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Met's "Parsival"


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#31 Birdsall

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 02:46 PM

HuffPo article by someone who doesn't like the METLive intermission interviews (but I love them!)


I sometimes find the intermission features interesting, but I actually love seeing the backstage crew changing sets. For some people it destroys the illusion, I guess, but for me it is very fascinating to see how it is all done.

On opera sites many people complain about the intermissions and say it ruins the mood, but in a regular opera house, you usually get up, go pee, fight the crowds for a drink and hear all the people in the lobby talking and if you go outside, people are smoking, etc. How does that not ruin the mood???? LOL I don't see how a regular opera house intermission and then a movie version with intermission features makes any difference. If I were bothered I would go sit in the lobby or even outside (with the movie ticket stub you can re-enter). But I am not bothered at all by them, but sometimes I don't find them that enlightening and like a break to stand for a while. I think it is a nice thing they do providing intermission features for those who don't want to sit twiddling their thumbs. You can leave and avoid them or stay and enjoy them. Either way you have an option.

#32 sandik

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:20 PM

I sometimes find the intermission features interesting, but I actually love seeing the backstage crew changing sets. For some people it destroys the illusion, I guess, but for me it is very fascinating to see how it is all done.


"Sing Faster" is a stagehand's view of San Francisco Opera's production of the Ring cycle. The sequence at the top where they are trying to explain the plot over a poker game is fabulous -- the Rhinemaidens "are pissed" when they lose the gold. "Doesn't one of the giants end up getting a chick out of the deal? Oh yeah, Fafner!"

Big, big fun!

#33 Helene

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:45 PM

I sometimes find the intermission features interesting, but I actually love seeing the backstage crew changing sets. For some people it destroys the illusion, I guess, but for me it is very fascinating to see how it is all done.

I don't mind watching: it's the listening that I don't like.

On opera sites many people complain about the intermissions and say it ruins the mood, but in a regular opera house, you usually get up, go pee, fight the crowds for a drink and hear all the people in the lobby talking and if you go outside, people are smoking, etc. How does that not ruin the mood???? LOL I don't see how a regular opera house intermission and then a movie version with intermission features makes any difference.

In an opera house, I can usually find a spot where I'm not exposed to what the opera singer is like in real life or what other audience members think of the opera -- except on the loo line, where I wish I couldn't -- and, if I go alone, I'm not subjected to what my opera companion thinks about it, while I'm mulling it over. The issue with the intermission features is that they're not easy to escape if you want to avoid them, where if they were at the end, instead of the beginning, the only thing you'd hear is what's around you in the theater and a general murmur from the screen, like during the regular intermission.

Should Gerald Finley really have a microphone stuck in his face within a minute of having sung a devastating "Batter My Heart"? I know I wanted to think about it and absorb it right afterwards, and I'm only audience. The only part of the artist interviews I really like are when they give greetings in their native language to their homies. That's my favorite part of going to opera in countries where I don't speak the language: people could be saying the most inane things that would make me want to jump over the balcony if I understood them, but it's one of the few times that not understanding makes things that much better.

think it is a nice thing they do providing intermission features for those who don't want to sit twiddling their thumbs. You can leave and avoid them or stay and enjoy them. Either way you have an option.

That's the problem: you can't avoid them. They start very soon after the curtain drops, and if you're in the 11th row behind a phalanx of elderly people trying to navigate stairs in the dark with their canes, the first interview is over before you can get out of the theater to avoid them.

#34 kfw

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 07:59 PM

Should Gerald Finley really have a microphone stuck in his face within a minute of having sung a devastating "Batter My Heart"? I know I wanted to think about it and absorb it right afterwards, and I'm only audience.


No, but at least he's asked about what he thinks about the music and the role. At least we're given more to think about. The de rigeur flattery and camaraderie between the singers which is also part of most interviews, while pleasant in itself because it's usually convincing, is what really destroys contemplation for me. And what bother me just as much are the preview shots before the live broadcast begins. I close my eyes.

Anyhow, after listening to the Parsifal broadcast I already regretted passing on the HD transmission. Reading this thread, I look forward all the more to a possible encore showing, or if that doesn't happen, at least to Met on Demand.

