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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09 January 2008

Gran nuova! Gran nuova!

Juan Diego Flórez will make his role debut as the Duke of Mantua in a new production of Rigoletto on March 31.

The event will mark the inauguration of "The International Opera Festival Alejandro Granda" in Peru. Puppylicious Flórez is pictured here with Latin Grammy winner Gian Marco, with whom he shared the stage for a benefit concert for UNICEF last year. (Admittedly, that concert has nothing to do with the current news, but La Cieca wanted an excuse to run this photo.)

In breaking news also relating to puppyliciousness, the renaissance of Rolando Villazón's career will extend into a new medium when the tenor begins principal photography for the role of Rodolfo in a film version of La bohème opposite the Mimi of (who else?) Anna Netrebko. According to La Cieca's source, the pair pre-recorded their music for the movie last year and will begin their on-set lip-synching duties within the month.

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05 January 2008

Wien: Wilkommen, Villazón!

AP Photo/Vienna State Opera, Axel ZeiningerThe Associated Press has the first review of Rolando Villazón's return to the stage earlier today in a performance of Werther at the Vienna Staatsoper. Reporter George Jahn says the audience's "huge expectations... were mostly - but not completely - met." Apparently the tenor's high B's sometimes failed to soar over the Massenet orchestral climaxes, but his celebrated onstage energy and presence were on full display. Villazón won several minutes of entrance applause and "a post-performance standing ovation from an audience that normally stays glued to its seats."

The indefatigable Opera Chic was (as she so often is!) first to blog the happy news, with the bonus of an exclusive eyewitness report.

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04 January 2008

Tomorrow is another day

Just a little over 24 hours from now, Rolando Villazón is scheduled to return to the operatic stage following an absence of nearly six months. He is announced for a revival of Werther at the Vienna State Opera tomorrow night, January 5, beginning at 19.30 (1:30 EST). Followup plans for the tenor this month include more Werthers and three performances of Manon plus concerts in Paris and Barcelona.

Villazón's highly-anticipated return is the lede for a Times Online article about how opera singers are in risk of becoming "pill-popping stressballs." Much of it is a rehash of the Endrik Wottrich brouhaha from last fall, but there are some interesting bits about how Joyce DiDonato uses Skype for brush-ups with her voice teacher.

Well, anyway, as you can imagine, La Cieca is naturally very curious as to the Villazón's current vocal estate, so she hopes that any of you Old World cher public in attendance at his performances this month will keep us informed.

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15 December 2007

Rolando ritornato?

There hasn't been much chatter about it, but it seems that Rolando Villazón is emerging from his four-month period of silence. His recently updated website states that the tenor is scheduled for staged performances in Vienna (Manon and Werther) beginning January 5, followed by a series of concerts and a couple of Verdi Requiems in the spring. Engagements for the summer of 2008 include a new Don Carlos at the Royal Opera and Roméo et Juliette at the Salzburg Festival. La Cieca looks forward to hearing Villazón here in New York in the fall, when he and Anna Netrebko are to star in a revival of Lucia at the Met.

In fact, according to Mike Richter, Villazón has already made at least one public singing appearance in recent days. Mike has posted on his website a video identified as "Rolando Villazon sings unfamiliar Ponchielli - 9 December 2007." La Cieca doesn't know the aria, but she does hear a healthy voice with an easy high A-natural at the end of the piece.

Thoughts? Corrections? Or shall we all just remain guardedly optimistic for the moment?

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14 August 2007

Bobby, come on over for dinner

Roberto Alagna will jump -- no, not into the swimming pool, but rather into the first two performances (September 25 and 29) of the Met's fall revival of Roméo et Juliette, replacing Rolando Villazón who has withdrawn due to illness. The Met's press office officially announced Villazón's cancellation today, though regular parterre.com readers knew all about it last week. The role of Roméo remains TBA for the performances on October 3, 6 and 11; Villazón remains on the roster for the winter stint of performances including the HD simulcast.

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10 August 2007

Villazón out for two months, at least

As La Cieca whispered earlier this week, Rolando Villazón is going to cancel at least the fall portion of his Met Roméo engagement. This morning PlaybillArts.com says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting a statement from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra that the tenor is "ill and has been instructed by his doctor to cancel all performances for the next two to three months in order to make a complete recovery."

