The Met audience makes itself heard. BRAVO IL PUBBLICO!!!!

Back to the 60s hair do for Urmana

Apparently (since I wasn’t there, but would loved to have been), last night’s premiere of “Attila” was met with “boo’s” as much as it was met with cheering.  The blogs and reviews are reporting that cheers for Muti were abundant, but that the opposite response was offered to the production director, Mr. Audi, and his team.  Muti obviously took control over the Met orchestra and led them in a positive direction, but it seems that the Met’s audience is not going to sit back and watch the modernization of an art that begs for authenticity.

Personally, I find it very concerning that the Met would present this rather historically important opera for the first time and set it in this manner, with little concern for the fact that Attila hinged on being a manifesto of sorts.  During Verdi’s period, especially in 1846 when it was premiered, the general climate in Italy was one that was encompassed by the drive for unification.  Italy had since been under Austrian power.  Therefore, the drive for unification had swallowed up all of Italy’s artistic forms, including opera.  Although there have been a plethora of scholastic arguments about whether or not Verdi was a political man (whether or not he was is of little interest, except for the role his operas may have played politically).  Some feel that Nabucco, for example, is a manifesto of Risorgimento Italy; an instructive to the “Italian, not Hebrew” audience, in its plight to become a free nation.

Attila is an opera that functions similarly.  It was also one of these “politically” based, if not outwardly, operas and so it would have been more historically accurate had the Met not presented a set that looked like something had blown up.  Subtlety is sometimes best and keeps the focus where it belongs, on the music and the singing.

Here are some reviews for last night’s “Attila.”

Can’t wait for the broadcast on March 6th!

Welcome double invasion at the Metropolitan Opera: Attila the Hun and Muti the Maestro (by Mike Silverman of the Associated Press

At the Met, a Hun who struggles to conquer his doubts (by Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times)

Honey, I Shrunk the Met (by James Jordan of the New York Post)

Anne Midgette Reviews Verdi’s “Attila” from the MET (Washington Post)

Attila invade il Met (Il Giornale della Musica)

Review: “Attila” by David Finkle (Theatermania)

Also, for you scholastic types, on February 26, 2010, some of the top opera scholars in North America will be holding a symposium to discuss “Attila.”  Here is information on the topics.

CONF: Verdi’s Attila at the Met: A Symposium
February 26, 2010, 5:30pm
Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo’
24 West 12th Street, New York City
* Free Admission *

This month Riccardo Muti makes his Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Giuseppe Verdi’s Attila in a new critical edition prepared by Helen M. Greenwald (forthcoming in the Works of Giuseppe Verdi published by Ricordi and the University of Chicago Press).
The American Institute of Verdi Studies celebrates the occasion with a symposium devoted to this exciting opera from Verdi’s early period. Four distinguished Verdi scholars discuss the libretto of Attila, Verdi’s creative process, and issues of performance practice and musical style. The symposium consists of four brief papers followed by a round table discussion, and is enriched by numerous musical examples.
Francesco Izzo (University of Southampton and American Institute for Verdi Studies),
“Solera, Piave, and the Final Scene of Attila”
Philip Gossett (University of Chicago and University of Rome “La Sapienza”),
“Verdi’s Skeleton Scores and Attila”
Helen M. Greenwald (New England Conservatory),
“Pictorial Music in Attila”
David Lawton (Stony Brook University),
“Verdi in Rehearsal”
Moderator: Roberta Montemorra Marvin (University of Iowa)
For more information, please call (212) 998-8730 or e-mail at

Alvarez out of Attila, Giovanni Meoni In!

The Metropolitan Opera announced yesterday that Baritone, Carlos Alvarez will not be performing in tonight’s premiere of Verdi’s “Attila.” Instead, “Giovanni Meoni will make his Met debut singing the role of Ezio in the premiere of Verdi’s Attila, tomorrow evening, replacing Carlos Alvarez, who is ill […]He has previously sung the role of Ezio in Bari.”

Giovanni Meoni

Always exciting to see a new singer get a big chance, but we are also wishing a fast recovery to Mr. Alvarez.

