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15.01.2014
Probably (Hopefully) this Rheingold plays out very differently in the house compared to the HD telecast. Then, is it only me or has the HD production team now really pushed their “Bild Regie” too far? Finally, I have seen several of these HD transmissions in different locations and the sound have almost always been very impressive. I had the same experience with the theater sound system here at a more-or-less neighborhood theater.
Firstly it hints that the MET engineers may not have done a good balance of singers and orchestra. Imagine it the theater had just the front speakers around the screen area ; and just back speakers for surround at the extreme back of the theater. Now a better question might be roles Blythe *could* have a big success in, if only she were thinner. Ms Blythe had a huge success here in Boston with Offenbach’s La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein last season and skillful costuming in second Empire style made her look just great. She also showed a wider acting range than we’re used to, being a surprisingly skilled comedienne.
And perhaps her VOICE is so compelling”, although Ms Blythe is certainly entitled to a vice or two if she so desires! She was so comfortable in her body that it didn’t take much time to forget her diameter and concentrate on her dynamic character. She could also sing Adalgisa, where for decades audiences have just accepted a dumpy mezzo in a role that theoretically is supposed to be for a young soprano.
Never mind the figure, but wouldn’t Kundry, Adalgisa and Eboli all be a bit on the high side for Blythe (excellent singer though she is)?
125th Anniversary Gala last year and it seemed like very, very hard work for her to get through that number. She could transpose O Don Fatale and the Veil Song, but I suspect she would die in the trio.
In a way Blythe would have had more options in the early 20th century than the early 21st century(and I’m not talking about the size issue). She’s really a throwback to an earlier era where audiences considered more than just powerful top notes. I think she was a mezzo that blew out her top unlike Blythe who sounds like a real contralto. If Blythe reminds me of anyone (not in terms of actual voice or range, just situation) it’s Ebe Stignani. Unfortunately, she was extremely plain and not as large as Blythe, but definitely dumpy looking.
Blythe is in the same situation — right now, sticking to character roles allows the critics to avoid the inevitable comments about her appearance. Actually, the black costume for Orfeo is the original color we saw when the production premiered with David Daniels, who doesn’t need dark colors to hide extra pounds. Blythe has sung Carmen, but to the best of my knowledge it was not Seattle, but some place like Minesotta. I remember reading reviews and they were all along the same lines: great vocally, physically a stretch, but aided in that by very well designed and constructed costumes. Blythe is good in this comedy roles because she is genuinely funny and has expressive eyes.
There is no shame in doing these roles when you have the voice and the talent (plus the attitude) for them.


She could be Mrs Herring or Florence Pike in Albert Herring, but both would be a waste of her gifts -- until she’s mid-fifties anyway, but then she could do Klytie. I think Fricka works better as a character if there’s a big change between Das Rheingold Fricka and Walkure Fricka. The big difference from her younger self is that she has a better sense of herself and had learned to stand up for what she wants and needs. Well … uh, Luisa Tetrazzini is a poor example because she eventually became so fat that she ended her opera appearances and limited herself to concerts. And Oliver is My Drug of Choice, if you think focus on appearances is a new thing, read old reviews. I actually agree — during Il Trittico last year I was so grateful that Blythe was in the cast, not only for her vocal security but for her characterizations as well (which I only HEARD in the Saturday broadcast, but they still came across loud and clear). Instead of ganging up on long-time singers who are vocally established, can we perhaps please pass the note to Angela Meade instead, who may still have time to integrate a weight change into her vocal development?
The two teenagers who appeared on The New York Post's infamous "Bag Men" cover are suing the tabloid for libel, the Boston Globe reported on Thursday. The Massachusetts pair filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court on Wednesday, suing the Post for libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. The cover came days after the Post had been criticized for reporting that more people had been killed in the attack than turned out to be true, and for writing that authorities identified a Saudi person of interest hours after the bombings.
In a statement to The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone last month, Post chief Col Allan defended the paper's decision. My reaction post-performance was that reviewers in print have been really kind to this LePage debacle. The close-ups yesterday were extreme and you were rarely allowed to capture any realisation of the auditorium view of this staging. Her repertoire lets her stick to roles that don’t require any kind of glamor, and, indeed, where being too good-looking might be detrimental. I had the good fortune to be sitting very close to the stage, but I’m sure her charisma reached the upper levels. Brangane and Ortud are more obvious choices but in Wagner audiences have always accepted large women as long as they had the vocal goods.
But I think if anything these drab costumes and dark lighting only make the audience *more* aware of the weight issue, not less.
But if Ebe Stignani sang next to Callas for so many years Blythe could certainly do the role justice.
Recent comments on here have suggested she experiences a degree of discomfort with the tessitura of both Azucena and Amneris, for instance.
She has a very deep mezzo and I’ve heard similarly about her discomfort with the high-lying parts of Azucena and Amneris. To my surprise Guleghina, a singer I have very little regard for these days, came off as being far more effective than Blythe. Contraltos then could sing many more roles than they can today and audience then put less emphasis on blazing top notes in any given role than they do today. Stignani had an amazing extension to her top register up to an easy top C, which is displayed on recordings even from late in her career. There aren’t any videos of Stignani btu I assume she was very oldfashioned in her stage manner.
I think back then she was still a full figured woman, but her weight had not ballooned to what it is today.
I was standing beside her during the intermission of the Boris dress reheasal and she is a tall woman.


