Placido: Bob Wilson broke my pipes

In an article in the LA Times focused mainly on Placido Domingo‘s renewal of his contract as general director of Los Angeles Opera, the tenor blames his current bout of tracheitis on his participation in Robert Wilson‘s production of Parsifal last fall. Domingo has already nixed his participation in a Wilson Walkuere skedded for Paris in April, but he’s planning on performing Cyrano at the Met on March 8 — barring a fresh attack of Wilsonoma, presumably.


19 Responses to “Placido: Bob Wilson broke my pipes”

  1. operadirector Says:

    Love the Avedon/Dovima photo!

  2. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    Item 1: Through a very reliable source (a retired diva who sang many many times with Sig. Domingo) said that he does in fact have tracheitis – which is something I would never wish even upon the worst of singers. It can be very serious and I hope that Domingo is recovering quickly. Think what you may about whether or not he should be singing anymore…but one cannot deny that he is a great artist and musician and I do commend him for finding other ways of participating in and adding to contemporary musical experience.

    Item 2: A close friend of mine who is known throughout the country as a well-known classical radio personality – also an individual who has had many interviews with great singers published, has appeared many times on lectures and opera quizzes during the Met broadcasts, and has very close friendships with many divas ranging from Anderson to Horne to Gruberova to Verrett – sent me a rather interesting email today. The man has never been much of a Fleming fan – he doesn’t despise her, but as he says, he just “never got on the boat.” Well, my friend felt compelled to send us this email because he found himself climbing aboard after hearing a rehearsal where Renee was singing Strauss’ 4 Last Songs. I would include some quotes from his email, but as I do not have his permission to publish them, I will refrain from doing so. Should he give me the okay to include some of his (extremely witty and hysterical) comments regarding Fleming’s singing in one of my future postings, I will do so at the respective time. At any rate, he did describe her singing and phrasing with much positive energy and was rather surprised that she was as musical, as vocally stable, and as interesting as she was.

    Incidentally – to those of you who are Rysanek fans – this friend of mine gave me a copy of a Tosca that he recorded in the wings of the Met with Rysanek and Corelli and (I think) MacNeil. As he put it, concerning Leonie’s singing, “It’s ‘Pick a note, any note,’ but it’s still damn good!!” I took it out to listen to it again the other day – she really is quite dreadful in certain places in ways that only Leonie Rysanek could be – and yet, despite them, one can’t help but adore her – and it’s just a fanastic battle of ‘Who-can-sing-louder’ in Act II!!

  3. Henry Holland Says:

    So, who wins that battle? My money is on Legs Corelli.

    It’s nice that the Los Angeles Opera is doing OK financially. Now if they’d only take a few more chances on the operas they do.

  4. Tutto Pazzo Says:

    A propos de rien…

    I bumped into this little queen on the audition circuit.

    I thought you might want to take a look.


    Let’s face it, the only way a currently performing opera singer can endure himself or herself to everyone is to either stop singing or to DIE. The best career move any singer can do is to DIE!!

  6. ChacoWhacko Says:

    Sweet green Jesus!
    If I had not seen that video of the Queen of the Night in lederhosen I would not have believed it. I wonder though if his parents are financially prepared for the years of figure skating and flute lessons he will be asking for next.

  7. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    Oh my God – that video reminds me of myself in High School – back when I still had the extended falsetto in my voice I performed “Glitter and be gay,” the “Sempre libera,” “Una voce poco fa” with the Callas vbariations and this same Queen of the Night aria – except I had to sing that a half step down as I never had a High F. I was 15 when I sang all of that – just without the liederhosen! Then, the following year, all those notes went bye-bye and now I just have lots of high notes as a tenor – still I miss the thrill of sitting on an altissimo D or Eb and the way it resonated in one’s head!

    You know, this kid could be the return of the Castrato! Get the scissors, quick!!

  8. Thanks for the Mozart video tip. Preparing the hot tub now.
    Saw the Chicago Lyric rehearsal of ORFEO ED EURIDICE yesterday. It was set in Greek (?) desert landscape with everyone dressed in black even Amor. David Daniels was wonderful as Orfeo.

  9. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Interesting. I also thought about ITDCS when watching that clip. We’ve chatted before about high tenors singing soprano arias. Well there’s one for him to try.. ooopps, he’s already done it.

    I couldn’t avoid wondering what impact that singing could have on his vocal chords. What kind of voice will he have as an adult.

    ITDCS, you were singing that high at 15, eh? Amazing. Most kids have changed voice by that time, haven’t they? Were you that cute too?


  10. rysanekfreak Says:

    A basic tenet of the Rysanek Circle:

    “Leonie was NEVER off-pitch! The orchestra had simply mis-tuned again!”

  11. I like to quote critic John Yohalem: “Saying Leonie sang sharp tonight is like saying Leonie sang Strauss tonight.”

  12. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    Yes ITDG, I had those notes at 15. I think I had mentioned in a much earlier entry that I originally started out singing baritone repertoire. At the same time I was singing this soprano arias at pitch in a well-developed falsetto (what I mean by that is that the sound didn’t have a falsetto quality to it), I was also singing through Mozart baritone arias – Figaro, Leporello, Papageno, and even the Commendatore – it’s scary to think that I actually had a low A at the time! Now I can’t even think that low.

