Monumentally ill-advised

La Cieca is borrowing a catch-phrase from dear Leonard Pinth-Garnell because she can’t think of a better word to describe… Maria Guleghina in I vespri siciliani. Is there anyone who thinks this is a good idea?


57 Responses to “Monumentally ill-advised”

  1. The Interpolator Says:

    Monumentally ill-advised? Perhaps. But when the Interpolater was singing a major role with Guleghina in a production of Nabucco, the Interpolator listened in disbelief at the General Rehearsal as La Maria landed a perfect high E-flat at the end of the Act III duet with Nabucco.

    And she continued to land those E-flats every night for the entire run. Being the Interpolator, I began feeling free to insert high notes myself.

    One night after the show, upon being challenged, Guleghina actually appeared in my loge to sing through Lucia’s “Regnava nel Silencio,” the score never being far from the Interpolator’s hand — and whose hands can lovingly caress those opening d-minor chords like none other.

    La Maria SANG it. She did not SCREAM it. To be frank, it was shamelessly exciting. And she cleared my sinuses forever with that final interpolated high D.

    Taking a page from history and channeling Ricky Bonynge circa 1955, I had Guleghina warble her way through Puritani’s “Vien diletto” cabaletta in A major, not the written A-flat major. She took care of what she THOUGHT was a penultimate high E-flat (actually the high E-natural) with complete ease and dispatch. And this was AFTER a full performance of Abigaille.

    I adore, yes ADORE, Madame La Cieca — and hesitate, nay QUAKE, to disagree with her on a matter of vocal concern. However, her question “Does ANYONE think this is a good idea?” (EMPAHSIS added by the Interpolator, lacking the prosaic skills possessed by La Cieca) MUST be answered like this:

    “It COULD be a good idea.” We simply must open a dialogue about it, and I may even convince Madame La Cieca herself.

    Baises et Baci,
    The Interpolator

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Taking a word from the Washington Opera blurb, I think a good word is bloodbath.

  3. Interpolator:

    La Cieca is not worried about high E-flats or E’s or even D’s — more like singing in tune anywhere between low C and high C?

  4. The Interpolator Says:

    To La Cieca’s comment that she queries whether Guleghina can sing in tune anywhere between a low C and a high C: The Interpolator shares the very same concern.

    Nonetheless, the Interpolator’s prediction is that La Maria will, indeed, sing out of tune for Act after Act (or rather, Acte apres Acte), and then she will hit the Bolero. At that point, having worked on that bitch since her conservatory days, she will sing the shit out of it, toss of the written C-sharps with aplomb, and interpolate a high E (in tune) to conclude the piece.

    The Interpolator also notes, with increasing alarm, that Renaaaaaay also has that nasty habit of trying to impress everyone with her high E from that Bolero, when really she’s just pissed she didn’t record it the first time in REEEEEEAL voice.

    Maria, however, will sing it as fiercely as Joanie could fire off an E-flat circa 1960. The problem is, in the Interpolator’s view, that because (and only because) of the few written and unwritten high-notes that Vespri will afford to Maria, most people will consider it a wild success. And those people will say Yes, it was a good idea.

    But Madame La Cieca, I’m surprised I’ve not seen anything on your boards about this next tidbit: Speaking of “surprise high E-flats,” what MAJOR diva will be sining Lucia – for the first time – at the Bastille in a few seasons? I realize I have an “inside track” for I will be singing in the house in another production at the same time but…I’m SURE you’ve heard! Are you sitting on it to surprise us later?!

    Put it this way: I could not have been more surprised if Dame Kiri had contracted to sing Zerbinetta. (Never mind that Dame Kiri, as a matter of fact, was heard recently singing through “Martern aller Arten” with a studienleiter in a 5th-floor rehearsal room at the Bastille! I heard it myself, and stood outside the door to KEEP listening, so entranced was I).

    More later,
    The Interpolator

    (Shame on you for holding the Lucia news!)

  5. Il Tenore di Grazie Says:

    Hmmm. My immediate guess: Gheorgiu

    Or was interpolator suggesting that Guleghina will try Lucia?

  6. I’d doubt it’s Geroghiu, and I’m gonna go on a limb and say…Dessay (I know she’s not major but I’d rather here her in the role than Mme. Fleming who was my first thought).

  7. Lyric Baritone Says:

    Maybe a little off comment but…having sung with major companies in Europe myself and studied in the USA with good people I feel I know a little and can say that, hand on heart, when Guleghina sang Fedora (of all things) at the Royal Opera a few years ago she gave the best singing performance I have heard from anyone ever (live). She can have bad or even very bad days, but she sang fantastically well that night, and I’ll always remember it an her because of it.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Dessay sang Lucia to great acclaim in Chicago this last season.

  9. The Interpolator Says:

    The Interpolator realizes that his phrasing was poor in writing “What major diva will be singing Lucia – for the first time – at the Bastille?” This could have led someone to believe that the Interpolator was stating that the soprano would be E-flatting her way through Ravenswood for the first time AT THE BASTILLE. But in fact, the soprano will be trotting our her Mad Scene FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER in a public run.

    Being ever-so-protective of his fellow singers’ feelings, the Interpolator contacted his management (happening to be the same as the Lucia’s) to ask whether the Lucia contract had been made public. The response struck me much like Caballe’s voice does: exciting, but somehow avoiding the difficult bits. That is, the Interpolator’s management informs him that there has been no press announcement from the house or the singer, but the actual casting decision is not a secret.

    Thus, the Interpolator shall behave in ths same way: he shall give a few more details, then leave it up to La Cieca’s readership to fill in the blanks. But don’t be upset, for are used to this. Consider Cheryl Studer’s early 1990’s Lucia, in which the set is claimed to be “standard performance practice” including high interpolations, yet Studer merely “suggests” the high interpolations — leaving it to Domingo to actually sing a better high D than she does in the Act II finale. Is that POSSIBLE, you ask? Ah, mes amis, ecoutez vous-meme a cet enregistrement. Et puis, a la Bastille:

    Our Lucia-to-be is American, quite famous, has sung at the Bastille (and the Garnier, and the Chatelet), and has never recorded or performed Lucia nor any aria excerpts from the score. She has, however, sung professional, staged productions of Donizetti works.

    The Interpolator feels that should do the trick — at least until he sees with his own eyes the public casting announcement. And by “public casting announcement,” the Interpolator does NOT mean subscriber brochures and lobby posters. Rather, he references the service sheets and repertoire cycle announcements that are produced in-house at the Bastille and Garnier — which are NOT subject to secrecy, though they are for the employees for work purposes. The Interpolator spends, from time to time, many long hours behind the granite facade at 120 rue de Lyon, and he is happy to pass on even MORE of that info when the slip-sheets are out.

    But meantime, the news is NOT secret, and the Interpolator has heard it independently of his physically being backstage at the Bastille.

    HOWEVER, as for Dame Kiri’s singing of Martern Aller Arten in recent weeks, this WAS a “be-there” event, or you would have missed it entirely. The Interpolator, for one, hopes FERVENTLY that Constanze’s showpiece does indeed show up on the Dame’s upcoming Mozart aria fest this next season. Any takers for bets on Ja oder Nein?

    And one more thing, gentle (and not-so-gentle) readers: why oh WHY has there been absolutely NO discussion or responsive comments to the Interpolator’s recent posting in La Cieca’s link entitled “Renate Behle-s out NYCO” aside from…well, just take a look. I know ONE of you will have something to opine toward that commentary.

    And aren’t we grateful that La Cieca provides us with such a magnificent space in which to disucss these urgent matters? Although the Interpolator should more properly post this comment in another thread, or perhaps DIRECTLY to the Mah-velous La Cieca herself: The Interpolator LOVES Parterre, envies your writing style, admires your convictions, respects your knowledge, and is humbled by your passion. The Interpolator, he must admit, was simply a bit shy of posting here. But as those days are over, how ’bout those responses in “Renate Behle-s out NYCO?” Frankly, we should go anyway, and the Interpolator could probably swing a dinner for La Cieca and a few Parterre Amici with Frau Behle and himself after one of the performances.

    Baises et Baci,
    The Interpolator

  10. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Famous American soprano? Is there any other American soprano considered famous these days than Renee Fleming? She has sung at the Parisian houses mentioned. Has she sung any Donizetti work other than Lucrezia Borgia? The interpolator refers to “works,” plural, more than one… Or was the interpolator perhaps interpolating? Then there’s also his references to Caballe et al. which leads me to believe that the mystery Lucia will sing the role as written without the interpolated high notes, and that surely fits Mme Fleming. Or was the interpolator being coy about interpolations?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    La Fleming has recorded Donizetti’s “Rosamunda d’Inghilterra” which, I believe, as musical echoes of “Lucia.”