Carlos Alvarez, baritone

Attila premieres TONIGHT at 8pm. Interestingly, though, it is more the “fashion” than the singing in this one that is attaining publicity.  Let’s hope that the performance tonight shifts the focus somewhat to where it rightfully belongs.

Here’s a recent article on other opera/fashion collaborations.Miuccia at the Met and other Fashion/Opera encounters

2010/2011 Season announced at the Metropolitan Opera

February 22, 2010

The following was announced this morning.  Some interesting productions, and some even more interesting (or should I say, awkward) casting choices.  We’ll see what pans out because nothing ever goes as planned in the world of opera.  Here’s to the MET for 2010/2011.  In Bocca al Lupo!

New York, NY (February 22, 2010)—Seven new productions, including two company premieres and the first two parts of a new Ring cycle, featuring many of the world’s greatest singers and conductors, will highlight the Metropolitan Opera’s 2010-11 season. General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine announced plans for the Met premieres of John Adams’s Nixon in China and Rossini’s Le Comte Ory, the first two installments of Robert Lepage’s new production of Wagner’s epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, with stagings of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, and new productions of three repertory classics by debuting directors—Boris Godunov by Peter SteinDon Carlo byNicholas Hytner, and La Traviata by Willy Decker. With Nixon in ChinaPeter Sellars will also make his Met directorial debut, and Bartlett Sher, director of Le Comte Ory, will return for his third production here following his recent successful stagings of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

In his 40th anniversary season, Maestro Levine, who has conducted nearly 2,500 performances at the Met, more than any conductor in the company’s 126-year history, will conduct six operas across a range of repertory. The Met will celebrate the music director’s extraordinary, record-breaking Met career with historical DVD and CD releases of his performances, as well as a new documentary film about the maestro by award-winning director Susan Froemke. Levine will launch the 2010-11 season on Monday, September 27, 2010, with a gala performance of Das Rheingold. The first installment of the new Ring cycle by Robert Lepage, the opera will star Bryn Terfel in his first appearance as Wotan in the U.S. and Stephanie Blythe as Fricka. The new staging of Die Walküre will open on April 22, 2011, with Levine conducting a cast that includes Deborah Voigt in her first Met Brünnhilde, Eva-Maria Westbroek in her company debut as Sieglinde, Blythe as Fricka,Jonas Kaufmann in his first Siegmund at the Met, and Terfel as Wotan. Levine will also lead revivals of Don PasqualeIl TrovatoreSimon Boccanegra, and Wozzeck. On the actual date of his anniversary, June 5, he will conduct Don Carlo with the company on tour in Japan.

Acclaimed German director Peter Stein will make his Met debut with a new production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, opening October 11, conducted by Valery GergievRené Pape will sing the monumental title role for the first time at the Met. Verdi’s Don Carlo will premiere on November 22 in a new production by Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of London’s National Theatre, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The co-production, which opened at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, in 2008, will star Roberto Alagna in the title role, Marina Poplavskaya as Elisabeth de Valois, Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, andFerruccio Furlanetto as King Philip. The new La Traviata will premiere at a New Year’s Eve gala performance of Willy Decker’s hit production from the 2005 Salzburg Festival that has been modified and rebuilt for the Met, with Marina Poplavskaya as Violetta andMatthew Polenzani as Alfredo; Gianandrea Noseda conducts.

Celebrated composer John Adams will make his Met debut on the podium on February 2, conducting the Met premiere of his 1987 opera Nixon in China, in a production by Peter Sellars from the English National Opera. Rossini’s rarely heard comic opera Le Comte Orywill have its Met premiere on March 24, featuring Juan Diego Flórez in the title role, Diana Damrau as Countess Adèle, and Joyce DiDonato as Isolier, in Bartlett Sher’s new production.

Gelb said, “Maestro Levine’s 40th anniversary and the beginning of a new Ring cycle, both extraordinary events in the life of this great company, will inspire us to artistic heights and hopefully stimulate the public to fill our seats.”

