Archive for November, 2007

Sgombra è la sacra selva

Posted in bel canto, fleming, la cieca ci guarda la cieca ci vede on November 30, 2007 by lacieca

I hate to tell you, dear, but your skin makes chiffon velvet look like the Rocky MountainsAs La Cieca’s clever public guessed six weeks ago, Renée Fleming is not going to sing Norma.

“The part just didn’t fit as she had hoped it would after living with it,” Fleming publicist Mary Lou Falcone said Thursday to the Associated Press. La Fleming, 48 (though she doesn’t look a day over 20, does she?), will perform Eugene Onegin under the baton of James Levine next summer at Tanglewood instead of the Bellini work.

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Running, standing and jumping Gaul

Posted in bel canto, gcn, jj, met, our own on November 29, 2007 by lacieca

“Legendary maestro Tullio Serafin once said that trying to perform Bellini’s Norma without a great soprano is as futile as attempting to cook risotto without rice. This month, the Metropolitan Opera experimented with such a recipe with less than palatable results.”

Our Own JJ reviews Hasmik Papian‘s Druidess in Gay City News.

The Season Brochure

Posted in contest, quiz on November 28, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca presents an all-purpose season brochure for an American opera company, done in the familiar “Mad-Lib” style. Enter text in the boxes below, then click the “Go Mad” button to read your version of The Season Brochure.

<input type=’hidden’ name=’text’ value=’The season for Grand Opera promises an eclectic mix of and works, as well as a gala featuring the personality as special .

The classic, `s “La di ” boasts a new production directed by , with costumes by . This staging updates the action to in the early part of the th century. Soprano stars as , a virginal who for most of the opera is disguised as a mysterious . is perhaps best known from where she sang the lilting melody .

The neglected masterpiece “Der ” will be revived for only performances. You probably already know the famous ” Chorus” which was used on the soundtrack of the Academy Award winning film . Due to the length of this work, all performances will begin at .

Finally, the company will present the premiere of the opera “The Life and Times of ” in a co-production with and . The libretto is by , based on the play , and the music is adapted from the works of by maestro . Exciting newcomer makes her operatic debut as the heroine, and the men in her life are portrayed by , and .

Generous support for Grand Opera`s was provided by the Foundation and the National Endowment for the .’>

YEAR
CITY
ADJECTIVE
ADJECTIVE
NOUN
ADJECTIVE
FAMOUS PERSON
NOUN
ADJECTIVE
COMPOSER
ITALIAN WORD
CITY
FAMOUS PERSON
FAMOUS PERSON
ADJECTIVE
NAME OF PLACE
NUMBER
NAME OF SOPRANO
WOMAN`S NAME
NOUN
NOUN
TELEVISION SHOW
SONG
GERMAN WORD
GERMAN WORD
GERMAN WORD
NUMBER
NOUN
MOVIE
TIME OF DAY
NAME OF PLACE
FAMOUS PERSON
OPERA COMPANY
OPERA COMPANY
FAMOUS PERSON
NAME OF PLAY
COMPOSER
CONDUCTOR
FAMOUS WOMAN
ADJECTIVE
FAMOUS PERSON
FAMOUS PERSON
FAMOUS PERSON
NOUN
FAMOUS PERSON
NOUN

Send your version of the Season Brochure to La Cieca by copying and pasting the resulting text into an email addressed to lacieca@parterre.com. The author of the Season Brochure judged “most amusing” will be awarded a gift certificate from amazon.com.

Divas on Demand!

Posted in met, telecast on November 28, 2007 by lacieca

Ken Howard, Metropolitan Opera The Met announced this morning yet another media partnership, this one with iN DEMAND Networks “to offer all eight new performances from the Met’s second season of Metropolitan Opera: Live in High Definition to on-demand subscribers in the United States in both standard and high definition formats.” The basic idea is that the video from the Met’s live movie theater simulcasts will be offered on a pay-per-view basis within a month after the original performance date. The series will kick off with the December 15 performance of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, broadcast on iN DEMAND on Wednesday, January 16, 2008.

Never at a loss for a sound bite, Met General Manager Peter Gelb quipped, “With this agreement, we are creating the opera equivalent of a Hollywood movie roll-out.” The Met will join such established iN DEMAND attractions as major Hollywood films in HD, Major League Baseball, World Wrestling League, and original video programming such as America’s Next Hot Pornstar: Naked Tryouts.

Your pathetic, your loathsome, your despicable majesty!

Posted in camp, festoonery, this diva looks like that diva on November 28, 2007 by lacieca

Dame Kiri te Kanawa embraces her inner Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan for this scene from the Handelian pastiche The Sorceress. Despite the film’s 1993 release date, the sensibility is pure ’80s: massive hair, voluminous frock, garish lighting design… and don’t overlook the multitude of smirking supers! (Just so you know, the aria is “Ah, Ruggiero crudel… Ombre pallide” from Alcina).

Diva, from head to mistletoe

Posted in bel canto, gualtier malde, guest critic, met, our own on November 27, 2007 by lacieca

Our Own Gualtier Maldè reflects on Maria Guleghina’s first Met Norma.

