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Subject: Tosca
From: Peter Bloch <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Peter Bloch <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 1 Jan 2018 16:27:25 -0500
Content-Type:text/plain
Parts/Attachments:
Parts/Attachments

text/plain (767 lines)


For the New York Times to say "The stakes couldn't be higher" referring to a production of Tosca shows how dire standards are at both the Met and the Times (which has been in hysteria about this production for weeks).  Any opera company that has difficulty casting this opera is in deep trouble.


-----Original Message-----
From: OPERA-L automatic digest system <[log in to unmask]>
To: OPERA-L <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Mon, Jan 1, 2018 4:04 pm
Subject: OPERA-L Digest - 1 Jan 2018 - Special issue (#2018-6)

There are 3 messages totalling 730 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

  1. Tosca vs Ernani. 2018 vs 1965 and other stuff (2)
  2. Met �Tosca� Last Night

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Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2018 20:29:55 +0000
From:    Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Tosca vs Ernani. 2018 vs 1965 and other stuff

Leaving Maria Callas out of a discussion of famous Toscas is
almost as bad as my leaving Georges Thill's "O Holy Night" off
my list of great Christmas recordings. I still don't know how I
managed to do that. It is my No 1! Dumbo!

BTW, I was reminded, nicely, by my dear friend Charlie  Mintzer,
that Sutherland's New York debut was at Town Hall. The second
performance was at Carnegie.

Famous lyric Toscas have included Licia Albanese and Rosetta
Pampanini, both of whom were well known and celebrated in
the role. There have been lots of others, and I am just as happy
with a lightish voice that has penetrating tops as I am with
weightier sounds.

