Sunday, December 28, 2008

Was it Utterly Shamless Diva Worship? Yessss. Do I Regret a Minute of it? Noooo.

by Jules Massenet
December 27th, 2008

Conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos
Thais- Renee Fleming
Athanael- Thomas Hampson
Nicias- Michael Schade
Palemon- Alain Vernhes
Albine- Maria Zifchak
Crobyle/Myrtale- Alyson Cambridge/Ginger Costa-Jackson
Violin Solo- David Chan

I think the whole point of putting on a production like Thais is so that the audience can bask in the glory of a diva and worship her 'til night is done. In fact, I know that the only point of showing a rarely seen diva-mobile is to show off an opera house's most venerated soprano.

Renee Fleming herself seemed to rise to the occasion and delivered a beautiful and rich interpretation of this saintly courtesan. My one fear of the evening was that she wouldn't make the high note at the end of "Je suis seul", but how foolish of me! She of course sang the note perfectly, along with the rest of the gorgeous aria. While she might need some more lessons in "seductive dancing", as it were, Renee needs no help in playing the part of the ultimate diva, because isn't she the ultimate diva herself? She looked glorious in the two Christian Lacroix gowns, especially the first with the huge pink poofy jacket that I want to own and wear on the weekends. =) My English teacher always says that an author can not expect his/her audience to believe that a character’s personality can drastically change unless there are hints throughout the work. I had that in my mind while watching Thais, looking for hints. The biggest hint of course comes from the opera itself in Act II when Thais explains that she is looking for more in life and her fear of what will happen when she grows old. Massenet leaves the rest to the soprano. Renee here again rose to the occasion. Hint #1: Thais meaningless declarations of love to Nicias. Hint #2: The way she reacts when Athanael comes into her room and promises her eternal life. Hint #3: Her desire for eternal life. Hint #4: Her reaction when she hears Nicias’s voice (she says she hates Nicias.) Hint #5: Her willingness to burn everything she owns, even if she wants to keep a small ivory statue, she’s only human. We can forgive Renee the last note she sang, which was…not lovely… because the rest of the performance was truly magical.

While this opera is a diva-mobile it struck me how much focus there is on Anthanael. That’s not a problem of course, because I found the character intriguing thanks to the brilliance that is Thomas Hampson. The opera could be called Athanael, because I feel that the focus is (or should be) not just on Thais’s conversion, but on Atahanael’s struggle and decent into obsession. Thais is almost a cameo role, while Athanael has a back-story and a struggle and a journey that shapes the plot. Thomas Hampson was miraculous as this tortured monk. He, if you can believe, almost (almost) completely stole the spotlight from Thais/Renee. He almost overshadowed her in their scenes together, but I suppose that that is the intention of the opera, for Athanael to overpower Thais. Either way, he sounded fantastic. To my ears he sounded thousand times better than he did at Renee’s Big Opening Night. Athanael suits his voice much better than Germont. His “conversion” was more believable than Thais’s, in that he becomes obsessed with her memory and when he finds her dying he yells “It was all lies! There is no heaven! Everything I have told you is wrong! Stay with me!” While extremely disturbing, these lines do provide a small amount of comic relief.

Michael Schade has never been on my list of favorite tenors. Don’t ask me why, because he was a wonderful voice, but something about him just doesn’t click with me. However, his portrayal of Nicias was great. Despite his Mafioso style costumes (which are not his fault) I enjoyed his performance as the thoroughly creepy, but idolizing Nicias. His duet with Thais was beautifully sung, and I wouldn’t mind hearing him again.

All the supporting roles were very commendable. Alain Vernhes as Palemon, the head monk, was beautifully sung as was Maria Zifchak as Albine. Alyson Cambridge and Ginger Costa-Jackson as Nicias’s lackey’s Crobyle and Myrtale were extraordinary. One is a graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the other a member, if these are the singers this program is churning out then I am an avid supporter!
The “Meditation” was simply glorious and although it was at times rudely interrupted by noisy set changes backstage, it was mesmerizing as played by David Chan. I found myself not looking at the orchestra but gazing around the opera house thinking “Is there a more perfect place to play such a perfect piece?” I just worship the Met and the “Meditation.”

IN THE WORDS OF A FAMOUS TENOR “SHUT UP WITH YOUR DAMN COUGHING.” For goodness sake, people. During intermission hack up your lungs for all I care, sneeze until your brains come out, but when the lights go down I want SILENCE! It wasn’t just an occasional sporadic cough or sneeze, but every time someone coughed it would send a chain reaction of “Okay, then I can cough/sneeze now too.” Sometime’s it would go on for minutes until I wanted to scream! Seriously, opera fans, it’s not that hard to cough at intermission, or to keep quiet for the short amount of time the singers were on stage!
Love always,
CaroNome of Score Desk

Quick note on the production itself: It reminded me of the Otto Schenk Ring. The desert set looked very difficult to navigate, I was always worried Thomas Hampson was going to fall!!!! Overall, I did enjoy it. Nicias’s palace was my favorite set.

Next Post: The New Met Opera Store!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Listening!!!! =)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Did No One Else Hear This?

NY Post: Page Six
December 18th, 2008
"THAT Placido Domingo is being touted as the next general manager of the Metropolitan Opera should Peter Gelb depart. The tenor would presumably quit his posts at the Washington National Opera and the LA Opera."

Did no one else see this on one of the most notorious gossip pages presumably in the country? Or am I the only gossip hound in the opera blogosphere?
However, I digress. The main point here is for me to say: WHAT THE HELL, PETER GELB, WE'RE ALREADY TALKING ABOUT YOUR RETIREMENT?
You just got here, for crying out loud! I don't mean to be rude, but quite frankly (if Peter Gelb doesn't mean to retire right away) wouldn't Placido Domingo be too old to take his place? I love him, I really do, but he has two other opera companies and I don't think it would be fair to them and their fans if he picked up and left them for the Met.
Peter Gelb leaving the Met was not on my radar at all until I saw this little blurb. Why would he leave? Why would he do this to us?
Yes, granted, the Met has been through some trying economic times, but isn't that part of the process of change? You need the valley to get to the mountain, right? That's no reason to ditch the whole project.

I'm getting ahead of myself. This is, after all, a gossip column. This could be totally fictitious in every way, shape, and form.
It's late, I'll revisit this in the morning.... or after Christmas.

Happy Listening!!!!!!
AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!! =) =) =)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Puccinimas!!!! 150 Years of the Italian Master

(Title lovingly taken from the FaceBook event titled "Puccinimas" which I thought very clever.)

In honor of this GENIUS's birthday, I will present an assortment of my favorite moments in Puccini operas.
One of my favorite things about Puccini is that you can hear a simple chord progression or a rhythm and immediately say "Oh, that is so Puccini!" What would we do without his melodrama?

