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I think next season is definitely the year to see it. In fact, I'm disappointed they cinemacast it this year and not next. It will be Daniel Barenboim's Met debut in the pit. And Katarina Dalayman (who was a sensational Brangaene in this production when it premiered) and Peter Seiffert will be the Met's new Isolde and Tristan. And that, I think, will be something to hear. Rene Pape will also be reprising his hair-raising King Marke. So let's all hope next year the opera is not plagued by all the little catastrophies that befell it this year.


I do wish they were having a different Brangaene next season.


Philip, I'm going to my first Tristan next Friday the 28th - who knows who my Tristan will be but I'm still looking forward to it.

Just got back from my first Tosca at NYCO - didn't like it much & it was strange because it was the first opera that I really simply didn't like. I thought the tenor opened up in the last act but I really disliked him in the first 2 acts, I thought the soprano was ok but not great and even though much of the music was beautiful it really didn't sound good to me. Am I too used to the Met's productions or is it the acoustic limitations of the State theatre? I was up in the 5th ring, but I've been sitting in the family circle boxes at the met (right next to those score seats) so the location is comparable...



Did you see the article in Wednesday or Thursday's New York Times about how Tristan is plagued by bad experiences, much like "Macbeth" is in the theatrical world? It was pretty amazing. I blogged it so the link's over there somewhere.

Maybe your previous aversion to the piece had something to do with its odd haunted vibe!?!?!

Glad you enjoyed it this time around though. I always admire your ability to give things a second/third/fourth try!


Susan, the NYCO production is really odd and maybe if you saw a more tradition staging you would like it better. I've heard the Met is going to get rid of their impressive Franco Zeffirelli production and have something less traditional. I saw the soprano who's doing it at NYCO a couple years ago and thought she wasn't very interesting but I couldn't decide if her acting was too self-conscious of if the production was killing her good intentions. It does call for "an actress who can sing".

City Opera has been using a 'sound enhancement' system for a few years (they won't call it 'amplification') and it can make for some odd imbalances depending on where you sit.

Sarah, I was determined to have a breakthrough with TRISTAN and now after 35 years I've finally succeeded.

Sometimes going back to things you disliked can change your opinion; that has happened to me - notably with some Peter Martins like MORGEN (now a great favorite), TALA GAISMA and RELIQUARY.


I think the Times overplayed the bad luck "Tristan" as an opera has. Really, it's just been this run of the opera that's been a disaster (in more ways than one! Hehe.) The writer under-presented Hildegard Behrens' accident at the end of "Gotterdammerung." She wasn't simply "clonked" (is that the word that was used?) on the head. What happened was that as the soprano runs off stage the floor trap door opens so that the entire set can collapse and be lowered into it. The techs activated the "apocalypse" a few moments too early - the scenery started falling apart prematurely and the trap doors opened just as Behrens was running over them. What saved her life was that as she was hit on the head with a piece of collapsing scenery she fell forward. Had she fallen backwards - she would have fallen into the trap door and would have been crushed to death by the set coming down on top of her. She took, I think, 3 years off singing after this accident because her back was very badly injured.

"The Makropoulos Case" - the year Richard Versailles died during its first scene on opening night - was also cancelled for its 2nd performance because of a bad snowstorm.

And the writer didn't even mention the suicide during intermission of a broadcast of "Macbeth." And how could anyone present the list of deaths at the Met without mentioning what might be the most famous to opera lovers: Leonard Warren had a heart-attack and died during a performance of "La Forza del Destino" in 1960 after singing the words "Ora egli viva... e di mia man poi muoia..." (Now may he live! Then, by my hand, he shall die!"


Yes, Hilde's injury was really very serious.

I had a ticket for the third MAKROPOULOS CASE performance of its debut season which ended up being the premiere. In the event I did not like Norman in the role very much.


I did not see it with Norman, but it does not strike me as a role for her. It was done in an English translation and Norman co-translated it, not very accurately because certain things she refused to say. (Kind of how Vickers took some liberties with the text to "Peter Grimes" because he found them offensive.) I saw the revival of "Vec Makropoulos" a few years later with Catharine Malfitano, and those were performances for the ages. She owned that stage. (Can you imagine Jessye Norman topless, in slinky panties, lying on the couch with her legs up in the air?) I brought a friend who'd never been to the opera and he was blown away. I went back when they did it again the following season with Malfitano. (Sir Charles Mackerras in the pit both times, if memory serves.) It's a shame those performances were not video-taped.


One of the funniest things was the scene in which Christa/Cristina questions EM about her age. Maralin Niska screamed "Bitch!" but Jessye mumbled a very ladylike "Hussy!"


Has Mattila sung EM??


Was Niska in the Norman performances?

I don't think Mattila has done EM, but she should. The Met production would suit her well.

When Norman did it - did she run through a burning billboard of herself at the end?


hi philip,

i never visit your blog, but i remembered this time, to see if you went to the T&I.

i think i read somewhere that macmaster had bad allergies the night he sang.

as for vec makropoulos, i'm surprised none of you saw it at BAM with anja silja a few years ago. i did not like the opera at all, i wasn't paying much attention for some reason (i do love jenufa though), but anja was barefoot, sitting on some table or chairs, dangling those long legs of hers... and she was over 60 at the time. very hot!


Niska put MAKROPOULOS on the map in NYC with a phenomenal mixed-media production at NYCO by Frank Corsaro. She made Norman and even Malfitano seem tame by comparison.

Yes, the billboard ignited at the end of Jessye's version.

Tsuh Yang, I only saw Silja once - as Marie in WOZZECK opposite Jose van Dam at the Met. She was really incredible. As far as BAM goes, I try to leave Manhattan as rarely as possible...unless it's for tennis.


Personally I happen to have an intense dislike of Silja's vocalizing, so I avoided those BAM performances. But I do hope for a Met revival soon.

Oh Philip, there's always someone who did it better...!


LOL...yes, there IS always someone who did it better. And believe me: you might not think so now but 20 years from now you will be saying the same things. It's generational. When I started going older people always said stuff like: "Nilsson? You should have heard Flagstad!" or "James Morris is no Hans Hotter!"

However, I do think I have a more expansive view of things than some in my age group.


You are definitely more accepting than some. Though I know someone older than you who heard Bjoerling in the house. He said that while Bjoerling sounds great on records he was a big fat nothing live in the theater.


oh, you manhattan snobs... i have seen so much good stuff over the years at BAM. robert lepage's double bill of bluebeard's castle/ erwartung (from the canadian opera) that was 100 times better, more intelligent, inventive, haunting, than the met's gigantic, oversized, overstuffed production, with a self-indulgent jessye (running around in a bloody dress kissing a dummy in the erwartung).

silja was fantastic at the met's jenufa last year . i thought at some points that she could still sing brunnhilde. coming out of the met, i chatted with mark morris about it (he hated the giant rock in jenufa) and we gushed about the above lepage production. we both still remembered it.


"Can you imagine Jessye Norman topless, in slinky panties, lying on the couch with her legs up in the air?"

Oh, dear God!

I laughed so hard at that!

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