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Subject: More on that Falstaff and Schwarzkopf
From: Simon Rich <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Simon Rich <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 24 Nov 2008 10:04:05 -0500

text/plain (59 lines)

I was reminded by the review about the Schwarzkopf Alice Ford (which she 
ended up never doing at the Met)

She finally made her Met debut in the fall of 1964 as the Marschallin. 
She was absent the following season but was slated to return as Donna 
Elvira and Alice Ford - two other of her limited number of opera roles.

On 1/29/66 was the broadcast of Don Giovanni, which turned out to be 
both her season return and her final Met performance.

I was working that day and just couldn't believe it - she had virtually 
no voice through the entire performance..and what she had (pace Spencer 
Tracy), was definitely "not cherce."

My friend, Frank, had an opportunity to speak to her after a recital 
many months later (at which, he reported, she was in superb voice).

She told Bing, I believe, the day before, that she was sick and really 
didn't feel she should do the broadcast. Bing pressured her by telling 
her that he didn't have a satisfactory cover that day (where was 
Lucine?) but more important, he didn't dare substitute anyone for her in 
something important like a broadcast.

She also told Frank that as a result of this broadcast, she had lost 
very many recital engagements in the USA, cancelled by folks who were 
convinced she had completely lost her voice forever.

Where's the truth of all of this? Those folks who were ardent 
Schwarzkopf fans always referred to this broadcast as "Bing's 
Revenge"...meaning he did it willfully with the purpose of damaging her 
reputation. While that makes for juicy opera melodramatic legend, my own 
guess is that Bing, who would easily bow to big box office (and 
Schwarzkopf was big box office in NYC), really didn't want to lose her 
on the broadcast. That turned out to backfire, as she cancelled all the 
rest of her Met performances that season and never returned.

If you ever get a chance to hear this broadcast (no, I don't have a 
dumpling of it..and I'm sure Sirius won't ever play this one), you'll 
hear something that sounded just as appalling (maybe even more so 
because it lasted through the whole performance) as Heppner's misfortune 
the other evening.

Mrs. Fricka Wotan (who spent most of the broadcast in the toidy of the 
projection booth Conn Post Cinema because that was the only place in the 
booth I could get any reception).

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