Che il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine
Donna non vidi mai from Manon Lescaut
Act 4 Duet from Manon Lescaut
Ch'ella Mi Creda from La Fanciulla del West
Un Bel Di from Madama Butterfly
The Humming Chorus from Madama Butterfly
Si Mi Chiamano Mimi from La Boheme
Che Gelida Manina from La Boheme
O Soave Fanciulla from La Boheme
Act 3 Marcello/Mimi Duet from La Boheme
Sono Andati from La Boheme (One of my favorite moments in the opera is when Mimi tells Rodolfo that she's not beautiful like the dawn, but like the sunset. *sob*)
Vissi D'arte from Tosca
Act I curtain of Tosca
Recondita Armonia from Tosca
E Lecevan Le Stelle from Tosca
O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)
Nulla, Silenzio from Il Tabarro
Final Scene of Suor Angelica
In Questa Reggia from Turandot
Liu's Death from Turandot
Signore Ascolta from Turandot
Act I Finale of Turandot
Act II Ping, Pang, and Pong from Turandot
Nessun Dorma from Turandot (Pavarotti)
Nessun Dorma from Turandot (Lando Bartolini)
Final Scene of Turandot

I hate to wear this story out, but seeing the final scene of Turandot changed my life. Almost four years ago I sat down with my mom to watch The Turandot Project (yes I WILL tell this story every year) and almost had a heart attack when the big crashing "Nessun Dorma" theme came booming out of the stereo system. I never thought anything could sound like that! Sure, I'd heard "Nessun Dorma" but this was insane! It gave meaning to those foreign phrases.
Puccini changed my life. Puccini is life.

Happy Birthday Puccini!!!!! May another 150 years go by just as happily!

Happy Listening!!! =)

Monday, December 8, 2008

"The Year in Classical And Dance" from New York Magazine

The Big Entrance
The unofficial start of Alan Gilbert's reign at the NY Philharmonic with a free concert in Central Park takes the cake as the most important classical music happening of 2008. While some people (and some players) expressed grief at his replacement of Riccardo Muti who, as we know, lovingly declined the position of music director, his official reign (which starts in September) is guaranteed to be new and exciting. He already expressed some new ideas he has for the Phil: Phil: "a new-music ensemble, a renegotiated balance between contemporary music and traditional repertoire, and the world premiere of a work by composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg; Messiaen’s Poèmes pour mi, sung by Renée Fleming; and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique."

The Year in Superlatives
Best Changing of the Guard: City Ballet's New Male Trio
Sean Suozzi, Tyler Angle, and Robert Fairchild are the three new male headliners for the New York City Ballet. Having seen all three I can tell you that these are three thrilling dancers. Sean Souzzi happens to be my favorite of the three, with his "dark romanticism" and gorgeous dancing.
Best Choreographer: Benjamin Millepied
I've only seen him dance (and sing) in Jerome Robbin's West Side Story Suite so I can tell you nothing about his choreography. To experience Millepied's "unique vision" for yourself you can visit the New York City Ballet this spring at the start of its new season.
Best Use of an Unexpected Space: Die Soldaten
This avant-garde opera written by Bernd Alois Zimmermann found an equally obscure home at the drill hall in the Park Avenue Armory. In this extraordinary production has movable bleachers that transport the audience from one scene to another.

The Top Ten Classical Events
10) Youtube Symphony- Global online auditions for an orchestra to play a new work by Tan Dun were launched by Google last week. All auditioners post a video of themselves on Youtube playing the music Google posted. Sounds like I'll be wasting even more hours on Youtube!
9) Tristan und Isolde- That old cursed thing? Apparently New York Magazine thinks it was worth the wait.
8) Alarm Will Sound- I'm not sure I understand it, but apparently this ensemble played an orchestration of a player-piano piece that can not be played by human hands.
7) The Opening of (Le) Poisson Rouge- A new hot spot for "genre hoppers." I'm not sure it's a cross-over club...
6) Brooklyn Rider at the Brooklyn Lyceum- Brooklyn's leading string quartet and Iranian fiddler Kayhan Kalhor displayed "magical logic"during that one night concert, which you can catch on their CD Passport.
5) Peter Grimes- The most disturbing production, in my opinion, of the Met's 2007-2008 season
catches this number 5 spot with Athony Dean Griffey's performances as Peter Grimes.
4) Bernstein at 90- What would a classical countdown be without a little Bernstein love?
3) Jordi Savall & Hespèrion XXI- A unofficial soundtrack to Don Quixote played by a Catalan viola da gamba master and his ensemble, featuring works written during the time of Cervantes.
2) Jeremy Denk at Zankel Hall- Fellow blogger Jeremy Denk performed two rigorous piano works by Ives and Beehtoven and later picked the keys out of his teeth.
1) Doctor Atomic- "Adams’s score overwhelmed the weaknesses in Peter Sellars’s quilted-together libretto." Apparently. The orchestra, led by Alan Gilbert, was the real star of the show. Not that I would know. I didn't the production and I don't possess a true ear for new music.

So, the best the Met could muster was Doctor Atomic, Peter Grimes, and Tristan und Isolde. Well, good for them, it could have been far worse I suppose.

My favorite?
The Worst of the Year:
"Already wheezing during the boom years, New York City Opera suffered a triple trauma when renovations to the State Theater forced the current season's cancellation, fund-raising hit a wall, and incoming general manager Gerard Mortier decided to take his ball and go home. The tragic debacle leaves the company on the brink."
Silly Mortier, NYCO is for Sills!

Happy Listening!!! =)

Monday, November 24, 2008

"To My Biggest Fan" Part II

I want to call it right now: I OFFICIALLY SAID IT BEFORE THE NEW YORK TIMES. If you will allow me to paraphrase, I first said that Patricia Racette is a powerhouse with a performance not to be missed as Cio-Cio-San last season!!!!!!! Get with the program, professional critics!!! Dare I say "Butterfly of the 21st Century"???? Oh yes, I dare. Scream at me all you want, you'll find that it's the truth.
I knew this performance was extra special when I started tearing up at Butterfly's Entrance. I always forget how beautiful Butterfly is until I experience it again. I heard her coming over the hill and I nearly broke my mother's ribs I nudged her so hard. "That's her! That's Patricia Racette!" What a nerd I am. Trust me, though, if you had been there for her "Un Bel Di" you would have cried as hard, too.
Can you not get me started on how realistic her portrayal is? I'm morphing into complete teenager mode. Ready for this? Patricia Racette's Butterfly is just so uber realistic that I can't even talk about it without have spastic convulsions. Even the coldest of hearts melts for Joe-Shmoe's Cio-Cio-san, so can you even imagine what the audience was like during the final scenes of Racette's Butterfly? I, at least, was a complete mess. During the curtain calls, in between clapping like a crazy person, I was trying to make sure my eyeliner wasn't running so as to look presentable when I met Patricia.

Oops! I gave it away! (Just in case the picture of the Green Room in the last post and of the playbill in this one didn't give you a hint.)
I'll start by saying that I am the worst at meeting famous people. I need to remember that these people are human beings too! What's wrong with me?????
Next I will tell you a little side story: In between saying "I can't do this" and hyperventilating I hear a group of men approaching the Green Room. My mom, who is standing outside the room, shoots glances at me and gestures like I know Sign Language. My heart is pounding as I see PATRICK SUMMERS, DWAYNE CROFT, AND MARCELLO GIORDANI WALK BY THE ROOM. Literally 5 feet from where I was standing. I had to hold onto the table while my aunts just laughed at me. I ran to the door to watch them walk away (don't call me a stalker, you know you would have done the same thing!), but I couldn't say anything.

After having sufficiently recovered from that, which means I was breathing, Beth Clayton walks in and says "Hi, I'm Beth. Patricia is just getting ready and we can go inside in a minute." She shook all of our hands and was soooo nice! She was so casual, in fact, that I almost forgot that she herself is a well known and extremely talented singer. Then I had to recover from that (does it get easier over time?) in time to walk to Patricia Racette's dressing room.

Once I got there all hell broke loose. I couldn't breathe, much less speak. We're some of the last to greet her, but here's basically how it played out, all casually and pleasantly:

Aunt 1: "Hello Patricia, this is one of your biggest, and youngest, fans."

