White Shirt Monday: Dream A Little Dream

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[…of Vitellia. Or of Tito. Or both? Either way, it is springtime: suit jackets be gone, it is time to roll up your sleeves and show off your White Shirt (tie and braces optional) without caring about lapels.  – Kate Lindsey (Sesto) in Mozart’s “La clemenza di Tito”. Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 2014]

And today in “Other White Shirt things that happened at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées”: the 2014 “Tito”. Has the 2016 “Mitridate”unveiled a secret algorithm? Will there be an even gayer 2018 “Lucio Silla”, perhaps? Or a 2020″Idomeneo”?

For current dream casts and dream projects, have little dream over here at thadieu’s;  that might distract us a bit from the bad news of this past weekend, with YT censor hordes claiming another victim and preventing M7an6eb from continuing their invaluable work of making opera broadcasts available for the geoblocked. It was wonderful while it lasted, and many thanks to whomever it was behind that account. Much appreciated, truly.

36 thoughts on “White Shirt Monday: Dream A Little Dream”

  1. Loved Kate as Annio to Garanča’s Sesto in the Met’s production of a few years back and again as Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. That is one strong face!

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      1. Yes, and she can act as well, and even though looks are not supposed to count Kate has those too, which makes her a stand-out in trouser roles. The Met went on a Puccini jag this season so there was not much scope for any of those any time soon. Not that the Met likes to stray too far from gender conformity – alas.

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      1. THANK YOU!
        yes, it has much of the same material – it seems they are reestablishing their good work (and I will try to praise them as much as possible wihtout pointing too much attention their way)
        Also, what a lovely channel intro video!

        (PS: @Dr.T: the Semiramide is present, too 😉 )

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      2. yes, perhaps Anik mispelled the first time around? and i just found music for the morning on the channel: Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera: another opera i once encountered but have no clue.., but the first phrase of music from E.Haïm’s orchestra has me sold (she & her orchestra are incredible! we need her in Lucio Silla, with already choice for Cinna!)

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        1. I’d be there in a hearbeat for that Silla!

          That Giardiniera is really a good performance; I keep recc’ing it in the notes to “Stages”.
          [M7an6eb was the prior channel – I keep it in bookmarks and it came up empty yesterday afternoon, with the usual YT suspension notion. I’m glad it is back, and will keep watching out for the moving “7” in case something like this happens again!]

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        1. So is the little Lindsay Cherubino voi che sapete clip I referred to earlier, but fortunately I downloaded it before it disappeared.
          But Ma8ne3b is still here. There’s hope yet for more uploads to appear. When that happens I suggest you download everything you want and (if you wish) re=upload under another account. I already downloaded the Nozze with Kate’s Andy Warhol Cherubino.

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        2. damn it! Looks like they are conducting raids at the moment!

          As inkbrain says: download anything of interest immediately. Thankfully, there are still people out there doing the Sisyphos work of uploading material otherwise unavailable, or geoblocked.

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  2. I guess you all know Kate Lindsey’s Cherubino of 2012 (Aix) with P. Petibon (cute trainee in a fun office setting)? If not, it’s on YT in full length, published by ketelfan (Oh no, I forgot how to do the linking again but have to stop trying, it’s my home-office morning an I have not even opened the stats software for the analysis I’m supposed to do, yet!)

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    1. ask me about tomorrow’s lecture that I am currently (not) writing… 😉

      Yes, that one is fantastic (hah, and it’s AIX!!) – it is also up in HD via the newly resurrected channel of you-know-who and I shoudl definitely not head over htere now for a reminder.

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    2. I did come across the Kate Lindsay Cherubino in the process of my explorations. o me as if she had taken if not a leaf then at least a paragraph from Shaham’s book with the preliminary abbreviated calisthenics, but this Cherubino seemed to me to have some incipient Jock characteristics which surfaced a bit more explicitly in the Non so piu. It does seem like I seem to be completely stuck on the RS interpretation from which I don’t seem to be (and perhaps see no point in) getting unstuck. I was struck by thả diều’s comment about KL’s “interesting voice” and listened more carefully than I normally would, and yes, even my unsophisticated ears did pick up something there that made it seem delicious, but I can no longer find the clip. The Andy Warhol Non so piu with Petibon is still out there, and I think I should download it before it disappears even though I did not like the push that sent Petibon backwards into her chair.

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      1. Yes it’s here https://youtu.be/9Dvk4yYBWI0 (I hope this doesn’t embed itself again). I’m just watching this during my lunch break (good excuse, after all you have to eat) and have to say, the office setting really works well.
        We had the discussion of Cherubino being too “pushy” before of course, but for me he doesn’t come across as threatening here (actually, call me shallow if you like, but I wouldn’t mind being pushed by him so much ). What I don’t like is Susanna’s dancing during Voi che sapete, it’s distracting and not in a good way here. There was something similar in the recent Berlin production, but in my opinion Voi che sapete is rather too delicate for much further side-action.