Levine said, “After forty years of working with this great company, I am still excited by the prospect of a new season that introduces new repertory, new artists, and new challenges. And I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate my anniversary than beginning a new Ringcycle.”

The Met’s conducting roster will feature a number of notable debut artists in the 2010-11 season, including Simon Rattle, who leads Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and William Christie, who conducts Mozart’s Così fan tutteRoberto Rizzi BrignoliEdward GardnerPatrick FournillierErik Nielsen, and Paolo Arrivabeni also make their Met debuts leading important revivals during the season. Maestros returning to conduct revivals will include: Marco ArmiliatoAndrew DavisPlácido DomingoRiccardo FrizzaFabio LuisiNicola LuisottiAndris Nelsons, and Patrick Summers.

Highly acclaimed recent portrayals by some of the Met’s most popular stars will be reprised this season. Star soprano Renée Fleming performs the virtuoso title role of Rossini’sArmida, then switches gears to sing the Countess in Richard Strauss’s Capriccio (her first complete account of the role, though she sang the final scene at the Opening Night Gala in 2008). Susan Graham returns to the title role of Iphigénie en Tauride with Plácido Domingo repeating his noble Oreste. Natalie Dessay once again offers her brilliant portrayal of the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, and Elīna Garanča gives the audience another chance to witness her magnetic CarmenAnna Netrebko reprises her tour-de-force Norina in Don Pasquale, and Karita Mattila takes the stage as Lisa in The Queen of Spades, a role she has not sung here since 1995. Angela Gheorghiu comes back for Gounod’s Juliette for the first time since 1998, and Marcelo Álvarez again sings the title role in Il Trovatore.

Many of the world’s most prominent singers will be taking on roles they have never sung at the Met before, including Piotr Beczała as Roméo, Joseph Calleja as Edgardo in Lucia di LammermoorDanielle de Niese as Despina in Così fan tutte, Joyce DiDonato as the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Giuseppe Filianoti in the title role of Les Contes d’Hoffmann, opposite Olga Borodina as Giulietta and Ildar Abdrazakov as the Four Villains. Also in Met role debuts, Dmitri Hvorostovsky will sing the title role and Barbara Frittoli is Amelia in Simon BoccanegraMagdalena Kožená is Mélisande, Peter Mattei is Yeletsky and Dolora Zajick is the Countess in The Queen of SpadesPatricia Racettesings Leonora in Il TrovatoreSondra Radvanovsky and Violeta Urmana share the title role of Tosca, Deborah Voigt sings the title role and Marcello Giordani is Dick Johnson inLa Fanciulla del West, and Waltraud Meier is Marie and Matthias Goerne is the title role in Wozzeck.

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Netrebko’s “expressive liberties” make good for Signor Giacomo.

Already considered one of the more beautiful voices of today, not to mention her physical loveliness, Anna Netrebko opens her run as Mimi in Puccini’s “La Boheme” to rave reviews.  It is always exciting when critics rally in support of something well done, especially in a time when high criticism is often at the behest of the performer and production.  Let’s hope that the positive reviews and influx of audience numbers convince Mr. Gelb that we don’t need to get rid of every “traditional” production just because we want to be “cool” and “modern.”  Sometimes it’s the good ol’ stuff that tastes the best, isn’t it?

Here are today’s reviews on “Boheme” and BRAVA NETREBKO for very fine attempts at remaining authentic to this grand composer’s aesthetic style.

The Gang’s All Here: Mimi, Rodolfo, and Zeffirelli.” By Anthony Tommasini (New York Times)

Of this review, the interesting point was this: “But as usual her singing was not flawless. Her approach exposed every slight deviation of pitch. Also true to form, she took great expressive liberties with her singing — sometimes prolonging, sometimes rushing phrases — liberties that the conductor Marco Armiliato was too willing to accommodate.”  (Tommasini).  I ask, what singer out there right now is flawless?  If we expect singers to be flawless, then we expect them to be more than human.  The human voice is never without a slight blemish or imperfection, and it is interesting that one mars the review of what is a potentially great performance, by the expectation of flawlessness.

