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Subject: Re: RIP Roberta Knie
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:00:37 -0400
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Roberta Knie was a fine singer who burned out too early.  I heard her broadcast as 
Chrysothomis in (I think) 1976 and while the voice was impressive, I thought she sounded a 
bit forced.  I heard her as Turandot in Dallas in 1980.  She was OK but I was not too 
impressed.  But the tape of that 1975 Tristan with Vickers is impressive.

I was actually present at Knie's last performance in the U.S. in 1982 and witnessed the 
aftermath.  She was scheduled to sing the opening night Turandot with Houston Grand 
Opera conducted by Nicola Rescigno (who along with Larry Kelly had "discovered" her for 
that 1975 Dallas Tristan).  During the previous couple of years Knie had been having serious 
vocal problems (I think due to vocal cord nodes, for which she had surgery) and she had 
been canceling all over the place and getting bad reviews when she did sing.  She sang the 
Turandot dress rehearsal and HGO manager Gockley wanted to pull her before the premiere.  
But Rescigno said that if Knie did not sing, he would not conduct.  He said she was a serious 
artist who deserved at least the respect of a shot at opening night.  (Good for him; that 
kind of loyalty is rare.)

Well, I was at that opening night performance, and while it was not a disaster, it was not 
very good.  Gockley pulled Knie for the remaining performances and substituted Linda Kelm, 
starting with the Sunday matinee a couple of days later.  A friend of mine from Dallas Opera 
who was Rescigno's administrative assistant (Charlotte Schumacher) and knew Knie well, 
came down for the matinee.  To her credit, Knie was at the matinee in the audience putting 
on a brave face.  But when we were in the Green Room after the first act, Charlotte and 
Knie were talking and Knie was saying, resignedly, that her singing career was over and 
maybe she should go into teaching.  She was very stiff-upper-lip about it, but you could see 
the pain in her face.  It was very sad.

Oh, and blaming Trump for the New York Times' obituaries and arts coverage?  Really, now.   
Have people lost their minds completely?  Come to think of it, maybe I should blame Trump 
for my house's foundation problems.  Much more emotionally satisfying than blaming 
Houston's gumbo soil.

MDW

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