It’s all about popular!

Broadway diva Kristin Chenoweth sang for the Met Thursday in a “closed” audition. Does that mean she was behind a screen like the NY Phil does it? Rumor has it La Cheno is up for Samira (the Marilyn Horne role) the revival of Ghosts of Versailles in 2245 or whenever it is. La Cieca thinks, she’s castable as Adele for sure, or maybe a special run of something like La Perichole? Anyway, here’s a number La Cieca is pretty sure Ms. Chenoweth offered yesterday.

26 Responses to “It’s all about popular!”

  1. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    La Cieca, I hope that this is reliable information and that should La Chenowith have sung for the Met, I can only hope and dream that she IS hired to sing something – Queen of the Night, Gilda, Adele, Despina – WHATEVER – the woman is f***ing brilliant, an outstanding performer, and a consummate musician and artist. If they DO hire her, we’ll finally get some REAL talent and skill on the Met stage…something that has been very unfortunately lacking in most of their casting decisions. They have great singers that they refuse to use to their full advantage – Eduardo Villa, Mark Rucker, Barbara Frittoli, Natalie Dessay, Beatrice Uria-Monzon (or whatever the hell her name is), and the list really does go on!

  2. Henry Holland Says:

    Will her voice carry beyond the 4th row without miking? Sorry if that sounds snotty, but I’ve never heard her voice in the theatre.

  3. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    Kristen is a classically trained singer. Although her voice may be ‘light’ – the girl can project and she has incredible high notes. She happens to be a very versatile performer – something I think is very valuable both for audiences and for opera and musical theatre venues. The same thing goes for Audra McDonald – the minute they announce her singing any opera anywhere in the world, I plan to be in the audience! Both singers have amazing voices and know how to use them and can adapt to so many different styles. Linda Eder is also like this. I think it is wonderful that Kristen is looking to expand her musical horizons and sing opera professionally in addition to her fabulous musical theatre career.

  4. Just Another Tenor Says:

    Audra McDonald is singing “La Voix Humaine” in Houston in like, two days. So , ITDCS, here is the announcement : “Audra Mc Donald is singing opera.” Quick, go to Houston.
    I can’t even believe that you could put those three singers (Chenowith, Mc Donald and EDER) in the same sentence.
    I think Ms. Chenowith has a fine voice which she has taken down a particular route. Listening to “Glitter and Be Gay” with the New York Phil, all I can say is… it’s fun. But what happens if she has to sing a role that cannot have all her (very annoying) interpolated cutesyness in it? The high notes are spread and tight, the middle is brash and pushed. The instrument may be beautiful, but the technique might have strayed…

  5. I saw Chenoweth in Wicked. She does spoiled and cute brilliantly, but it ends there. She’s a one-note actress. Her voice is a lovely instrument, but goes screechy at the top. Give her a few years to develop it and then maybe.

  6. papagenodz Says:

    kristen chenowith was brilliantly versatile in the encores performances of the apple tree. she went far beyond cute and perky, especially in the eve act, where she was mature and very, very touching.

    my only problem with her cunegonde, which is sickeningly funny and, by broadway standards, incredibly better sung (and far more nuanced than harolyn blackwell got in a full rehearsal process and run) is the fact that she can’t sustain that placement in legato. glitter and be gay, we are women, the ensembles all work brilliantly, but her technique doesn’t give a solid make our garden grow. paul groves schooled her in that moment.

    the pops performance is incredible, and that telecast also included the demented carol channing “diamonds are a girls best friend.” … is THAT on youtube??

  7. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    Absolutely! Like I said, she is a classically trained opera singer. Her technique may not be perfect and perhaps she isn’t as used to singing in a classical manner from having done her broadway routines for a long period of time, but it doesn’t mean that she can’t sing or that there aren’t roles in an operahouse that she can sing extremely well. I have heard her sing certain things (including things in the very high upper register) with a more operatic approach – and the sound was not spread, or thin, or clinched or pushed. I also disagree with the assessment that her “Glitter and be gay” is pushed and spread. I agree that it may not be the most full, rounded, connected sound when she sings it – but then again, neither was Barbara Cook’s rendition – and we all know she was amazing.

