Well, did you really think she'd get through a whole run? The sickest soprano in operatic history has cancelled tonight's appearance in Adriana Lecouvreur at the Royal Opera House. (via Gert)
The announcement was apparently "greeted with derisive laughter and boos".
Too cold in London for the hot- blooded Draculetta with the seducing breasts targeting Jonas's brown eyes?
Blood sucker soprano seeking new male victim because Jonas is almost dead at her sight!!!!!
Romanian antivirus |
25 November 2010 at 08:18 PM
Midway through the evening Gulin is everything Gheorghiu was not. Very loud and strident.
vecchio john |
25 November 2010 at 08:47 PM
You can make fun of her all you want but if no one is gonna learn their lesson and keeps casting her, then they get what they deserve frankly.
25 November 2010 at 09:19 PM
I feel for the Gheorghiu fans at the house today. I want all the details on Gulin's performance though!
25 November 2010 at 09:22 PM
Gulin fine und gutsy in the Phedre monologue but spoken one does not get the poor intonation and rawness. I was at the first night too but my reaction was the polar opposite of IMs. There was a lot of booing at announcement and I for one hope Gheorghiu is back for the broadcast.
vecchio john |
25 November 2010 at 09:26 PM
Do opera houses take out insurance on her, the way movie studios insure "unreliable" movie stars?
25 November 2010 at 09:51 PM
As Vecchio John says there was an awful amount of booing. The worst I have heard for a new show. Good performance from the understudy and Kaufmann. Plus a special mention must go to Corbelli.
25 November 2010 at 10:42 PM
I was also there – in the best seat (and therefore, the most expensive) I managed to get for any of the performances. Not that it did me much good as it happens.
The unfortunate ROH employee who came out to make the announcement (there were notices up to the same effect throughout the House but I certainly managed to miss them and the free cast sheet had AG down to appear, with no photocopied insert with Gulin’s biography) was interrupted several times by boos and shouts of ‘again’. At the first interval, I saw a number of people leaving the building and making their feelings known to the ushers.
Cancellations happen – usually there is a groan but I’ve never heard such a reaction, even when Bryn Terfel cancelled several of his Wotan appearances in the ROHs last Ring Cycle. I don’t know if it is factually true that AG cancels more than other top singers – though queuing to buy tickets at the Box Office I did hear staff say to customers ‘of course, if she turns up.’
I don’t think a star was born tonight. I am not a knowledgeable person when it comes to the quality of singing like, say Intermezzo, so I willingly defer to those who have some expertise. Gulin’s voice was much heavier than AG, with none of the sweetness, and at climaxes became almost ugly and shrill – reminiscent of the recent Aida at ROH. I did see several people sitting near me wince at some of the notes. However, I’m no expert.
AG was present on Monday, when the performance was filmed...
Opera Beginner |
25 November 2010 at 11:24 PM
It seemed to me that the announcement invited derision and protests as it was delivered in tones of "I don't believe this, and don't expect you to do so". At least that was my impression; and I don't recall that any specific reason eg illness was given.
Blancas Gulin looked good and, I thought, acted well. Somehow I was less conscious of the "boobs" than with AG - perhaps BG wears the dresses differently... Probably she has a bigger voice than AG but, I agree, it's not as sweet and rather pressured and shrill at climaxes and at the top. I wasn't there especially for AG so was not too disappointed, like some were, but comparing the singers I can understand why AG still gets engaged despite the risks.
Interestingly after the cast curtain there were solo curtains for the four principals and Mark Elder. Haven't seen that for a while, didn't happen on Monday. A group of elderly French speakers next to me gave loud bravos to Mark Elder, well-deserved.
Even without AG it was enjoyable and I'm glad it was put on. Look forward to more "excavation" of other relative rarities.
26 November 2010 at 12:18 AM
I do not understand why the Royal Opera is still casting her. I for one try to avoid any performance where she is due to sing(or not)and many people at Covent Garden feel the same way.
