11 January 2008

Željko can and Željko do

Željko Lučic will sing Macbeth for the Met's broadcast and HD simulcast of the Verdi opera tomorrow afternoon, replacing Lado Ataneli, who is "indisposed."

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20 December 2007

Le Scandale, 2007 edition

Cher public, La Cieca meant to turn in early tonight, but she got one of those bees in her bonnet. This particular specimen of Apis mellifera is the "debacle" (as La Cieca has been astonished to see it termed) of Anna Netrebko's Juliette last Saturday afternoon. Such harsh criticism La Cieca has rarely heard since the infamous Renata Scotto Norma. Even La Cieca's own bitchery about Renée Fleming never (well, rarely) reached such heights of dudgeon.

La Cieca should remind herself that much of this accidie springs from opera-l, which most of the time is a valuable resource and all that, but it does seem to be a haven for every tongue-clucking old maid still hunched over her Philco every Saturday afternoon during the broadcast season. (Some of them predate Texaco, La Cieca thinks.) Anyway, the consensus over at opera-l is that Netrebko is kaput, over, finished -- that is, assuming she was ever anything to start with. The Roméo et Juliette has been called "failure" and even (yes!) "debacle." Admittedly , La Cieca occasionally amuses herself by throwing those terms (including the "d" word) around indiscriminately, but she has the defense that nobody with half a brain takes her babbling seriously anyway. On the other hand, La Cieca has her doubts that everybody over at opera-l shares her sense of light-hearted irony in these things.

Look. La Cieca regards herself as a very critical listener, but she simply cannot discern any "debacle" or even "failure" in last week's Roméo performance. Netrebko was admittedly somewhat off her best form at the beginning of the opera. She did have a minor crack on the high D in her first cadenza, and for most of the performance her voice sounded a bit cloudy and thick compared to what La Cieca (and, you, of course, cher public) have heard on Sirius and in the theater earlier this season.

La Cieca hesitates to jump to the conclusion that this one performance indicates an inevitable downward spiral toward ruin for Ms. Netrebko. She prefer to take the more cautious position that Netrebko was simply having a "B" voice day instead of her customary "A." The cause may have been nerves, or a mild case of acid reflux, or a minor allergy attack, or (who knows?) she may have been starting her period on Saturday. The point is, nerves and all the rest (including even dysmenhorrhea) don't last forever.

As, it so happens, tonight's Sirius broadcast neatly indicates. La Cieca tuned in at the beginning of the second act to hear Netrebko in fine fettle. Your doyenne will note also that in the bedroom duet tonight Netrebko is singing with a lighter tone and softer dynamics than she did opposite Roberto Alagna -- the better to blend with Joseph Kaiser's less aggressive approach, one assumes.

Well, enough scolding. A recent news story about Antonio Banderas' directing Carmen got La Cieca to thinking: how long before Angela Gheorghiu backs out of the projected Met production of the Bizet opera -- and how thrilling it would be if Netrebko could be persuaded to jump in!

Oh, and just so you don't think La Cieca has completely abandoned her position as Sultana of the Soupcons, here's a tidbit. Your doyenne hears that among Netrebko's la Gheorghiu's upcoming projects (besides that unlikely Carmen and the perhaps even unlikelier Ghosts of Versailles) is a complete recording of Giordano's Fedora opposite (who else) Placido Domingo.

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08 October 2007

Pat of butter

La Cieca only knows what she has heard so far on Sirius (i.e., through "Che tua madre"), but, my dears, Patricia Racette is such an improvement over last season's Butterfly! Your doyenne will definitely make another visit to Minghella-land this season.

So, who caught the prima in the house? What's your take? And, those of you listening at home; is La Cieca right or not?

UPDATE: Applause after "ei torna e m'ama!" Well, yes, that is an improvement over last year!

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05 October 2007

"Hunkentenor" makes broadcast debut

UPDATE: And now, my dears, we've even reached the AP! (How long before we're on the UP and every other damn P?)

La Cieca's young, young, young friend Maury D'anatto writes: "Too funny, La Cieca: did you coin hunkentenor? Because there was just this intermission interview with Joseph Kaiser that went somewhat off the rails as Margaret Juntwait asked JK if he had heard people call him a hunkentenor, and then through some rather complicated chain of associations, he revealed that he sleeps naked. It was awkward/hilarious."

Well, yes, La Cieca will have to plead "guilty" to coining this suddenly mainstream term; however it is you, cher public, who have catapulted it into the lexicon. Brava, you go on like this!

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25 September 2007

The winner and new diva

La Cieca wasn't "in the house" for the Lucia prima last night like so many of her colleagues; instead she hosted perhaps the most popular of all her online chats thus far. Approximately 120 of you cher public logged in at some point during the night, with 75 or so on average staying for the long haul. Say what you will about Natalie Dessay or even Stephen Costello, there was really only one genuine "star is born" moment last night, and here, as dear Mathilde Marchesi would say, is "la nouvelle Melba" --

Our nomination for Camp Diva of the 2007-2008 Season: Miss Blythe Danner!

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24 September 2007

Another Opening, Another Chat!

Thanks for joining La Cieca for the first online chat of the 2007-2008 season. If you enjoyed the chat, please visit the Amazon Honor System to help support parterre.com.

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23 September 2007

Something to chat about

La Cieca's chat returns Monday night to welcome in the new Met season. Topic of discussion: the evening's prima of the new production of Lucia di Lammermoor, as broadcast on SIRIUS Internet Radio. Please check back on this site after 5:00 pm Monday for a link to the room, which will open at 6:15 pm for the 6:30 start of the opening night performance.

Note that any of you who do not have a current subscription to Sirius can get a trial 3-day pass in time for the Opening Night chat. The event is also broadcast on RealNetworks.

Are any of you cher public attending this Lucia at one of the outdoor simulcasts? If you are, why not bring a laptop along and chat along with the rest of us? It's easy, now that the Lincoln Center plaza has WiFi!

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02 July 2007

Does anyone still wear only one hat?

Iconic Ira Siff temporarily puts aside performing and his busy teaching schedule this summer to direct Cosi fan tutte with the Tanglewood Music Center young artists, in collaboration with Maestro James Levine. The Mozart comedy runs August 11-14. La Cieca further hears whispers that due to the overwhelmingly positive response to Ira's guest appearances on last year's Met/Sirius broadcasts, he will be promoted to co-host status opposite Margaret Juntwait on that series beginning this fall.

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08 June 2007

Die heilige Musik!

The long drought of Richard Strauss operas on Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio ends with an appropriately post-romantic bang on Monday when the network launches a two-day marathon of archival Met performances of the composer's works. Here's the schedule:

Monday, June 11, 2007

6:00 AM ET Ariadne auf Naxos. 3/20/1976. Levine; Caballé, Remedios, Welting, Troyanos, Dooley, Titus.

9:00 AM ET Der Rosenkavalier. 1/29/2000. Levine; Graham, Fleming, Hawlata, Grant Murphy, Ketelsen.

12:25 PM ET Salome. 1/5/1974. Levine; Bumbry, Ulfung, Resnik, Shadur, Lewis.

3:00 PM ET Die Frau Ohne Schatten. 12/17/1966. Böhm; Rysanek, King, Ludwig, Berry, Dalis.

6:00 PM ET Elektra. 1/22/1994. Behrens, Voight, Fassbaender, McIntyre, King.

9:00 PM ET Arabella 3/5/1983. Leinsdorf; Te Kanawa, Weikl, Battle, Rendall, Dunn, Gramm.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

6:00 AM ET Elektra 3/25/1961. Rosenstock; Borkh, Rysanek, Madeira, Uhde, Vinay.

