1. As Renée Fleming likes to say, "If it's not a tradition, then it ought to be." I don't think Renée ever said that, but it's so Renée that we'll let it stand for now. So from now till this blog is no more, Sieglinde will hold one of those "developing" posts every end of the year to summarize our feelings, about how much we love and adore her, her aura, her voice, the aura of her voice, her other voices, her Inner Voice(s), her beautiful voice, her most holy beautiful voice ... (pray for us) ...
2. Speaking of the Sacred, read about Renée's Jersey-style Christmas concert in Jersey over the weekend (and learn about how she has her official hair colorist on call during public appearances) on Sarah B's fabulous new blog. (And no, we're not holding her Broadway fetish against Sarah; she loves Renée like she was uni sushi, and we love people who love like that.)
3. I can almost hear Renée say: "That Netrebko's sucking up all the air around here, let's show that girl who's the Opera Box Office Queen in these parts." Exhibit A: Renee's Carnegie Hall soiree on January 8. The Carnegie Hall website makes is seem like there are still tickets available, but try even "purchasing" one ticket (best available), and you'll get this message: "Tickets are not available together in the quantity you requested in this section at this time. Please try a different section, or fewer tickets." Fewer than one? Now that's Box Office Queen for you.
4. Meanwhile, Sacred Cow Songs has moved back to number 1 on the Billboard charts.
5. Opening the Met broadcast season: Rigoletto with the Netrebko/Villazon. Who else should butt in during its intermission but ... the Fleming/Volpe of course. Did you notice how Renée masterfully singled out Netrebko's "Caro nome" as an instance of feeling naked and vulnerable on the grand stage.
6. [Sieglinde's just been chastised by a reader for being too mean on the Anna; he's right. Sieglinde's new year's resolution #1: be nice to the Anna. Promise... P.S., massive post-editing of the above items ensues at this point.] Renée telepaths Sieglinde: "That blog post is meant to skewer me, not other divas!"
7. But the real reason for this post is to explore a little theory Sieglinde has on the Renée and the druid priestess called Norma. As if to anticipate Sieglinde's exploration of this star-crossed pairing, our resident Renée inspector, La Cieca (mia madre), has put up Anita Cerquetti's Norma, the standard of standards, on her podcast. But the Cerquetti standard hasn't been met by the Met for decades now (Scotto? Eaglen? No.), so why worry about that here.
8. Here are the 'facts': (a) Since her Met debut season in 1991, Renee has appeared on her home stage every season. (b) Curiously, the infinitely fun Brad's Met Future Seasons Page has a more than solid accounting of the 2007-08 season, but with no Renée. (c) The roles listed for 2007-08 within Renée's eclectic repertoire have all been assigned to substantial divas, and not one of them will want to share the spotlight with such a scene stealer. (d) However, there are two operas that have no casts as of yet. Unless Renée's thinking of adding Hänsel to her repertory (or more interestingly, Gretel?), we're left with, yes, the Norma. (e) Norma is such a monumental work, and in a house that hasn't produced it much in the past three decades, it needs an A-list cast to justify its resurrection. (f) In various interviews, Renée has acknowledged that she's gotten both positive and negative words about the possibility of adding Norma to her repertoire; but that she's thinking of doing more bel canto. (g) Whatever Renée wants, Renée gets (at least as far as the Volpe era is concerned).
9. SIEGLINDE'S EXCLUSIVE BEHIND-THE-SCENES SCENARIO: (a) Renée has been thinking seriously about launching into Norma in two years, but wouldn't want to commit just yet; (b) the Met is waiting for the diva to finally decide, before filling in the rest of the cast; (c) but that season is incoming emperor Peter Gelb's first solo-planned season, and he may want one of his Gelbgirls to do the Norma instead; (d) There's Gheorghiu, lukewarm with Volpe but hot with Gelb; and there's Netrebko, who can't do coloratura but so what, she still draws in large crowds. (e) There's a gigantic internal struggle at the Met, and various divamafias have been accidentally 'misplacing' wigs and applying the wrong makeup on rival divas. (f) To resolve the conflict, they're planning an American Idol style sing-off for the Volpe Gala, where the three divas will all sing 'Casta diva' (both aria and cabaletta, Renee insists, to throw off the Anna) for the gala audience. (g) Ballots will be handed out to restroom users during the first intermission.
10. NEWS FLASH: We interrupt this Reneedroolpost for breaking news. Anna Netrebko has canceled her much-anticipated Carnegie Hall debut, scheduled for March 2006 [NYT, PlaybillArts]: "I do not feel artistically ready yet to present a recital program on the great stage of Carnegie Hall." (Score 1 for the Reneemafia; expect the Annamafia to hit back.)
11. [Just heard at the corner deli (and from various Russian chatrooms) that Anna has ordered a hit on Sieglinde, blaming the Wälsung for the lukewarm NYC reception of her Gilda; Sieglinde, incognito, moves quickly to this fanatical group's blogger protection program.]
12. A reader suggests that there's still time to "rediscover" Netrebko. Master plan: catch another Rigoletto in February; limit sucky comments to the guy who plays Rigoletto; and blame him for Anna's missing top notes, amateur coloratura, and insecure pitch. That should do it.