07 December 2008

Met Futures: major changes to the 2009-10 season

We have been reliably clued in as to which four operas are being cut from the 2009-10 season schedule. In addition to eliminating The Ghosts of Versailles and Die Frau ohne Schatten, which we announced a few days ago, the Met appears very likely to scrap plans for the revivals of Benvenuto Cellini and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

Currently, plans remain intact for the house premieres of From the House of the Dead and The Nose, as well as for the revival of Lulu.

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk will be replaced by Ariadne auf Naxos.

(The latest update of the Met Futures Page also includes a number of cast changes. I'll point them out at an appropriate time.)

03 December 2008

Met Futures: Holiday edition

Sieglinde's still alive. Relax. She's even seen a few things since we last chatted. Perhaps she'll even drop a word or two about them here shortly, work permitting of course. (Long story-short: Dalayman was fabulous!)

In the meantime, here's a little update from Brad Wilber. The Met Futures page has been updated again to reflect the following:

For Season 2009-10: The Ghosts of Versailles has been replaced on the roster by La Traviata, retaining only Angela Gheorghiu and Thomas Hampson from the former cast; and plans for Die Frau ohne Schatten have been scrapped (*sob*), its slot being replaced by Elektra.

For Season 2010-11: Joyce DiDonato is confirmed to sing the role of Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, replacing Elina Garanca on the list; and Edward Gardner is also confirmed to debut as the conductor for Carmen.

07 November 2008

On Wednesday, there was a run on newspapers, as voters rushed to grab a tangible piece of the history they’d made. My husband Max and I, unable to find extra copies, brought our own worn papers home to 8- and 11-year-old Emilie and Julia.

Sept. 11, the seismic event that we’d feared would forever form their political consciousness, shaping their world and constricting the boundaries of the possible, had actually been eclipsed, light blotting out darkness, the best of America at long last driving away the demons of fear. We wanted them to see that it was the end of an era.

05 November 2008

02 November 2008

"This is what is at stake, and we must protect it."

It is a real dilemma today. People are casting more for the look than the quality and correctness of the instrument. They want a Stradivarius in the body of a ukulele. One doesn’t have to be obese, but it does take a bit of weight to support the larger repertoire. Opera must go forward but remain authentic, and ultimately, my loyalty is to the composer, not the camera or the recording mic. One prays that the people doing the casting remember the core audience, otherwise you will find voices ruined because they deceived themselves into the wrong repertoire. Looking the part doesn’t provide protection, and there’s no getting past roles being sung by voices too small to fill them.

I understand the move to encourage people to attend opera by filming and broadcasting the great art to places unable to enjoy it first-hand. I tend to think of it as a sample of what it would be like to experience it live in the theater. That is where opera is at its full seduction, the victory of a human being standing on stage with 100 or more people singing over an 80-piece orchestra in front of 4,000 people, all without a mic. It remains the last bastion of unplugged human communication.

29 October 2008

Met Futures: Halloween edition

Guys, science has once again taken Sieglinde's attention this month. So while that runs its drowsy course, she invites you to ruminate on the latest juicy tidbits from Brad Wilber. The Met Futures page has been updated thus:

For Season 2009-10, Frank Porretta III will debut in Turandot, sharing the role of Calaf with Ben Heppner; Alice Coote will come back as Hansel.

For Season 2010-11, Peter Rose joins the cast of Capriccio to sing La Roche, in place of Franz Hawlata.

For Season 2011-12, Nadja Michael is still debuting, but this time as Lady Macbeth instead of Abigaille; and English tenor John Daszak debuts as Captain Vere in Billy Budd.

24 October 2008

20 October 2008

19 October 2008

The soprano will be saying no to some repertoire in the future. Donizetti and other bel canto composers will be put aside soon. Manon and La traviata also "will probably disappear," she says. But there are tantalizing plans for Wagner's Lohengrin.

16 October 2008

Tongue, part 2

Really been busy the past week, too busy for opera (it is possible) but I just wanted to drop by quickly to post this pic. And as far as Joe the Plumber is concerned-- clearly you and I chose the wrong college major. (And congrats, Phillies. See y'all in St. Pete!)

12 October 2008

Florida's lawns are voting our way

On the infamous I-4 corridor, our little boating "island" of 400 residences (white, upper middle class, voted for Bush in '04) has, get this, 19 Obama-Biden signs to only 6 of the McCain-Palin signs. At a local convenience store, we overheard a conversation between two neighbors who've decided they're not voting this year because "we got two bad choices". They're most definitely Republicans. Yay!

10 October 2008

O terra, addio

The Yankees and the Mets are moving to new stadiums. According to this New York Times article, it's a problem for some baseball fans, who have surreptitiously scattered ashes of dead beloveds in the old stadiums to honor their last wishes. Their "final resting place" will be turned into a parking garage, which is sad. The same article then proceeds to infer the following:

Perhaps it is a measure of sports fans’ attachment to the places their teams fight it out, season after season over a lifetime, that they think about scattering ashes in stadiums — Lincoln Center, for example, says that no music lovers have asked to have their relatives’ remains left there.
Yeah, as if I'm gonna let the Met know that I've instructed my partner to sneak in and disperse a vial of my dead ashes about the dusty corners of my balcony box. Silly New York Times writer. Music fans are just as rabid and irrational as sports fans. I bet dead ashes have been strewn around the hallowed grounds of Lincoln Center bathrooms since the 80s. This is obvious. As I'm certain those who haunt the Met stage door will continue to haunt the Met stage door forever, in the form of their dead ashes. I'm so sure of it. (In fact, I think many of them are already beginning to shed some remains around there. I mean, have you seen that freakshow lately?)

The article gets more tragic:
“Where I put the ashes is in that little triangle in foul territory where they put those recliners where people sat,” said Ms. Brass, an administrative assistant at a Long Island company that maintains medical equipment. “They put recliners on top of my sister. I was annoyed about that. Those people were sitting on my sister. Now she’s going to be in the parking lot. Don’t laugh. I’m going to figure out where she is in that new parking lot, and park on top of her.”

The joy of HD TV: tongue

Supermodel pitcher Cole Hamels led the Phillies to a victory over the Dodgers last night. I'm still firmly for the Rays on the other side, but I may have to edit my forecast to the Phillies for the National League. I'm torn; once again, tongue is clouding my judgment.

09 October 2008

So I didn't miss it after all. Super!

Thanks, dear JSU of AUV, for correcting my inaccurate mental datebook. This past Saturday, I was so depressed to have so much work that I had to miss the HD theater simulcast of the Salome. Turns out I was just being stupid about dates. The Big Show is this weekend. Yay!! So: (1) Sieglinde's not missing it, uhm, this time; (2) like JSU, I thought that the show has improved vastly from previous evenings; (3) all of you cannot, cannot miss it; (4) who cares if pussy won't be shown, we're gay and we don't get into that stuff.

Met Futures: yet *more* fall updates

When it rains, it pours! Brad Wilber has uncovered quite a bit of new information for his fabulous Met Futures page since the last update just two days ago. Here's a summary:

For Season 2009-10: Simon Boccanegra loses Barbara Frittoli and Ferrucio Furlanetto, but adds James Levine as conductor and Nicola Alaimo in his Met debut as Paolo; Elizabeth Caballero makes her house debut as Frasquita in the new production of Carmen.

For Season 2010-11: Simon Boccanegra added to the roster, with Barbara Frittoli, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Nicola Alaimo returning as Paolo, and conducted by James Levine; Patrick Fournillier makes his Met debut conducting the revival of Hoffmann; Vladimir Ognovenko sings Varlaam in Boris Godunov; Micaela Carosi sings Leonora in Il Trovatore (only for the spring performances, alongside Dolora Zajick); Felicity Palmer returns as Genevieve in Pelleas; Dimitris Tiliakos makes his Met debut as Marcello in La Boheme.

For Season 2011-12: Carlo Colombara sings Zaccaria in Nabucco; David Kueblre sings Vitek in Makropoulos Case.


Strauss SALOME, Met 07.X.2008; c. Summers; Mattila, Uusitalo, Begley, Komlosi, Kaiser, Glassman, Schaufer.