Bob


On Mon, Jan 1, 2018 at 15:04 Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Max,
>
> I think you explained what I was thinking but better.  No Tosca doesn't
> necessarily have to be a big gonzo voice even though the second act
> requires a lot of pumping.  My first Tosca's were Renata Tebaldi and
> Dorothy Kirsten.  Both very different.  One had overwhelming vocal size a=
nd
> weight.  Kirsten did not but she had a way of singing roles that were
> possibly out of her natural range because of the way she approached them.
> I never felt she was undersized or in anyway unequal to the role.  She
> never exceeded the limits of her instrument and always sang with firm ton=
e
> and a superb support.  From about 1965 on until she retired in 1975 and
> even her one performance return in 1979, her Tosca remained a distinguish=
ed
> achievement.  Gheorghiu is very similar.  It's a smaller voice then Kirst=
en
> and she lacks the steely core that Kirsten could exhibit but she never
> exceeds her natural limits.  She always support the tone on firm breath a=
nd
> she never screams.
>
> As for vocal types, the role has always attracted a mixed bag of lyrics,
> spintos and full dramatics.  For every Kirsten or Gheorghiu, there was a
> Jeritza, Caniglia, Milanov, Tebaldi, Nilsson, Rysanek, and so on.  For me=
,
> the ideal was the young Tebaldi, a big luxurious instrument with the
> ability to pare down and lighten the tone.  Before the top became a
> problem, Crespin had the measure of Tosca also.  Her French language
> excerpts recorded in 1961 with Paul Finel and Rene Bianco show this very
> well.  A really fine example of a full, almost spintoish lyric singing
> Tosca can be found in the early French language version with Ninon Vallin=
,
> Enrico de Mazzei and Arthur Endreze.  I believe Carmen Melis was of a
> similar weight, a lyrico spinto who could spin a gorgeous lyric line.  Fo=
r
> whatever reason, and they are pretty much the same as yours, Yoncheva did
> not do it for me last night.
>
> Donald
>
> On Mon, Jan 1, 2018 at 12:28 PM, Max Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > Despite the big orchestra, I don=E2=80=99t think Tosca is necessarily a=
 =E2=80=9Cheavy=E2=80=9D
> > role and there is a tradition of lyric sopranos singing it successfully
> > going back to Geraldine Farrar. But the lyric sopranos have to find a w=
ay
> > to conceive the part vocally in a way that fits in with their voices an=
d
> > this is what Yoncheva didn=E2=80=99t do. She has a lyric voice but sing=
s it like
> a
> > heavy role.
> >
> > Gheorghiu was very successful in the role in London and San Francisco,
> but
> > she approached the role in a way that worked for her, emphasizing clari=
ty
> > and letting the resonance of her upper register do its job, much in the
> way
> > Dorothy Kirsten sang it and, in her early performances, Leontyne Price.
> >
> > Maybe because of restricted preparation time, Yoncheva doesn=E2=80=99t =
seem to
> > have done that. It=E2=80=99s a danger; once a singer performs a role,
> particularly
> > in a house like the Met, the approach very quickly gets =E2=80=9Cprogra=
mmed=E2=80=9D and
> > the vocal programming isn=E2=80=99t easily updated.
> >
> > Actually, hearing Kirsten and, much later, Gheorghiu sing it live made =
me
> > wonder if this wasn=E2=80=99t more the way it should be done: winsome, =
feminine,
> > youthful. We=E2=80=99ve had our perceptions changed by the invasion of =
the
> > Wagnerian banshees on the role: Rysanek, Nilsson, Shuard, Jones.
> >
> > I find that the more vulnerable and youthful her portrayal is, the more=
 I
> > can empathize with and believe her actions and behavior. The more matur=
e
> > and sophisticated she seems, and the vocal weight comes into play with
> > that, the more she seems, frankly, rather stupid.
> >
> > Max Paley
> >
> > Sent from my iPad
> >
> > > On Jan 1, 2018, at 11:05, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > >
> > > I decided to post about last night Tosca broadcast.  I haven't read
> > > anything yet but yesterday afternoon I heard the Sirius broadcast of
> > Ernani
> > > from 1954 with Price, Corelli, Sereni and Siepi under Thomas Schipper=
s.
> > > Then I heard the New Years Eve performance of the new production of
> Tosca
> > > with Yoncheva, Grigolo and Lucic under Emmanuel Villaume.  Listing to
> > both
> > > on the same day got me to thinking on the state of singing and where =
we
> > > have gone in the past fifty years.
> > >
> > > First of all, let me say I am not one of those who says there is no
> good
> > > singing or even great singing going on today.  All you have to do is
> > catch
> > > performances by Sondra Radvanovsky, Jamie Barton, Anja Harteros, Rene
> > Pape
> > > or even though he is not my favorite, Jonas Kaufmann to realize there
> are
> > > great singers before the publicv today.
> > >
> > > The biggest difference between the Ernani and the Tosca was the
> immediate
> > > realization that back in 1965 Ernani was presented with a cast that w=
as
> > > totally up to the task, big Verdian voices in all of their glory.  No
> > > member of that cast was in anyway shape or form, short of what is
> > > required.  The one thing I felt at the end of the Tosca was a Tosca w=
ho
> > > perhaps, and this is hard to judge  having heard her on a broadcast,
> and
> > > not live, not reallly vocally equipped for this heavy role and it is =
a
> > > heavy role.  Lyric sopranos who do it very often are pushed into
> > overdrive
> > > and that is where I felt Yoncheva was last night.  The voice has many
> > > beautiful moments but full out on top, the notes are almost flapping =
in
> > the
> > > wind.  I heard an unsteady sound that I had never heard in her before=
.
> > > When I first heard her I was  thrilled at this gorgeous new lyric
> > soprano.
> > > My gut feeling is that Tosca is a but of a stretch, and not a good
> > stretch
> > > for her.  As for Sig Grigolo, I've liked him in lyric roles.  I had
> > > problems with his Cavaradossi.  The sound of the voice is wrong.  The
> > core
> > > of the voice in the middle is too vague without the focus and intensi=
ty
> > > needed to support the top.  Again, he might have been fine in the
> house,
> > it
> > > is certainly not a small voice, but for me, the quality of the sound
> was
> > > not there.  Let's not even go there with Lucic.  There was nothing
> > vocally
> > > or in interpretation that impressed me.  I have generally liked him
> over
> > > the recent years as the best of a rather undistinguished bunch of
> > baritones
> > > but I think time has taken its toll.  It is a decent voice but no mor=
e
> > than
> > > that.  I remember when I was a kid, Mario Sereni, the Don Carlo in
> > Ernani,
> > > was generally thought to be second rung.  The guy who was called in
> when
> > > Merrill, Bastianini, Cappuccilli, MacNeil or Milnes were not availabl=
e.
> > > Well, if he were active today, he would be the dominant Verdi/Puccini
> > > baritone, certainly without Hvorostovsky around and his voice was
> bigger
> > > then Hvorostovsky's and at least in the big houses, more suited to th=
e
> > rep,
> > > if without his gorgeous quality and sheer vocal ability.  Price befor=
e
> > 1970
> > > was one of the giants.  Not just in Verdi, she was a superb Butterfly
> and
> > > Tosca also.  I have not mentioned Corelli because he was sui generis,
> > > nobody since has come close.  There is no reason to discuss Siepi
> because
> > > the only bass role of consequence in Tosca is the Sacristan and Siepi
> was
> > > the last of the great Italian bassos and I would say, along with his
> near
> > > contemporary Ghiaurov, the last of the great basso contantes period.
> > > Although, I think Rene Pape would have held his own in any era.
> > >
> > > I won't say any more because I hate to judge something I have not hea=
rd
> > in
> > > the theatre.  Like Angela Gheorghiu, Yoncheva may be an acceptable
> Tosca
> > in
> > > a smaller European sized theatre but at the Met, at least, I was
> > > underwhelmed from what I heard over the broadcast.  From everyone.  T=
he
> > > orchestra as always sounded beautiful and it was a well conducted
> > > performance.  Under the circumstances, with all the cancellations, I
> > guess
> > > I shouldn't be too critical. The whole premise of this posting was my
> > > thoughts after having heard earlier in the day the Ernani from fifty
> > years
> > > ago and then hearing Tosca today with a cast of two younger singers i=
n
> > > their primes and one veteran who was perhaps past his and how I feel
> > Tosca
> > > was under cast in a way Ernani was not a half century ago.
> > >
> > > Happy New Year to all!
> > >
> > > Donald
> > >
> > > **********************************************
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------------------------------

Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2018 15:38:07 -0500
From:    Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Met =?WINDOWS-1252?Q?=93Tosca=94_?= Last Night

Dear Listers,

First, I wish a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to all the Li=
sters !

I can=92t speak to the entire broadcast of last night=92s =93Tosca=94 fro=
m the Met,
because most of my evening was spent getting ready for a New Year=92s Eve=

dinner at a restaurant with friends, and then of course participating in
said sinner, so I was able to hear only a little bit of =93Tosca=94 in th=
e car
on the way to the restaurant.

That little bit, however, was absolutely horrible.  It was Vittorio
Grigolo=92s rendition of =93E lucevan le stelle,=94 and I swear I have ne=
ver heard
anybody massacre that aria like Grigolo did last night.  He had a terribl=
e,
annoying vibrato, and kept singing with a very old-fashioned tremolo such=
 as
one might have heard at the Teatro Municipale di Piacenza or some such
third-rate Italian house in the 1920s or 1930s.

It sounded like this :

=93Svan=EC per sempre il soh-woh-woh-gno mio d'amoh-woh-woh-woh-re.
L'ora =E8 fuggita, e muoio-woh-woh-woh disperatoh-woh-woh-woh!=94

I was appalled.  I was all the more surprised as I have seen this singer =
at
the met a number of times, most lately in =93Rom=E9o et Juliette,=94 and =
enjoyed
those performances.  I was especially shocked when the audience went
absolutely nuts after the aria, cheering and bravo-ing like there was no
tomorrow.  Of course it is possible that New Years=92s Eve performances a=
t the
Met are filled with tourists rather than opera habitu=E9s and cognoscenti=
.