    Also, what people fail to realize about Candide is that it really is an opera – not a musical theatre piece. Bernstein’s original 1956 production was indeed musical theatre through-and-through. The casting was far less operatic and much more theatre oriented – but that was the purpose of the piece and it worked brilliantly. Bernstein was a very smart man, much like Menotti – both men wanted to be considered serious composers over all other things, but it was (and still is) very difficult to compose an opera and get it to be performed enough times to really become popular with the public and the standard opera repertoire. Therefore, they composed decent, well thought-out, and musically intelligent pieces that could be presented on Broadway with respectable, if not star-studded, casts, and low budget, and get a good strong run of performances to make their compositions popular enough to make money and revivals.

    Candide, was one of Bernstein’s most beloved compositions. He made several revisions over the years – but most of those mutilated scores were to serve the purpose of providing specific venues who had specific needs and available performance options the ability to perform his work – thus bringing it to a much wider audience and keeping it in the repertory.

    It is evident that LB completed Candide and revised the work into a truly mature stage piece by 1989 when it became a full-fledged opera. Bernstein cast the opera with character and serious voices. Some people don’t like it because they feel that opera singers aren’t capable of ‘acting’ enough. However, the roles of Candide and the Governor are true lyric tenor parts; the Old Lady is a pretty dramatic, ballsy mezzo/contralto role – much like Ulrica in many ways; Maxamillian is a lyric baritone; Pangloss is a character bari-tenor; and Cunegonde is a dramatic coloratura part – it really shouldn’t be sung by lighter voices unless the original broadway-pit chamber orchestration is to be used. In the 1989 version, the story-line is flushed out and makes more sense (if you can call Candide sensible in the first place!), the orchestra is expanded to full size, the chorus is more prominent and enlarged, the necessity for good, strong, classical vocal technique is increased in many of the ensemble and solo pieces…the list goes on.

    So, as it stands, Miss Chenoweth, not being a dramatic coloratura soprano, does a pretty fine job performing and actually SINGING the role of Cunegonde – whereas so many others only act the part and just manage to squeak out the high notes like all those wimpy Queens of the Night that run around in the world.

    Maybe I’m too optimistic about this, but I think she’ll come through very well in opera.

    And as far as A. McDonald singing opera…La Voix Humane, though operatic, is not exactly an ‘opera.’ I was clearly exaggerating by saying that I’d go anywhere in the world to hear her in opera…but myself and many others have been dying to see her finally dig her heels in the operatic world – seeing as her voice really is very operatic. Supposedly she sang “Vieni, t’affretta” every night in that broadway show “Masterclass” about Callas. I unfortunately was too young to have known anything about it – I think I was just discovering opera at that time and didn’t have enough sense to go see it. I only wish that there was a recording of Audra singing that – it’s one of my favorite arias and I’d LOVE to hear her do it – although I doubt that she would sing that role in any theatre. But I could easily see her as Mimi or Micaela, or the Countess, or Fiordiligi, or maybe even Desdemona – it’s hard to tell exactly what repertoire she would sing in opera just by listening to her musical theatre output – but it’s obvious that there is a substantial voice with good projection, technique, and tone that could get through some full lyric repertoire.