A quick one: went back in to see Karita Mattila's Salome two evenings ago; wouldn't have been surprised if there was some sloping off of effort and energy after Saturday's big global simulcast, but no:* Mattila was crisper and in command compared to her prima performance, searing from first to last bar. The mercurial Mattila sound, grey and turbid in the middle but glistening as a penetrating liquid when pushed above the staff, is truly thrilling in this music. Indeed, this role, in my opinion, is the best match for her soprano: ecstatic, neurotic, lush, athletic, destructive. The forte top notes are becoming more challenging to her, but isn't it always an enjoyable thing to observe a singer battle the elements, who cares about the resulting carnage? She probably tears vital tissue during each Salome performance; it hurts me to receive all that sound; but lots and lots of pleasure all around; a classic S&M experience. Seriously, this is among the greatest miracles to happen at the Met in this generation. There is a reason why Deborah Voigt, as powerful as she is, will never, ever sing this role in her own home stage. I doubt there's anyone foolish enough to follow this immortal performance anytime soon; opera queens will be there to pillory the sorry pretenders.

*Duh. It's this weekend. Hasn't happened yet, folks.

07 October 2008

Met Futures: fall updates

Sieglinde announces a number of updates to Brad Wilber's Met Futures page (which, it appears, will continue to reside in Sieglinde's Diaries for the foreseeable future):

For Season 2009-10: Juha Uusitalo replaces Bryn Terfel as Scarpia; Lise Lindstrom makes her Met debut as Turandot; Tony winner Paulo Szot makes his Met debut as Kovalyov in The Nose; Rodell Rosel makes his Met debut as Begearss in The Ghosts of Versailles; Peter Hoare makes his Met debut as Shapkin in From the House of the Dead; Daniel Sutin returns to the cast of FRoSCH as the One-Eyed Brother.

For Season 2010-11: James Maddalena makes his Met debut as Richard Nixon; Aleksandra Kurzak sings Olympia in the revival of Hoffmann.

For Season 2011-12: Ernani added to the roster; David McVicar set to direct the Met premiere of Anna Bolena; Paulo Szot returns as Lescaut in Manon.

For Season 2012-13: David McVicar set to direct the Met premiere of Maria Stuarda.

03 October 2008

Three videos to tide you over to weekend booze

1. The crucial Great Schlep campaign. Sarah Silverman is funny; Florida ain't.
2. More on Renee Fleming's fashion show last week, who cares if you've had enough. This time with special guest star Annie Leibovitz in the role of "artist" photographer.
3. Forget Biden vs. Palin, or even "bailout" vs. "rescue". Here's what matters more: a Debbie/Olga catfight. I hear a certain Ewa won that one in the end. (via Score Desk)

Sarah Palin is illiterate

Sorry, just needed to get that off my system and out into the electronic universe. I couldn't sleep!

02 October 2008

Sieglinde's fall predictions

Division Series: Phillies in 4; Dodgers in 5; Rays in 3; Red Sox in 4.
League Championships: Dodgers in 6; Rays in 5.
World Series: Rays in 6.
Presidential Election: Obama by 84 electoral votes.

Aprile Millo is a Podles fan

Podles electrified the audience and for me gave me one of the most satisfying nights in the opera. She is real, yet unafraid to be grand. Borodina also reminds us what it is to hear a voice that plush and immense, yet velvet. I am a huge fan of this voice. Everyone I enjoyed, Debbie’s first Gioconda here and my friend Achilles Machado and Carlo Guelfi, with the magnificent contributions of the ballet, which is really quite a great piece of both music and theater, I just loved this grand opera.
In the same post, she also talks about a "benign pornography" seeping into opera. And also about a certain porn star named "Netremko" who she's not (yet) resentful about.

01 October 2008

Balcony box forever

Covent Garden cheap seats SUCK. They are just armless chairs squeezed as close as possible together and the air conditioning in the upper reaches is pathetic. Plus it is London so everyone has a jacket on because British July is like New York October. Clearly it wasn't enough for the Victorian lower classes to get cholera and spend their childhoods making artificial flowers, they also deserved to be super uncomfortable at the opera. If one can stomach the nausea inducing exchange rate, it is seriously worth it to spring for a lower balcony.

30 September 2008

The transformation is complete

A great number of you have e-mailed Sieglinde to ask where the heck is Sylvia Sass these days. OK, I'm kidding. But if you're wondering where she is, the internet found her! She's taking on a new yet painfully familiar role:

"It was not easy to convince Sylvia Sass to assume the role of a woman whose memory disturbed her own career and life as a woman ..."
Which role is it? Duh. If you're still as clueless as Sarah Palin is about, uh, anything, you'll find the answer here.

Peter Gelb is number 5

For many years, hospital leaders dominated the top ranks of The Chronicle's salary survey (of executive pay in nonprofit organizations)... This year, [... a] hospital executive claimed the number-one spot in the survey. James J. Mongan, chief executive of Partners HealthCare System, in Boston, which includes Massachusetts General Hospital, earned $1,371,399 in total compensation.

University presidents and arts executives took the next four spots of highest-paid chief executives in The Chronicle's survey. Henry S. Bienen, president of Northwestern University, took the second spot, receiving $1,342,595 — nearly twice his 2006 compensation of $690,333. [...]

Mr. Bienen was followed on the list by John E. Sexton, president of New York University, who earned $1,291,525. Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, took the fourth spot, with $1,017,690 in compensation. Fifth was Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, who received $1,000,002.

29 September 2008

Paul Krugman, sage:

So what we now have is non-functional government in the face of a major crisis, because Congress includes a quorum of crazies and nobody trusts the White House an inch.

As a friend said last night, we’ve become a banana republic with nukes.

Opening night at parterre

The Lady asked for Champagne, but the television crew had roped off the path to the nearest bar so that Martha Stewart could do an on-air interlude. When I finally made it to the bar by a flanking maneuver, I was told that Ms. Stewart had got the last of the Louis Roederer. Her half-empty bottle was right beside me, but with two television cameras rolling, it seemed an inopportune time to make my debut as a Champagne thief. Even great institutions have their weaknesses, and at the Met, it’s the house sparkling wine ...
Upper box denizens like Sieglinde are amused that a foreign world exists a mere few levels down.

26 September 2008

The blind leading the cast

Ponchielli LA GIOCONDA, Met 24.IX.2008; c. Callegari (d); Voigt, Borodina, Podles, Machado, Guelfi.

What an unusual evening. As Steve Smith correctly noted, two minor roles garnered the bulk of the ovation. First: Ewa Podles, of course, in the role of La Cieca (pictured above), who hasn't been seen on this stage since, oh, I was closeted and in elementary school. Podles's primary talent is to sound like she's singing a full octave lower than written, and with a volume to match any cavernous space: queens like that sort of thing. The other crowd favorite: ballet superstar Angel Corella (and his girl partner what's-her-name), whose primary talent is to have the roundest buttocks ever, and the rare ability to uplift Ponchielli's music into a rousing twirlfest: queens like that sort of thing too.

But the highlight of my evening was Olga Borodina. I've never truly raved about this mezzo. Borodina has been churning out lovely, polished and professional performances, but till recently, her sound, to my ears, had been a tad turbid and muffled, at times charcoal grey if it were a color, never catching my devoted fancy in any role, save perhaps the Dalila. Indeed I may be developing tumors in my ears (how you wish), because how is it that she sounds like a different singer today? I first noticed the change in the Verdi Requiem for Pavarotti last week (yes, I found a way to sneak in; I may get to writing about it, if I don't get too drunk this weekend). Then in this Gioconda, my observation has been bolstered: her current sound seems to have developed a spine, a more direct, cutting line that could enunciate the tune more effectively. Add to that her innate musicality and dramatic intelligence, and we now have a formidable mezzo to carry on from Dolora Zajick.

As tradition dictates, let's now state the obvious: Deborah Voigt, we love her, but she does not have the right sound or temperament for this role, or any Italian role for that matter. So the most she could try for is a clean performance, which she delivered with some tension but with solid gusto. Why she's not pouring her efforts exclusively into roles like Elektra or Brunnhilde (which will happen eventually, but why not this season??) may be more about economic positioning-- like dear Karita Mattila choosing to waste her time on silly but lucrative things like Manon Lescaut and Tosca. But anyway, a strong Gioconda is absolutely needed to distract us from the opera's majestic emptiness-- for instance, an Aprile Millo (who was spotted sitting in the director's box by a friend! what could it mean?) or somesuch. Even Violeta Urmana from two years ago made a far better impression.

