Featured Operas

This week

Oct 14 @ 12:00 am – 3:00 am

Levine; Norman, Sooter, Monk, Taillon, Plishka, Ahlstedt
Original Air Date: 02/18/1984
MOD Audio
Norman repeated Verrett’s double assumption on this broadcast (Verrett’s was for the opening of the production in 1973 when Ludwig was indisposed–I was there, quite an evening). I rather prefer Norman’s Didon to her Cassandre, but this broadcast now takes its place in MOoD. Enee is close to an impossible part, but Sooter is no worse than Ronald Dowd was in Boston for Caldwell.

Oct 14 @ 6:00 am – 9:00 am

Nelson; Bumbry, Theyard, Colzani / McCracken, Moffo, Milnes
Original Air Date: 01/18/1975

This is Moffo’s final performance broadcast from the Met, and she does not go out on a high note. Milnes is not my preferred Tonio, but I prefer him to Pons who has eight more than Milnes. I prefer MacNeil, Merrill, or Warren among modern Met baritones. The surprise is Merrill only has 22 Tonios with his last in 1960; Caruso (118) and Martinelli(68) are firmly ahead of all Canio competitors, but McCracken is third and by a healthy amount more than any other postwar tenors who are bunched in the 20s. I like Bumbry’s Santuzza, even if it is not as authentic as Cossotto’s. It’s a good fit for her voice.

Oct 14 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Conlon; Giacomini, Price, Cortez, Quilico, Cheek
Original Air Date: 02/06/1982

SR: Besides Price’s excellent “known quantity” Leonora, this broadcast offers the opportunity for Giacomini fans to relish his Manrico and to hear the very much in his prime Louis Quilico as di Luna. Some of the bloom had, by 1982, begun to depart from Viorica Cortez’ voice..but she still had much to offer. All-in-all an enjoyable outing. This is a very young Conlon who still had 5 or 6 broadcasts already under his belt. I have no strong memory of this performance, but Giacomini’s certainly had the heft for Manrico if not necessarily easy upper register. Cortez is not one of my favorites. This is getting towards the end for Price. Listen to her in 1961 where her Leonora is stunning, and that is on Met Player as well as Sony CDs.

Oct 14 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Atherton; Langridge, Racette, Opie, Christin, Blythe
Original Air Date: 01/10/1998
MOD Audio
I remember listening to this and thought this a good part for Racette. Langridge is fine in the title role, but for those of us who saw Jon Vickers, he simply WAS Peter Grimes and his 38 Met performances exceed the 33 done by the other 8 interpreters starting back with Frederick Jagel in 1948 and ending with Anthony Dean Griffey in 2008 (with Racette again).

Oct 14 @ 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Levine; Eaglen, Andersen, Halfvarson, Held, Radvanovsky, Palmer
Original Air Date: 04/22/2000
MOD Audio
This is one of the two Ring cycles broadcast by Eaglen and Levine. This one finds Eaglen on better form than the 2004 (her Met farewell), but Salminen is a stronger Hagen than Halfvarson. The 2004 has been on Sirius, but even though I previously posted that it was available on MOoD, I do not see it present in current availability. This is Felicity Palmer’s Met debut and really potent Gibich siblings in Held and Radvanovsky.

Oct 14 @ 9:00 pm – 11:55 pm

Kout; Ziegler, Gessendorf, Haugland, Kilduff, Meredith
Original Air Date: 03/09/1991

Part of the draw is certainly Pavarotti, but this mostly low voltage marquee cast is very solid. Gessendorf has a second Marschallin four years later under Levine with von Otter and Hawlata which has also been on Sirius. I saw Gessendorf several times in the house, and though not a dramatic house of fire, I like her very much, and find she fills the “big lyric” German roles very well. She’s definitely worth a listen. 7/2/11 Gessendorf is one of those singers who flew under the radar during her Met career. This is the first of her two broadcast Marschallins, and I highly recommend. I think she is even better served on the second one in 1995 with von Otter and Hawlata under Levine. Her Senta broadcast is on Met Player, and her Walkure Sieglinde was also broadcast (Ludwig’s farewell, and G. Jones as the Brunnhilde). She has a number of other Met performances, but alas only these four broadcasts.