My partner Lynne Price, who was with me in the car, also found this
tasteless rendition horrible.  As soon as the aria and subsequent cheerin=
g
were over, we switched off the car radio in disgust.

Did anyone else on the List hear this broadcast ?  Was the rest of the
performance just as bad ?  Was anyone else shocked by this appalling =93E=

lucevan=94 ?

Cheers and all the best,

Alain

Alain Letort
Washington, D.C.
Des Ungeheuers H=F6hle

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------------------------------

Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2018 16:04:35 -0500
From:    ANGELO MAMMANO <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Tosca vs Ernani. 2018 vs 1965 and other stuff

Niska was a lyric Tosca and she was a very good one with Gedda as
a lyric Cavaradossi. OTOH Nilsson was a Tosca who scared half the
audience when she uttered "Solo! si!" to  Scarpia. The role can be=20
sung with a more lyric approach or with a Wagnerian sound. As long=20
as the singer has the style and the technique she can interpret the
role in various ways and with success.  BTW the conducting in last
night's Tosca from the Met was possibly one of the worst I have ever
experienced. Villaume seemed to be floundering. Tommasini says that=20
Gigolo was the culprit.  No.  It was Gelb for hiring someone so unsuited
to the requirements of an opera with constant fluctuations of tempo and
deep knowledge of the verismo style.  Ozawa once stated that he would=20
never conduct Boheme after hearing it at La Scala conducted by Carlos
Kleiber.  Puccini is not easy stuff.  What we need is another Cleva.=20