Me: "Ms. were were so was just so amazing... you're so amazing." Hyperventilating, sweating, being overly nervous.

Aunt 2: "She's kind of nervous, but can we get an autograph?"

Patricia Racette: "Sure, of course!"

Mom: "Oh and a picture too!"

Patricia Racette: "Haha, oh great!" Even though she looks fabulous, she wipes her face and shakes out her hair.

After that we took the picture, said about a thousand "thank you"s, and then I stumbled to the car. I flipped out the whole ride home. I ranted about how "great, now she thinks I'm a freaky stalker and that I can't talk. They all think I'm a loser blahblahblah I'm such a creeper." The creeping comes with the package. =) Heehee just kidding.

All I need now is advice on how to approach famous people/my idols. Any pointers?
Parting Statement:
Viva La Racette! OMG she can't get any more uber amazing and down to earth.
Love you girlfraayyynnddd!!! =)
Happy Listening!!! =)
(Do I really have to apologize again for the lateness and the extensive length of my posts?)

"To My Biggest Fan" Part I

With the grueling demands of Nutcracker "Hell Week" (more excuses later) it was impossible for me to be near a computer much less logging on and updating this lovely blog of mine. Plus, I'm currently suffering from something called [by medical professionals] "Star-struck Dementia."
By some miracle of nature a friend of a friend got us (meaning my aunts, my mom, and I) backstage after a mind-blowing Madama Butterfly to meet Patricia Racette. But I digress.
I should start being careful about what I say before performances. At dinner I accidentally said, "The only way this evening could be any more perfect is if Marcello Giordani magically appeared as Pinkerton, but since he's in Damnation that will never happen." WELL. Isn't it ironic... We get the usually dreaded slip of paper in the program, I instantly grab it from my aunt and INVOLUNTARILY give out a "YES!" I couldn't have had better luck. I will admit to being less than enthusiastic at the prospect of seeing Roberto Aronica based on what I had heard from others.Marcello looked like he never left the set! He was so natural (when is he not?) and of course his voice was clear and beautiful as it always is. Since he makes a career out of stepping in at the last moment I shouldn't be so surprised at his ease and style. =) Speaking of style: his perfect Italian style moves me to such great emotion that in my "Score Desk" binder I wrote "VIVA ITALIA!" I wish he'd sub in every time I go to the opera! Vivo Giordani.
Maria Zifchak returned to repeat her role as the loyal and heart-breaking Suzuki. Besides being blessed with a smooth and rich mezzo voice she also possesses sincere acting abilities that, at a few points, stole the scene. Most notably when during one scene Suzuki, overcome with the realization of the heartbreak her mistress is about to experience, buckles over in sobs outside of the little house. My eyes were drawn to her completely. Did you miss these performances? Don't fret, Ms. Zifchak will be playing Albine in Thais. Don't miss that!!!
Some supporting roles (not to mention the puppet) that caught my ear were David Won as Yamadori, Keith Miller as the Bonze, and Greg Fedderly as Goro.
My aunts both saw an undercurrent in Dwayne Croft's Sharpless that I never even considered before. They both said, "Do you think he was in love with Butterfly?" Talk about a whole new perspective. It's interesting to think about: Does he want Butterfly for himself? He never really chastises Pinkerton for leaving her and never tries to convince him to stay, does he? Regardless, it was a beautifully sung and acted Sharpless. Seeing his name in the playbill was very reassuring because he has delivered consistently fabulous performance from season to season.
Happy Listening!!! =)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm at butterfly. Aronica is out, Giordani is in. Praise Puccini, the opera gods are smiling on me today!!!!!!

Bartlett Sher is Off The Hook and Peter Gelb: "Ghost"buster

Michael Kaiser, the head of the Kennedy Center, is the savior of New York City Opera.
He has promised to assist NYCO in finding a new leader while helping schedule the 2009-2010 season. It is made very clear in the AP report that Michael Kaiser will not be the next general manager/artistic director. He is only helping NYCO and guiding them into a new, and hopefully extremely exciting, era.
So, WWBD?? She'd find someone to help her beloved company. Good work, Bubbles. =)


It seems that New York City Opera isn't the only opera company at Lincoln Center to be feeling the effects of our economic crisis. The long awaited Met revival of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles has been cancelled for, of course, financial reasons. The opera, that was supposed to show next season, was going to star Thomas Hampson, Angela Gheorghiu, and Kristin Chenoweth. Hampson and Gheorghiu will instead star in La Traviata, which will replace Ghosts. We have no report of Chenoweth, we figure she's "pop-u-lar" enough to find a new project.
Peter Gelb has said, however, that none of next season's new productions will be cut.
Personally, I don't think he should make any promises about that. New productions are expensive and God knows how this economic situation will play out in the next few months.

Happy Listening!! =)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ask Figaro: What Opera Am I?

Are you perplexed by the endless choice of interesting opera being exhibited at the Metropolitan Opera this season? Ponder no further!!!!
The Met has created a personality test that will match you up with a production that seems it could be made just for you! The questions may seem non sequitur, but if you look closely you can find hidden operatic meaning in them all.
Here is my "Perfect Metropolitan Opera":

Le Damnation de Faust

You are a visionary who appreciates big gestures in art, food, and love. You would rather attend 10 infuriating performances than one boring one, and your mind is like a great white shark on a feeding frenzy, gnashing its way to the next new thing. Broadway musicals are, generally speaking, your idea of time earned off from Purgatory. But are you ready to have your mind really, truly, and inarguably blown sky-high? Then you have to come and see the hallucinatory masterpiece from two artists whose imaginations are even more extravagant than yours, Hector Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, in a new production by Robert Lepage.

Nice build up. I like it.
It's funny, I've had this strange, but very powerful urge to go see Damnation.

Happy Listening!! =)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Who Can Save City Opera? and WWBD?

While sitting here going through tissue after tissue with probably the worst cold since tuberculosis I received the bad news the Gerard Mortier is officially "parting ways" with the New York City Opera. While some people foresaw this, I, being the idealist that I am, thought this talk of backing out would blow over and Mortier would make NYCO into a major house for modern works.
I should have seen it coming. The lay-offs. The co-directorship at Bayreuth. I just thought this was temporary. Silly, silly CaroNome.

What New York City Opera needs right now is a Peter Gelb. An influential businessperson who knows how to fundraise and get the crowds excited. They need Peter Gelb's marketing genius. This brings me to my next point:

Bartlett Sher's Obligation to Lincoln Center
Since we know that Peter Gelb could never double dip and help out NYCO (being the Met's "little sibling across the plaza"), I think that as the new director of the Lincoln Center Theater Bartlett Sher could take a temporary position as director of NYCO. He can learn from Peter Gelb's genius, take his own directing genius and put it together to put NYCO back on its feet. When they find another Mortier to take over, he can go back to just running the Lincoln Center Theater.

I have another point:
Poor Bubbles, she's rolling in her grave...
What could be worse. Only a year after her devastating death, her beloved opera company is going up in smoke. If only she was here, she would know what to do. She'd either beat Mortier into the ground, Sills-style, and make him stick to his promise using her charm and convincing Brooklyn attitude or just take over again. We need to ask ourselves "What would Bubbles do?" WWBD?

There's my two cents. Now NYCO needs to run with its own ideas and get itself together!
I hope things work out. It would be heartbreaking to see anything happen to such a wonderful company.

