Glamour puss

La Cieca’s spy L’incredibile, who has only moments ago slunk home from the Met’s Traviata dress rehearsal, predicts a triumph for Angela Gheorghiu as Violetta. “The most beautiful soprano to sing the role here since Anna Moffo,” L’incredibile exults, though he adds reservations about the carrying power of Gheorgiu’s “veiled” voice and the “frequent disagreements” about tempo between the diva and maestro Marco Armiliato.

New attire for Ms. Gheorghiu includes a flowing “oriental” robe in a deep rose silk for the first act (“think Adriana’s first entrance,” L’inc explains) which the soprano strips off to perform “Sempre libera” in corset and petticoat. (Apparently this was The Zef‘s original concept, but for whatever reason it was ditched when this production was introduced back in 1998.)

The spy, though closely questioned, would not commit to an opinion regarding tenor Jonas Kaufmann, since he marked “the entire opera.” Kaufmann does, however, appear to be planning on interpolating high C’s into the first act finale and at the end of his cabaletta. Anthony Michaels-Moore (Germont) boasts “the loudest voice in the cast, plus he sings directly out into the house the whole time.” Incredibile, ma vero! Oh, La Cieca can hardly wait! (In the meantime, she and you can bone up on Gheorghiu 101 in this archive.)

11 Responses to “Glamour puss”

  1. Anthony M-M is one of the “house baritones” that Opera Rara has employed on various of their bel canto recordings. He’s simply amazing in the Donizetti, Mercadante and Italian Meyerbeer productions I’ve heard on CD, and I’m glad to see that he’s getting the proper kudos here in the States — not that I’m equating “loud” with “good,” but he is definitely the latter.

  2. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    I’m actually going to make an attempt to hear Angela live one day – perhaps for Traviata. However, I refuse to spend money for a ticket – it may have to be a backstage hearing. I have to say that I’ve always been so confused about this woman. EVERYTHING I’ve ever heard her sing on recording (with the exception of an excerpt from Act II of Boheme where she was singing the HELL out of Mimi) has been bland, or out of tune, or pushed, or breathy, or unmusical – but virtually everyone I know who has seen her in person raves about her!!

    Perhaps she is someone who just does not and will not ever record well??

    Aside from my dislike of her and her husbands many antics and attitudes and approaches…I think as far as singing goes, I’m completely unconvinced about this woman’s public recognition as a ‘great singer.’ I do want to give her a chance though – and one must admit that she is a beautiful specimen of the female sex – she might as well be a supermodel!

    Are there any contributors here who have found these things about her recorded performances vs her live performances to be true?

    The last time I ventured to see Traviata at the Met, I left after the second act because Gallardo-Domas (another gorgeous woman) was a half-tone sharp on virtually every note, except the high ones which she couldn’t hit – something that has been recognized as chronic in her performances – although she is quite stunning on the recording of Suor Angelica – I couldn’t believe my ears and I sincerely hope that it wasn’t doctored up.

    I love the production at the Met – I’m just never fond of the singers and the performances. :-\

  3. hab mir's gelobt Says:

    itdcs … i have seen angela live several times but i have to admit that i find her quite a cold performer – she seems to hold back rather than let rip, and that always bothers me a bit. vocally she was mostly good (unless when not at ease with agreeing on a tempo with the conductor, which happened once in her opening aria in boccanegra … and she was clearly very annoyed about it) but i found something was lacking in her performances – marguerite in gounods faust maybe excepted.

    its worth giving her try though. she will be singing tosca at covent garden later this year but i am slightly worried that it might be a couple of sizes too big for her. but then u never know…

  4. I was there yesterday too. Much to my surprise: A) she actually sang and was rather good; B) the baritone’s pitch was, let’s say, very, very iffy. “House baritone” would be my pronouncement.

    On le subject of the tenor—I realize that at Dress Rehearsals there is the option to mark or even not sing at all, but I still was annoyed that Kaufmann didn’t even try one of the arias at full voice. Ach well.

    Lastly, I suspect Angela had press in attendance yesterday (saw lots of TV cameras, etc; looked like a Japanese film crew to me), which may account for why she decided to sing instead of mark the role.

    To her credit, however, it is quite difficult to sing a duet when your partner is hardly audible. It is easy to fall short of pitch (in either direction) and she, on the few occasions where the pitch was really going south, actually brought it back to, let’s us say, “the tonic.” I always feel a sense of relief when pitch is restored by someone other than the maestro….

    Muchas gracias, Angela….

  5. Just Another Tenor Says:

    I think Mme Gheorghiu has her roles; some of which her cold and distant personality works, and the others. I saw her performance of Juliette in Orange, and I was more than disappointed. Her approach to the role was awkward, transforming Juliette into an ice queen of fourty-something. There was no youthful passion, no spontaneity in the personality. All of these qualities are, I believe, what contributed to make her Marguerite very successful. I believed all of Marguerite’s reticence and distrust (of everything).
    Traviata make work really well for her. I do appreciate the DVD version from CG.
    Who was distributing copies of the Salzburg Traviata, and why?

  6. I saw Kaufmann in La Rondine with Gheorghiu. You are in for a treat when he does sing out. Nothing at all germanic. Intriguing Latinate but dark tone, but I hear he’s down to sing Parsifal in Zurich .Why do these young singers do it?