Angelo from Boston


> On January 1, 2018 at 3:29 PM Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>=20
>=20
> Leaving Maria Callas out of a discussion of famous Toscas is
> almost as bad as my leaving Georges Thill's "O Holy Night" off
> my list of great Christmas recordings. I still don't know how I
> managed to do that. It is my No 1! Dumbo!
>=20
> BTW, I was reminded, nicely, by my dear friend Charlie  Mintzer,
> that Sutherland's New York debut was at Town Hall. The second
> performance was at Carnegie.
>=20
> Famous lyric Toscas have included Licia Albanese and Rosetta
> Pampanini, both of whom were well known and celebrated in
> the role. There have been lots of others, and I am just as happy
> with a lightish voice that has penetrating tops as I am with
> weightier sounds.
>=20
> Bob
>=20
>=20
> On Mon, Jan 1, 2018 at 15:04 Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>=20
> > Max,
> >
> > I think you explained what I was thinking but better.  No Tosca doesn't
> > necessarily have to be a big gonzo voice even though the second act
> > requires a lot of pumping.  My first Tosca's were Renata Tebaldi and
> > Dorothy Kirsten.  Both very different.  One had overwhelming vocal size=
 and
> > weight.  Kirsten did not but she had a way of singing roles that were
> > possibly out of her natural range because of the way she approached the=
m.
> > I never felt she was undersized or in anyway unequal to the role.  She
> > never exceeded the limits of her instrument and always sang with firm t=
one
> > and a superb support.  From about 1965 on until she retired in 1975 and
> > even her one performance return in 1979, her Tosca remained a distingui=
shed
> > achievement.  Gheorghiu is very similar.  It's a smaller voice then Kir=
sten
> > and she lacks the steely core that Kirsten could exhibit but she never
> > exceeds her natural limits.  She always support the tone on firm breath=
 and
> > she never screams.
> >
> > As for vocal types, the role has always attracted a mixed bag of lyrics=
,
> > spintos and full dramatics.  For every Kirsten or Gheorghiu, there was =
a
> > Jeritza, Caniglia, Milanov, Tebaldi, Nilsson, Rysanek, and so on.  For =
me,
> > the ideal was the young Tebaldi, a big luxurious instrument with the
> > ability to pare down and lighten the tone.  Before the top became a
> > problem, Crespin had the measure of Tosca also.  Her French language
> > excerpts recorded in 1961 with Paul Finel and Rene Bianco show this ver=
y
> > well.  A really fine example of a full, almost spintoish lyric singing
> > Tosca can be found in the early French language version with Ninon Vall=
in,
> > Enrico de Mazzei and Arthur Endreze.  I believe Carmen Melis was of a
> > similar weight, a lyrico spinto who could spin a gorgeous lyric line.  =
For
> > whatever reason, and they are pretty much the same as yours, Yoncheva d=
id
> > not do it for me last night.
> >
> > Donald
> >
> > On Mon, Jan 1, 2018 at 12:28 PM, Max Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > > Despite the big orchestra, I don=E2=80=99t think Tosca is necessarily=
 a =E2=80=9Cheavy=E2=80=9D
> > > role and there is a tradition of lyric sopranos singing it successful=
ly
> > > going back to Geraldine Farrar. But the lyric sopranos have to find a=
 way
> > > to conceive the part vocally in a way that fits in with their voices =
and
> > > this is what Yoncheva didn=E2=80=99t do. She has a lyric voice but si=
ngs it like
> > a
> > > heavy role.
> > >
> > > Gheorghiu was very successful in the role in London and San Francisco=
,
> > but
> > > she approached the role in a way that worked for her, emphasizing cla=
rity
> > > and letting the resonance of her upper register do its job, much in t=
he
> > way
> > > Dorothy Kirsten sang it and, in her early performances, Leontyne Pric=
e.
> > >
> > > Maybe because of restricted preparation time, Yoncheva doesn=E2=80=99=
t seem to
> > > have done that. It=E2=80=99s a danger; once a singer performs a role,
> > particularly
> > > in a house like the Met, the approach very quickly gets =E2=80=9Cprog=
rammed=E2=80=9D and
> > > the vocal programming isn=E2=80=99t easily updated.
> > >
> > > Actually, hearing Kirsten and, much later, Gheorghiu sing it live mad=
e me
> > > wonder if this wasn=E2=80=99t more the way it should be done: winsome=
, feminine,
> > > youthful. We=E2=80=99ve had our perceptions changed by the invasion o=
f the
> > > Wagnerian banshees on the role: Rysanek, Nilsson, Shuard, Jones.
> > >
> > > I find that the more vulnerable and youthful her portrayal is, the mo=
re I
> > > can empathize with and believe her actions and behavior. The more mat=
ure
> > > and sophisticated she seems, and the vocal weight comes into play wit=
h
> > > that, the more she seems, frankly, rather stupid.
> > >
> > > Max Paley
> > >
> > > Sent from my iPad
> > >
> > > > On Jan 1, 2018, at 11:05, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote=
:
> > > >
> > > > I decided to post about last night Tosca broadcast.  I haven't read
