Tony has died and gone to heaven

Among the extra-musical delights in the New York City Opera’s production of Mark Adamo‘s Lysistrata, definitely front and center is baritone James Bobick, who rocks the role of Kinesias. (He is seen pictured with Jennifer Rivera. Try looking a little up and to the right and you’ll see her.)

Mr. Bobick next appears at the Wiener Staatsoper in an eagerly anticipated mounting of Auber’s opera Le premier jour de bonheur (Whew, that’s a long way to go for a dick joke, but La Cieca thinks it’s worth the trip!)

Turning our thoughts from the profane to the sacred (segue!), La Cieca presents a performance of Wagner’s Tannhaeuser on Unnatural Acts of Opera.


60 Responses to “Tony has died and gone to heaven”

  1. It is a long way to go for a dick joke, but where you lead, we follow. (Especially if there’s dick at the end of the rainbow.)

  2. Bill Bookbinder Says:

    Well, Tomassini didn’t say “strapping” but did refer to him as “buffed!”


    The world NEEDS hot baritones (at least I need them!) That vocal range is soooooooooooo hot! What a nice bonus when their body matches the sound that they can produce!!

  4. Luxie P. Says:

    Well, he certainly is (oh, I have to say it) strapping!

  5. Baritenor Says:

    Well, now I’m starting to feel insecure. In ten years, will there be any place for us slightly overweight, jewy-looking Baritones? I mean, will ANYONE hire us?

    Oh, and by the way, Jessica Rivera…Fantastic.

  6. With all due respect to Mr. Bobick, NYCO has made a point of casting these types for years. They all apprenticed at Santa Fe and/or Glimmerglass. They all look and sound more or less like Nathan Gunn, sing more or less the same repertoire, appear half naked a lot (while the body lasts), and then after a few seasons they disappear. I wonder how long this one will last… long as the physique does, one imagines.


    The most important thing is the VOICE!!!!and more VOICE. Yes indeed body is nice; however, in opera it is VOICE!!

  8. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I too believe that Baritenor is on the wrong track. But it doesn’t matter, Interpolator, we want you back !

  9. OperaGuyNY Says:

    Hey Guys!

    He’s Back!

    Check the “Too Many Tenors!” and “Names, names, names, darling!” posts.

    The Interpolator has returned!

    (Somehow I’ve managed to make myself feel and sound like a 13 y/o with all my excitment!)

  10. Baritenor Says:

    I just posted that last message on the last post on the wrong board; It was ment to go on the “Names, names, names Darling” fourm.

  11. Canadienne Says:

    Um…aren’t Jennifer Rivera and Jessica Rivera two different singers? Jennifer Rivera is a NYCO regular.

  12. Chalkenteros Says:

    I love you, La Cieca. A perfectly Aristophanic post.

  13. Baritenor Says:

    Oh…..whoops. I’m going to retire this fourm before I embarase myself further.

  14. papagenodz Says:

    speaking of singers who travel fluently between repertoires, and i know i’m not outing her because of the gorgeous photo, how great to have erin wall on here!! her pamina this season makes one very excited for her fiordiligi at lyric next season. what a treat!

  15. Just Another Tenor Says:

    She really has a beautiful instrument, and a great artistry. I am excited to see her career develop and what new chalenges she takes on! She is going back to Paris to sing Cosi. Actualy the whole cast is, aside from Barbara Bonney who seems to have called it quits with Despina. The chereau production did not put her in a good light…
    Goodluck Mme Wall and please post here often too (although your blog is fabulous as well)


    I must say good-bye to all of you wonderful darlings on this blog. You have really lifted my spirits many times in the past couple of months. I truly know by reading your written contributions herein that the passion for and about opera is still very much alive. However, as they say, all good things must come to an end. The end for me on this blog is now. (Do I hear an operatic chorus with flute or glass harmonica?) Therefore, adios to all of you and I LOVE you all! It truly has been fun! Thank you ever so much for your indulgences!

  17. la divina due Says:

    Yummy with a spoon. =)

  18. Baritenor Says:

    Goodbye Callasorphan. We’ll miss you and we all love you so much. I’m…I’m actually crying right now

  19. celticpriestess Says:

    Callasorphan, I hope this is only farewell for now, and that we’ll hear from you again as your time and circumstances allow. We’ll miss you!

