Well, who says that the summer is a slow news season for opera? The top story this week is that the Royal Opera Covent Garden is living up to it name (the royal part I mean) by casting Deborah Voigt as Ariadne for their 2007-08 season. And bravi to La Voigt herself and her publicity team for handling the story so well — it was everywhere on the net yesterday, including even Fox News.
An interesting detail in the story is that currently Voigt is 135 pounds lighter than her peak weight, presurgery, which was two years ago, or in other words she has lost an entire soubrette. What a shock it will be when the Met’s video of Ariadne finally emerges from the vaults — this was taped back when Voigt was still X-large, and to tell the truth, La Cieca think she’s beginning to forget what Debbie looked like back then, since she seems so comfortable in her new skin.
Well, at least the Ariadne made it to the taping stage; the latest big opera video project might not even do that. You may recall that La Cieca revealed last week that Los Angeles Opera will present a short revival of Traviata in the fall so that Renee Fleming‘s Violetta can be documented for a Decca DVD release. (Part of the deal as that Fleming should appear in a “traditional” production, as opposed to the flapper updating Los Angeles did this summer.)
Well, now it turns out that LAO will have to pony up an additional $600K to refurbish their old Traviata production to bring it up to acceptable standards for video. (I guess if Renee Fleming is your Violetta, you should make sure the physical production is as interesting as possible.) What makes this story so odd is that both the Traviata stagings in question are devised by the same director, and that this director is the wife of the company’s general director. And what I think should have Decca worried is that they are putting so much money into a Traviata with a soprano who is not exactly a reliable self-starter as an actress, and then giving her Marta Domingo as a director. No wonder Dimitri Hvorostovsky bailed from this one.
And another thing that struck me as odd is that since the news about this DVD broke first as a rumor and now it’s been confirmed, there has been no reaction, even from the big Fleming fans, no cries of, “Oh thank heaven the divine Renee’s Violetta will be preserved for posterity!” I mean, it’s no skin off La Cieca’s Roman nose whether Renaaay films it or not: I’m not going to watch it anyway, but you’d think the hardcore Fleming Flappers would be making a bit more of a stir over so important a project for their goddess. Oh well, probably a lot of the Fleming fans were out in their quarter shares in the Pines this past weekend, and just haven’t caught up with the good news yet.