True confession: I love Maria Guleghina, I really, really love her. I know her flaws but her strengths are such that they sweep aside severe demerits that would consign any other artist to filth. Among contemporary singers she is one artist who thinks big, sings big with a big voice and gives everything she has even when it is more than she can afford vocally or artistically. She lives dangerously onstage and at the end of the night there is blood on the stage floor, sometimes hers, sometimes the composer’s. She may flirt with vocal disaster but she is never routine or boring.

When she was announced as Norma, I felt some trepidation – would this be the breaking point in my love affair with the Russian diva? This is a role where guts and temperament can only get you so far. A lot of the substance of the role is written into the notes and the range of vocal demands is superhuman. Guleghina’s rough, approximate singing at the “Macbeth” new production premiere had earned her critical brickbats (the second performance I attended was much better) and it seemed that bel canto was something beyond her reach at this point. Guleghina has sung Norma before but somewhat outside of the main international circuit and not for a few years.

Now I am sure that over the Sirius network this was not anywhere near a complete musical triumph. However in the house it was certainly impressive and often very, very moving. Guleghina’s conception of the role is greater than her technical means of achieving it but she shirks nothing and doesn’t shy way from emotional extremes or vocal challenges. As an actress and interpreter she is more consistently successful than as vocalist but she cannot be dismissed as totally provincial or crude. Though a few attempts at delicacy, accuracy and finesse may fail, others will surprise you by succeeding and she scored many points in her acting and singing. The voice is major and imposing and suggests a force of nature. Unlike Papian, she was a fearsome rival and didn’t sound like the junior priestess next to Dolora Zajick‘s majestic Adalgisa.

First of all, she is glorious to behold on stage. She has lost some weight in anticipation of the January “Macbeth” satellite moviecast and the often rather soignée new gowns suited her. Tall and majestic with wide-set flashing eyes, she commanded the stage at all times.

Guleghina is often happiest when she can hurl her voice like steel javelins at the music – preferably in the higher range. Some of these vocal assaults miss the target but the energy and force is always exciting. However as Norma, Guleghina attempted many soft attacks, sustained piano singing and modulated phrasing. This in itself was admirable but years of daredevil oversinging are hard to shake off for one role. These piano phrases – including the opening and ending phrases of “Casta Diva” – suffered from hollow, unsteady tones and fell short of the intended pitch. Whereas Papian was capable of more lyricism and delicacy, Guleghina could sweep you away with passion and terrify you with her rage. The two divas strengths and weaknesses seem to be polar opposites of one another. Neither had pinpoint coloratura control but Guleghina had expressive vocal attack and excitement in her fioritura.

Guleghina’s control of her forte top was better than before, none of the many B’s and C’s turned into a squall though she can sharp. She had good clean attacks on some of the killer high cadenzas which will swoop up to a high note and then spiral downward on a chromatic scale. The downward scale was often smeared and sloppy but the top was responsive including a short but firm high D at the end of the trio climaxing the first act.

Though the first act found Guleghina at times managing the role and thinking through her vocal choices phrase by phrase, the second act showed her in greater command of the role. As the role of Norma goes on the vocal gestures become broader and the phrases grander, better suiting Guleghina’s big-boned vocal framework. The scene where Norma ponders murdering her children was a different woman from the proud and almost otherworldly priestess of the first scene – this was a tortured, desperate woman. The maternal aspects of the role were powerfully communicated – the way that she embraced her two boys you knew Guleghina has had children of her own. Maria managed to match Dolora phrase by phrase and staccato scale by staccato scale in “Mira, O Norma”.

In the scenes where Norma incites the Gauls to battle showed Guleghina tearing up the stage as the epitome of the warrior diva. The confrontation with Pollione “In mia man alfin tu sei” showed one Norma who was truly in love with Pollione even as her anger turned her against him and eventually against herself. The final scene with the moving “Qual cor tradisti” and “Deh non volerli vittime” plumbed real depths of emotion. Guleghina’s Norma was relieved to be able to admit her love and free herself from her lies even at the cost of her life. But then there were her children who were now unprotected. Guleghina’s plea to her father could have moved a stone to tears.

Throughout there were pitch problems, phrases broken by inadequate breath control and approximated passage work. But also throughout was a real, larger than life yet very human Norma who was compelling and moving whether alone or interacting with her colleagues. Imperfect? Definitely, but this seemed to be the real thing unlike Papian’s often elegant but unconvincing attempt at the role. So though the singing was anything but “casta” in many respects, the “diva” in her human and divine aspects propelled the story. At the end of the night there was blood on the stage but tears too and the fire of Bellini’s genius burned brightly. — Gualtier Maldè

Si, parleremo terribile da queste querce antiche

Posted in bel canto, chat, met on November 26, 2007 by lacieca

Don’t forget, cher public: tonight La Cieca hosts a live chat on the topic of the Norma broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera, featuring Maria Guleghina‘s first local stab at the Role of Roles. Join La Cieca in the chatroom La Foresta d’Irminsul beginning at 7:15 PM.

Dare we hope tonight’s performance will be as fabulous as this one?