In addition, Mr. Tommasini pays attention to Netrebko’s “expressive liberties” when what he describes is exactly the aesthetic required of Puccinian cantilena (a word coined by the historical authority on Puccini, Mosco Carner).  The problem is that no one really remembers (or knows) that there is such a thing as Puccinian cantilena, and so when Ms. Netrebko is actually effecting an authentic and accurate aesthetic performance, it is simply referred to as “expressive liberties.”  I might add that if Maestro Armiliato didn’t follow Ms. Netrebko’s “expressive liberties”, then he shouldn’t be conducting Puccini at all.

“Great Artistry at the Met” by James Jordon (New York Post)

Dove sei stato “Attila?”

March 6, 2010 / 1:00 pm ET on Met Opera Radio Broadcast

Photo by Ken Howard

The Cast

Conductor: Riccardo Muti
Odabella: Violeta Urmana
Foresto: Ramón Vargas
Ezio: Carlos Alvarez
Attila: Ildar Abdrazakov

Dramma lirico in a prologue and three acts by GIUSEPPE VERDI to a libretto by TEMISTOCLE SOLERA(with additional material by FRANCESCO MARIA PIAVE) after Zacharias Werner’s play Attila, König der Hunnen; Venice, Teatro La Fenice, 17 March 1846.


Attila King of the Huns bass
Ezio a Roman general baritone
Odabella the Lord of Aquileia’s daughter soprano
Foresto a knight of Aquileia tenor
Uldino a young Breton, Attila’s slave tenor
Leone an old Roman bass
Leaders, kings and soldiers, Huns, Gepids, Ostrogoths, Heruls, Thuringians, Quadi, Druids, priestesses, men and women of Aquileia, Aquileian maidens in warlike dress, Roman officers and soldiers, Roman virgins and children, hermits, slaves
Setting Aquileia, the Adriatic lagoons and near Rome, in the middle of the 5th century


Verdi had read Werner’s ultra-Romantic play as early as 1844, and initially discussed the subject with Piave. However, for his second opera at La Fenice, the composer eventually fixed on Solera, the librettist with whom – at least until then – he seems to have preferred working. Solera set about preparing the text according to his usual format, with plenty of opportunity for grand choral tableaux such as are found in Nabucco and I Lombardi; but the progress of the opera was beset with difficulties. First Verdi fell seriously ill, and then Solera went off to live permanently in Madrid, leaving the last act as only a sketch and necessitating the calling in of the faithful Piave after all. Verdi instructed Piave to ignore Solera’s plans for a large-scale choral finale and to concentrate on the individuals, a change of direction that Solera strongly disapproved of. The première, whose cast included Ignazio Marini (Attila), Natale Costantini (Ezio), Sophie Loewe (Odabella) and Carlo Guasco (Foresto), was coolly received, but Attila went on to become one of Verdi’s most popular operas of the 1850s. After that it lost ground; however, it has recently been more than occasionally revived. In 1846 Verdi twice rewrote the romanza for Foresto in Act 3: the first time for Nicola Ivanoff, the second for Napoleone Moriani.

The prelude follows a pattern that later became common in Verdi’s work: a restrained opening leads to a grand climax, then to the beginnings of melodic continuity that are quickly fragmented. It is the drama in nuce.

Synopsis by Roger Parker

Prologue.i  The piazza of Aquileia  ‘Huns, Heruls and Ostrogoths’ celebrate bloody victories and greet their leader Attila who, in an impressive recitative, bids them sing a victory hymn. A group of female warriors is brought on, and their leader Odabella proclaims the valour and patriotic zeal of Italian women. Odabella’s double aria is a forceful display of soprano power, its first movement, ‘Allor che i forti corrono’ showing an unusually extended form which allows Attila to insert admiring comments. Such is the force of this movement that the cabaletta, ‘Da te questo’, merely continues the musical tone, though with more elaborate ornamentation.

As Odabella leaves, the Roman general Ezio appears for a formal duet with Attila. In the Andante ‘Tardo per gli anni, e tremulo’, Ezio offers Attila the entire Roman empire if Italy can be left unmolested. Attila angrily rejects the proposal, and the warriors end with a cabaletta of mutual defiance, ‘Vanitosi! che abbietti e dormenti’.