9:00 AM ET Capriccio 1/31/1998. Davis; Te Kanawa, Harries, Kuebler, Fitch, Brendel, Keenlyside, Rootering.

12:00 PM ET Arabella 12/15/2001. Eschenbach; Fleming, Ketelsen, Bonney, Very, Forst, Halfvarson.

3:00 PM ET Der Rosenkavalier 3/19/1983. Levine; Troyanos, Te Kanawa, Haugland, Blegen, Hammond-Stroud.

6:20 PM ET Ariadne auf Naxos 4/14/2001. Levine; Voigt, Margison, Petrova, Mentzer, Brendel, Oswald.

9:00 PM ET Salome 3/13/1965. Böhm; Nilsson, Liebl, Dalis, Cassel, Shirley.

If you've held out on getting Sirius thus far, now you have an excuse to sign up for a FREE 3 day trial.

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03 April 2007

Sing a little, chat a little

La Cieca (not pictured) reminds her cher public that tonight's 40th Anniversary of the Met at Lincoln Center gala will be the subject of an online chat right here at parterre.com.

The program, starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, begins at 7:00 PM and so the chat room will open at 6:45. Maestro Bertrand de Billy will lead the duo in staged performances of La bohème, Act I (with Mariusz Kwiecien as Marcello); Manon Act III, scene 2 (with Samuel Ramey as the Comte des Grieux); and L’elisir d'amore Act II with Mr. Kwiecien as Belcore and Alessandro Corbelli as Dulcamara.

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28 March 2007

Balcony box

Something new and interesting (La Cieca hopes) on Unnatural Acts of Opera: a 2004 concert performance of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, starring Anna Netrebko (Giulietta), Daniela Barcellona (Romeo) and Joseph Calleja (Tebaldo). Act One is the current podcast, with the second to follow on Friday.

Speaking of the lovely Miss Netrebko, she and Rolando Villazon will headline a gala celebrating 40th Anniversary of The Met at Lincoln Center next Tuesday. The concert will be webcast over the Met's RealNetworks (and of course Sirius) beginning at 7:00 PM. Unfortunately, La Cieca has a prior commitment that night, but she is sure that you, her cher public, will want to chat about the gala here at parterre.com. As such, La Cieca is sending out request to you parterre.com regulars for volunteers to host the web chat. (Quite simple, really: you'll need only to be online and on the chat site beginning at 6:45 and continuing until the finish of the broadcast.) If you're interested in helping out, email La Cieca at [email protected].

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16 February 2007

Concussed with talent

Newly anointed gay icon Lisa Milne performs the "Jewel Song" from Faust.
(For any of this to make sense, you need to have heard her interview on last night's Sirius broadcast.)

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15 February 2007

Blonde Item

Compare and contrast the bel canto stylings of Elizabeth Futral and Anna Netrebko tonight when La Cieca hosts yet another of her live chats here on parterre.com.

The live Met/Sirius broadcast of Bellini's I puritani featuring Futral begins at 7:30 Eastern and the taped PBS telecast with Netrebko begins at 9:00. That's here in New York on good old Channel 13. Don't forget to check your local listings.

Anyway, La Cieca will open up the Duelling Elviras Chat Room at 7:15 for the frenzied festivities.

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14 November 2006

Vissi d'arte

La Cieca has just heard that impeccable Ira Siff will return to the Met Sirius broadcast tonight for the second intermission of Tosca. Listen and learn!


Three tenors

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

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

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

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

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08 November 2006

Coming attractions

What's happening next week on Sirius.