In happier news, Anna Netrebko's lissome larynx seems to be healing nicely, thank you. The diva (reports PlaybillArts) plans to go ahead with a four-city German tour this month, albeit minus partner Villazón. Subbing opposite the soprano in various venues will be Marcelo Álvarez, José Cura and Ramón Vargas.

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08 August 2007


La Cieca hears that Rolando Villazón, who recently canceled his Salzburg Festival appearances citing "long-term illness" ("einer längerfristigen Erkrankung"), may pull out of the Met's fall revival of Roméo et Juliette as well. The tenor is scheduled for five performances of the Gounod opera between September 25 and October 11, followed by another four in December. Matthew Polenzani has already been announced for the final two performances of the run including the New Year's Eve gala. The matinee performance of Saturday, December 15 is scheduled for HD simulcast with Villazón and Anna Netrebko.

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02 July 2007

Video vixen

Natalie Dessay and Rolando Villazon in the St. Sulpice scene from Manon, as telecast from Barcelona Saturday night.

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12 May 2007

Before they were famous

A couple of weeks ago we had the chance to see and hear what Juan Diego Florez looked and sounded like at the age of 16. And now, again through the magic of YouTube, here's a rare clip of Rolando Villazon as a boy soprano!

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12 April 2007

The gala continues

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

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

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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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05 March 2007

Event horizon

Now that we all know what's what for the Met's 2007-2008 season, surely it's time to start speculating about what comes after, right? Well, La Cieca has been in touch with her stable of reliable sources, and what she has heard is more than a little intriguing. N.B. All this is as heard, of course, not an official announcement...

Opening night 2008 will be a Renee Fleming gala showcasing The Beautiful Voice in acts from La traviata, Manon and Il pirata. Also in the season's opening weeks: Karita Mattila returns in Salome, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon team for Lucia (HD simulcast for sure!), La Gioconda with the triple-diva goodness of Deborah Voigt, Olga Borodina and Ewa Podles, plus, for a little 21st century flava, the Met premiere of John Adams' Doctor Atomic featuring Audra MacDonald.

At the other end of the season, late spring 2009, the last revival of the rocks-n-rags Ring with James Levine conducting (start queuing for that one now) and the debut of DGG "It Girl" Elina Garanca in Cenerentola. In between, some hot tickets and some Sternstunden:
  • La sonnambula (Natalie Dessay/Juan Diego Florez)
  • Thais (Fleming/Thomas Hampson)
  • Rusalka (also Fleming)
  • La rondine (Angela Gheorghiu/Roberto Alagna)
  • Tristan und Isolde (Daniel Barenboim)
  • Eugene Onegin (Mattila/Hampson)
  • Cav/Pag (Alagna in both operas)
There's more (a lot more) of course, but La Cieca hopes this is enough to get the conversational ball rolling.

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28 December 2006

Bel canto lushinghier

La Cieca thought that now that Puritani has opened at the Met, it's as good a time as any to review the company's (rumored) bel canto plans for the next five years or so. Remember, everything in this life is uncertain, so please regard these "predictions" as the gossip they are.
Anyway, La Cieca hopes you'll find plenty of fodder for discussion in the following grafs.

Next season (as you all know) opening night will be a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor starring Natalie Dessay. Sharing the role of Edgardo will be a trio of toothsome tenors: Marcello Giordani, Marcelo Alvarez and Giuseppe Filianoti. Further upping the hunk quotient will be Mariusz Kwiecien and John Relyea. The Mary Zimmerman production will be led (on opening night at least) by James Levine.
Per La Cieca's sources, Mad Lucy will pay a couple of return visits in following seasons, first with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon in the fall of '08, and then with Mlle. Dessay again sometime in 2010. Ze French diva gets the unusual honor of opening two new productions next season, the Lucia, of course, and then a new Fille du Regiment opposite puppylicious Juan Diego Florez.
And then comes 2012, aka "The Year of the Jackpot," when just possibly we will hear the Tudor Trifecta (Fleming, Netrebko and Angela Gheorghiu) as well as a new Giulliame Tell (presumably for Giordani) plus revivals of L'elisir (Netrebko, Florez, Kwiecien), L'italiana and Semiramide.