Happy Listening!!! =)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Endorse Bellini

Instead of pressuring you all to vote and telling who to vote for this Election Day 2008 (and you should vote, of course) I will instead give you some peace to meditate on the magnitude of the decision you are making for our country. For us younguns who can't vote yet your decisions are extremely important and will affect the rest of our lives.
So hear is some Bellini (in celebration of his birthday, which was yesterday) to ease your mind.
A compilation of one of his most peaceful and beautiful pieces: "A te o cara" from I Puritani.

Alfredo Kraus and Mirella Freni
Luciano Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland
Juan Diego Florez
Lawrence Brownlee and Norah Amsellem
Franco Corelli and Himself
Giacomo Lauri-Volpi
Giuseppe di Stefano and Maria Callas

Now go vote! =)

Happy Listening!!! =)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chi Mi Frena In Tal Momento?

Who dares to restrain me in this moment [of epic proportions]?

October 25th, 2008
Lucia di Lammermoor
Lucia- Diana Damrau
Edgardo- Piotr Beczala
Enrico- Vladimir Stoyanov
Raimondo- Ildar Abdrazakov
Alisa- Michaela Martens
Arturo- Sean Panikkar
Conductor- Marco Armiliato

As promised, here is a review of the birthday celebration Lucia. I took three friends to sit in the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera House to see Diana Damrau, one of the great sopranos singing today, in Lucia di Lammermoor, one of the greatest bel canto operas ever written. I want to reiterate this because, not only did I witness an EPIC (to quote my friends) performance, but three of my friends did as well. I hesitate to say "converts", but they certainly enjoyed themselves immensely and have an added respect for this extraordinary art.

Really quick, here is the origin of "EPIC."
I usually use the thunderous applause after arias and during curtain calls to give my commentary. So after every aria/duet in the opera I had said "Beastly. That was amazing. Oh my gosh, beastly!" I figured I had used the adjective "beastly" (as a compliment, remember!) enough, so it was time for something new. After the mad scene I was dumbstruck. I couldn't even say anything! Suddenly my friend yells "EPIC! That was epic!" It was too perfect. The rest of the evening all we could saw was. "Wait, can you believe how EPIC that was?" "It was so EPIC, I can't even stand it." We even had to make up a new category of epic: Lucia-style Epic. =)

In case you want to hear about the singers at all...

Part of the epic-ness was the perfection of the cast. Looking at the list some of us may have been caught saying "Who?" Well, that question (and some of our prayers) were quickly answered.
Sean Panikkar as Arturo (while not exactly Stephen Costello *wink*) and Ronald Naldi as Normanno were strong supporters with beautiful voices and definite presence. An opera is only as good as it's supporting singers and these guys were great.
Michaela Martens as Alisa was, as last year, a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully, after the sextet you don't want to be heard, because this mezzo's voice is so big that during her high notes she drowns out everything else. It's a good thing. I love it. It's like proclaiming "Hello! I'm here! And I have a wonderful mezzo voice!!"
Ildbar Abdrazakov was a great Raimondo. He staggered onto the stage just before the mad scene in such a way that it made everyone in the audience nervous. Let's face it, we all know the mad scene is coming, but the horrified look he had made it so....real! His singing in the second act was great as well. His guidance to Lucia was heartfelt and very affecting.
No one likes Enrico. No one ever is supposed to like Enrico. He's a mean brother who has no consideration for his sister's feelings. Right? I guess not. Vladimir Stoyanov showed (me, at least) another dimension of Enrico. Sure, he is dishonest and mean to Lucia, but his intentions are clearer. With his deep voice and impressive acting Mr. Stoyanov shows a man who, in desperation, would sacrifice his sister's happiness for the "good" of his family's name. He is struggling, as head of the family, to maintain the favor the Ashton family had previously enjoyed. This all becomes clear through Stoyanov's personal interpretation of Enrico Ashton.

The real find at this performance was Piotr Beczala as Edgardo. He comes on stage and all of my friends lunged for the only pair of opera glasses we brought. Enough said? Well on the visual part of the discussion anyway... I'm always excited but nervous to see tenors I haven't heard [of] before. While I want them to succeed I'm always afraid they will disappoint. My worries were for nothing! Piotr Beczala possesses a gorgeous tenor voice with vibrant high notes and luxurious tone. He also has amazing acting abilities. Last year I commented on Marcello Giordani knocking over chairs for no apparent reason after he denounces Lucia. Beczala did that too, but here it looked normal. (Don't get me wrong, I adore Marcello Giordani, but his clear Italian style and knocking over chairs don't mesh well together.) Everything he did was perfectly relevant to the music and to the story. You really believed him and felt for him. This is a tenor to watch for! He is performing in two other roles at the Met this season (Duke in Rigoletto and Lenski in Eugene Onegin) so his name will be on every opera fans lips. Remember his name, because you won't forget his voice. <3
Diana Damrau. Lucia-style Epic. Lucia Ashton is not a half-insane girl who is clingy and weak and unstable. She's about as insane as any teenage aristocrat with a forbidden lover. She has a strong personality (demonstrated when she throws Edgardo's coat on the ground in Act I and rushes right back into his arms to elongate their duet) and a strong will (demonstrated in her duet with her brother, until she reads the forged letter). It's only, like I said, when Enrico shows her the forged letter that she breaks down. It's all downhill from the there. The wedding, the decrying, the mad sc-...we aren't there yet.
Diana Damrau. What a voice on this woman! You wouldn't know this was her role debut. You would think she'd been singing this for years! I've never seen a Lucia like this. All Lucia's are unique, but this was uniquely unique. It was Lucia, Diana Damrau style. That means it has sass, flair, it's piquant, vibrant. It's everything it should be, but with an edge. That edge is the mad scene. Every soprano is dying to do it, but only few get it just right. Need I say more? It's implied that she got it "just right." I've never seen a Lucia hobble in circles so many times, or stretch across the prompter's box and sing those extremely difficult passages. She had blood on her face, her arms, her dress. It was everywhere! Don't even get me started on this woman's high notes. THE HIGH NOTES! The High Notes. We know she has them from her Queen of the Night, but these are out of this world! All in all, it was ridiculous. It's ludicrous that those sounds can come out of a human being.
Never seen a Lucia quite like it. Beczala and Damrau have a warm and believable chemistry that had me thinking "Oh, I could see that." There was just something very different about how they reacted to each other. With some/most couples it's all about the love they share right now. Lucia and Edgardo are in love right now and yes our families fight, but now we are in love. With these two you can sense their past. You know that they know that they aren't supposed to be together, but it doesn't matter to them. You see the complexities of their relationship without them having to spoon feed it to you.

Dear Marco Armiliato, I salute you. Love, CaroNome of Score Desk.
EPIC. (The chorus, too. Finally catching up to the orchestra!)

To Summarize:
My birthday performance was LUCIA-STYLE EPIC.

Happy Listening!!! =) =)
PS. I apologize for the lateness.
PPS. I always try to make my reviews shorter, but it never works. You can handle that, right?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Birthday Birthday Birthday!!!!


That's riiiight!!!!! Today is my birthdayyyyy! Not that I'm excited about it or anything...

I saw Lucia di Lammermoor with Diana Damrau last night with some of my friends to celebrate. I might actually be the first girl to ever have her birthday party at the Metropolitan Opera. Thank you, Peter Gelb!!! Hahaha.

I will have to talk about the epic-ness (aka beastliness) of Lucia another time, because I'm awfully busy right now!!!! Go Diana Damrau!!!! =)

Happy Listening!!! =) =)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Have Been Tagged

I never thought I would get tagged, but there you go. Learn something new every day.

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog. Leah was my tagger.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.

