Jonas Kauffman - hunk and extraordinary tenor, including Wagnerian tenor.
Anna Netrebko. The tenors no longer rule the roost. Sopranos how have the star power at the Met. This is measured by how many opening nights a singer gets at the Metropolitan Opera. I think Netrebko has had the last 3 or 4. I'm not a fan of what she's doing at the Met. Lucia di Lammermoor? Really? Come on! She was ok in Faust and better in Romeo and Juliet. This September she opens with Tchiakovsky's Eugene Onigen..
Renee Fleming is the other ruling soprano.
I prefer the mezzos myself. Susan Graham, Cecilia Bartoli, who doesn't sing at the Met anymore, Elina Garanca, Michelle DeYoung.
By the way, Netrebko and Valery Gergiev are in hot water for their support of el puto Putin. Check the link. Glad the arts are getting involved. It won't change anything, just bring attention to the situation.
Fleming can guarantee the biggest audiences, and the Met will do whatever she says. Revive "Thais," just for her? Check. Mount an entirely new production of "Armida," just for her? Check. The audiences flock to see her, and so they love to keep her happy.
Nebtrebko and Dessay can still guarantee big audiences too, even if Dessay's voice is not what it once was.
A few years ago there were tons of lyric tenors coming up, all of whom seemed (for some reason) to particular excel at playing Massenet's Werther: Ricardo Villazon, Roberto Alagna, Jonas Kaufmann, Marcelo Alvarez... none of them has yet managed to be as big a tenor superstar as a Pavarotti or a Domingo, although Kaufmann probably commands the biggest fans of all of them.
The reigning soprano of my generation is without question Diana Damrau. I will refrain from discussing any other soprano lest sounding like a total bitch.
Jonas Kauffman and Juan Diego Florez are definitely the hottest (marketability-wise) young tenors; Rolando "Mr. Bean" Villazon is not as pretty but his vocal quality is superior (though he may have damaged his voice through bad technique).
Among Mezzos, Elina Garanca is hot stuff among younger singers. Susan Graham and Joyce DiDonato (both of whom sang at Santa Fe this year) are still wildly popular. Cecilia Bartoli is more of a concert/recording artist now and is doing a lot of esoteric baroque/sacred stuff, but perhaps the most successful at crossover.
"Barihunks" are a dime a dozen, with Ildebrando D'Arcangelo being the flag bearer. I've also seen Luca Pisaroni popping up everywhere now.
Don't forget about me!
Sorry: I meant Rolando Villazon, not Ricardo!
I'm R9. I forgot the mention that Vesselina Kasarova should be a way bigger mezzo than she currently is.
Is Marina Poplavskaya still around? I remember the New Yorker piece on her from a few years ago. She was a diva in the making.
I heard Poplavskaya in the Met's Don Carlo. I was not really impressed by her. She's really not ready for heavy Verdi. She should be sticking to lighter roles right now.
With some of these singers taking on roles they're not vocally ready for one wonders who their advisors are.
I am shamed for leaving Joyce DiDonato off my list of mezzos at R5. I did hear Diana Damrau with Juan Diego Florez at the Met 2 seasons ago in the old production of L'Eliser D'amore. I heard her this past season via HD in the Met's Rigoletto in Las Vegas. She sang beautifully in both productions.
If you're excluding mobility on stage, the biggest stars are the singers with girth.
Where do Nathan Gunn and Teddy Tahu-Rhodes rank?
R16, they're run of the mill "barihunks" who are adequate at singing and won't have trouble finding work singing in productions with shirtless baritone roles, but they lack of the spark of, say, D'Arcangelo, Thomas Hampson, or Simon Keenlyside.
R15, if you want girth AND talent then Stephanie Blythe is your gal! She can sing up a storm in Wagner's Ring or make you laugh out loud as Katisha in The Mikado. Now she's into crossover, doing a tribute show on Kate Smith. I've not heard it, but I hear people like it and don't like it.
