Earlier tonight in Paris, at Opera Bastille, where Natalie Dessay was supposed to be singing "Sonnambula", a woman came on stage shortly before showtime and informed the public that La Nata was unwell, but that she'd sing anyway. The first Act was, apparently, OK, even if one could tell that Dessay was not in top shape, but just before Act 2, the woman came out again and said that Dessay could not go on singing, and they just canceled the rest of the show.
Members of the audience were of course shocked that they had no understudy to cover for her -- vive la difference!
(thanks to C.)
~**UPDATE February 19, 2010, 2:55 PM Milan Time**~
Opera Chic's gorgeously Parisian, Dessay-loving friends called Opéra Bastille this morning to inquire about ticket policy, and were told that there would be no refunds or exchanges made to any tickets of last night's La Sonnambula. House policy states that when half of the show is performed, they are under no obligation to compensate their patrons.
~**UPDATE February 19, 2010, 8:45 PM Milan Time**~
Thanks to reader Xalira -- the folks over at the Opéra have listened to the people, and now they're at least giving out discounts to the unlucky ticket holders of the Sonnambula Interrupta.
On the occasion of Bellini's La Sonnambula opening at Paris's Opéra Bastille (on January 25), it's been a week of heavy rotation for Natalie Dessay, singing Amina in the Marco Arturo Marelli production led by Italian maestro Evelino Pidò.
The petite French soprano spoke to Elle France about her Sonnambula and more: that fateful 2001 Sonnambula in Vienna where she first realized there was a serious problem with her nodes ("it felt like there was a permanent grain of sand stuck in my throat"), her three cats ("Kyste, Polype et Nodule"), what it's like to be a mom with teenagers (aged 11 & 14), and Marelli's production (like Thomams Mann's The Magic Mountain). She also spoke to Le Figaro in depth about her career and the Paris production.
The French soprano was in Paris earlier tonight to support UNICEF's annual fundraiser, Frimousses de Créateurs. The campaign invites fashion designers and design houses (like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Sonia Rykiel, Stella McCartney, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace) to create dolls, which are later auctioned to fund UNICEF's programs that treat childhood illnesses in Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic. Among the attendees, Dessay was joined by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Jeff Koons, and Giorgio Armani.
Natalie has collaborated with UNICEF in the past, singing earlier this year with L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Mynug-Whun Chung to raise funds for Benin.
Ah Natalie! We love the pint-sized soprano for her superb acting skills, her boundless energy, and her selfless dedication to the art. We also love her for her frankness, even when it borders on offending her fans (and let's face it, her fan base). This sassy, svelte sprite goes on the record -- in a recent interview with Amanda White for Classical Singer Magazine -- as a, uh, fattie-hater.
Is there anything else you want to talk about? Singers are always looking for practical information and advice on how to build their careers.
I would add something very important. Especially here in the States, I see a lot of people overweight. And I think they should correct that. Because you have to make people dream. You know what I mean? So, that doesn’t mean you have to be a cover girl or a model to succeed. But it’s important to be in great shape. And I don’t think that if you’re overweight you can be in great shape for a long time. And also on stage, it’s horrible. To move around?
Yes, and for the costumes, for everything. So it’s important not to be like that. Everybody has a right to be on stage, and it’s not a question of talent, or anything like that. But at least be careful about that. And when you’re overweight, and you know you’re overweight, you should be on a diet. And you should [exercise] in order to be healthy. And you think that if somebody loses weight in a healthy way, it shouldn’t affect their voice?
No, you have to take your time. If you’re really overweight, it’s a disease; it’s something else. You know, sometimes you can’t get rid of the disease, [and] that’s something else. But if it’s just because you eat too much, and not correctly . . . you have to be careful. That’s all..
She's sung almost everything from Morgana in Handel's Alcina to Ophélie in Thomas's Hamlet, but tonight, the bomb drops on Dessay-Day, and Natalie unveils her first Violetta exclusively for the Santa Fe Opera. The new Verdi Traviata production is from the Laurent Pelly/Chantal Thomas wonder-twin power team, and the highly-anticipated production has everyone clamoring for tickets. OC regrets she can't be in Santa Fe for the opening night, but wishes the entire Santa Fe Opera a giant in bocca al lupo!
~*O.C.*~ is rawking exclusive pictures from the final dress rehearsal of Vincenzo Bellini's La Sonnambula at The Metropolitan Opera. Opening Monday, March 2, 2009, the production has our most favorite singers cutting up the stage: Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez and French soprano Natalie Dessay, who will be doing anything but sleepwalking through the new Mary Zimmerman production.
OC is proud to share with you a cache of images from last night's Dessay/Flórez round-table: "Moonlight Becomes You: Dessay, Flórez and Sonnambula" at New York City's Metropolitan Opera House, Elena Park with omg Margaret Juntwait as the moderator. The two petite superstars were on hand to answer questions and discuss their upcoming performance of Bellini's La Sonnambula, opening Monday, March 2. The Mary Zimmerman production will be conducted by Evelino Pidò. Pictures have been graciously provided by two of OC's dearest East Coast collaborators! ♥ ♥
‘So when you’re standing opposite Juan Diego and he is
doing nine high C’s…’ ‘I’m not impressed,’ exclaims Natalie Dessay with
absolute conviction. ‘Either you have the top or not. If you have it,
it’s not that difficult.’
Save it: "Peelk" is a typo of mashed keys, but it's so super kewl, so sit on it! Suck it dot com. Sometime in the not so distant past, one of the artsy-fartsy channels aired a short French documentary, "Une Rencontre avec Natalie Dessay", on our favorite petite opera diva, Natalie Dessay. We say the documentary was short...not because the five-footish singer is so pocket-sized, but because one hour of Dessay fabulousness is just not enuff!!11! Just when you're finishing your second glass of Brunello di Montalcino, she rips it from your hand, throws you your Brioni cape, calls you a taxi, and slams the front door in your face. That Dessay is shameless!!
The documentary followed la Dessay through a handful of performances, from an d'Aix-en-Provence recital to her 2004 Santa Fe debut in la Sonnambula. She spoke about her inflamed nodes, her kids, her religion, and all the rewards and sacrifices of being an ^*artist*^. Below we ripped the screencaps so you, too, can bathe in the glory of Dessay.
(^^^^above: omg so fierce!)
*~* *~* *~*
(^^^^above: a close-up of her make-up artist's secksay Magen David)
(^^^^above: her cute little mousie kids!)
(above: looking very J-Lo circa 1996 in L.A. Lakers t-shirt and silver hoops)
*~* (above and below is her adorable little daughter) *~* *~* *~* *~*
Two clips from last night of the spontaneous final curtain call that Dessay, et al granted to the spectators below, who were watching faithfully on Robertson Plaza the live simulcast of the September 24, 2007 Lucia di Lammermoor season opener.
First of all, the last time OC went to the MET season opener a few years ago, there were like 12 paparazzi hanging-out front, and anyone could just walk up to Al Roker, Sarah Duchess of York, or Jamie Lynn Sigler as they appeared before the lobby, like all us ticket holders did. It was totally egalitarian and uncomplicated. Now the reception zone is wacktarded, with too many paparazzi lining the fenced-in red carpet that there are freaking risers erected so they can cram in two rows of the agency photo-snappers. Plebeians are staunched at the entrance to Lincoln Center, where they congregate with digital cameras, Poland Springs, and the ubiquitous flip-flops. The downside is that the average photo buff can’t hang around the receiving area and take shots of NYC legacy, but the upside is that NYC legacy can’t get assaulted by roving stalkers. It’s win/win really.
OC did the walk of fame into a packed lobby, a few moments before Bianca Jagger and Mercedes Bass, and almost ran into Mayor Bloomberg. O hay here are a few pics.
(The lobby before the opera.)
(The Grand Tier before the opera. Private par-tay.)
(Bloomberg in the lobby...looking good!)
(I have no idea who that man is. Not a single clue.)
So who did we see? <-- Definitely not Mercedes Bass. Too many heiresses and heirs, a handful of singers, and lots of NYC "celebrity". But who OC really was looking for was Chris Meloni, on/off appearance-gifter at select NYC events. No Melonis. :-< Seating was late, no one wanted to squash their Zac Posens into their damn seats, and in total, the performance, which was supposed to finish at 9:52pm, was over more like 10:30pm, with curtain call stretching almost another ten minutes. There were about half a dozen attendees in kilts. Yeah, kilts. I appreciate the effort, but the opera is not a costume party tia. Should I go in full Japanese geisha regalia for the next Madama Butterfly? Or dressed as a matador for the Carmen? Actually, that could be kinda hawt.
