Late November Linkerei

Our publisher JJ sounds off on recent productions of Romeo et Juliette, Zaza and Giulliame Tell (which sounds like a very full king-sized bed indeed!) in the latest installment of Gay City News. Meanwhile, La Cieca presents Il trittico on Unnatural Acts of Opera.


12 Responses to “Late November Linkerei”

  1. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Great review. Thanks for sharing it, Mme. La Cieca.

  2. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    This has nothing to do with the subject of this particular forum but Edita Gruberova has been mentioned in the past by some of Mme. La Cieca’s fans. Did anyone know that she had added Norma to her repertoire? The November issue of Gramophone has a review of a live Norma in the spring of 2004 with Gruberova as the high priestess. And the reviewer raves about it. Has anyone heard it? Anyone seen her in the role?
    Would love to get my hands on the recording.

  3. It looks like you can get the Gruberova Norma at CD Universe (or here internationally). The review at Classics Today, if you trust it, is less than ideal, though.

  4. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Thanks, Brett. Very intersting. Actually I found it to be quite a positive review. You’re always bound to have some caveats, particularly with a role like Norma.

    The addition of a high E flat at the end of the “En mia man..” sounds rather interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone do that. This is supposed to be about the hardest part for non-dramatic sopranos, not counting that it comes at the end of the opera after a lot of singing.

  5. True, it does seem come out positive in the end, but those are quite some caveats–I myself have a difficult time imagining Gruberova as a vocally consummate Norma. Maybe I should just have a listen myself–her interpretation sounds wonderful.

    As a sidenote, I find it rather amusing that von Karajan suggested Sumi Jo record Norma with him. Now, modern recording technology could technically make it “work,” but she wisely declined–that just isn’t the right repertoire for her voice. Still, I’m intrigued–some excerpts would probably sound amazing.

  6. l'Italiana in Bristol Says:

    Well, I’m a great fan of La Grubi as we call her affectionately in Italy, and although I haven’t heard her in Norma live on stage (she debuted the roles 2 years ago in Germany before singing it at the Vienna State Opera under the late Marcello Viotti last January-he died of a stroke during those runs), I have heard the recording and she IS amazing. She can still do just about ANYthing with her voice, and now her voice has matured in such a way that a dramatic role as Norma sounds right. True, she doesn’t have the instinct and care with the text as Callas, nor the liquid beauty of Sutherland or Caballe, nor the bite of a Gencer, but hey, she is the last GREAT voice around in this repertoire. And at her age, still sounding so great, what an astonishing achievement!
    I think she has a charisma and a presence in her voice that is simply not matched by any other soprano in that repertoire, these days.
    In Europe she is still revered as a megastar, especially in German speaking countries, and she only appears rarely in Vienna, Munich, Zurich and few other houses to sold out performances.
    God Bless Gruberova and I hope she keeps singing for many more years.

  7. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    L’Italiana, but she IS a megastar. Just because we have ignored her this side of the Atlantic, doesn’t detract a bit from how darn good she is.

  8. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    L’Italiana in Bristol, I’m very glad to hear that we have one thing very much in common as I myself am a HUGE fan of Gruberova. She is one of my top 5 favorite singers and I also think it is a complete shame that she was not given the attention she deserved in this country. She really is one of the most outstanding and truly unique and amazing singers of her generation (and for all generations for that matter!).

    ITDG and Brett…I do possess a copy of Gruberova singing Norma on February 5 2005 in Vienna. It is positively gorgeous! Very very different from what we normally hear on Norma recordings and from the past great interpreters of th role. And though she may not have quite the same depth to her characterizations as Callas did…her phrasing, her musicality, the silvery quality of her voice, her precision in the fioratura, her elegance, and certainly her ability to really crank out, tastefully, some beefy sound when needed are all evident in the performance. It’s one of my favorite Norma recordings. I have heard clips of the recording that has been released commercially which is also extremely good. She really chose the right time for her to sing this part…I believe that she is around 60 years of age…I could be completely off though. I would say mid-to-late 50’s at least – and she’s still sounds as fresh and as healthy as she did in her twenties! (I have one of her earliest Lucia’s…Peter Dvorsky is the Edgardo and he does a very nice job with it).

    I recieved this recording from a close friend of mine where I went to college…he is a very prominent individual in the radio industry and had been employed for quite sometime some years ago at the Met when he was fresh out of college himself…through his positions there and his radio career and lectures on opera, he has met and knows many of the great singers, past and present. Edita is one of his very close friends – he is in touch with her on a monthly basis and is planning to get a copy of the recording of her very first night singing Norma – I believe it was in April of 2003, according to

    P.S. Has anyone ever heard Dimitrova’s first Norma? Another close friend of mine – a much older gentleman, though not a musician himself, but a leading afficcionado of the art (his very first viewing of opera was Rosa Ponselle’s final performance of Carmen when he was a young boy) – he has a CD-ROM devoted to the art of Bulgarian singers and it has various clips of Ghena singing…but of greatest interest are several full numbers from her very first Abigaille (at age 24) and her very first Norma (shortly thereafter) which are both sung in Bulgarian (which is quite a beautiful language that one forgets that she’s not singing in Italian! It is a VERY musical language. My friend Mariana Zvetkova is a well known Bulgarian soprano and a truly delightful person – she is a very wonderful singer for those who have not heard her. At any rate…I myself am trying to find this CD-ROM that my friend has so that I might add it to my personal collection, although I’d much rather find the complete recordings of both of Dimitrova’s debuts in the two roles. If anyone knows about them or a way of discovering their whereabouts, I’d be forever indebited for any information! Maybe even La Cieca herself would know, seeing as she tends to be quite chock-full of recordings most of us would kill to own!

  9. rysanekfreak Says:

    I heard the Gruberova Norma in a webcast a couple of weeks ago. I was not impressed. I do not like that prolonged upward scooping toward the high notes.

    I heard the Dimitrova Norma in Houston back when Bush the Father was President. (They moved our performance from a matinee to an evening performance so he could use the theater for a speech, but then he didn’t use the theater, but we were still stuck with an evening performance because it was too late to change it back to a matinee, and we didn’t get back home…180 miles away…until 3 a.m.)

    Dimitrova sounded so dark and heavy, like a contralto. The Adalgisa was Tockyska, who sounded very light. Tockyska hit some stunning high notes, as if to say to Norma, “I can do it even if you can’t.” The two duets came across more like the volatile Gioconda-Laura bitchfight than the tender “I love you, dear Sister.”

    I was, however, amazed that Dimitrova’s big, dark, thick, heavy voice was able to hit some of the written high notes (though none of the unwritten interpolated ones we are used to), although considerable effort was involved. And the coloratura was slowly done, but at least it was done.

    Her Norma was so cold you could have made ice cubes in the air around her. I don’t say this as negative criticism. It’s just the atmosphere that was created.

    I do believe this Houston performance was later broadcast by many stations, so copies should be floating around. If memory serves, Pollione was Giacomini, who bellowed like it was “Cavalleria” in the provinces.

  10. The Bulgarian CD-Rom is one of Mike Richter’s excellent series. Visit and follow Opera link and then Encyclopedia.

  11. Michael Farris Says:

    Just a note on the topic of posting. So far, I’ve only been able to find the time to listen to the first twenty minutes or so, but I love Il Tabarro (my favorite from the triptych) and this is a great performance!
    I have to listen again (and again and again).

  12. Hmmm. Someone else in the news named JJ is the person holding the Colin Farrell sex tape ransom…I wonder if La Cieca could tell us if they are related occurances.

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