Monday, November 13, 2006

6:00 AM Offenbach: Les Contes D’Hoffmann. 12/3/55 Monteux; Tucker, Peters, Stevens, Amara

9:00 AM Donizetti: Don Pasquale. 4/15/06 Benini; Florez, Netrebko, Alaimo, Kwiecien

12:00 PM Mascagni/Leoncavallo: Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci. 4/11/1964 Santi; Farrell, Miller, Tucker, Bardelli / Amara, Corelli, Colzani, Marsh, Ghitti

3:00 PM Wagner: Tannhauser. 1/21/78 Levine; McCracken, Bumbry, Weikl, Kubiak, Macurdy

7:30 PM Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (LIVE FROM THE MET). Benini; Damrau, Florez, Mattei, Del Carlo, Ramey

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

6:00 AM Wagner: Gotterdammerung. 4/22/00 Levine; Eaglen, Anderson, Palmer

12:00 PM Massenet: Manon. 12/21/63 Schippers; Moffo, Gedda, Guarrera, Tozzi

3:00 PM Verdi: La Traviata. 4/6/1957 Cleva; Tebaldi, Campora, Warren

7:30 PM Puccini: Tosca (LIVE FROM THE MET). Luisotti; Gruber, La Scola, Morris

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

6:00 AM Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini. 12/27/2003 Levine; Bayrakdarian, Giordani, Del Carlo, Carfizzi

9:00 AM Wagner: Tannhauser. 1/21/78 Levine; McCracken, Bumbry, Weikl, Kubiak, Macurdy

12:00 PM Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera. 2/26/66 Molinari-Pradelli; Price, Peters, Bergonzi, Dunn, Merrill

3:00 PM Donizetti: Don Pasquale. 4/15/06 Benini; Florez, Netrebko, Alaimo, Kwiecien

7:30 PM Puccini: Madama Butterfly (LIVE FROM THE MET). Fisch; Gallardo-Domas, Zifchak, Giordani, Croft

Thursday, November 16, 2006

6:00 AM Verdi: I Lombardi. 1/15/94 Levine; Flanigan, Pavarotti, Plishka, Beccaria

9:00 AM Massenet: Manon. 12/21/63 Schippers; Moffo, Gedda, Guarrera, Tozzi

12:00 PM Verdi: La Traviata. 4/6/1957 Cleva; Tebaldi, Campora, Warren

3:00 PM Mascagni/Leoncavallo: Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci. 4/11/1964 Santi; Farrell, Miller, Tucker, Bardelli / Amara, Corelli, Colzani, Marsh, Ghitti

6:00 PM Wagner: Gotterdammerung. 4/22/00 Levine; Eaglen, Anderson, Palmer

Friday, November 17, 2006

6:00 AM Donizetti: Don Pasquale. 4/15/06 Benini; Florez, Netrebko, Alaimo, Kwiecien

9:00 AM Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera. 2/26/66 Molinari-Pradelli; Price, Peters, Bergonzi, Dunn, Merrill

12:00 PM Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini. 12/27/2003 Levine; Bayrakdarian, Giordani, Del Carlo, Carfizzi

3:00 PM Offenbach: Les Contes D’Hoffmann. 12/3/55 Monteux; Tucker, Peters, Stevens, Amara

6:00 PM Wagner: Tannhauser. 1/21/78 Levine; McCracken, Bumbry, Weikl, Kubiak, Macurdy

9:00 PM Verdi: I Lombardi. 1/15/94 Levine; Flanigan, Pavarotti, Plishka, Beccaria

Saturday, November 18, 2006

6:00 AM Massenet: Manon. 12/21/63 Schippers; Moffo, Gedda, Guarrera, Tozzi

9:00 AM Verdi: La Traviata. 4/6/1957 Cleva; Tebaldi, Campora, Warren

12:00 PM Wagner: Gotterdammerung. 4/22/00 Levine; Eaglen, Anderson, Palmer

8:00 PM Puccini: Madama Butterfly (LIVE FROM THE MET). Fisch; Gallardo-Domas, Zifchak, Giordani, Croft

Sunday, November 19, 2006

6:00 AM Mascagni/Leoncavallo: Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci. 4/11/1964 Santi; Farrell, Miller, Tucker, Bardelli / Amara, Corelli, Colzani, Marsh, Ghitti