Most women were dressed in killer gowns, gorgeous quaffs, and sumptuous clutches. Most men were in sleek tuxedo. OC ditched the originally planned, too-flamboyant Diane von Furstenberg gown (no, not a wrap...waaaay too casual) for a much simpler von Furstenberg black dress, and worked it well. NYC is as big on black as we are in Milan for an evening at La Scala (yah, here’s a tip for you future attendees at Scala: when in doubt, wear black; you’ll fit right in). And although our pal Rachel Zoe stresses how poorly black dress photographs on the red carpet, we did it anyway.
Before the performance, Gelb came out in a black on black suit/shirt combo (tux was still at the cleaners?) and announced that the performance was dedicated to the late greats Pavarotti and Sills, and then requested a moment of silence, which was incredibly, truly silent. Then the orchestra played the Star Spangled Banner, and the entire audience sang along. That’s not a joke. Since there was a fair share of professional singers in the crowds, our version of the Star Spangled Banner sounded much better than the sing-a-longs at Yankee Stadium. Also: the MET Orchestra.
Most of all, everyone was just so much hammier. The acting, emoting, and blocking were so much more theatrical and intense than before witnessed. Everything was souped up, even the silent fringe actors like the sedative-administering doctor during the Act III, Scene I il dolce suono, and the busy-body wedding photographer during Act II, Scene II sextet, were suffused with a new hyper-narrative. Dessay was the most noticeable detractor from her prior performance, and Act III’s il dolce suono [mad scene] was off teh hook.
(Special Opening Night Gala insert in the program with names of all the benefactors.)
There were also a few opportunities where things did not go as smoothly as they had previously. In Act I, Scene II, the Lucia/Alisa duet ‘ah, giorni d’amaro pianto’ was a prime example. Dessay was blocked to leap mid-aria from the rocks of the park onto the bare stage. In the rush of it all as she leapt, her ankle gave out, and she fell softly on her a$$, missing a few notes in the shock of omg omg I just bust a$$ while broadcasting in Times Square. Dessay, the consummate pro, covered it up well, only later accepting an outstretched arm from Michaela Marten’s Alisa at the end of the duet to help her off the floor. Dessay acknowledged instantly the accident, and as the applause filled the house (with loads and loads of encouraging, forgiving, understanding brave), she hung her head humbly to the side. She also referenced the slip in her grand, final curtain call, pretending she had a bad leg that fell from under her (more below).
Another kink was during the very beginning of Act II, Scene I in Enrico’s apartment. As witnessed during the September 20 dress rehearsal, the transition to Scene II’s wedding banquet occured when servants came into the apartment and removed the drop-clothes from the furniture, and deconstructed the window shades. However, quickly into the first scene, one of the covered windows lost its shade, which tumbled unprovoked to the floor. Mariusz Kwiecien [Enrico] waltzed slowly over to the scene of the crime, regarded the fallen curtain with a slight shrug, and the audience giggled accordingly. It was pretty looooolllll.
Later during the signing of the marriage contract [see here for a blow-by-blow of the debate], Zimmerman took the feedback proactively from Dessay, who was perplexed to as why the audience laughed at a very critical and disturbing part of drama ["It's not funny," "It's terrible!"] Instead of Enrico grabbing Lucia’s hand and signing the contract manipulating her, she indeed does it of her own volition, and hilarity thankfully, did not ensue.
Aside from that, Dessay’s il dolce suono was magnificent, fragile, and terrifying. As much as I hated the narrative technique of the sedative-administering doctor, this time it worked, as Dessay held her recently-pricked arm and worked her way down into an exhaustive stupor before finally collapsing. She cut back on the maniacal laughter, and this time emitted an ear-shattering scream, like a trapped and bewildered animal, which sounded from the depths of a truly haunted woman. I don’t know what she’s channeling, but dang don’t stop, girl! Her applause afterwards was deafening and howling, lasting an indefinite parsec.
One other noticeable concern was tenor Marcello Giordani’s suddenly failing voice during the final scene. His Tombe degli avi miei was breathtaking, with a premeditated, teasingly-slow pace. But by the time he got to Tu che a Dio spiegasti l’ali, his voice was weak, with a hard edge. There’s no doubt that he’s definitely in need of a few days off. Regardless, he rawked the entire first two acts, just as he had established himself as the indisputable star during the September 20th Open House.