4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. If you don't have 7 blog friends, or if someone else already took dibs, then tag some unsuspecting strangers.


1. When I was in the fifth grade I got mad at my brothers and slammed the door to my room. My finger got caught in it, so I instinctively put it in my mouth to make it hurt less. It tasted really funny and when I looked at it my finger was covered in blood. Turns out some of the finger came off with the slammed door. We went to the hospital and all was okay. 10 stitches for my 10th birthday, which was a few weeks from then. Traumatizing? No. Weird? Yes.

2. While working at an internship near Union Square in the city, I had a bag of carrots that I didn't want for lunch. I passed a homeless man every day and I thought I would see if he wanted them. I gathered my courage, because I don't usually approach anyone, and I asked, "Excuse me, would you like these? I'm not going to have them." I was so proud of myself and I wanted to do something nice for him, but he said, "No. I don't want them." The weirdest part about the whole thing was that as I was walking away I heard the lady behind me say to the person she was with "Well, she just caught a druggie." Weird.

3. I used to play the viola. Then I switched to clarinet, and then to oboe. I quit the oboe when band wasn't a requirement in school anymore and it was after school instead. I had dance class, homework, and voice lessons. Something had to go. I slightly regret it. College applications are soon and oboes look pretty amazing.

4. I saw an Aida at the Arena di Verona last summer. It was the craziest thing I've ever witnessed. It started to rain, but then I channeled my inner Tosca, prayed to the Virgin Mary, and it stopped raining 15 minutes before the performance was supposed to start. Now we say in my family that God wanted me to see that performance.

5. I have only loved opera since February 2006. It's when my mom brought home the DVD of The Turandot Project from the local library. I didn't know what it was about, but Zubin Mehta came on the screen talking about how everything is about "color. You never see a gray dragon." Suddenly, the finale music starts playing and the most incredible production of Turandot ever (Florence) appears on the screen. I literally jumped onto the couch screaming "I KNOW THIS SONG. I KNOW THIS SONG. OH MY GOD I KNOW THIS." So this is love, mm-mm-mm-mm, so this is love...

6. Besides Opera, the loves of my life are: Ballet, Art, John Adams (c. 1776), British and Russian Literature, British History, and Broadway. Also, I'm an anglo-phile. It's pretty bad. I have a jar in my room that JOKINGLY says "Long Live the Queen." My friend and I both have one. We're saving up so that when the queen dies (far far from now) we can fly to London and mourn with the British people. We could possibly stay for the coronation, or however long it takes the princes to fall madly in love with us.

7. Here are some other random facts: My brothers and I have a game called "Random Sentence from Anna Karenina." I hated Der Rosenkavalier the first time I heard it. This blog has a binder that I bring to the opera house to write reviews in; it's sad I know, it's made so I don't forget any detail of the performance, so if you see a teenage girl walking around with a white binder or if you sit next to her, it's ME. I am a member of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. I am on the opera-l list service, but I'm a bona-fide lurker. I have 7 editions of Pride and Prejudice in my room alone, I don't even know why. I am in love with Venice, Italy. It was my mom's idea to make this blog. It is my mom's fault I love opera, so whenever she gets annoyed with the loud opera music I remind her it's her fault.

Now, 7 Bloggers Tagged:

1. Crazy Daisy, the only not classical music blog I read, which is sad. =) You should be proud.

2. ACB from The Concert. =)

3. The one who introduced me to Patricia Petibon and unleashed my love of Baroque opera, Sarah Noble.

4. Olivia from Orchestra Ring.

5. Gert from Gertsamtkunstwerk


7. Please see above. I'm a young'un. I don't move in the higher circles of the opera-blogging world. If I ever found out that La Cieca or Opera Chic read this blog once I'd fall on the floor.

Happy Listening!!! =)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Have a Question About the Atomic Bomb?

Just ask Gerald Finley...
or Robert J. Oppenheimer.

If it's too much work to ask, just watch the Met's new Doctor Atomic trailer.

PLUS: Get ready for the Met Player, coming to a computer near you October 22nd.

Happy Listening!!! =)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And You Thought I Forgot...

You know, Columbus Day weekend and all that...

The Two Geniuses of Italian Opera:

Happy Birthday Pavarotti!!!! (10.12)
Happy Birthday Verdi!!!!!! (10.10)

Happy Listening!!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lucia Photo Gallery

Congratulations to Diana Damrau on her debut as Lucia!!!!!! What a feat, and at the Metropolitan Opera House! Any worry was for nothing because the reviews were awesome! Raving reviews from the New York Times, Seattle Times, The New Yorker, and the Associated Press are proof that Diana Damrau is the soprano to watch out for. Not that she wasn't before, she was always a force to be reckoned with, but now it's over the top!

The Metropolitan Opera has documented this historic debut in the form of a photo gallery in which Ms. Damrau looks gorgeous (and frightening!!!) as Lucy Ashton.

I can't wait to see her (for my sweet sixteen!!!!!) at the end of the month as Lucia. I'm so excited! I'm taking a few friends to see her and show them the majesty that is Donizetti, Lucia, and Diana Damrau. Is it too much to hope that I can meet her after? Maybe she'll stop by Fiorello's for dinner after the show, like me! =) =) Nah, it's definitely too much to ask for.

Happy Listening!!!! =)
and Congrats to Ms. Damrau again!!!!! =)

Sunday, October 5, 2008


One of my favorite websites...

Who Needs a Television When You've Got the City?
(a soprano is singing an opera aria in her apartment on the 4th floor)
Random man on street (screaming up to the window): Girl, you're not even gonna sing the high note?! Sissy!
Soprano (screaming out the window): Everyone's a freaking critic!

This being New York, you can expect that I edited some of the language. I just thought it was a very comical situation.
Bringing opera to the public isn't as satisfying for the singers after all...

Happy Listening!!! =)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Teddy and Isabel Sittin' in a Tree...

To the dismay of many a sighing opera fans, barihunk Teddy Tahu Rhodes is planning to be married in New York City, where they will have their home, this December.
I'll give you some hints about who he's engaged to...
She's a mezzo.
She's up and coming.
She is on my cool mezzo list.
She was in Romeo et Juliette at the Met last season.
She is the only mezzo I could possibly stand giving Teddy up to.
That's right! It's my favorite up and coming singer and fellow New Yorker, Isabel Leonard!!!! I wish them the best. They are both so cute and I hope they have long and happy lives together.
Enter opera's next big opera love couple.
Happy Listening!!!!! =)

The Catfight

Deborah Voigt and Olga Borodina fight to the death for Enzo's love...
I mean, Gioconda and Laura fight to the death for Enzo's love...

Or is it really Debbie and Olga? Hm...... Watch the video and find out...

Happy Listening!!!! =)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

September Birthdays

In the fuss of Opening Night I neglected to mention some very prominent birthdays from last month (my goodness, October already?).

Cornell Macneil on 9/24. One of the greatest (and my favorite!) Verdi baritones. That's not even mentioning his off the charts Scarpia. He happens to be my favorite Scarpia also. Just because he was the first Scarpia I heard/saw (with Behrens and Domingo on VHS) doesn't mean I'm biased! Of course not! His act I curtain sets me off on a rant every time.

Alfredo Kraus on 9/24. Acclaimed as one of the great tenors of out times, Alfredo Kraus always guarantees a perfectly sung performance. Truth be told, I never had much exposure to Alfredo Kraus, but as I'm looking at his youtube clips now I'm realizing that he truly is a legend.

