Tipping our hat to the Grand Old Lady
How very emotional and wonderful a celebration of a distinct and monumental, historic opera house and a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the career of the marvelous, amazing tenor, Placido Domingo.
125 years of giving New York a place to gather to hear great geniuses of music and their musical masterpieces with great voices.
A Valhalla. There should be a Monument Park in that house to honor all the great stars, as it is the Yankee Stadium of the Arts here in New York. All the greats have been there. It’s when you know you’ve arrived.
A place that intrigued the likes of Gustav Mahler, Toscanini, Puccini, and a host of super luminary voices, to name only a very few, Ponselle, Caruso, Gigli, Ruffo, Muzio, Rethberg, Flagstad, Slezak, Corelli, Tucker, Merrill, Price, Albanese and my beloved Milanov and the voice of love it self, Tebaldi.
Think about it, Rysanek, the great Callas and Birgit Nilsson, Freni and Caballe, Sutherland and Sills and last, but never least, my “brother” the very great Luciano Pavarotti.
Karl Boem, and Berstein, Von Karjan, Kleiber, Patane’, Serafin, and my dear James Levine. Zeffirelli and his monumental, authentic productions, no one is as popular as he,,,, they all wanted to be here and sing here and work here and be a part of this historic house.
Tonight was a star studded celebration even in the audience; so many “stars” it felt like a movie opening. That lends a lot of “press” interest I must say, and was fun for the people there to cheer the opera as well.
It was filled with clever ideas, exploding chandeliers, projections of fotos, and amazing recreations of the productions and costumes inspired by the original designs, which I am sure was thrilling for long time opera fans as well as the singers themselves. Congrats to Robert Tuggle and to all his crew and the CREW for this steadfast exacting realization of this treat. As always in the Gelb era, there was a lot to watch. Fortunately also a lot to hear. He and Mo. Levine assembled a fine group.
There were so many fine and stellar parts to this event but these were part of what I call, “Gigli Tips his Hat” moments.
Mr. Domingo in anything.
He is in a class by himself. The voice is of a legato and freshness that is quite amazing and listening on the radio, I was literally a mess hearing him sing from Verdi’s Otello, the “Niun mi tema“, so full of heart and pathos; his Parsifal was a thing of true beauty and Wagnerian ring and a look to the future in Simon Boccanegra/ A true Star, Bravo Placido.
The next for me was the incandescent singing of my “Siberian brother”, Dmitri Hvorostofky in the melting legato and profound beauty of tone and suave, even emission in his aria,“Ya vas lyublyu” from The Queen of Spades. Seduced completely, the audience went into delirium. Is this not one of the most gorgeous voices? He and his family know how I adore him as a man and a soul, but my goodness, what beauty he gave us tonight.
Sadly, I am not familiar with the whole of Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godonov”, but the bass, Mr. Tomlinson created a mood from the very beginning that was hypnotic and heartbreaking, so immediate his revealing of the anguish of this man and his final moments. I was riveted.
I must celebrate with my young friend, Lisette Oropesa, whose elegant, perfectly limpid, gorgeous Sophie in the trio of Der Rosenkavlier, made everyone sit up and take notice. She really has a very special career ahead, God Bless and keep her always. Brava.
So much to mention, so many wonderful voices. Everyone gave there very best, world class.
In a tribute to Franco Zeffirelli’s magnificent productions that even had designs so beautiful they had to show them as well, my great friend Marcello Giordani, high up with spotlights in his face- imagine singing the first thing of the night what is usually in the later hours of Turandot-he gave us a gleaming, full throated “Nessun Dorma” which the audience cheered.
Mr. Calleja showed a truly sweet voiced, large, lyric tenor with a great deal of beauty in his -in key- rendition of “Che gelida manina” from La Boheme. A voice to watch.
Everyone was terrific and warmly received, but for me the greatest moment of unearthly beauty was given in the aria of Korngold’s “Die Tote Stadt“, Marietta’s Lied, sung by a very seriously, profoundly moving . Renee Fleming.
It had message and was a voice that confirmed God’s offer of redemption to us all.
She always has a great voice, but tonight she laid on the altar of this 125 year old Temple, tones of such truth, discipline and beauty, and outright gorgeous, truly gorgeous singing, that I openly sobbed at the aria.
I cry at opera, a lot, because of it’s absolute connection to God through it’s beauty and transcendence and hope and, well, I just “crazy love it.”
You can count the moments when someone’s heart is made safe enough to open and for a brief moment the world beats true, this she gave to us tonight, and I thank her for that so very much.
This is a house that I grew up in, it will be thirty years for me in 2011, I arrived in 1981. My debut is this year 25 years ago in December. My heart is filled with love and praise for it’s “anniversary”.
Congratulations to Donald Palumbo and his stellar work with the fabulous chorus of the Metropolitan Opera and that amazing opera symphony of distinguished musicians that James Levine has hewn out of musical marble like a Michaelangelo. Jimmy was amazing as always. I think he knows how much I love and honor him. That was quite a tour de force for him tonight and a triumph.
Tonight we had a little remembrance of a legendary house in it’s new “thought” process, and treats were plenty, but “winking Callas’s or not”, the true stars of tonight are the vocal stars that quicken the pulse and make your soul soar.
Bravo to Peter Gelb and his wonderful Team. Bouquets and bouquets of Brava’s and Bravo’s and Bravi’s to all the great voices on that stage tonight.
She is a GREAT house, with a staggering history of beauty who has hugged us for many years, tonight some of us got to hug back.
Evviva il Metropolitan Opera di New york. “Cent’anni di piu, di piu……………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Francis Robinson, years an authority and never shy with an opinion, offers a rare look at one of the truly great voices, Rosa Ponselle. I thought it lovely to include here. Enjoy!