  8. papagenodz Says:

    A few comments:

    Your comparison of Bernstein to Menotti is flawed. The primary difference between the two men lies in Bernstein’s book writers and lyricists. Bernstein was working with Comden and Green, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, Jerome Robbins. HIs works were not fully formed operas that descended upon Broadway to make money. They were musical theatre pieces formed in the musical theatre tradition. Sondheim helped Bernstein craft Something’s Coming because “The only person who sings a 2/4 better than Larry Kert is Judy Garland.” That’s a LONG way away sculpting an opera. It’s crazy to think of Wonderful Town or On the Town operatically, and although Maria and Tony can work beautifully when sung by operatic voices (especially Barbara Bonney’s lovely reading), Anita and the ensemble music have always been problems when West Side goes opera. Candide stands alone — and LB was wise to see that only that piece, with its long-ago setting, could support operatic delivery. The New York musicals would seem ridiculous with that tone and timbre of music — something made very clear by the genious books and lyrics for those shows.

    Comparing the Old Lady in Candide to Ulrica is arguably correct from a vocal standpoint, but is a bit ridiculous because the Old Lady is a comedic role. Irra Pettina was the first, and that is the tradition. While I can think of some great Ulricas I’d love to see have a go at it– Resnik, Dunn (who cancelled some performances in Dallas a few years ago), Verrett … there are many I wouldn’t. The role works VERY well with a comedienne like Patti Lupone (even though Lonny Price distorted the staging to make it about her too much) rather than a dramatic contralto as you write. Just like Sweeney’s Mrs. Lovett, which fails when an operatic voice is chosen over a comedic actress, the role is about more than tessitura.

    As for my dear beloved Audra, it’s going to take a LOT of work to get her into any of the roles you mention. Like we’ve been agreeing about Kristen Chenowith, even when you’ve got great legit training, leaving it behind for a different style of singing for a decade makes it hard to come back. There’s a reason great opera singers remain students. Audra has a remarkable interest, with a gorgeous lower register and some exciting top notes. However, the monkeying around she does with mixing and straight town throughout her middle range is very hard for a singer to put away once they’ve made it their bread and butter for three albums and four Tonys. God love her — she’s managed to establish a very specific style that ALWAYS feels character motivated, rather than just another example of Renee Fleming-esque mannerisms. Maybe Mozart wouldn’t be a bad place for her to start — really clean up the lyricisim, and the humanity and comedy she could bring to any of those roles would be really something.

  9. Nobody mentioned that Christ Ludwig did one of the Old Lady’s numbers on one of the LB anniversary shows. It was very funny and I think I have the tape.

  10. Christa Ludwig actually sang the Old Lady in Bernstein’s Concerts and on his recording of the OperETTA (that’s what Bernstein called it: that’s what it is) If Memory Serves, Jerry Hadley was Candide, June Anderson and Constance Hauman shared the role of Cunegonde (Anderson was on the recording, but she got sick for one of the concerts, and Hauman, who was Berstein’s favorite interprator of the part, stepped in on short notice), Della Jones and Kurt Ollman were Paquette and Maximillian, Broadway Lyrist/Actor Adolph Green was Pangloss and Martin, and Nicolai Gedda was The Governor. The concert also featured John Treleaven in small parts, who is now one of today’s leading Siegfrieds.

  11. Just Another Tenor Says:

    ITDCS, who do you think you are that you can just make such blanket statements. I am sure the world is glad to know – Candide: Not a Musical, but an OPERA. Got it? La Voix Humaine: NOT an opera. OK?

    How can you just make those statements when the history of those pieces and the commentary of the composers go against what you say.

    Perhaps inserting “My opinion” every once in while might help you come across as a bit less of an obnoxious know-it-all. You have such a wealth of knowledge, if only you knew how to relate it in a way that was not so bloody irritating.

    As far as I am concerned, “La Voix humaine” is one hell of an opera. I believe “Candide” is a musical when that is the approach taken by the production, and an opera when done that way. The wonder of that piece is that it can be both, or a cross of genres.