During final curtain call, Natalie lifted her skirt to show her boots, and mimed a comedic fall & slip, alluding to the earlier scene during Act I at the fountain of the Siren where she almost ate it…and then she made a bunch of other highly slapstick motions…[like that one you gave to passing truckers on school field trips to get them to blow their air horn]. I <3 this woman. Opera would be so freaking boring without her.
Levine’s conducting was predictably excellent, but on the second listen, he still doesn’t get it. I will forever <3 the afro’d maestro, but his Lucia leaves OC with the knowledge that she’s heard one of the greatest living conductors, but not one of his finest interpretations.
At the end of the entirely too-long evening, a Lucia that lasted four hours couldn’t possibly sustain the packaged hype that the MET machine churned-out for the past few months. Enjoyable and packed with talent, Zimmerman’s direction becomes a bit too ghoulish bordering on campy, starting and ending with zombie Lucia. We also didn’t like how many sets seemed wrought with detail and intricacies (like the Act I fountain of the Siren), while others (Act III Wolf’s Craig Castle) extraordinarily dull and careless. And the mad scene is kinda incongruous: I mean, a wooden staircase in a Scottish castle? Is it really that hard to get some fauxpierre up in here?
(Pavs singing Una furtiva lagrima on the big screen from out front of the Metropolitan Opera House. Intermission got boring, so we headed outside to view the jumbo-tron).
(Netrebko showing-off the goods on the big screen).
(This is what you guys looked like to us from the Grand Tier).
The season opener earlier tonight at The Metropolitan Opera was off tah heezy. It was a memorable, if not exhausting Lucia, which ran almost forty minutes overtime. Stay tuned for moar details, tons of images, and v v v v videos!!
For now, here is one of the better images from tonight to give you a taste of what's to come:
ZOMBIE NATALIE!! DONUT EAT MY BRIANS!! DAMN YOU ZIMMERMAN! THIS IS ALL UR FAULT!
//^^^^above image was snapped after curtain call finished, and Dessay, et cetera stopped by the Grand Tier balcony to take a curtain call for the audience watching in Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza.
(Promos from the front page of The Metropolitan Opera's website found here)
OC will be there. Will you?! If not, luckily it won't be that difficult to keep track of opening night festivities of The Metropolitan Opera's 2007-08 season. With its marked success from last year's new Minghella production of Madama Butterfly, the NYC Metropolitan Opera will once again broadcast live to Times Square the September 24, 2007 opening night/la prima/evening gala performance of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, while a simultaneous relay will be played on a giant screen at Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza. Although the event at Robertson Plaza is free, advance tickets are required for attendance to the broadcast in Lincoln Center Plaza, and were available first-come, first-serve at the Metropolitan box office from 12 noon yesterday, Sunday, September 23, 2007.
If you’re feeling more social, you can head down to Times Square, where the simulcast, live from the MET, can be seen on the following outdoor plasmas starting at 6:30 pm: Toys “R” Us, Reuters, NASDAQ, and Panasonic’s AstroVision screen, all @ broadway between 43rd and 45th streets. Approximately 1,500 seats will be available for the public on a first-come first-served basis in the <3 of Times Square, with additional standing room provided. RUN!!! The Times Square relay is free, and tickets are not required. Thank you, Deutsche Bank!
For those who aren't in NYC, the performance will also be broadcast live on Sirius's channel 85 (you must be a subscriber) as well as being streamed live from The Metropolitan Opera’s website, (you don’t have to be a subscriber, but the trade-off is that you will have to install the bloated Realplaya software). If all else fails, you can try to catch a silent peek on a Times Square webcam.
With fifteen hours to go until la prima, and running out of promos, Saturday's entry focused on the opera's furriest stars, the two Irish Wolfhounds that appear at the beginning of Act I. Tomorrow will mark the theater debut for Murphy and Gracie, the 2 1/2-year-old Irish sweeties owned by Robin Coen. The dogs will be in black tie for tonight's performance, of course.
**Warning: This post is full of spoilers and may contain traces of milk, peanuts, egg, and/or crustacean shellfish. If you’re going to get cranky about it, quiet plz tia tia.
Yesterday’s Open House at the NYC Metropolitan Opera House was a huge success. Doors opened at 9:00am and guests were invited to sample different booths, à la 6th grade science fair, including lighting technicians, costumiers (lace makers), set models, Ms. Cecilia Brauer on armonica, and a half-dozen more.