9:00 AM Verdi: I Lombardi. 1/15/94 Levine; Flanigan, Pavarotti, Plishka, Beccaria

12:00 PM Offenbach: Les Contes D’Hoffmann. 12/3/55 Monteux; Tucker, Peters, Stevens, Amara

3:00 PM Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera. 2/26/66 Molinari-Pradelli; Price, Peters, Bergonzi, Dunn, Merrill

6:00 PM Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini. 12/27/2003 Levine; Bayrakdarian, Giordani, Del Carlo, Carfizzi

9:00 PM NPR’s World of Opera

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07 November 2006

Rossini crescendo

Juan Diego Flórez, who -- if this costume design is to be believed-- is planning to play Almaviva as a gay pirate, will headline a mini-company from the Met appearing on "Late Night with David Letterman" tomorrow night, November 8, 2006, at 11:35 p.m., ET, on CBS. The boyish Rossini tenor and his colleagues Diana Damrau, Peter Mattei, John Del Carlo, and Samuel Ramey will perform a fully-staged version of the Act 1 finale from the Met's new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia, conducted by Maurizio Benini and directed by Bartlett Sher. (Dave's other guests include Dustin Hoffman and "Naked Chef" Jamie Oliver -- oh, yes, it's sweeps month, all right!) Of course, Wednesday is a school night, La Cieca will set the DVR, and she is sure the scene will be available for next-day viewing on the streaming video page of cbs.com.

In response to your demands, cher public, La Cieca has scheduled another of her wildly popular live chats for the evening of Friday, November 10. You are invited to join in what will no doubt be a most spirited discussion of the Sirius/RealNetworks broadcast of the opening night of the Barber. The room will open at 7:45 for the 8:00 start of the performance.

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06 November 2006

Questo o quello

Quello, as a matter of fact, because Marcello Giordani is going on tonight as the Duke in Rigoletto at the Met, jumping in for Joseph Calleja. It's on Sirius, of course.

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26 October 2006

For Reals

Fifty parterre box livechatters agree: the first RealNetworks Met Opera streaming broadcast was a sensational success! Listeners compared notes last night during the performance of Rigoletto, a number of them doing an A/B comparison between the Real stream and the Sirius stream.

The consensus was that the Real stream offered excellent fidelity and depth of sound at 96 kbps, featuring that quality that has seemed to elude Met broadcast producers for the past decade or so, a realistic dynamic range. (To put in in language La Cieca understands, the full orchestra actually sounds louder than the clarinet solo.) In fact, in this respect the Real stream actually scored higher points than the Sirius premium stream, though La Cieca stands by her opinion that the Sirius stream sounds somewhat rounder, with fewer digital artifacts.

Of course the main focus of the chat was the performance itself, but it is good to know that the streaming technology is so realiable -- though not quite seamless, for there were scattered dropouts reported. Any of you technical whizzes out there have suggestions for improving the listening experience?

And please feel free to nominate future broadcasts dates for more chats on parterre.com.

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25 October 2006

Man on Mantova action

La Cieca hosts a chat tonight on the subject of the Met's season premiere of Rigoletto, which also marks the first RealNetworks free streaming broadcast of a Met performance. (The performance will also be broadcast on Sirius.) The room will open at 7:45 PM.

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20 October 2006

Another giant leap

La Cieca has just heard that irresistable, irreverent, erudite Ira Siff will be Margaret Juntwait's guest during the intermission of tonight's Sirius broadcast of Cav/Pag from the Met.


19 October 2006

Millo in the house

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

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

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

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

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

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

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16 October 2006

Veils, song

As if those opera queens (you know La Cieca is talking to you, cher public) don't already have more than enough to listen to, what with Unnatural Acts of Opera, plus Sirius Met Broadcasts, plus various streaming radio on the internet -- well, now there's lots more where that came from. Well, anyway, one more from where that came from -- the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which will resume its broadcasts beginning this Saturday night, October 21.