There are so many great sopranos out there available and willing to sing that we should start putting pressure on the ROH to stop casting her in any major role. I am really tired of her prima donna cancellation and I am not the only one. The lady is not that great anyway even when she does decide to sing a performance once in a while.
26 November 2010 at 12:50 AM
I watch the circus surrounding what passes for the conduct of Morticia's career with amused detachment (why, I nearly died laughing when she had yet another memory lapse, this time right at the end of Sempre libera back in June). But - and this is what does anger me - she sang the performance on Monday, with cameras filming away for DVD release, with something approaching three times the voice she had bothered to deploy for either of the preceeding outings (the Dress and the Prima, both of which I attended). Actual drama. Perilously close to exciting. Very nearly thrilling. Who knew? Lazy, layabout, ill-disciplined *!%*. Now I suppose, with it all safely in the can, she feels she's done her bit, and can take a night or two off.....
26 November 2010 at 02:42 AM
Well I bought tickets for the third performence as I had a strange feeling that AG might be 'ill' that night and was not disappointed, her replacement was good but has yet to control her voice and / or understand the ROH acoustics. She clearly did not have the stage presence that AG has, but she is not a 'prima donna'..
26 November 2010 at 08:23 AM
All in all a disappointing night. Gulin reminded me of Scotto. Lovely middle voice, strained top. One certainly couldn't say she was cautious. The great disappointment was Kauffman who sounded tired and strained during Acts I and II and was often drowned out by the orchestra.
Why do opera houses build expensive new productions on unreliable stars? In 1963 the Met revived ADRIANA for Tebaldi and she cancelled all of the performances.
John Clum |
26 November 2010 at 09:04 AM
While I can know how disappointing it is when a cancellation occurs (I lived through disappointments once at Covent Garden when Gheorghiu cancelled and recently when Kaufmann cancelled his Barcelona Die Schone Mullerin) and it must be annoying when you hear AG singing out more when the cameras are rolling, and I worry when I hear that JK sounded strained and tired, I still feel for the singers themselves... It must be really taxing to function under all that pressure. I imagine they need really strong nerves to sustain all that expectation... getting to the top is not as hard as staying there. I guess a performance every three nights is not so easy when there's so much pressure on the preceeding three performances. They are only human and work very hard (I'm sure AG did work hard in the rehearsal period for this one...). Since JK sounded tired maybe AG was really too tired to sing. Maybe he wanted to cancel too? It might take her more than three days to 'recuperate'. She might not be as vocally fit as JK.
Was there a general concensus on JK sounding tired? I really hope it's just that particular night and that his voice is doing fine generally.
It seems that AG doesn't take too many new roles on stage while she does record them (Manon, Charlotte, Butterfly, Fedora). I wonder if it is a memory issue. While I love her and think she really has something special, I've been following her for almost 15 years and she hasn't developed as much as JK has both vocally and musically in the same time span. So all in all I love him much more.
26 November 2010 at 10:21 AM
I didn't get the impression that the unfortunate person making the announcement didn't believe it. If she didn't expect the audience to believe it that would have been understandable in the circs.
I also thought she went on to say something about Gheorghiu having a virus and not going on on medical advice, but it was difficult to hear because of the jeering (which IMO was ill-advised as well as ill-mannered: no wonder some of the surviving cast sounded out of sorts after that).
26 November 2010 at 10:32 AM
Yes, she said she had an acute virus that had come on very suddenly and that it was only two hours before the performance that she was forced to take the decision not to perform. She also said that she (AG) had 'very much wanted to sing for you tonight'. I thought the lady making the announcement did sound *slightly* sceptical herself, but that may have been because I knew of AG's reputation in these matters. I was at the front of the ampitheatre and had no difficulty hearing the announcement, so perhaps most of the jeering came from lower down.
I enjoyed Gulin and thought she was good with JK, but I agree that some of the top notes were a little shrill. The production overall I very much enjoyed - I thought the stage conceit was great and worked well.
26 November 2010 at 11:05 AM
I do agree with previous comments re last night. It was rather disappointing, although I did not have much expectations for Angela to turn up. BG tried her best yet still has to work on many areas when it comes to her singing. It wasn't the best evening for JK either who gave a rather weak performance, taking into account his abilities. However, I did enjoy the production itself and thought it was well done.
26 November 2010 at 11:16 AM
Well - I have a ticket for tomorrow (27th) so won't be expecting any cancellations !
But I also have a ticket for the following Saturday (4th) but only a cheap standing. >:\
I wonder if any of the on-line betting sites run a book on her appearance. Seems to me there could be enough interest to lay-off your ticket price on the exchange !
a mac |
26 November 2010 at 11:26 AM
John Clum, off-topic, just for the record: Tebaldi cancelled her 1963 Met Adriana performances due to a vocal crisis leading her to take a career break of more than a year, a situation not in any way related to what's going on with AG, or to a singer's reliability in general.
H. E. Pennypacker |
26 November 2010 at 11:55 AM
No matter which way you hedge your bets, with La Gheorghiu you are on to a loser. Knowing her cancellation habits, I calculated that after an intensive rehearsal period of a new and expensive production centred around herself (both metaphorically and literally), she would at least be able (deign) to manage the Dress Rehearsal and the first few nights. I was, therefore, hopeful that she would make the third night of her run. Trying to find out anything online or from the Box Office yesterday was hopeless, since normal communication routes seemed to have died. However, I did get through to the Friends who had not heard anything about cancellations. That would have been around lunchtime.
The sight of the posted cancellation on arrival threw me straight into expletive-rich Victor Meldrew mode, and I am still absoutely effing furious. It’s not simply my own stupid fault for laying out enough squillions for a delightful week on the Costa del Grot flying by Crapair for the two Stalls seats (peering between two bigheads on account of the useless rake). They have to stop hiring Gheorghiu - now. Some middle-manager (those fellows in dark jackets and striped trousers who chat to the ones in red) was talking about some stomach bug doing the rounds – oh, yeah! These non-functioning functionaries were also guarding the doors against audience invasion while it was freezing rocks off in the Foyer ‘because they’re fixing the set’!
Perhaps they drew straws for the announcement from the stage, but it was something to behold the poor girl being interrupted by jeers and mockery as in a Victorian Music Hall. It would appear that the Diva had ‘desperately wanted to sing for us this evening’ but been stricken so badly that she had been forced to cancel at the last minute. This message was greeted by a level of booing and ironic laughter worthy of the Commons. Clearly the Diva’s announcement came so late that there wasn’t even time to print an insert for the programmes, and there were very few notices on display. No surprise at the palpable anger. Overheard discussion in the intervals was scathing.
I suppose we should be hugely grateful that Angeles Blancas Gulin stepped in at such short notice and literally saved the evening. To her credit, she did look as though she had rehearsed the part, given that she is down to do the 27th November and 10th December. Would Gheorghiu have cancelled if she had not known this was a possibility? Humph. And what a shock to the system for Gulin – sounds a bit Lecouvreurish to me. However, my gratitude vanished as soon as she opened her mouth. The voice comes in different departments. In the lower basement is a thick chest register which is often forced for projection. On the ground floor and above is a sweeter region, but without much power. Taking the fast lift from the basement to the top floor produces a huge shriek which is nothing less than painfully wince-inducing. The general tone is occluded and tight, and intonation is shockingly awry, especially when the voice is unleashed so that the bawling at maximum volume is simply intolerable. In her duets with Kaufmann I could hardly refrain from laughing out loud (Florence Foster...). This is actually terribly sad, because Gulin acted quite well, particularly in the last Act, and her spoken melodramas were very affecting – but this is an opera house for heaven’s sake!
