Archive for July, 2007

Questo popoloso deserto

Posted in crossover, filth, world leaders dancing in underwear on July 31, 2007 by lacieca

As if opera weren’t dead enough already, this latest news is sure to finish pounding the stake through its heart. Paris Hilton (strike one!) has been signed for a leading role in the film version of Repo! The Genetic Opera. In this futuristic musical fantasy, La Hilton plays the daughter of organ-transplant tycoon Paul Sorvino (strike two!). The film is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, best known for helming sequels in the Saw horror series (strike three!) Ms. Hilton, interviewed at an event called “Feed the Models, Save the World,” commented, “I’ve been rehearsing every day—seven hours a day. We’re just in the studio. We’re doing dance and singing. We go shoot next month in Toronto.”
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Le belting

Posted in crespin, crossover, diva, mp3 on July 29, 2007 by lacieca

Régine Crespin does her “New York has neon, Berlin has bars” routine on a French variety TV show “Palmarès des chansons” circa 1967. She sings her version of one of the greatest hits of the evergreen entertainer Mistinguett, the chanson “C’est vrai!”.

A video excerpt of this performance (featuring Mme. Crespin “entourée de danseurs avec plumes”) may be found on the Place aux Chansons website.

Dutch treat

Posted in cher public, podcast, poll on July 28, 2007 by lacieca

To wind up this summer’s Wagner festival on Unnatural Acts of Opera, La Cieca plans to play the composer’s first “canonical” opera, Der Fliegende Hollander. But which live performance, she wonders. That’s where you come in, cher public. La Cieca lists below a selection of exciting live Hollanders, and you get to vote on which you would most like to hear. Voting will be open until 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, at which time La Cieca will declare a winner and proceed to post the performance.

UPDATE: Voting is now closed, and the winner is the 1955 Knappertsbusch performance from Bayreuth. Here is the final tally:

Be sure to listen in to this special “democratic” edition of Unnatural Acts of Opera.

Judgment at Nuremberg

Posted in 2008, wagner, world leaders dancing in underwear on July 28, 2007 by lacieca

Well, this is what La Cieca gathers from Katharina Wagner‘s production of Die Meistersinger (without, of course, having had the benefit of actually seeing it!)

KW’s basic idea is that Great-grandfather Richard presented an overly optimistic view of the dramatic action of the opera. Walther is taught by Hans Sachs to moderate his radical musical ideas by adopting traditional forms; that way his music can be understood by his audience. KW sees this compromise as a sellout, so she depicts the climactic singing contest satirically, as an “American Idol” hypefest.

Walther basically grows out of his rebellious phase (e.g., splashing white paint all over the church in Act 1) and becomes just another bourgeois mastersinger. Sachs is played as an aging hippie type who also cleans up his act for the sake of popularity and respectability.

Meanwhile, Beckmesser the pedantic marker is transformed radically by the experience of the Act 2 riot. Depending on your point of view, he is either driven mad or else he has a profound spiritual awakening. The text of Walther’s song that he filches for the competion is on a ripped-up sheet of paper, so his performance at the contest is nonsensical and the crowds laughs at him. And yet to him the song is the purest, most genuine music he has ever created — but nobody else will ever be able to appreciate it. In a way he has become the radical artist that Walther aspired to be.

[La Cieca’s earlier remark about Beckmesser appearing nude in Act 3 was mistaken; she apologizes.]

Now, it is safe to say that this is probably not the meaning Wagner had in mind when he wrote Meistersinger, and it is even a reasonable bet that this meaning is at best extremely difficult to convey through this particular text and music. Now, La Cieca doesn’t know much about these things, but as she understand its, part of the current Regie philosophy is that a canonical work like Meistersinger is so utterly familiar to the audience that there is no point in performing it “straight,” that you have to try to find something new to say through the work. Whether you believe in this philosophy or not (your doyenne is on the fence), you can perhaps agree that it is meant to be a serious way of approaching the work, not a frivolous one.

Another point is that historically the first year’s iteration of a Bayreuth production is expected to be an imperfect first draft; the artistic team are expected to do major revisions for the second year’s run, based on what they are suppposed to freely regard as the mistakes of the first year. So really we’ll have to wait until 2008 for the finished version of the youngest Wagner’s vision. (Does anyone know if there are plans to telecast this production? The bits seen so far on video look as if it would adapt well to TV presentation.)

The critics rave, or at least they make loud noises

Posted in critic on July 27, 2007 by lacieca

A few selections from The Opera Critic, demonstrating that great minds do not always etc. etc. That is, assuming you believe that British critics count as “great minds.”



Das Traumboot

Posted in 2007, cher public, hunkentenor, millo, mp3, scandale, this diva looks like that diva, wagner on July 27, 2007 by lacieca

Bayreuth scion-apparent Katharina Wagner‘s production of Die Meistersinger opened yesterday at the Festspielhaus.


As you can see, this production is rather curiously cast with David Beckham as Walther and Aprile Millo as Eva.

Oh, well, all right, La Cieca must have her little joke, you know. The tenor is in fact Klaus Florian Vogt, whom many of you heard sing Lohengrin at the Met back in 2006, and, if this photo is anything like accurate, is indeed the “Traumboot” above referenced.


Now, be honest, cher public. If you saw this fellow approaching on a boat, would you even notice that it was drawn by a swan? No, La Cieca didn’t think so.

Oh, and of course, that’s not La Millo up there with the paint-spattered decolletage. More’s the pity, La Cieca must say, because surely if it were Millo singing the soprano part in the quintet, it would be more nearly in tune than this snippet from the Generalprobe.

For those of you interested in Ms. Wagner’s Konzept, here’s a feature from German TV.

All about Ewa

Posted in gcn, jj on July 26, 2007 by lacieca

Our editor JJ‘s review of the Caramoor concert performance of Il trovatore (featuring Ewa Podlés as Azucena) is in the current issue of Gay City News. And for those of you who long for the gay stereotypes of yore, please note that this opera review is currently the most popular story on GCN’s site, beating out items on Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Barack Obama, and even Jim Naugle, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale!