Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

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lennygoran
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Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by lennygoran » Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:21 pm

Tonight we watched this-delightful-Norman, Troyanos, Battle-superb! Regards, Len :D


Jessye Norman is a regal Ariadne, the mythological Greek heroine in this opera-within-an-opera, opposite the passionate Bacchus of the great James King. Kathleen Battle delivers the coloratura fireworks of Zerbinetta, the leader of a commedia dell’arte troupe that finds itself stranded on Ariadne’s island. Tatiana Troyanos and Franz Ferdinand Nentwig star as the young Composer and the Music Master in the opera’s prologue. James Levine brings out all the color and charm of Strauss’s brilliant chamber-sized score with its equal amounts of pathos and humor. Bodo Igesz’s production features sets by esteemed designer Oliver Messel.

Performance Date

Mar 12, 1988

Composer

Richard Strauss

Librettist

Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Run Time

2 HRS 11 MIN


Cast & Creative
Conductor
James Levine
Ariadne
Jessye Norman
Zerbinetta
Kathleen Battle
Composer
Tatiana Troyanos
Bacchus
James King
Music Master
Franz Ferdinand Nentwig

We had seen the production the year before with this cast:

Metropolitan Opera House
September 26, 1987


ARIADNE AUF NAXOS {44}
R. Strauss-Hofmannsthal

Ariadne.................Jessye Norman
Bacchus.................Paul Frey
Zerbinetta..............Kathleen Battle
The Composer............Tatiana Troyanos
Music Master............Hermann Prey
Harlekin................Stephen Dickson
Scaramuccio.............Allan Glassman
Truffaldin..............Artur Korn
Brighella...............Anthony Laciura
Najade..................Myra Merritt
Dryade..................Gweneth Bean
Echo....................Dawn Upshaw
Major-domo..............Nico Castel
Officer.................Charles Anthony
Dancing Master..........Steven Cole
Wigmaker................Russell Christopher
Lackey..................James Courtney
Owner of Mansion........Gary Drane

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Bodo Igesz
Set designer............Oliver Messel
Costume designer........Jane Greenwood


And we had first seen the opera in 1979

[Met Performance] CID:256560
Ariadne auf Naxos {27} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/17/1979.

(Debut: Joseph Frank)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 17, 1979


ARIADNE AUF NAXOS {27}
R. Strauss-Hofmannsthal

Ariadne.................Leontyne Price
Bacchus.................René Kollo
Zerbinetta..............Edita Gruberova
The Composer............Tatiana Troyanos
Music Master............John Shirley-Quirk
Harlekin................Lenus Carlson
Scaramuccio.............Charles Anthony
Truffaldin..............Philip Booth
Brighella...............Jon Garrison
Najade..................Alma Jean Smith
Dryade..................Jean Kraft
Echo....................Betsy Norden
Major-domo..............Nico Castel
Officer.................Paul Franke
Dancing Master..........Joseph Frank [Debut]
Wigmaker................Russell Christopher
Lackey..................Andrij Dobriansky

Conductor...............James Levine

Director................Bodo Igesz
Set designer............Oliver Messel
Costume designer........Jane Greenwood

And we last saw it in 2001 with this different production:

[Met Performance] CID:333636
Ariadne auf Naxos {73} Metropolitan Opera House: 04/20/2001.


Metropolitan Opera House
April 20, 2001


ARIADNE AUF NAXOS {73}
Strauss--Von Hofmannsthal

Ariadne.................Deborah Voigt
Bacchus.................Richard Margison
Zerbinetta..............Lyubov Petrova
The Composer............Susanne Mentzer
Music Master............Wolfgang Brendel
Harlekin................Mark Oswald
Scaramuccio.............Eric Cutler
Truffaldin..............Paul Plishka
Brighella...............Gregory Turay
Najade..................Joyce Guyer
Dryade..................Jane Bunnell
Echo....................Korliss Uecker
Major-domo..............Waldemar Kmentt
Officer.................Mark Schowalter
Dancing Master..........Graham Clark
Wigmaker................John Fiorito
Lackey..................Patrick Carfizzi

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............Elijah Moshinsky
Designer................Michael Yeargan
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
Stage Director..........Laurie Feldman

maestrob
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Re: Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by maestrob » Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:48 am

Good morning, Len!