This will be the first series of broadcasts from the Lyric Opera since the 2001- 2002 season, and LOC is kicking off the new broadcasts with a bang -- the opening night of Salome, featuring Deborah Voigt's first staged performance of the title role. The live broadcast will be on WFMT, 98.7 starting at 7:30 PM Central Time, and La Cieca has just learned that the broadcast will be streamed live over wfmt.com.

This works out particularly well, since there is no live Met Sirius performance that night. La Cieca knows how harried you get, cher public, when you have to choose which broadcast to listen to, and one at a time is all she can handle as well, at least until someone invents the internet radio equivalent of Tivo.

Well, that's Saturday night, but right now it's Monday, and La Cieca has some podcasting to do. Tonight's program, La Cieca hopes, you will find a special treat. The fabulous Regine Crespin is heard in recital at Hunter College on November 11, 1967, partnered by John Wustman on the 88s. This Unnatural Act of Opera program will be available beginning tonight, October 16.

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14 October 2006

More mystery from Venice

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

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

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

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03 October 2006

Coming attractions

The Sirius Metropolitan Opera Radio website now includes a schedule of performances for the upcoming week. For details on who sings what in the archival offerings, you can turn to the Metopera Database.


02 October 2006

Norma viene!

Now playing on Sirius Satellite Radio, the January 17, 1973 performance of Norma with the following stellar cast ... Norma: Montserrat Caballé; Pollione: Carlo Cossutta; Adalgisa: Fiorenza Cossotto; Oroveso: Giorgio Tozzi; Flavio: Charles Anthony; Clotilde: Carlotta Ordassy. Conductor: Carlo Felice Cillario. (So, don't you think now is a good time to check out the Free Online Trial of SIRIUS' 100% Commercial-Free Music?)

Speaking of "free," in honor of the legendary Montsi/Flo collaboration, here's a selection of scenes from the Bellini masterpiece on YouTube.

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28 September 2006

Cream of the crop

Announced today: highlights of the archival Met broadcasts to be featured on Sirius during the month of October:

Carmen (1/9/37) Papi; Ponselle, Bodanya, Rayner, Huehn

Lucia di Lammermoor (2/27/37) Papi; Pons, Jagel, Brownlee, Pinza

Die Walküre (12/2/44) Szell; Traubel, Bampton, Thorborg, Melchior, Janssen, Kipnis

Roméo et Juliette (2/1/47) Cooper; Sayão, Benzell, Turner, Björling, Brownlee, Moscona

Aida (2/20/54) Cleva; Milanov, Barbieri, Baum, Warren, Hines

I Vespri Siciliani (3/9/74) Levine; Caballé, Gedda, Milnes, Díaz

Aida (3/6/76) Levine; Price, Horne, Domingo, MacNeil, Giaiotti

Parsifal (4/7/01) Levine; Urmana, Domingo, Ketelsen, Wlaschiha, Tomlinson

Die Meistersinger (12/8/01) Levine; Mattila, Grove, Heppner, Polenzani, Morris, Allen, Pape

La Traviata (3/6/04) Gergiev; Fleming, Vargas, Hvorostovsky

And La Cieca reminds you that the complete schedule of live broadcasts may be found here.

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26 September 2006

Return from the Plaza

La Cieca is back in her beloved Sunnyside late this evening, even though the Metropolitan Opera opening night began at 6:30. By her watch, the performance of Madama Butterfly ran not quite four hours including intermissions and curtain call. Oddly, though, the evening didn't seem unnaturally long -- maybe because La Cieca enjoyed a disco nap prior to the performance, or maybe because her seat for this opening night was in the plaza, watching on the big screen video, or, as we have come to call it, the Plazatron.

First things first: quite unlike most free events in New York, and on the Upper West Side in particular, the crowd was mostly very well mannered, attentive and appreciative. The weather, La Cieca must say, was simply superb, with just the hint of a cool autumnal breeze. The much-ballyhooed Red Carpet was somewhat underwhelming, hidden as it was over near Damrosch Park. La Cieca did catch a glimpse of Jude Law in the flesh, looking very dapper in black tie, and on the Plazatron, she noticed our own Dawn Fatale looking very boyish indeed against a backdrop of social xrays.

About the performance proper La Cieca can't really say anything because our own JJ will review a later performance, but she will note that the Plaza crowd was treated to an intermission feature showing director Anthony Minghella and the cast in rehearsal. Minghella talks too much, La Cieca thinks, and in the video one could sense that Marcello Giordani and Dwayne Croft were getting a bit impatient with all the chitchat. Speaking of which, Giordani looks great these days, slim and dashing in his Navy whites, and Croft has evolved into a very sexy daddy type -- particularly since this production makes no effort to disguise his mostly-bald pate. You know how La Cieca goes for the tete de peau look!

As La Cieca was preparing her podcast this evening she was listening to the second Met Radio broadcast on Sirius, a 1971 Rigoletto, and she sees the ante has been upped: she'll have to redouble her efforts to bring you the best in Unnatural Acts of Opera.

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25 September 2006

Sound the alarm

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

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

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

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23 September 2006

Sirius business

La Cieca has just noticed that when you go to the Sirius.com website, the first thing you see is a big splashy ad for the Sirius/Met partnership. Cool, right? Well, here's more coolness. parterre.com has become an affiliate with Sirius to promote their new channel, and if you click through either of the ads on this page and follow up on the offer, La Cieca gets a small commission.

nullThe ad to the left takes you to a limited-time discount on Sirius radios, and the ad over in the right nav bar is an offer of free online Sirius service, perfect for sampling the opening night of the Met season this Monday. La Cieca already suspects that the Sirius people are going to be gobsmacked by the response of opera lovers (surely the most passionate music fans on the planet, no?) Let's enjoy this new era of opera together, shall we?

UPDATE: La Cieca hears that Sirius will introduce an internet-only version of their service offering "CD-quality audio and the flexibility of listening wherever you have internet access: at home, in the office or on the go" beginning early next week. Subscription price is $12.95 a month, presumably with discounts for one-year and longer packages. Again, La Cieca urges you to check out Monday night's programming through the Sirius free trial offer.

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21 September 2006

Keep watching the skies!

La Cieca hopes you're not tired of news about the Met/Sirius Radio partnership, because she has just obtained a schedule of live performances to be broadcast over the satellite service. The first week of the broadcasts will include Madama Butterfly on Monday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m., Idomeno on Thursday the 28th at 7:30 p.m. and La Gioconda on Saturday the 30th at 8:00 p.m.

On Friday the 29th, Sirius will offer an archival broadcast, and La Cieca knows you won't need three guesses to figure out which golden-age performance they have chosen.

Complete schedule of Sirius/Met Opera live broadcasts for 2006-2007.

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20 September 2006

Sirius fun

As La Cieca predicted a fortnight ago, the Met Opera today announced a partnership with SIRIUS Satellite Radio to broadcast live and archival Met performances. The series will begin on Monday, September 25th, with a live broadcast of the Met's opening night gala performance of Madama Butterfly, conducted by Music Director James Levine and directed by Anthony Minghella.

The format for the new Sirius channel, 85, will include four live broadcasts a week during the season plus 10 archival saturday matinee broadcasts. Amusingly, the NYT piece announcing the new channel says the programming "will range widely, including the likes of a 1937 performance of Carmen, starring Rosa Ponselle, and a performance of La Traviata in 2004 with Renée Fleming." Yes, "widely" is definitely the operative word here.

La Cieca must admit that she is not an early adopter of satellite radio. So clue her in, cher public, what are your experiences with Sirius? (And for those of you who are as clueless about Sirius as she is, here's a video that is obviously targeted precisely at La Cieca's core audience.)

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