    I saw Gheorghiu’s very first Violetta – one of my great evenings in the opera house. Bland, cold? They must have hearts of ice.

    I have my ticket for Tosca. Sold out already I’m afraid.

  7. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    I appreciate the input – I think I’ll just have to go hear her myself at some point. It was interesting that Gheorghiu came up in a conversation I was having tonight with a famous diva of old (I shall keep her anonimity out of respect and wouldn’t want to publicize her opinions and label them to her without her knowledge). I was (surprised/comforted?) to find that she held a very similar stand as several contributors to this site. She made it apparent (and I do NOT quote) that although it is not a bad voice and certainly not without potential, the selection of repertoire is extremely questionable (i.e. singing Forza on the New Year’s Concert in Lincoln Center – which I did not see, was only told so) and in most cases completely inappropriate.

    (I personally will venture to say that Marguerite in Faust is a role she should have left alone (along with Tosca) – that is a role most sopranos DREAD to sing because it just gets heavier and heavier and more difficult to endure as the opera goes on – it can really destroy a singers career).

    At any rate, I’ve mostly heard very good things about her Violetta in the past and may actually venture to hear it with my own ears. We shall see.

    I just wish Angela would realize that the fach system developed for a reason!

  8. papagenodz Says:

    It’s a bit of an overstatement to say she sang Forza on television. She sang “Pace pace mio dio,” an aria that out of context has worked well for her, as it has for many respectable sopranos who wouldn’t/couldn’t have dared the role, such as Cotrubas’ lovely recording (with original phrasing at the end). Price also sang the aria long after she retired from the role. Her remarkable audacity has proven us wrong in the past, but I’d like to assume Gheorghiu knows she could never rise to the demands of this role.

    Am I the only one who thought some of the heavier rep came off better than the lighter rep on the Puccini album? I know it’s in the studio and all that, but it was interesting to note.

    My only live Gheorghiu encounter thus far has been as Juliette, and I agree — it’s not a natural fit for the role, especially Je veux vivre. Futral, who is certainly not perfect, followed her in the role and it was much better.

  9. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    When I said “Forza,” I obviously wasn’t referring to the entire role. I was not told exactly which aria she sang – it could have been any of the three – and so rather than assume it was “Pace, pace” I generalized it and said “Forza.” And do you really think that Angela isn’t one day hoping to jump on that part? She’s already jumping on Tosca and getting ready to pounce on Aida – that is, if Aida doesn’t pounce on her first!!!

    Also, her lighter rep on the Puccini album (and what seems in general) is because she’s already pushed her voice so far that it can’t regain it’s control in the lighter repertoire. The same thing happened to Francisco Araiza who was an amazing tenor – excelling in the light lyric rep and then started destroying himself (and he admits it too!) with Hoffman and some early Verdi operas and then did himself the final blow with Lohengrin and thus no longer sings. After he started singing his Rigoletto’s and Faust’s and Hoffman’s constantly, it became physically impossible for him to attempt to sing Mozart or Rossini again.

  10. Flores para los muertos Says:

    I saw Traviata tonight. Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a Gheorghiu fan (or rather, I wasn’t). I must say that I was quite impressed with her performance. Her voice sounded beautiful. I thought her sempre libera was wonderful and, frankly, one of the best live performances of the aria that I’ve seen.

    Gheorghiu did not sing the high E-flat, but she sang the rest of the aria so beautifully that I truly did not miss it. The problem with most sopranos who sing the cabaletta as written (i.e., without interpolated high E-flat) is that they hold the penultimate note (a B-flat?). Having heard others sing the E-flat, I find this held B-flat a letdown. I don’t miss the e-flat at all on the Caballe recording because Pretre and Caballe keep the aria moving to the end (no hold). If you aren’t going to sing the E-flat, don’t distort the shape of the final line, just sing it in tempo and, if you want to hold a note, hold on to the final note rather than the penultimate.

    Back to the performance, it was nice to see someone who could act in the role. I loved the way Gheorghiu sang the end of Un dì felice. I’m not sure how to express this in words, but there was always dramatic purpose behind her singing. I think the drama and subtext are inherent in Verdi’s music, but Gheorgiu’s performance stood out because it seemed to be a true synthesis of music and theater. There was a reason behind the fioratura she sang. It seemed to grow out of the drama of the moment. I don’t know that I would be as enthusiastic about this performance if I were only listening to it, but seeing Gheorghiu live was amazing.

    Jonas Kaufman was a very convincing Alfredo. (His looks don’t hurt either. He’s gorgeous). He has a dark, but beautiful sound, plenty of squillo (and yet, not too much). Kaufman’s overall performance had a spontaneity to it that I really enjoyed. His performance embodied Alfredo’s youth and impetuousness better than anyone else I’ve seen. His aria was great. He sang the cabaletta, but had a small crack on the high c. Perhaps he would not have, had he not sung the measure before the final l’amerò? He sang and acted the borsa very well.

    I’d write more, but I really need to get to sleep.

    P.S. Who’s Jonas’ boyfriend?😉

    P.P.S. ITDCS, I think Gheorghiu sounds great in the Faust clip that La Cieca posted.

  11. Just Another Tenor Says:

    According to Opera News, *gorgeous* Mr Kaufmann is married with three children. Sigh.

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