02 January 2008

Spring wind-up

Another poll, this time asking which events are the absolute must-sees here in New York this spring. Please note that on this poll you can choose more than one "must-see," which is a good thing, because everything looks most tempting!

Labels: , , ,

28 December 2007

Forced to bend her soul to a sordid role

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

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

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

Labels: , , ,

22 December 2007

Ecco il Sidestep

The saga of the peripatetic New York City Opera continues. According to a story in today's New York Times (another Saturday newsdump! Well, at least someone has figured out how the media works here in the city!) Anyway, according to this NYT story, Gérard Mortier is kicking around a few ideas for keeping the NYCO brand from vanishing from the public consciousness during the company's "hiatus" awaiting the reconstruction of the New York State Theater (and, not so incidentally, the official beginning of his regime in the fall of 2009). The company is looking at "probably" four productions in various venues, including "possibly" Carnegie Hall, the Beacon Theater and "other Lincoln Center halls." Oh, and don't rule out the Apollo Theater or the Hammerstein Ballroom, either. (To tell the truth, at this point La Cieca wouldn't be surprised if she heard "Yankee Stadium" or "Splash.")

Well, let's table the venue discussion for a moment and move on to repertoire. Just what sort of operas might we expect in this transitional year? Of course, nothing's set in stone yet. Well, maybe that's an understatement. It appears, in fact, that nothing's even scribbled on a Post-it at the moment. In the Times interview, Mortier coyly suggests Mefistofele "because of its association with the house in performances by the bass Samuel Ramey."

Or, on the other hand, what about Rienzi -- assuming, of course, that one could count on "finding strong enough singers." Hey, what about a children's opera for the holidays, that might work, and, just to mix things up a bit, "a major American opera." But here's something you put in the bank: the repertory "must be great things," says Mortier.

Susan L. Baker, City Opera’s chairwoman reassures us that there will be some kind of announcement about next season in January. Or, failing that, February. Count on it.

Labels: , ,

15 December 2007


La Cieca has obtained exclusive video footage of a presentation by Susan L. Baker, chairwoman of the New York City Opera, announcing plans for the company's 2008-2009 "season."

NYCO's announcement, dumped into the scarcely-read Saturday Times, would seem to indicate that our speculation of the past couple of weeks was, in fact, accurate.

Labels: , , , ,

06 December 2007

Dark year for NYCO?

UPDATE: La Cieca has just heard that the "dark season" is not a done deal just yet. The NYCO board meets next week to make that decision. (Given how late in the game this is, most likely the "decision" will be no more than a formality. But La Cieca will keep her ear to the ground, not to mention her shoulder to the wheel and her nose to the grindstone. She also intends to free her mind with the intention that her ass should follow.)

La Cieca has been hearing whispers and grumblings from here and there for a couple of months now, so maybe it's time to go out on a limb and predict that the New York City Opera will take a season-long hiatus in 2008-09. Yes, that's right, no season at all, not until the opening of Gérard Mortier's first year of direction in the fall of 2009.

The primary reason driving La Cieca's gloomy prediction is the lack of any sense of what the repertoire or casting would be for 2008-09, even as 2007 draws to a close. NYCO, like other opera companies, has a fairly long lead time in planning upcoming seasons. Their practice in recent years has been to lock in repertoire and casting more than a year before the beginning of a given season.

For example, it was fairly common knowledge by the summer of 2006 that the current NYCO season would include Vanessa, Cendrillion, King Arthur and so forth; major casting was already set by then as well. Repertoire choices for Mortier's first season leaked several months ago: 2009-10 will feature The Rake's Progress, Einstein on the Beach, Nixon in China, Věc Makropulos, Pelléas et Mélisande, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Saint François d'Assise and Death in Venice.

No such details have surfaced about plans for 2008-09; in fact, an informant tells La Cieca that ever since early last summer "managers have been attempting to nail down the schedule and engagements for their artists, but have been met with stone cold silence from the [NYCO] administration."

This same source continues with a little speculation that your doyenne must say she finds reasonable enough:
The official reason given [for the cancellation of the 2008-09 season] will be that Mortier wants to freshen up and fix the hall in conjunction with NYCB (and they certainly will take the time given to do some work on the State Theater, remove the sound system, etc.) but the real reason was he was so patently appalled by every performance he saw this year and last that he wants a literal fresh start for the entire company, and wants no attachment whatsoever to the past artistic administration.