  20. Baritenor Says:

    This is compleatly unrelated to Anything we are talking about, but I’m not sure if anyone knows…… Sarah Caldwell, the first female conductor to conduct at the Met, passed away last week.

  21. celticpriestess Says:

    Yes, I was very saddened at the news about Sarah Caldwell. La Cieca, would it perhaps be possible to include one of her performances on a future podcast?

  22. OperaGuyNY Says:

    Carlos Alvarez sounds amazing today!

    What are everyones recommendations for Luisa Miller?

  23. OperaGuyNY Says:

    and is it just me, or is the prompter REALLY loud today…

  24. Heard a talk by one of the prompters from the Chicago Lyric a few weeks ago and she said that their first priority is to help the weakest member of the cast or newest. With three replacements in todays cast the prompter has a lot on his or her plate. I don’t envy thier job.

  25. papagenodz Says:

    i think one’s collection is not complete without:

    1) caballe/pavarotti/milnes
    2) moffo/bergonzi/macneil/verrett/tozzi/flagello
    3) millo/domingo/chernov/quivar/plishka

    all three ladies have a lot to say about the role … caballe boasts the best trio, moffo is the best in role for my money, and the millo/levine set has the best playing and sound, if that matters.

    today’s brodcast, to put it mildly, does not belong on this list 🙂

  26. Baritenor Says:

    Oh My God, what happend to James Morris? He sounds so dry and worn out! What happened to him?

  27. Boringwhitegirl Says:

    So sorry to hear about Sarah Caldwell. She’s a real example of how much difference a conductor can make. I literally fell asleep during the recent NYCO I Capuleti e I Montecchi, but Caldwell’s version is a favorite of mine. Granted, she had Troyanos — can she do anything wrong? and Sills, but Caldwell brought out a lyricism and depth in the music, while the NYCO left it feeling flat and decorative.

  28. OperaGhost7 Says:

    The prompter was loud today because someone on the stage needed it — darnokk is exactly right. It’s unfortunate for the audience at home but it has to be that way. Believe me, the prompters don’t like it when they are so loud as to be heard by the audience but it’s a necessary evil sometimes.

  29. I definitely didn’t hear the prompter. I likely wasn’t listening carefully enough. In fact, the only time I’ve actually heard one was the Vespri broadcast with Sondra Radvanovsky. Was she really going to forget the text in her big aria? Well, I suppose it’s a possibility. One thing I hear more of in live recordings, oddly enough, is a sort of prelap, or whatever–a ghost of sounds fully realized a few seconds later. This is particularly noticeable in the Macbeth with Callas. I haven’t been able to come up with an explanation–anyone else up to the task?

  30. While discussing Luisa Miller, does anyone remember the old PBS TV broadcast, with Scotto, Milnes, and Domingo (with his hair blond)?

  31. Baritenor Says:

    Is it just me, or did Sarah Caldwell conduct the best Damn Don Pasquale on record?

    And weighing in on the Broadcast, yeah…the propter was really audible. the replacements was okay, I guess. Alvarez and Mishura (who I saw give a GREAT Amneris once) were Great, Morris needed work. After this, I’m rethinking my excitment to hear him sing Scarpia at the Hollywood Bowl opposite Pat Racette(!)

  32. meremarie Says:

    re Sarah Caldwell: does anyone have a recording of either Aida or Otello she did with Shirley Verrett – would give my eye teeth to hear those

  33. einerlei Says:

    Brett: I believe the “prelap” you are hearing on some recordings is called pre-echo. It’s a function of print-through on tapes that were stored improperly or for a long time. The charged particles on one section of tape are able to “reach through” and rearrange the particles of tape that are pressed against them on the wound-up reel. Usually there’s enough ongoing sound you don’t notice, but when a singer takes a big note after a rest, there’s sometimes enough silence ahead of the note for the note to imprint itself on the section of tape that’s silence when the two sections are tightly pressed together. So you hear a strange pre-echo and then the actual note. Several of the famous Callas recordings suffer from this.

  34. OperaGuyNY Says:

    Anyone else go to the National Council Finals yesterday?

    My thoughts: These are the best young singers in the country?? YIKES! The women were pretty good, but the guys – oy vey. No mezzos, no tenors…

    Anyone else have this feeling or am I crazy?