I once saw Jane Eaglen walk/waddle on to the stage at the Met for a James Levine Gala, I was thinking they must have reinforced the stage floor for her, she was Pavarotti huge. Which brings to mind the night that Pavarotti and Caballe starred in that old Zefferelli production of Tosca.
Opera singers are like fashion models. No one really cares about the men.
You're right, R19.
Elina Garanca is not performing at the Met this season after all, she just withdrew due to her pregnancy with baby #2. It has been announced Alice Coote will replace her at the Met.
Natalie Dessay is finishing her recital enhancements and that is it. She is giving up the operatic stage. Her 2014 Carnegie Hall recital is still going to occur, THANK GOD.
Kathleen Battle performs with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut at the Kennedy Center on November 12.
Anna Netrebko's new Verdi CD comes out in 10 days here in the US, I understand it is already getting raves in Europe, where it was first released. Her husband Erwin Schrott is gorgeous.
Deborah Voigt just canceled an opera engagement; I understand she is writing her auto biography.
Renee Fleming and Susan Graham are goddesses. Renee's new CD comes out next month.
Thomas Hampson is first class all the way (even though he can be too hammy and grand onstage.)His voice has declined noticeably. Some of it is age. I feel he hurt his voice by pushing it in certain operatic roles. He was glorious in his prime(in the mid 90's.)
I saw Kathleen Battle at Carnegie Hall w/ Levine at the piano after her firing at the Met. Despite her lovely singing, beauty and designer wardrobe, you could tell she was truly humiliated. As the night wore on, her voice was barely there. She had a first class voice in her prime.
Can someone offer their thoughts why Denyce Graves didn't become a bigger star? I thought she would become a bigger star. I feel she came to the Met too early. I heard her push her voice too much, starting in 2000 or so. She's now teaching part time at a conservatory. If she were still in demand, she wouldn't have time to take on students imho.
Can anyone who heard the one and only, Miss Jessye Norman live, give me an idea of what she was like in her supreme vocal prime? Was her voice as powerful, full and big as it seemed on TV and her opera recordings? It was sad that her Rolls Royce voice fell apart too soon (in her early 50's.) Was Norman using bad technique before and during her prime, and/or did singing soprano rep hurt her high mezzo?
I can't believe Deborah Voigt didn't become as big a star as Renee Fleming. Her voice declined after her weight loss surgery. That was such a shame. She also hurt her voice by singing heavier rep. Her sound was so lovely.
I wish Shirley Verrett had received the Kennedy Center Honor in her lifetime. Do any of you think Kathleen Battle, Denyce Graves, Thomas Hampson and Deborah Voigt will ever receive the Kennedy Center Honor? Were those horrible rumors true about James Levine? Also, I never heard of James Levine assisting Kathleen Battle at recitals after that major Carnegie Hall recital in 1993 or 1994 (after her Met firing.) Its interesting that after that Met firing, all other contracts were withdrawn. She never appeared in any other opera. They really put her in her place. Being pleasant, professional and a team player goes along way.
The administration at the Kennedy Center loves Voigt, R22. I think she'll get it.
How do I start learning about opera?
r24, this book at the link is irreverent, bitchy fun. It's a good guide that will help get you started.
In terms of what to listen to or see, I suggest starting with some popular favorites. La Traviata, La Boheme, Tosca, Butterfly, Carmen. Don't try to start with Wagner.
Thanks R25, I've seen a handful of operas and I love them. I have an opportunity to see more at next seasons San Francisco opera and I'd like to know more.
Leah Crocetto is definitely one to watch. (I'd put her at the "rising to the rising star" level at this point, though. Just give her five years. Outstanding.)
Could someone start a thread called Insider Opera/Classical Music Gossip? I want to know about the feuds, insider knowledge, who's gay/bi/lesbian, etc? Thanks
Diana Damrau. Wow.
The problem with Stephanie Blythe's Kate Smith tributes is that Blythe has a totally different style in singing popular songs. It makes you wonder if she has bothered to listen to any of Kate Smith's CDs or videos of Smith singing on television.
