Thursday, February 14, 2008


Many of the visitors to Too Many Tristans arrive here via links from Google. Here are this week's top 10 search terms that lead people here:

1. anna netrebko naked
2. anna netrebko sex tape
3. anna netrebko naked sex on tape
4. classical cd covers
5. what's happening 70s sitcom
6. john anderson 1980 campaign
7. wwe slash
8. turkey trot
9. gary coleman marriage
10. lice home remedy

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's in this month's Gramophone?

From the March, 2008 issue...

  • In the editorial, James Inverne laments Arts Council England's budget cuts. Live by the state funding sword, die by the state funding sword I always say. "State funding calls for enlightened decisions, not bullish balance-sheets. Yet private funding, as happens in America, is also vulnerable - not least to the tastes of the donors." Leaving aside the childish need for assurance - what in life isn't "vulnerable"? - notice the implicit authoritarian approach to art. The Enlightened Ones need to be in charge. Can you imagine if regular people (the donors) had their say?
  • Well, that was a weak editorial. How about the Letters section? John Baker of Folkestone speculates that Karajan may have cried more than twice in his life. A bold claim, but I won't challenge it.
  • The Taking Note section quotes from an Independent article about a Barbie at the Symphony concert in Glasgow (little girls dress up and go to listen to Nutcracker and Swan Lake excerpts.) The predictable cheap cynicism about Barbie is there but check out how the blurb ends: "At least two in the audience in Glasgow were not impressed: 'cheesy' and 'weird' according to Micaela, 10 and her eight-year-old sister Cosima." Macaela? Cosima?! Yeah, these kids were picked totally at random. (I'm sure the next issue will report kids going to a Wagner concert and being blown away - "totally cool!" reports 9 year-old Isolde. Her younger brothers, Siegfried and Lohengrin, nod in agreement.)
  • Simon Rattle: "With Wagner I chose not to know [about his life] because I find the more I know about him as a human being, the harder it is to conduct his astonishing music. With Mahler I really chose to know because I find that it enlightens. And Wagner's music is transcendentally beautiful and very often deeply benevolent and good and I don't think any of those phrases could be used about him as a person. That's really a mystery, whereas Mahler as a personality is so completely tied up with his music that I find it helpful." I get my back up every time I read an evaluation of Wagner's character because they're usually so facile, but his larger point here is true. Is Mahler's character being so much in the music something inherent or could it be we've made it that way as part of the re-evaluation of his music that started in the 1960's? The question's not rhetorical - I don't know enough about pre-1960s Mahler reception to know if words like "neurotic" were thrown around to describe both the man and the music. (And anyone who uses words like "transcendent" and "astonishing" when talking about Wagner's music obviously is on to something.)
  • A review of a La Scala Barbiere with Callas arouses perverse curiosity: "Rossi-Lemeni['s]... appallingly hammed-up performance is followed by a near riot as the anti-Callas claque gives him the kind of tumultuous reception Callas had signally failed to receive after 'Una voce poco fa'. In the singing lesson in Act 2, Callas sings a cut-down version of Rossini's own 'Contro un cor', a tone up in E. It is not well done. Dr. Bartolo's response 'Bella voce!' is asking for trouble from the gallery. The singer, Melchiorre Luise, attempts a rebuttal by spitting out his next line 'Certo, bella voce': a riposte which is met with further jeers from the gallery. ... Giulini, an unwilling conscript, appears to have neither the will nor the ability to control a performance where the singers are playing fast and loose with the corrupt and foreshortened text that in Milan in 1956 passed for an "edition". Profil's reissue is almost as inept....." Put this one on the Christmas list, friends.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Shut up with your damn coughing

Legendary tenor (and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan's own) Jon Vickers, trying to sing Tristan in Dallas, finally has enough...

(More crazy opera clips here.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Some Strauss Things

Bryan Gilliam, one of the kingpins of modern Strauss scholarship, is working on a book entitled Rounding Wagner's Mountain: Richard Strauss and Modern German Opera. According to the publications list at his Duke University homepage, it's due to be published sometime this year.

Interesting NY Times article from 1986 about the "problem" of Capriccio. The Met introduced surtitles (actually, back-of-the-seat titles) in 1995 and Capriccio had its Met premiere in 1998.

Wolfgang Sawallisch's recording of Elektra is being reissued by EMI. Along with the Solti, it's one of the few absolutely complete recordings.

