This just in: Opera Chic has just come home from la Scala's Traviata, Angela Gheorghiu's opera debut in the theatre where her husband Roberto Alagna got booed off the stage last December in Aida.
More later, very soon, but for now: Angela Gheorghiu got sporadically booed by loggionisti but was lucky enough to be saved by the lameness of Maestro Maazel's conducting -- it was poor Maazel who ended up taking one for the team, a bit like the dude who went hunting with Dick Cheney and got shot in the face and then apologized to the VP.
Anyway: in the audience we were all bracing for a skewering of la Gheorghiu but we got instead an anti-Maazel torrent of boos right before the start of the third act. Maazel actually had to wait a full 90 seconds until all the booing had died down, because it would have drowned out the pianissimo of the Scala orchestra.
It went downhill from there. And Angela was home free.
Stay tuned for more...Opera Chic needs to showah
VVVV UPDATE VVVV
The drama llama that is the Alagna-Gheorghiu couple keeps on giving, but sometimes in a weird way: as I said, everybody thought Gheorghiu was going to get a brisk a$$kicking by loggionisti tonight (the sad truth is that they mostly hate her for having uttered some slightly flippant remarks about Callas -- something like "I don't imitate any other sopranos, Callas included", or words to that effect -- more than for her, frankly, too-small voice).
OC had only heard Gheorghiu live once before tonight's trainwreck -- a recital at la Scala, and it's unfair to judge a soprano's power from a recital like that one. But in that big house, tonight, Gheorghiu's voice REALLY sounded small. And her acting, well, she has charisma but not really tons of it.
Instead, she did get some booing -- mostly concentrated on the left side of the second galleria where a small team of loud Angela-haterz vocalized some nasty BOOOOOOOOOOOs after her big arias of the first and second act. They were clearly there, but they were kinda drowned-out with the general applause anyways.
The surprise, though, was Lorin Maazel's conducting: OC is on the record as being a fan of the maestro's knowledge and his competence, but this is the night where he embodied all the limitations his haterz keep talking about -- that he just goes thru the motions like a high-priced hack.
It was a very bad night for the maestro, a night that smelled of lack of preparation with the orchestra (because come on, these people have been subjected to Muti's Verdi drills for 20 years, and in the last two years they have delivered two perfectly fine Verdi performances for Maestro Chailly, a muscularly hot Rigoletto and a correct if uninspiring Aida, it can't be the orchestra's fault; and Maazel is a man who knows his scores. Tonight's debacle just reeked of laziness on the maestro's part).
What happened? Well, he tried to flesh out the first act doing that "elegantly aloof" thing that he sometimes does very well, only it collapsed on him: very stilted phrasing, overlong tempi, a sense of shallowness. Act II is where things really fell apart, never to recover.
And the loggionisti's impatience cost him a nice round of boos and nasty catcalls ("Poor Verdi", "Poor Italy", "Conduct a band of amateurs instead" among the finest examples).
He had to wait for the insults to stop coming, he just couldn''t give the downbeat to begin Act III, they'd have drowned the music out.
This is a small clip taken from the Rai radio feed, keep in mind the applause has been pumped up by the mics, at la Scala the boos and catcalls sounded much stronger than you hear in the clip below -- but they came from up on high in the second Galleria, basically from the roof, and the performance was being filmed for a DVD and broadcast live on radio and via Internet. The file's here:
Irritated by the sneering loggionisti (his Italian is amazing, so he understood every nuance of sarcasm), Maazel refused to join the rest of the cast for the curtain calls (very sporadic boos, mostly applause for the cast, even an attempt of a standing ovation in the middle of the platea). Not an Alagna-style tantrum, OK, but Maazel's a big boy, he can take the abuse. Just show up and face the loggione, your career speaks for itself -- to OC he demonstrated lack of sportsmanship. If you show up for the cheeering you have to show up for the abuse too -- to show leadership.
Gheorghiu started a bit tentative, but got better in Act II and finished pretty strong even if I could have cared less for the OMFGLOOKATMEMYLUNGZARECOLLAPSING shtick, that gets old really quick. Her voice is small, even for la Scala. Her acting -- bah. She looked great, tho -- she has lost weight and she is now a tall(ish) really slender (think Atkins-style, with arms even too thin for her frame) 40-something with big b00bs. Not enuff to make OC go gay (Netrebko is our honorary "Soprano I'd Go Gay For") but not bad ma'am, not bad at all.
Ramon Vargas instead started pretty strong and ran out of steam pretty quick, and by the time he slapped her around throwing cash all over the stage like a drunken sailor who just won a poker game in a Thai bordello, poor Ramon was really gasping for air, his lungs more damaged than the TBC lady's. His diction is also pretty bad when it comes to Cs and Zs -- it's easy to fix for a Spanish speaker and OC is surprised he hasn't done that already. But we like Ramon so we're biased.
Wanna know more: (like, how sucky was Liliana Cavani's staging? We liked the Pescucci costumes tho, exquisite)?
Wait until tomorrow. OC haz spaken.