  35. Thanks, einerlei! Interesting!

  36. On a couple of topics that segue together. Sarah Caldwell was from Maryville, Missouri, and Northwest Missouri State College, which about 1970 did a drama dept. production of Lysistrata, complete with broomhandles in the pants and all ways Aristophanes would have done it. The Prez of the college dismissed the chairman of the drama dept from his post. It was quite a production.

  37. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    ljc, I was under the impression from a coach who I work with that is currently working on the NYCO production of Lysistrata, that it is a new opera. Mark Adamo’s first opera was Little Women which only made it’s mark on the opera scene at least 5 or 6 years ago, perhaps earlier, but certainly not anywhere near 1970. Is there another opera of the same title to which you refer?

  38. heldensoubrette Says:

    I think Karen Slack was phenomenal in Luisa Miller!

    What do you guys think?

  39. the bits and pieces I heard sounded pretty raw. I was amazed to hear that she was young, she sounded pretty old. Is that all they could find to sing a major role, I know both Fritoli and Villereol cancelled, but surely someone out there with a better voice would have loved to jump in for a broadcast. Did they ask Millo.

  40. Just Another Tenor Says:

    Dear ITCS,
    I think the production to which ljc was referring was the original Aristophanes play, not an opera. The play is wonderful and should be brought back to a wide audience. Maybe that’s what they were trying to do by making an operatic interpretation.
    That play must have been a hoot to behold, amid the 1970s feminist activism. How appropriate!
    Wonder how a drama dept. chair can get fired over a production. I don’t think there is a way to do a subtle Lysistrata if you are trying to get the point across…

  41. Il Tenore di Coloratura Superba Says:

    I’ve heard only wonderful and amazing things about Karen Slack and that her debut was top of the line. This information has come from musicians whom I hold great respect for and who work with Karen. I, myself, have never heard her sing but I do look foward to the day.

  42. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Einerlei’s explanation of prelap is correct. It happens with magnetic tapes that have not been played for long. Sometimes a similar effect happens with some LP’s where the tracks are so thin and/or the needle is pressing so heavily that it picks up sound from the adjacent track.

    I too was unimpressed with the Luisa Broadcast. Perhaps Morris should no longer be singing true bass roles?

    The Domingo/Scotto/Milnes performances of Luisa at the Met?
    I sure remember them. I attended one one of them and have a tape of the broadcast. Morris was the second bass in those performances. Milnes used to end the first act with an interpolated high note that was terrific. I missed it on Saturday.

    Surprisingly, and sadly, it proved not to be a good role at that point for Scotto. It made her voice sound rather hard on several occasions. Her big aria was beautiful, of course.

    And speaking of recent deaths, Anselmo Colzani died a few days ago. He was sort of a house Italian baritone at the Met through the 60’s and early 70’s. Sang lots of performances and was always reliable. Not sure we have an Italian baritone around these days that could match him. (I remember seeing him in Otello, Simon, Chenier, Fanciulla, Adriana and probably others.)

  43. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Alvarez didn’t sing on the Luisa broadcast, did he? I thought the tenor was Eduardo Villa…

  44. paddypig Says:

    Scotto was having a hard time during that performance because some demented queen from standing room yelled Brava Maria Callas before she even opened her mouth during that broadcast, she was quite unnerved by it, and it was only because Milnes took her by the arm and held her during that entrance scene that she got through it. It was the same demented queen who use to bring Maria tapes to the line and play them loudly on a cheap tape recorder

  45. OperaGuyNY Says:

    ITDG = You are right on both counts. Villa was Rodolfo, Alvarez was Miller. Alvarez was great.

    Milnes used to end the Act I aria on an A natural. A-fucking-natural! He used to pull that stuff all the time, pretty intimidating stuff for every baritone who followed him. Not many had those AMAZING high notes. His recording of Rigoletto (Pav/Sutherland), he ended the opera, the last “la maledizione” interpolating to a B-natural. I LOVE that stuff! Actually I don’t think there’s anything he’s recorded that I didn’t love.

    Saw him at the Fairway a few weeks ago, and he was very gracious, as I sat there genuflecting and making a complete ass of myself.

  46. papagenodz Says:

    My friend who works in the Met store also said that Slack sang very well in the first performances she did. The broadcast jitters must have gotten the best of her, because that was gruesome.

    For the record, I was Milnes’ studio accompanist for three years at Northwestern. He is a kind, amazing, articulate man, who often advocates oppure in his students arias. The male students especially really benefit from studying and coaching with him.