The latest rumour about the still-unreleased on DVD Met Salome with Karita Mattila from 2004 is that it will likely never come out since the production will be revived next season with Mattila (and be featured in the movie theatre broadcasts then issued on DVD?).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Complete Callas

Young Alex is starting to settle now so we've been having some free time in the evenings. We've been spending it plowing through the complete Extras box set as well as about 86 episodes of Property Ladder we have on the PVR. I also found some time to finally dig into a Christmas gift from generous in-laws: the 70 CD Maria Callas The Complete Studio Recordings boxed set.

I've ripped the first few discs to the iPod: the First Recital and La Giaconda. Listened to the first act a couple of nights ago. For a long time, it was an opera that was on my list of ones I should eventually get to (but after I do the ones I'm excited about). Yet again, I was a dimwit - as I started looking at it, two things struck me right away. First, frickin' Boito wrote the libretto and second it's from 1876 - i.e. post-Aida, post-Italian premiere of Lohengrin so kind of an interesting period for Italian opera. So why hadn't I listened to this before? The first act was great. I really need to revisit my "yeah, yeah, I'll get to it" list...

I haven't listened to the First Recital yet. Interestingly, the very first track in the Callas set is Wagner - the Liebestod from Tristan. Of course, it isn't Mild und leise but Dolce e calmo.

Here are the contents of the box. The remastering dates are from 1997 except where indicated.

  • The First Recital (1949, remastered 2007)
  • La Gioconda (1952, remastered 2007)
  • Lucia di Lammermoor (1953, remastered 2004)
  • I puritani (1953)
  • Cavalleria Rusticana (1953)
  • Tosca (1953, remastered 2002)
  • La traviata (1953, remastered 2007)
  • Norma (1954, remastered 2003)
  • Pagliacci (1954)
  • La forza del destino (1954)
  • Il turco in Italia (1954)
  • Puccini arias (1954)
  • Lyric and Coloratura arias (1954)
  • Callas at La Scala (1955)
  • Madama Butterfly (1955)
  • Aida (1955)
  • Rigoletto (1955)
  • Il trovatore (1956)
  • La bohème (1956)
  • Un ballo in maschera (1956)
  • Il barbiere di Siviglia (1957, remastered 2007)
  • La Sonambula (1957)
  • Turandot (1957)
  • Manon Lescaut (1957)
  • Medea (1957)
  • Verdi Arias I (1958)
  • Mad Scenes (1958)
  • Lucia di Lammermoor (1959)
  • La Gioconda (1959)
  • Norma (1960)
  • Callas à Paris I (1961)
  • Callas à Paris II (1963)
  • Mozart, Beethoven and Weber (1964)
  • Verdi Arias II (1964)
  • Rossini and Donizetti Arias (1963)
  • Carmen (1964)
  • Tosca (1964-5)
  • Verdi Arias III (1964-5/69)
  • The EMI Rarities (1953-1961)
  • The EMI Rarities (1962-1969)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Greatest Classical CD Covers EVER, Part VI

Click here for the complete (ongoing) series...

Another nightmare from another psychotic brass player. I'd never go to one of this guy's recitals. Right after he comes onstage, I'd have to lean over to the stranger beside me and mutter "Isn't that the guy who was streaking in the parking lot?"

Now this I have to buy. It's the first album made by Lion Head since he left the Beaux Arts Trio. I'm a little skeptical about his forming a band with Rabbit Head and Dogalope Head given their past indiscretions. And Rooster Head Jr. may be great shakes in the jazz world but does he have the discipline for classical? But the advance buzz is great and this is likely a dark horse for this year's Gramophone awards.

These two arthouse types are so blasé about everything they don't even notice their fancy coffee house table is on fire! Serves those pomo snobs right. I can tell you that's never happened to me at Tim Hortons.

This came up on a search for opera cd covers. I'm not going to question Google. I'm making an unqualified recommendation for this cd. If you like the late Beethoven quartets, you'll love this disc.

Is this a compilation? Doesn't sound like it from the title. So is the singular referred-to opera Hansel and Gretel? Can't be because Pavarotti never heard a German opera in his life. My own pick for favorite opera for children is Dialogue of the Carmelites.

This guy swung through my town a few summers ago. Unfortunately it was the hottest one in memory. He came trucking out on stage wearing about 50 pounds of fur. He was flat on his back onstage screaming for water before he finished the second number. He lost the crowd and most people filed out at that point which is too bad. He stripped down to his boxers and finished his set like a pro. I never heard one balalaika all night.

I'm starting to wonder if this guy actually plays tuba or if he's some kind of Gallagher-type prop comic. Or maybe he's a clown act. He probably comes out, makes like he's going to play something, then giggles like a maniac while throwing candy into the audience. I could get into it if it was Kaufmanesque performance art but as it stands, NO SALE.