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Subject: Re: Mignon (was Carreras and his rep)
From: Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 27 Jan 2017 12:47:53 -0500

text/plain (95 lines)

I totally agree with Frank Cadenhead and Les Mitnick (see their posts below).

I have adored “Mignon” for years, the music is gorgeous and chock-filled
with absolutely lovely and memorable melodies.  In 2010 I flew from Saudi
Arabia, where my opera-starved self was stationed at the time, for the
express purpose of seeing “Mignon” at the Opéra-Comique.  I am so glad I did
because the performance was excellent and the O-C was packed to the rafters
with a rapt and enthusiastic audience.  It is the only live “Mignon” I have
ever seen and unfortunately it may well be the last, given the current
mindset prevailing among opera house managers around the world.

At the end of the opera, I turned to the lady to my right (a total
stranger), a distinguished-looking, “très comme il faut” French lady, and
saw that her face was bathed in tears.  I asked her if she was all right,
and she replied that her tears were tears of joy over seeing this
masterpiece of French music for the first time in 50 years.  She told me she
was a the widow of a violinist in the orchestra of the Opéra (the
Garnier-Bastille, not the Comique).  She was with her daughter, who
coincidentally had traveled all the way from Abu Dhabi, UAE, to catch this
performance!  We shared a laugh over this rather amazing coincidence, since
Saudi Arabia and the UAE share a border and are not exactly packed with
opera aficionados.  Then I turned to my left, where a cousin of mine, who
had never seen an opera before and was there as my guest, and her face too
was bathed in tears as she was overcome with emotion.

Back in Saudi, I wrote a fulsome letter to the General Manager of the
Opéra-Comique telling him I had traveled all the way from Saudi to see
“Mignon” and how much I enjoyed it, praising the production and each
individual singer.  I also expressed the hope that the Comique would include
“Mignon” in its repertoire.  To my discomfiture I never received a response.
 I’m sure he received it because I sent my letter via the diplomatic pouch
and not via the Saudi mail service, which is unreliable and heavily
censored.  I have stories.

Cheers and all the best,


Alain Letort
Washington, DC
The Belly of the Beast

On Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:42:53 -0500, Frank Cadenhead <[log in to unmask]>

Many will have already heard Chabrier's famous putdown: "Il y a deux espèces
de musique : la bonne et la mauvaise. Et puis, il y a la musique d'Ambroise
(There are two types of music: the good and the bad. And then, there's the
music of Ambroise Thomas). 
Mignon was produced, with success (Koch in the title role) at the
Opera-Comique (where it had its debut) in 2010 and the production was
repeated in Geneva in 2012. Chabrier's opera, Gwendoline, was in the season
82-83 at the San Diego Opera when the company was healthy under Tito
Capobianco and that same season also had Saint-Saens' Henry VIII. Both were
a pleasure to hear and, for me, always examples of the 95% of the repertory
that is ignored to make space for another Traviata.
This "playing safe" policy is not healthy for any arts group and is
particularly prevalent in the opera world. I have been lucky to be in Paris
during a time when 
the French have rediscovered their vast musical riches. Saint-Saens' Le Timbre 
d'argent will be seen in June with Alcione (Marais) in April. Fantasio
(Offenbach) is 
opening their season in two weeks. This new interest has also seen French
outside the standard rep being picked up by opera companies throughout Europe. 

Frank Cadenhead

On Fri, 27 Jan 2017 05:27:05 +0000, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Speaking of which, I wonder if we'll ever see a real revival of Thomas'
Mignon in our lifetime, which for some of us, aint' gonna be all that long.
It's got some great tunes, three great singing roles for lyric mezzo, tenor,
and coloratura soprano, and there are singers around who could surely do it.
I've got the Sony issue of the 1945 Rise Stevens broadcast from the Met, and
I've listened to it several times. Am surprised that the Met didn't think of
it in the decade of the 1950s with a cast like Stevens, Valletti, and
Peters. Mignon enjoyed great popularity in the earlier part of the Twentieth
Century (I even have a 1938 Jennie Tourel broadcast - in decent sound for
it's time), but I guess it's now a dead duck. Just out of vogue, perhaps?
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