Nonfactors: Aquiles Machado and Carlo Guelfi. The conductor, Daniele Callegari, debuted with a soporific reading of the score. Not good for a performance ending after midnight.

Operatic duets

Sieglinde plays the role of "Fleming flapper" eagerly, and with absolute joy; La Cieca zealously plays hers. (I'll leave you to conjure creative names for it.) So no news, no surprises, let's move along ... to the the inaugural issue of Sieglinde's version of the *yawn* Regie quiz! Which opera would the following scene be, if it were an opera production in Paris or Dresden?

24 September 2008

This season's Salome: low-calorie, less fat, and with no artificial sweeteners

Strauss SALOME, Met 23.IX.2008; c. Summers; Mattila, Uusitalo, Begley, Komlosi, Kaiser, Glassman, Schaufer.

Anyone know what happened to Mikko Franck, that Finnish conductor born after you and your friends and everyone else on earth (1979!!)? Because we need him badly. Because Maestro Patrick Summers, chosen to replace him on the Salome roster, is god-awful b-o-o-o-o-o-r-i-n-g. Why did Mikko cancel? Or was he forced out? Anyway, Summers' work was superficially bombastic but lacked any real ecstasy or urgency. Maestro Valery Gergiev, who led when this production premiered with Karita Mattila a few years ago, brought a sense of spine-tingling thrill of a very sacrilegious sort, such that when the woodwinds trembled, you did too. No matter how many times I'd seen it, I still shivered every time Gergiev hushed the orchestra to an eerie hum. But last night it was karaoke night at the Met, with an utterly faceless, routine soundtrack emanating from this huge, inexplicable hole at the foot of the stage.

Karita Mattila was more sensational in the first half of the opera. During her one-way courtship with Jochanaan, I was floored by the sheer magnitude and force of her voice, and excited for what's to come later in the evening. Her final scene, however, was not as overwhelming as before. I recall her heaving and panting during her frightening exclamations over Jochanaan's head in this production's prima season in 2004, while still keeping the level of steel and edge in the voice throughout the entire scene. I remember, because I was also heaving and panting in my seat. This time, however, I had the impression that she was holding back. This may be quibbling, so feel free to ignore me. Perhaps she set the bar too high, that's the danger of virtuosity. But then even comparing with the intensity and power in the voice earlier in the evening, I thought there was a noticeable diminution. The energy deficit in the pit didn't help. (Meanwhile, all seven "veils" were shed exactly like before, in case you're interested.)

Kim Begley's Herod lacked sufficient madness. Allan Glassman, who was on stage as the First Jew, should have been picked for this role. Glassman, who has the right kind of neurotic tenor, made a great impression when he filled in for Siegfried Jerusalem in the previous cast. Begley sounded too rational and kind, not the qualities we like in this role. Ildiko Komlosi was a sufficiently unbalanced Herodias. Morris Robinson comes back as the best First Nazarene in the universe, wonderful news! Joseph Kaiser and Lucy Shaufer, as Narraboth and the page respectively, provided welcome excitement, with truly superb voices and full commitment. Debutante Juha Uusitalo, as the guy who sparked all the insanity, was just ok.

23 September 2008

Quick roundup before moving on to Salome

A quick survey of our local bloggers reveals Sieglinde may be the only one actually inside the Met on opening night. Even Sarah, an unqualified Renée devotée, sat in front of some giant screen. (Where were you, dear?) La Cieca was all over the place, except inside. Alex Ross, who's usually outdoors with the masses on opening night, is understandably busy figuring out what to do with half a million dollars. Meanwhile, AUV went to the movies. He didn't like the Capriccio scene at all, the very scene I thought was the highlight of the evening. This is the problem with simulcasts: things like repeated close-ups of an awkwardly vogueing diva can steal the focus away from the music and the voice. Add the souped up acoustics, which boosts any sound and denies any reward for true fortes, and you get a distorted view. The live performance is, indeed, a unique thrill. Was Opera Chic there? If so, she (or an accomplice) had access to a press pass, to explain her exclusive paparazzi shots, which appear to have been taken from a press-only vantage point (cf. Sieglinde's photos taken from among the middle class gawkers.) We especially love the Austin shots.

UPDATE: Turns out Opera Chic's "exclusive" paparazzi shots are nothing but Getty Images photos. More can be found here.

Renée Fleming's Really Huge Opening

Metropolitan Opera Opening Night Gala, starring Renée Fleming. Verdi LA TRAVIATA, Act II; Massenet MANON, Act III; Strauss CAPRICCIO, final scene; Fleming, Vargas, Hampson, c. Levine, c. Armiliato, c. Summers.

Five scenes of spectacular singing, despite bad hair. To begin: at Violetta and Alfredo's country house, Renée Fleming felt obliged to show off all her skill and sheer vocal beauty immediately, so she mostly wallowed in self-indulgent sighing and sliding and honey-on-caramel vocalization. No character development here: it's a show for the show. But we still gladly ate it up. The first surprise: last night's "Amami Alfredo" is her best yet. Levine stretched it out and modulated the dynamics to Wagnerian proportions. Renée responded accordingly, the voice cutting through the tremulous strings with a ravishing bloom. By Flora's party, she's back to form, distilling beauty and emotion into a more quiet vocalization. The magnificent Christian Lacroix for this scene was the sole couture winner of the evening.

At the Cours la Reine, Renée tried to channel Anna Netrebko, with little success. It's a brainless scene anyway, so she's entitled to appear brainless. The aria, however, was delivered with customary precision. At St. Sulpice, however, she pulled it back together, reminding me why she's a once-in-a-generation Manon. With a capable sparring partner in Ramon Vargas, Renée caressed Massenet's sensual tunes with uncommon style, so that it was easy to ignore the monstrous Karl Lagerfeld drapery and that hair. (Whoever formulated those wigs must really hate Renée's guts.) Anyway, if Vargas were a bit hunkier and a bit taller and a lot more handsome, he's be such the perfect leading man for Renée: with that sweet voice, and that voice alone, he deserved to open the Met season too. Bottom line: St. Sulpice remains among Renée's greatest creations.

The final scene of Capriccio was the highlight of the evening. Two things distracted a bit: again, the John Galliano frock, especially that awful coat, and again the hair; and Renée touching herself way too much. Granted, it's a monologue with significant orchestral interludes, so that the Gräfin, lost in thought, is left raw and exposed to inhabit the big mansion of a set. When Dame Kiri did Capriccio the last time she and it were on the Met stage (for a full opera, that is), she chose simply to stand in various places and look out to the invisible horizon in contemplative poses, and what little self-touching she did conveyed much more sensuality than Renée's completely tasteless stage direction. It may have been that Renée was compelled to physicalize what should have been obvious had the audience seen the entire opera. But even so, it was just too much. Honestly, I thought she was going to masturbate on stage.

But the soaring Strauss, and a voice that is just perfect for it, made up for all that silliness. Maestro Patrick Summers has complete rapport with Renée, pushing the orchestra to the hilt, and taking her up to the stratospheric fortes with such ease. At certain points of the monologue, I thought, wow, this girl could sing Salome's final scene. No, not the whole opera, just the final scene. In concert, a la Leontyne Price. Renée, when properly warmed up, has just the juice for these kinds of things: the combination of sweetness and soaring power, with an uncomplicated instinct for Strauss. This voice is just made for Strauss.

Roll out the red carpet, they will come

I stood by the carpet for only ten minutes. About seven minutes prior to the published curtain, I rushed to the get in. Ebullient Regis Philbin, arm in arm with wife Joy, was in front of me, doing a schtick about needing a cocktail now! Hey, that's my schtick too, I thought.


To Alex Ross, genius.

11 September 2008

Issue 1

What actually happens when one puts lipstick on a pig? NPR is on the case.

10 September 2008

End of the world

Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the earth yet? Answer can be found here. (If "lipstick on a pig" is the biggest political issue of the world today, then maybe we need to generate a much bigger black hole to swallow us all.)

08 September 2008

Peter Gelb, be cursed

I didn't win the Requiem lotto. It's easily the stupidest thing Gelb's team has done so far: to shake it up and allow randomness to determine the audience of a rare operatic event. There are fanatics who would sacrifice a day to be first in line for Barbara Frittoli's Libera Me (namely me), but Gelb decided to ignore the truly devoted for some version of random democracy. Mr. Gelb, fetishism and fanaticism ain't democratic, stop f*cking with it.