At 11:00am began the trifecta of rehearsals for Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Act I ran for roughly 44 minutes, and was introduced by Peter Gelb, who made a dedication of the performance to Beverly Sills. He called the rehearsal a “working performance”, and asked that the audience refrain from leaving their seats at the end of the acts until the house lights went up, in case Jimmy had to retool any of the passages. Levine took to the podium in a relaxed casual set, black cotton pants and an ample black polo shirt. The orchestra also wore t-shirts and jeans, kicks and corduroys.
The overture started, and a white screen that filled the entire diameter of the stage illuminated, with a solitary black branch reaching down from the upper left-hand corner. A covered by a rolling, bluish fog, which symbolized the patch of woods of the Ravenswood estate near the castle. The white screen rose, to reveal yet another layer of scenery: a black, thick, stage-sized screen, with a gigantic door cut-out, that allowed just a window of the background scenery to be seen. The rocks remained, leading to a big hill, where appeared Normanno and the rest of his searchers. There were two gigantic, live dogs, scouring the hills with the retainers! Sweeet! Doggies! The black felty cutout screen was totally boring, and seemed unfinished.
Levine and the orchestra was in great form, but now returning from the strains of Filarmonica della Scala after a year and a half of indoctrination, Levine and the MET Orchestra have a trademark patina, a very comforting and expected sound, which is not completely adept at interpreting bel canto as I would have hoped. Maestro Levine covered the orchestra tremendously with gorgeous color and depth, as always, a perfect match in the opera hall. Bright and brisk, but lacking something quintessentially bel canto. Levine stated [afterwards at the Q&A] that he had never done before a full opera version of Lucia, and we were duly honored to be part of the performance.
Scene II began as the retainers clear-out, and snow began to fall from the sky, visible through the gigantic window cut-out. Miraculously, the black felty screen finally rose, revealing a breathtaking scene: Twilight in the park, the crumbled fountain of the Siren, and a great hill covered in spiny trees. Purple, stormy winter skies and dead foliage scattered over the rocks. Just when you are recovering from the gorgeous atmospheric splendor, Dessay appeared in a full Victorian black coat and ruffled floor-length skirt. Very goth, very pure. During “Regnava nel silenzio”, the spirit of the young girl who was murdered by her jealous lover became personified as a zombie ghost in a full white gown and platinum hair, and drifted towards Lucia, caressed her, and then disappeared into the fountain of the Siren. RINGU!!!!!!!! omg I almost ran out of the theatre crying. *four people died from watching that videotape!*
And that was the end of Act I. There was a 45 minute break between each act, with the first one serving-up lunch bags for sustenance. The lunch bags contained one (1) apple, Macintosh, byotches; one (1) bottled water, Evian; two (2) cookies, chocolate and white chocolate; three (3) sandwiches, hammykins, creamykins, and lunchykins; one (1) complimentary all-access 2007-08 Met Opera season pass. What’s that? You didn’t get a complimentary season pass in your lunch-bag? Looks like your mom’s not a Jif® mom. oh well sucks 4u!
Act II ran for 44 minutes, and began with another white silkscreen, this time tangled with a veritable forest, much like the promo textile pieces hanging on the MET façade these days. The curtain rose onto Enrico’s apartment, a huge hall in minty-limey green, two floor-to-ceiling windows on the left, and two smaller doors on the right. Set designer Daniel Ostling explained that he had come across this similar color frequently on his visits to Scotland. The only props were massive mounds of furniture covered in drop clothes, and an uncovered desk upstage on the left. Dessay was in a beautiful indoor cotton dress, adherent to the Victorian style with a green bow tied around her waist.
Dessay’s interplay with Mariusz Kwiecien’s Enrico was captivating, and at times powerful (except when he grabbed Dessay’s hand to sign the marriage contract, which backfired Zimmerman’s not-comedic direction, perplexed the singers, but somehow managed to titillate the NYC crowds). Kwiecien said at the Q&A that he loves to play the bad guy on the stage, because it is such a departure from his real-life good-guy persona.
