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Normative Normative

La Cieca is sort of out of words trying to describe what makes a great performance of the role of Norma, as opposed to the conscientious traversal of the notes.

Wigs and weaves Wigs and weaves

It’s easiest to write reviews when there are soaring triumphs and miserable failures.

Uncle Smania Uncle Smania

Scoring the Fire and Music contest was tricky, cher public, as the selections were both quite brief and relatively obscure.

Past imperfect Past imperfect

One of my adolescent pastimes was trolling the classical cut-out bins in record stores searching for overlooked gems or unfamiliar singers.

Giovanni Simone Mayr was one of the most important musical figures of his day, a man Rossini referred to as the “father of Italian opera” whom Napoleon personally lobbied to come work in Paris. Though he wrote nearly 70 operas and taught Donizetti and Bellini, the Bavarian-born composer had the misfortune of hitting his peak…

The press conference announcing the Met’s 2011-2012 season has begun.

Once again, La Cieca can do no better than to quote the ineffable BAB, who says, “The beauty of the Saturday afternoon Chats this summer has been that everyone picks what they want and then we compare notes with what’s happening elsewhere. Ordinarily I make no recommendations, but I have decided to do things differently…

Since Attila is in the forefront of our thoughts right now, and since the prima of the Met’s production won’t be broadcast, La Cieca thought it would be handy to have a Riccardo Muti performance of the Verdi work as a common point of reference. 

Christof Loy’s dreamlike, pared-down production of Donizetti’s 1833 masterpiece Lucrezia Borgia, created for the Bayerischen Staatsoper, is brought to life on Medici DVD from performances in July 2009. The DVD of the performance is accompanied by another hour-long DVD, The Art of Bel Canto: Edita Gruberova, which includes some fascinating rehearsal and performance footage of…

Antonina (Leyla Gencer) regrets the error of her ways in the third act of Donizetti’s Belisario, the latest episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera. 

On tonight’s episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera, we hear the second act of Donizetti’s Belisario. But we won’t hear Leyla Gencer during this act, as her character remains offstage for the duration. However, La Cieca has added an extra act of Donizetti (with la Gencer onstage the whole time!) as bonus. Hear it after…

La Cieca presents with pride her latest installment of Unnatural Acts of Opera, the Donizetti rarity Belisario, featuring legendary Leyla Gencer as vengeful Roman matron Antonina.

Leyla Gencer: The very name is exotic. She was an artist of Turkish ancestry who, during the 1950s and 60s, held her own despite the presence of Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Renata Scotto, Montserrat Caballe, and Magda Olivero, all of whom shared roles in her repertoire. Ironically, Gencer has a number of important credits attached…

La Cieca wishes to thank you, cher public, for making this year’s Amazon Associates advertising program successful beyond her wildest dreams. And now, the top ten most ordered items of 2008! 1. Wagner: The Great Operas from the Bayreuth Festival 2. Marilyn Horne – The Complete Decca Recitals 3. The Original Jacket Collection: Montserrat Caballé…

Interview with Leyla Gencer in 2007. [kml_flashembed movie=”http://youtube.com/v/5q4je2G7YpE” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]

[This article originally appeared in the print zine precursor to this site, one of a series of surveys of live recordings by critic Leila de Lakmé.] Leyla Gencer. The very name is exotic. She was an artist of Turkish ancestry who, during the 1950s and 60s, held her own despite the presence of Maria Callas,…

Thais (Massenet) Act 3 Sex meets religion in Alexandria. Thais (Massenet) Act 2 Sex meets religion in Alexandria. Thais (Massenet) Act 1 Sex meets religion in Alexandria. Norma (Bellini) Act 2 Anita Cerquetti leads the Druids in this 1958 performance of the bel canto masterpiece Norma. Norma (Bellini) Act 1 Anita Cerquetti leads the Druids…

I cavalieri di Ekebu (Zandonai) Acts 3 and 4 Giosta Berling – Mirto Picchi; La Commandante – Fedora Barbieri; Anna – Rina Malatrasi; Sintram – Antonio Zaccaria; Cristiano – Giampiero Malaspina; Samzelius – Bruno Cioni; Liecrona – Mario Carlin; Ostessa – Maria Amadini; Una Fanciulla – Nicoletta Panni; Un Cavaliere – Arrigo Cattelani. Coro e…

Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea) Act 4 Adriana Lecouvreur: Renata Scotto Il Principe di Bouillon: James Courtney La Principessa: Elena Obraztsova L’Abate: Joseph Frank Maiordomo: Winther Andersen Maurizio: Giacomo Aragall Michonnet: Giuseppe Taddei Mme. Dangeville: Mildred Tyree Mme. Jouvenot: Pamela South Poisson: Robert Johnson Quinault: John Davies Orchestra and Chorus of the San Francisco Opera; Gianandrea Gavazzeni.…

Subscribe to Unnatural Acts of Opera on iTunes or via RSS. Previously on Unnatural Acts of Opera: Semiramide (Rossini) Act 2 Joan Sutherland (Semiramide); Giulietta Simionato (Arsace); Wladimiro Ganzarolli (Assur); Gianni Raimondi (Idreno); Ferruccio Mazzoli (Oroe); Giuseppe Bertinazzo (Mitrane); Manuela Bianchi Porro (Azema); Antonio Zerbini (L’ombra di Nino). Orchestra e coro del Teatro alla Scala;…

The zine parterre box appeared bimonthly 1993-2001. Click on a link to download a pdf of an issue.   That day we all knew eventually would come did come, in the winter of 2001, when the final issue of parterre box, the queer opera zine was mailed out to the cher public, such as they…

Your doyenne La Cieca goes it alone on the current podcast of Unnatural Acts of Opera, doing her best to introduce the third act of Spontini’s La Vestale starring Leyla Gencer. Co-host Milton Host, it seems, was unable to reach the studio, and so La Cieca attempted to contact him via the telephone. An unfortunate…

Tending the sacro fuoco this week at Unnatural Acts of Opera will be that priestess of the primo ottocento Leyla Gencer. The diva sings the title role in Spontini’s La Vestale in a performance from Teatro Massino di Palermo, December 4, 1969. Ferando Previtali conducts, and the young Renato Bruson is heard as Cinna. Also…

That classic Mozart/da Ponte warning against the dangers of the heterosexual lifestyle, Don Giovanni, is the basis for La Cieca’s next podcast. It’s an example of what is called “big house Mozart” — in other words, Mozart performed in a grand opera house, with full-voiced Verdian and Wagnerian singers, and in general overlaid with a…

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