Oct 15 @ 12:00 am – 3:00 am

Benini; Alaimo, Netrebko, Flórez, Kwiecien
Original Air Date: 04/15/2006
MOD Audio
This is the first year of the production, and I am sorry this was not the one that was filmed for DVD. This was the end of the Volpe era, and when Levine who was originally attached to this production did not appear because of illness (not the most recent one), any televising disappeared — TV production had practically disappeared under Volpe. Alaimo is a superior Pasquale to Del Carlo, and Florez’ Ernesto should have been captured in this Met production. As much as I enjoy this final video with Levine and gang several years later, for the best in Donizetti audio singing, this is the performance you want. I’m not especially partial to either Sills or Peters as Norina, and my favorite is Grist with Kraus, Corena, and Krause under Franci. Even though Netrebko is several voice sizes bigger than Florez, they are both star performers, and give high profile performances. This is the year of the new production, and the unifying presence of Alaimo is no small contribution. I enjoy Netrebko’s HD (also on DVD and MOoD) at the next revival under Schenk, but I’m grateful this performance is in the MOoD.

Oct 15 @ 6:00 am – 9:00 am

Böhm; Nilsson, King, Evans, Edelmann, Pracht, Anthony
Original Air Date: 01/22/1966
MOD Audio
Even though the classic 1960 broadcast is Bohm, Nilsson, and Vickers; Nilsson and King are fine, but Geraint Evans is not meant for this kind of role vocally. Uhde has his deficiencies but is much more appropriate. It’s a bit too late for Edelmann, but there “never was” for Czerwenka in the 1960. The 1960 performance also appears on a Sony Historical CD. What has not appeared in the Sirius run is the Beethoven 1971 bicentenary broadcast of the new production with Rysanek, Vickers with an excellent effort by Berry and Tozzi also under Bohm. Serious omission!

Oct 15 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Conlon; Morris, Behrens, Lakes, Salminen
Original Air Date: 01/18/1992
MOD Audio
Salminen is the main interest of this performance. It comes relatively late in Behrens’ Met career Met goers were very spoiled by the Rysanek/London era in this opera (and esp. so under Bohm) Behrens would have been better pre-Ring. Hollander has to really have some magic to work for me.

Oct 15 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Rudel; Kraus, Malfitano, Morris, Bybee
Original Air Date: 01/26/1985

I always liked Kraus in the title role, and though Domingo, Shicoff, Gedda, and Tucker all have trumps to play, Kraus cedes nothing to them in terms of style. Malfitano does all the heroines, and in 1985 she was within hailing distance of doing that respectably. I’ll be taking a listen to see how my memory has been. Morris also appears to good effect 3 years later in a Met video with Shicoff. Rudel, after a lengthy association with the New York City Opera is the 2nd leading Met conductor of Hoffmann with 37 (Hasselmanns runs up 40 performances in the 20s)

Oct 15 @ 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Stiedry; Bjorling, Rigal, Merrill, Barbieri, Siepi, Hines
Original Air Date: 11/11/1950
MOD Audio
This is the production that opened the Bing regime in 1950, and re-introduces Don Carlo to New York audiences. The men are the equal or superior of just about anyone who has ever sung these roles. Barbieri was new, and if Eboli was not quite her meat as much as her Amneris, Azucena, and Quickly, she was still the Eboli of choice when the sainted Covent Garden production of 1958 made the case in London for the opera 8 years later. New York was to see more sensational Ebolis in the 1960s with Bumbry, Cossotto, and Verrett delivering masterful portrayals of the Princess. Rigal would not have seemed quite so short of desirable had she had less outstanding colleagues. Elisabetta remains a challenging role, and though never essayed by Milanov (then the queen of Verdi in New York) or Tebaldi (never did the part onstage), the part didn’t turn out to be a major success for either Steber or Rysanek, though both have their moments in the role. Caballe, Freni, Kabaiwanska and Millo all were notable exponents, but runs were very limited. Scotto is mostly very good (not too late, not too heavy, but still not quite the right voice, if still wonderful stylistically. A propos the discussion on Verdi sopranos, Leontyne Price never did the part, which is unsurprising as it does not play to her considerable Verdian strengths—but that’s another discussion. Siepi’s contribution is particularly important in that he opens and closes the Bing regime as Filippo, and it is a shame that the April 1972 performance has not been rebroadcast. Three veterans of the 1950 broadcast, Merrill, Siepi, and Amara (Celestial Voice) as well as two new Verdian stars in Caballe and Milnes.