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Fleming is famous merely for sucking cock twofold – the media’s and any score she wraps her sticky fingers around. Hence the so-called creamy vocal production which comes out sounding as it looks: sloppy, nasty, and cheap.

  13. La Fleming also did a Maria Padilla at Omaha in 1990. Quite decent actually-no swooping, sighing, etc. I for one wouldn’t mind a Fleming Lucia.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    I’m not so sure about a Fleming Lucia – she was disturbingly swoopy and sighy in the Met “Pirata” a couple of seasons ago. Bel canto? Not!

  15. Anonymous Says:

    By all report, the last time Fleming was seen, together with compatriot Thomas Hampson, was on the Karlsplatz in Vienna on the way to the Musikvereinssaal, to record the Telefone Book, semi-staged…

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Fuck me! And whose edition of Lucia do you think sweet, darling Renee will learn? Sarah Vaughan’s?

  17. Anonymous Says:

    No, Phoebe Snow’s.

  18. Just Another Tenor Says:

    If I may, I would like to offer another suggestion for a Soprano willing to take on this challenge. Given the indications, I doubt it is dear Renee. After all, the interpolator has described the singer as “quite famous,” which I must say is somewhat under Renee’s current star status.
    Also, the Interpolator sounded amazed at this outing, and everyone has been expecting Renee to take on Lucia – she has been delving into the Bel Canto repertoire, so it was just a matter of time.
    I think the singer may be Barbara Bonney. Because that would be surprising. She has sung in all three of the parisian houses mentionned. I do not know if she has already sung the role elsewhere, but I don’t think she has. She is a darling of the Paris crowd, so I would not be surprised that Mr. Mortier should give her a chance at this role…

  19. I heard Mary Mills as Margeurite at the Bastille – moderately well known mid ranking US soprano.

    Certainly has the ability to sing Lucia.
    Has Swenson sung ther?

  20. meretrice i. d'oscena Says:

    The Anon who mentioned Fleming’s ‘Rosmonda’ is correct- it is like ‘Lucia’ and her Opera Rara recording is excellent. Like her Rossini ‘Armida’ it shows what good work she could do when she sang clean, honest, and unmannered (with no embarrassing “E TAAAARRRRDEEEEEEE!!!!!!” shrieks).

    But that was then (the pre-glam-diva makeover pictures of Miss F in the ‘Rosmonda’ booklet are endearingly frumpy), before she got famous. When you sell the CDs, and put the butts in the seats, why listen to anyone who tells you to rein it in?

    Although why anyone that famous would want to subject herself to comparison with famous exponents of a done-to-death role (other than the money) is beyond me.
    If I were foolhardy enough to tread into Callas territory, I’d do ‘Vestale’ instead.

  21. TheInterpolator Says:

    Dear friends! The Interpolator is disheartened to hear and read such vicious attacks on his colleagues! I promise you, commentary akin to Anonymous’s “sucking cock two-fold” diatribe in relation to Ms. Fleming’s singing is simply not necessary. It certainly does nothing for editorial credibility, does it! But whatever each listener might believe (or hear) in Ms. Fleming’s singing, she does, indeed work hard.

    The Interpolator’s first experience on-stage with Ms. Fleming was in performing the Italian Singer (der Italienische Sänger) in Der Rosenkavalier. Yes, that might come perilously close to revealing the Interpolator’s identity at some point, but if a reader is up to that much research, the Interpolator will not hide! And with Fleming’s cache of Marie Thérèse behind her, she has racked up quite a few Italian Singers, supposes the Interpolator. So, for the record: Ms. Fleming is one of the most generous, sincere, kind, and giving colleagues the Interpolator has ever sung with. Despite what anyone thinks of her singing (which, like mine and everyone’s, can vary from month to month, season to season, and composer to composer), she is a joy to work with. In any production the Interpolator has shared with her since that first Rosenkavalier, she has been gracious, gentle, encouraging, and kind. I look forward to any time we are singing in the same house together, same opera or not.

    Thus, the Interpolator wonders why such venom can appear at the mention of her name. In a vast amount of repertoire, she would still be the Interpolator’s lyric soprano of choice. But to be sure, the Interpolator would also hire other sopranos as a first choice over Fleming for a vast amount or repertoire. But isn’t that as it should be?

    And now, back to the trial at hand: Yes, Fleming would be (at least) “quite famous” as I described the yet-to-be-published Lucia casting to be; you cannot discount her merely because the Interpolator used the phrase “quite famous” rather than something like “radically famous” or “crazy famous.” One cannot discount her on those grounds.

    One can discount Gheorghiu, however, because she is not American – and the Lucia as cast is American. The Interpolator will go forward to say it is not Mary Mills: she is not “quite famous,” but rather “well-known among vocalists and the die-hard opera public.” And my heavens, Barbara Bonney: to wit, the next paragraph!

    The Interpolator has also been lucky enough to sing both a Mozart opera and der Italienische Sänger with Bonney. In the Mozart, I will say she was a Zerlina/Despina/Susanna/Pamina, but I will not narrow it further; in the Strauss, she was a magnificent Sophie. Even though the Interpolator’s big aria was finished before Sophie truly “does her thing,” the Interpolator always stayed in the theatre to listen to the Presentation of the Rose, so long as Bonney was singing the Sophie that evening. What a joy to listen to! Her recent recording of the duet does not do her stage performance justice. It was magnificent.

    Sitting in our loges one evening, she and I reflected on “the early German years,” when we had often been assigned ridiculous roles for our fach, yet we somehow survived. I asked whether she had ever sung Lucia then, and she replied “Hell no!” The Interpolator asked, “Why do you say ‘Hell no’ rather than merely ‘no?’ It seems like it might fit you well in the right circumstances.” Ms. Bonney replied “Because Gilda was hard enough!” The Interpolator was lucky enough to cajole a bootleg cassette tape of that Gilda from the haus in question (German Regional). Verdict: FABULOUS Gilda. PERFECT “Caro nome.” DELICIOUS high E-flat in the duet with Rigoletto (unwritten, of course). EXCITING high D-flat at the end of the “Addio” duet with il Duca. Perfectly controlled, exquisite cadenza at the end of her aria, too: touching on a warm, rounded high D-sharp, ending with a hairpin-dynamic high B-natural before the perfect portamento down to the E-natural. (No, she did not “go up,” à la Leontyne Price’s recording or the current Laura Claycomb outings).

    Sadly, it is not Barbara Bonney. She says she doesn’t even like Sophie’s high C-sharp in Rosenkavalier, and she claims she is giving up the role.

    As far as the famous-meter is concerned, we are, indeed, talking about a “Fleming/Gheorghiu/Guleghina” type of famous. Any other guesses? The Interpolator is listening (and Interpolating). You should have HEARD the Interpolator’s high D to conclude a fab Rossini aria last night, mid-performace, live, as planned. Yes, it does happen, even for tenors who are merely full lyrics with a good extension.

    (More about the Interpolator’s “extension” later, if you’d like to ask…which sounds like a great question to brew from Madame La Cieca’s journalistic teapot. Ah yes, the Interpolator’s “extension.” )

    Baises et Baci,
    The Interpolator

  22. Just Another Tenor Says:

    Might the interpolator have been the Italian Tenor to Madame Fleming and Madame Bonney when they sang together, in the fabulous Bastille production in the late 90s…

  23. might the interpolator’s initials be s n??

  24. TheInterpolator Says:

    The Interpolator’s initials are NOT “S.N.” by any means. However, as to the query regarding whether the Interpolator was the Italian Tenor to Ms. Bonney’s Sophie and Ms. Fleming’s Marschallin for the Bastille’s mid- late-90’s Rosenkavalier, the Interpolator must decline to answer.

    Nonetheless, the poster calling himself “Just Another Tenor” might, perhaps, vielleicht, be on to me. But even the Interpolator cannot really be sure, though he is ready to entertain other questions.

    And why has no one (of note) commented on the Vaness notes appearing in the “Renate Behle’s out NYCO” thread. Good reading, if you are interested. It might even shed light on the Interpolator (for Just Another Tenor’s benefit).

    Baises et baci,
    The Interpolator

  25. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I also thought right away that the interpolator’s initials were s n. I saw those performances of Rosenkavalier in Paris. But upon further deliberations, I’m almost certain that the interpolator’s initials are m p.

  26. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Il Tenore di Grazia is actually thrilled about The Interpolator sharing his comments with us. I don’t want to get on his wrong side by revealing his identity but it’s just not possible for fans not to recognize bright stars.

    Incidentally, I believe he’s sung not in one, but in several of the Mozart operas he mentions.

    Bravo !