George Gershwin on 9/26. Gershwin and the livin' is easy. A legend in his own, and every, right. You can not say enough about this American genius! I can't even speak, I'm so amazed by him. Could we ask for anything more?

Richard Bonynge on 9/29. I can't have Bonynge clips without having Sutherland clips. They're a pair! The great operatic love couple! He's also a legendary conductor, in case you didn't know. Mr. Sutherland? Au contraire! Mr. Bonynge if you please.

Happy Listening!!!! =)

Monday, September 29, 2008

La Gioconda at the Met 9/27/08

La Gioconda- Deborah Voigt
Laura- Olga Borodina
La Cieca- Ewa Podles
Enzo- Aquiles Machado
Barnaba- Jason Stearns ****
Alvise- Orlin Anastassov
Solo Dancers: Angel Corella and Letizia Giuliani

****replacing a sick Carlo Guelfi

Saturday was my first time seeing Deborah Voigt live and boy was I excited!!!! Despite the fact that I was dead tired and my dad could barely keep his eyes open it was a thrilling night!!! (Note: It was not the opera that made us sleepy!)

I was so pumped. Beyond excited. Here was a performance of an opera I had seen before, but not with as much knowledge as I have now. Two of my favorite singers, Olga Borodina and Deborah Voigt, and one of my favorite dancers, Angel Corella, all on one stage. It's almost too much!
Here's the low down:

I'll start with the men. Tenor Aquiles Machado was not my choice Enzo. Let's just put it that way, nicely. His "Cielo e mar" was, in my opinion, less than thrilling. He can hit the notes, just not in the nicest ways. Am I a spoiled opera-goer? Yes. Do I hide it? No. I want the best tenors all the time. =) His entrance was better than the rest of the night, which is weird. Usually it's the other way around.
The Alvise of Orlin Anastassov was so creepy. He went towards the curtain with the "dead" Laura behind it and I got chills up my spine! He sang very well, too. His Act III aria was evil and yet moving. That whole "I'm killing my wife, but only for the sake of family pride" works every time...but it never does (see also Un Ballo in Maschera).
Mr. Not-Peter-Gelb (you can tell I'm terrific with names) came in front of the curtain, to many boos and scoffs, before the performance to announce that baritone Carlo Guelfi (Barnaba) had a bad cold. Not catastrophic! At least Debbie Voigt doesn't have a throat infection! His cover, Jason Stearns, was a very very good baritone. Despite some severe rushing in the act II "Pescator" which caused him to be way ahead of the orchestra, he was quite amazing. His Barnaba was so evil he was almost Iago-like. In the act I "O Monumento" especially. He has a great future ahead of him I can tell, at the Met or not.

Now to the highly commendable ladies:
The best singers of the evening were by far the women.
Deborah Voigt was, in my humble and probably insignificant opinion, amazing! Granted, I have heard her better (ie. last year's Tristan, when she wasn't dying of consumption, etc.), but for the first time hearing her in the house it was fantastic. Might I add, if it's not too much, that she is looking stunning these days. Not that she needs to hear it from me, but she's gorgeous and is looking super healthy and what EVERYONE should aim to look like. I didn't even mind the brown wig so much. =) Back to her singing... Her "Enzo adorato, come t'aaammmooo" was really beautiful. A taaddd pinchy on the high, high note, but I, and I think a few other people, had to consciously stop myself from clapping. "Oh right, this isn't Zinka at the old house, just kidding!" The "Suicidio" was fantastic as well, of course!
Olga Borodina, an original member of the Cool Mezzo List, was amazing last night. I saw her two years ago in the same role and I can't decide which was better. She had a little trouble with the last note of her act II aria, but other than that her voice rang with beauty. She looked radiant as always and her booming voice magnifies her presence by 100%. That's adding to her already apparent stage presence. She's just a BEAST. She's amazing. I love her.
EWA PODLES! Where have you been all my life???? NEWEST MEMBER OF THE COOL MEZZO LIST. She got the longest ovation (of the singers) all night, and rightfully! She sang the heck out of La Cieca!!!!! Not to mention I seriously wondered whether she actually could see or not. She's perfect! Gorgeous voice and very natural acting. Legend.

I'd also like to say that I was not disappointed with any of the supporting roles. Namely David Crawford as Zuane, Tony Stevenson as Isepo, and Ricardo Lugo as a Monk. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of singers the Met got for these roles. Bravi!

The dancers were heavenly. Letizia Giuliani is an Italian ballerina. She was absolutely stunning; her feet are beyond words! I have this thing about dancers' feet, maybe it's because I'm a dancer too, I don't know. She has amazing feet, her arches go up to her eyes! She danced beautifully and she was equally matched in her partner, Angel Corella. Star of the American Ballet Theatre, Angel Corella is, in my opinion, one of the best danseurs currently dancing in the world.

Side Note: The chandeliers looking glorious. They sparkle like nothing else I've ever seen. It looks like it's shooting out rainbows! I noticed chandeliers that I think I had never seen before. They were so bright and beautiful. One thing.... That wonderful affect we all love when the lights come down and they raise the chandeliers: it's gone. Gone. I don't know why, but I guess someone decided that the lights should go down and the chandeliers be brought up in darkness. An eerie effect for the opening cello solo of La Gioconda, but I hope it will not be continued!
I demand old-fashioned pre-curtain routines! I shall not stand for it!

Happy Listening!!! =)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

La Gioconda Tonight!!!!

I'm really excited. This was my first live opera ever when I saw it two years ago. It's like reliving that exciting day when I saw opera on the stage for the first time. What beautiful memories....

La Gioconda
by Amilcare Ponchielli
Gioconda- Deborah Voigt
Enzo- Aquiles Machado
Laura- Olga Borodina
La Cieca- Ewa Podles
Barnaba - Carlo Guelfi
Alvise- Orlin Anastassov

Happy Listening!!! =)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Divas Take Over New York, Bloomberg Jealous (Part II)

Welcome to part two!!!! This was probably the worst week to have opening night (for me anyway) because all of a sudden I have all this school work and no time to do it! In the midst of all this I want to write this review and be done with it!!!!
Reminder: This part is about the actual performance.

I noticed that since she did not have all of act one to warm up, she sounded a bit rough for the first few minutes of Traviata. By the time she was up to "Dite alla govine" and certainly by the aaamaaazing "Ah m'ami Alfredo" she was in tip top shape. Sopranos are noted for always wanting to dddrrraaagggg those bars out, but why not? Beautiful voice, beautiful music, impassioned situation. Who's complaining?!?! In Scene Two the "Alfredo, Alfredo" was, as she always does it, long and drawn out. If she has the breath capacity then I say go for it! It sounded stunning and she sang it sitting on the ground! That can't be easy.
Now, while Renee isn't exactly a coloratura expert, I think she handled Manon very very very nicely. She approached the bravura a little differently than most sopranos, to be sure, but I think it sounded fine. Okay, okay, yes I do prefer Beverly Sills, but Sills was the queen of Manons, so I have to give everyone else a break. The St. Sulpice scene was, in my opinion, a better scene for Renee. The "N'est ce plus ma main" was gorgeous and was sung with such feeling! The "pole dancing" on the prie dieu was not my favorite moment of the evening, but it added a bit of controversy (and adamant muttering in the movie theaters).
Capriccio was the real highlight of the evening. I feel bad for those who did not stay through to the end due to the lateness of the evening. This was my favorite and probably the best of the three acts for Ms. Fleming. This is said to be one of her favorite scenes in all of opera, and there's a reason for it. The metaphorical significance is obvious, and the music is enchanting. The soprano has a choice to move around and really use the stage or to stand in one place and sing to her "reflection." (Which I think is another metaphor. The soprano looks for herself in the audience. The reflection of herself comes from the audience, the spectators. Ah ha!) Renee chose the former course of action. She really moved around the stage and used the set. It wasn't exactly a chew-and-swallow kind of using the set, but she got around. Some awkward motions at the end almost (ALMOST) ruined it a tiny bit. However, her singing more than made up for it and the little laugh she gave at the end. Woof. It makes you want to know who she picked SO BADLY.
I have one more thing to say about Renee and the whole experience: BEAST.