  12. Back in the sixties, rumor has it Barbra Streisand approached Rudolf Bing about singing Tosca at the Met. His response was something to the effect that the closest she would get to the stage of the Metropolitan opera is tenth row center if she bought a ticket. I think the Met may soon be known as the MTV opera house. what next, Sarah Brightman as Butterfly? IL DIVO making their debuts in Otello, Samson and Tristan? I have to agree with Just Another tenor about how many people really do pontificate on this blog. I am always amazed how some opera queens only live to criticize everything and of course, they know everything and everyone else knows nothing. I have seen the same nasty behavior on the opera line when someone says they enjoyed something and someone else will quickly inform them that they obviously know nothing about opera or have no taste. I have my likes and dislikes but do not turn up my nose at the people who adore Fleming (I don’t get it, but whatever) or Swenson or someother singer. I like Gollardo Domas, and realize I am in a minority. Back in the seventies and eighties we had so many different personalities on the stage (Caballe, Scotto, Verrett, Price, Bumbry, Rysanek, Sutherland, Freni, Troyanos, Crespin, Domingo, Pavarotti, Bergonzi, Milnes, etc) they all had their fans and their critics. I have always found it sad when in expressing one’s opinion one needs to demean someone else’s opinion, and that is all most of this is-OPINION.

  13. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    I unfortunately do not have enough time at the moment to respond or comment in full to certain ideas presented here.

    Item 1: It’s absolutely correct that when an individual sings in one particular style for a long period of time, they develop certain idiosyncrasies and habits that may or may not fit in the style of various other vocal genres, and certainly, the individual should take the time to realign and rework certain facets of their voice to successfully and truthfully perform whatever genre they intend to perform in.

    Perhaps I have been a bit overzealous in stating my own personal desires to hear McDonald and Chenoweth in repertoire other than the kind that they have spent their careers in thus far. The bottom line is that both women know how to sing and how to perform and both have been classically trained – which is one reason why they can do so incredibly well with such difficult musical theatre pieces.

    Item 2: “La Voix Humane” is a very magnificent masterpiece – one of Poulenc’s finest works. It is a stepping stone in McDonald’s career, it seems, and a damn good choice. If she were doing it here in NY, I might run out for a ticket, but if she got to singing Desdemona or Liu somewhere else, I would probably make the effort to travel. I just think that both these women are such great artists that it excites me to think that they may be serious about delving into the operatic scene.

    Incidentally, I did agree that “La Voix” is an outstanding piece of operatic repertoire – but in the definition of grand and not so grand opera, it is not one. This, however, is really playing semantics and it doesn’t matter. I was referring specifically to a staged drama that is sung that has more than one character. It’s really a moot point.

    Item 3: My information about Candide has not been misinformed or incorrect. I have received MUCH of my information regarding Bernstein’s intent not only of this one particular composition, but as a composer from an individual that I studied conducting with who was one of Lenny’s closest and longest friends. The bottom line, once again – 1956: Musical; 1989: Opera(-etta). Bernstein strove to be considered a ‘serious’ composer during his lifetime. I also did not say that his entire output of staged works are in effect operas – but SOME of them are!

    Also, my analogy of Bernstein and Menotti, I admit brings two very different individuals to the same plane, the basic principle of what motivated each man to write his music in the musical theatre venues is the same. The big difference is that Bernstein wrote music that was, generally, more “fun” than Menotti’s . Clearly, Bernstein knew that he was writing from Broadway and did not hesitate to write in or enjoy the style of musical theatre – though one has to admit that to some extent (much like Sondheim as well), these musical theatre pieces go above and beyond and reach deeper depths of the human spirit than many other musicals of the day were capable of doing – they aren’t just staged works merely for entertainment – they entertain and Bernstein also put a certain amount of passion and human understanding into his works that make each of his pieces for the theatre lie somewhere between elevated vaudville and grand opera – that is what makes them so unique and special. He was a smart and a genuine man and I did not misspeak when I said that he utilized the broadway venues for his works because it was easier to keep his music well known and popular and performing for longer runs and revivals than had he written strictly for the operatic stage. That is complete honest truth.

    And, incidentally – Berstein called Candide an “operetta” when referring to the original version of 1956.

    And now I must go to a rehearsal. Ciao.