  27. TheInterpolator Says:

    Indeed, the Interpolator has had the privilege to sing in all of the Mozart operas he has mentioned here at some point or another — although not ALL of them have been in houses such as the Bastille, the Met, the Deutsche Oper, etc.

    After all, we all start somewhere, correct, even if the “somewhere” is in the heart of Deutschland’s fest system, breaking out of fach to piss off Stoll. The point, however, is that the Interpolator always feels highly honored, blessed beyond measure, and slightly wondrous each time he sets foot on such venerable stages.

    After all, singing on the same boards where La Cieca’s precious Scotto sang her immortalized I Vespri, or where Joanie sang that first Lucia in 1959 (sure, the Interpolator arrived there nearly 40 years later or something — but the history hit the Interpolator like a ton of bricks) — is, to be sure, an honor and a blessing.

    Not so, however, a freezing loge in Dortmund one evening singing repertoire I had NO business singing! Not so, however, gearing up for a major role-debut in Paris, then having the orchestral musicians strike on the night of the premiere! Not so, however, leaving Frankfurt at 11pm in -10F snow, to arrive in South Africa 12 hours later to 110F heat! (The Interpolator’s voice was nearly out of interpolations on THAT trip!)

    Though initials are unimportant, a love of good singing — and even a strage, pet love of BAD singing — always gets me going. As to identity, the Interpolator finally got up the nerve to post here! And believe him, that took the Interpolator a WHILE to do.

    Figure out the Lucia yet?

    Cieca? We seem to have lost your interest, dear one. Li perdonate?

    Baises et Baci,
    The Interpolator
    (preparing for that High D tonight!)

  28. Just Another Tenor Says:

    I believe the interpolator may appear in one of the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts this year…
    Tradito? maybe…
    Schernito? perhaps…

  29. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I agree that if The Interpolator’s identity is revealed, he would lose the freedom to share his thoughts. So, please, do like Calaf and remain ignoto, but please by all means do remain a contributor!

  30. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Now, if only The Interpolator would send me an e-mail telling me where he’s singing those high D’s! Would love to hear it.

  31. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    First, I would like to congratulate La Cieca for having developed such a wonderful site. I have only recently discoved Parterre Box and and perfectly thrilled to take part in this musings and to enjoy it’s wealth of information.
    I have been reading the various comments posted in response to La Cieca’s query as to the suitablity of La Guleghina singing Elena. Clearly, other subjects have surfaced in the process.

    As for Guleghina, I am sad to say that I have not yet had the opportunity to hear her live, but I do have friends and colleagues who have heard her either as audience members or as cast members – all of whom said the same things: Fantastic voice and musicality, lacking in dramatic depth of character. I personally can forgive her of that. Considering that the last truly great (and most consistently great) Abigaille was Ghena Dimitrova (may she rest in peace), I have to say that Guleghina has truly shown herself as a worthy successor as patron soprano of that beastly role. Guleghina has an immense voice and it is remarkably versatile for its size and power. I think Elena is not an unwise choice for her…true, only time will tell…but I imagine that she will be significantly triumphant in it. As for the comments about her ‘out-of-tune-ness’…I reiterate that I have never heard her live, but I do own several private live recordings of hers…including some Met Nabuccos, Toscas, and her Carnegie Forza. What I believe to be true about her voice is that it is not a voice that records well. As we all know, the microphone loves some, and despises others. This woman clearly has such a vast array of overtones and fullness to her voice that it is virtually impossible (especially in a theatre with a small recording device) for any equipment to fully catch all the partials in her voice. As I’ve noticed listening to many singers who have been recorded throughout the ages…there are some voices that one can tell were truly spectacular but sound like shit on recordings (or sound out of tune) because the technology couldn’t do them justice. Now, on the other hand, there were plenty of girls running around out there who were just plain flat. I think Guleghina is a victim of the former situation. But in my sincere opinion, I think she will do well as Elena.

    As for Renee Fleming, I adore the woman and the voice, and no body should EVER speak ill of singers who ‘swoop’ because some of the greatest singers of all time ‘swooped’ – Gruberova, Callas, Price, etc. etc. I personally believe that Renee is best in the bel canto repertoire (and I’ve heard her live in MANY things) and her bel canto cd is by far the best album she has put out yet…and that’s not saying much because they are all damn good (although I admit I have not heard the Handel or the jazz albums – mainly b/c of lack of time and b/c I can’t stand Handel’s vocal music- aside from a few choice numbers – his orchestral music is far better for the ears). I think Renee should do a Lucia…but I sincerely hope that she doesn’t run into the same problem she did with Violetta. I was so shocked to hear how, for her, poorly she presented that role. One would think she would reign supreme in that opera, but I honestly think that because she waited so long to study and perform it, that she reached a point in her vocal ablities where she was not able to sing the role the way it needed to be – I think she would have done better if she sang it about 8-10 years ago and then waited until now to sing the Marguerites and Desdemonas (which she clearly does extremely well in).

    As for Dame Kiri, (how we love her), she does have a fairly good recording on a Mozart arias album of her singing the Marten aller arten. But I would be shocked if she decided to begin performing that opera now in her career, especially since she’s moved onto such heavy repertoire as Vanessa.

  32. TheInterpolator Says:

    To Tenore di coloratura:

    The Interpolator did not mean to give you the wrong impression of Kiri’s recent traversal of “Martern Aller Arten.” She has no plans to bring a Konstanze to Covent Garden, the Bastille, or the Staats Wien. By contrast, she was pulling the aria out for a “test-drive” in considering it for an up-coming symphony evening of Mozart arias.

    Someone (though not the Interpolator, for he is not close enough to Dame Kiri to do what I shall now tell you) suggested to Dame Kiri that she broaden the scope of her Mozart recital beyond the usual suspects of Dove Sono, Ach ich fuhls, and Come scoglio.

    Although too “shy” around Dame Kiri to actually suggest repertoire to her, the Interpolator DID recently inquire about the Martern Aller Arten session with the Bastille studienleiter/coach. Our favorite Contessa then told the Interpolator about the upcoming Mozart aria-fest she would grace us with, likely to include both “Martern Aller Artern” and “Traurigkeit” from that singspiel of the soprano’s high D’s.

    The Interpolator jokingly inquired whether “Ach ich liebte” would figure on the programme, but “It does not,” replied the Dame.

    In the end, Dame Kiri confided to the Interpolator that her “extreme top” (meaning high C and beyond) had, in the past year or so, become quite easy again. I reminded her that the Interpolator listened over and OVER and OVER to the Dame’s high E-flat concluding “Sempre Libera” (circa 1983) while the Interpolator was in high school (not that the Interpolator was in high school in 1983, but the Dame’s first recording of Violetta’s scena WAS on the market by the time the Interpolator began the rigors of geometry and world history.)

    Inquiring why she omitted the E-flat from her full studio recording of the opera with Alfredo Kraus, she replied that by that time in her vocal career, her top E-flat had hardened and become more glassy than she would have liked. And yes, one can hear that quality creeping in on the Dame’s final note — a high D, of course — of the Czardas from her full studio recording of Fledermaus. She does sustain the D, to her credit, but one sees the point.

    Yet she must know her voice: the Martern Aller Arten overheard at the Bastille zipped up and down the scale like lightning, even better-sounding than the Mozart disc mentioned in which she also tackles Donna Anna’s arie on record.

    But to tie this back to the topic: an earlier poster suggested that Mme. Fleming, should she chose to do Lucia, may opt for the ridiculous art-nouveau “critical edition” in which all interpolated high notes are eschewed in favor of slightly higher “original keys,” thereby having the entire role of Lucia top out at a high C.

    Well, frankly: No, that was NOT what Mme. Fleming would consider, and I have that on good authority. Perhaps her ornaments would be “different” than Joanie’s or Maria’s, but one really can’t skirt the Mad Scene in E-flat and call oneself a Lucia of the first rank.

    Remember, dearest ones, that even the infamous Lucrezia Borgia run at Scala had La Fleming lofting her high E-flats at the end of “Era desso,” though it was done in the penultimate phrase rather than the absolute final note (much as she has recorded it on the Bel-Canto album).

    But the Interpolator REALLY must return his attention to the stage and AWAY from his laptop. A high D still awaits.

    Baises et Baci,
    The Interpolator

  33. one more guess at who the iterpolator is. After extensive research my findings lead to ghj as the interpolator. sorry, i get caught up in these things. Hope this doesn’t make the interpolator run for cover.

  34. TheInterpolator Says:

    The Interpolator, having sung an impassioned high D last evening by thinking of how Joanie would have done it (full-blooded, unapologetically, throw the consonant to hell, and GIVE THAT FAB AUDIENCE EXACTLY WHAT IT WANTS), admits that he always aims to please. Therefore, he must address comments made by specific posters intent on honing in on the Interpolator’s indentity.