Labels: , , , , ,

15 November 2007

JJ and the City

"Soprano Lauren Flanigan turned her vaunted acting skills to the task of portraying the sophisticated allure of Vanessa, hampered more than a little by a stiff auburn wig and dowdy costumes that left her looking like Nellie Oleson's mother. Happily, on November 8, Flanigan was in superb voice, sailing fearlessly up to fiery high B's and C's and plunging into a well-projected chest register." Our Own JJ reviews NYCO's Vanessa and Cendrillion for Gay City News.

Please do try to forgive the weird é characters that somehow crept into the text; the editors at GCN are working on transforming them back into their original e aigu (é) state.

Labels: , , , , ,

14 November 2007

Utter a word

Create a caption for this photo:

Carol Rosegg/New York City Opera

Labels: ,

13 October 2007

The season begins. Finally.

"The Metropolitan Opera's opening week offered two super-starry nights that more than offset a misfired new production across the plaza at the New York City Opera." After some rather frustrating technical delays, our JJ's reviews of the Met's Roméo and Lucia, plus the NYCO's Cav/Pag, are at last online at Gay City News. (Perhaps at this point they can be read for historical significance, if nothing else.)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

21 September 2007

Oh! che volo d'augelli

La Cieca's little bird sang true: yesterday it was announced that James Robinson will be the new Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Moving on to another story that you heard first from your doyenne, ze bad-boy of ze opéra Gérard Mortier spilled his plans for his first NYCO season yesterday. In 2009-2010 he will offer Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach and John Adams's Nixon in China. Ian Bostridge will slouch into town to headline a production of Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice.

Also in 2009-2010, the Park Avenue Armory and Drill Hall will serve as venue for Messiaen's St. Francis of Assisi. Future commissions include a new Glass opera, plus a work from Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock. A full account of Mortier's press conference may be found at The New York Sun.

Meanwhile, the intendant's latest effort in Paris, a new production of Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, was not, as they say, taken in with pleasure. The headline for the Musical America review reads "Another Mortier Disaster at the Bastille."

UPDATE: La Cieca just changed the headline for this article (from "Charmant oiseau") to reflect the fact that yet another birdie has opened her little beak, spilling more details of the first year of Mortierie. Further twentieth-century works on the schedule include Vec Makropoulos, Pelléas et Mélisande, and Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, the last of which will be performed by alternating casts at City Center. (Hmm, did someone say Patti LuPone?)

Labels: , , ,

08 September 2007

Photo finish at Lincoln Center

The results of the "Must See" poll are in, and La Cieca is declaring it too close to call and therefore a tie: Vanessa at the New York City Opera and Lucia di Lammermoor at the Met are now officially the hottest tickets of the fall 2007 season. The complete results of the utterly unscientific poll:

Which opera event in New York this fall is the most promising?
Vanessa (NYCO) 24% 214
Lucia di Lammermoor (Met) 24% 213
Agrippina revival (NYCO) 12% 107
Iphigenie en Tauride (Met) 12% 106
Macbeth (Met) 9% 82
I due Foscari (OONY) 6% 51
Margaret Garner (NYCO) 4% 37
Romeo et Juliette revival (Met) 4% 32
Madama Butterfly revival (Met) 3% 28
L’oracolo/L’incantesimo (Teatro Grattacielo) 2% 15
total votes: 885

Labels: , ,

04 September 2007

On the cheap

Those of the cher public who want to attend opera on the cheap or who just want to get a jump on the season should check out New York City Opera's Opera for All program. The NYCO is offering three performances this week with all tickets priced at $25: a gala concert on September 6, La boheme on the 7th and Don Giovanni on the 8th. The outreach effort continues during the rest of the season when the NYCO plans to offer "50 or more" orchestra seats to each performance at the $25 price.

Labels: ,

30 May 2007

UPDATED! Start the coronation without me

La Cieca hears that Ruth Ann Swenson has withdrawn from her autumn performances of Agrippina at the New York City Opera.

This just in... "replacing" Swenson will be none other than the legendary Nelly Miricioiu! The Romanian diva assoluta is seen here in a 2003 performance of Anna Bolena.

Labels: , ,

18 April 2007

Kitty Carlisle Hart, 1910-2007

Actress, singer, arts advocate, socialite, TV personality (and New Orleans native) Kitty Carlisle Hart has died at the age of 96. La Carlisle made her Broadway debut in 1933 in the musical Champagne Sec (a version of Die Fledermaus), then went to Hollywood for a brief stay highlighted by her turn as "Rosa Castaldi" in A Night at the Opera. (To die-hard opera queens, no performance of the "Miserere" from Il trovatore is complete without the interpolation of "the Kitty Carlisle high C.") In 1948 the mezzo-soprano starred in the New York premiere of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia; later she appeared on the "Straw Hat Circuit" in Carmen and The Merry Widow as well as classic American musicals. On New Year's Eve 1966, Ms. Hart made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Prince Orlovsky in Fledermaus, a role she reprised for the company's Parks performances in 1973, and again in 1980 at the New York City Opera for Beverly Sills' farewell gala.

A more detailed obituary may be found at broadwayworld.com.

Here's Kitty Carlisle Hart in a scene from A Night at the Opera, with Allan Jones (and, of course, the Marx Brothers!)

Labels: , , , ,

26 March 2007

You are dead, you know

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

Labels: , , , , ,

24 March 2007


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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 March 2007

Mary Dunleavy joins in the fun

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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11 March 2007

Tech talk

Here are more details on the panel discussion "On Opera and Technology," to be held at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue (between 116th and 118th Streets) on March 23. The exact location is the teatro of the Academy (2nd floor,) from 7.30-9.30pm, and the participants, besides our own JJ, will include Lucy Shelton, soprano; Elena Park, Editorial and Creative Content, The Metropolitan Opera; Beth Greenberg, stage director, New York City Opera; Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and writer; and Anne Midgette, critic, The New York Times.

Labels: , , , ,

06 March 2007

The good news about Mortier

Well, let's say the first bit of good news associated with the Mortier appointment. La Cieca is talking about how NYCO is no longer pursuing its bratty, entitled "I SAID I want a BRAND NEW opera house or I'll THROW all my BOWTIES on the FLOOR" attitude of the past decade or so. La Cieca frankly grew weary and then bored and finally indifferent as to what was going on "across the Plaza" because the NYCO slowly ceased to be about opera as they became so utterly fascinated by real estate.

Now, La Cieca will be one of the first to jump on the bandwagon when, as, and if NYCO starts producing such interesting must-see opera that they (as it were) earn a new theater. But it's going to take a major force of will on the part of Mortier and the board to pull the company up even to "pretty good" standards over the first few years following 2009.

Labels: ,

02 March 2007

Sky scheduled to fall in 2009

It's still two years before the dreaded Mortier monster is due to descend upon the city, but right-wing thinktankstress and Giuliani enabler Heather Mac Donaldisn't wasting any time getting the hyperbole rolling. From The City Journal ("the best magazine in America" -- Peggy Noonan), a sample of Mac Donald's heady prose:
While Belgian-born Mortier’s fellow students were trashing universities and other sites of the “establishment” across Europe in 1968, Mortier was disrupting opera productions he considered too conservative, according to a New York Times magazine profile. Now he sits atop the world he once sought to overturn, exploring, as he puts it, “socio-political associations” in opera. Mortier is the musical equivalent of the academic tenured radical—Roger Kimball’s famous phrase for 1960s campus protesters who now run universities.
H-Mac goes on to invoke the usual gang of boogeymen: Peter Sellars, Calixto Bieito, Pamela Rosenberg ... you know, the hate-music leftist crowd. The point that none of these three has the slightest influence in American music or theater at the moment seems to escape Ms. Mac Donald. But, after all, logic has so little place in scare tactics, does it?

Labels: , , ,

28 February 2007

Avant garde

La Cieca hears that incoming NYCO intendant Gérard Mortier is wasting no time in putting his stamp on the company, even though his tenure is not due to begin until 2009. La Cieca's source whispers that Mortier is sending Kevin Murphy (currently head of the music staff at Paris) to New York to replace the City Opera's "entrenched" John Beeson. Kevin Murphy is the husband of Heidi Grant Murphy, who perhaps not coincidentally has been singing a lot in Paris lately, where reportedly she has met with something less than universal acclaim.