    On another note, the Daniels/Bayrakdarian/Sala ORFEO ED EURIDICE at Lyric was incredible. I hope this production travels. Incredible visual moments and so simply perfect.

  47. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    Papagenodz, what is “oppure” ?

    Milnes used to sing the high B flat at the end of Rigoletto on stage too. I have at least one broadcast tape of him doing that.

    I also heard him once join the Azucena on her high B flat at the end of Trovatore. And I’ve read that he used to interpolate one in the middle of the Triumphal Scene. Now, there’s an interpolator !!!!

  48. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    One more, Milnes also joined the tenor with a high B flat at the end of the second act of Otello. He did that regularly with Domingo.

  49. OperaGuyNY Says:

    My voice teacher in college sang Rosina to Milnes Figaro at NYCO in the mid-60’s (I think it was 63). She said that it was the most amazing voice she’d ever heard. She said there were times onstage that she couldn’t believe what was coming out of his mouth.

    Apparently there’s a recording (somewhere) of him singing a High C. I don’t know in what, or where or when but I’d love to hear it.

  50. OperaGuyNY Says:

    I stand corrected. Milnes sings an A-flat, not an A-natural at the end of “Ah! Fu giusto Il Mio Sospetto”…

  51. Baritenor Says:

    Papagendoz, I have heard that Milnes was kinda a Jerk from several differant sorces. Are any of the rumors of his divoness true, to your knowledge?

  52. TheInterpolator Says:

    Yes, indeed, there is a recording of Milnes singing a high C at the end of “Largo al factotum” from Barbiere. However, he doesn’t do it after holding the high G at the final “Citta.” He’s too clever for that! Instead, it’s better. He holds the high G of “citta” (as one would expect), portamentos down to the middle C on the syllable “-ta,” then does something very interesting: On those final “la la la la” patter-syllables (found in most editions) that following the orchestra in that little codetta, he does little mordent-like triplet turns (on the written syllable “la”) on the chord-tone C, then on E, then on G, then finally a HUGE “la” on the high C for the final chord.

    In other words, he outlines the C-major arpeggio in triplets (in rhythm — look at the score and you’ll see exactly what I mean) before ploughing headlong into a full-voiced high C.

    The crowd FALLS APART with applause. I have NO idea where this is from, but this thread caused me to bring out that scratchy old party-tape that a friend gave me in college. It has all KINDS of bizarre stuff that is JUST unbelievable. And clearly, college was a LONG time ago for the Interpolator, yet I’ve kept that tape with me for years and years!!

    Of course, the Milnes high C isn’t the only freaky thing on there. There is also the Caballe high E-flat from orchestra rehearsals for her complete La Traviata — but on the published recording she does not sing it. She later said she “could not” sing it, but the tape shows differently!! I would NOT say that is is of a Sutherland or Gruberova quality, but it is astounding to listen to it.

    Other things include some of Cheryl Studer’s rehersals of her “Coloratura Arias” CD (remember that one…with all those interpolated high notes…such as high E-natural for Semiramide, high E-flat for the Traviata, high E again for Una Voce Poca Fa…). Well, about that:

    (1) We ALL screw up in rehearsal. But listening to Ms. Studer scratch away at her vocal chords, trying to scream out high E’s and high E-flats — with the tape running, mind you — is very uncomfortable to listen to. Of course, she missed many of them, and the implication is that the takes making it onto the final recording were rare indeed!

    (2) Isn’t it instructive that on Ms. Studer’s full recordings of those very operas she does NOT take those interpolated endings?

    (3) Her recordings of the Queen of the Night’s two arias are a little suspect, too…in that those high F’s are out of line with the rest of the voice, and there is this strange little luftpause before she phonates them. Still, I have heard MANY worse queens in the opera house, even while I am singing Tamino…so I give Studer credit for being brave enough to go for it.

    Also, while we are talking about the Queen of the Night, does anyone else ever hear the slightest bit of flail in our beloved Joanie’s studio recording of O Zittre Nicht for that final high F? I mean, it’s an astounding recording, to be sure; but that final F is just…a touch…well…high, I guess.

    OK…and as I am preparing for more Lucia performances this fall, I have been listening a lot to the Sutherland/Pav/Bonynge set (of course…is there any other? ha ha). And there the thing: At the end of the baritone/soprano duet “Sei tradirmi…” in act two, Joanie and Milnes sing it in A (supposedly the “original” key). That makes her final interpolation a high E, rather than the expected high D. But this time out, it’s as if Joanie grabs the high E by force of will — then holds it — then FINALLY spins into the center of the damn thing.