Started to see things at the met for the Zeffirelli productions; tosca, la boheme, la traviata, turandot and the 2 one acts.
But best thing was the non-zeff eugene oneign with Fleming and hvorovosky.
[quote]Opera singers are like fashion models. No one really cares about the men.
That was before Nathan Gunn was in "Billy Bud"
[quote]Thomas Hampson is first class all the way (even though he can be too hammy and grand onstage.)
He seems the same offstage. I was at a party with Thomas Hampson and Frederica von Stade. She was warm, friendly, and having fun. He was very grand.
R25, I would suggest starting (more) contemporary ones.
A lot of people are turned off by opera because they can't understand the text and, therefore, the story. Obviously, musical and vocal styles in opera are much different than what we hear on the radio (or in a musical), so that can kind of pit people off a bit, too.
Opera's roots were not in an English-speaking country, so you have to deal with some Italian or German to start. For operas not in your native language, get a copy of the libretto (the opera term for script) and read the translation as you listen.
Start in small chunks, maybe listening to one act at a time and finishing an opera over two or three nights (for a two- or three-act opera, for example). CD Recordings are good, but opera is meant to be SEEN, so try to get a DVD and watch it. DVDs are also great because they have subtitles that show what people are singing as they are singing it (in a variety of language options). These are helpful even in English-language operas, too.
Okay, all that said, I would suggest starting with a list like this (four of these are in English):
Purcell: Dido and Aeneas (1689)
Mozart: Don Giovanni (1787)
Rossini: The Barber of Seville (1816)
George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess (1935)
Benjamin Britten: The Turn of the Screw (1954)
John Adams: Nixon in China (1987)
Later, you can start to fill in the gaps, getting into all the other "classic" opera composers (Handel, Puccini, Verdi, Strauss, Wagner, etc.).
Oooh! thanks R2; they all look like they could use a few pairs of preferred-sexual-position-identifying briefs.
Ricerco un bene fuori di me,
Non so chi il tiene, non so cos' e.
Sospiro e gemo senza voler,
Palpito e tremo senza saper,
Wow, I screwed up my first sentence... it should read: "R25, I would suggest starting with a couple "classic" and a couple (more) contemporary ones."
To R33's list I would add the really excellent film production of La Boheme starring Jose Carreras and Barbara Hendricks, which is very accessible and moving despite the foreign language. Available on DVD.
Has anyone seen the "La Traviata" film starring Anna Moffo?
Has anyone heard Thomas Hampson sing in the last two years? What's the current state of his voice?
If the title of this thread were "Who are the biggest stars in soap opera?" it would have reached 600 replies already
Is Deborah Voigt's career pretty much over?
Yes, R43, Voigt's career is over. I heard her seven or eight years ago at the Kennedy Center and her voice wasn't what it once was.
Pat Racette's an out lesbian, R28. I saw her in Jenufa a few years ago and she was quite good.
Also, meant to add -- I'll be seeing Voigt next month in Tristan und Isolde. Should be interesting to hear.
r45: Let us know how Deborah Voigt's performance goes. Is Denyce Grave's career pretty much over as well?
I haven't heard much about Denyce Graves in the last few years, R46. I don't know.
R47: What singers of the opera and classical concert stage have you met and/or heard live? Please give as much detail as you'd like about each encounter and/or performance.
One is my favorites is American soprano Lauren Flanagan.
Voigt is doing more pop material now.
Leah Crocetta is fantastic. Stole the show in SF's Turandot last year.
[quote]Can anyone who heard the one and only, Miss Jessye Norman live, give me an idea of what she was like in her supreme vocal prime? Was her voice as powerful, full and big as it seemed on TV and her opera recordings?
I heard her sing both Ariadne and Kundry at the Met in the early 90s. I was way up in the Family Circle, but it was as if she was singing just a few feet away from me. I have never heard a singer who had that kind of voice before or since--it was absolutely uncanny. And it wasn't just like that she was singing loudly--to sounded that way even when she sang pianissimo. Her tone was also beautiful--rich and resplendent and velvety.
