30 January 2008

Singing, actress

For those of you who were stumped by Lady Number Six, here's the mysterious dame herself, Galina Vishnevskaya, in a more accustomed version of Lady Macbeth, the 1966 film by Mikhail Shapiro of Katerina Izmailova.

The great diva returned to the screen only last year in Alexandra (directed by Alexander Sokurov), playing an elderly woman who makes the trek to Chechnya to visit her grandson, who has been stationed there as a soldier for seven years.

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When Ladies Meet

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

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29 January 2008

Three for the Regie

Our Mystery Regie this time presents a standard opera in three acts. So let's see one image from each act -- although each image is from a different production of the work.

Remember, cher public, if you actually recognize the production, hold your tongue and allow others to guess!

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Una... due...

The clock is running out on the great Sleepwalking Scene contest, ladies and gentlemen! With only three hours and change to go, no one has successfully identified all 14 Ladies. Currently leading the pack with 13 correct are MC (not to be confused with Maria Callas) and DS (not to be confused with, uh, Dame Joan Sutherland). Each of these savants, however, stumbled on the mysterious Lady Number Six. Can you guess her identity (along with the other 13, of course), email La Cieca, and win the coveted amazon.com gift certificate?

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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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21 January 2008

Regie on the rocks

You've all worked out that the previous Regie quiz was Don Carlos in the Peter Konwitschny production. So now, how about a few guesses what opera these two photos might represent? (Please, any of you who already know the production, please let the others try to work it out!)

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17 January 2008

Regie, Steady, Go!

Two images from a recent production of ... well, you tell me!

Our previous Regie riddle? It's Tristan und Isolde, of course, directed by "The Cher of Regisseurs," that one-named wonder Rosalie.

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13 January 2008

In questa Regie or son mille ani

Three images from a single production of an opera in the standard repertoire. What is the opera?

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12 January 2008

Peacock, indeed!

Who said this?

Here's a hint:


09 January 2008

76 Trombones Led the Big Regie

So, tell me, what is this jolly-looking opera? (UPDATE: La Cieca has added a second image from the same production.)

The previous Regie was Die Fledermaus, the first act trio for Rosalinde, Alfred and Frank.

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04 January 2008

Einen guten Rutsch ins Neuinszenierung!

And what might this opera be?

Answer to our previous Regierätsel: Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.

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15 December 2007


When she first saw this photo, La Cieca thought, well, it's about time we saw an all-bear production of The Lisbon Traviata. But, in point of fact, that delightful Terrance McNally play is not what this picture depicts.

So La Cieca puts it to you, cher public What is this opera?

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13 December 2007

Ambiguous anguish

More Geheimnisregie. What's the opera? (Hint: it's not Carmen).

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07 December 2007

Send in the clowns

That "Cate Blanchett" Traviata we were talking about earlier? Turns out there's video of the dress rehearsal.

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We have a winner!

The people have spoken, and they have chosen Winpal as the author of the wittiest Season Brochure. Congratulations to Winpal and all you cher public who participated!

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05 December 2007

Regie, steady, go!

Which opera is this? And for bonus Cieca Bucks, which scene?

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04 December 2007

Runners-up and their lilting melodies

Excellent lines from some of the many, many "Season Brochures" that didn't make the final five.

Soprano Montserrat Caballe stars as Jeanette, a virginal pony who for most of the opera is disguised as a mysterious duck. Montserrat Caballe is perhaps best known from TV's Sex & The City where she sang the lilting melody "My Way."

Soprano Diana Damrau stars as Alice, a virginal mortar and pestle who for most of the opera is disguised as a mysterious desk accessory. Diana Damrau is perhaps best known from TV's The West Wing where she sang the lilting melody "Oops I Did It Again."

Soprano Rosa Ponselle stars as Giuletta, a virginal cattle prod who for most of the opera is disguised as a mysterious cigar. Rosa Ponselle is perhaps best known from TV's Heroes where she sang the lilting melody "Without a Song."

Soprano Joan Sutherland stars as Hortensia, a virginal abbess who for most of the opera is disguised as a mysterious food processor. Joan Sutherland is perhaps best known from TV's Miami Vice where she sang the lilting melody "Vesti la giubba."

Dame Gwyneth Jones is perhaps best known from TV's The Life Of Riley where she sang the lilting melody "The Leader Of The Pack."

Hildegard Behrens is perhaps best known from TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she sang the lilting melody "How much is that doggy in the window?"

Zinka Milanov is perhaps best known from TV's Everybody Loves Raymond where she sang the lilting melody "Hava Negila."

Victoria de los Angeles is perhaps best known from TV's Fear Factor where she sang the lilting melody "Let's hear it for the boy."