    Now, to my knowledge, this is the LAST high E-natural that Joanie put down on record. (Note that later recordings, such as the Mozart “Vorrei spiegarvi” dodge the E-natural, and she transposes the Bell Song in Lakme to E-flat, not E-natural, in the full studio opera…etc.)

    So the question from me to all of you is twofold:

    (1) Was this, indeed, Joanie’s last E-natural on record? And
    (2) Do you hear what I hear in that she grabs it by saying “I WILL sing you, you fucking E-natural…then she finally spins into the tone more fully???


    Oh — and a thought for Il Tenore Di Coloratura Superba:

    You posted once that someone you trust said your voice may be of my type, color, or repertoire. If so, are you familiar with one of Offenbach’s most DELICIOUS arias for lyric tenor called “Ah! qu’il etait doux mon beau reve” from his opera “Le pont des Soupirs”? Well, get the score and learn it — and take it to an audition or two. NO ONE really does it, and its absolutely gorgeous.

    Now, I must say that a recent recording came out by a fellow tenor (named WM, and I admire him greatly, and SOME of our repertoire overlaps). He is lighter than I am (for instance, he would not do Romeo, Lucia, or Faust), but he is wonderful in his own rep. Anyway, his recording of this gem is the ONLY thing I’ve been disappointed with…and it’s not a vocal thing, it’s a style thing. He didn’t really SING it…it was as if he spoke it on pitch, and out of rhythm

    Well, I used this as an encore to a recital I did at the Plaza Athenee in Paris…and it just brought the house down. I’ve been using it ever since. It’s meltingly gorgeous when TRULY sung — if you can manage it! — and it may be good for your repertoire as a point of interest. Let me know if you like it.

    And, Just Another Tenor…did you see what happened to my Lucia in Paris in the fall????????????? Guess who got replaced?????? And…are you coming to it, or est-ce que vous avez besoin d’un laissez-passer a mon loge un soir? Faites-moi de savoir.

  53. OperaGuyNY Says:

    Ah Interpolator! Just like the good old days!!

    Thanks for the Milnes info, not to blow my own horn here, I used to sing a High C at the end of the Largo as well, albeit NEVER in performance as my teachers forbid it. I used to consider myself a coloratura baritone, which everyone just laughed at, but my first teacher-a coloratura soprano-was taught by her mother, who was taught by Estelle Liebling. So my coloratura technique was stellar, and I had quite a range (my teacher was always very proud to say she had a baritone with a high E-flat). Needless to say we spent many years going is he a baritone? is he a tenor? While I had the notes, I couldn’t handle the tessitura, try as I might. So we focused on baritone rep where we could add interpolations. But alas, there isn’t much coloratura baritone rep (Just for fun, in studio I learned the “Una voce poco fa” and the Mozart Alleluia-but I was forbidden to sing them in public.) My big piece was always the “Ah! per sempre” from I Puritani, and we re-wrote the cadenza to include a big High A-flat. Anyway…

    On to Joanie!

    I am inclined to say Yes, being somewhat of a “La Stupenda-phile” myself I’d have to agree, and yes there is a sense of vengeance with that note. I certainly don’t know of any other studio recordings, there weren’t many after that. Live performances may be another story. E’s made her terribly nervous, and F’s were almost non-existent. I have live recordings of her QOTN, and she just seems so trepidatious, unsecure – very UN-Joanlike. I think she sang “La finta giardiniera” which has a written F (I could totally be wrong here, I’m working from memory…) and she was so freaked out that she spent the whole performance worrying about that one note.

    Speaking of the Paris Lucia… I did notice a casting change. Certainly NOT an American soprano now. For the life of me I can’t figure out who, everyone I’d thought of we already guessed… any hints?

  54. OperaGuyNY Says:

    My favorite Joan E-natural is in the “Bel raggio lusinghier” on The Art of the Prima Donna. Any other favorites?

  55. TheInterpolator Says:


    YES! Joanie’s high E’s on the Prima Donna recording of Bel Raggio are (to my ears) her best recorded high E-naturals. However, I think a VERY close second is the High E-natural in the full-studio complete recording of Semiramide: she doesn’t do the earlier high E’s in this version (as she DOES in the Prima Donna), but she does of course do it at the end of the aria. Because this was several years later than the Prima Donna sessions, her voice is darker and fuller — and the high E-natural is STILL there in spades. It is full-thrust, fully-caffeinated, high-fat high E-natural. It does not have the quasi-girlish factor (which is still very appealing) of the Prima Donna issue.

