Archive for the alagna Category

O brother where art thou

Posted in alagna, guest critic, scandale, youtube on January 18, 2008 by lacieca

An Italian TV report on the already infamous all-Alagna-all-the-time Orphée.

Now, David Alagna may not be one of the world’s great stage directors, but he certainly is among the cutest!


An Orpheus from Hell

Posted in alagna, guest critic on January 10, 2008 by lacieca

Over the years we have heard many different versions of Gluck’s Orphée. One can choose the Vienna version for castrato, which is shorter and simpler (or better: equally difficult, but in a less spectacular way), the Paris rewrite for tenor or the Berlioz reworking for the distinguished mezzo Pauline Viardot (Anne Sophie von Otter sang this version in Stockholm a few weeks ago). In short, a singer can “play” with the role in order to show his/her ability in portraying Apollo’s son: however, any adaptation should respect the spirit of Gluck’s masterpiece.

Eh, che faro?Unfortunately, this is not the case with the Orphée which opened on January 8 in Bologna, starring Roberto Alagna in the main role. Together with his lesser-known brothers David (director & composer) and Frédérico (scenic designer), the French-Italian tenor presented a rather unusual patchwork, with heavy cuts (almost all the dances and the great aria “L’espoir renaît dans mon âme” are omitted, while “Objet de mon amour” has been reduced to a single stanza) and the tenor part rewritten in a lower key, in order to fit in with Alagna’s chronic problems with the high register.

Moreover, the role of Amour (originally sung by a soprano) has been reassigned to a baritone: in fact, instead of the God of Love, we have a gravedigger who leads a modern-day Orphée into a death cell in order to save his wife from a group of mummies. In the third act, Eurydice attempts to seduce the gravedigger, threatening to elope with him. Orphée decides he has to look at her in order not to lose her again(!) She dies, of course, and Orphée chooses to be buried with her. (Apparently, Alagna didn’t like the original happy ending).

Now, all this may sound like a bad dream, or at least a cheap mise en scène of an Offenbach operetta, but that is just what Alagna’s Orphée is about. One can understand that such a humble singer as Alagna might have wanted an Orphée to call his own, yet he’d better have written it together with his oh-so-smart little brothers, instead of stealing Gluck’s name for this trivial farce. Yet, we cannot forget that such a shame also involves both the opera house’s superintendent Marco Tutino and the musical director of the show, Giampaolo Bisanti, whose bland interpretation and eccentric tempos (too fast in the pit, too slow on stage, the pairing of these two musical realms being a mere accident) made a bad thing worse.

Alagna shouted like he was singing Cavalleria Rusticana on a bad evening in a big house (Bologna’s theater is rather small), but the voice is too thin and not well projected, while what remains of the high register is often off key. His Eurydice, Serena Gamberoni, is a tiny sopranino, with a non-existent low register and shrilling high notes, in the manner of old-fashioned soubrettes. French baritone Marc Barrard was the grotesque, wobbly Amour. Audience reaction was mixed: a few loud booe and a big round of applause. Gluck turned into a poor imitation of Mascagni? Who cares, as long as we have The Brothers Alagna! — Antonio Tamburini

Le Scandale, 2007 edition

Posted in alagna, domingo, met, netrebko, rant, scandale, sirius on December 21, 2007 by lacieca

Cher public, La Cieca meant to turn in early tonight, but she got one of those bees in her bonnet. This particular specimen of Apis mellifera is the “debacle” (as La Cieca has been astonished to see it termed) of Anna Netrebko‘s Juliette last Saturday afternoon. Such harsh criticism La Cieca has rarely heard since the infamous Renata Scotto Norma. Even La Cieca’s own bitchery about Renée Fleming never (well, rarely) reached such heights of dudgeon.

La Cieca should remind herself that much of this accidie springs from opera-l, which most of the time is a valuable resource and all that, but it does seem to be a haven for every tongue-clucking old maid still hunched over her Philco every Saturday afternoon during the broadcast season. (Some of them predate Texaco, La Cieca thinks.) Anyway, the consensus over at opera-l is that Netrebko is kaput, over, finished — that is, assuming she was ever anything to start with. The Roméo et Juliette has been called “failure” and even (yes!) “debacle.” Admittedly , La Cieca occasionally amuses herself by throwing those terms (including the “d” word) around indiscriminately, but she has the defense that nobody with half a brain takes her babbling seriously anyway. On the other hand, La Cieca has her doubts that everybody over at opera-l shares her sense of light-hearted irony in these things.