  14. papagenodz Says:

    The problem with your thinking remains that you are considering Bernstein the sole auteur of his Broadway works. He simply wasn’t. Be it Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, and Sondheim, or Comden and Green, his works are suffused with the energy and spirit of his co-creators. Plus, it’s a very specious argument that Broadway before and besides Bernstein lacked human insight and deep levels of passion. Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein, Harold Arlen, and so many others had tremendous social platforms in their musicals that went far beyond “mere entertainment” decades before Berstein graced Broadway with his presence. Your argument works for West Side Story, but On the Town and Wonderful Town beautifully and decidedly operate in the tradition you are denigrating.

    You are absolutely right, however, that LB called Candide an operetta. Look at the casting, for Gods sake — Robert Rounseville and Irra Pettina, plus Barbara Cook, who apparently would be starring at the Met were she making her career anew today.

  15. la divina due Says:

    This is just sad. I wouldn’t mind hearing her as Adele or Despina but that is about it. Stay where you are honey.

  16. papagenodz Says:

    c’mon … you’re not up for a chenowith les mamelles de tiresias?

  17. Just Another Tenor Says:

    I AM! Absolutely. Thank you for that suggestion. She would be fun in Mamelles.

  18. la divina due Says:

    haha. i just laughed out loud. “will her voice carry beyond the 4th row?” first of all, isn’t the met amplified now? and second of all, who at the met has a “big” voice out of the newer singers? i am sorry but i truly can’t think of any. mr. holland….good point, but i think it can be extended beyond la chenowith to include a multitude of singers.

  19. Baritenor Says:

    You know what I’d like to see Chenowith Do? A Role that doesn’t require her to be perky. I love the woman to death, but I’d like to see if she could stretch her dramatic range out to a full evening of non-perkiness.

  20. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    The Met is NOT amplified. The only times they have used amplification (lest there are some modern contemporary operas that required it) are for the Chorus of Ghost Pirates in Dutchman and for Kathy Battle. The latter, however, is merely hearsay and has not been proven to be true.

  21. la divina due Says:

    well, according to a very noted source the met is amplified. but, amplified or unamplified the voices are still considerably smaller than those of say the 60s. i would prefer to hear bigger, louder voices any day over this articulate precise mannered way of singing. yuck.

  22. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    You’ll have to double check that, divina, there has been a big fight over the years to keep the Met from using amplification – although with this new GM who want’s to ‘popularize’ opera, we may be looking at such an installment.

    I too love big loud huge round voices who can just crank out the sound (without pushing) and stay in tune and don’t have too wide or too fast of a vibrato in the way of the sound….but alas, not all of us were given such stereophonic instruments and thus must be ‘articulate’ and ‘precise’ – especially when one sings the rep that I do!! Nothing irks me like messy muddy fioratura!!!

  23. la divina due Says:

    ITCS, I couldn’t agree with you more about the messy fioratura. I am so tired of lyrico spintos singing dramatic coloratura that I could scream. Honey, it’s called stay in your happy little fach, and save the dramatic coloratura for the dramatic coloraturas.

  24. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    Come on now speaking of amlification, there is rumour that Bocelli is soon to be singing at the Met. They’ll have to put a mike down HIS throat for sure like he has all of the time for his Pop pusedo opera concerts that the masses love so much–ugh

  25. Baritenor Says:

    I am PRAYING that if Bocelli makes his debut, it will be in concert. Look, I admire the man for his dreams and his persaverance, and following an orchestra (literally) blind takes talent, but his voice is just too small for performance, and his technique has too much pop in it for my taste. A pretty voice, but not appropriate for the Met. Or any house, for that matter.

  26. CALLASORPHAN Says:

    Yes, indeed he needs to stick to to trying to placate the unwashed (non-opera lovers) masses and leave opera singing to those that can do it. Sadly, there are those that think he really is on a level of Domingo, Alvarez, the “Pav”, Corelli, etc.

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