Labels: , ,


First Opera Professional: Mortier will be a disaster at NYCO! He has the worst taste in singers of anyone in the business!

Second Opera Professional: Oh, then he must have done the casting for for their 2007-08 season.

Labels: ,

27 February 2007

The dotted line has been signed

The New York Times reports that Gérard Mortier will become general manager and artistic director of the New York City Opera in 2009. Of course, you already knew that, didn't you?

Labels: , ,

To infinity, and beyond!

The delectable details of the 2007-2008 season at the Metropolitan (discussed this morning in a press conference with Peter Gelb, James Levine and representatives of the new season's production teams) may be found on the Met's web site. Our publisher JJ was there in the flesh, and he forwards his impressions:

The biggest news this morning was something unspoken. Instead, it was Levine's body language, which (in contrast to previous years) suggested he is both comfortable and secure working with Gelb. Levine stayed for the entire press conference and was particularly attentive when Phillip Glass was speaking.

The press conference was as carefully staged as a Met performance. In fact, a lot more carefully than Simon Boccanegra. The meeting began at exactly seven minutes after 11 a.m.

Mr. Gelb reflected on the successes of the current season, which include:

  • An increased audience for the HD simulcasts, now up to 250 screens for Eugene Onegin
  • The box office (though "not necessarily a thermometer") is running nine percentage points higher than this point last season
  • This season so far 61 performances have sold out, in contrast to 20 sellouts for the entire 2006-2006 season
  • Eight HD presentations are booked for next year
  • Opening night 2007 (new production of Lucia di Lammermoor) will be simulcast in the plaza, and the Met is in negotiations with NYC to show it in Times Square as well.
James Levine chimed in that what he finds "even more exciting" than the many innovations this year is that he sees a strong sense of follow-through. It is one thing to get new audiences into the theater the first time, but to sustain that audience you must offer them quality. He adds that he is pleased with how Gelb works with him on a day-to-day basis on solving problems. Levine will conduct the new productions of Lucia and Macbeth next season, plus revivals of Manon Lescaut and Tristan und Isolde, as well as the Met Orchestra's Carnegie Hall series.

Tweaks to next season include revival of the Anthony Minghella Butterfly with Patricia Racette and Roberto Alagna, Barbiere and (as reported by La Cieca a while ago) The First Emperor.

Mary Zimmerman (funny, unpretentious and smart) talked about her production of Lucia. Scene changes in this staging will be done "a vista."

Glass and associate director and designer Julian Crouch introduced Satyagraha. The composer stressed the political and social content of the work, and Crouch talked about how the set materials of corrugated iron and newspaper were suggested by the themes of the opera.

Stephen Wadsworth waxed un peu teachy-teachy on the subject of Iphigénie en Tauride ("Gluck was an ethnic Czech, did you know that?"), but, as Dawn Fatale pointed out, at least the set does not include a built-in shower. The edition of the score will be based on Gluck's Vienna revision, in which Oreste is a tenor, presumably in order to facilitate the participation of Placido Domingo.

The other producers appeared on video. The most buzzworthy statement from this segment was from Adrian Noble, who says the design of his Macbeth is suggested by photographs by Diane Arbus.

The cutest stage director of the whole group was Laurent Pelly (La Fille du Régiment), with Crouch and Richard Jones (Hansel and Gretel) tied for second.

Zoe Caldwell will the the Duchesse de Krakenthorp.

In response to reporters' questions, Gelb said that the Met has negotiated rights to release all its archival performances on CD, DVD, download on demand and "media not yet invented." Anne Midgette asked if there were updates on new commissions by the Met, but Gelb declined to comment, saying that the Met would have a statement later this season.

And then, finger sandwiches and coffee on the Bass Grand Tier, where yet another of parterre.com's web of reliable sources noted that the Gérard Mortier/NYCO deal is all but signed on the dotted line.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

21 February 2007

Huis clos

Now who, of all people, do you think spent all day today in a hush-hush meeting with George Manahan over at the New York City Opera? (Do you remember the New York City Opera? It's that other company in Lincoln Center, the one people used to pay a lot of attention to before Peter Gelb took over the Met.) But back to the subject at hand. Manahan's all-day tête-à-tête partner was Gérard Mortier, so La Cieca hears. And so La Cieca repeats, though for the life of her she can't figure out what this is all about. Unless it's the sharing of lousy Francesca Zambello productions between now and 2009, when Mortier departs the Paris Opéra. Or might it have something to do with the years following 2009?