Oct 15 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Levine; Giordani, Bayrakdarian, Del Carlo, Jepson, Lloyd
Original Air Date: 12/27/2003
MOD Audio
This is the opera’s only broadcast from its only season. There is much lovely music along the way, but it does not have cumulative impact for me. Giordani copes not always pleasantly with an extremely challenging role. Twice a year for Cellini is just about the maximum desired cycling. Once a year would be enough especially since it’s in MOoD.

Oct 15 @ 9:00 pm – 11:55 pm

Levine; MacNeil, Lear, Stewart, Barbieri, Valente, Ahlstedt
Original Air Date: 04/05/1975
MOD Audio
This performance is Levine’s first Falstaff broadcast and Barbieri’s penultimate company broadcast (she returns for Trittico (minus Frugola) 2 years later. MacNeil is a very good Falstaff which I think is his only run in the part– he is a stellar Ford on a Chicago broadcast with Gobbi in 1958. Lear is in better form than her husband — Stewart is not really a Verdian, and the monologue is among the showiest music in the opera.

Oct 16 @ 12:00 am – 3:00 am

Molinari-Pradelli; Ross, Bergonzi, Colzani
Original Air Date: 12/12/1970

Bergonzi has a memorable Cavaradossi in 1959 with Steber and London which is also available on Met Player. I remember hearing parts of this 1970, and Bergonzi is in better form for the earlier broadcast but still a master stylist. He actually does a third Cavaradossi on the airwaves in 1975 with Zylis-Gara and Bacquier under Erede (Met debut 1951! and long absent– now THAT performance interests me. My #1 Sirius omission remains the Stella Tosca of 1958 under MItropoulos. There are some uninspiring Tosca casts in the last 25 years, not as bad as Trovatore, but nothing that I panting for. This is a break from some of the more common Toscas on Sirius. Ross had a powerful voice and I saw her several times in Philadelphia (often partnered with Tucker in Turandot, Aida, and Gioconda). This is late in her career (not early for Bergonzi or Colzani) I’ll probably tune in to this to hear to see how late Ross sounds compared to some of today’s Toscas. It’s the Puccini work most in need of a rest, at least for me. Bergonzi broadcasts Cavaradossi three times, first in 1959 with Eleanor Steber and George London, and in 1975 with Teresa Zylis-Gara and Gabriel Bacquier under Alberto Erede. HIs last Met performance is Edgardo in 1988 with Lucia Aliberti and then eight years later appears in the James Levine 25th anniversary gala. The Steber performance is the best of the three performances, but Ross is worth checking out.

Oct 16 @ 6:00 am – 9:00 am

Levine; Hadley, Upshaw, Croft, Graham, Baker, Lieberson
Original Air Date: 01/01/2000
MOD Audio
Levine is a great promoter of Harbison’s work, but I miss the appeal. First appearance of Hunt Lieberson whose only other role was Didon in the new Troyens production whose broadcast marks Hunt Lieberson’s Met farewell in February 2003 before her untimely death in July 2006.

Oct 16 @ 7:30 pm – 11:55 pm

Robertson; Blue, Brugger, Moore, Graves, Ballentine, Owens, Walker, Green
Original Air Date: 10/16/2019

One of America’s favorite operas returns to the Met for the first time in nearly 30 years. James Robinson’s stylish production transports audiences to Catfish Row on the Charleston waterfront, vibrant with the music, dancing, emotion, and heartbreak of its inhabitants. “If you’re going to stage Gershwin’s opera, this is how,” raved the Guardian when the new production premiered in London in 2018. David Robertson conducts a dynamic cast, featuring the sympathetic duo of Eric Owens and Angel Blue in the title roles The worldwide copyrights in the works of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin for this presentation are licensed by the Gershwin family. GERSHWIN is a registered trademark of Gershwin Enterprises. Porgy and Bess is a registered trademark of Porgy and Bess Enterprises. A co-production of the Metropolitan Opera; Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam; and English National Opera Production a gift of The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund and Douglas Dockery Thomas