Ramon Vargas:
The secondary, but very front and center (oxymoron?), star of the evening was Ramon Vargas. After a very beautiful, but cut, Alfredo in Traviata Ramon banged out a beautiful performance of Des Grieux in Manon. "O mio rimorso" is one of my favorite parts of Traviata and although I had this feeling that they were going to cut it I was still sad that they did. *Sigh* What we do for Renee.... Anyway, as usual Ramon Vargas knocked his roles out of the ball park. The Des Grieux (by the way, this was his first time singing it on stage!) was absolutely perfect! I loved the "Ah, fuyez!" even though he was gasped for breath during the applause. Everything was spot on. I'm always so happy when he comes on the stage. He has such an uplifting presence.

Thomas Hampson:
I never realized how well Thomas Hampson could play an old man. Now, while he would probably say "It's not really acting" or "Well, it's not that much of a stretch" (or other such jokes on himself) we also have to give him some real credit for looking so completely arthritis ridden during the Traviata. I bet that was hard. Shoulders all the way up, stiff movements, and he even shook his hands sometimes while he was singing to make himself look older. That takes some serious talent, and my gosh Thomas Hampson has enough talent to feed an army. His arias sounded great and his voice was, from what I know of his voice, in excellent shape. I also just loved the way he stood over Violetta at the very end of Act II like "Oh my gosh, I'm really sorry about what just happened, but don't expect me to give my son back!" and the way she looked at him. Ah! What a great moment! I know I've beat this into the ground, but I want to say it again: For a very good looking man he sure does play a mean old guy!

Robert Lloyd:
Well, Robert Lloyd. Older timer Robert Lloyd. What is there to say? Magnificent as always. I love the sound of his voice and the deep sonorous tones he produces. His acting is spot on, too. When he begins to mock clap for his "son" Des Grieux (not a realistic match visually...) you just sit there like "Ouch. That one's gotta hurt." He embodies the character perfectly. For the short period he was on stage he really stood out for me. Bravo!

All the conductors (James Levine, Marco Armiliato, Patrick Summers) were fabulous. One thing about Patrick Summers. I think he did the best job out of all of them, though I do adore James Levine. He conducted Capriccio so beautifully and so perfectly. It was wonderful.
The chorus is sounded so fantastic these days! I can hardly believe it! It seems like just a season ago I was complaining about the chorus women! Now look, I can't stop raving about them!
Orchestra. Nothing to say. Perfection. (Look perfection up in the dictionary. It says "per-fec-tion. noun. see Metropolitan Opera Orchestra")

I have one closing question for the world....
I sincerely hope so. This is a historic opening night. Get on that one, Gelb. =)

Happy Listening!!!! =)
Happy 2008-2009 Season!!!!! =)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Divas Take Over New York, Bloomberg Jealous (Part I?)

I think I may do this in two parts, one for the performance and one for the extra fluff. (Not that we don't love fluff) This first part is for, as Jane Austen puts it, the "all important nothings."

Quick little blip: We didn't have subtitles until "Pura siccome" which was slightly annoying, although I'm sure everyone in the movie theater knew at least the gist of what was happening. Also, for the first few seconds of Susan Graham's opening statement my theater didn't have sound. I was so worried that I accidentally let a little swear word pass my lips, followed by an ardent "Sorry!" We got sound after a few seconds and had no audio problems (or subtitle problems!) after that.
(I've heard that other theaters had the same problems, so it must have been the Met or the satellite, not the theater.)

Susan Graham was so adorable as the hostess! I think she did a wonderful job considering she problem didn't have much rehearsal or prep. I thought she looked stunning, but personally I think she's better as a brunette.

All the interviews went wonderfully. Christine Baranski and her daughter were funny and Nico Muhly was very articulate and cute! I'm looking forward to his new opera which is coming out "in the next million years" even though online stalking is not exactly my favorite topic. =) I always feel so artistic and intelligent when I see someone like Francesco Clementi speak. He's so informative and I feel like he knows so much. His portraits are so beautiful and I can't wait to get to the Met to see them. Diana Damrau looked beautiful, as usual. She's such a cutie and I can't wait to see her in Lucia, which she was very reluctant to talk about. Obviously she's very nervous???
I liked the montages of Renee Fleming's life story and the opening night designer costumes. The interview with the costume and wig designers had some fun little trivia in there, like all of the REAL jewels in Renee's jewelry for the evening. You heard some whispers as you saw in the background shoe boxes that said things like "Great Gastby, Upshaw" "Frittoli, Fiordiligi."

Deborah Voigt, looking very slim and healthy, really enjoyed her time in Times Square! I had to laugh at the faces she made at Paulo Szot (although he did deserve those fluttering eye-lashes). She's such a ham! Those few lines from "Some Enchanted Evening" were amazing, by the way. He got me! =) Debbie got some other cute interviews with the opera-goers, some of them unsuspecting spectators.
I'm a tad miffed that in no way shape or form can Martha Stewart's "Grande Dame" cocktail be made "virgin." What like some underage kiddies don't want to drink an operatic cocktail? How about a Diva Daiquiri? That's easy to take the alcohol out of!
I find it amusing that Susan Graham suggested Mister Mayor Michael Bloomberg appear in an opera at the Met! He even said "I can't sing a note!" However, Susan's right he wouldn't have to say a word. That would be a funny cameo!
The guy who took Joe Clark's job (gosh I can't recall the job title or the new guy's name!) seems extremely competent. Everything ran smoothly and I wish him luck in this extremely difficult job!
Hated the first Traviata gown. Renee can wear a dress, let me tell you, but this wouldn't look good on Grace Kelly. It's like they ripped apart an ugly sofa and made a dress out of it. The dress for scene II was SO MUCH BETTER. I thought it was beautiful. That red was gorgeous and I love the acres and acres of fabric!
I was not happy to notice that someone tampered with the Manon dress, aka attacked it with a Bedazzler. What was with the rhinestones? It looked almost like a copy of the dress in Vogue (seen above). Having said that, I did adore the cape for the St. Sulpice scene. I want it, I want to own it, I want to wear it. I love capes like that, I love them!!!!! The glorious Capriccio gown was my favorite. It was many people's favorite as well, from what I hear. That coat really made the dress, even though one lone feather stuck to La Fleming's back and irked me considerably. I almost (ALMOST) wanted Renee to wear the feather in her hair like in the above photo, but the at first horrifying bob wig grew on me and by the end of the act I didn't mind it very much. The only gowns that actually lived up to the Vogue hype were the Act II Scene II Traviata and the Capriccio. I would give A LOT to be able to wear those gowns just for a few minutes.
More on the actually singing later...
Happy Listening!!! =)
HAPPY 2008-2009 SEASON!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

As if i have to say it: RENEE FLEMING IS A BEAST. More on this story and more [tomorrow]

************************UPDATED: will have review up ASAP. lots of homework tonight (plus college fair, etc.), I'm sorry!!!!! as soon as humanly possible, I promise!

