of Jenufa:

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19 August 2006

parterre 2.0

In her never-ceasing quest for greater convenience and maximum gadget-intensivity, La Cieca has updated the user interface for her podcasts. Now she can insert one podcast directly into the homepage like so . . .

powered by ODEO

All you need do is click on the "play" button and crank up your speakers. (This is the most recent podcast, by the way, the third act of Mercadante's Il Bravo, which includes a few bits of news plus a return of the wildly popular quiz "The Enigmas of La Cieca.") The most recent dozen or so podcasts can be accessed, as always, from the Unnatural Acts of Opera page. And do note that the Unnatural Acts of Opera Archive contains the whole first year of La Cieca's little shows.

Another new shiny object is the updated player on the Podderdammerung page -- now you can listen to the entirety of Der Ring des Nibelungen from a single page here on parterre.com. Podderdammerung.

Another exciting new feature, coming very soon, is discussed in the current podcast.

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15 July 2006

Nagasaki trainwreck

This is what makes conductors wake up screaming. From a performance of Madama Butterfly, Philadelphia, February 1967, with Montserrat Caballe in the title role, and Richard Karp doing what he can to keep things together in the pit. The trainwreck.

(La Cieca likes to think of this excerpt as the "Berio Completion" of Butterfly.)


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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22 June 2006

Cruda sorte

By now, cher public, you have all heard about the Skandal in Vienna: Olga Borodina was sacked from L'italiana in Algeri (or did she walk out?) because, well, there were a variety of reasons proffered. Short version, though, is that the Staatsoper press office announced "All contracts between Olga Borodina and the Vienna State Opera have been dissolved by mutual agreement." (Those "contracts" included a new Boris Godunov production.) A gallant Agnes Baltsa substituted on short notice. La Cieca would say that Baltsa "jumped in," but, since the veteran diva was announced as having an injured leg, perhaps that phrase would be in poor taste. So, anyway, here are the announcement and Baltsa's first aria, as recorded from the house.

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30 May 2006

One from the vault

Since this week's Unnatural Acts of Opera podcasts feature a classic live recording of Bizet's Carmen, La Cieca thought it might be fun to remember the legendary chanteuse Leona Anderson with a clip of her performance of the Habanera. La Anderson, who was once described as "the missing link between Florence Foster Jenkins and Mrs. Miller" is perhaps best remembered from TV's Ernie Kovacs Show, where she shared warbling duties with Edie Adams and Yma Sumac. Both the Bizet selection and this encore are excerpts from Anderson's 1957 LP Music to Suffer By.


25 May 2006

Puccini, still unknown

La Cieca doesn't want to get all pedantic here, but she does want to point out that the phrase Mirella Freni sang at the end of her rambling monologue at the Volpe gala was not from Act 3 of La boheme. Or rather, the musical phrase reappears in the opera, but the version Freni sang was obviously meant as the tag of her scheduled encore, "Sole e amore." This number is a parlor song written by Puccini in 1888, and he recycled the main melody later for "Addio dolce svegaliare." "Sole e amore" is one of the songs that Michael Kaye collected and edited back in around 1990 for a book called The Unknown Puccini. The last phrases of the song are set to the words, "Al Paganini -- G. Puccini." It's a whimsical touch, to set the signature of the song, and apparently Freni's version of "Sole e amore" was meant to end with a dedication to the retiring General Manager, "To Joe Volpe, from Mirella."

From the tenorissimo.com site, here's a clip of Placido Domingo singing the song.

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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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17 April 2006

Off with her head tones!

Enrico Stinchelli and Michele Suozzo, the hosts of La barcaccia, are not amused by Edita Gruberova's improvements on Donizetti's score for Anna Bolena. (They call her "Anna Mi Bemollena," or "Anna E-flat-ena.")


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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24 January 2006

More about Steve

Stephen Costello is ear-candy too: here he is singing "Torna ai felici di" from Puccini's Le villi. Care to hear him sing the whole opera? Then tune in on Sunday, January 29 to a webcast from wrti.org featuring The Academy of Vocal Arts' production of Le villi as the second half of a double bill. The curtain-raiser, La Navarraise, will begin at 3:00 p.m., with the Puccini starting, oh, sort of 4:15-ish.