    To IAL644: Your research is appreciated, but no — I am not GHJ. This was a TERRIFIC guess, however, because the Interpolator assumes you were speaking of his friend, Mr. Gwynn Hughes Jones. GHJ and I have only sung in one production together, however, as we are too close in vocal type to be cast in the same show, usually. The one exception was a Wagner production in Europe, quite early on in both our careers, in which we both had the opportunity to sing very small roles in a VERY LARGE SHOW.

    The Interpolator, however, is actually of a different fach than Master Jones. The Interpolator concentrates on Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Mozart, and Gounod, with the occasional Meyerbeer, Offenbach or light Verdi thrown in for good measure. Yes, the Interpolator has been singing scales, trills and acuti for many years now…but he thinks that more Dukes of Manuta and Alfredo Germonts may await in the near future.

    And to beloved Il Tenore di Grazie (which I strive to be every night, as you might know): The Interpolator REALLY shouldn’t say anything back, confirming or denying “M.P.” for these reasons:

    (1) If your guess of M.P. is correct, the Interpolator queries whether he should admit to it for reasons detailed below.

    (2) If you guess of M.P. is NOT correct, I must admit that your research skills are of the higest order, and I most certainly understand how you could come to that conclusion.

    Either way, the Interpolator questions whether it is a GOOD idea to reveal his identity. After all, this may seem selfish, BUT I’d really like you all to weigh in on this:

    The Interpolator loves dear Cieca, and he loves this forum. He feels somehow liberated to talk about singers, opera, and The Biz in general without penalty of personal reprisal. I do love, LOVE my colleagues, even those who CANNOT sing to save their lives.

    So here is the selfish part: the Interpolator wants to talk about it, to have an outlet for it — because that outlet is COMPLETELY denied to the Interpolator in his every day life of rehearsals, sitzproben, stagings, and coachings with the Chefs des orchetres! ANd more importantly, the INterpolator wants (needs, and craves) to hear what YOU think about these ideas: the singing, the voices, the performers, the rep, the problems, the triumphs…and, as dear Cieca would remind us: the Filth and the Dementia.

    The Interpolator is wildly lucky to be a part of the FIlth and Dementia every day, but he has no where to talk about it SAFELY. Is this the place? He wants your comments, because it is YOU who listen, who care, who THINK, who contribute to every performance the Interpolator is honored to be given!

    I will assume, of course, that we are speaking not only of M.P., so let’s narrow that down before the Interpolator gives TOO much credit to Tenore di Grazie or Just Another Tenor: we are talking about Ma Po, right?

    BTW, what gave clues to switch from S.N. to Ma Po? Just curious. The Interpolator felt that any guess of GHJ may as well be debunked, because GHJ simply does not sing the Interpolator’s true repertoire. Speaking of NOT A GOOD IDEA:

    GHJ in Semiramide? NO.
    GHJ in Cenerentola? NO.
    GHJ in l’Italiana? NO. (Though I’d actually like to hear him attempt to get through “Languir per una bella.” Mairde!)

    On the other hand, GHJ is PROBABLY a better Tamino than the Interpolator, perhaps because the Interpolator has been weighting his voice a bit differently to handle the big bel-canto rep. After all, Puritani is QUITE a different outing than Tamino.

    Bottom line: both GHJ and the Interpolator have one goal: to sing beautifully when asked, to sing excitingly when needed, to sing brilliantly when required, and — no matter what ANYONE else says — we want the audience who shelled out their 100 euros/dollars to see us to walk away saying, “That tenor made my ticket worth the price, and I would like to hear him again.”

    THAT, miei amici, is better than any curtain-call after a high D.

    Now tell me — as in POST it !! — Does this FAB convention of opera lovers WANT the Interpolator to reveal his identity, thereby severely reigning in his freedom of expression on these hallowed threads, or do you prefer that the Interpolator maintain suo nome nel segreto, so that he may publish and puke with impunity?

    After all, if the Interpolator comes totally clean, he will no longer be able to say:

    (1) Susan Dunn was on tranquilizers to get through a certain Met Verdi performance while the Interpolator was backstage as a student, shadowing his then-teacher, a singer in the house for the show. She couldn’t even vocalize to a B-natural in her dressing room, and she cried the entire performance. On stage, she faked it, falsettoed is, marked it, took lower octaves, and didn’t sing while the chorus was on. OR:

    (2) Pat Racette, when faces with an ailing tenor, actually switched lines with him so that the melody would be uninterrupted, though it doubled her high C count for the evening. She consistently helped him along the entire show. At the end, Racette applauded him to no end, smiled graciously and hugged him. Backstage, she went to his dressing room, thanked him for the privilege of singing with him, and told him how musical and effective he was (despite the fact that HE COULD NOT SING for technical reasons, not illness — he just didn’t learn to begin with and was found out!). I can’t imagine a better colleague. What an amazing young lady. OR:

    (3) When a chorister at the Bastille questioned to Guleghina’s face whether it was wise for Guleghina to be singing interpolated high E-flats in Nabucco while pregnant, saying the result could be awful. La Guleghina spun around and snapped, “Then I question whether it’s wise for you to be pregnant. The result could be awful.”

    OR…many others things that the Interpolator would love to get off his chest (which happens to be beautiful, ladies).

    So, which is it? Stay and contribute? Reveal and withdraw?

    Cieca? Just Another? Grazie?

    Schernito, tradito INDEED (both at some point this season).

  35. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    No, by all means, no !

    Opportunities to hear candid comments from a singer are very rare. For myself, I find it quite refreshing to hear from an artist who’s not giving himself airs, who never makes a mistake, and for whom everything is absolutely wonderful. A real privilege. So please, no, do not deprive us of your friendship.

  36. My curiosity in the Interpolator’s identity stems from being a chorister in a regional opera company in the US for the past 10 years. And would be curious to know if the Interpolator ever demonstrated his art on our stage, considering he is working on the bel canto rep, the rep our company has been focusing on for the past several years. And I too enjoy hearing another singer’s take on what’s going on behind the scenes, so I will give up my quest for his identity. And please continue your contributions.

  37. meretrice i. d'oscena Says:

    No, keep the nom-de-guerre and give us the dish. You could send a picture of said chest, though.

    I was going to say that like Susan, I have heard some Met broadcasts that I needed pills to get through, but my heart goes out to her. Julia Roberts said, better to have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special, but I wonder if Ms. Dunn feels that way.

    I also feel a very small part of her pain because I am in a very very small production of ‘Mikado’ right now as Pish-Tush, but have to cover the high A’s and Gs for the tenor in the ensembles, and sometimes I wonder what’s going to come out.

  38. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I’m afraid I wrote my last comments a bit too hastily, missed a few words, and might have given the very incorrect impression that I was contradicting myself or, much, much worse, making unkind comments about The Interpolator.

    Having said that, I’ll repeat that The Interpolator deserves our discretion regarding his identity.

    As a matter of fact, I’m now convinced that my earlier guess was incorrect. Interpolating tenors are very rare. Most tenors struggle with the music that Rossini wrote for them without masochistically interpolating high notes. Our Interpolator is a very special tenor indeed.

    But we need to go back to the forthcoming Bastille Lucia. And that one has totally baffled me.

    I can only think of two
    currently active American sopranos that could be considered “famous:” Fleming and Deborah Voigt. They have both sung in Paris but there’s no sane reason whatsoever why Voigt would even think about Lucia.

    Yes, we have Futral and Mills but they have tried the role already and besides, much as we may like them, I dont think they are quite “famous” yet. Anderson and Swenson have dropped Lucia from their repertoire. Radvanovsky, Gruber, Dunleavy, Grant Murphy ? Not famous. Not yet, anyway. Could it be a soprano not active recently making a comeback? Kathleen Battle? She was sort of famous and she’s American. So, who’s left? I place my bet on Fleming.

  39. By all means, dear, dear Interpolator, remain anonymous if that’s the condition required for the spectacular dish. La Cieca’s site fills me with glee, and now with your posts,it’s a veritable feast.

    And has anyone else noticed how much Domingo is beginning to look like Golda Meier?

  40. TheInterpolator Says:

    The Interpolator has begun to enjoy the strange frisson that his identity will, in fact, be revealed before TOO much time. He is admittedly conflicted about that. However, a slight new development in the Interpolator’s contracted schedule (which has a life of its own, Dear Ones, in ways I could never have imagined while in music school) has pushed me to tell you one further tidbit of truthy goss.