27 August 2008

Have you seen one lately?

Amidst the freaky darkness of the tall pines of Maine (and sharing a beautiful lake with one Stephen King!), one lake cabin reverberated with the sound of her fierce voice. SWEETHEARTS, THIS IS WHAT A DEMOCRAT LOOKS LIKE. None of that post-partisan transcendent kumbaya let's hold hands and compromise they are people too BS crap. What I admire in this diva is the fight in her. It's still there.

I'm returning to my vacation. I'll be back next week.

15 August 2008


This is my world famous ragu alla bolognese simmering in the slow drone of summer. It takes 10 hours to make. It's one of the best things in my life.

[This is mostly Marcella Hazan's recipe, with some variation.]

1. In 3 tbsp. of olive oil, fry 1/4 lb. of chopped pancetta.
2. Melt in 8 tbsp. of butter, and stir in 1 cup of chopped onion. Cook till transluscent.
3. Add 1 and 2/3 cup each of finely chopped carrots and celery, and cook for a few minutes.
4. Add 1 lb. each of ground chuck and ground pork.
5. When the meat is no longer red, add 2 1/2 cups whole milk. On low-medium heat, allow the liquid to simmer down till much of the milk is evaporated. Stir frequently. (This may take an hour.) Add 1/3 tsp. of ground nutmeg.
6. Add 2 1/2 cups of dry white wine or a full-bodied red wine, or a combination of whatever you have handy. As with the milk, simmer slowly till mostly evaporated. (Another hour.)
7. Add 1 large can (28 oz.) of peeled whole plum tomatoes. Once the simmer commences, bring the heat down to low (really, really low).
8. During about 4-5 hours of the l-a-z-i-e-s-t simmer, stir the sauce frequently, while gradually adding salt (to taste). Best done while drinking a robust to-your-face chianti.
9. You just made enough sauce to feed your apartment building. Therefore, make an obscene amount of your favorite pasta, and invite every low-carbing friend. Leftover sauce freezes well.

13 August 2008

Been watching Michael Phelps and other hot Olympians on TV every night, haven't eaten out in a week, what to do with the unspent money?

Give to Democrat Jared Polis's campaign for US Congress.

Jared Polis CO-02 won a hard-fought 3-way primary last night against two worthy Democratic opponents. Blue America has been enthusiastic about his potential as a progressive leader for a long time and we are excited to endorse him on the night of his victory. Jared will be the first openly gay man to ever win a seat in Congress as a freshman.
Support ActBlue.

[via Digby]

12 August 2008

To keep from going totally insane, I just kept muttering to myself "at least I won't be on that August 17 riff raff line"

Yeah yeah, I was on the Götterdämmerung line too. I was the one behind the lady who said "Oh, ever since 9/11 or 9/21 or whenever that was ..." and in front of another who said "I go to anything Faust. Is the Damnation of Faust about Faust? I hope so."

Anyway, after five hours in line, I discovered, upon examining my hoard, that I unknowingly gave the Met more than $50 total for some "facility fee." At an average of two to three visits per performance (depending on length of opera, prior libation, and any necessary *ahem* "equipment" change), that amounts to about 50 cents a pee. (At that rate, moist towelettes ought to be provided.)

Meanwhile, the only way to pass the time for someone who left his iPod at home was to chat with line mates who liked to say "SONnamBYOOlah" and think that Dessay is like the best comedic actress they've seen on stage. I laugh at Dessay too, I told one.

After Jessye Norman's historic Met telecast "Du bist der Lenz" was shown on the flat screen TV by the box office, one queen remarked that Jessye was out of breath the entire time and that her delivery was choppy and lacked refinement. I wanted to smack the fag.

I'm hating opera fans this week. (Meanwhile, I'm loving the Olympic men's synchronized diving boys. It's a bit wrong and very illegal, I know.)

08 August 2008

Let the Games Begin: Sieglinde's Met 2008-09 Season Preview

With about a week to go before Met single tickets go on sale to the general riff raff, Sieglinde has to get serious about her opera schedule. Poverty is really annoying, but thankfully, the cheap seats remain cheap this year, at $15 (or 2 euros, give or take), so it won't be that cataclysmic. Let's see now: 50 tickets is ... what? 750? Shit.

To help her plan on a budget, she lays out a list of 10+ things she's hoping to get tickets for this season. (You're welcome to use the list for your own season plans, clueless bitches.)

1. Karita Mattila's Salome. In this role, Mattila attains the summit of stimmkunst. (Take copious notes, Natalie.) The Salome is her greatest creation at the Met. We are joyous in its return. Will her pubes be shown in glorious HD? We shall *see*.

2. Katarina Dalayman's Isolde. Dalayman is Sieglinde's favorite up-and-coming Wagnerian soprano. Her mighty top notes radiate a la Rysanek, unpretty and defiant, but always true to the moment. She will burn both your eardrums. You will pee in your seat. (Maestro Daniel Barenboim's debut is a curiosity, but Sieglinde's not sure how much more he'll add to the evening's wattage.)

3. Christine Brewer's Brunnhilde. Brewer travels all over Earth as the world's stopgap dramatic soprano, yet she hardly stops by the Met to show off. Finally we get her, but only for one Ring cycle (the early bird special on Saturday matinee) and one extra Walküre. Why such limited exposure? Deborah Voigt's people must play real hardball, Sieglinde's telling you.

4. Renee Fleming's Really Huge Opening, which should (re)establish her supremacy in New York's opera constellation. After flirting with superficial sensations (Dessay and Netrebko, who else), the Gelb administration declares their allegience to the Beautiful Voice once and for all. Witness how the Met reverts back to the time-honored (a.k.a. Volpe) tradition of presenting a hodgepodge of tired opera scenes to open the season, after two seasons of Gelb incessantly preaching the virtues of opening with a new production of a complete work. Now it's a prima in the sole service of a diva, for a bejeweled audience into extravagant buffets of only the good stuff. Sieglinde, who has seen countless Fleming Manons and Violettas, is looking forward to the shimmering final scene of Capriccio.

5. Renee Fleming's Thaïs, yet another jewel in the crown. (Sieglinde's fan club membership would have been in serious jeopardy if she didn't list this one in the Top 5.)

6. Robangela (Robergela?), opera's own Brangelina, in La Rondine. Lurking behind Roberto Alagna is Giuseppe Filianoti, who makes us wet too. Angela Gheorghiu champions this Puccini like it's a real opera. Whatevs, she's entitled.

7. A promising new production of Il Trovatore, which will feature Sieglinde favorites Sondra Radvanovsky and the booming couple of Dolora Zajick and Luciana D'Intino sharing the Azucenas. If Salvatore Licitra and Dmitri Hvorostovsky try very hard not to suck, this may be the best ensemble this season.

8. Barbara Frittoli's Donna Anna, and barihunks Erwin Schrott (Netrebko's babee daddee) and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as the horny duo of Don Giovanni and Leporello. Frittoli isn't singing on the evenings with the eye candy pair, so it's a two ticket minimum on this year's Don Giovanni. Barbara, you must know that you rock Sieglinde's nuts, so don't even think of cancelling on us.

9. Doctor Atomic, so we're not called heathens.

10. Runners up for 10th place, a list of semi-curiosities: Roberto Alagna doing Turiddu and Canio in the same evening; the Gheorghiu-Villazon tandem for Elisir; Mattila as Tatyana (ouch!); the scary Ewa Podles as La Cieca; Netrebko as Lucia (a major improvement to Dessay of last season); the return of Cristina Gallardo-Domas and Patricia Racette as Butterfly, both formidable interpretations; Mark Morris's brilliant Orfeo ed Euridice (and Stephanie Blythe's Amore, wow!); Felicity Palmer as the Countess in The Queen of Spades; Filianoti as the Duke of Mantua; Rusalka with Fleming and Blythe; Anja Harteros as Violetta; finally, Walküre attractions Waltraud Meier as Sieglinde with Johan Botha's first Siegmund at the Met and Placido Domingo's last Siegmund ever ever (but who knows, right?).