In 1979 I was going through some personal upheavals in life, so wasn't aware that Leontyne Price had sung Ariadne at the MET. That must have been quite something!

I remember the telecast with Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle, which was quite extraordinary! Must find it on DVD one of these days.

The performance with Dawn Upshaw must have been quite special as well, although I missed that one.

I've prepared several singers in "Es gibt ein Reich," which is one of the most thrilling arias Richard Strauss ever wrote, especially when sung by a great singer like Jessye Norman. The scintillating coloratura aria for Kathleen Battle exists in a cut form that I used in my competition once: even then, it's incredibly difficult.

Levine was a master Strauss conductor, in spite of his other personal failings.

lennygoran
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Re: Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by lennygoran » Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:10 am

maestrob wrote:
Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:48 am
The scintillating coloratura aria for Kathleen Battle exists in a cut form that I used in my competition once: even then, it's incredibly difficult.
Brian her stage presence and of course singing were just incredible to watch--with corona on sights like Met On Demand and Netflix are paying off! Regards, Len

maestrob
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Re: Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by maestrob » Thu Nov 12, 2020 1:55 pm

lennygoran wrote:
Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:10 am
maestrob wrote:
Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:48 am
The scintillating coloratura aria for Kathleen Battle exists in a cut form that I used in my competition once: even then, it's incredibly difficult.
Brian her stage presence and of course singing were just incredible to watch--with corona on sights like Met On Demand and Netflix are paying off! Regards, Len
Agree. Battle was an amazing talent. So sad how her career ended. Do you know the story?

Over the years, Battle had acquired a reputation of being difficult and irrational. Levine was, I think, very patient with his divas, but even for him this was too much.

The article from the Times left out Levine's name altogether, and credits Volpe with her dismissal, but it gives more details:

https://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/08/arts ... tions.html

Handelian
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Re: Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by Handelian » Fri Nov 13, 2020 4:04 am

Unprofessional behaviour is completely unacceptable. The great Joan Sutherland when asked about being a ‘prima Donna’ said,”I was brought up on a farm with six children. If you played the prima Donna there you were sent to bed with no supper!” I know when Karajan asked Battle to sing at Vienna New Year’s Day he is reported to have said, “I know she’s a b*tch, but what a voice!” But then Karajan allowed absolutely no fits of temperament from his singers. He was by then ina position to!

lennygoran
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Re: Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by lennygoran » Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:47 am

maestrob wrote:
Thu Nov 12, 2020 1:55 pm
Do you know the story?
Thanks, I knew the story but it was interesting to read that article. Regards, Len

barney
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Re: Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by barney » Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:34 am

My favourite Battle story, confirmed true by a conductor friend, involves her being driven by a chauffeur from her hotel in San Francisco to rehearsal. Battle allegedly rang her agent in New York to ring the hotel to ring the chauffeur to turn the air conditioning down.

lennygoran
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Re: Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by lennygoran » Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:48 am

barney wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:34 am
Battle allegedly rang her agent in New York to ring the hotel to ring the chauffeur to turn the air conditioning down.
Barney this reminded me of when the great tenor Carlo Bergonzi was going to attempt Otello for the first time at Carnegie Hall-he got through rehearsals in fine shape but couldn't complete it on stage-air conditiong was a possible cause? Regards, Len

MUSIC REVIEW; Bergonzi Sings Just 2 Acts of 'Otello'

By Anthony Tommasini

May 5, 2000
It says a great deal about the esteem in which the tenor Carlo Bergonzi is held that so many renowned artists came to Carnegie Hall on Wednesday night to hear this legendary singer, one month shy of his 76th birthday, take on the one Verdi role that had eluded him during his long career, Otello. The occasion was a concert performance with the conductor Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York.