    In earlier post, the Interpolator revealed that he would be singing at the Bastille in a different production during the run of a new Lucia starring a famound Americain soprano taking her first stab (pardon the pun) at the role. This was true, and still is. But the REASON the Interpolator knew of the Lucia and its casting is not SOLELY because he will be at the Bastille during its run.

    You see, the Interpolator has been asked whether he would like to sing Edgardo in the final 5 performances of the Lucia run, which will occur after the Interpolator’s performances of Cenerentola at the Bastille have closed.

    (The current Cenerentola production has been traditionally performed and conceived for the wonderful and mysterious Palais Garnier, which freaks out the Interpolator every time he must perform there…but that’s another thread. Yet the reprise of Cenerentola will take place in the new house, the Bastille, for scheduling reasons.)

    So, in keeping with the Interpolator’s policy that he must remain fully honest to retain his credibility and integrity on this board (and the Interpolator supposes that Dear Cieca’s readers could sniff out a phony from MILES away, agreed??), the Interpolator has decided to come fully clean about that casting issue.

    Monsieur Mortier, still responsible for many casting decisions (though not all), has asked that teh Interpolator step into the Lucia because the contracted tenor has now suddenly decided that he cannot sing the role up to the necessary standards expected at a world-class house such as the Bastille. But before you issue catcalls, let us at least be thankful and admire my colleague’s guts, inner honesty, strength of character, and honorable treatment of the Lucia cast and procution team: he has bowed out early, before it is “too late.” The Interpolator admires that, and we wish him ALL THE BEST as he tackles a new and different (albeit heavier and lower) type of repertoire. He will likely never sing the large bel-canot tenor roles again, and the Interpolator imagines that to be a difficult and bitter pill to swallow.

    But swallowing is another thread, too.

    After the original tenor’s withdrawal, Monsieur Mortier asked the Interpolator if he would be interested in taking the Lucia RATHER than the Cenerentola. “Non, merci, mais je vous remerie de votre offre. C’etait tres genereux de vous de me penser en ce cas. Je suis absolument honore.”

    Why “Non” and not “Oui?” Because the cast of Cenerentola will be truly extraordiniary, and the Interpolator ADORES working with this tres famous Rossini Mezzo. Is it Bartoli? No! The Interpolator said he “adores working with her.” Did you not hear that part, Dear Ones?

    However, explained Mortier, might the Interpolator be able to sing the final 5 performances of Lucia? The Interpolator then asked him, “Who is singing the title role?” And when the Interpolator heard the answer, a knowing, wicked, perverted, delicious, fantabulous smile spread slowly across the Interpolator’s face.

    “So…Finally…we have come to this, have we?” My, my, my. I inquired, “Traditional, I hope? None of this “ORIGINAL” bullshit that Caballe used because she didn’t have an E-flat?”

    Mortier choked on his answer — nay, he choked at the question. Lucia, sans E-flat (quoth, “Mi be-moll?”) Jamais!

    So, the reason the Interpolator knows about the Lucia is that he has been asked to sing the last performances of it, though he will ALSO be in the house for some weeks before that, too. To take the 5 Lucias, the Interpolator must give up the last performance of Cenerentola (thus 9 of them, rather than 10) to have SOME breathing room after Cenerentola to rehearse with the orchestra and move into the Lucia run.

    The Interpolator is thinking seriously of accepting the offer. To sing Lucia with this soprano will DEFINITELY be “an event” in the way that few things are. But, in case you are wondering, here are some examples of what the Interpolator would call “an event” in recent times:

    (1) FLeming’s Traviata in Houston.
    (2) Voigt’s first Isolde – but maybe not her first Marschallin at Berlin — up to you. What do you think?
    (3) Any Millo at the Met
    (4) Voigt’s first Die Frau a few years back
    (5) Fleming’s concert Thais in Vienna. I was there. (Get it?)
    (6) The Interpolator’s first bel-canto role at the Met (which was not his debut repertoire), which got lots of press coverage. HOWEVER, let him just say this: the Interpolator never, NEVER would want you, Dear Cieca’s wonderful readers, to think that he is vainglorious, pompous, arrogant, or just a plain’ol dickhead. Rather, the Interpolator strives to be as generous and kind as possible to his colleagues, his friends, and his public. Make no mistake, Dear Ones:

    It is THE PUBLIC who keeps me in this FAB job, keeps me well-paid, keeps me in demand, and ALLOWS me to visit their cities in their opera houses. This is an extension of THE PUBLIC’s hospitality; it is NOT a testament to the Interpolator’s greatness. The Interpolator can sing well (usually), or TERRIBLY (not often, but it has happened), or DEMENTEDLY (not often, but I LOVE it when it comes), but it is the PUBLIC’s feelings we must take into account.

    Point: the high D the Interpolator has referenced the past few nights was something the public CLEARLY wanted, but the conductor was less than convinced — until opening night, that is. The Interpolator later told him, “Did you hear that roar, Maestro? That’s the sound of your return engagement contract being drafted. And mine, too!”

    But back to the point before the Interpolator FINALLY hits the sack. It’s quite late here. When the repertoire lists are published for the Bastille, you are sure to figure out who the Interpolator is — but that gives us two years before a public announcement. And if you hear it from friends in the Biz, we’ll cross that when we come to it!

    But the bottom line is, the Interpolator feels that he is making some new friends here, and he is enxiously awaiting more posts and more talk. BUT – Is La Cieca going to kick us the fuck off her Board?

    Talk to me, PLEASE. The Interpolator is alone in his hotel room, staring at scores, and you know what THAT means.

    Baises et baci,
    The Interpolator

  41. TheInterpolator Says:

    Oh — Il Tenore di Grazia: your posts have such an elegant, refined tone to them. The Interpolator LOVES them. Please publish whenever you can. The Interpolator very much enjoys your e-company.

    And Just Another Tenor, where are you?

    And finally, Dear Cieca: Have we highjacked your board to your harrumph or displeasure? I know that we would never want to incur the wrath of La Cieca, EVER. Yet the Interpolator’s promise of back-stage tix to the Met, the Bastille, or Houston Grand next season is on the table if Madame Cieca would deign to dine with the Interpolator after a performance in said house.

    And who knows…The Interpolator may be ready to make the same offer to Tenore di Grazia…but we need some more posts from you first. And.

    …the Interpolator is still so sad that NO ONE has commented following the long, thought-out post the Interpolator published under La Cieca’s “Renate Behle-s out NYCO” post. There are only 3 comments there! Does no one have an opinion to share on those words? The Interpolator thought CERTAINLY talk of Vaness’s lack of…(oh, go read it)…would generate some talk, or flak, or something.

    Well, the Interpolator MUST go to bed at this obscene hour. But must he sleep?

    Baises et baci,
    The Interpolator

  42. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    To The Interpolator…
    first, I must admit, I must give you credit for such an inventive nickname. I myself am a tenor in the bel canto repertoire and find that I enjoy interpolating high notes wherever possible, but of course, only when I feel that it helps to heighten the musical or dramatic experience – especially since I adore singing high notes. Perhaps you will agree with me that too often, singers are so ‘uncomfortable’ with their high registers because they are so afraid of them…they are so wound up worrying about ‘getting up there’…’hitting that note’…’getting off that note’…etc. I find that it is absolutely thrilling to throw a good solid high note (or several) in a performance…and I find that the more I love it, the more comfortable I feel and sound. What are your thoughts about the subject?

    I truly enjoy reading your entries, and I will say that I am burning with curiosity as to your identity, although I think I have a strong idea of whom you might be…because I believe I was in the house the evening that you debuted your bel canto repertoire at the Met. Hopefully I do not misdirect this compliment, but if you should be that gentleman who did sing that evening, then I wish to tell you that it was a wonderful performance and I enjoyed it immensely. However, I will agree with our other commentators that you have good reason to wish to remain anonymous.

    I am, however, intrigued to know what opera you were performing that included this high D. There are many that I can think of…most where the D’s are ‘interpolated’…and quite a few where they are written, but sadly many of them are more obscure (esp in the US) but absolute wonderful parts of the bel canto and French repertory.

    And as for Carol Vaness…she is one of my most FAVORITE singers…when she is singing things in her fach. She is a supreme Mozartian soprano. But I must be honest, I was simply heartbroken when I heard her attempt at Verdi’s Aroldo. One really must have a voice much like Caballe’s, Leontyne’s, Callas’, or Guleghina’s to get through that role. I am sadly not familiar with Dukas opera, but I am very well acquainted with the majority of his instrumental music (since I am also an instrumentalist and have been one much longer than I’ve been a singer). He is a truly underrated composer, but I do not doubt the heaftiness of that role. I personally would like to give Mme Vaness the benefit of the doubt and feel that aside from the Aroldo recording, she is fairly wise in her selections of house repertoire…the possiblity still exists that perhaps she discovered that she can’t get through it…but I think I will opine to believe that something else has happened in her life that is preventing her from staying on with the performances.