Labels: , ,

04 October 2006

Oh, the pain, the pain!

It looks like La Cieca spoke too soon. Dr. Jonathan Miller's 2004 announcement of his farewell to opera direction has turned out to be, like so much the good doctor says, a load of bullshit.

"England is obsessed with the cutting edge, the new thing, and if you're as old as I am, you're assumed to be dead - and actually made to be dead in the end. It's too late for people to ask me. If they asked me now, it would be three or four years ahead. I'll be 74 then and I won't want to be sitting in hotel rooms, getting on aeroplanes, getting visas and putting my finger on to immigration officers' testing boards," Miller whinged in an interview with the Guardian Unlimited back then, adding that he would devote his declining years to the fabrication of metal sculpture.

But instead of turning junk into art, Miller has resumed directing opera, where he turns art into junk. Not that he enjoys the experience. Just now he's blubbering to the New York Sun about how horribly the world treats him, a poor pathetic old man who is simply trying to eke out a living in a profession he's been badmouthing nonstop for the past few decades: ""I wonder whether it is worth it any more . . . . I even have to pay my own hotel. It took three hours to get the papers I need to work here. And another seven hours flying here. And what do I get in return? The New York Times."

Miller, you see, is miffed that the Times didn't see fit to print a review of his production of Jenufa at last summer's Glimmerglass Opera. Apparently it's quite important to Miller that critics, whom he has called "parasitic invertebrates," "midgets talking into a loudspeaker," and "tsetse flies," should shower him with attention.

But critics are hardly Dr. Miller's only nemeses. In the course of 1300 words, he lashes out at Lillian Groag, Phyllida Lloyd, Nicholas Hynter, Cecilia Bartoli, James Levine, Peter Jonas and, especially, Anthony Minghella (whose Madama Butterfly, Miller snipes, "was like receiving a maple syrup enema.") Miller then whets the appetite of audiences for his NYCO production of The Elixir of Love by calling Gaetano Donizetti a "talented typist."

La Cieca predicts that Miller's next career move will be a return to his chosen field of neuropsychology, where he will make history as the first ever self-diagnosed case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Labels: ,

21 September 2006

Auspicious flashes

photo: Carol RoseggAccording to our editor JJ, the current NYCO production of Semele "provided a luxe vehicle for the talents of soprano Elizabeth Futral as the mortal princess Semele who becomes the mistress of Jove. Futral is gorgeous enough to tempt the king of the gods, feminine and curvaceous, and she has the personality and wit to put over her director’s concept of Semele as a superstar sex kitten." Gay City News.

"The first thing you need to know is that Carol Vaness bears the most uncanny resemblance, in terms of the placement of her speaking voice and her speech cadences, to Shelly Long in the role of Diane Chambers on Cheers. I mean, that's pretty important, right? Also, she seems high." Maury D'Annato turns his gimlet eye to the Tuesday night's NYCO gala.

Labels: , , ,

05 July 2006

Waft her, angels

The fascinating and unconventional artist Lorraine Hunt Lieberson died yesterday at her home in Santa Fe. We in New York heard her only infrequently in opera, most recently in Serse and La clemenza di Tito at the NYCO and Les Troyens at the Met. She was scheduled to sing Orfeo in a new production of Gluck's opera at the Met next spring; no word yet on the Met's website who might now be cast in these performances. In tribute to Ms. Hunt Lieberson, we will hear the mezzo-soprano in music from Handel's Theodora tonight preceding the regular program on "Unnatural Acts of Opera."

Labels: ,

30 April 2006

I could go on singing 'til the cows come home

La Cieca has just learned the scheduled roster and repertoire for the Volpe Farewell Gala to be performed on Saturday, May 20 (and, if all this music stays in the show, part of May 21 as well.) Deborah Voigt will open the program with special material by Ben Moore, accompanied by Brian Zeger. The first of the James Levine stand-ins, Valery Gergiev, will then conduct selections from Ruslan and Ludmilla and Tannhaeuser. (Further baton duties for the evening are shared among Marco Armiliato, James Conlon, Plácido Domingo, Peter Schneider and Patrick Summers.)