So did I have a miserable evening? Taken as a whole - no. This is a lovely production of a neglected gem – not quite a masterpiece – and on repetition ‘Adriana’ would reveal innumerable felicities of scoring and vocal flair. There are some superb set pieces, a wonderfully natural lyricism and a capacity to rise to the big moments, with great Cat Fights in Acts 2 and 3. The sets and costumes are superb, and it is very well directed; splendid performances from Corbelli (if a bit rough at the edges, but hugely sympathetic), from Schuster as the tormented and feisty Princess de Bouillon and especially from Kaufmann. Yes, he started a bit tired, but I felt he warmed up very quickly and was jaw-droppingly amazing for most of the evening. He is fearless, using the most daring head-tones and dangerous pianissimi at the top, awesome at full tilt and constantly engaged in the task. Who is out there to touch him? Mark Elder and the orchestra were also on marvellous form, and gave the piece their best shot. ‘Adriana’ deserved its place in the sun.
26 November 2010 at 12:24 PM
Glad to hear that BG seems to have been received as an at least acceptable Gheorghiu replacement. Am a little worried about Kaufmann though! I hope he makes it to the end of the run.
Honestly, I don't understand anything about AG anymore. Why does she cancel? Why does she rarely perform (her calendar looks like I think a retiring singer's would look like)? Why the lapses - even in sempre libera, something she ought to know by heart by now. Why so few new roles?
26 November 2010 at 12:37 PM
For the record, my comment about Tebaldi's cancellations were not meant as an attack on a diva I admired greatly, but on the gamble of mounting an expensive production of a minor, if enjoyable, work for a particular diva or divo.
Speaking of cancellations, has anyone heard who is singing Werther this spring?
John Clum |
26 November 2010 at 01:33 PM
I've been told by an industry insider that AG is highly likely to be present on 30 November as that is another filming night...
Opera Beginner |
26 November 2010 at 01:42 PM
@Laura, I second your questions about AG! It seems she is more interested in being a primadonna than being a musician. Is she simply lazy? Or her nerves frail? I guess we will never know. Maybe she is simply not that capable? I don't understand how someone as endowed with natural gifts as she is, doesn't WANT to develop and learn and truly challenge herself. I was shocked that when she was asked at that recent TV breakfast interview, which roles she still dreams of singing, and she couldn't come up with a single one to name! What about Desdemona, singing Butterfly, Manon and Carmen onstage, and some other French roles? Such a pity.
I hope the audience's jeering at the cancellation might account for Kaufmann's slow warm up. I think all and all he's really solid. @Hedgehog, glad to hear that for most of the performance JK was jaw-drappingly amazing. Sorry that you were in Victor Meldrew mode.
In all fairness, maybe she did in fact come down with a virus right before the performance. Why would they make that up? If it is indeed 100% true, I feel sorry for her. No matter how crushingly disappointed people felt, it must have been far worse for her.
26 November 2010 at 01:43 PM
"...especially from Kaufmann. Yes, he started a bit tired, but I felt he warmed up very quickly and was jaw-droppingly amazing for most of the evening. He is fearless, using the most daring head-tones and dangerous pianissimi at the top, awesome at full tilt and constantly engaged in the task. Who is out there to touch him?..."
@Hedgehog, loved what you said about Mr. Kaufmann. He's a consummate artist. Absolutely love him. AG could learn a lot from him!
26 November 2010 at 01:47 PM
@John Clum: It is usually forgotten that Tebaldi did not cancel all the performances of ADRIANA at the Met in 1963. She sang the first six, before cancelling the remainder of the season due to exhaustion and the beginnings of a vocal crisis which required rest and vocal remediation. Licia Albanese and Mary Curtis-Verna sang the remaining performances of that run. Your point, however, is well taken. Bing took a huge gamble on mounting a "star vehicle" (he didn't have much choice) and was left in the lurch when Tebaldi did not complete the entire run. Nonetheless, she remained a huge star and Bing mounted another (tremendously successful) revival of ADRIANA for Tebaldi (partnered by Corelli) in 1968, including the Opening Night of the Season, (the famous night when Callas attended as an audience member and the infamous "feud" was ended and peace made in the Met dressing room.)