#35 abatt

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:04 AM

The singers in the HD broadcasts know well in advance exactly when and if they will be interviewed during the intermission of the HD broadcast. In fact, I bet they already know in advance the questions they will be asked too. Most singers would kill to be in one of these HD broadcasts, so I'm sure the imposition of giving a brief interview is very minimal in comparison to the worldwide exposure that they are given.

#36 Birdsall

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:06 AM

Just some thoughts b/c I am amazed at the variety of opinions. I am not being argumentative here below. Just how I relate to the world and intrigued how others do it differently:

I guess I tend to be able to block out the world easily, and each person is different. I can contemplate what I just watched while people are talking loudly on the screen. In fact, sometimes I am thinking about what I just watched and am mad that I just missed what the singer said that sounded interesting at the tail end.

I think the only distractions that bother me are when people talk during a performance or jangling bracelets during a performance (any noise DURING that disrupts what we are seeing). I need quiet during the performance, but the minute the curtain goes down for intermission it can be as noisy as a train station and it would not bother me.

I have a hard time believing that the singers aren't asked if they are willing to be interviewed first. I hope they are. I hope it is not a surprise. To me it looks like they know they are going to be interviewed. There have been some intermissions where a singer who was pivotal was not interviewed from what I noticed. I am sure they are given an option. I have had friends in the performing arts and the ones I've known are hyped up when they come off stage. They have an adrenalin rush and are more than happy to talk your ear off. But different singers probably feel different ways too. It probably depends on the role. A very moving scene that wears them out might cause them to want to be alone. Who knows?

kfw, I think seeing a Parsifal is always worthwhile. It is rarely played anyway except major stages.....I can't picture it played in most regional companies. So I encourage you to see the encore and tell us what you think. It is the only HD I saw this season. Wagner and Bellini's Norma are about the only things that get me to see any kind of opera. But I love Kaufmann so much that I might go to his Werther HD next season.

#37 Birdsall

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:10 AM


I sometimes find the intermission features interesting, but I actually love seeing the backstage crew changing sets. For some people it destroys the illusion, I guess, but for me it is very fascinating to see how it is all done.


"Sing Faster" is a stagehand's view of San Francisco Opera's production of the Ring cycle. The sequence at the top where they are trying to explain the plot over a poker game is fabulous -- the Rhinemaidens "are pissed" when they lose the gold. "Doesn't one of the giants end up getting a chick out of the deal? Oh yeah, Fafner!"

Big, big fun!



Yes, I've seen that! Loved watching it! It was interesting to see the world of the Ring behind the scenes (how the stage hands relate to it).

#38 Helene

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:38 AM

Of course the singers know tey're going to be interviewed. Some, like Netrebko, who in one of the first season's was interviewed in her dressing room, seem to thrive on it. Some of the others, not so much, and it's a trade-off. Who is going to say no to Peter Gelb?

#39 bart

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:09 PM

[... after listening to the Parsifal broadcast I already regretted passing on the HD transmission. Reading this thread, I look forward all the more to a possible encore showing, or if that doesn't happen, at least to Met on Demand.

Parsifal Encores are scheduled for Wednesday, March 20, which is when I'll see it.

I'm a fan of both the interviews (especially Deborah Voigt's) and the sequences showing the stage hands at work. I've learned a great deal from both.

#40 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:49 PM

I'm a fan of both the interviews (especially Deborah Voigt's) and the sequences showing the stage hands at work. I've learned a great deal from both.


Ditto about Voigt. She is a great interviewer. Fleming was good too.

#41 Jayne

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 01:59 AM

Someone mentioned Kathleen Battle earlier in this thread. Today i was sorting some boxes and came across the Feb.21, 1994 edition of Time magazine. Amazing edition, it covers the Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding conflict, the war in Sarajevo, the initial attempts at de-occupying portions of Gaza, the first free elections in South Africa (not so long after Nelson Mandela was freed), the brinksmanship between the USA and Japan on a trade agreement, the Tailhook scandal, and the initial Hilary Clinton - driven attempt at manditory employer paid health care legislation. The Culture section reviews the movie "Slackers", Edward Albee's play "Three Tall Women", and all the juicy gossip surrounding Kathleen Battle's firing by Joseph Volpe at the MET;

citing unprofessional actions....profoundly detrimental to the artistic collaboration among all the cast members....In doing so, he set off a grand international choruses of "It's about time."