Aprile Millo is perhaps best known from TV's Nanny and the Professor where she sang the lilting melody "I Will Survive."

June Anderson is perhaps best known from TV's Leave It To Beaver where she sang the lilting melody "Love Don't Live Here Anymore."

Ljuba Weltisch is perhaps best known from TV's The Gong Show where she sang the lilting melody "Oompa Loompa Doopity Do."

Dawn Upshaw is perhaps best known from TV's So Graham Norton where she sang the lilting melody "It Sucks to be Me."

Birgit Nilsson is perhaps best known from TV's Grey's Anatomy where she sang the lilting melody "Glitter and be Gay."

Maria Callas is perhaps best known from TV's The Simpsons where she sang the lilting melody "We wish you a Merry Christmas."

Galina Gorchakova is perhaps best known from TV's Ugly Betty where she sang the lilting melody "Super Trouper".

Christine Brewer is perhaps best known from TV's Brothers and Sisters where she sang the lilting melody "Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong."

Leonie Rysanek is perhaps best known from TV's Wife Swap where she sang the lilting melody "Sexy Back."

Cheryl Studer is perhaps best known from TV's My Name is Earl where she sang the lilting melody "Let the Bright Seraphim."

Mara Zampieri is perhaps best known from TV's American Gladiators where she sang the lilting melody "Get your tongue out of my mouth, I am kissing you goodbye."

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Brochuremania 2007: Vote for your favorite Season Brochure

Now is the time to restore La Cieca's faith in the democratic process, cher public! The polls will remain open until midnight on Thursday, December 6. Remember, the winner receives a gift certificate from amazon.com.

free pollsWhich is your favorite Season Brochure?
The 1924 Season for Parma Grand Opera by Julian
The 1954 Season for Selma Grand Opera by Orestes
The 1995 Season for Seattle Grand Opera by James
The 2008 Season for Montego Bay Grand Opera by Winpal
The 2007 Season for Buffalo Grand Opera by Indiana


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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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01 December 2007

Brace yourselves!

Yes, it's yet another Geheimnisregie quiz. Which opera is this?

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28 November 2007

The Season Brochure

La Cieca presents an all-purpose season brochure for an American opera company, done in the familiar "Mad-Lib" style. Enter text in the boxes below, then click the "Go Mad" button to read your version of The Season Brochure.

Send your version of the Season Brochure to La Cieca by copying and pasting the resulting text into an email addressed to [email protected]. The author of the Season Brochure judged "most amusing" will be awarded a gift certificate from amazon.com.

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20 November 2007

Revenge of the Regie

No, this opera is not Der Tee und das Mitleid. Rather, it's . . . ?

At least one of you has guessed correctly so far. Let's see if we can reach a consensus with the help of an additional image.

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16 November 2007

Lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!

Not the newest observation, but perhaps relevant again at the moment. So, tell me, what do these two ladies have in common (besides the family resemblance, of course)? [UPDATE: I've traded out the original image of Joyce Castle for something more representative.]

Lypsinka and Joyce

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15 November 2007

Sorge il tremendo fantasma

Another challenge from La Cieca: who is this Miss Lucy? The cher public will make their educated guesses in the comments section, please.

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14 November 2007

Utter a word

Create a caption for this photo:

Carol Rosegg/New York City Opera

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12 November 2007

Return of "Name that Regie"

Three photos from the same production this time. Guesses in the comments -- and if you know the answer, please keep quiet while the others play!

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10 November 2007

Finishing Lulu

La Cieca finally got herself back into the studio this evening for a podcast of the second act of Berg's Lulu. This performance features the Orchestra and Chorus of the Vienna State Opera conducted by Karl Böhm on December 16, 1968. Anja Silja stars as the irresistible Lulu, with Martha Mödl, Ernst Gutstein, Waldemar Kmentt and Hans Hotter rounding out a classic cast.

As a bonus on this episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera, La Cieca introduces a clip from the rarely-heard Samuel Barber opera Harriet Craig.

Those of you who have recovered from the recent Ernani vocal identification quiz may want to jump back into the saddle to guess the identify of the singer of the "Lied der Lulu" in the following sound clip.

Hint: it's not Anja Silja! If you think you know the identify of this singer, send your guess to [email protected]. La Cieca will award an amazon.com gift certificate to the first correct responder.

UPDATE: Too easy! The singer of the "Lied der Lulu" is [click]. Congratulations to Judy who was first with a correct answer (barely ten minutes after the clip went up), and to Daniel, Richard, Paul and Oliver who all got it within the hour. Now La Cieca is off to devise a more challenging quiz!

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Regie roulette

Once again, La Cieca asks: can you name that opera?