The audience witnessed during this scene the lighting technicians tinkering with the lights, one of the first reminders that this was indeed a “working performance”. After the stellar duets between Dessay and Kwiecien, servants came into the room and prepared the great apartment by stripping it clean of all the dust clothes and window coverings. They revealed two giant chandeliers (these are sooo from Act II, Scene II of Zeff’s La Traviata, that I fittingly expected matadors and gypsies to storm the hall and start dancing), candelabras, and giant palms. Scene II’s wedding guests arrived, and Mara Blumenfeld’s excellent costume prowess was demonstrated. She chose to use lustrous silks, all in grey and white. The entire chorus was outfitted in subtlety grand ball dresses, in grays with white polka dots, stripes, and solids, very Dior Fall 2007 couture.
Marcello Giordani’s Edgardo was immense, displaying a gigantic scope of singing and unflagging color. He last made his Open House appearance last year as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and admitted that the last time he sang Lucia was eight years ago. Arrived Dessay in a magenta dress (which, IMO was too high on magenta and blue…a true red would have been more visually stunning. But curiously enough, Mara Blumenfeld explained that during the Victorian era, red was an acceptable and popular color for wedding gowns. Also, the marriage and signing of the marriage contract were usually two different ceremonies in the Victorian times, which is why she chose to dress Dessay in a different gown for the scene). John Relyea's Raimondo looked the hawtness dressed in his sassy party pants.
The sextet was pretty insane, and Michaela Marten’s Alisa proved a solid, strong voice, at a few passages even singing over Dessay (but my suspicions are that Dessay was saving her voice to be in top form for Monday’s la prima). Dessay was like a little puppet, so petit and graceful, and so willing to be manipulated by all those around her. The aberration to the scene was an olde tyme photographer who arranged a marriage portrait among the guests while the singers were getting their sing on. From a historical p.o.v, the attention to detail was nicely accurate, and it helped pushed the narrative, but I’m not sure it was necessary. And that was the end of Act II.
Act III, at 62 minutes, began with wild ejaculations for Jimmy as he walked back out to the podium. Again we saw the trademark white screen with branch silhouettes in black, but this time there were six. As the orchestra began to introduce the banquet hall inside the castle, lightening flashed across the screen. The screen raised and revealed another one of those full-stage, black felty cut-outs, with a tiny window up top, and a small set of stairs in the center. This was the ruins of Wolf’s Craig Castle, and pretty freaking lame. Edgardo sat at a desk again, and lightning flashes were projected onto the black felt. omg so boring. This scene barely registers in my memory because it was so nondescript.
Finally, the black structure raised to usher-in Scene II, the scene of the festivities, which was not the most impressive scenery, but we are regardless happy for a bit of color. A long hallway landing, railed, and running horizontal to the top of the stage, was lowered. Connected to that, and spiraling downward to the stage floor, was a large staircase, at least 7-people wide. The chorus appeared again, all in sumptuous silvers, while Lucia in her white wedding dress ran across the top runway, the oblivious guests below. Costume designer Mara explained that the dress was inspired by Charles Frederick Worth’s 19th century fashion house.
Raimondo announced Lucia’s sickness, as she ran around the upper landing, making stabbing motions at her veil, and then dropping the bloody prop from the top banister, as it floated down to the chorus below and cleaved the masses. Dessay ran wildly down the stairs, and here began the ethereal glass H-armonica. Dessay was wearing to-the-elbow white gloves, which were marked on the fingers in blood, also staining her bodice, and the hem of her dress. She laughed like a madwoman (but not cackling) and tumbled down the last two steps, falling to the floor in a dead faint.
Her voice was clear, and all the ornamentation she allowed greatly enhanced the dramatic action. She looked like a little doll in her dress, fluttering around stage like a wiry puppet. She draped herself over the prompter box as the chorus huddled around her, and peeled off her white gloves, a woman deranged. She retreated to the stairs and manically laughed again as she tried to annihilate the veil with her hands. Superb. She was as light as air, nervously twitching and spastically emoting as a woman in trauma. At the end of the mad scene, she received tante brave as she held a pose draped still over the arms of two men. She was amazing. Well deserved cheers. She wasn’t the rage of Callas but more the madness of a desperate woman. When Zimmerman was questioned in the Q&A, she replied that she wanted to make her Lucia more fragile than usual, and created a marked difference in her sanity as the opera progressed, marking her descent into madness more poignant.