    I will say, that for everyone who reads this, if you have not heard Carol Vaness sing Elettra’s final aria in Idomeneo (D’Oreste, d’Ajace) you OWE IT TO YOURSELF to hear it. I personally feel that this is one of Wolfy’s most stunning vocal works – the orchestration is so descriptive and rather Romantic in many ways – extremely ahead of the times…especially when one considers that he wrote it at a relatively young age and long before he embarked on his partnership with Da Ponte. The only other recordings of that aria that I have heard do it complete justice are the ones of Barbara Frittoli (who sings the role magnificently) and Gruberova. I must also admit that Leontyne Price has very good recordings of it (one studio with orch and one live with piano when she was like 65 yrs old at Carnegie Hall)…it’s rather an anomoly for her voice…but Lord knows that woman could sing ANYTHING and sing the MESS out of it!! You should hear her Caro nome and her Sempre libera – stunning. But back to Mozart, I also have a rather rare live recording of Idomeneo with Joan Sutherland as Elettra. She interpolates a high C at the end of the aria, which I must say, I only wish Carol and Barbara and Edita had done – something about it just sits right…certainly when you consider that it is a tiny mad-scene.

    Also of highest merit (esp. for all you tenors), Rockwell Blake’s recording of Idomeneo’s aria (in it’s original version, not the later one Mozart composed for a tenor who had a heavier voice and couldn’t negotiate the runs) “Fuor del mar” is simply breathtaking (LITERALLY…the man NEVER breathes!!!!). I met Rocky and told him about this and how amazed I am at his consistancy and his endurance!! The whole album is truly a gem…some amazing things on there…and he’s like the ONLY person who has recorded the “Ich baue Ganz” from Seraglio at an appropriate tempo! It may say Andante, but it IS still in cut-time (Alla breve) – Mozart is VERY specific with his tempi and so many people just blatently ignore them. It just upsets me.

    I highly recommend to anyone who desires to discover a more intimate relationship with Mozart’s tempi to read the following: “The Tempo Indications of Mozart” by Jean-Pierre Marty (dry, but highly informative and extensive) and, most important of ALL = Mozart’s Letters and documents by people who worked closely with Mozart either as performers or observers. I am still trying to get my hands on a document published only in the Czech Republic written by a man who knew Mozart very well and attended the premiere of Don Giovanni and claimed to have such a perfectly photographic memory that he wrote down each and every tempo that was performed that evening. Granted, the metronome was not invented at that point…or if it was, it was very archaic…but people had many ways of determining tempo before metronomes – read publications by Quantz or by Leopold Mozart. I would be very interested to see what tempos this man claims to have heard.

    Well seeing as it’s late where I am and that I’ve just practically written a dissertation about nothing, I will retire. Interpolator, thank you for sharing your tales with us!!

    Buona sera, mio signore!

    (I have a High D of my own to sing tomorrow – along with two High Eb’s – rest is needed)

  43. TheInterpolator Says:

    Tenore di coloratura:

    Wonderful post. The Interpolator must reponsd in-depth tomorrow. Best of luck on your high E-flats.

    The Interpolator wishes to remind ALL you high-note queens out there (and not just the queens, but all high-note royalty, no matter what rank) that Edgardo in Lucia actually has a WRITTEN high E-flat toward the end of the “Verranno a te” duet in Act I. Yes, that’s Edgardo’s line, not Lucia’s, and he shoots up to a WRITTEN E-flat on the phrase “questo pegno allor” while Lucia tops out at a high C on that run.

    Can you name the tenors you’ve heard do that E-flat LIVE in the theatre? Here’s one: The Interpolator. How ’bout you?

  44. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    The Interpolator…

    Good point about Edgardo’s High E-flat…I myself have actually never heard a tenor (besides myself) sing that as it is notated…I’m glad to know that there is someone else out there who isn’t afraid to do what Donizetti asked. I will say that the only recording of Lucia that I have ever heard where anyone takes the E-flat (and I have over a dozen recordings myself) is my personal diva, Edita Gruberova in her recording with Alfredo Kraus. It’s a spectacular moment on record. Sadly, it’s only a studio recording, but Lord knows that Grubby can sing the mess out of ANY high notes – studio, live, or in the shower.
    I look foward to your full response to my previous entry. Ciao!

  45. Wow … I just wasted half my afternoon at work reading through all this and then made a half-hearted attempt at figuring out who you doods are … finally gave up.

    Any of you singing at COC this year?

    Nobody good ever comes to Toronto

  46. Trey Graham Says:

    Hmmm. I believe the Interpolator’s first initial is Y.

  47. Just Another Tenor Says:

    My apologies, Oh interpolator, for having deserted the conversation – I was off at my sister’s wedding, and was thus detained for a few days.
    I have been enjoying the whole thread, the taking of sides as to whether or not the identity should be revealed, and the thrown-in comments about music!
    I think I may know the identity. If I am correct I shall never reveal it, even under torture. By all means, keep your identity hidden! We delight in your comments.
    I also, as a fellow singer, particularly appreciate the incredible generosity of the interpolator. Never have I witnessed such kindness towards colleagues, such eloquent praises towards fellow singers from a tenor (or from any voice type for that matter.)
    I only wish I knew how you keep so positive when faced with Filth as sometimes you must – I am sure the dementia moments must be worth every moment of horror. One great performance is worth a thousand bad ones, eh?
    Speaking of (what i think was a ) great performance,oOne last question, just to tease us a little more…
    Were you not too long ago directed by MK while singing alonsgside AD?

    In any event, you seem to be rather alone where you are, complainging about being lost in your scores. Next time you are in Paris, le tme know and I would be delighted to take you out to dinner!

  48. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I am quite flattered by The Interpolator’s comments.

    I should say that when I first joined this blog, I was not expecting to be in the company of so many tenors. Real tenors, that is, because you must now know that Il Tenore di Grazia is no tenor indeed. At best a tenore disgraziato!

    No, ITDG grew up in a society where boys – real boys at least – were not trained in musical matters. Or at least that is his excuse. If the truth must be known (povero me!) he has no musical talent at all….

    ITDG is in the business of handling numbers, for which he does have some talent. Specifically, he is an engineer.

    So there you have it. The Interpolator has wonderful things to share with us but would not be wise to reveal his identity; while ITDG has no problem being known but has not gossip either.

    ITDG, however untalented he may be, does enjoy music very much and became an opera fan in his teen years. He resides in Washington and travels now and then to catch performances here and there. He does grace the Met with his patronage a few times every season.

    Even more, ITDG has actually performed with some of the greatest opera companies… as a super. In his youth he was thrilled to appear with the Met, La Scala, the Paris Opera, and a couple of local companies. He even did a bel canto opera: the Ponnelle-Abado production of La Cenerentola. But rest assured that he did not interpolate anything.

    Now that you know all this, I suppose ITDG should shut up and just listen to all that you, real musicians, have to say. He’ll try anyway.

    Of course, ITDG would love to know when and where he could hear The Interpolator or Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba perform. And if they ever come to Washington, dinner will be on me.

    Buona sera.

  49. is still waiting to hear if any GOOD Tenors/actually singers in general are coming to Toronto.

  50. TheInterpolator Says:

    The Interpolator has finally returned to these shores, to the Land of the Free (interpolate High-C here, tacky and WONERFUL though it is), and the Home of the Brave (insert wild applause here, in appreciation of the High-C in the penultimate phrase of the National Anthem). I have been abroad in The Old Country doing some oh-so-serious Rossini opera-seria, complete with High D’s I’ve been whining about in these pages.

    Before getting down to bid’ness re: MG and I Vespri, the Interpolator would first like to report, for those interested, that the arias in both acts went well each night, and that one of them may well become a staple in the Interpolator’s concert repertoire. Although there are written high D’s in this version of the score, the second aria is in G-major and does NOT have a written high D — yet it literally screams for one.

    So, “Regnava”-style, the Interpolator bullied the conductor (who was actually very sweet about it — and just sweet in general, but never mind) into allowing the Interpolator to insert the high-D to conclude the aria, complete with a glorious portamento down to the G for the final vocal release.

    Now, the Interpolator DOES NOT mean to say that HIS high-D or portamento are glorious (that is for the fans, and house managament, to decide). Rather, the Interpolator means that the mere ACT of sitting on a high-D, holding and holding, growing in throbbing full voice, then using a portamento down from the dominant D to the tonic G is ITSELF a glorious act, one that the Interpolator dreamed about as a teeneager listening to Joan Sutherland and Beverly Sills do repeatedly on his well-worn cassette tapes.