Look. La Cieca regards herself as a very critical listener, but she simply cannot discern any “debacle” or even “failure” in last week’s Roméo performance. Netrebko was admittedly somewhat off her best form at the beginning of the opera. She did have a minor crack on the high D in her first cadenza, and for most of the performance her voice sounded a bit cloudy and thick compared to what La Cieca (and, you, of course, cher public) have heard on Sirius and in the theater earlier this season.

La Cieca hesitates to jump to the conclusion that this one performance indicates an inevitable downward spiral toward ruin for Ms. Netrebko. She prefer to take the more cautious position that Netrebko was simply having a “B” voice day instead of her customary “A.” The cause may have been nerves, or a mild case of acid reflux, or a minor allergy attack, or (who knows?) she may have been starting her period on Saturday. The point is, nerves and all the rest (including even dysmenhorrhea) don’t last forever.

As, it so happens, tonight’s Sirius broadcast neatly indicates. La Cieca tuned in at the beginning of the second act to hear Netrebko in fine fettle. Your doyenne will note also that in the bedroom duet tonight Netrebko is singing with a lighter tone and softer dynamics than she did opposite Roberto Alagna — the better to blend with Joseph Kaiser‘s less aggressive approach, one assumes.

Well, enough scolding. A recent news story about Antonio Banderas‘ directing Carmen got La Cieca to thinking: how long before Angela Gheorghiu backs out of the projected Met production of the Bizet opera — and how thrilling it would be if Netrebko could be persuaded to jump in!

Oh, and just so you don’t think La Cieca has completely abandoned her position as Sultana of the Soupcons, here’s a tidbit. Your doyenne hears that among Netrebko’s la Gheorghiu’s upcoming projects (besides that unlikely Carmen and the perhaps even unlikelier Ghosts of Versailles) is a complete recording of Giordano’s Fedora opposite (who else) Placido Domingo.

Radamès, non è deciso il tuo fato

Posted in aida, alagna, met, tba on October 24, 2007 by lacieca

Latest casting news from the Met: Stephen O’Mara will sing Radamès in Aida on Wednesday, October 24, replacing Marco Berti, who has withdrawn from remaining performances due to illness. The role of the Egyptian captain for the the remaining performances of the season (October 27 – November 8) will be sung by that popular man-about-town TBA.

La Cieca’s idle speculation: it should be simple enough to get someone in to sing a single performance of Pinkerton on the evening of October 27, which would free up Roberto di Nazareth. La Cieca’s prediction: not bloody likely, but she’s been wrong before.

"Bizarre and nondescript characters corralled from every stratum of society"

Posted in 2009, 2010, alagna, gheorghiu, jonas kaufmann, levine, met, scandale on October 19, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca thanks the visiting Enzo Bordello for pointing out to her some recent updates to the indispensable Met Futures Page so painstakingly maintained by Bradley Wilber. Most of it sound plausible enough, but every now and then a piece of casting leaves La Cieca so stunned she hardly manage to quote a Waldo Lydecker quip. Such is the case with a projected 2009 revival of Adriana Lecouvreur with Maria Guleghina and Jonas Kaufmann.

That show at least seems possible actually to transpire, unlike the new Carmen in 2010. The announced team for the Bizet, which includes Matthew Bourne, Richard Eyre, Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Barbara Fritolli and James Levine, surely adds up to ten pounds of diva in a five pound bag!

Alagna, Anna again to bed

Posted in 2007, alagna, gualtier malde, la cieca ci guarda la cieca ci vede, met, netrebko, our own, telecast on October 18, 2007 by lacieca

Ken Howard/Metropolitan OperaOf course, cher public, you heard it about it here a few weeks ago, but La Cieca has just read a press release from the Met announcing that, yes indeed, Roberto Alagna will reprise his Roméo opposite Anna Netrebko on December 12 and 15. (Our Own Gualtier Maldè, as you no doubt recall, confirmed the rumor when he spoke to Alagna after Aida on Tuesday night.) The December 15 matinee of Roméo et Juliette is the first of this season’s “Live in High Definition” transmissions to movie theaters around the world.

Joseph Kaiser is Roméo on December 8 and 20, and finishing up the batting order will be Matthew Polenzani on December 27 and 31.


Posted in alagna, critic, hacks, met, nyt on October 18, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca is nothing if she is not open-minded. So can someone please explain (or at least excuse) the following statement from Bernard Holland in today’s NYT?

Verdi has a way of testing his singers at the opening curtain. (See also “La Traviata,” Act I, Scene 1.)