1/ The C in the “ABC” of opera. Starring Waltraud Meier, and it’s surprising how idiomatic a German mezzo can be in the French role of a Spanish Gypsy. Zeff’s production was eye-filling and colorful. Bonus: Kim Josephson as the smuggler Dancaïre. Kim wd have been
2/ the new Robert Merrill if the Met had let him. Instead our Escamillo is Sergei Leiferkus, who is very Russian in articulation, and also in style, i.e. a high but harsh baritone. Angela Gheorgiu is Micaëla.
3/ Also noteworthy: pretty and sweet-sounding Mary Dunleavy as Frasquita, one of Carmen’s sidekicks. She often sang the Queen of the Night. While we’re at it, the Met Chorus in this production seems generously fleshed our with dark sultry beauties.
4/ Oh and @PlacidoDomingo is Don José. Shoulda mentioned upfront.

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More from @david_m_wagner

19 Feb
1/ I don't think I ever saw this production of DG. I'll bet it's less claustro than Grandage's, but whether it's better in other respects, we'll see. Sam Ramey as "the Don." (Why do we always call Giovanni "the Don"? There's also Don Ottavio. Is it a tribute to Giovanni's greater
2/ effectiveness, never mind at what? Is it something like "the Dude"? El Donerino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing?) Ferruccio Furlanetto as Leporello. I think at one time they alternated these, but Ramey=DG and Furl=Leporello is the better way 'round.
3/ I once saw Ramey as Leporello at NYCO, opposite Justino Diaz - they were alternating - and he was very good, but Furlanetto is better suited to Leporello bc for all his vocal glory he lacks a certain aristo finish that you'd find in Siepi or G. London, also in Diaz or Ramey.
Read 7 tweets
18 Feb
1/ Last time TOSCA was webcast I commented on how that production and this one had both been recently shown and this one (by Zeffirelli) was better. Well it is, and here it is again. TOSCA, an opera about an opera diva, is the ultimate in Verismo, with its immediate background
2/ being the Battle of Marengo on June 14, 1800; the opera received its world premiere a century later.

The cast holdover from the earlier performance (1978/1985) is Cornell MacNeil as Baron Scarpia, ruthless police chief of freshly counter-revolutionary Rome in the employ of
3/ the royal house of Naples. MacNeil sounded a little fresher in ‘78 (he had made his Met debut in ‘59), but by ‘85, with experience and Zeffirelli’s direction, his acting was much better, and his voice little diminished for purposes of this role.
Read 5 tweets
18 Feb
1/ Opera’s most inseparable double bill tho’ not written that way. The two-star system around which Verismo rotates, even tho neither is by Puccini, erstwhile king of Verismo. Always called “CAV & PAG” by fans, this now has a newer prodn @MetOpera: the PAG is ok, the CAV is
2/ a bit claustrophobic. Zeffirelli gave both - w their outdoor, public-square settings - lots of Italian light & air, and in CAV, some “campanilismo.” @PlacidoDomingo sings both tenor leads: Turíddu, whose “rustic chivalry” leaves a lot 2b desired; and Canio, “padrone” and
3/ chief clown of a traveling Commedia dell’Arte troupe, w a young wife who acts the fickle Colombina too well. W mezzo Tatiana Troyanos in the zwischenfach role of Santuzza in CAV, soprano Teresa Stratas as Nedda in PAG, and baritone Sherrill Milnes as Tonio, clown-villain who
Read 9 tweets
29 Dec 20
1/ Pav Week continues. This TOSCA was shown only a coupla weeks ago and I commented it up then: mezzo Shirley Verrett surprisingly successful in this venture into soprano rep; Cornell MacNeil full of old-fashioned acting as Scarpia. Since opera-for-video has blossomed as a
2/ genre, the kind of acting that worked well at opera-house distances (or was thought to) has rightly been replaced by better character-on-character interaction. MacNeil’s Scarpia became a better-acted characterization once he moved into the Zeffirelli production (which this
3/ isn’t) - Zeff of course having a movie-director’s eye. Operatic acting is one field where I *don’t* think kicking-it-old-style is better. We don’t need park-n-bark, we don’t need moustache-twirling. But if you’re minded to put up with a little of those for the sake of
Read 4 tweets
29 Dec 20
1/ A good essay. Two reservations. First: there is not anti-Becket argument that was not put into the mouths of the Knights by T.S. Eliot himself, following the murder in "Murder in the Cathedral." In a glorious parody of academic-political speechifying, they go over them all.
2/ That they had gained such a purchase on the English mind by 2006 only shows, as if it needed further showing, the de-Christianization of modern England. Second: the movie "Becket" is not "ludicrous" at all. Apart from one major detail, it's highly historical. The Lord Gilbert
3/sub-plot may be invented, but it stands in for many similar cases. Also, the script gets the theology of excommunication wrong, which means (sorry) that the much-loved excomm scene is fictional and misleading. (For the right view, see Purgatorio, Canto III.)
Read 9 tweets
29 Dec 20
1/ Here is the DVD of Pizzetti's ASSASSINIO NELLA CATTEDRALE, filmed at a church in Spain that's said to bear a close resemblance to how Canterbury Cathedral looked in 12thc.

The star is Ruggiero Raimondi, somewhat lacking is bass sonority, but a decent
2/ voice and a good actor (traits said to be not unknown to the saint he's portraying!). Here

is the audio of the world premiere. Opera's first #Becket was Nicola Rossi-Lemeni: a more bass-y bass than Raimondi; not a gorgeous sound like Siepi or Tozzi, but
3/ somehow he always inhabited his roles well and put them across vividly.
Karajan attended one of these performances and vowed to conduct ASSASSINIO at Salzburg. And so he did, 2-3 years later, in German, with the great Hans Hotter as his #Becket.
Read 4 tweets

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