Archive for June, 2005

Arrivals and, uh, non-arrivals

Posted in bel canto, blind on June 30, 2005 by lacieca

Which young Spanish-speaking artiste is going to the “dogs” with her sex, drugs and coloratura lifestyle? You’re not Bolivian, my dear, so lay off the marching powder before you turn into a mess o’ soprano!

Which soprano should learn to care more about punctuality at her bel canto rehearsals? Toward her we feel nothing but love; only, we ask, is this any way to revive a dormant career?

And which other soprano with the voice of an angel (and the record contract to prove it), has returned to her accustomed role of spawn of Satan? How else could you explain such antics as clanging silverware onstage during another soprano’s aria, hiring a claque to boo a rival, and now, playing hooky from the dress rehearsal of a new production to be recorded for DVD?

Now, ladies, don’t get La Cieca wrong. She’s totally in favor of colorful and volatile personalities in opera. But consider for a moment: does anyone actually recall how Maria Jeritza sang?

Finally, an item that’s not blind! La Cieca is informed by one of her most reliable sources that Christopher Hahn will be the new Artistic Director of the Glimmerglass Festival. Expect an announcement within a couple of days. Smart money says Hahn will continue at Pittsburgh Opera, doubling up a la Paul Kellogg.


Unnatural Acts with an Apple

Posted in blind, met, podcast, scotto on June 30, 2005 by lacieca

Apple bites backThe reviews for Apple’s iTunes 4.9 are mixed but the consensus is “thumbs up.” La Cieca downloaded and installed the new version last night; very smooth. The interface with podcasts is something less than lavish, the one part of the application that feels “freeware.” But La Cieca realizes there are a lot of people out there who use iTunes as their only jukebox software, so it seems likely that this development will increase the podcast public significantly. A good thing. The down side is that Apple has to review the podcasts before putting them on the one-click “subscribe” list, which means that you can’t just go to the site and click on “Unnatural Acts of Opera.”

But there is a simple workaround. From iTunes, click on Advanced, the Subscribe To Podcast…, then paste into the URL text box. Then then click OK. That will subscribe you to the podcast series.

You can also subcribe on My Yahoo. Just Click on Add Content Add RSS by URL, then paste the URL and continue as in the iTunes instructions.

I’m also working on a tweak that would allow you to play the current “Unnatural Act” directly from the parterre podcast page; more on that maybe this weekend, as well as the first “regular” unnatural act, which at the moment looks like it’s going to be Act 1 Traviata from Verona 1970 (Scotto, Bergonzi).

Now, about the Met’s plans for a tab version of Magic Flute in the Julie Taymor production. La Cieca says, “Oh, why the hell not?” Somehow La Cieca feels that a 90-minute, fast-moving entertainment is a lot closer to Mozart’s original intention than the three-hour plus behemoth the Met delivers when they do the Gesamt version.

Smashing the oligarchies

Posted in callas, met, podcast on June 29, 2005 by lacieca

The decentralization of the music business is progressing so quickly La Cieca can hardly keep up. (Though it’s not like she’s completely in the loop; as you know, she only recently found out that Giulio Ricordi had died!) The very latest (as of this morning) is that Apple has launched a new build of iTunes will full podcasting support. They promise that the search/subcribe/update/download/sync process will be as simple and intuitive as purchasing a song from the iTunes Music Store. La Cieca will test-drive this new application in the next day or two, then give you a full report on the functionality or lack thereof. In case you’re wondering, no, “Unnatural Acts of Opera” is not yet included in Apple’s podcast directory, but we’re working on that.

Another promising development is the partnership of Naxos of America and OverDrive, Inc. to provide downloadable classical recordings free of charge to cardholders at many of the nation’s public libraries. The best part is that the service is web-based, so you can “check out” a digital version of a CD from your home or work computer, then listen to it at your leisure over the next couple of weeks. The digital files then expire and are “checked in” for use by another library patron.

This process strikes a particularly resonant chord with La Cieca. Back in the day, when she was a lowly Opera Infanta on the bayou, she had no access to classical music record stores. The only way to listen to opera (besides those lovely Met broadcasts) was to borrow records from the Louisiana public library system. (No, dear, they were not 78s; we were well into the microgroove era by then.) Anyway, the library provided me with my first aural glimpses of Wagner’s Ring, the voices of Tebaldi and Callas, and, yes, even Blomdahl’s Aniara. What a boon, then, for the little queens of the 21st century, who will have immediate access to so broad a swathe of the repertoire, while staying within the law. (There will be plenty of time for them to break it later.)

Doin’ what comes unnaturally

Posted in pav, podcast on June 26, 2005 by lacieca

“Unnatural Acts of Opera” — that’s what La Cieca is calling her new opera podcast. The “unnatural” in this case has nothing to do with sodomy or lasciviousness, but she’s sure she can hold your interest anyway, with extraordinary opera performances presented one act at a time. (Get it?) La Cieca stessa will offer commentary before the acts and will remain silent during the music. (You’re welcome.)

La Cieca will begin the series by breaking her own rule, first of all by featuring an opera simply dripping with perversity, and second, by offering three programs (i.e., an entire opera) at once. (Don’t count on her being so open-handed in future!)

Kicking off, then, is Puccini’s Turandot from a 1977 live performance starring Montserrat Caballe, Luciano Pavarotti, Leona Mitchell and Giorgio Tozzi. For more information on this premiere podcast, go to the new parterre podcast page.

In questa regia

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2005 by lacieca

Catherine Malfitano just doesn’t slow down. In recent seasons she’s expanded her repertoire to include a bewildering variety of roles: Kundry, Minnie, Carmen, Blitzstein’s Regina, Herodias, the Kostelnicka, Elle in La Voix Humaine (that’s her in the picture). She’s taught master classes. She’s performed a cabaret at Joe’s Pub here in New York. And now she’s directing her first opera, Madama Butterfly at the Central City Opera House — incidentally the site of her professional debut as an opera singer back in 1972 (Nannetta in Falstaff). The Butterfly production, featuring Maria Kanyova in the title role, opens tomorrow night. Cathy, as usual not at a loss for words, talks about her new role as regisseuse in The Rocky Mountain News. The season at Central City also includes Emily Pulley‘s first Vanessa, starting July 2.

Sexual confusion at the opera

Posted in blind, callas on June 20, 2005 by lacieca

The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, is using “sexual confusion” to prevent wear and tear on their costume collection:

“The traps installed for the Royal Opera House make male clothes moths appear to other males as females, by sticking female pheromones to their bodies.

“In a plot that could have come from an opera, males attempt to mate with the false females, but do not succeed . . . . moths were costing the Royal Opera House tens of thousands of pounds a year.

“The worst affected are ballet dancers’ costumes, which get engrained with sweat, clothes moths’ favourite taste.

“The Royal Opera House has around 2,000 costumes at Covent Garden at any one time, some of which are more than a century old . . . . Its archive includes the red dress Maria Callas wore in Tosca.”

Here’s more about this oddly familiar-sounding moth-on-moth action. Speaking of which, don’t forget to check out La Cieca’s all new, all-femme radio show!

"Singing is difficult"

Posted in scotto on June 19, 2005 by lacieca

… so says soprano/mentor Renata Scotto, in a charming interview in the NY Times about her singing academy in Westchester. And, of course, there’s a lot more wisdom where that came from. Matthew Gurewitsch is the attentive interviewer. Now Playing at the D.M.V.: Renata Scotto.