The first operatic solo of the evening ("La speranza" from Semiramide) goes to Juan Diego Florez. Further highlights of the first half include a duet from L'italiana in Algeri (Ildar Abdrazakov, Olga Borodina), "O mio babbino caro" (Ruth Anne Swenson), "Una furtiva lagrima" (Ramon Vargas), "Ah non credea mirarti" (Natalie Dessay), the Count's aria from Figaro (Dwayne Croft), "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" (Denyce Graves), "Tacea la notte" (Renee Fleming [!]), "Je vais mourir" from Les Troyens (Waltraud Meier), the Prize Song (Ben Heppner), and Marietta's Lied (Kiri te Kanawa[!!]).

Frederica von Stade, Salvatore Licitra and Domingo (who sings, too!) will also perform a few songs in this segment, and after a "gala film" is shown, la Voigt will return to perform "Pace, pace."

Susan Graham is first on after intermission with another Moore ditty, followed by Stephanie Blythe ("Ah, que j’aimes les militaires"), Thomas Hampson (Pierrot's song from Die Tote Stadt), Samuel Ramey (Mephisto's serenade from Faust), Dimitri Hvorostovsky and Rene Pape in arias from Don Carlo, and the double-barrelled mezzo excitement of Dolora Zajick's "O mon Fernand" and Ms. Meier's Easter Hymn from Cavalleria.

Two numbers from Così fan tutte follow: "Ah guarda sorella" with Mmes. von Stade and te Kanawa, and "Soave sia il vento" with Fleming, Graham and Hampson. The baritone returns with Karita Mattila for selections from The Merry Widow, and then the audience will take a well-deserved bathroom break while the Met Ballet performs a jolly polka. (UPDATE: further clues suggest that this number will accompany an "open" scene change, so the audience will finally learn the meaning of all that yelling and banging that goes on while we sit in semidarkness for ten minutes at a stretch. It's important that we see this now, because that spoilsport Peter Gelb has vowed to use some sort of voodoo "technology" to facilitate instantaneous scene changes, the way they do on Broadway, at the NYCO, in every European opera house, and, well, basically everywhere in the universe besides the Met.)

James Morris will then lead the Gods into Valhalla, and Susan Graham will bid us all farewell with "Parto, parto." But wait, the show's not over yet. In what might best be called the "TBA Segment," we will (or perhaps will not) hear tenors Roberto Alagna and Marcello Giordani in arias from Cyrano de Bergerac and La gioconda respectively. The legendary Mirella Freni is penciled in for an aria from Alfano's Risurezzione and a Puccini song, and then comes an item listed merely as "(34. L. Pavarotti)."

Returning to the scheduled program, Mattila, Heppner, Pape, Morris (and Matthew Polenzani) bring the curtain down with the finale to Fidelio under the baton of Maestro Schneider. At this point, La Cieca assumes, Rudy Giuliani will present Volpe with a plaque or something and perhaps make a joke about how he's expecting Joe to be on time for work. And then The Beautiful Voice will be heard once more asking the musical question "When I Have Sung My Songs."

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

13 March 2006

Very, very popular like me

It looks like the NYCO is going to one-up Gelb's Met by nabbing Kristin Chenoweth first. The Broadway divette is in talks to star as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance for a 16-performance stint at the State Theater in March 2007.


09 March 2006

Lend me a tenor (or two)

La Cieca has just heard that Neil Shicoff has canceled the dress rehearsal of Luisa Miller at the Met; Eduardo Villa (cover for the run) will do it. And La Cieca has heard further that Sergio Blazquez, scheduled to make his NYCO debut in La boheme in April, is having visa problems, so Gerard Powers will likely do all nine performances.

In less Rodolfocentric news, our own JJ's review of the Met's Forza is online at Gay City News: "On May 20, Joseph Volpe will celebrate his retirement as general manager of the Metropolitan Opera with a lavish gala performance. On February 24, a disastrous revival of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino demonstrated why this retirement is long overdue." And do lend an ear to the "Jambalaya" show on Unnatural Acts of Opera, a potpourri of outtakes from this year's podcasts.

Labels: , , , , ,

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?