That being said, while her voice was incredible, her acting was bizarre. She was so massive ("Just-E Normous" was of course one of her nicknames) she could hardly move, and as Kundry, they had her placed far away from Parsifal (Domingo) and the Flower Maidens onstage on this little separate stage off on the side, slightly elevated. When she was supposed to be entreating Parsifal, she'd extend her arms in his direction though he was dozens of feet away in the center of the stage.
I think Voight hurt her voice by losing so much weight with the gastrointestinal bypass. She almost certainly extended her life by quite a bit by doing so, however, so it was probably worth it to her.
Kaufmann is the most sought-after tenor and makes more than any other male opera star at the moment... although his voice is not at all indicative of what a Met tenor should be. Manufactured sound (although pleasant to listen to), decent actor. Generally overrated.
The current tenors to keep an eye on are Matt Polenzani (light, beautiful voice), Juan Diego Florez (incredible control and dexterity), Rolando Villazon (IMO, the only voice that compares to the great tenors of the past). There were rumors that Villazon had damaged his voice irreparably, but I think that this was just opera queens clutching their pearls, as I've heard him sing fairly recently and he was in great voice.
Diana Damrau and Stephanie Blythe have rare, old-school chops, but I can't really say that about any of the other female stars the Met is currently pushing on the public.
Glenn Seven Allen - tenor to watch out for.
Lauren Flanagan has been certifiable for years. It killed her career.
r57 - she is a great singer. I think certifiable goes with the territory. She mentors and teaches, and is apparently effective in that environment.
I just got "Night at the Opera"...very excited.
Previously... I've watched "Nixon in China", "Porgy and Bess" ,
also Romeo and Juliet last year in SF.
La Forza del Destino...years ago in NYC...Kathleen Battle?
And the Magc Flute in SF.
Thanks for the encouragement!
Its amazing to me that Deborah Voight still headlines at the Met. Patrons have allegedly started complaining about her unsteady vocal abilities. She appears to be a nice lady, but, her voice is imho, in no condition to handle the rep that she sings in opera. I truly feel she did a great deal of damage to her voice by forcing her voice in dramatic soprano roles. Deborah is not a dramatic soprano. She's a lyric soprano.
Miss Jessye Norman saw her opera career take an early exit by singing soprano roles. I feel she's a high mezzo with lots of elegant color and bright high notes. Still, I feel the she's a high mezzo and not a soprano. She wore her vocal chords down. The human voice can only take so much.
Thomas Hampson pushed his voice too much in operatic roles during his peak years as an opera singer. It was especially clear when hearing him live.
Kathleen Battle still sings with a silvery, clear tone to this day. Her voice hasn't aged much. She just turned 65! I heard her last year in recital.
Denyce Graves doesn't sing often at the Met these days. I feel she sometimes uses too much force and push with her voice. It has not helped her at all. You can hear the wear and tear as a result. She's very lovely though.
Never enough opera!!
Joyce DiDonato truly is a goddess.........what a VOICE!
I am a devotee of both Jessye Norman and Cecilia Bartoli. Many recordings are available so they are always with me.
How old are you people? Jessye Norman? Kathleen Battle? Denyce Graves? These singers careers have been over, in some cases, for decades. Battle and Norman haven't been on an operatic stage since the nineties. Graves is irrelevant after having blown out her voice. Graves hasn't sung often at the Met recently? She hasn't sung there in ten years!
Damn, it's amazing how culturally out of touch a lot of you 'mos are. And you call yourselves gay men? For shame.
r 66: what were Denyce Graves peak years as an opera singer? i saw her in recital in 2003 or 2004. her voice was so beautiful. i was surprised how small her voice was. she was clearly miked at the Met. the highest note she sang was a G. i could tell that even a G was a bit much for her.
what are your thoughts on Deborah Voigt's & Thomas Hampson's vocal decline?