    So please understand. The Interpolator hopes that the audience enjoyed the panache of it, the sound of it, and the musico-drammatico effect of it serving to propel the drama. BUT…

    BUT…. Dare say it? Do I?

    Yes, the Interpolator shall say it, as he thinks that, perhaps, Il Tenore di Grazia and Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba are likely to appreciate it — agree or disagree — but appreciate it, nonetheless. So here it is:

    Holding a penultimate dominant chord-tone before final harmonic resolution to the tonic in Rossini can be — well — tacky. But here’s the thing:

    The audience LOVES it.

    The house management thinks the Interpolator became a god — for that one instant — during the D, he was a god.

    It makes a huge emotional impact on the listener, moving the drama forward and underlining the libretto words “Per sempre!” Forever! That is, “Per” on high-A, “Sem” on the high-D with fermata – hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it — then portamento down to the G on “pre” after signalling to the chef-d’orchestre that the Interpolator is about to leave the god-note and portamento down to the close.

    Now. Let’s talk a minute.

    Are any of you (particularly you two, Il Tenore di Grazia and Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba) familiar with the Joan Sutherland recording of “Come tacer…Vorreri spiegarvi” from Rossini’s “Il Cambiale di Matrimonio?” To conclude the cabaletta, she interpolates a high-E dominant chord-tone, then holds it, then she portamentos down to the vocal release note of the high-A.

    This is precisely the same thing that the Interpolator does in HIS recent Rossini outing, though in the key of G-major (thus the high-D) instead of A-major (giving us Joanie’s high-E).

    Well, if Ricky Bonynge can sanction such an interpolation, then why can’t we? After all, it was frankly Ricky Bonynge and Joan Sutherland who COMPLETE fashioned the Interpolator’s view and vision of bel-canto. I can’t help it. It is “in here” to stay. Say what you will about Ricky and Joan (and it’s ALL been said, hasn’t it!!), but nevertheless those two Aussies changed my perception of Bellini, Rossini, and Donizetti forever.

    Again, like it or not, disagree or not, we must remember this: The Interpolator is a singer working in A-houses, doing almost exclusively bel-canto rep (though I include Mozart and some Meyerbeer here, if you’ll forgive that slight indiscretion, because vocally, the things that make the Interpolator a good “Cosi” Ferrando also make him a good “Fille” Tonio, a good “Lucia” Edgardo, and a good “Puritani” Arturo.

    These roles (really, the milieu of Mozart/Rossini/Donizetti/Meyerbeer/Bellini) are the one the Interpolator has been singing at the Met, Covent Garden, and of course the Bastille, and all over. The Interpolator says this not to brag (because it is NOT a braggart speaking, it is a singer who feels lukcy to get out of bed every day and be “forced” to go to work singing the Italian Tenor to Madame Fleming’s Marschallin, or Andrea Rost’s Lucia. The Interpolator is blessed, and is honored, and he will continue to hold up his end of the bargain until his vocal cords simply no longer allow it.

    And from this platform, allow the Interpolator the slight liberty to say this: I have never, EVER, given “DEMENTED” performances when forced to sing ABSOLUTELY “come scritto,” or “as-written-only.” Instead, the Interpolator’s truly demented performaces (and I suppose there have only been a few, really, but God KNOWS I try…I try, I try, I try)…

    …well, those few truly demented performances have arisen when the Interpolator has thrown caution to the wind, abandoning all decorum, and decided to not only sing but HOLD TILL CURTAIN-DOWN a final high-D to conclude Edgardo’s Act III cavatina. After all, after Lucia’s E-flat madscene, why the fuck can’t the Interpolator finalize that FAB D-major aria with a high-D to send the audience home? And, while he’s up there anyway, why can’t the Interpolator just hold that fucker until the curtain rings down, the lights go to all-black, and the chef throws his final release? THAT, my fiend, is the proper way to interpolate a high-D.

    Just ask Ricky Bonynge. Yep, he’s the one that taught me THAT little trick; it certainly was not the shitty, pissant house stage “unter-direcktor” asisstants at the Garden. Puh-leze.

    When the Interpolator was doing major, extensive study of I Puritani with Maestro Bonynge in preparation for his first professional-level performaces of the role (as opposed to the Interpolator’s first outing in conservatory with that piece), he was a revelation of dementia to the Interpolator. Yes, it’s true. Dementia through TEAHCING, COACHING from Ricky Bonynge. Thank you, Ric, for preparing me to sing Puritani, Lucia, and Rossini seria in ways I never thought I would.

    Now harken back. When the Interpolator was a teenaged singer-wannabe, he often listened to the Sutherland/Pavarotti recording of Puritani, as well as the Sutherland/Pavarotti recordings of La Fille and Lucia. One can well imagine the feelings that Interpolator had, wondering whether he would ever be able to sing that type of florid, near-impossible music.

    …and then to actually learn at this man’s FEET? At his piano in Switzerland and in Sydney? Allow the Interpolator another liberty: the Bonynge bashers should know that Bonynge himself truly prepared the Interpolator for engagements, RETURN engagements, and many future contracts singing the standard bel-canto repertoire, and the Interpolator will forever be grateful to him for that.

    What so MANY people do not understand — even people that seem to admire the Interpolator’s singing! — is that my “career” is still economically driven! I pay rent on an apartment in the States, I own a flat in a major European capital minutes from the opera house — and these things cost money. Flying around the world twice per month is expensive, too, and this cost is not always directly reimbursed. (OFten, it is built into the fees — but it just depends.)

    So, we can talk ’till we’re dry about the right rep, artistic maturity, and all those things…but let’s face it. The Interpolator wants to be (1) hired, then (2) hired AGAIN to the same house, (3) healthfully singing good rep, and (4) making good money at it. Why SHOULDN’T the INterpolator be making big money for it?

    Franky, much like a surgeon or a lawyer, the skills I bring to the marketplace are rare ones. Certainly, another tenor can always sing faster, higher, brighter, darker, more impassioned, or more restrained, but the Interpolator knows that he can do SOME things well. To these he will stay true.

    But at times, when I hear the orchestra hit those A-major chords to begin “Un aura amorosa,” or that C-major orchestra hit to open Count Almaviva’s “Ecco ridente” in Barbiere…The Interpolator is standing there on stage thinking “I might have to vomit first, then continue with the aria if possible.”

    Does the average guy realize — no, do gli Tenori di Grazia e di Coloratura Superba, even — TRULY REALIZE how many times the Interpolator has been put through the paces of Cosi or Barbiere? When the orchestra falls onto the lush spread of that D-flat major chord to open “Di rigori” from Rosen-k, do you REALIZE what goes through his head??!! Well fuck. Let him tell you:

    “Mein Gott. Not another ‘Di rigori’ with everyone waiting for that one top C-flat that Puccini singers CAN’T sing right, and that light tenors CAN’T get enough SOUND out, but that standard lyrics don’t have the stamina for, so they have to hire my voice type, but really they can’t afford me for the one aria only, yet it takes a voce/stimmfach of my profile to be able to sing ‘Di Rigori’ at international-A-House standards, but they’ll never book the Interpolator or GHJ or JDF or MH for it, but they DID get the Interpolator because they offered him the rare Mathilde de Shabran of Rossini at the same time, so I guess I’ll just try to sing the shit out of it, then I do sing the shit out of it, then MAYBE, but only MAYBE, do I wait around till the Vorhang of the Erste Act to say Guten Nacht or Bonne Nuit to Debbie Voigt/Renee Fleming/Kiri te Kanawa (at her last Marchallin, thank you very much, and yes I DID wait around that night, and yes the Interpolator even waited till the ending Vorhang of the Dritte Act for HER last Marchalling, and yes the Interpolator cried as Dame Kiri — the beautiful, the iceberg, the untouchable, the perfect, the gifted, the goddess, the stretched-on-an-E-flat in the Trav recording till her cords almost snapped — turned away and sang ‘ja, ja’ then walked off stage-right while the Interpolator wondered just WHAT THE FUCK he was doing singing the Italian Tenor in Dame Kiri’s puported last Marschallin and who the FUCK gave him this job, never mind the pressure) or Renate Behle or Karen Armstrong or Soile Isokoski comes offstage for the First Act after that DREADFULLY long monologue that is ridiculously easy to sing, overrated in the extreme – but hard to memorize, of course, so snaps for the non-deutschen-sprechen sops, right? whatever – but AFTER which monologue, as the sop sweeps off stage to eat fruit and crackers during ALL (yes ALL) of Act II while Sopie and Octavian both sing their fucking tits off, and while Susan Graham actually EARNS that big paycheck she asks for, and deserves, and nails the high B-flat EVERY night, and then the INterpolator shits his pants that someone actually remembered that he was singing this role at the Bastille back in the 90’s along with another tenor, alternating, and yes with Renee and Barbara — and then:

    and then:

    one realizes why Guleghina, despite her flaws, said “Yeah, you betcha friggin life I’ll head to Washington and sing Vespri.” Yep, she said YES, because she could say the SAME things the Interpolator just said above in the long(ish) paragraph regarding what A-house singers often (OK, not always, but…) think when faced with another Giovanni for me, or Nabucco for Maria, or Lucia for me, or Forza for Maria, or Barbiere for me, or Aida for Maria, or La Fille for me, or Tosca for her…

    So, to my friend Maria Guleghina, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage and being BLOWN away into inaudibility by that God-given instrument of yours, the Interpolator says only one thing:

    God speed with Vespri. You show’em what a spirited Russian girl from the Soviet provinces can do. I’ll be thinking of you not on stage, where you will do just fine, but back stage in your loge before the performance, where your mind will set itself for the vocalism and execution ahead. And should they sack you, before or after opening night, then sing the SHIT out of your next Aidas and Toscas and Abigailles, like you always do, and I will cheer you on, note for note for note.