06 August 2008

Breaking (two days ago): Opera award given to "singer" who'd rather be something else

This year's recipients are: John Adams, Natalie Dessay, Renee Fleming, Marilyn Horne, and Sherrill Milnes. One of them would rather get a Tony, of course. I would rather Opera News give the award to [your diva's name here].

The list provides stark contrast: the other soprano awardee, Renee Fleming, custodian of the Beautiful Voice, does the "text" part of opera with true grace, measure, and restraint. That's how you do it, Natalie.

"I'll see you at the debates, bitches."

Midweek funny for the lunchbreak.

05 August 2008

Natalie Dessay, in her continued progress towards greater artistry, still doesn't know what opera is about

A month old, but we can't let this one pass. The overly dramatic Artist declares:

I got rid of my high notes. They were getting in the way. It is very easy for someone with high notes to impress, even if the rest is not very interesting. High notes are something that people seem to like - I never understood why. It's like being able to fly. OK, you can fly, so what? Yes, it's rather good but it's not enough. I want to give something else. When I had these high notes, I couldn’t pay attention to the text. I'm interested in the humanity of the characters and the interpretation. (When I'm standing opposite Juan Diego and he is doing nine high C's), I'm not impressed. Either you have the top or not. If you have it, it's not that difficult.
In recent years, Dessay's top notes have been shrieky and metallic, cold, effortful, and generally unpleasant to the ear. The disdain she has for top notes is therefore understandable. She tends to compensate with buffoonish histrionics, overacting the pieces of meaning she gleans from the (mostly bankrupt) text. She can't tolerate opera queens, don't you see! She has seething contempt for the singing part of opera, and she just can't be bothered by canto for bel's sake. So I shall match her disgust: I find her schtick bland and unimaginative.

She continues to provoke:
I want to make people forget we are singing. I don't want to them to come to hear beautiful voices, but to see a whole performance, of theatre with music.
The implication being that beautiful voices are somehow incompatible with "a whole performance, of theatre with music." But she's right about one thing: they ought not to come to her performances expecting to hear beautiful voices, because there won't be any of that beauty shit getting in the way of her art.

04 August 2008

Sieglinde Moulitsas? Boooo-ring

So to keep the content of this supposedly opera-centered blog sufficiently operatic, here are two links for your afternoon delight:

1. A boy and his Gilda Cruz-Romo. (A touching affair.)
2. Angela Gheorghiu's new website, mysteriously called Is that her phone number in Bucharest? The combination to her safe? Her vital stats in the metric system? The number of times she'll cancel in the next five years? Her favorite lotto numbers? (via Opera Chanteuse)

(So anyway, why the f* is Hillary not yet the VP candidate?)

Is it too early to be alarmed?

< rant> It's astounding that his "friends on the left" are reduced to writing open letters asking him to keep from veering too far to the right (as some perverted take on post-partisanship, which is bullshit to the core, to begin with). Anyway, Krugman this morning noticed what I've been puzzled by in the past few weeks:

Incidentally, it’s surprising that the lousy economy hasn’t yet had more impact on the campaign. Mr. McCain essentially proposes continuing the policies of a president whose approval rating on economics is only 20 percent. So why isn’t Mr. Obama further ahead in the polls?
Realclearpolitics.com has him only up 2.5 points, and on the losing side of the trend. WTF? Is this a rerun of 2000 and 2004? I'm getting sick of this shit.</rant>

01 August 2008

It's looking less and less like the America in our fantasies

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies ... The policies state that officers may "detain" laptops "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion."
So if they find, like, an excessive amount of live performances of Leyla Gencer (shit, was she Muslim?) or some *ahem* recent in-house recordings from the Met, is it consitutional for the government to delete all my files and then do a full cavity search? Will it be within my rights to ask for a cute border agent to do it, or at least for someone who's height-weight proportional and around my age or below? Or should I just expect to be pitied or laughed at for being queer about such stupid things, because we are at War, people, and we must protect America at any and all cost? These are my questions today.

30 July 2008

Dear Renee, can you sing with an oxygen mask on?

Because people in Beijing have not seen a single star in the sky in years due to the thick toxic smog (their number one export product this year!), they're borrowing opera stars for some night wattage during the looming two-week Olympic Games. They've invited divas Renee Fleming and Angela Gheorghiu and regional semi-sensation Sumi Jo, along with the virile bunch of Marcello Giordani, Salvatore Licitra, Ramon Vargas, Jonas Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky--in short, a good slice of the star-filled sky of the Met roster.

But Sieglinde's a bit worried that five weeks between Beijing and the Met prima won't be enough to purge all the filthy particles and dumplings out of Renee Fleming's lungs, throat, and gums. If Renee's Really Huge Opening is ever imperiled, I swear I shall boycott all the Grand Sichuans in Manhattan, except for their Aui Zhou Spicy Chicken, which is my favorite of all time and I won't be able to live a week without.

What's bukkake in Welsh

Bryn Terfel is having a concert at Carnegie Hall on September 16, dubbed a "Celtic celebration" and featuring, get this, a "400 Male-Voice Choir from 8 Countries." 400 men (and perhaps some confused dykes) on stage?? A little poking around yields the following list of choir participants:

Comrades Male Choir [Wales]
Burlington Welsh Male Choir [Canada]
Donaghadee Male Choir [Ireland]
Toronto Welsh Male Choir [Canada]
Maesteg Gleemen Choir [Wales]
Bristol Male Choir [UK]
Montreal Welsh Male Choir [Canada]
Metropolitan Male Choir of Southern Australia
Saengerfest Choir [USA]
Canberra Male Choir [Australia]
Sieglinde counts only 5 to 6 countries (depending on how seriously you take "Wales"), but whatever, you get the idea. Anyway, according to one deeply placed source, a big orgy is scheduled right after the concert at Barracuda in Chelsea, though things may get started during the encores on stage. Hurry, buy your tickets today.

29 July 2008

Staggering mediocrity all over Salzburg

Say what? The grotesque Eurotrash production of the Salzburg Don Giovanni is being upstaged by one mediocre maestro! This is unacceptable, how dare he.

Far more bemusing than the choice of (production designer Claus) Guth for a premature new "Don Giovanni'' is the decision to hand the baton to Bertrand de Billy. Nikolaus Harnoncourt was fascinating and eccentric at the last production. Now a conductor whose ideas nobody understood has been replaced by one who has no ideas at all.

De Billy's mediocrity is staggering. The Vienna Philharmonic dispenses with most vibrato in an empty gesture to period performance. It otherwise plays as if this were just another job on a boring weekend.

28 July 2008

Chef Eric Ripert, with three stars from Michelin and four stars from the NYT, says Big Macs "taste okay"

In developing that (great American) burger, my research took me to a couple of places that might seem unexpected: McDonald’s and Burger King. I didn’t grow up in the U.S. and had never really visited these chains before, so I wanted to see what they do with their burgers to make them so popular.

Just looking at the basic burgers at each of these chains—particularly the Big Mac—showed me a couple of very key things: First of all, the burgers are a perfect size. You can grab them in both hands, and they’re never too tall or too wide to hold on to. And the toppings are the perfect size, too—all to scale, including the thickness of the tomatoes, the amount of lettuce, etc. In terms of the actual flavors, they taste okay, but you can count on them to be consistent; you always know what you’re going to get.
Ripert's burgers are (drumroll) $18 a pop. Depending on your location, that could get you 2.5 to 12 Big Macs, which, it bears repeating, "taste okay." Now I'm hungry for burgers.

Political push of the day: better enjoy eating chicks for breakfast, or else

MoveOn.org does funny sometimes.

I learned two things this morning

(1) How to spell Cincinnati (two n's, one t), and (2) that Cincinnati Opera is the second oldest opera company in the US. Established in 1920, they're gearing up for their 90th season in 2010, by having Cincinnati native James Levine appear not once but twice! The first is an opening gala with Angela Brown and Christine Brewer; the second, a couple of evenings of Die Meistersinger, with singers imported from the Met. According to the news article, the opera "will be presented in a new production set in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine." I'm not sure what that means. Over-the-Rhine is where Cincinnati Music Hall is, so will the production consist of the singers and orchestra walking out and around the neighborhood? If so, I suggest double decker buses for the audience.