Prologue.ii  The Rio-Alto in the Adriatic lagoons  The scene opens with a sustained passage of local colour (strongly suggesting that Verdi now had his eye on the fashions of the French stage). First comes a violent orchestral storm, then the gradual rising of dawn is portrayed with a passage of ever increasing orchestral colours and sounds. Foresto leads on a group of survivors from Attila’s attack on Aquileia. In an Andantino which again shows unusual formal extension, ‘Ella in poter del barbaro’, his thoughts turn to his beloved Odabella, captured by Attila. In the subsequent cabaletta, ‘Cara patria, già madre’, the soloist is joined by the chorus for a rousing conclusion to the scene.

Act 1.i  A wood near Attila’s camp  A melancholy string solo introduces Odabella, who has remained in Attila’s camp in order to find an opportunity to murder him. In a delicately scored Andantino, ‘Oh! nel fuggente nuvolo’, Odabella sees in the clouds the images of her dead father and Foresto. Foresto himself appears: he has seen her with Attila and accuses her of betrayal. Their duet takes on the usual multi-movement pattern: Foresto’s accusations remain through the minor-major Andante, ‘Sì, quello io son, ravvisami’, but Odabella convinces him of her desire to kill Attila, and they lovingly join in a unison cabaletta, ‘Oh t’innebria nell’amplesso’.

1.ii  Attila’s tent, later his camp  Attila tells his slave Uldino of a terrible dream in which an old man denied him access to Rome in the name of God (‘Mentre gonfiarsi l’anima’). But he dismisses the vision with a warlike cabaletta, ‘Oltre quel limite’.

A bellicose vocal blast from Attila’s followers is interrupted by a procession of women and children led by the old man of Attila’s dream. His injunction precipitates the Largo of the concertato finale, ‘No! non è sogno’, which is led off by a terrified Attila, whose stuttering declamation is answered by a passage of sustained lyricism from Foresto and Odabella. The concertato takes on such impressive proportions that Verdi saw fit to end the act there, without the traditional stretta.

Act 2.i  Ezio’s camp  The scene is no more than a conventional double aria for Ezio. In the Andante, ‘Dagl’immortali vertici’, he muses on Rome’s fallen state. Foresto appears and suggests a plan to destroy Attila by surprising him at his camp. In a brash cabaletta, ‘È gettata la mia sorte’, Ezio eagerly looks forward to his moment of glory.

2.ii  Attila’s camp  Yet another warlike chorus begins the scene. Attila greets Ezio, the Druids mutter darkly of fatal portents, the priestesses dance and sing. A sudden gust of wind blows out all the candles, an event that precipitates yet another concertato finale, ‘Lo spirto de’ monti’, a complex movement during which Foresto manages to tell Odabella that Attila’s cup is poisoned. The formal slow movement concluded, Attila raises the cup to his lips, but is warned of the poison by Odabella (who wishes a more personal vengeance); Foresto admits to the crime, and Odabella claims the right to punish him herself. Attila approves, announces that he will marry Odabella the next day, and launches the concluding stretta, ‘Oh miei prodi! un solo giorno’; its dynamism and rhythmic bite prefigure similar moments in Il trovatore.

Act 3  A wood  Foresto is awaiting news of Odabella’s marriage to Attila, and in a minor–major romanza, ‘Che non avrebbe il misero’, bemoans her apparent treachery. Ezio arrives, urging Foresto to speedy battle. A distant chorus heralds the wedding procession, but suddenly Odabella herself appears, unable to go through with the ceremony. Soon all is explained between her and Foresto, and they join Ezio in a lyrical Adagio.

Attila now enters, in search of his bride, and the stage is set for a Quartetto finale. In the Allegro, ‘Tu, rea donna’, Attila accuses the three conspirators in turn, but in turn they answer, each with a different melodic line. At the climax of the number, offstage cries inform us that the attack has begun. Odabella stabs Attila, embraces Foresto, and the curtain falls.