Oh, and for Druid fanciers, the outlook is not quite so rosy: a single revival of Norma next season with Dolora Zajick, Maria Guleghina and Franco Farina -- or, as Mme. Vera Galupe-Borzkh might sum it up: "Can Belto, Can't Belto and Can't Canto."

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28 September 2006

Too darn hot!

Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon in the dress rehearsal of Manon at the Los Angeles Opera.

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16 August 2006

Trebs Violetta set for Met

As La Cieca hinted about six months ago, Anna Netrebko's Violetta will hit the Met boards during the 2010-11 season in the Willy Decker production from Salzburg. In the production (also on video from DGG), the miniskirted and hyperactive Netrebko is joined by Rolando Villazon.

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17 March 2006

Too many tenors!

Well, no, of course, there's no such thing as too many tenors, but it's good to know we have so many high male voices around these days. One from the present (Rolando Villazon) and one from the past (Beniamino Gigli) are featured in Ed Rosen's recently-debuted podcast, and one for the future is parterre favorite Stephen Costello, who just last night was a first place winner of the George London Foundation competition. Stephen's performance of "Che gelida manina" suggests that, in his case, the future is very near indeed:

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17 December 2005

First Met broadcast of the season

Rolando Villazon not apparently in his very best form but La Cieca is very impressed with a) his willingness to sing out and take chances even when he is less than 100% and b) his well-supported legato that is the basis of even his most vehement singing. Anna Netrebko found a way to interpret Gilda as a lyric. The sound a little glassy when close-miked, but the singing always has meaning. Very interesting how she slowly straightened out the tone as the character died, a little less vibrato on each phrase. If Joe Volpe is wondering why more people aren't willing to spend $250 at the opera, he can take a hard look at Carlo Guelfi. No voice! (as Charlie Handelman would say) and so he (Guelfi, not Handelman) tricks out the performance with whoops and gasps and the whole Benoit shtik. Ascher Fisch knows how to make Verdi go; La Cieca would quibble only with his eclectic choice of cuts. Though goodness knows no one would want to hear Guelfi faking yet another verse of "Ah veglia o donna." It warmed the cockles of this old heart to hear such campery on the Quiz; Stephen Blier is such a dear mad old thing. And if the rest of Volpe's book is anything like the pap he read today, they're going to have to give away insulin with every copy. And what's the deal with him sucking up to Renee Fleming -- is she supposed to serve as an example of his masterful casting abilities? (La Cieca was at that Pirata and the poor dear was pretty damn near inaudible, and that hysterical Susannah you all saw!) Was that business about the "heart shaped face and melting eyes" creepy or what? La Cieca was totally ready to hear Uncle Joe go on about Renaay's "pert pouting breasts" and "firm supple thighs!" Oh, and listen for the claque next week during American Tragedy: they sure know when those arias dribble to an end!

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16 November 2005

Previewing the Gelb era

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

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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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21 October 2005

Morir, si pura e bella?

UPDATE: Not only are Gli Alagni scheduled for Aida at La Scala in 2006 (as noted yesterday), La Cieca has just heard that Peter Gelb has promised them a new production of Carmen at the Met in 2009-10. And, yes, Gheorghiu is the Carmen, not the Micaela. This is all at least four years in the future, so don't book your tickets yet. Actually, this tidbit could have waited a few days (or years) but La Cieca wanted an excuse to post the scrummy photo of Bobby as Radames. Doesn't he look like he's about to say, "My father rules many lands and peoples, and that is why they call me Prince?"

La Cieca has just heard that the honor of opening the 2006 La Scala season will go to Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, who will grace a new production of Aida. Please let La Cieca be the first to congratulate maestro Riccardo Chailly for persuading these two megastars to take on the roles of the Priestess and the Messenger -- now, who do you think he will get for the leads?

The most reliable source of all (i.e., himself) states that a long-term career goal for Rolando Villazon is ... Wagner. Don't panic yet; he's talking Lohengrin sometime around 2015, as reported at Mouvement Nouveau.

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09 August 2005

You've got to climb Mount Everest

Anna Netrebko is Anne Welles! Rolando Villazon is Lyon Burke! On the silver screen, every thrill, every shock of the best-selling novel by Jacqueline Susann!

Uh, make that "the best-selling opera by Giuseppe Verdi...

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