http://www.time.com/...1940221,00.html

It's hard to imagine that she would participate in behind-the-scenes interviews that the MET gives today, given her extraordinarily erratic behavior. I also think the pressure of a live performance in HD would crush her psychological health. Interestingly, Peter Gelb is quoted - he was president of Sony Classical Film & Video at the time. A couple of my favorite stories from the article:
  • In Boston she telephoned the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to complain that the Ritz-Carlton's room service had put peas in her pasta.
  • while riding in a limo in Southern California, she used the limo cell phone to call her management in NYC to complain about the temperature of the limo. Her management called the limo managers, who then called the limo driver to tell him to turn down the air conditioning.
  • After her appearances at the San Francisco Opera, the backstage crew sported T shirts that read: I SURVIVED THE BATTLE
Opera is a small professional world, and Joseph Volpe had a lot of respect for making this decision. I think the other impressarios decided "If she can't make work at the MET with Joe Volpe, then why the hell would we be able to work with her?" Anyway, she seems to have made a nice career for herself in concert performances. She didn't starve, and Harolyn Blackwell got a nice boost. I was lucky enough to see her not too long afterwards as Gilda in Rigoletto, which is a fun role.

Sorry if this is straying off topic.

#42 Birdsall

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:17 AM

Someone mentioned Kathleen Battle earlier in this thread. Today i was sorting some boxes and came across the Feb.21, 1994 edition of Time magazine. Amazing edition, it covers the Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding conflict, the war in Sarajevo, the initial attempts at de-occupying portions of Gaza, the first free elections in South Africa (not so long after Nelson Mandela was freed), the brinksmanship between the USA and Japan on a trade agreement, the Tailhook scandal, and the initial Hilary Clinton - driven attempt at manditory employer paid health care legislation. The Culture section reviews the movie "Slackers", Edward Albee's play "Three Tall Women", and all the juicy gossip surrounding Kathleen Battle's firing by Joseph Volpe at the MET;

citing unprofessional actions....profoundly detrimental to the artistic collaboration among all the cast members....In doing so, he set off a grand international choruses of "It's about time."

http://www.time.com/...1940221,00.html

It's hard to imagine that she would participate in behind-the-scenes interviews that the MET gives today, given her extraordinarily erratic behavior. I also think the pressure of a live performance in HD would crush her psychological health. Interestingly, Peter Gelb is quoted - he was president of Sony Classical Film & Video at the time. A couple of my favorite stories from the article:
  • In Boston she telephoned the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to complain that the Ritz-Carlton's room service had put peas in her pasta.
  • while riding in a limo in Southern California, she used the limo cell phone to call her management in NYC to complain about the temperature of the limo. Her management called the limo managers, who then called the limo driver to tell him to turn down the air conditioning.
  • After her appearances at the San Francisco Opera, the backstage crew sported T shirts that read: I SURVIVED THE BATTLE
Opera is a small professional world, and Joseph Volpe had a lot of respect for making this decision. I think the other impressarios decided "If she can't make work at the MET with Joe Volpe, then why the hell would we be able to work with her?" Anyway, she seems to have made a nice career for herself in concert performances. She didn't starve, and Harolyn Blackwell got a nice boost. I was lucky enough to see her not too long afterwards as Gilda in Rigoletta, which is a fun role.

Sorry if this is straying off topic.



Yes, I doubt Battle would agree to any backstage interviews, although maybe she would if she got a list of the questions that would be asked and prepared her answers ahead of time. I have witnessed a phony side to her up close in person that she quickly puts on like a mask. It is like a super sweet persona that she puts on if she meets an aspiring singer backstage. Anyone else is treated with a very suspicious look. She suddenly goes from ultra defensive to super sweet and hugging the young singer. It is so obviously phony, because she changes in less than 2 seconds from very defensive to super sweet, and I suspect she would put that mask on when interviewed (if she were still singing at the Met and doing backstage intermission interviews). There is probably a clip still on YouTube where an interviewer talks to her about her concert and she is bubbly and happy but the minute the interviewer asks about her rumored backstage behavior she literally goes silent and angry and gets up and takes off the microphone and walks out.