26 July 2008

Music critic, in a stunning departure from asslicking protocol, says "Glad it's over"

An Elliott Carter Shock and Awe just wrapped up at Tanglewood, conceived by the notoriously cerebral brain of James Levine, music director to everyone in the Northeast. The New York Times covered the majestic 5-day event in typical fashion, by sending Allan Kozinn up to the Berkshires to expound on their reverence for any toilet paper that dare touch Levine's ass. He churned out a dutiful puff piece titled "A Century Has Passed; His Time is Still Now".

The local Berkshire paper is having none of it. Here are juicy excerpts from Andrew Pincus's blunt review of what he called "a revival meeting, calling on unbelievers to repent." (Pop in a favorite Missy Elliot CD and enjoy the rare appearance deeply felt vomit in music criticism.)

Regrettable as Levine's absence was and is, it seems a kind of metaphor for the whole celebration. When you looked for musical content behind the vast intellectual and technical apparatus that Carter deploys, there seemed nothing, or very little, there. Where was the emotional response, the connection between art and lived experience?

Grant a music director his convictions. If Levine and other serious musicians, along with scholars and critics, think the music says something, maybe in the end it really will. Certainly, it has happened to other composers, most notably Beethoven and Schoenberg: the recognition in their time only by advanced thinkers like themselves.


Carter's musical fecundity at the border of a second century is a testament to the human spirit and an example everyone can aspire to. The paradox of the superb performances — many by renowned Carter specialists — over the course of the five days is that the clearer the music became, the less there seemed to be in it.

Glad it happened. Glad it's over.

24 July 2008

Obama in Berlin

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived - at great cost and great sacrifice - to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us - what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores - is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

Those are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. Those aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of those aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of those aspirations that all free people - everywhere - became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of those aspirations that a new generation - our generation - must make our mark on history.

People of Berlin - and people of the world - the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world.

Sieglinde shall plant herself in front of TV Friday afternoon

There's a special Golden Girls marathon on Lifetime honoring dear Estelle Getty tomorrow. The final episode shown will be one picked by the fans, so vote for your favorite Sophia episode here. I know it's a little stupid, but if you're as big of a fan of the Girls as me, it's one way to connect with the wider cult.


I got a number of e-mails (ok, two e-mails) last night in reaction to my fuck-the-media rant, inquiring whether I heart McCain or if I'm a charter member of PUMA (cute cat turned bad acronym). I responded with a single line of "Hello??". Let me be clear: the editorial board, staff, and crew of Sieglinde's Diaries & Spa, Inc. are all unanimous in their support for Obama, who will doubtless enjoy a landslide win in November. (For instance, Germany, with its gazillion electoral votes, will most certainly go blue this year, as will the rest of the world and much of the universe.) What we would like to happen, however, is a massive Obama win on the issues, so that he'll have a decisive mandate to blow up Washington and reestablish it elsewhere, perhaps in the Haight or in the West Village. Not a win midwifed by the juvenile media having goo goo eyes for him. Please, we don't want to see that happen again.

23 July 2008

Fuck the media (sorry, but that's the only way to put it)

No one should really pay serious attention to Mark Halperin, that pretend journalist who's such an insider of Washington he ought to be known as Washington's bloated prostate. However, sometimes he says something really revealing.

For instance, in a blog entry of a list of the ways John McCain could win in November, he inserts the fourth estate's dick where it don't belong:

What McCain needs to win:
Stuff he can’t control:

–For Obama to make a substantive mistake on his overseas trip that changes the vector direction of the coverage ...

[blah blah blah blah blah, and then]

–For the media to start treating him with respect (again).
–For the media to start treating him with affection (again).
Say what? McCain could win if the media start treating him with respect and affection again? Seriously WTF, right? So-called "journalists" giddy to be holding crucial power in electing presidents, fuck be ethics and facts and objectivity and all the stuff journalists are supposed to uphold? The rot is so deep, I'm not detecting even a shred of shame in such a confession. Self-important pricks obsessed with their self-important pricks. No wonder Washington is fucked up.

Excuse me while I puke all over my cable box.

A feel good story about a plump soprano shedding massive fat that's not named Deborah Voigt

Here's a Texas soprano who's doing it the normal way, by limiting the amount and increasing the quality of food she feeds her mouth. Read about her daily struggles on her blog.(P.S. If you're feeling that you're the only person on Earth without a blog, you're right.) Here's a typical excerpt:

But alas! The very next morning I was faced with the Breakfast Buffet of Doom. Piles of pastry, omelettes to order, pancakes and potatoes … all those evil, evil things. I ordered an omelette with lots of veggies, got some fresh fruit, and then --- I confess it --- managed to pass up the doughnuts but ate a cranberry muffin roughly the size of my head. Again, a lot of food. I excused myself because I knew lunch, such as it might be, would be back at the airport and certainly not before 2 p.m. I couldn’t face the airport food, so I snagged a piece of whole wheat bread and an apple, and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the breakfast bar to take with me. And indeed, this along with a protein bar and some nuts was my late lunch.

P.S. Don't forget to view the dramatic pictures of her shrinking body.

Estelle Getty, 1923-2008

Rose: Sophia, why are you in such a bad mood?

Sophia: Excuse me Rose, but I haven't had sex in 15 years, and it's starting to get on my nerves.
Thank you for being a friend, Sophia.

22 July 2008

Met Futures: this week's updates

Sieglinde announces more updates to Brad Wilber's Met Futures page:

For Season 2009-10: Georg Zeppenfeld makes his debut as Sarastro, after singing the same role at San Francisco Opera recently; Andrzej Dobber added to sing Stankar in Siffelio (but still no definite word on the other roles).

For Season 2010-11: Ellie Dehn (last season's Mrs. Naidoo in Satyagraha) will sing Musetta; a revival of Armida added to the roster, slated for February-March.

For Season 2011-12: Maestro Maurizio Benini out of the Barbiere.

21 July 2008

Another thing Sieglinde nearly missed: incontrovertible proof that Aprile Millo is a gay man

He was the fuel for so many childhood dreams of mine, of that fabulous knight in shining armor coming to sweep you off your feet. Dashing is putting it mildly.
Yes Aprile, Antonio Sabato, Jr. makes us wet too.

Things Sieglinde missed during her hiatus: Robergela sign naked man's shirt

Here's a photo of some random Prospect Park cruiser bum and opera's Brangelina (Robergela?) after their outer borough concert. Apparently, they'll do anything to be liked by New Yorkers again. Meanwhile, no one give Lois Kirschenbaum the idea, ok.

I hear it was a successful concert all in all.

Apart from a helicopter buzzing overhead during the first few numbers and a phalanx of bats that swooped and dived over the crowd at dusk, it was an ideal night for outdoor music-making.
(More photos of the concert here.)

20 July 2008

Sieglinde gets to the bottom of why you pay what you pay to see opera at the Met

It's not unreasonable to question Peter Gelb's $1 million annual salary at a nonprofit arts institution (as well as previous Met boss Joe Volpe's $1.4 million). But how about this:

At the Met, the 54-year-old Gelb isn't the only employee making a comfortable living. The unionized master carpenter, Stephen Diaz, earned $533,450 in salary and benefits, while his boss, technical director Joseph Clark, pulled in a slightly more modest $445,852. Clark retires next month and has said he intends to become a brewer.
Master carpenter of what, Mercedes Bass's ass? Technical director of what, Mercedes Bass's technical ass? (Sorry, I'm still out of brain. It's still the weekend.)

Deepest pain

Deborah Voigt:

By the time I went to have the surgery, I couldn't even shop at Lane Bryant anymore. I was above a size 28, 30. Gastric bypass seemed like the right thing to do. My parents are very happy about my weight loss & though my mom did mention I had put on a few pounds. She'll say that, and then she'll say, "You look great, though." It's a contradictory message. My parents did do the best they could. They saw me very unhappy for most of my life.

At the Opera News gala last week, I had people telling me I'm beautiful. And it's hard for me to hear. It makes me uncomfortable. Something in me doesn't want to believe it or can't believe it. I lived a totally different life for such a long time.

Psychologically, I still think of myself as a really fat girl. I think I like the way I look, but I can't ever be satisfied. What will it take for me to accept myself the way I am and love it?