Scene III: the staircase rolled away, the top banister landing was absorbed into the ceiling, and the cemetery of Ravenswood Castle is established. Nighttime clouds and a large moon were projected on the back of the stage, completely bare. An arch lowered from the ceiling and framed the background, in the center a brambly tree and a few tombstones. Here Levine called on Edgardo at “Tombe degli avi miei” to take a few measures pause before his entrance, and stopped him to re-block the scene. When Marcello Giordani finished the aria, he was met with a well-deserved, sustained applause and tanti bravi.
The train of mourners arrived from the Lammermoor Castle, and I particularly liked Zimmerman’s attention to detail, as she had sprayed-down the mourners’ black umbrellas with glistening moisture, adding greatly to the realism of a cold, Scottish rain. Edgardo’s last was “Tu che a Dio spiegasti l’ali”. Zimmerman reanimated the spirit from Act I now as Lucia, who came from the tombs and caressed Edgardo, then stabbed him in the stomach, holding him as he died. She was done-up in pale-face, as a zombie bride, too bulky for her, and a little too campy. The End. During curtain call, Dessay, the methodical ballerina, bowed and touched her fingertips to her toes. The rehearsal was over 2:45pm-ish, and then another 15 minutes of Jimmy retooling a few key parts with the orchestra. 3:00 pm began the Q&A panel with all the key singers and production team, and then until 5:00 pm was the queue to walk across the MET stage.
Dessay, during the Q&A, was as witty, self-deprecating, and clever as usual. When asked about her preparations for the role, answered that she collaborated with Zimmerman, and focused on adding layers to her character. When asked about how she stays healthy, she said she eats seeds in the morning [like a little bird!], and tries not to catch any diseases.
I don't think I could have said it better than that.
//sarahb has some great photos from the open house on her blog here.
OC is back from the thrilling Lucia di LammermoorOPEN HOUSE earlier at the Metropolitan Opera, and must first hang up properly her Marni jacket, Marc Jacobs silk shell, and lovingly put her YSL's back in their silk baggies. Manners, manners.
Here I will drop just one quick anecdote from earlier this afternoon. Later tonight I will post pictures, scene-by-scene replay, and loads of **spoilers**!
kicked out teh haus..you. were. kicked out teh haus...said HRH Natalie Dessay to the NYC audience after the performance, disapproving of the house's laughter during the Act II, Scene II's signing of the marriage contract (la mia condanna ho scritta!). The query was begged by Dessay during the Q&A, m.c.'d by Margaret Juntwait, which followed the performance (from 3:00-3:30 pm). As Dessay grabbed the microphone and turned the questions back on the questioners, she asked earnestly and frankly to the house: "Why did you laugh during the contract scene?" [...] "Why is it funny?" [...] "It's not funny." [...] "It's terrible!"...leaving the rest of the panel to clumsily clarify the meaning of "irony". Awkward.
(A smiling O.J. And yes I read the NY Post on occassion. What of it? omg free lunchz0rs. There best be some capri sun and those cheese n' crackers with that red stick...or someone's gonna get suckapunched.)
The first of the three, free bootyshakin' Metropolitan Opera Open House initiatives is about to launch in a few precious hours, and Opera Chic couldn't resist a sneak-a-peek before the Monday, September 24 la prima of Donizetti's Lucia (di Lammermoor) (not Saint Lucy of Syracuse). OC, of course, will be among the celebrity and opera die-hards on Monday, but a complimentary ticket to anything opera is as hard to pass-up as an invite to a sample sale at Costume National.
Today's day-long, final dress rehearsal of Lucia di Lammermoor is dedicated to the legacy of Beverly Sills, at the wish of Open House sponsors Dr. Agnes Varis (Managing Director on the Met Opera Board) and her husband, Karl Leichtman. The super-twin wonder-team of Agnes & Karl had not only sponsored the Open House of Madama Butterfly last year, but has also underwritten the Met Opera Rush Ticket program, which reserves 200 orchestra seats two hours before Monday-Thursday performances, offering sweet seats at 80% savings.
Since General Manager Peter Gelb had last year taken over Joseph Volpe's previous 16-year tenure, the Met Opera has been trailblazing accessibility of American opera with a ginormous outreach program and constant, complimentary perks offered to the public. Last year's Minghella-directed new production of Madama Butterfly was the first open house EV4R offered by MET opera, and proved to be a huge success...so we must give props to Met Opera for continuing to give the people what they want. Included in what the people want is a Q&A with performers Natalie Dessay (Lucia), Marcello Giordani (Edgardo), Mariusz Kwiecien (Enrico Suave), and John Relyea (Raimondo) after the performance, a complimentary bagged lunch, and a not-forbidden stroll across the stage. Mary Zimmerman’s new production of Lucia rehearsal begins at 11:00 a.m., but doors open at 10:00 a.m. for special exhibits and demonstrations throughout the lobby space.