Joseph Volpe devotes an entire chapter about her in his memoirs. But to tell you the truth I think he and other companies let things slide too long and let her get away with so much for so long that she got used to it and so when he finally slammed down on her it was totally unexpected for her (not anyone else). I am not condoning bad behavior. But a better management technique is to give warnings and consequences before you fire someone. She was a big star and big money maker. It is rare for a soubrette of her type to actually become so famous and command such attention or power. Soubrettes that sing mainly Adina and Despina rarely make it big. James Levine, who was supposedly her mentor and friend, is notorious for avoiding conflict or confrontation, and he really should have pulled her aside and told her to stop it or else get help. The whole story is actually rather sad. Someone who trashed an incredible (actually unbelievable) career. Yes, she sang concerts here and there but her career never really recovered, although it may have been her own choice.

I actually saw her one time in a concert with jazz musicians in which she sang in a jazz voice and less of an operatic voice. She released a cd of some of the songs. The cd does not convey her full ability at singing this repetoire. I really think she was a better jazz singer from hearing the concert than she was an opera singer. She could have had a career in that also, if she had wanted one.

#43 Birdsall

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:29 AM


I'm a fan of both the interviews (especially Deborah Voigt's) and the sequences showing the stage hands at work. I've learned a great deal from both.


Ditto about Voigt. She is a great interviewer. Fleming was good too.


Voigt has a great sense of humor and can use it if something goes wrong to turn lemons into lemonade, and that is great. But it is tragic that a once INCREDIBLE voice is a shell of its former glory. I saw her when she was huge as a bus as Ariadne, Lady Macbeth, Tosca, and concerts, and it was powerhouse voice that had EVERYTHING you wanted in a voice. Beauty of sound, strength, high notes, low notes, huge voice, etc. Then, after her gastric bypass I heard her in Chicago as Salome and was shocked to hear a smallish voice that was no longer superhuman. It was fragile sounding to me. I thought, "Okay, she's getting used to her new body and having to use her muscles differently to produce sound, so give her time...." and she seemed to get better for a while but she never recovered her superhuman, amazing voice, in my opinion. In her defense, she is a better actress. I think she feels better in her body and is more willing to act and I like her stage acting much better. Before she had a glorious voice but mainly stood and sang, but it was such a voice that you were willing to give up the acting. But now the announcement of her singing Marie in Wozzeck next season really upsets me. That is usually a role sopranos take on late in their career when they realize they can no longer sing the diva roles. Or a young soprano might take the role and stop singing it the minute she gets known. But maybe she took it on b/c Levine is going to conduct. Maybe if I had never heard her before the surgery I would not be so sad. I mean, this was a GLORIOUS voice which might have gone down as one of the greatest voices of our time. But now it is simply a mediocre soprano voice that is trying to sing the toughest roles in the repetoire. It really saddens me.

#44 SandyMcKean

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 03:59 PM

I need quiet during the performance, but the minute the curtain goes down for intermission it can be as noisy as a train station and it would not bother me.


Birdsall, I'm with you 100%.

I'm a highly emotional guy.....the kind that cries at touching TV commercials Posted Image. Rarely does an Act go by without me crying at least once (normally because I find the music so incredibly beautiful, not normally because of the story). So I get really, really into it while the performance is on (I too detest those who insist on making noise.....and I am wont to indicate that to them in no uncertain terms). But once that curtain drops, I could care less what happens. Strike up a rock band if you like; I won't mind. I do often sit there for a minute or two just stunned by what I have seen, and emotionally exhausted, but soon I recover and wander about or in the case of the HD broadcasts, listen/watch to whatever is shown. I like the interviews and everything else that typically occurs.

There is one thing that can bug me a bit: some of the questions that are asked. Some questions just seem so inane or "standard". Frankly, I'd rather hear about how the costume fits that night than to hear one more time: "How has your approach to the role changed over time?" (I think if I were ever asked that ubiquitous question, I'd say something like: "Well, you know, it changes over time.")

#45 sandik

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:51 PM

Frankly, I'd rather hear about how the costume fits that night than to hear one more time: "How has your approach to the role changed over time?" (I think if I were ever asked that ubiquitous question, I'd say something like: "Well, you know, it changes over time.")


Oh ouch -- since I'm often the person asking what a dancer has learned about a role on a subsequent performance!


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