18 July 2008

Either you're with us, or against us

In a post on the multiplex broadcasts of Met performances, we stumble upon a little tidbit:

Of course, more companies, including La Scala and the San Francisco Opera, have jumped in. (The Met’s head, Peter Gelb, is said to be using some hardball tactics on singers: If you appear in someone else’s broadcasts, the report goes, don’t expect to appear again at the Met.) Too much supply can potentially weaken audiences ...
If this were Parterre.com, this post would be filed under the tag "Peter Gelb is a fucking genius." At Sieglinde's Diaries, however, we'd rather file this under "Peter Gelb is a genius fucker."

Sieglinde asks: would you rather have half a tank of gas or a box full of Bayreuth

Surely this year's steal: a 33-disc set from Decca of all of Wagner's standard repertory recorded live from Bayreuth. List price: $69.98 (which is, what, about three euros?). The catch: it's "limited edition". WTF would they do that, you ask? Sieglinde has no idea. But it seems that Decca means what it says. It's already "temporarily out of stock" at Amazon, where they're practically giving it away for $55.97. If they restock it, that is.

P.S. The set includes the Levine Parsifal from 1985, which nearly everyone online pooh-poohs. Am I the only one who thinks it's a great recording? It's characteristic Levine: meticulous, majestic, worshipful. Sure, it's damn slow, but what's your hurry? As if you have more important things to do.

Swarovski to Renee: outshine this

The glorious Met chandeliers are getting a Viennese facelift, thanks to Swarovski. All 49,000 pieces of crystal will be replaced with brand new ones, just in time to adorn Renee Fleming's Really Huge Opening. See a pretty NYT slideshow here.

17 July 2008

Al Gore to US: go Amish in 10 years or perish

Ladies and gentlemen:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more - if more should be required - the future of human civilization is at stake ...
Read the rest of the historic speech here.

Met Futures, just updated

Sieglinde would like to point out a few changes to Brad Wilber's Met Futures page.

For Season 2009-10: Albina Shagimuratova will be debuting as Queen of the Night; Peter Coleman-Wright added to Benvenuto Cellini as Fieramosca.

For Season 2010-11: Angela Gheorghiu replaced by Violeta Urmana as Tosca; Olga Savova added to Boris Godunov as the Hostess of the Inn; Morten Frank Larsen will debut as the Count in Capriccio (upon Renee Fleming's specific request); the French Don Carlos switched (for now) to the Italian Don Carlo, this time with Angela Marambio as Elisabetta and Lorin Maazel as conductor (instead of Poplavskaya and Pappano, respectively).

For Season 2011-12: three revivals added to the roster: Rodelinda, conducted by Harry Bicket, Billy Budd, and Khovanshchina.

For Season 2012-13: three operas added to the roster: a new production of Francesca da Rimini with Eva-Maria Westbroek and Marcello Giordani, Parsifal, and Il Trovatore with Anja Harteros.

Dear Peter Gelb, I'd take down the Volpe poster in my bedroom if you give us a Lohengrin in Italian

When I ask (Barbara) Frittoli if there are any new roles she'd like to do in the future, she responds: 'I could give you a long list of titles, but in truth, it's difficult to know what I would like to do in the future. They have offered me a Wagner role that I could do, but it's very scary!' She almost seems to shudder comically down the phone at this comment. ... 'My problem is that I don't speak enough German. It's so difficult to perform a part when you don't speak the language properly. It's not enough just to learn how to pronounce the words. I have to see if I have time to practice for long enough, perhaps with a coach who can talk to me about the language. I need every word – you know to know all the roles inside out to know an opera properly, not just your own.'
And with Juan Diego Florez Giuseppe Filianoti in the title role, Dolora Zajick as Ortrud, and some naked barihunk as Telramund: if that cast doesn't sell out, Sieglinde shall happily eat her blog.

16 July 2008

You turn 30-something only a few times in your life

So we went to Per Se last night and dropped an obscene amount of money, but less obscene than I thought when at the start of the orgy, someone in our party summoned the sommelier and ordered him to choose for us "interesting wines" to pair with our 9 course meal. I was certain he'd sneak a legendary vintage (pre-war!) or a wine produced only from the vines that nurtured Mozart or Marie Antoinette or Bono. In the end, the wine bill turned out to be too reasonable, for a line of wines deep and delicious and nicely varied. However, for the price, the food was only so so. The Nova Scotia lobster was strangely chewy, but the oysters and caviar embodied the essences of oyster and caviar perfectly. The striped bass was salty, but the familiar duck foie gras a rich revelation nonetheless. The sweetbreads was nothing more than good, but the lamb was the best I've ever had. Consistent with the theme of the evening, the service was attentive but amateur, the young servers oddly nervous as they announced the ingredients of every course.

And so Jean-Georges remains safe on top of my list of upscale New York restaurants, with seafood-centric Le Bernardin a very close second. (Opera-related sidebar: on one occasion at Jean-Georges a few years back, I spotted from across the dining room the pretty Juan Diego Florez, who was then just wrapping up a successful run of La Cenerentola at the Met. After dinner, I introduced myself as a fan, and he was shocked speechless that someone actually recognized him. Fast forward, many high C's later: if he ever chooses to dine there again, I'm certain that Chef Vongerichten himself would come out of his kitchen to pay homage.)

15 July 2008

As if I need to commit more sins to go to hell

One of the great wonders of major cities is one's ability to eat more than the gross annual income per capita of a few dozen developing countries. Which is *gasp* what I'm doing tonight. I just looked it up: I'm expecting the bill for three at Per Se to be greater than the per capita annual income of at least 62 countries. Depending on the number of half-bottles of wine we end up consuming (plus a cocktail, plus a digestif!), it could be more. It's just wrong, and on so many levels. I'll let you know how it all went tomorrow, including if my liver is still functional.

We're no longer bitter, can't you tell

Instead of reloading Parterre for the nth time today, might I suggest spending the rest of the afternoon reading this instead, and be so edified. I have complicated feelings about this whole thing, but some people find it easier to write about it than I do.

Who needs real food, when you have JC in your life

Jeez, not Jesus Christ. Jose "wide thighs" Cura. Let me call your attention to a Norweigan blogger and certified JC stalker who has a riveting post about fastfood meat before a JC opera in Torino.

The opera starts at 2000 so I had some time. But I thought I could collect my ticket early. But I could have waited till 1 hour before the opera starts to collect it. So I wasted some time at that. I was hungry and saw many opportunities to eat but somehow went past them. But then I went to Teatro Regio di Torino at 1900 and collected my ticket, met a lot of JCx members, and went to the McDonalds close by to eat. I chose McChicken and Cola Zero. Not a good choice it was a very dry burger but I could drink. Then I went back to the theatre.

The opera EDGAR by Giacomo Puccini was a much longer opera then I had thought ...
Someone please e-mail the girl and tell her that her burger was dry because it was chicken. Anyway, mine's the Burger King behind the Met on Amsterdam Avenue. I remember having a double whopper right before a Butterfly with Diana Soviero. Those were genuinely happy days.

(Oh, in case you're curious, JCx is indeed a cult.)

No need for parody here, or is this shit for real

A domestic discipline marriage is one in which one partner in the marriage is given authority over the other and has the means to back the authority, usually by spanking.

A Christian Domestic Discipline marriage is one that is set up according to Biblical standards; that is, the husband is the authority in the household. The wife is submissive to her husband as is fit in the Lord and her husband loves her as himself. He has the ultimate authority in his household, but it is tempered with the knowledge that he must answer to God for his actions and decisions. He has the authority to spank his wife for punishment, but in real CDD marriages this is taken very seriously and usually happens only rarely. CDD is so much more than just spanking. It is the husband loving the wife enough to guide and teach her, and the wife loving the husband enough to follow his leadership. A Christian marriage embodies true romance and a Christian man a true hero.

Deport the bridge and tunnel crowd

I haven't gone to see the current art exhibit at the Gallery Met, featuring paintings of Met divas in upcoming roles. How daring, right? But I'll still swing by and give it a look, just as soon as Met security cleans out the Jersey riff raff. (With apologies to Newark Airport and the juicy Jersey tomatoes.)

Oh wait, is that Alanis Morissette?

14 July 2008

Project Runway to open the new Met season

"Their sense of poetry in motion is a total complement to the music that I will be singing," Ms. Fleming said ...

