Stop, Drop and… Sing?
During the Royal Opera House’s June 29th performance of The Queen of Spades, soprano Susan Chilcott was reminded of her fire safety lessons when an onstage candle accidentally ignited the back of her gown during her aria. Despite the fact that the audience began shouting at her, Chilcott, playing the part of Lisa, was unaware of the danger and continued singing. The conductor stopped the orchestra while a fire officer and a staff member rushed on stage with fire extinguishers and proceeded to douse the surprised soprano. After only a brief pause, the singers were able to compose themselves and continue the performance, despite a slightly tattered costume. Chilcott later mentioned in an interview that she thought the fire officer was an intruder and now finds the incident rather humorous.
The Pavarotti Soap Opera
As Mrs. Luciano Pavarotti signed a divorce settlement for $60 million, Pavarotti announced in his CNN interview with Connie Chung that he will be officially retiring on his 70th birthday in 2005 and that he is planning to take out his next series of nuptial vows with Nicoletta Mantovani. Mantovani is 32, younger than all three of Pavarotti’s daughters from his previous marriage of 34 years. Pavarotti, 67, plans to start a new family and have “anywhere between one, two and ten” children.
Disasters Abounding at Paris Opera
Opera de Paris has faced quite a bit of bad luck lately! Forty-five minutes into a June 22nd performance of Dvorak’s Rusalka at the Opera Bastille, an off-stage scream was heard as a large wooden scenic wall crashed onto the stage. Fortunately, Renée Fleming, singing the title role, and Larissa Diadkova, as Jezibaba, were on the other side of the stage at the time and were not harmed. The performance resumed after a 20-minute interlude.
The night before, during a performance of The Magic Flute at the Palais Garnier, a malfunctioning trap door left a table on stage. The performance was subsequently garnished by loud collisions of off-stage props and the audible cursing of the stagehands. Bravo to Kurt Moll, who continued singing over the din.
These incidents followed an embarrassing opening night of Opera de Paris’ Carmen on May 13th, where malfunctioning equipment forced the rehearsed staging of the production to be switched at the last minute to a concertized performance. Ensuing performances were staged as scheduled.
An Explosive Opera House
On July 3rd, a worker at the Bolshoi Theater stumbled across an old WWII mine behind the theater. Officials took the mine away and destroyed it, thereby avoiding any damage to the ancient theater. The mine was left over from WWII, when the theater was used to store ammunition.
Critique the Music Critics!
When you read reviews, do you often wonder if the critic attended the same performance you did? Is it possible that music critics will one day be required to know what they are talking about? This fall will mark the first degree program in Music Criticism, available at Northwestern University. The Chicago Tribune reports that “graduates will earn a Bachelor in Music/Master of Science in Journalism and study news writing, editing, reporting, music history, theory, and ear training.” Hopefully, other universities will follow suit.
Operatic Nuptial Vows
On June 29th, bass Samuel Ramey, 60, was married to soprano Lindsey Rae Larsen, 38, in South Dakota. Both Ramey and Mezzo Frederica von Stade sang during the ceremony. The couple first met in 1994 during a production of Boris Godunov at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where Ramey was singing the title role and Larsen was in the chorus. They ran into each other again and began dating following Ramey’s divorce in 1998.
Wondering About Crossover?
Hold your breath for this one: Jennifer Lopez has signed a contract to produce and star in a big-screen adaptation of Carmen.
Domingo Awarded Medal of Freedom
On June 20th, President Bush announced the 12 recipients of the prestigious Medal of Freedom. Among them is Placido Domingo, honored for his contributions to the operatic world. This is the highest distinction that can be awarded to American civilians. It was established in 1945 by President Truman and later reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963.
Close Call at La Scala Sparks Alarm
June 27th’s small fire at the La Scala renovation site was quickly extinguished before the theater sustained any damage. Firefighters were posted at the theater precisely to avoid this type of potential disaster. A worker ignited the fire as he was cutting a wood plank, which, because it was part of a gear mechanism, was quite oily. The fire was about a square yard in size.
New Lincoln Center Chair
Bruce Crawford, the 73-year-old former honorary chairman of Metropolitan Opera, was recently named the new chairman of Lincoln Center. Crawford succeeds Beverly Sills in the position and will be coordinating decisions regarding the Center’s upcoming $1.2 billion renovation.