All three of the Three Tenors -- Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras -- were seated together in a box. James Levine, on his night off from a performance of Wagner's ''Ring'' at the Metropolitan Opera this week, showed up, as well as Sherrill Milnes, Anna Moffo, Lucine Amara, Licia Albanese and other illustrious artists.

Mr. Bergonzi was still singing wonderfully into his 60's. But his longevity came in part from avoiding roles that were too weighty for his voice -- like Otello. Apparently, he has been studying this most daunting of roles for more than two years. When he broached the idea of singing it for the first time at 75, he must have seemed foolhardy. Ms. Queler, who collaborated with Mr. Bergonzi on six occasions, was willing to oblige him.

But after the sad spectacle of Wednesday night's performance, Ms. Queler will have to ask herself whether this time she was Mr. Bergonzi's collaborator or his enabler. Halfway through he had to withdraw. At intermission a shaken official from the company announced that Mr. Bergonzi was indisposed and that Acts III and IV would be sung by the tenor Antonio Barasorda, who had performed the role recently with Ms. Queler in Mexico.

Mr. Bergonzi's reputation in opera history is assured and his recorded legacy is extensive and important. This misguided performance will be forgotten. Still, Ms. Queler and the presenters who heavily promoted the event should do some soul-searching.

Even in his prime, Mr. Bergonzi never had a glamour voice, like his contemporaries Mario Del Monaco and Franco Corelli. But he was a resplendent singer whose rich tenor was tinged with a baritonal color in the low range, free and clear in the top, and even throughout. His ability to spin an arching Verdi line on one breath was exemplary.

Now and then, a soaring phrase recalled the great Bergonzi of the past. But for the most part he struggled through the role with scant emotional impact, his eyes fixed on his score, his hand cupping his left ear, probably to shut out instruments hindering his sense of pitch.

Today as much as ever Mr. Bergonzi has a complete understanding of vocal technique. But the diaphragm, vocal cords, lungs and throat are subject to the aging process. No doubt Mr. Bergonzi really was feeling indisposed. But Ms. Queler, and even he, must know that was not the problem.

In a few places, during the Act II quartet, for one, he dropped out entirely during a few phrases; occasionally he had to take a high-lying phrase down an octave. This would not be deserving of mention had not Mr. Bergonzi in recent interviews made a point of insisting that he would sing the role as written, with no downward transpositions. This was clearly a competitive poke at Mr. Domingo, the great Otello of the last 20 years, who took quite a bit of overheated criticism this fall at the Met for singing a portion of Act II in a version scored down a half-step.Editors’ Picks‘I Was Biking Along Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn After Having a Burrito’This Election, a Divided America Stands United on One TopicOur Food Staff’s 21 Favorite Thanksgiving RecipesContinue reading the main story

Not surprisingly, the Opera Orchestra's overall performance of ''Otello'' was shaky, probably because during rehearsals and in concert everyone involved was trying to accommodate Mr. Bergonzi. In the first two acts the orchestra played for Ms. Queler with caution and raggedness. When the husky-voiced Mr. Barasorda took over for Mr. Bergonzi the energy level picked up somewhat, but the playing was still lax. Only when the soprano Kallen Esperian scaled down her penetrating spinto soprano voice to shape the gently sorrowful phrases of Desdemona's ''Willow Song'' did a performance of ''Otello'' finally seem to be happening.