26 November 2010 at 04:31 PM
If only we had an Albanese or even the stalwart understudy Curtis-Verna to sub for our oft-absent diva in 2010!!
Idia Legray |
26 November 2010 at 07:08 PM
Of course Corelli did not do all of those Met Adrianas either,but his replacement at very short notice was of course a certain Placido Domingo, making his debut earlier than expected. Fortunately for the audience,unlike the sympathetic Blancas Gulin, his vocal abilities were very much top drawer.
26 November 2010 at 10:45 PM
How is it that a guy who's addicted to heroin can do a 6 month tour with a rock band and not miss a show but opera singers are such delicate flowers that the merest chill sends them to the fainting couch?
Henry Holland |
27 November 2010 at 02:05 AM
"I've been told by an industry insider that AG is highly likely to be present on 30 November as that is another filming night.."
I doubt that greatly. That is Borodina's debut night as de Bouillon, and not only would Morticia have no great desire to be filmed being blown off the stage by a voice at least twice the size of hers even when trying, but it would be no use to the ROH who have already filmed Schuster in the role on 22nd, and cannot therefore use it for patching purposes (well, Acts Two and Three at least).
27 November 2010 at 05:55 AM
@ Hedgehog - brilliant review, agree with every word. Actually, if Miss Gulin is exhausted by her unprepared efforts and also succumbs to a virus, would Ange substitute for her ? One thinks not. In which case the orchestra leader could conduct and Sir Mark could make his debut in the role of Adriana,as at the Insight evening he demonstrated a complete and very entertaining ability to sing everyone's parts more than adequately ! Now that WOULD be worth seeing (and require a third version of the decollete/non-decollete nightdress). And as regards decollete, perhaps Intermezzo could provide wider access to Angie's portrait on page 20 of the current issue of Das Opernglas. .. just asking to get a chill on the chest,I would think.
27 November 2010 at 09:04 AM
@manxmaid, that was very funny! I laughed out loud! Oh and I agree, for a conductor, sounds like Mark Elder knows how to sing!
27 November 2010 at 02:34 PM
Hedgehog, loved reading your notes on the frustrations of the situation and then the uplifting final paragraph! Am looking forward to the 30 NOV(filming night)hope AG turns up , and is rearing to go !! Pheonix
M P Jones |
27 November 2010 at 03:08 PM
I see AG is down to appear with Placido Domingo fairly soon at the O2. I might go into William Hill and put £10 on her not turning up. What do others think?
27 November 2010 at 05:05 PM
I went to see AG and JK on the 22nd which was the second performance. My husband wanted to buy tickets for a more convenient evening but I wanted to be there for the opening night or second performance as I had an inkling she might be unwell. To be very fair, I had a virus the week before that made me feel very unwell very quickly and there are lots of flu type things going round in London at the moment.
Performance on 22nd was lovely and AG and JK both sang very well. I did not know it was a filimg evening and wonder where I can find out which evenings are - for future purposes.
AG and JK are scheduled to sing Tosca next year. I am trying to decide which evening is the safest... opening night?
27 November 2010 at 10:29 PM
Did anyone attend the performance last night? How did it go? thanks!
28 November 2010 at 11:57 AM
The announcement, when it came, was predictable, and a touch funny. Although I'm partial to a bit of AG I'm not very trusting of her PR skillz, so I wasn't as angry / upset / vocal as others in the crowd. It was a bit like a panto, but with vindictive audience participation.
Kudos to the poor sap who was given the short straw for keeping a cool head - there must have been a little devil somewhere in her head suggesting she a) Tell the audience to quit their moaning or b) Agree with the audience. I'd probably have gone for a mixture of a & b.