UPDATE: As several of the cher public have guessed, this is a production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann. Specifially it's a new staging at the Hamburg Staatsoper, directed by Christine Mielitz with sets by Hartmut Schörghofer and costumes by Renate Schmitzer. In the above photo, Giuseppe Filanoti is seen in the title role, with Benjamin Hulett (Cochenille) and Elena Mosuc (Olympia).

Two more images from the production depict Hoffmann and Nicklausse (Nino Surguladze) and Filianoti and Mosuc in the "Venice" act. All photographs by Klaus Lefebvre.


03 November 2007


So, what's this opera? (Guesses only, please - if you recognize the photo, sit this one out!)

UPDATE: Well done, Atomic Wings! Indeed, this is a production of Norma, starring Olga Makarina, as produced at the National Theatre, Prague.


28 October 2007

Name that Regie!

Well, no, Charles Wuorinen has not finished his Brokeback Mountain opera quite yet. In fact, this photo is from a new staging of a standard repertory work. Can you identify it? (Guesses only, please -- if you know this production, please recuse yourself!)

Click to enlarge.

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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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20 July 2007

Gli enigmi sono due

First: who is the singer?

Second: why is she singing this aria?

Who and why?


18 June 2007

Druidesses three times three

La Cieca is startled and delighted to note that there are already some very competitive entries in the "Nine Normas" quiz, including a likely prize winner. So that all you cher public may have the chance to put your vocal identification skills to the test, here's the clip of The Nine Normas.

Feel free to make your guesses in the comments section!

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How tief is your love

Surrounding the second act of D'Albert's opera Tiefland on the current episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera is a veritable plethora of special features. First, La Cieca takes a telephone call from an icon of stage, screen and recordings (hint: she was the surprise star of Broadway's Hit the Sky). Then our old, old, old friend Tallulah Bankhead drops by the studio along with none other than legendary, lovely Marlene Dietrich for a Sapphic singalong. After the act, your doyenne introduces the latest installment of The Enigmas of La Cieca, and, yes, it's another vocal identification. Take the quiz and determine your Norma-Q! Unnatural Acts of Opera.

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25 February 2007

It's not a comeback

The final act of Loreley is hardly the only attraction on the current episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera. La Cieca also salutes the birthdays of three of the greatest sopranos of all time, and, can you believe it, presides over the return of one of your all-time favorite features, "The Enigmas of La Cieca." Once more, cher public, you can play "opera quiz" from the comfort and safety of your own lovely homes, without the difficultly of slogging through the snow to List Hall, or, for that matter, the difficulty of slugging Anthony Laciura once you get there. (Who knew it was possible to channel Eddie Cantor? Who knew anyone wanted to?) But anyway, as La Cieca was saying, do lend an ear to the new Unnatural Acts of Opera, listen to La Cieca's enigma, and (if you dare) send you answer to the question to [email protected]. The first correct response received will win a tantalizing gift from handelmania.com.

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17 January 2007

More Adriana auf Deutsch

So, does this text for Principessa di Bouillon sound like outtakes from Isolde, or what?
O Wollust, voller Pein!
Glück und Qual im Bunde!
Du still verzehrend Sehnen,
Schnell geschlagne Wunde!
Heisse Glut, Schauer, Zittern,
Und Wahnsinn, Schrecken
Muss in des Liebenden Brust Das Warten wecken!
Jeder Laut, jeder Schatten,
Leis die Nacht durchwebend,
Will gegen die zitternde
Seele sich verschwören,
Zwischen Zweifel und Sehnen
Bangend und schwebend
Scheint ewig ihr
Der Augenblick zu währen.
Ob er kommt? oder nicht?
Ob er eilet? oder mich fliehet?
Horch! Eben kommt er!
Nein! Die Wellen, sie schäumen,
Und ein alter Baum
Seufzt auf in seinen Träumen.
Du heller Stern!
Der fern im Osten glühet,
Ach, schwinde nicht!
Du lächelst so freundlich hernieder!
Sei Leitstern meiner Liebe!
O bring ihn mir wieder!

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16 January 2007

Late afternoon quiz

So, who can identify the following lines of text?

Ich bin nur die Magd, die schwache,
Des Genius, der da schafft;
Er leiht mir seine Sprache,
In Herzen streut sie meine Kraft.
Ich bin des Lieds Betonung,
Sein Schicksalswiderhall;
Sein Werkzeug, seine Wohnung,
Der starken Hand Vasall.
Bald mild, bald heiter, bald Unheil kündend,
Man nennt mich: »Treu dem Sinn«,
Mein Klang: ein Lüftchen, schwindend
Im Tagesgraun dahin!