Archive for June, 2006

Song of India

Posted in youtube on June 28, 2006 by lacieca

A reader sends La Cieca this YouTube video of the lovely Danielle De Niese in Handel’s Giulio Cesare. The intriguing Bollywood-themed production is by David McVicar.


Fleming: I’m no flapper!

Posted in cher public, fleming on June 26, 2006 by lacieca

Those of you cher public who frequent the left coast have probably seen the new Los Angeles Opera production of La traviata, the one that bumps the period of the action forward from the epoch of Alexandre Dumas fils to that of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Well, of course the svelte and lovely Elizabeth Futral looks charming in Jazz Age garb — enough so that one would wish to see her in a revival of Harbison’s The Great Gatsby — that is, with different music. But anyway, just like everyone else, La Cieca thought that this new mise-en-scene by Marta Domingo was intended to become the LA Opera’s “standard” Traviata. And, just like very nearly everyone your faithful scribe wondered just how well the modernistic lines of bugle-beaded cocktail dresses would drape over the curves of Renee Fleming, who is skedded to sing Violetta in LA this fall. Well, stop wondering, chickens, because La Cieca has just heard that la Fleming’s contract for the production specifies that she will not do the “Art Deco” staging; rather, she insists on wearing the traditional crinoline. And she is arguing from a position of power, since Decca has also contracted to tape the fall performances for DVD release. Fortunately LA already has a conventional Marta-helmed Traviata in storage, awaiting only the arrival of la Fleming to be demothballed. The “Flapper Traviata?” Junked after only the one season, La Cieca hears.

Trilling in thirds

Posted in Uncategorized on June 25, 2006 by lacieca

UPDATE: this story really does need an “evil twin” graphic.

Oh, my! Will Crutchfield is talking to himself!

Giudici, ad Angela!

Posted in cher public, diva, gheorghiu, mp3 on June 24, 2006 by lacieca

La Cieca has found a few fragments from last night’s performance of Tosca at the ROH — only about 15 minutes of music, but enough, perhaps, to give a hint of the suitability of Angela Gheorghiu for the title role. La Cieca’s take (based on an in-house mike, remember!) is that the Roman diva is a perfect fit for la Gheorghiu temperamentally, but at least a size too big vocally. She banks a lot on the “Vissi d’arte,” and, yes, it does pay off gloriously — but that’s not the whole role, is it? An idea of relative volume can be gathered from the performances of Marcelo Alvarez and Bryn Terfel, both in excellent fettle. And if Antonio Pappano can make the whole score sound this rich and exciting, La Cieca says, bravissimo! So, what does my cher public think of these Tosca snippets?

I heard the world end

Posted in jones on June 24, 2006 by lacieca

Before La Cieca departs on holiday from her podcasting duties, allow her to introduce The Podderdammerung Page. Once again, La Cieca scoops the universe: here on you can now listen to (or download) the entire Ring cycle, as featured on this month’s Unnatural Acts of Opera. What sort of Ring will you hear there? So glad you asked!

Das Rheingold:

  • Festspielhaus Bayreuth, August 11, 1951. Conductor: Herbert von Karajan. Wotan: Sigurd Björling; Donner: Werner Faulhaber; Froh: Robert Bernauer; Loge: Walter Fritz; Alberich: Heinrich Pflanzl; Mime: Paul Kuen; Fasolt: Ludwig Weber; Fafner: Friedrich Dalberg; Fricka: Ira Malaniuk; Freia: Paula Brivkalne; Erda: Ruth Siewert; Woglinde: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf; Wellgunde: Lore Wissmann; Floßhilde: Hertha Töpper

Die Walküre:

  • Act 1. Festspielhaus Bayreuth, 1967. Conductor: Karl Böhm. Siegmund: James King; Sieglinde: Leonie Rysanek; Hunding: Gerd Nienstedt.
  • Act 2. Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, April 4, 1955. Conductor: Josef Keilberth. Brünnhilde: Martha Mödl; Wotan: Hans Hotter; Fricka: Georgine von Milinkovic; Sieglinde: Gré Brouwenstijn; Siegmund: Wolfgang Windgassen; Hunding: Josef Greindl.
  • Act 3. Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York, November 1945. Artur Rodzinski, conductor. Brunnhilde: Helen Traubel; Wotan: Herbert Janssen; Sieglinde: Irene Jessner; Helmwige: Doris Doree; Gerhilde: Maxine Stellman; Ortlinde: Irene Jessner; Rossweisse: Doris Doe; Grimgerde: Martha Lipton; Waltraute: Jeanne Palmer; Siegrune: Herta Glaz; Schwertleite: Anna Kaskas.


  • Act 1. Covent Garden, October 1, 1957. Rudolf Kempe, conductor. Siegfried: Wolfgang Windgassen; Mime: Peter Klein; Wanderer: Hans Hotter.
  • Act 2. Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI, November 14, 1953. Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler. Siegfried: Ludwig Suthaus; Mime: Julius Patzak; Wanderer: Ferdinand Frantz; Alberich: Alois Pernerstorfer; Fafner: Josef Greindl; Waldvogel: Rita Streich.
  • Act 3. Festspielhaus Bayreuth, 1980. Conductor: Pierre Boulez. Siegfried: Manfred Jung; Brünnhilde: Gwyneth Jones; Wanderer: Donald McIntyre; Erda: Ortrun Wenkel.


  • Act 1. Festspielhaus Bayreuth, 1967. Conductor: Karl Böhm. Brünnhilde: Birgit Nilsson; Siegfried: Wolfgang Windgassen; Hagen: Josef Greindl; Gunther: Thomas Stewart; Gutrune: Ludmilla Dvoráková; Waltraute: Martha Mödl; 1. Norne: Marga Höffgen 2. Norne: Annelies Burmeister; 3. Norne: Anja Silja.
  • Act 2. Festspielhaus Bayreuth, August 4, 1951. Conductor: Hans Knappertsbusch. Brünnhilde: Astrid Varnay; Siegfried: Bernd Aldenhoff; Hagen: Ludwig Weber; Alberich: Heinrich Pflanzl; Gunther: Hermann Uhde; Gutrune: Martha Mödl.
  • Act 3. Teatro alla Scala, Milano, April 4, 1950. Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler. Brunnhilde: Kirsten Flagstad; Siegfried: Max Lorenz; Gunther: Josef Herrmann; Hagen: Ludwig Weber; Gutrune: Hilde Konetzni; Woglinde: Magda Gabory; Wellgunde: Margherita Kenney; Flosshilde: Sieglinde Wagner.

Cruda sorte

Posted in cher public, diva, mp3 on June 22, 2006 by lacieca

By now, cher public, you have all heard about the Skandal in Vienna: Olga Borodina was sacked from L’italiana in Algeri (or did she walk out?) because, well, there were a variety of reasons proffered. Short version, though, is that the Staatsoper press office announced “All contracts between Olga Borodina and the Vienna State Opera have been dissolved by mutual agreement.” (Those “contracts” included a new Boris Godunov production.) A gallant Agnes Baltsa substituted on short notice. La Cieca would say that Baltsa “jumped in,” but, since the veteran diva was announced as having an injured leg, perhaps that phrase would be in poor taste. So, anyway, here are the announcement and Baltsa’s first aria, as recorded from the house.

Iphigenie en Transition

Posted in our own on June 19, 2006 by lacieca

Yes, that’s our own Susan Graham, starring in an operatic version of the hit film Transamerica. Kudos to the hair, makeup and costume people of the Opera national de Paris for making Susie look so convincingly like a pre-op transsexual!

Well, no, actually, the opera is Iphigenie en Tauride, and apparently the opening night audience didn’t much care for it either. (La Graham had the wit to cancel the prima.)