    Of course, in some later “live” recordings of Semiramide, Joan takes the cabaletta of the aria in A-flat, not A-major — thus she often sang only the E-flat in live performaces of this opera after 1969 or so. And in the Met Centennial Gala video, it sounds like the cabaletta is in G or even G-flat. But WHO CARES when she is still singing so gloriously at 60 and beyond, right????

    I’m sure everyone understands that we are not complaining about the Aussie Wonder here. Rather, we are merely dissecting different shades of wonderful.

    But now that we are talking about high E-flats, let’s talk a bit more. Yes, I do sing high E-flats in certain contexts, such as the WRITTEN high E-flat for Edgardo in the Lucia/Edgardo Act I duet (check the score!). I also “interpolate” them in certain pieces such as “Languir per una bella” towards the end — not the VERY end, and I do not sit on a high E-flat while the orchestra plays out. Instead, I put one in the variants I use for the second strophe of the cabaletta.

    So, I am well acquainted with the various triumphs and trepidations of doing this with a full orchestra iin a sold-out hall. But sure, it can be thrilling. And yet…many sopranos seem to think of this note as “That Which Cannot Be Broached.”

    To wit: Are you familiar with Kiri’s excellent showing on That Which Cannot Be Broached on her 1983-ish recording of Verdi & Puccini arias? Her E-flat at the end of Sempre Libera is a WONDERFUL showing for a lyric soprano. It is in FULL voice, no dodging it, full-frontal attack, sustained, with vibrato, intact portamento with no breaking or streaking down to the tonic A-flat…really an EXCITING note to hear. (For my taste, anyway.)

    During her live performances at the Australian Opera, she DID the high E-flat. For her Met performances, she did not. I’ve asked her about it, and she simply said “The conductor makes all the difference in the world, love.” I don’t know PRECISELY what she was implying, but I think we can all guess.

    Well, she also told me that she thought she “simply could not” sing the note. It was, to her thinking, That Which Cannot Be Broached. But Sir John Pritchard told her a Little White One and said, “OK, dear. Since your high D is comfortable, let’s do the cabaletta in G, then you’re just singing a high D, not an E-flat.” So, with that in mind, she set about recording Sempre Libera in A-flat (thinking it was in G), and promptly laid down on permanent record one of her most exciting vocal moments in her career.

    In Sydney, she knew she was singing in score-pitch, but felt comfy with the E-flats. In NY, she may have lost abit of nerve for some reason. Then on her full recording in Kraus, she does NOT take the E-flat. She was nearing 50 at that point, though, and she said that she was actually MORE technically comfortable with the note — it was actually “easier” at that point in her career — BUT, it didn’t sound as good as it did earlier. So, she wisely elected the B-flat instead. Still… I sure wish it were different.

    Then, there is Cotrubas’ bizarre scream-flail in her complete set. Yes, I LOVE that she does it, and it is TOTALLY exciting, and it is TOTALLY out of control — so yummy — but my GOD — how did she actually DO that? Give that a listen, then drink a hot cup of tea with honey to calm down your own vocal folds.

    OK — but THEN, we come to Dawn Upshaw’s attempt at That Which Cannot Be Broached at the end of Glitter and Be Gay. Now, I consider her a friend, as she knows, and I had one of the best times of my life singing the Rake’s Progress with her. And yet, I’m not quite sure HOW she actually gets that note out. It’s not “pop” exactly (because it’s far better produced than any “pop” Maria Carey-type stuff), but it’s not exactly your Lucia-Elvira-Semiramide high E-flat, either. There is an interesting little squeak first, then the note, then some air, then a cutoff…or something like that.

    But then…dare I address it…Oh, never mind. Enough with that. But I find it VERY VERY interesting what singers do at the FAR extremes of their range. After all, as a lyric tenor still singing a lot of Rossini and Donizetti, I spend a lot of time up there — and the way every soprano and tenor “gets the job done” is, in the end, VERY individual. The vocal ped books just don’t do you much good when 3000 paying customers are staring you in the face, and the orchestra is churning toward the final cadence where your High D is expected.