The final act is, as several have pointed out, more than faintly ridiculous in its stage action, and parts of Verdi’s setting seem rather perfunctory; perhaps Solera’s original plan for a grand choral finale would have been more apt. Perhaps, indeed, the central problem with Attila is that it falls uncomfortably between being a drama of individuals (like Ernani or I due Foscari) and one that is essentially public (like Nabucco or I Lombardi). It is surely for this reason that two of the principals, Ezio and Foresto, are vague and undefined, never managing to emerge from the surrounding tableaux. On the other hand, Odabella and Attila, both of whom assume vocal prominence early in the opera, are more powerful dramatic presences. As with all of Verdi’s early operas, there are impressive individual moments, particularly in those grand ensemble movements that constantly inspired the composer to redefine and hone his dramatic language.

The young Verdi

The Met’s “Attila” already making headlines

From the New York Times:  ‘Attila’ and Muti in Debuts at the Met

From the New York Post: Curves banned from “Attila”

From Playbill Arts:  Enter the King: Mounting the Met’s First Attila

Some exclusive photos from Operachic:  Attila is the hunniest!

More on costumes and set on  First report of Prada’s costumes for the Metropolitan Opera’s “Attila”

Zeffirelli’s indispensable “Boheme” returns to the Met

Il Maestro

After the outright scandalous “new” production of Tosca that opened the 2009/2010 season at the Metropolitan Opera with booing and catcalls, audiences are thankful that Mr. Gelb didn’t also dispense with Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Puccini’s well-loved masterpiece, “La Boheme.”  Imbued with grandeur, scenic realism, and a broad colour palate; not to mention, a significant spacial quality, Mr. Zeffirelli’s productions have been staples at the Met and are strongly linked to Puccini’s operas on an international level.

The cast has soprano, Anna Netrebko in her second stint as Mimi at the Met, the polish tenor, Piotr Beczala, Canadian baritone Gerald Finley as Marcello, and Nicole Cabell as Musetta.  There will be nine performances into March.

A recent review:  Netrebko, Beczala a Winning Couple in  ‘La Boheme’ (The Associated Press)

Franco Zeffirelli’s magnificent production of “La Boheme”

This week at the Met and on Sirius/XM Radio

Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at 8pm (Sirius/XM)

“La Fille du Regiment”

ConductorMarco Armiliato

MarieDiana Damrau
Marquise of BerkenfeldMeredith Arwady
Duchess of KrakenthorpKiri Te Kanawa
TonioJuan Diego Flórez
SulpiceMaurizio MuraroWednesday, Feb 24, 2010 at 8pm

Production: Laurent Pelly
Set Designer: Chantal Thomas
Costume Designer: Laurent Pelly
Lighting Designer: Joël Adam
Choreographer: Laura Scozzi
Associate Director/Dialogue: Agathe Mélinand

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 at 8pm:

“La Boheme”

Anna Netrebko in a previous production, as Mimi

ConductorMarco Armiliato
MimìAnna Netrebko
MusettaNicole Cabell
RodolfoPiotr Beczala
MarcelloGerald Finley
SchaunardMassimo Cavalletti
CollineOren Gradus
Benoit/AlcindoroPaul Plishka

Production: Franco Zeffirelli
Set Designer: Franco Zeffirelli
Costume Designer: Peter J. Hall
Lighting Designer: Gil Wechsler

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010 at 1pm:  Toll Brothers and Sirius/XM Radio

“La Boheme”

The magnificent and unparalleled, Puccini

ConductorMarco Armiliato

MimìAnna Netrebko
MusettaNicole Cabell
RodolfoPiotr Beczala
MarcelloGerald Finley
SchaunardMassimo Cavalletti
CollineOren Gradus
Benoit/AlcindoroPaul Plishka

Production: Franco Zeffirelli
Set Designer: Franco Zeffirelli
Costume Designer: Peter J. Hall
Lighting Designer: Gil Wechsler

The benefits of Sirius/XM Radio: access to Metropolitan Opera performances

If you haven’t already gotten on the Sirius/XM radio bandwagon, what are you waiting for?  Every opera lover and aficionado should have access to the plethora of great performances offered by Met Radio.  It’s worth the $15 per month and Sirius/XM makes it really very easy to have access to their station by offering it online and for your car, but what is really cool is the little portable players that can be purchased for less than an I-Pod. I recently purchased one of these great little devices and I love it because I don’t have to wait for Met broadcasts on the radio, I have access to the radio weekly and also all of the other great stations on Sirius/XM (not to mention there is a great Classical music station and one that offers film music, as well as musical theater).