In my mind Das Rheingold Fricka should still have a softness to her, her marriage to Wotan hasn’t been ruined by many years of infidelity and arguments. She’s angry from the moment she walks onstage and her brief scene is full of fury and self-righteous indignation. Her biography states the ways in which even her concerts eventually became embarrassing for her, as she had to be pushed by several people up stairs and tears streamed down her cheeks. As I mentioned the last time this subject came round, he had pretty strong opinions on this matter too.
We deride singers for being big enough to need two seats on an airplane AND we deride then for losing enough weight to fit in a single seat. This site is infamous for being merciless towards singers for careless singing, sloppy diction, fashion choices, hair, lack of, being boring, being too over the top, being too traditional, being too avant garde. My pearl clutching is over the relentless meanness of allegedly funny jokes about overweight people. Weeks after one suspect was dead and the other apprehended, the Washington Post's Erik Wemple reported that Barhoum's father was seeking legal action against the Post for wrongly targeting his son. When he took his bow during the curtain calls he looked a little wobbly and needed support. I have made a quick comparison with Chereau, Kupfer, Bech Holten and Holm, and must say that yesterday’s production was the weakest of them dramatically. I mentioned Carmen and Dalila, but a voice of Blythe’s timbre could be singing Dorabella, Eboli, a lot of roles, basically. I heard some of her SFO Azucena and that too was very, very hard work for her so I would guess Eboli would be next to impossible. By the time she was 50 she had no top register at all, she tried to sing La Cieca at the MEt in the early 70s and was replaced. By Die Walkure I think Fricka should be hard as nails, a natural progression in a failed marriage. As a result I never got to hear her in her prime, and now instead am faced with the anxious prospect of an iffy Bruennhilde. We chastise impresarios for ignoring the fact a singer is the size of a mid century eastern European apartment, and for not doing so.
At a time when violence against and bullying of gays is (especially) on our minds, it seems unseemly that one discriminated group would make cruel jokes about another. In addition to this, the glorious sound of the MET orchestra was strangely muted behind the miking of the voices. I also saw her as Principessa in Suor, and Jezibaba in Rusalka, roles that don’t require beauty. Yes, she she could easily lose 50 or 75 pounds, but she has certainly suffered from bad costuming. An African American woman, playing a fifteen year old Japanese GIRL, singing in Italian.And singing WONDERFULLY!
The second largest disappointment to me was the grand failure of Bryn Terfel, with above critics of whom I strongly agree. Once again, I couldn’t give a flying fuck how big a singer is as long as they can SING! Was this only me, new settings at the local cinema, or do you recognize my description from other venues?



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