As expected manon was sublime!!!!!! Renee is workin it!!! That ''n'est c'est plus'' was off the wall. She looks exhausted tho, lets see if she can make it through capriccio. =)

OPENING NIGHT!!!! Okay so this is so beast. Renee took a few minutes to warm up but by ''dite alla giovine'' and ''alfredo, alfredo'' she was divine. Thomas hampson and ramon vargas were amazing. I cant wait for manon!!!! Ill keep in touch!! =)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

For What's The Sound of the World Out There? Those Opera Noises Pervading the Air.

As if you couldn't tell, I am beyond excited for the spectacle that is Opening Night at the Metropolitan Opera. Although I will not be in the actual opera house, I will be diligently reporting from my local movie theater. I think it's almost cooler to be in the movie theater for this season's opening night. It's historical! History in the making! Don't you want to be a part of that? Plus, you get to see those gorgeous couture gowns up close! Maybe they'll even spray in some of "La Voce Renee Fleming" into the theaters. They could if they really wanted to. It's the Met! They can do anything!
I will be "mobile blogging" periodically (meaning at every pause or catastrophic event) and then maybe one mass review on Tuesday?

I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Listening!!! =)

When In The Course Of Operatic Events it Becomes Necessary for One People to Dissolve the Bands That Disconnect Them From OPENING NIGHT!!!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

So As Not To Confuse The Allens...

Since I have become SO bad at remembering to post on people's birthdays I sincerely apologize to all my readers and the singers who have their amazingness neglected. I'm very very sorry.

Yesterday was the birthday of one of my (I only say that because I have a "top two" for each vocal category) favorite baritones of all time, Sir Thomas Allen. This brilliant British baritone first "won my heart", so to speak, when I saw him on youtube singing the role of the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro. That caused me to buy the Solti recording and needless to say hilarity ensued. He has since then become one of my favorite Don Giovanni's, Onegin's, Count's, and, well, Count Danilo Danilowitsch's ever. He's just fabulous! A beautiful singer and an amazingly convincing actor.

I would also like the take this opportunity to touch lightly on the subject of Woody Allen's Gianni Schicci. For clarity's sake we will call Thomas Allen "Sir Thomas" and Woody Allen "Mr. Allen."
I was perfectly alright even a little excited that Woody Allen was going to direct an opera, especially a short comic opera like Schicci. However, I am not okay with any director, no matter how famous or cinematic, changing the ending of an opera. I'm not mad exactly, just a little irked. Sure, maybe it's funny, but that kind of defeats the whole comedy of Schicci just getting away with everything. I hear the rest of the opera was a riot, though, but maybe those were just my sources? I wish Mr. Allen good luck on his other operatic endeavors, should he choose to pursue any. I have no doubt that Sir Thomas was an utterly enchanting Gianni Schicci. With his comic timing there's no question that he owned the part of the great schemer.
I just want to make a point that I don't care if you are Steven Spielberg! You don't have Scarpia whisk Tosca off her feet at the last minute or Carmen and Don Jose get married! It's not right. Respect the opera. Respect the composer.

Happy Listening!!!! =)

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tribute to Antonin Dvorak and Karita Mattila...

...Both of whom have a birthday this week. Karita Mattila's birthday was on Sunday, and Dvorak's is today. I thought this would be an appropriate tribute...

How gorgeous is that music? How gorgeous is she?
Happy Birthday!!!!! =)

Happy Listening!!! =)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Congratulations, Schrebko!!!!!!!!!

We already knew, but... IT'S A BOY!!!!!!

Erwin Schrott and Anna Netrebko's long awaited baby arrived on Friday in Vienna, Austria. He weighs 7 pounds and thirteen ounces and his name is Tiago Arua Schrott.
I've heard a couple of things about the baby's name. La Cieca said Tiago is the Portugese form of "Santiago," but someone on opera-l said that Tiago and Arua are Guarani words for Treasure and Handsome. Maybe Schrebko will make a statement about the "Schrott tot"''s tongue-twister name.

Best wishes to Mommy, Daddy, and Baby!!!!!!!!

Happy Listening!!! =)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Message From Peter Gelb, And A Message To Peter Gelb

On August 22nd I received the following email from the Metropolitan Opera. It was followed by a hard copy sent by mail of the same letter.

"Dear Subscriber:
Monday, August 11, was a frustrating day for opera lovers who came to the box office for the first day of our priority period for subscribers and patrons. We should have done a better job communicating new information about the more limited availability of tickets for exchange. Because you and our other subscribers are a vital part of the company, I would like to apologize for the inconvenience this caused.
Four seasons ago, the Met introduced instant ticket exchanges, an unusual measure begun at a time when subscriptions were faltering and ticket sales declining. Now that the company is beginning to thrive again at the box office, such a policy is difficult to sustain. Since we want our subscribers to be happy, some exchanges continue to be available. We've also added the opportunity for subscribers and patrons to buy single tickets before the general public.
I am proud that the Met is doing more for opera lovers than ever before—including numerous free public events, a rush–ticket program, more new productions, and our transmissions into movie theaters, on public television, and on the radio.
I appreciate that many of you have taken the time to share your thoughts, and I regret the confusion that took place on August 11. We are working to make sure that next season things will run much more smoothly and are very grateful for your loyalty and passionate interest in the Met.
Thank you.

Peter Gelb
General Manager"

I was not at the Met on this apparently very "frustrating day." I'm glad I wasn't there, from what I hear it was an absolute nightmare!

However, I didn't post this letter to complain about the situation on August 11th. I'm posting this letter in response to the new ticket exchange program for subscribers.
I was so grateful to have an exchange program like the Met's. It made everything easy and I got to see every opera that I could possibly want! I didn't want to see War and Peace? That's fine, I can see La Traviata instead! (hypothetical) It was also great for new subscribers, or people new to opera. They (probably) have no idea the importance of Eugene Onegin, but they know all about La Boheme! So they can see that instead. It was a wonderful process, but it was changed this season.
This season there is an exchange fee and you can't exchange your tickets online. You must exchange by mail or in person at the box office. I guess the free online exchange

I did some research and here's what I came up with :
(these are just the opera houses I researched, other opera houses may have different policies

Opera Houses Without Exchange Programs
Teatro La Fenice
Teatro Alla Scala
Teatro Real
Mariinsky Theatre

Opera Houses With Exchange Fees
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Royal Opera House

Opera Houses With Free Ticket Exchange
Washington National Opera (first two exchanges are free)
Gran Teatro del Liceu

Note: None of these opera houses let you exchange online.

I guess we're lucky to have an exchange program at all, but let's face it those opera houses don't have the assortment of operas to choose from like the Met does. At the Met you don't get all the operas in one subscription, you get 6-8 out of 24 operas. So, isn't the Met a special case?
I could just be an annoying whiner, but I'm sure other people share my views.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings.

Happy Listening!!! =)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Domingo Replacing Alvarez in "Adriana Lecouvreur"

Crisis resolved. TBA deleted. Domingo is a superhero.
Not only does Placido Domigo get a gala in his honor, but the Met is also "letting him" (not exactly) jump into the role of Maurizio after not singing it there for 25 years! It was the role he debuted at the Met in (with Tebaldi) and he only performed it at the Met once more in 1983.
Marcelo Alvarez, as we all know, has to replace Salvatore Licitra in Trovatore and can not perform in any of the six performances of Adriana.
Well.... Let's just say Adriana ticket holders aren't complaining. I'm sure Maria Guleghina (the leading lady) isn't either.

Domingo! To the Rescue!

Happy Listening!!! =)