Alberto Gazale, a young Italian baritone, made his American debut as Iago. Though he has a hardy voice, he tends to push for sound. He might drop in on Mr. Bergonzi's public master class tonight at Hunter College. In sharing what he knows Mr. Bergonzi can continue to nurture the art form he has served so well.A version of this article appears in print on May 5, 2000, Section E, Page 5 of the National edition with the headline: MUSIC REVIEW; Bergonzi Sings Just 2 Acts of 'Otello'. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

and this article

Bergonzi’s Otello a Bittersweet Affair
by Joseph So / May 17, 2000

When the great Carlo Bergonzi announced his American Farewell Recital at Carnegie Hall on April 17th 1994, I couldn’t resist the occasion of hearing him for one last time. It was a supremely nostalgic evening, with almost as much applause as singing, and love flowed freely across the footlights from both directions. It was an artistic and box office triumph.
Imagine my surprise when I read in the papers barely a year later that Signor Bergonzi would be in New York for an evening of Neapolitan Songs. Apparently, like so many opera divas and divos, saying “goodbye” is hard to do. Since then, the Italian tenor has appeared on the Levine Gala, and last year, he sang “Niun mi tema” from Otello. It was so well received that a complete assumption of the Moor was in the works.
This happened on May 3, under the auspices of Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall. A sense of occasion was very much in evidence, with the attendance of the Three Tenors in a box, plus such luminaries as James Levine, Anna Moffo, Licia Albanese, Lucine Amara, Sherrill Milnes, and Aprile Millo in the audience.
So it was very sad that the event turned out to be not what Signor Bergonzi had hoped. From his first appearance with the Esultate! outburst, things did not go well. He cracked on the small ornamentation in the vocal line right off the bat, though the voice was recognizably Bergonzi, with the familiar timbre largely unchanged. The Act One love duet went better, with a nicely managed high A in “Venere splende”. Act Two found Bergonzi in deteriorating voice, with little volume and lots of flat high notes. The duet with Iago (Alberto Gazale), which requires dramatic intensity and ample volume, found him struggling mightily with the tessitura. Whole passages were flat, with places where he even sang an octave lower. With his head buried in the score, any time the vocal line rises above an F, he raised his left hand to cup his ear, as if to hear himself. It was clearly a struggle for vocal survival at this point, with little left for any textual or dramatic interpretation.
Following a lengthy intermission, an official came on to announce that Bergonzi was indisposed and Acts 3 and 4 would be sung by Antonio Barasorda. The audience was clearly disappointed, but the performance actually improved considerably. Barasorda, with the right vocal weight and timbre, was able to do the role full justice. The rest of the cast was able to relax and concentrate on music-making. Kallen Esperian (Desdemona) gave an inspired performance, with a middle voice of great beauty recalling Tebaldi, only in the upper reaches does it turn thin and metallic. Alberto Gazale (Iago), making his American debut, was a real find, with a Verdi baritone of substance and pleasing tone. Chinese tenor Jianyi Zhang was an excellent Cassio. The OONY orchestra, ragged in the beginning, regrouped and played with discipline if not verve.
The burning question in the immediate aftermath was – why did he do it? Even in his prime, Bergonzi never had an Otello voice. Perhaps it was foolhardy to tackle this most daunting of roles at the grand age of 75. It was rumoured that he sang an excellent dress rehearsal four days earlier. Perhaps because of indisposition or nerves, he was unable to do it when it counted. At a masterclass at Hunter College two days later, he spoke openly about the incident, blaming his failure on the drying effects of the air conditioning. Now there is talk of issuing the dress rehearsal on CD – even the improbable rumour of a studio recording. Bergonzi’s place in opera is undisputed. Let’s just hope that, for his sake and for the sake of those loyal admirers of which I include myself, his reputation would not suffer another blow like this one in the future.
Carnegie Hall
Wednesday, May 3, 2000
Opera Orchestra of New York
Eve Queler, conductor
Cast in order of appearance:

Montano Charles Robert Stephens
Cassio Jianyi Zhang
Iago Alberto Gazale
Roderigo Benjamin Brecher
Otello Carlo Bergonzi/Antonio Barasorda
Desdemona Kallen Esperian
Emilia Milena Kitic
Herald Kyle Ketelsen
Lodovico Paul Plishka

maestrob
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Re: Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos Revisiting the 1988 Met On Demand

Post by maestrob » Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:11 am

Yes, I remember that event with great sadness. :(

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