    I barely have a low C – it’s only I note I use if it’s in a run or touched upon lightly – otherwise I try very hard not to sing anything below an Eb or D in public. So at 15, my voice had already changed, but I still managed to keep alot of those extreme high notes until my 18th year when I ended up losing them all at once, including the very lowest notes – but like I’ve said, I’ve retained a very high upper extension to my full voice – the highest note I’m ever willing to perform is a G above the F in Puritani. When I have sung Mozart’s concert aria “Popoli di Tessaglia,” (in my octave, mind you) I have sung those G’s.

    Speaking of Orpheo – I wish more companies would present the 1774 Paris version of the opera where Orfee is a tenor, there is more music and a fuller orchestration. I hate to admit it, but for my tastes, Gluck definitely improved the opera the second time around, the Italian version to my ears, tends to be very boring and slow – which I should attribute mostly to interpreters rather than the composer. I would love to hear Daniels in that opera, though.

  13. I also could sing some very high notes at age 15–I could reach D and occasionally touch E. I couldn’t really sing much up there, though my high A was pretty good. There were a few blank spots, too. My voice had changed–I could hit the D below the bottom staff (reach it healthily, at least) and the D above the top. Again, that doesn’t mean I was much of a singer. By next year, I had lost the ridiculously high notes and sang the bass part in choir. I’m a baritone and my falsetto ends around the D on the staff.

    Ooh…no anonymous comments anymore, eh?

  14. I’m only seventeen, but in training, and it seems every other leason I’m switching between Baritone and Tenor arias. Sometimes I even do Counter-Tenor (I can go up to a high A-flat, and down to a middle D).

    On another Note, I’m LA-based, and saw the Robert Wilson Parsifal twice. It was pretty terrible, and Domingo looked very uncomfertable. What did him in, I think, was singing such an arduos role while cramming his 65-year-old body in stiff poses that he had to maintain for such a long time.

  15. rysanekfreak Says:

    People have asked it before, but I’ll ask it again….

    Why do the superstar singers allow themselves to be “done in” by the directors?

    Do we really think Birgit Nilsson or Leontyne Price would have allowed someone to tell them to do some sort of bizarre stage action that goes against the text?

    I once asked a very famous mezzo why she put up with the nonsense in a “Trovatore” production (characters standing next to other characters eavesdropping when they weren’t even supposed to be in that scene… people moving around slowly like chess pieces … red chairs and broken statuary everywhere… an upside red chair hanging from the ceiling).

    This famous mezzo replied that after you do one of your signature roles so many times in traditional productions, you want to do something different, and if a director asks you to do something different, you go along with it because it’s different.

    I someone can’t see Callas, Pavarotti, or Sutherland doing the stage action today’s singers are being asked to do.

  16. Someone really needs to slap some directors. I volenteer to take a fist to Bob Wilson. I’ve seen three of his productions (Parsifal and Butterfly in LA and Lohengrin at the Met) and I thought that Only Butterfly had the characters acting like themselves or made any sense. And did anyone here about that Butterfly in Sttugart (I think) where Suzuki performed Oral sex on Pinkerton in the middle of the love duet? and at the end, Butterfly killed her Child, Suzuki and Pinkerton, and then stared madly into the audience as the evening ended? Oy.

  17. rysanekfreak Says:

    Yes, Baritenor’s description of the “Butterfly” performance is the problem we’re facing these days.

    At any given performance, there is probably at least one person attending that opera for the first time, and that person is going to think this is the plot of the opera the way the librettists wrote it and the composer agreed to the action while composing it.

    Later, that person is going to get into arguments with people: “Butterfly kills her own child! I saw it! That’s the way it happens! I saw it!”

    I’m sure a lot of people in San Francisco think “I Puritani” is a tragedy because the baritone stabbed the tenor in the back during the final chords. They are going to say “But I saw it! He kills him! There’s no happy ending! She went crazy again because the baritone killed the tenor! How can you call that a happy ending!?”

    Anyway…I guess I can live with Isoldes who don’t die… and Amnerises who drink poison and die…and Alfios who stab Lolas to death, but the basic fundamental stage directions should be followed, n’est-ce pas?

  18. A rather famous bass-baritone is currently appearing in production of Der Fliegende Hollander which he thinks is crap, but he did not know what the production was going to be until long after he signed the contract. And he couldn’t really have backed out because he’s a Big Star appearing with a small company that doesn’t normally get Big Stars, except him, who appears out of patriotism. Mind you, Placido can’t really use the same excuse in LA, being General Director…

  19. Baritenor Says:

    This raises a question I’ve always wanted to ask: At the end of Vespiri Scilini, is anyone left standing, traditionally (I’ve never heard it?)

    Was there seriously a performance of Puritani when the tenor gets stabbed as it ends? What the hell?

    Luckily, my home base, LA Opera, has stayed basically traditional as far as keeping to the plot points go. The only glaring exceptions I’ve seen were the Parsifalse (as I’ve dubbed it)and in IL TROVATORE, where di Luna shoots Manrico instead of sending him off to die.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: