Notte d’orror!

Speaking of Montserrat Caballe and Anna Bolena — well, let’s speak of them in the same sentence. From February 21, 1982, a performance of Donizetti’s masterpiece, starring Montse opposite the loggionisti of La Scala. Blood was left on that stage, and it wasn’t all hers. That’s this time on Unnatural Acts of Opera.


34 Responses to “Notte d’orror!”

  1. Baritenor Says:

    Wow, this is….unnatural. I think I’ll leave it at that.

    On another note, does anyone know where I can find a downloadable copy of the first Unnatural Act Broadcast of TURANDOT, with Montsy, Pavarotti and Leona Mitchell. only has the third act archieved, and I can’t access it hear, so does anyone know where I can find the first two Acts?

  2. il stupendo Says:

    ‘drama if i sing, drama if i don’t.’

    we are missing you already, Montsie!

  3. rysanekfreak Says:

    To Baritenor—Go to Click on Classical Music. Type in “San Francisco Turandot Leona Mitchell” and their search engine will connect you to a pirate of that performance. Since the prima of each production was a radio broadcast back in those days, one can hope that’s what this is (the radio broadcast) so that the sound will be good.

    I attended one of those Caballe, Pavarotti, Mitchell performances and the audience was absolutely electrified by the singing from all three stars. Exciting stuff.

  4. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I think those are the highest notes I’ve ever heard from Caballe. I didn’t think she had ever gone above high C onstage.


    Speaking of Leona, I loved her and had great hopes for her. Sadly, it never came to pass. From what I understand, she did some great things in Australia–sigh!

  6. il stupendo Says:

    Montsie hurled a high D at La Fassabaender at their Maria Stuarda live in Munich, 1979!

  7. einerlei Says:

    To Baritenor:

    If you are still looking for the Turandot acts as downloads, send me an e-mail and I can tell you how to get them.



    il stupendo, I’ve heard about THAT D–I hear that the whole performance is truly demented. It’s rumored that Caballe and Fassbaender melted the stage lights during their duet! For Montsie to hurl anything above the C she had to be on FIRE!

  9. La Cieca Says:

    You can find a clip of the Caballe/Fassbaender Stuarda on the Dementia page.


    Thank you La Cieca!!

  11. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    My God, wow ! I’m speechless now.

  12. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    And Caballe was considered undramatic onstage. One of those who would stand and just sing some would say. Shows that when you “feel” what you’re singing, the drama comes out and gets you no matter what.

  13. Yes callasorphan, Ms Leona has done some great stuff “down here/downunder” over the years. I’ve seen her do a great Butterfly, Manon Lescaut, Aida, Turandot, Un Ballo, Idomeneo and she has also done Tosca and Bess.

    I particularly enjoy her Liu – in the Met/Zefferelli (video) production of Turandot and have always imagined that “over your way” – and throughout Europe, she would have been kept extremely busy with work. If she hasn’t been, more’s the pity for your audiences because we down here have long recognised her as one of the consistently best artists to ever visit this country.

  14. il stupendo Says:

    besides demented top notes, Montsie also hurled much physical things!

    once, in a live performance, when a chair collapsed under Montsie’s majestic form and sent her to the floor with a thud, she picked the wretched thing up and flung it the wings!

    and there was the time when she was rushing to the theatre to sing Tosca and was stopped by a roadblock:

    even after several minutes, her driver failed to persuade the policeman to allow them to pass.

    Montsie, already in her Tosca costume, makeup, and hair, got out of the car, grabbed the roadblock and hurled it to the side of the road!

    She then got back into the car, and gave her command to the driver: ‘Va!’. And he did!


    daniel, from what I understand her manager who is (was) also her husband was (is) impossible to work with. Thus, she has not performed too much in this country. Pity. I also love her Liu on that DVD. Her singing always moves me to tears! Butterfly is another great role. Those gorgeous high notes at her entrance always puts me on the floor!!

  16. Baritenor Says:

    Ah, and her Micaela….

  17. il stupendo Says:

    this happened when Montsie was singing salome to a live audience:

    john the baptist’s head was brought in on a huge platter and placed on the floor. Montsie lied down and rested her elbows on the platter while singing to the head, and the platter broke with a resounding crack!

    furious that such an important prop was just papier mache, Montsie smashed the damn thing to smithereens with both hands!


    Yes baritenor, her Micaela is wonderful. I have the Met performance on DVD with Carreas (sp?), Balsta and Leona–fabulous!

  19. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I thought her manager was her brother. Perhaps her husband – tenor Bernabe Marti – is also part of the management team.


    itdg, I certainly could be wrong (shock! that’s been known to happen a few times!!). I heard this about her husband about the time she stopped singing at the Met–late 1980’s. She could have easily married many times since then and had many managers–relatives and all.

  21. Baritenor Says:

    And don’t forget Sam Ramey and the late great Bruce Hubbard as Daincare. It’s a really great DVD…for my money to best thing Baltsa did on video.


    baritone, Yes, Sam was wanderful too. That was rather at the beginning of his career and (if you can believe it) not too many opera people had heard of him–that, of course, soon changed. Prior to that broadcast his was mainly know for his spectacular recordings of Rossini operas on the Philips lable–he could out coloratura many a soprano!!


    Sorry I meant baritenor–just a braincramp–hey I’m old!

  24. Baritenor Says:

    No problem. Actually, Baritone is a more appropriate title these days. I really should change it, I’m learning Don Giovanni for god sakes!

  25. Il Tenore di Grazia Says:

    I prefer Don Giovanni to be sung by a baritone rather than a bass. I like to hear different timbred voices in the different roles. A true baritone for the Don, a bass for Leporello, a light baritone for Massetto, and a basso profundo for the Commendatore. Of course a tenor for Don Ottavio. The Met has had performances in recent years with four bases and a tenor and ITDG was not pleased. Even worse when we also start casting mezzos in the female roles.


    baitenor, in that case, you are baritone!! I guess I’m not getting too addled–you’ve given me HOPE! Thanks!

  27. The Turandot you are looking for is available on GALA , it is from San Francisco (caballe, pavarotti, mitchell) greetings from Shanghai

  28. I saw Leona Mitchell several times at the Met. She had the most gorgeous voice, but the technique– and the heaving breasts–of a cow.

  29. Leontyneluvr Says:

    Is she singing now? Didn’t something happen with her brother killing someone and she kind off went off?


    It was Leona’s uncle that did the killing. She did not go off only off to Australia. She’s in her 50s now (I think) and no doubt looking at teaching (If she isn’t already doing it)

  31. Leontyneluvr Says:

    Thanks for the info-not meant as a slight to her in any way- I was a big fan- she had a gorgeous sound- I loved that chest voice!!!


    Belive me leontyneluvr, no offense taken! With a name like leontyneluvr, you are indeed a friend of mine!

  33. Leontyneluvr Says:

    Nice to meet you!!

  34. bob's your uncle Says:

    That was some performance!

    I can’t quite figure out why the audience reacted so strongly to Plishka’s second “Sposa sua tu sei?”. Was it because he didn’t really sing the line so much as he growled it?

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