This is my little guy.  I love it.

(I’ve posted other options at the end of this post)

These are some of the great performances offered this week:

Tue 2/16
6:00 AM ET Puccini: Manon Lescaut
3/23/1968-Molinari-Pradelli; Tebaldi, Alexander, Guarrera, Michalski

9:00 AM ET Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer
12/16/2000-Gergiev; Morris, Stemme, Wagenführer, Rootering, Grove, Polenzani

12:00 PM ET Verdi: La Forza del Destino
3/24/1984-Levine; Price, Giacomini, Nucci, Giaiotti, Jones, Fissore

3:00 PM ET Mascagni / Leoncavallo: Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci
4/13/1957-Cleva; Milanov, Tucker, Valentino / Amara, Baum, Merrill

8:00 PM ET Donizetti: La Fille du Régiment (LIVE FROM THE MET)
Armiliato; Damrau, Flórez, Arwady, Muraro, Te Kanawa

12:00 AM ET Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
4/19/1997-Pappano; Chernov, Gorchakova, Farina, Tarassova, Ognovenko


This week from the MET on Sirius/XM Radio

Tuesday, February 16, 2010: 8pm

La Fille du Regiment
Gaetano Donizetti

ConductorMarco Armiliato
MarieDiana Damrau
Marquise of BerkenfeldMeredith Arwady
Duchess of KrakenthorpKiri Te Kanawa
TonioJuan Diego Flórez
SulpiceMaurizio Muraro

Production: Laurent Pelly
Set Designer: Chantal Thomas
Costume Designer: Laurent Pelly
Lighting Designer: Joël Adam
Choreographer: Laura Scozzi
Associate Director/Dialogue: Agathe Mélinand


Nina Stemme’s welcome return to the Met in Ariadne auf Naxos.

Dramatic soprano, Nina Stemme has returned to the Met after a decade, which is a testament to her continued contributions to opera and to the Metropolitan opera.  In an age where singing seems to be shifting toward, what I think is, an unnecessary modernization and lack of authenticity, Stemme brings some old-school values to the Met.  A couple of years ago, I heard her at the Vienna Staatsoper in Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino.”  Although I was impressed by the power, quality, and colour of her voice, I did not think it well suited to the Italian repertory.  To her credit, she gave a wonderful interpretation of Leonora’s Act IV Aria, “Pace Pace, mio Dio.”  I walked away rather confused because I had heard Madame Stemme in several recordings of German operas and thought, maybe she should sing Italian opera.  She seems to sing Strauss and Wagner with the type of quality that authentic Italian singing thrives on, but when she does sing the Italian repertoire, she sways from her lyrical singing when really she should just sing the Italian repertoire with the lyricism and legato with which she sings her more familiar German repertoire.

Nina Stemme

In the present production of “Ariadne auf Naxos” at the Met, Madame Stemme, however, has returned to that lyrical quality and full vibrato that drew me to this voice long ago.  I listened to the broadcast of the opera two nights ago and it was full, lush, and very well sung; not to mention the Met’s orchestra handled Strauss’ kaleidoscopic palate with great precision.  Stemme brings something that seems to be lacking at the Met, and received a more than welcome response from the Met’s audience.  To me, this is a hint that we still crave those singers who remain authentic to their fach and their repertoire.  Brava Stemme!

As Ariadne auf Naxos


The Opera in an Opera overcomes illnesses: from the New York Times

Nina Stemme returns to the Metropolitan for a revival of Ariadne auf Naxos: from The Associated Press