    And perhaps we will meet, someday, for ‘Sulla tomba’ in the gardens of Ravenswood.

    God speed.

    The Interpolator

  51. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Ah, Interpolator, you’ve turned me into a blogger. If only our chat could have been in front of a fire and with a bottle of wine !

    Anyway, why do you sound so defensive? You can sing high notes for me anytime.

    Your last posting had me thinking about how the audience (I ?) reacts to singers.

    There are the truly gifted singers who can go onstage and just enjoy doing a beautiful job. They know they can do it, and they do it. (Sutherland, Graham, Terfel come to mind.) We in the audience can sit back and just enjoy.

    There are also singers who are just as happy to be on that stage singing for us, but are not as prodigiously gifted. Their “work” can be sensed by audience at least at times. It may be hard work but they’d rather be there than anywhere else. That joy communicates to the audience and your effort is appreciated and actually can add to the intensity of the performance. Yes, we sit at the edge of our seats waiting for that difficult note and then breathe out in contentment when it comes out loud and clear. Just like watching a trapeze act. We love it.

    A special class of singer is the good singer having a bad night or no longer able to cope with all the challenges of the role. They may be there because that’s their life, they need the work, or are oblivious to their shortcomings. (The ill singer or the one having a bad night may not realize the problem until he/she is already onstage and it’s too late to do anything about it.) More often than not we root for these, hope that this night proves special. Sometimes we just imagine that we’re hearing the young or healthy singer. We applaud the pleasure they’ve given us in the past.

    And then, of course, are the simply inadequate singers, who have no business being onstage or at least performing the evening’s role. No, we don’t enjoy those and I’ve never felt that they were enjoying themselves either. Sometimes the singer’s effort and suffering are pathetic. Our money and time was wasted and we resent it.

    So, what kind of singer would you like to be? From your comments I see you definitely in one of the first two categories. (Excepting the occasional bad night that puts you in the third category.) You want to apologize for that?

    Trust me, the more you enjoy yourself, the more we enjoy ourselves. The singer’s pleasure for singing never fails to communicate loud and clear across the foolights.

  52. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Incidentally, Mr. Interpolator, just so that you know it, I have the strong suspicion that you’ve thrown us one or two red herrings with regard to your identity.

    I’m also disappointed that Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba has not given us any hints about his identity. I’m not suggesting that he reveal it, but come on, make us think about it!

    We also have a lyric baritone and “just another” tenor in our midst….

  53. TheInterpolator Says:

    Important message from the Interpolator to the wonderful and appreciated Il Tenore di Grazia: No! No! The Interpolator has not thrown any red herrings into the posts. Clearly, the Interpolator may not always deliver a full range of facts, or he may leave out specific dates, or a specific city, or a specific cast member…but any fact actually put forth is true.

    In reading the posts, the Interpolator realizes that, given enough time and resourcefulness, an enterprising opera historian with access to the big houses’s cast lists and repertoire postings could likely string all the facts together and pinpoint precisely the Interpolator’s identity.

    The Interpolator also has the sickening feeling that someone is doing precisely that, and soon all the Interpolator’s posts will be reprinted in Opera News along with my current black-and-white headshot that appears in the Met season books and the Covent Garden flyers and the Bastille’s abonnement formulaires!

    To wit, the Interpolator feels he may well have said too much about his identity by identifying quite specific repertoire and houses — though he has avoided TOO many disclosures of specific dates — which is the exact OPPOSITE problem of throwing red herrings.

    Au contraire, Tenore di Grazia! The Interpolator wonders now whether he SHOULD, infact, pop some misleading facts into the posts to throw you amazingly gifted bloodhounds off the track!

    But no. The Interpolator will not do that. He has stated that he feels his integrity and the truth of his posts in this “Forum Fabuleux” are more important than lobbing out fake facts. The Interpolator senses that fake facts would be sniffed out IMMEDIATELY by this crowd, if not by La Cieca herself, and the Interpolator would then be given the boot, quite rightfully.

    Much more to say, especially to ITDCS and ITDG, but it cannot happen this evening. The Interpolator is fighting a quite rare case of jetlag in returning from the Old Country after the Rossini outing these past weeks, and that bed-calling MUST be obeyed immediately. The question is: shall I enter it alone?

    And the next question is: Should Cieca give us our own forum so that we don’t crowd hers? The Interpolator is mindful that La Cieca is quite patient with our ravings, though she refrains from commenting.

    More soon,
    The Interpolator

  54. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    My Dear Interpolator, I can assure you that I meant no offense when I said that I suspected you may have thrown a red herring at us. First, it’s only an assumption. Second, I believe it would have been a perfectably appropriate, and certainly quite within the rules of the game, to do so. And third, it just goes to show how succesful you’ve been at confusing me.

    You say that you suspect someone is doing some serious research trying to find your identity. That hasn’t come across to me from the different postings, and I’m certainly not doing it myself. That would be no fun. The fun is in the game, eliminating this or that suspect artist… Just like a good mystery book. What’s the point if we’re going to look at the last pages first? No, no, no, I will not deny myself the exhilaration of discovery.

    In any case, you can rest assured that if or when I figure out who you are, I certainly would not divulge it. Nor would I give hints to help others figure it out. I have much enjoyed reading your postings and the last thing I would want is for them to end. And by no means would I knowingly jeopardize anyone’s career.

    With regard to the rest of your latest posting, welcome back! I hope you are re-invigorating yourself and getting ready to go on to please more audiences. You did say sometime ago that you like to please…

    As to your choices for bed entering, well, I suspect that it’s strictly your choice. I imagine that an artist’s errant life must bring loneliness at times. So, when the opportunity to please arrives, it should not be declined.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one anxiously awaiting your next posting. And I bet that even Mme La Cieca, who has been withholding her commentaries so far, looks forward to them.


  55. Tutto Pazzo Says:

    I too look forward to the Interpolator’s next post, and suggest that perhaps La Cieca’s silence has more to do with her attending rehearsals of JJ’s (her esteemed editor’s)production of Il Pipistrello aka Die Fledermaus, or as it was called in the never-officially-produced NYC Fringe Festival production, Die! Fledermaus! Kill! Kill! Kill! .

  56. Sheesh – I keep logging back on – i have no idea why – to see if anything has actually moved forward on this stream. For crying out loud – can we get on another topic.

    And NO ONE has even attempted to answer my question about Toronto.

  57. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Well, well, well, it looks like I have been left solo, perdutto and abbandonato in questo popoloso deserto che appellano La Cieca’s forum. I surely hope I get to hear from the other bloggers again. In particular, I’d love to know how Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba’s auditions went last week. I thought about him that day. And how are The Interpolator’s concerts coming along?

    Going back to the original subject of this blog, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post, Ms. Guleghina did sing in Verdi’s “I Vespri Siciliani” last Saturday at the Kennedy Center. I gather the rumors of her demise were somewhat premature.

    Of course, we don’t know how well she sang or whether she interpolated any high notes. No, no, no, it would not be reasonable for us to expect the music critics to provide such information. We all well know that those details are not related to the visual aspects of the production and are, therefore, of no significance whatsoever.

    You guys (and gals?) got me into a bel canto frenzy for the last few weeks. For a change, my first opera outings of the new season next week will be for Manon and Falstaff. Not bel canto but both have beautiful beautiful music for lyric tenors. In particular, I find Fenton’s lines ravishing.

    As I said above, I hope this forum remains alive. If not, well, thanks for your contributions. I have much enjoyed reading all the different comments and opinions. I even felt I was making new friends. So, until the next time, buona ventura !!

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