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20 January 2006

The Inner Bark

"Her quirky personality shines through once she gets to know you . . . . In the home, she is very sweet and quite affectionate, however she is not clingy or needy for your undivided attention at all times . . . . She's not a hyper or noisy girl, but she has a wealth of energy and stamina and she loves to go for long walks in the park . . . . All she needs now is someone to whom she can give all that love and devotion. All she wants is someone to love her and spend time with her." Oh, and her singing voice "could rival Renee Fleming," which is pretty impressive, since this bitch seems to have it all over Renaay in the personality department.

Update: on the other hand, maybe I'm misreading this. What if the dog sounds like this?

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19 January 2006

Too much is not enough

La Cieca is both delighted and heartbroken to announce that, on the occasion of Madame Vera Galupe-Borszkh's twentieth Annual Farewell Recital, the celebrated "Traumatic Soprano" will, at long last, take the "F" word literally. Madame Vera will say "addio senza rancor" to New York once and for all when she returns to the Thalia Theatre at Symphony Space for three recitals, March 22nd, 24th, and 25th, 2006 at 8 P.M. In what is billed as "La Gran Scena’s only New York appearance this season," dear Vera will take center stage with her accustomed “monster concert” program of demanding arias and songs, taking the occasional breather to share selections from her trove of Diva Anecdotes. This year Madame "sinks" arias from La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein, Manon Lescaut, Il trovatore, La Gioconda, and Mefistofele, as well as chansons by Poulenc and Oscar Straus, lieder by Richard Strauss and Schubert, a traditional Mandarin folk song, a Negro spiritual, and a contemporary art song. The “First Lady of Operatic Theatre”(New York) will collaborate with Maestro Sergio Zawa (aka Met assistant conductor Lucy Arner) in a production conceived, written and performed by the indefatigable Ira Siff. Mme. Galupe-Borszkh's jewels are by Larry Vrba. The trio of performances will transpire at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia (Peter Norton Symphony Space), Broadway at West 95th Street. Tickets (a laughably inexpensive $32.oo) may be obtained at the box office (212) 864-5400; major credit cards are accepted. For further information, do contact Mr. Siff at (212) 460-9124, or at [email protected].

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12 January 2006

Remembering Birgit Nilsson

Join La Cieca in a special edition of "Unnatural Acts of Opera," recalling some great moments from magnificent Birgit Nilsson.

Part 1 includes selections from Die Walkuere, Lohengrin (with Astrid Varnay), Siegfried (with Hans Hopf), Goetterdaemmerung and Parsifal (with Helge Brilioth), plus "I Could Have Danced All Night."

In Part 2, Nilsson is heard in Tannhaeuser, Salome (with Fritz Uhl and Grace Hoffman). "Traeume," Tristan und Isolde (with Christa Ludwig) and Turandot (with Franco Corelli). A live 1973 performance of the "Liebestod" closes the program.


08 January 2006

Queen Lear

La Cieca wishes a very happy 80th birthday to Evelyn Lear, heard recently on Unnatural Acts of Opera singing "The Boy from Ipanema." Another sample of her vast range of artistry can be found here, in her performance of the Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin at the San Francisco Opera in October 1971.

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06 December 2005

High Noon: the Gala and Quiz!

Here it is, cher public: the Unnatural Acts Gala and Quiz. To listen, just click on the arrow button. (Make sure your speaker volume is turned up, and allow 10 - 15 seconds for the show to start playing.)

Listen to the Gala and Quiz!

You can also download the mp3 at this direct link. When you know the answers to the three questions, send them to [email protected]. For more details on the gala and quiz, see the posting below.

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09 November 2005

The Carol Neblett Memorial Prize

Rolando Villazon says he's willing to do nudity, but only if it's called for in the story of the opera. Might La Cieca hope that such a plot-driven rationale be found to get budding hunkentenor Stephen Costello to strip off during OONY's Guglielmo Tell this Sunday? Well, perhaps not. But (so La Cieca heard at the recent Liciathon) Costello sounds perfectly spectacular even when fully clothed, and surely, nudity or no nudity, will be a standout in the cameo role of the Fisherman. So La Cieca is willing to compromise: how about jeans and a ripped wifebeater? All right, with wading boots, that's something a fisherman might wear. . .

UPDATE: He talks, too!

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Patty meltdown

La Cieca works from time to time with (as dear Zinka would say) "young sinkers," i.e., aspiring operatic talent. The harsh truth is that the average young artist has about as much chance of winning King Kong Millions as she (the group is overwhelmingly female) does of building a major career. With such an insane level of competition, even getting an audition is considered a coup. In order to improve their chances, singers network obsessively, tweak headshots and repertoire lists, and even attend (expensive) workshops on how to "position" themselves in the market. Once in a while, an artist comes along who defies all the rules, skewers the sacred cows, and laughs in the face of common sense about how to behave with a potential employer. Such an artist is "Patty." According to La Cieca's source, the following sound clip is "a real message left by a real auditionee on the voicemail of the director of a real opera company in the midwest." Here's Patty.


30 September 2005

Nothing Sacred

You know, it's one thing to flounce around dusting the floor of a church with your silken train, the meantime flaunting your bosom to the Blessed Virgin, but it's another thing altogether to take a heartfelt hymn like "Amazing Grace" and transform it into cheap soundtrack music. Can't someone stop this woman?

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10 July 2005

A good podcast is worth repeating

San Francisco Opera, as always right on the crest of the wave, introduced its own podcast over the weekend. Pamela Rosenberg and Donald Runnicles yak about the 2005-06 season, which will include the premiere of the new John Adams piece "Dr. Atomic," and some musical highlights of the rest of the repertoire are included too. San Francisco Opera 2005-06 Season Preview.

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19 June 2005

Femmes Fatales

Debuting today on Il Gran Teatro della Cieca, "Femmes Fatales," a program featuring deadly divas. Featured are complete and demented performances of L'incoronazione di Poppea, Macbeth, Samson et Dalila, Jenufa and Turandot.

The lethal lovelies in question are Anna Caterina Antonacci, Shirley Verrett, Oralia Dominguez, Anja Silja and Montserrat Caballe; victims and co-conspirators include David Daniels, Kurt Moll, Piero Cappuccilli, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Jon Vickers, Ernest Blanc, Karita Mattila, Jerry Hadley, Luciano Pavarotti, Leona Mitchell and Giorgio Tozzi.

Il Gran Teatro della Cieca

The very quick turnaround on this show can be credited to two amazing pieces of shareware, MP3 Surgeon (for direct editing of MP3s without decoding to wav, and, consequently, no degradation of sound through re-encoding) and Audiograbber, the fastest ripper La Cieca has ever seen, and, girls, would you believe it's free?

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16 June 2005

Mari Lyn on DVD at last!

Mean, moody, magnificent Mari Lyn has finally (if posthumously) made her debut on DVD, thanks to the equally (if not more so) magnificent Donald Collup. Mme. Lyn, variously called "Hogcolleratura" and "La Traviyenta," regaled the public access airwaves in the mid-1980s with a series called "The Golden Treasury of Song," featuring the blond-bewigged "singing hostess" warbling her way through everything from "Casta diva" to "Ma Curly-Headed Baby." Donald has anthologized La Lyn's greatest moments (and worst quarters of an hour) into three DVDs that La Cieca is certain are destined to give this and future generations hours upon hours of delight. An audio clip of Mme. Lyn reading the letter from La traviata is one of the all-time favorite downloads from parterre.com, but, believe me, Mari Lyn is an artist who needs to be seen to be appreciated in her complete fulsomeness. La Cieca urges, entreats, and cajoles you go go immediately to Donald's website to order these glorious documents of "the art of mal canto."

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11 June 2005

Vera to the rescue

Even as La Cieca writes this, the evergreen Vera Galupe-Borszkh is preparing to go onstage for her first-ever Duchesse de Krakenthorp in Michigan Opera Theater's Fille du Regiment. As La Cieca understands it (reports are somewhat sketchy thus far), La Dementia is graciously jumping in at short notice for Shirley Verrett, who has sung(?) the Duchesse in earlier performances of the Donizetti tuner. More on this momentous story as it develops.

Update (June 12): In fact, Mme. Galupe-Borszkh performed the entire run of Fille, though curiously Verrett's name is still listed on MOT's website. Final performance is today's matinee. No word whether Vera interpolates Gran Scena's celebrated "Motown Medley" in honor of the venue. Anachronistic? Perhaps. But of what relevance is time to a diva whose art is timeless? As, for example, her classic reading of "Les chemins de l'amour."

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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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22 February 2005

Jazzed up

In response to a very official-looking email from the Business and Legal Affairs department of the Universal Music Group, La Cieca reluctantly must now reveal that the mp3 she mischievously identified as "a track from Renee Fleming's new jazz album" is in fact nothing of the kind. The clip was meant as a travesty of Fleming's attempts at jazz. Believe me, it was the farthest thing from my mind that anyone who reads La Cieca could have such a tin ear as to think the breathy cooing on this clip could possibly have anything to do with "The Beautiful Voice." To recap: for the irony-impaired among you, this clip is not the real Renee Fleming.

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