Cher Public

out there in the dark

La Cieca is putting her entire nest egg into popcorn futures, since next season opera lovers will rarely emerge from their local movie palace. The Met will do an astonishing 11 HD simulcasts during the 2008-2009 season. 

Monday, September 22, 2008: Opening Night Gala starring the astonishingly well-preserved Renée Fleming in fully staged performances of La Traviata (Act II), Manon (Act III), and the final scene from Richard Strauss’s Capriccio. Ramón Vargas, Thomas Hampson and Dwayne Croft support milady; James Levine and Marco Armiliato share the arduous conducting duties.

October 11:  Salome with Karita Mattila baring all or, perhaps, near-all.

November 8:  Doctor Atomic.  A new production of the John Adams opera starring Gerald Finley as Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and Sasha Cooke as his wife, Kitty, with Eric Owen and Richard Paul Fink. Alan Gilbert conducts.

November 22: La Damnation de Faust.  Robert Lepage directs a “reconceived” version of a co-production of the Saito Kinen Festival and Opéra National de Paris.  Marcello Giordani and Susan Graham star, along with the utterly ubiqitous John Relyea. James Levine conducts.

December 20:  Thaïs.  Renée Fleming salutes the holiday season in the role of a pagan hooker, and isn’t that Thomas Hampson under that monk’s hood?

January 10, 2009:  La Rondine.  The Met’s “Divas Gone Wild Festival” continues with Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna jerking the tears while Marco Armiliato conducts.

January 24: Orfeo.  The Mark Morris dancers tread the stage once more, though they surely won’t drown out Stephanie Blythe.

February 7: Lucia.  Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón are scheduled, but you might want to check back later for updates.
March 7:  Madama Butterfly. The smash hit Anthony Minghella production is telecast for the first time, with Cristina Gallardo-Domâs — one hopes in improved vocal form!

March 21: La Sonnambula.  Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez reunited for Mary Zimmerman’s sophomore directing effort, conducted by Evelino Pidò.

May 9:  La Cenerentola.   Elīna Garanča and Lawrence Brownlee should be pretty damn adorable together.

on the bright side

Resilient tenor Rolando Villazón makes a guest appearance on the TV talent search show “Musical Showstar 2008.” In a serious mood, RV performs “The Impossible Dream,” but then things turn very silly indeed when host Thomas Gottschalk (the Ryan Seacrest of Germany) joins the tenor for a production number from Monty Python’s Spamalot.

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universal adapter

La Cieca did a bit of nosing around about the abrupt departure of Jeffrey Vanderveen from IMG, and this is how the story is shaping up.

netrebko_arena.jpgVanderveen’s upcoming gig is the creation of a new division at Universal Music Group devoted to the production and promotion of Tibor Rudas style arena concerts for Universal Classics’ recording artists.

Apparently the theory is that in order to sell classical vocal CDs in significant numbers, the singers will be sent out on tours “in support of” their current releases, following the model of popular music performers.

The concerts Vanderveen is to put together will feature young Universal stars such as Anna Netrebko, ElÄ«na Garanča, Rolando Villazón, Juan Diego Flórez and Jonas Kaufmann performing in (obviously) large venues with “crossover” style miking in the manner of such successful acts acts as Katherine Jenkins and Russell Watson.

blood wedding

La Cieca hears from several authoritative sources that Diana Damrau will sing the autumn revival of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Met, replacing the gravid Anna Netrebko.

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breath of spring

Another “Return of Villazón” sound clip from Ed Rosen‘s Premiere Opera Podcast, featuring Rolando Villazón and Sophie Koch in this extended scene from Act 3 of Werther. (Performance on January 28 in Vienna.) Werther

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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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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 […]

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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 […]

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