This morning, Opera Chic woke up and found her mailbox overflowing with reader's questions about the Angela Gheorghiu Roman fiasco (the electronic mailbox we mean -- the actual mailbox downstairs is overflowing with invitations to fabulous parties, Centurion black AmEx bills, Costume National invitation-only sales, gallery show openings, packages with rare LPs bought on eBay, wine tastings, marriage proposals, etc. [j/k j/k about the Centurion black AmEx.])
The only semi-rational decision, then, is to answer most of the interesting ones here (and the ones we can answer without going to jail), instead of answering privately all our readers who took the trouble to write.
Here we go:
- DID ANYBODY SEE A SECOND GUNMAN FIRE AT JFK FROM THE GRASSY KNOLL?
ha ha/ just playin'. fo'reals starts below vvvv
- WAS BRUSON'S ENCORE (THE REASON FOR GHEORGHIU'S ANGER & SUBSEQUENT CANCELLATION) REALLY PLANNED IN ADVANCE?
Ah, the usual question: conspiracy or not? Just like it happened for the Alagna fiasco at la Scala (the question then was: did the loggionisti plan their protest in advance?)! Our (educated, after asking around) guess is this: the applause for Bruson is genuine, the man is very popular, and his long career and his stature are key to the standing ovation he enjoyed. So, the very long ovation is congruent; so many great singers enjoy them here in Italy and elsewhere: it really seems genuine.
But, in all fairness, Gheorghiu's main points -- that 1) encores just aren't done, period, especially by a singer who's not the main character of the opera, and 2) that Gelmetti should have gone ahead with the score instead of leading the orchestra in the dreaded (by Angela) bis -- do indeed make sense. And it's obvious that, had Gelmetti decided so, the encore just would not have happened. Instead, we know for a fact that Gheorghiu received a big surprise there. Having said this, it's highly unlikely -- and frankly way too Machiavellian -- to imagine that Bruson and Gelmetti devilishly egged her on just to make her lose her plot and leave the production. It certainly wasn't the most polite gesture, and complaining about it afterwards, even forcefully, would have made perfect sense on her part. Going so far as to leave her already very short commitment in Rome (just two shows) is, of course, entirely another. As we wrote yesterday, Gelmetti is not big on coddling divas anyway.
- WHY IS THE OPERA DI ROMA SWEEPING THE INCIDENT UNDER THE (RED) CARPET?
Because they don't have anything -- repeat: anything -- to gain from starting a very public beef with Gheorghiu. The production had already lost Alagna and Filianoti, the big emphasis was on Zeffirelli's production anyway (the essentially very traditional -- if a bit tacky -- staging has actually been met with very high interest by other opera houses around the world, so expect to see Frengo's 8th Traviata in an opera house near you very very soon; after all Zeffirelli is still the go-to-guy, even at 84, whenever a General Manager does not want to push the avant-garde button too much and wants to give a classic, old-skool, crowd-pleasing staging to his or her audience).
Gheorghiu -- and this is a paradox, of course -- at least gave them the chance to milk a lot of additional press for la prima. They've been better off with one Angela than no Angela: she knows it, the management knows it. Neither is raising a stink about it -- except of course for the audience who's been showing up the other night expecting Angela and finding another singer instead. Gheorghiu's been smarting enough not to storm off the stage in the middle of a scene the way her husband did in Milan -- hence ensuring no lawsuits, no worldwide attention. Did she ruin her standing in Rome? Of course. Not that she particularly cares. Are other opera houses around the world worried that her tantrums are getting worse? Of course they are. And that's what leads us to the next question.
- WHAT'S GOING ON AT LA SCALA? SHE'S SUPPOSED TO APPEAR THERE IN TRAVIATA ON JULY 3rd, RIGHT?
That she is supposed to do, yes: it'd be her debut in an opera at la Scala. On May 4 the tickets for that show -- and the replicas -- will be available at la Scala and on their website. Is she going to show up? The good ones (i.e., the ticket scalpers who'd get stuck with a bunch of no-Angela tkts if they buy them in bulk and then she doesn't show up) are probably going to bet against it, at this point. And la Scala, only a week ago, has hired another soprano, Elena Mosuc -- there will be three of them (the third one's Ilvina Lungu, who replaced Angela the other night in Rome, it's a small opera world).
The situation here is very different from Rome: this Traviata, unlike Rome's, has simply not been hyped by la Scala -- whose big sellers, this season, have been the Chailly/Zeffirelli unlucky Aida, the Gatti/Lenhoff Lohengrin, the Harding/Bondy Salome, Barenboim's Eroica and his forthcoming piano recital, the forthcoming Jenufa, and the many Gergiev, Temirkanov, Boulez philharmonic concerts. The Traviata is a July show with a strong cast already (Alvarez, Nucci, Kauffmann), a strong director (Liliana Cavani), a strong conductor (Maazel), strong costumes and sets (Ferretti/Pescucci). The show can take the "hit" of a Gheorghiu defection.
And if, as we all think will happen, the loggionisti will send her a message for her husband, since he didn't leave them the time to, last December, well, la Scala can take it. On the one hand, Gheorghiu -- a tough, tough lady, mind you, certifiably capable of charming the socks off of many men if she decides to amp up the sexy, but whose well-developed contemptous gaze can curdle milk in a few seconds -- is hardly afraid of the loggionisti, that unruly bunch (even if she lacks Callas's superhero-like ability to simply stare them down into submission with that steely gaze of hers). But she may very well decide that it just isn't worth the effort. Especially since a certain Mirella Freni was literally booed off the stage in this theatre when she dared show up and sings "Maria's role". Most people at la Scala we spoke to think that she appreciates the challenge. They also doubt she'll show up. Officially, nothing has changed: she's committed to the show, and she's supposed to appear sometime in mid-to-late June for rehearsals.
- WHY U SUCH A H8R??? ANG3LA RAWKS!!!111
Opera Chic is *so* not chugging on the Angela Haterade it isn't even funnay -- we've just been telling our readers what various friends, contacts (one of them called Angela's 1994 turn in the London Traviata "an apparition", so we're not asking Angela-haterz here) and acquaintances have explained to us about her walkout and general behavior, in Rome and elsewhere. OC herself has paid good money last year to see Angela in her la Scala recital, which she has enjoyed (well, not that much, it was just ok). OC thinks Angela is the less talented half of the family, too. But the problem is her behavior AND her recent decline in vocal performance -- in a pretty ruthless business such as opera, you cannot sustain both for long. Just ask Kathy Battle (a much superior artist to Angela to begin with), whose antics were endured by conductors and opera house management as long as her voice remained crystal clear -- as soon as she started to have problems, her behavior became suddendly reason enough to cut her, and she's been (sadly, for us fans) spending time with the rapidly decomposing corpse of her career ever since (we have an awesome Battle Tantrum story we'll share some other time, it's too good to waste as an offtopic aside).
- WHO R U RILLY?
im opera chic. warship me.