Earlier this week, the rush for free tickets to the Lucia Open House began @ 10am this past Monday, September 17, via either box office phone line (that remained busy for at least the first hour) or the website (that simultaneously had some connectivity issues for the first hour), and boasted a maximum of two tickets per person, with customers having until 8pm the next day to show up for seating that was doled on a first-come/first-serve. btw, we laud the nerdy, lovable IT department behind the golden curtain at the MET for their tech-savvy prowess that incredibly stopped the servers from completely melting-down during the Monday morning rush.
The second Open House of the 2007-08 season is on Friday, December 21, for the final dress rehearsal for Director Richard Jones’s new staging of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel... with Vladimir Jurowski on the podium.
More exciting is the last Open House of the season on Friday, April 18...the final dress rehearsal of Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment under Laurent Pelly's direction. This one will surely be the most difficult ticket to secure, as it stars both Natalie Dessay and opera superstar Juan Diego Flórez.
Let's hope that the smattering of evilopportunists on craigslist get some karmic smack-down before then.
This weekend passed in Salzburg at our 5-star luxury hotel (rhymes with lol "facher" lol) -- resting under soft down comforters and nibbling on slices of sacher torte -- found us curiously flipping through the awesome Austrian television channels, sampling the assorted randomness of the current Österreich trends. Aside from all of the dubbed crappy American action movies from the 80s, entertaining commercials and dramas, we found a live broadcast of The 15th Annual Life Ball, streamed direct from Vienna. The Life Ball (warning: YouTube link with sound) is Europe’s largest annual HIV/AIDS charity, which materializes as a star-studded gigantic party organized to raise money and awareness for the admirable cause.
After suffering through the spectacle of Richie Rich's Heatherette nightmarish take on fairytales and fables, and the hostess screaming through assorted interviews with Heatherette Muse Amanda Lepore and (slowly-becoming-Amanda-Lepore-Clone) Jenna Jameson, we switched back to something a bit more sedate (mind you, this was after our super-cleansing spa treatments reduced us to baby-soft skin and matching vibes). However, if we had only known that our own Natalie Dessay had made an appearance, maybe we would have endured the live stream.
In the picture above, our favorite French soprano parties with British designer Vivianne Westwood while dressed as a pirate. Arrrggg! We can’t imagine any soprano as kewl as Natalie to make an appearance at the hotness that is The Life Ball.
Rumors abound for the past 48 hours that Juan Diego Flórez did indeed give the Vienna Staatsoper audience exactly what he had delivered exclusively to Milan's Teatro alla Scala back in February (but denied London): an encore of "Ah, mes amis" in Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment, flaunting his superb high-C $killy-$kill$.
"I must duly report to you THE ENCORE delivered by JDF at yesterday's performance [Monday, April 9, 2007] in the Staatsoper: Under the pressure of an unceasing five minutes' applause AND stamping, and in the face of a teary commotion of the soloist in question, Yves couldn’t but to give in. I must admit that I couldn't escape the impression that the Viennese audience went for the now-or-never scenario, but their (applauding) award was more than generous (If not borderline stalking hahaha - after the final curtain the clapping just went on and on and on! Ten curtain calls at least.)"
"For the rest it is worth mentioning that Dessay got visibly pissed off for not taking an applause at the and of C'en est donc fait. The 'brava' came only at the end of the Salut à la France at which she stepped out of amidst the chorus and yelled "Mais vous êtes pathétiques!" into the roaring of the applause. Needless to add, the magnificent Oberstürmbahndiva Montserrat Caballé [cameo as the Duchesse de Crakentorp] remained adorable and funny even when openly making fun of the audience for not stopping to applaud her."
heh. “Oberstürmbahndiva” I ♥ that. Thanks again to the anonymous donor for the sparkling recap!
Just in case you're jonesing for a JDF fix, below is a YouTube clip from one of the earlier "Ah, mes amis" April 2007 performances of La Fille du Régiment at the Vienna Staatsoper with Juan Diego Flórez’s Tonio stealing the show. Everyone loves a diva am i rite or whut?