If anyone's out of touch, it's R66. Imagine not being aware that the voices of old-time opera stars have been recorded and can be accessed with ease in 2013. I can hear Enrico Caruso on my iPod, but 66 never heard of an iPod. The pathetic wretch has never heard the voices of Rise Stevens, Franco Corelli, Robert Merrill, Richard Tucker, Roberta Peters, Rosa Ponselle and other opera greats. What a sad life that must be.
I just got a copy as well, Amazon used, 3.99. It's like new. Thanks for the tip, r25!
When it was at The Met, I saw Nixon in China as well, r60. I was mesmerized, the sets, the crazy sex scenes at the end were a riot.
Le Comte Ory, Rossini’s final comic opera was great fun, with Juan Diego Flórez, handsome man!
I cannot believe Nathan Gunn never cheated on his wife.........he is just too hot and she is just so very frau-like.
[quote]How old are you people?... Denyce Graves?...She hasn't sung there in ten years!
Older than ten years old, apparently.
It sounds like you can't say the same, dear.
[quote]When it was at The Met, I saw Nixon in China as well, [R60]. I was mesmerized, the sets, the crazy sex scenes at the end were a riot.
There's a riot prompted by the Cultural Revolution staged at the end of act II, and Mao kisses some of his secretaries in Act III. I don't remember any crazy sex scenes. Did Pat start fistfucking Chou Enlai in the production you saw?
Rolando Villazon looks much better from a distance than he does in photos from close up, where he really does look just like Mr. Bean.
He has a gorgeous voice, but he is quite the hambone as an actor. He approaches every role as if it were verismo and just devours the scenery. It works very well sometimes, but sometimes it's just bizarre.
Opera chorister here. A couple that I've loved working with are Susanna Phillips (being on stage with her in the mad scene from Lucia di Lammermoor was a trip), Bryan Hymel (who had a banner year last year with Les Troyens in both London and at the Met - did Faust with him. He's a sweetie), and Roy Cornelius Smith who now mainly works in Europe but comes back from time to time. Roy's a good ol' boy from the hills of Virginia and one of us. Then there's Michael Mayes - sex on a stick. Unfortunately, he's straight.
Who are the best American opera directors?
It was announced last week that Dame Kiri te Kanawa would be joining the cast of Downton Abbey. She plays the real-life opera star Dame Nellie Melba. Her singing reportedly had the cast and crew in tears.
R74, Susanna Phillips?
I saw Susanna Phillips as Musetta in LA BOHEME about 2 years ago; honestly her performance was so broad - even for that role - she really annoyed me so much I specifically looked in the program to make sure I avoided her in future operas.
Then I saw her in the Kim Hunter supporting role in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at Carnegie Hall with Renee Fleming - now I see the 2013-2014 MET schedule and it does seem the MET is giving her the big push.
Soprano Emalie Savoy is the one I was entranced by when I saw her at the MET in a supporting role in The Makropulos Affair by Janácek with Karita Mattila?
This is a great example of e DL
Obviously R86 was overtaken by strong emotions over a thread that includes high art, camp, hunks, show business news, gossip and cattiness without the usual thuggeries or ad hominem attacks, except for the misapplied snark of R66.
As for me, on the borders of pop culture and the trite and at the risk of offending R66's temporal sensitivities, despite the wonderful young talents mentioned and shown, it's still Ben Heppner in his tenory-tenor days who does it for me. On the accessible/popular front, his (don't groan) turn in TURANDOT out-thrills them all.
And I still enjoy the aging Christine Brewer.
Younger? I like Jacques Imbrailo, Sophie Bevan and Stephen Costello.
R2's link was great!
But who are the best American opera directors? Are any of the best opera directors American?
Some are better than European ones, but they all work there
Soprano Emalie Savoy is the one I was entranced by when I saw her at the MET in a supporting role in The Makropulos Affair by Janácek with Karita Mattila.
I am not sure why I ended that in a question mark when I first posted it, but anyway the soprano has a fabulous voice, IMO.