Luckily there are other singers on show and in Kaufmann and Corbelli I felt my cheapo standing ticket was paid back a few times over. Schuster was on good form as well - and though a touch wild / adrenalin fuelled on times at least I felt ABG had a passion for the role.
Productionally speaking I thought the designs / direction matched the melodramatic nature of the music / plot. I was waiting for some Rhinemaidens to pop on stage at one point but I thought it was all good fun.
However, I do have one problem with the production. At £9 I can't complain too much, but I felt the action was thrust far too much to the right-hand side of the stage and as such I missed seeing / hearing a fair chunk of the duets. I'm not sure if anyone else on the right-hand side of the house had the same problem but I think it's a valid observation. Having said that, if it had been angled to the left I would have had a fantastic ticket and wouldn't be griping about it here...and at £9...
28 November 2010 at 05:17 PM
I was there and I am afraid Gulin rather let the side down . She is a fine actor and indeed her Phaedra recitation was very well done but her singing was wince inducing on her top notes - she throws her head back when they are coming as if she has to prepare for the struggle.
When the rest of the cast is uniformly excellent and Kaufmann and Corbelli were superb as was Schuster , it is a grand production beautifully played and conducted - it is such a shame that she was not up to snuff - moreover I was pretty sure that AG was originally down to sing this performance !
One wonders why ROH programmed too many performances for AG to do - even if " disposed" and brought in someone nowhere near good enough to sing them .
Listened to Callas this morning singing Adriana's two big arias showed all that was missing!!
29 November 2010 at 01:32 AM
i actually travelled from another country to listen to this opera, so, like most of the people, i was deeply disappointed when i heard AG cancelled. i am going to try finding some tickets for tomorrow and hopefully she'll appear.
the thing is though that everybody is focusing on how unfortunate AG's diva-behaviour was. to me she is great and extremely hard to be replaced, but the production overall was great, amazing set, nice direction, amazingly well tuned orchestra. i think Jonas Kaufmann was just great, he didn't look tired to me and how about Olga Borodina? she was divine, the most pleasant surprise! Gulin was in fact mediocre, but at least decent. let's not forget who's place she had to take, imagine how anxious she was after all that embarassing booing and probably how disappointed after her aria's no-applause-dead-silence finale!
AG is in fact so charismatic and i can understand when it comes to matters of health, BUT, as a lyric singer, one of your main responsibilities is to take care of yourself, so that you don't let people that admire you and are inspired by you down.
joanna p. ism |
30 November 2010 at 01:44 AM
Birgit: for Tosca my money is going on the JK/Martina Serafin combination. Seems like a solid choice in every respect.
30 November 2010 at 01:32 PM
Tues 30th, Cameras rolling, La Gheorghiu on stage and in fine fettle. Both her and Jonas incandescent. Amazing.
01 December 2010 at 12:36 PM
A ledgendary night last night.30 Nov...will remain as a favourite along with Fille du Regiment with Dassai and Florez....Maggie
M P Jones |
01 December 2010 at 08:09 PM
Couldnt agree more. Worth it, finally!! One to remember and of course, Borodina made a splash and a half
02 December 2010 at 12:05 AM
I was one of those who enjoy what they can get as far as hearing Jonas Kaufmann sing live- yesterday I listened to the broadcast of Adriana Lecouvreur, and thanked whomever there is to thank that they played Tuesday's performance (that was recorded!) instead of simply cancelling the broadcast altogether (because JK wasn't well, though they said he was going to sing the performance last night, just not on a live broadcast). I enjoyed it immensly!!! I have to say I was surprised by AG, I knew she was going to be wonderful but she was marvelous!
Was anyone in the house last night? Did JK pull through the evening? How is it that he doesn't have an understudy? What would have happened if he couldn't have sung at all?
05 December 2010 at 08:14 AM
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