Archive for October, 2006

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Posted in youtube on October 31, 2006 by lacieca

. . . though not in that order, actually. Donald Collup presents a brace of his documentary films this weekend featuring two very different divas, Astrid Varnay and Florence Foster Jenkins.

La Varnay (the ecstatic part of the bargain) is profiled in “Never Before,” a two-hour video and audio journey through the early years of the soprano’s career. The film will be screened at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 2 at the Lilli Devereaux Blake School, 45 East 81st Street. Admission is free. More details on “Never Before”

Agony inevitably follows the next day, Friday November 3, when Collup unveils “Florence Foster Jenkins: A World Of Her Own” at the Vocal Record Collectors Society meeting in the Phillips Auditorium at Christ Methodist Church, 520 Park Avenue at East 60th Street. The screening is at 8:00 p.m., preceded by an LP auction at 7:30. Admission is free, but seating is limited. The film includes interviews with such personalities as Marge Champion and Alfred Hubay who attended the celebrated Jenkins Carnegie Hall recital on October 25, 1944, as well as rare photographs from the Gregor Benko collection. Here’s a preview of “A World Of Her Own” —

Complete details on this event.


Buffman glance

Posted in blind on October 31, 2006 by lacieca

A video of Brad Pitt in wet underpants. Now, you would think that there is no way that such a video would be less than fascinating, right? Well, you’d be wrong, because the video is directed by the only man in the world who could make Brad Pitt in wet underpants look boring.

Robert Wilson, of course. Via Vanity Fair.

UPDATE: Oh, and did I mention that Pitt is furious at what his legal representative calls an “unauthorized” use of a still from the Wilson video “portrait” that Vanity Fair used as the cover of their “Art Issue?” The cover identifies Wilson as an “avant-garde impresario,” which of course is zero for two.

Dame Joan will be so proud

Posted in gay on October 31, 2006 by lacieca

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “The male toilets of Australia‚Äôs most famous landmark, the Sydney Opera House, has been listed among hot spots for a hook up point for men cruising sex with other men.”

Jane Eaglen is going to teach young people how to sing.

“By the time her stepfather Herodes starts sucking Salome’s naked breasts, it is clear that nothing will save William Friedkin‘s Munich staging of the 1905 Richard Strauss opera about the petulant veiled princess.”

Oh, and one more thing. If you insist on casting Franco Farina, you really must tell Margaret Juntwait that when she announces the end of Cavalleria, she can’t say, “That horrible scream tells everyone that Turiddu is dead.” (Margaret, we all heard the “Addio alla madre.” After that, the shrieks of damned souls in hell sound like young di Stefano.)


Posted in callas, gelb, millo on October 27, 2006 by lacieca

Peter Gelb‘s motto for the week: “Those Swarovski crystals are going on with or without you.” Maria Guleghina sings the first Tosca of the season tomorrow night, jumping in for Andrea Gruber who is under the weather. A report from the dress rehearsal notes that “Gruber had nothing above about an A, Cura was rushing the conductor the entire time, and they both ended the opera by marking the 3rd act down an octave.” Gruber was wheezing and sneezing all over Margaret Juntwait last night during the broadcast intermission, too. She’s supposed to go on for the next performances November 1 and 4. Aprile Millo dons the tiara beginning on the 25th.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the proper term is for the matched set of tiara, necklace, earrings and whatever other sparkly baubles the well-dressed Floria flaunts, it’s called a “garniture.”

The motley must go on

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2006 by lacieca

Salvatore Licitra, who took a nasty spill Tuesday night on the way to a promo event for his new CD, will sing go on and Canio tonight at the Met. The tenor reportedly tore a couple of tendons in his shoulder and will have to wear a sling during Pagliacci. Some of the staging will be altered to accomodate his injury. Fortunately, Licitra’s onstage partner is the cool-headed Patricia Racette, who can be counted on to remember not to grab the arm as the action heats up.

For Reals

Posted in met, sirius on October 26, 2006 by lacieca

Fifty parterre box livechatters agree: the first RealNetworks Met Opera streaming broadcast was a sensational success! Listeners compared notes last night during the performance of Rigoletto, a number of them doing an A/B comparison between the Real stream and the Sirius stream.

The consensus was that the Real stream offered excellent fidelity and depth of sound at 96 kbps, featuring that quality that has seemed to elude Met broadcast producers for the past decade or so, a realistic dynamic range. (To put in in language La Cieca understands, the full orchestra actually sounds louder than the clarinet solo.) In fact, in this respect the Real stream actually scored higher points than the Sirius premium stream, though La Cieca stands by her opinion that the Sirius stream sounds somewhat rounder, with fewer digital artifacts.

Of course the main focus of the chat was the performance itself, but it is good to know that the streaming technology is so realiable — though not quite seamless, for there were scattered dropouts reported. Any of you technical whizzes out there have suggestions for improving the listening experience?

And please feel free to nominate future broadcasts dates for more chats on

Man on Mantova action

Posted in blind, sirius on October 25, 2006 by lacieca

La Cieca hosts a chat tonight on the subject of the Met’s season premiere of Rigoletto, which also marks the first RealNetworks free streaming broadcast of a Met performance. (The performance will also be broadcast on Sirius.) The room will open at 7:45 PM.