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

03 October 2005

Kiss Yesterday Goodbye

Have the years flown that fast? Well, you tell La Cieca. She just this past weekend realized that it's been 25 years since Beverly Sills retired from singing. To put that in persepctive, the duration of her retirement (1980 - 2005) is now exactly equal to the duration of her New York City Opera career (1955 - 1980). Yes, that means that Bev debuted at NYCO 50 years ago this year! And yet, to La Cieca, 1980 seems like, if not yesterday, then at most the day before. To mark these anniversaries (silver, silver, and gold, respectively), La Cieca is delighted to present an episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera featuring highlights from the "Beverly!" farewell gala. The show begins with a few numbers from Die Fledermaus, Act 2, starring Kitty Carlisle (Prince Orlovsky), Gianna Rolandi (Adele), Alan Titus (Eisenstein) and La Sills reprising her debut role of Rosalinda. Then out come the guests: Donald Gramm, John Alexander, Leontyne Price, Sherrill Milnes, Eileen Farrell, Renata Scotto and Placido Domingo. The program winds up with a pop/opera medley, Sills duetting with Carol Burnett. On second thought, don't kiss yesterday goodbye: do what you can to bring it back!

Labels: , ,

15 September 2005

"If only we could know!"

A close reading of Paul Kellogg's announcement of his resignation from the NYCO suggests to La Cieca that there's some kind of major bad news that's being kept secret here. I'm thinking that maybe it's yet another setback in building that new opera house. To be perfectly frank, La Cieca has come to the conclusion that this edifice is not going to arise at the old Red Cross HQ any more than it is at Ground Zero. The most likely address for the new NYCO, she thinks, will be near the bridge on Old Basmany Street.


25 August 2005

Chi quel bong percuoterà?

Performers in the Neukoellner Opera House's production of Saint-Saens's opera La Princesse Jaune smoke pot. The man-bites-dog angle on this story, though, is that they smoke it onstage, as part of the mise-en-scene. And the artistic director of the company, this dude named Bernhard Glocksin, has encouraged audience members to smoke their own weed during the performances. Sweet, huh? This would so totally work at NYCO; La Cieca is totally surprised they haven't tried it yet. As reported on Ananova.


22 August 2005

Renate Behle-s out NYCO

Soprano Renate Behle is jumping into the NYCO's Ariane et
, replacing the "injured" Carol Vaness. And while you're catching up on the company's casting and repertory for the fall season, do make a point of checking out the NYCO's site's multimedia "trailers," written and narrated by dramaturg Cori Ellison.


16 August 2005

Ariane abbandonata

La Cieca has just heard that Carol Vaness has canceled her performances of Ariane et Barbe-Bleu at the New York City Opera this fall due to "injury." The opening night of this Dukas production is scheduled for October 6, less than six weeks from now, and the word is that NYCO is scrambling rather intensely to find someone, anyone who knows this long, heavy and (above all) obscure role. (The only two names that La Cieca can think of are Geraldine Farrar and Grace Bumbry, and rumor has it neither of them is really enthusiastic about working with Leon Botstein.) Vaness's name is still on the NYCO's website, but her photo has been replaced by a symbolist logo of weeping eyes.

Labels: ,

02 August 2005

Tales of the Bizarro World

Imagine a world where alarm clocks dictate when to go to sleep.... where ugliness is beautiful... where it is a crime to make anything perfect... and where the cheap seats at New York City Opera cost $45.00. Welcome to the Bizarro World, arriving this fall at the New York State Theater. NYCO has jacked up the price for the Fifth Ring; that is, the sides of the top balcony with at best limited visibility of the stage. These cheap "nosebleed" seats were priced at $12.50 last season, so we are talking about an increase of 360% in just one year. By contrast, seats in the vast expanses of the Met's Family Circle are only about $30.

La Cieca is particularly puzzled by this massive bump when she recalls that she hasn't seen a sold-out house at NYCO in years. And, while she's geared up for a rant, La Cieca would also like to recall the NYCO's mission statement:
Ticket prices have always reflected the company's initial commitment to making the finest opera available, regardless of the prospective audience member's economic status .... always-reasonable individual ticket prices have made City Opera a viable option for the widest possible audience.
So let's get this straight: price-gouging in a theater you can't fill is supposed to bolster your argument that you need a brand-new and more intimate place to perform? Anyone care to guess how exorbitant NYCO's tickets prices will be then (when and if)?