That being said, which opera productionsoperas (if any) are you looking forward to seeing in the upcoming season whether at the Met, or the SF Opera, or the Lyric Opera of Chicago or where ever!
Are there any admirers of Miss Shirley Verrett here? She was a fabulous under rated Diva. Did any of you know her or see her live? Has anyone here met Jessye Norman? If so, what's she really like?
Also, who's rumored to be gay, bi and lesbian in opera and classical music?
R100, according to posters at Parterre.com, Polish Baritone Mariusz Kwiecien is gay.
Instead of who is cute, or who might be gay, I'm going to recommend listening to a fabulous Verdian soprano who is yet ro make a splash in America, though she is already bringing down the house in many major opera houses throughout Europe.
Anja Harteros. .. Beautiful voice. Gorgeous to look at. A fine actress. Check her out on youtube. She has lots of stuff posted there. .. She does not disappoint.
video of her, because that "diva" thread was going around
Shirley Verrett was NOT under-rated by any means. She had the bulk of her career in Europe, where she was treated like royalty. She was called "The Black Callas" because of her riviting acting abilities. And her vocal technique, passionate, intelligent singing and impeccable style were very much appreciated. She consistently got rave reviews. Though she was loved by her American fans, who turned out in droves whenever she sang there, she did not get the kind of contracts or choice of repertoire that she did in Europe. When she died the Italian newspapers wrote glowing tributes and eulogies about, and for her. .. In the States, not so much.
Did anyone ever hear Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland, Miss Callas and Birgit Nilsson in their primes? If so, please tell us what they were like in live performance.
I've heard Price in her later years, she did selections in concert from Anthony and Cleopatra - Barber. the remarkable thing wasn't necessarily what she sang but when she WASN'T singing, she was riveting on stage during the orchestral postludes - INCREDIBLE
that sounds incredible, r107. give examples of her star presence during the concert, please.
She just had a way of standing still that drew you in, such an intensity. at the time I just went to the performances just because I had to. Her voice sounded great, but that wasn't what drew me in. Not long afterwards when she retired did I realize how lucky I was to see her.
While I never saw Leontyne Price perform, unfortunately, I recall reading about what I think was her last NYC performance, at Carnegie Hall in 2001, after 9/11. Though her performing days were over, it was either a free concert or a benefit for those killed at the Trade Center. It may have even been Carnegie's first performance after the attacks.
Her brother is a retired General, and he was asked by someone at Carnegie Hall if his sister would appear at the event. Within 10 minutes she contacted them to say Yes, she would appear AND would sing.
At the concert, 2 ringing cell phones went off, disrupting other performances. However according to the NY Times, no cell phone went off during Leontyne's performance, and they said her presence was so commanding it was as if the phones themselves would not dare to disrupt her singing, which they said was still absolutely stunning.
It had to hurt Shirley Verrett's feelings that Grace Bumbry was honored with a Kennedy Center Honor and she wasn't. Grace was her arch rival for many years. Shirley was a bigger star, had a much better voice, was a better actress and had more supreme star quality.
I didn't meet Jessye Norman but met a Dutch celebrity who had at a reception following a performance. He said she was very "grande" and was enthroned in a chair akin to a throne greeting her public.
This was probably 1992 or so but that image has always stayed with me
I love that story, r112. La Norman is very intriguing. Thomas Hampson is the male Jessye Norman. I've seen him during and after performances. He's not as grand as La Norman, but, he's grand nonetheless.
Fascinating NY Times article in today's Arts and Leisure Section about the opening night production...........OMG
Eugene onegin will be the end of us all
The regal Jessye Norman is a thing to behold. As she finishes an aria in a concert she ends in a grande pose which she holds long enough for you to faint and then the slowest turn of her face to the audience and the coyest smile as she acknowledges the adoration.
I also loved her two disc set of a few years ago, "Roots: My Life My Song" She gets down with some blues and gospel and sings like you have never heard her sing. She meets the audience with guffaws and roars back at them. She is one big beautiful DAME.
I also adore the gospel album she did with Kathleen Battle, "Grace". [R12]