> > > > anything yet but yesterday afternoon I heard the Sirius broadcast o=
f
> > > Ernani
> > > > from 1954 with Price, Corelli, Sereni and Siepi under Thomas Schipp=
ers.
> > > > Then I heard the New Years Eve performance of the new production of
> > Tosca
> > > > with Yoncheva, Grigolo and Lucic under Emmanuel Villaume.  Listing =
to
> > > both
> > > > on the same day got me to thinking on the state of singing and wher=
e we
> > > > have gone in the past fifty years.
> > > >
> > > > First of all, let me say I am not one of those who says there is no
> > good
> > > > singing or even great singing going on today.  All you have to do i=
s
> > > catch
> > > > performances by Sondra Radvanovsky, Jamie Barton, Anja Harteros, Re=
ne
> > > Pape
> > > > or even though he is not my favorite, Jonas Kaufmann to realize the=
re
> > are
> > > > great singers before the publicv today.
> > > >
> > > > The biggest difference between the Ernani and the Tosca was the
> > immediate
> > > > realization that back in 1965 Ernani was presented with a cast that=
 was
> > > > totally up to the task, big Verdian voices in all of their glory.  =
No
> > > > member of that cast was in anyway shape or form, short of what is
> > > > required.  The one thing I felt at the end of the Tosca was a Tosca=
 who
> > > > perhaps, and this is hard to judge  having heard her on a broadcast=
,
> > and
> > > > not live, not reallly vocally equipped for this heavy role and it i=
s a
> > > > heavy role.  Lyric sopranos who do it very often are pushed into
> > > overdrive
> > > > and that is where I felt Yoncheva was last night.  The voice has ma=
ny
> > > > beautiful moments but full out on top, the notes are almost flappin=
g in
> > > the
> > > > wind.  I heard an unsteady sound that I had never heard in her befo=
re.
> > > > When I first heard her I was  thrilled at this gorgeous new lyric
> > > soprano.
> > > > My gut feeling is that Tosca is a but of a stretch, and not a good
> > > stretch
> > > > for her.  As for Sig Grigolo, I've liked him in lyric roles.  I had
> > > > problems with his Cavaradossi.  The sound of the voice is wrong.  T=
he
> > > core
> > > > of the voice in the middle is too vague without the focus and inten=
sity
> > > > needed to support the top.  Again, he might have been fine in the
> > house,
> > > it
> > > > is certainly not a small voice, but for me, the quality of the soun=
d
> > was
> > > > not there.  Let's not even go there with Lucic.  There was nothing
> > > vocally
> > > > or in interpretation that impressed me.  I have generally liked him
> > over
> > > > the recent years as the best of a rather undistinguished bunch of
> > > baritones
> > > > but I think time has taken its toll.  It is a decent voice but no m=
ore
> > > than
> > > > that.  I remember when I was a kid, Mario Sereni, the Don Carlo in
> > > Ernani,
> > > > was generally thought to be second rung.  The guy who was called in
> > when
> > > > Merrill, Bastianini, Cappuccilli, MacNeil or Milnes were not availa=
ble.
> > > > Well, if he were active today, he would be the dominant Verdi/Pucci=
ni
> > > > baritone, certainly without Hvorostovsky around and his voice was
> > bigger
> > > > then Hvorostovsky's and at least in the big houses, more suited to =
the
> > > rep,
> > > > if without his gorgeous quality and sheer vocal ability.  Price bef=
ore
> > > 1970
> > > > was one of the giants.  Not just in Verdi, she was a superb Butterf=
ly
> > and
> > > > Tosca also.  I have not mentioned Corelli because he was sui generi=
s,
> > > > nobody since has come close.  There is no reason to discuss Siepi
> > because
> > > > the only bass role of consequence in Tosca is the Sacristan and Sie=
pi
> > was
> > > > the last of the great Italian bassos and I would say, along with hi=
s
> > near
> > > > contemporary Ghiaurov, the last of the great basso contantes period=
.
> > > > Although, I think Rene Pape would have held his own in any era.
> > > >
> > > > I won't say any more because I hate to judge something I have not h=
eard
> > > in
> > > > the theatre.  Like Angela Gheorghiu, Yoncheva may be an acceptable
> > Tosca
> > > in
> > > > a smaller European sized theatre but at the Met, at least, I was
> > > > underwhelmed from what I heard over the broadcast.  From everyone. =
 The
> > > > orchestra as always sounded beautiful and it was a well conducted
> > > > performance.  Under the circumstances, with all the cancellations, =
I
> > > guess
> > > > I shouldn't be too critical. The whole premise of this posting was =
my
> > > > thoughts after having heard earlier in the day the Ernani from fift=
y
> > > years
> > > > ago and then hearing Tosca today with a cast of two younger singers=
 in
> > > > their primes and one veteran who was perhaps past his and how I fee=
l
> > > Tosca
> > > > was under cast in a way Ernani was not a half century ago.
> > > >
> > > > Happy New Year to all!
> > > >
> > > > Donald
> > > >
> > > > **********************************************
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