We’re going to Budapest

I can’t understand why I’m so late posting this news, since I’m generally so on the ball about things like this. Anyway …

There was quite a gang at Ron’s for his annual Advent get-together, so we grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and took a show of hands about next year’s destination for the Group trip away. Good old Dermot did preliminary research what now seems like ages ago, and I tried without much success to gather information about St Petersburg. When push came to shove, the hands-down winner (joke, get it?) was Budapest. So that’s it then. Next year’s Group trip will be to Budapest. Last year’s May Weekend timing worked out well, so the plan is to repeat that. Dermot’s list showed Tannhäuser, Faust and The Marriage of Figaro as being on offer. Performance dates for these are: Faust, Saturday 5th May (Erkel Theatre); Figaro, Sunday 6th May (morning performance); Tannhäuser, Thursday 10th May (both in the State Opera).

The Alagna Affair

The internet is abuzz with comment and commentary about Roberto Alagna and his La Scala walkout. It’s all great fun. Here’s a selection of some of what’s being said (follow the links for the full article) —

From comments he made in interviews, Alagna gave indications he was well aware about what was being said about him online as well as in the press. So when he made his entrance Sunday night, he looked wary and nervous, very much like someone who wished he were somewhere else.
The Alagna Performance: An Eyewitness Account
MusicalAmerica.com

Alagna didn’t try very hard. At the second performance in the run the boos came early, just after his first aria, Celeste Aida. And Alagna’s only response was to give a sarcastic salute and walk off, leaving the understudy to leap into Franco Zeffirelli’s production wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
Outrageous behaviour from the Milanese mob? If you venture into the lions’ den, prepare to get bitten. For all Alagna’s sad back-pedalling since the explosion — “my throat was closed off . . . I couldn’t even speak a sound” — the overriding impression is that he just couldn’t cope with the criticism. And so he did the unforgivable: he fled.
Relax, Roberto. Boos are part of the game
The Times, London

Those who work […] with Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu [are] less [than] ecstatic. The couple, self-absorbed and acting as if by divine right, treated colleagues haughtily and assistants like dirt. They were banned twice from the Metropolitan Opera in New York and, backstage behaviour apart, never aroused a fervour to match their hype. Gheorghiu once walked out of a Carmen over a wig dispute; she cut Tosca rehearsals at Covent Garden last summer, ahead of an insipid performance. The pair have registered their names as trademarks to kill off independent fanzines. Associates refer to them as Posh and Becks or, in Jonathan Miller’s appellation, Bonny and Clyde. Some say the only opera they should be singing is Macbeth. This weekend the scales finally fell and the opera world turned its back on the crested pair.
Stop the opera, I want to get off
Norman Lebrecht, La Scena Musicale

So Roberto Alagna walked out on La Scala, writes Manuela Hoelterhoff. La Scala is hostile territory. “Baiting singers is part of the La Scala experience, though the recent makeover of the theater eliminated the standing room once occupied by La Scala’s polarizing claques.”
Bravo Alagna! Ban on Booed Star Is Absurd
Bloomberg

The world prefers its opera stars to be divine monsters. And opera’s so-called “golden couple”, Alagna and his wife Angela Gheorghiu, have become increasingly willing to oblige. Management are driven mad by the demands of the Burton and Taylor of the operatic world, but they know the duo are a bonanza at the box office. Both sides ramp up the process: the top houses compete furiously for the stars’ services; the stars become ever more outrageous in their behaviour. And so it goes on, until something snaps.
A tantrum too far
The Guardian

Roberto Alagna says he’ll sue La Scala

Guardian Unlimited Music
The tenor Roberto Alagna, who walked out of La Scala in mid-opera after being booed, claimed yesterday he had been under physical risk from the audience. “What if they had thrown stones at me, or some crazy person had attacked me?”, he told Reuters. “La Scala should have protected me. The show should have been suspended. Instead they carried on as if nothing had happened. After all, John Lennon ended up being killed.”

What a poor, sad person Mr Alagna is! From what I’ve read it seems to me that La Scala were dead right to refuse to take him back. After all, surely a few boos and whistles are part and parcel of an operatic tenor’s performance expectations. I’m sure his reputation would be in much better shape now if he’d struggled on and done his best to win over the audience. Storming off like he did merely gives the impression that he was as aware as the audience that he wasn’t performing well.