Mr. Lacroix will create two dresses for Ms. Fleming in the role of Violetta, one for each scene in the second act of La Traviata. Mr. Lagerfeld for Chanel will design the dress for Manon. For the final scene from Capriccio, Ms. Fleming will wear a creation by Mr. Galliano.
Which reminds me, I need to get serious with planning my Met season before the vultures hoard the balcony box again. I'm deciding on a leaner schedule this time, but who knows. One can't not see all of the Salomes. Is it possible?

No, this ain't about Hillary

Apparently, it still costs $10 to decapitate a b*tch in Orange County. (Misogyny! misogyny!)

Add gum, it's chaos

For the second year in succession, the American entrant in the Miss Universe pageant failed to meet the crucial challenge of walking and smiling at the same time.

27 June 2008

Future Seasons at the Met

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Brad Wilber's Met Futures Page has relocated to its own website.  Please redirect your links to the new page for new updates.  Sieglinde is happy to have been a part of this important endeavor.  Thanks for visiting Sieglinde's Diaries! 
LAST UPDATED: 29 September 2010

Brad Wilber has asked Sieglinde to provide a home for his famous file of information on Metropolitan Opera feature seasons. As always, this list is compiled as reliably as possible, but should not to be taken as fact, nor is it affilated with the Met in any way. As always, if you have corrections, deletions, or additions, please contact Brad directly: Bradley.Wilber(at)houghton.edu.

A summary of the latest updates can be found here.


[new production] with Anna Netrebko/Angela Meade, Elina Garanca, Kate Lindsey, Stephen Costello, Ildar Abdrazakov, c. Marco Armiliato, dir. David McVicar

SIEGFRIED, GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG [new productions] with Deborah Voigt/Katarina Dalayman, Stephanie Blythe, Ben Heppner, Gerhard Siegel, Bryn Terfel/Falk Struckmann, Eric Owens, Michael Volle* (Gunther), Waltraud Meier/Karen Cargill* (Waltraute), c. James Levine, dir Robert Lepage. Siegfried in the fall of 2011 and Götterdämmerung in January 2012. Complete cycles are scheduled for the springs of 2012 and 2013, the 200th anniversary of Wagner's birth.

DON GIOVANNI [new production] with Barbara Frittoli/Annette Dasch/Marina Rebeka*, Maija Kovalevska, Mojca Erdmann*/Isabel Leonard, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien/Gerald Finley, Luca Pisaroni, Stefan Kocan (Commendatore), c. James Levine/Edward Gardner, dir. Michael Grandage

MANON [new production, co-produced with Covent Garden] with Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala, Paulo Szot, c. Fabio Luisi, dir. Laurent Pelly

FAUST [new production, co-produced with ENO] with Angela Gheorghiu/Marina Poplavskaya, Jonas Kaufmann/Piotr Beczala, Alexei Markov/George Petean (Valentin), c. Yannick Nezet-Seguin, dir. Des McAnuff, des. Robert Brill

ENCHANTED ISLAND [new production, original pastiche by Jeremy Sams, featuring music from Handel and Vivaldi] with Danielle de Niese (Ariel), Lisette Oropesa (Miranda), Joyce DiDonato (Sycorax), David Daniels (Prospero), Anthony Roth Costanzo* (Ferdinand), Placido Domingo (Neptune), Luca Pisaroni (Caliban), c. William Christie, dir./prod. Phelim McDermott/Julian Crouch, chor. Christopher Wheeldon

IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA with Javier Camarena*/Colin Lee (Almaviva), Mikhail Petrenko (Basilio)

L'ELISIR D'AMORE with Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Florez, Mariusz Kwiecien, Alessandro Corbelli (Dulcamara)

MACBETH with Nadja Michael*, Gunther Groissbock, c. Gianandrea Noseda

THE MAKROPOULOS CASE with Karita Mattila, David Kuebler (Vitek), Johan Reuter* (Baron Prus), Tom Fox (Doctor Kolenaty)

NABUCCO with Maria Guleghina/Marianne Cornetti, Zeljko Lucic (Nabucco), Yonghoon Lee (Ismaele), Carlo Colombara (Zaccaria)

RODELINDA with Renee Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Andreas Scholl, Kobie van Rensburg, Iestyn Davies* (Unulfo), c. Harry Bicket

BILLY BUDD with John Daszak* (Captain Vere), Nathan Gunn (Billy Budd)

KOVANSHCHINA with Olga Borodina (Marfa), Ildar Abdrazakov (Ivan), George Gagnidze (Shaklovity)

ERNANI with Angela Meade, Salvatore Licitra, c. Marco Armiliato

AIDA with Stephanie Blythe, Lado Ataneli, c. Fabio Luisi

LA TRAVIATA with Natalie Dessay

FILLE DU REGIMENT with Nino Maichadze (Marie)

MADAMA BUTTERFLY with Luca Salsi (Sharpless)

TOSCA with Roberto Alagna

HANSEL AND GRETEL with Alice Coote, Aleksandra Kurzak


DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN with Eva Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde), Simon O'Neill (Siegmund), Stefan Margita (Loge)


MARIA STUARDA [Metropolitan Opera premiere] with Joyce Di Donato as Maria, Elza van den Heever* (Elisabetta), c. Maurizio Benini, dir. David McVicar

THE TEMPEST by Thomas Adès [Metropolitan Opera premiere], Simon Keenlyside (Prospero), dir. Robert Lepage

EUGENE ONEGIN [new production] with Anna Netrebko, Mariusz Kwiecien, Matthew Polenzani (Lensky), dir. Deborah Warner

CARMEN with Vesselina Kasarova (Carmen), Ekaterina Shcherbachenko*/Maija Kovalevska (Micaela), Yonghoon Lee (Don Jose), c. Michele Mariotti*

FRANCESCA DA RIMINI with Eva-Maria Westbroek, Marcello Giordani, c. Yannick Nezet-Seguin

PARSIFAL [new production] with Jonas Kaufmann/Simon O'Neill, Katarina Dalayman, dir. Francois Girard

IL TROVATORE with Anja Harteros, Franco Vassallo (Di Luna), c. Daniele Callegari

DON CARLO with Eric Halfvarson (Grand Inquisitor), c. Lorin Maazel/Fabio Luisi

DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES with Kristine Jepson (Mere Marie), Felicity Palmer (Mme. de Croissy)

LES TROYENS with Susan Graham, Marcello Giordani, Karen Cargill (Anna)

AIDA with Violeta Urmana, Marco Berti, George Gadnidze, Stefan Kocan

RIGOLETTO [new production] with Diana Damrau/Lisette Oropesa, Piotr Beczala, Zeljko Lucic/George Gagnidze

UN BALLO IN MASCHERA [new production] with Karita Mattila, Marcello Alvarez, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, c. Fabio Luisi, dir. David Alden

OTELLO with Krassimira Stoyanova, Jose Cura


TURANDOT with Marco Berti, Takesha Meshe Kizart (Liu), c. Dan Ettinger

LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Maija Kovalevska (Countess), Mojca Erdmann (Susanna), John Graham-Hall* (Basilio)

NORMA with Sondra Radvanovsky

BARBER OF SEVILLE (some in abridged family version) with c. Yves Abel

GIULIO CESARE [new production] with David Daniels, Rachid Ben Abdeslam* (Nireno)



I PURITANI with Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Florez, Mariusz Kwiecien (Riccardo), c. Michele Mariotti

DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN with Anne Schwanewilms* (Kaiserin), Johan Reuter (Barak), c. Valdimir Jurowski

[TITLE TBA] [commissioned work by composer Nico Muhly with libretto by Craig Lucas] with dir. Bartlett Sher, co-production with English National Opera

FALSTAFF [new production] with Lisette Oropesa (Nannetta), Stephanie Blythe (Quickly), Franco Vassallo (Ford), dir. Jack O'Brien

DIE FLEDERMAUS [new production] with new dialogue by David Hirson



LA SONNAMBULA with Diana Damrau, Javier Camarena

PRINCE IGOR [new production] with Ildar Abdrazakov

WERTHER [new production] with dir. Richard Eyre


CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA/PAGLIACCI [new production] with Marcello Alvarez, c. Fabio Luisi

Commissioned work by Osvaldo Golijov, libretto by Alberto Manguel, dir. Robert Lepage

THE MERRY WIDOW [new production] with Renee Fleming, dir. Susan Stroman

©Bradley Wilber