    But once again, what EXACTLY is Cheryl Studer doing on those E-flats and E-naturals on her “Coloratura” CD? And by this question, I mean: What is she PHYSICALLY doing? What IS that sound? Is she humming, or somehow overblowing her arytenouds to create a whistle effect…or what the fuck IS that???

    Oh — for OperaGuyNY, I have to get on this plane for now and boot down, but later tonight I’ll post again to answer your question on “Any other favorites?” for Joanie’s best moments. I’ve got a slew of ’em.

    Here’s one:

    The climactic high D-naturals in the “Esprit de l’air, esprit de l’onde: obeissez-moi” sequence in Esclarmonde. Holy friggin shit.

    NO ONE NO ONE NO ONE NO ONE NO ONE has ever done that, or ever will do that…

    like THAT!


  56. OperaGuyNY Says:

    I did know there was an actual written high E-flat for Edgardo in the score of Lucia, I actually had to show it to someone who didn’t believe me. Can’t wait to hear you sing that!!!

    Funny you should bring up Kiri, I’ll have to go back and find that recording I’d love to hear that, but my favorite Kiri moment is in Marriage of Figaro when singing the countess. Right before the aria proper of “Dove Sono” when she sings “…fammi or cercar…” it just slays me every time. Certainly not that high, but gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

    On Joanie’s E-flats, I’m pulling this off the top of my head, but I think my favorites are the end of the “Qui la voce” on the Prima Donna album – that one is just so f’ing amazing – full, rich, and effortless. The “Sempre Libera” from the ’64 recording is MY-T fine. My other favorite moment is the “Caro Nome” on the prima donna album, when she gets to the cadenza and does that staccato figure up to a D or E-flat, I almost crashed my car on that one.

    How do you feel about Sills? Have you ever been to There are tons of live sound clips, most pre-1974 when she sounded simply AMAZING. Check out HER “Sempre Libera” that E-flat almost blew out my speakers…

    I’ll think of more once I get home, though I must admit it’s hard to narrow things down.

  57. I have just discovered La Cieca’s wonderful site in the past week and am so thoroughly enjoying these posts. I must jump in here to thank Operaguyny for the Sills link. I had no idea it existed — what a treasure trove.

    I saw both Sutherland and Sills perform here in San Francisco in opera and recital many times. While I feel Sills always moved me much more emotionally in my soul, even with her vocal problems in later years, both gave tremendous performances that no one today can come close to. I saw the Esclarmonde T.I. mentions — the high Ds were as thrilling live (maybe more so)as the recording, and it was one of the most visually beautiful productions I have ever seen. Giacomo Aragall was the tenor — a tenor I believe much underestimated and a knockout hunk to boot. Also saw Sills in Lucia c. 1971 with Pavarotti — both in prime estate and when he was still a real musician. And speaking of E-naturals and E-flats, there is a video from Boston of Sills in Ariadne, doing the original 1912 version of Zerbinetta, complete with the most intricate coloratura ever composed and with high F-sharps to boot.

    Thanks for generating my trip down memory lane.

  58. papagenodz Says:

    And thanks for reminding us of Esclarmonde. God, I love that recording. Everything works — Sutherland is majestic, Aragall is a god, and Tourangeau is a guilty pleasure. What a strange, glorious work. Will we EVER see it again?

  59. Just Another Tenor Says:

    I saw it last year in concert form performed by the Washington Concert Opera. The Esclarmonde was stellar, and actually sang it com’e scritto, as opposed ot Joan who had to rewrite some of the voacl lines for the her Met production and the full recording. This girl sang the high G as it is written! I think they would revive it for Natalie Dessay, although she does not wnat to sing way up there anymore. I also think the opera is dramatically a little too obvious for her, and she is looking to sink her teeth into more interesting roles. Still, it is one glorious opera, and the first aria “Esprit de l’air” is one of the most thrilling arias Massenet ever wrote.
    Thank you for reminding us of that, T.I.

  60. Leontyneluvr Says:

    Hate to partake in a moment of fav diva nepotism- but for high notes not usually associated with a certain singers voice or rep let’s not forget La Price’s recordings of Sempre Libera, Caro nome, and the Thais aria- stunning high d’s, e flat’s and e’s- the interpolated d flat’s in Trovatore D’amor Sulalee Rose (spelling?) always left me feeling like there was more at the top- and don’t forget the Guntram

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