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        1. Agathe, I agree – he is not threatening – but imo the “push” even if playful and done in the heat of heightened excitement, shows a presumptuous, impertinent attitude which does not jibe with his sweetness and his repeated assertions that he is being forcefully and capriciously acted upon by love (actually by the presence of desirable women!), and not the other way about. I remember you expressing your repugnance/dislike for his over-reaching actions in the garden scene, which, I agree, could definitely be seen as insolence. Its a shade of something resembling that which I see here.
          Of course I can justly be accused of being overly attached to my own interpretation but that’s where it stands with me! I can see there is room for an argument to be made about the instability and inconsistency of adolescent behaviour, but I see a good prima facie case, which case, imo, has very good standing, for Cherubino being very consistent character indeed. So what to make of the little detail about him binding his eyes with the ribbon he will later use to bind his wound? I see that as an inconsistency.

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          1. Hmm, thanks for discussing and I’m all for controversial opinions. With regard to your feeling of something presumptuous developing here, I wonder what this Cherubino will grow into within the surroundings of this high-end company which would most likely facilitate patronizing and arrogant male behaviour. The count certainly evokes some instinctive dislike in me here, which I usually don’t feel so strongly for him and maybe it’s the business world surroundings that makes me see the situation of a superior hitting on an employee dependent on him more clearly.
            With regard to the ribbon, I have no further ideas on that, other then that he couldn’t very well bind his wound with the bra that substituted the ribbon earlier, but yes, an interesting point.

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          2. Agathe, I am completely with you on all counts – the sexual harassment idea may be realistic and contemporary – but it does dip towards the sordid end of the spectrum, and I cannot think that Mozart would entirely have intended that. I much preferred the Count in the Teatro Communale di Firenze (07′?) production.
            I had to burst out laughing about your comment on the bra! I found the stocking? /bra thing a little weird. I have to go back and watch that again because it looked like he removed the stocking from Petibon almost like a magician’s sleight of hand. I think the ribbon is the correct item for Cherubino’s innocent fetish – if you can even call it that, whereas the pheromone tinged stocking/bra is mis-calibrated and excessive. You may be correct on your prediction about the unfortunate trend to masculinise the Cherub and make him a Don-in -training. How dull and banal and un-nuanced that would be. And again, thinking of the bra/stocking, when I was in boarding school the coveted item to possess was the handkerchief of one’s object of obsession, and preferably it had a drop of her cologne in the corner which never quite faded away. Of course that was in the last century, and our school culture was nothing if not Victorian!

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          3. Oh dear, do you mean the Firenze production of 2003 with Zubin Mehta? I just looked that one up and came across soprano Eteri Gvasava here, whom I had a massive teenage crush on when she performed as a young singer at the local Stadttheater. I had to think of her recently and couldn’t even remember her name, so thanks for that (sadly she seems to have more or less finished her career now).
            The stocking, yes, I also wondered about how it looks like he takes it of Petibons leg at that moment.
            You are kidding about the handkerchiefs at your school, right?
            And I remember how you recently suggested Cherubino to actually be a girl. In this context, check out Rachel Frenkels Cherubino on YT, very (ballet-)girly, with make-up and high heels, so audience not familiar with the story would probably not get he is supposed to be a boy. I wonder if this was intended in this production in the way you suggested?

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          4. Yes, that is exactly the Nozze I was referring to, though I thought it was 2007. And yes again on the Countess being Eteri Gvasava. Now I have to take a second look keeping your comments in mind! I thought the whole cast had good chemistry, specially between the Countess, Susanna and Cherubino, and the performance hung very nicely together, at any rate, I enjoyed it better than some of the others I’ve seen. And now I have to find the girl Cherubino you mentioned. It seems to me this role is a richly-fertile ground for interpretation, so thank you for setting me off on yet another cherubic tangent.
            And I am not kidding about the handkerchief! Contriving to get that handkerchief was also a way in which to signal one’s intent. My school was established by British, Methodist missionaries in 1865, and though most things changed with the times, the basic culture and traditions stayed pretty much unaltered. We ‘boarders’ had a pretty regimented life, and boarding school as well we all know, is the perfect environment in which to discover one’s same-sex orientation. Even the day-school girls were not immune, and crushes were treated pretty much as ‘normal’ though trysts had to be conducted with the utmost circumspection. As I said before, I fell in love for the first time at age 11, and did not break it off until circumstances it made impossible to continue. Our last meeting was when I was 23. And I hope this wasn’t too much information for you, but if so I ask to be pardoned!

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          5. Oh, how cool, I just found the production in full length on YT, it’s one I wasn’t so interested in at first sight because of the traditional setting but since you recommend it and with Gvasava singing I’m really looking forward to it now (and can one ever watch to many Figaros?).
            The fascination of Cherubino, apart from many other interesting aspects (including „hot mezzos in pants“) has a further dimension for me and that is is the technical difficulty of his arias which are looking quite accessible at first but are actually quite difficult to sing (as is most of Mozart) because every slight unevenness of sound will directly stand out. So, these are pieces I have taken up again and again throughout my (nonprofessional!) development as a singer and I’m always in awe of how a really gifted singer can make them appear so easy.
            And I like your boarding school story, very cute, you could write a book about that!
            The girl cherubino is this one: https://youtu.be/ZgklYBI7cJ0

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          6. Thank you for the clip, Agathe!
            …and that very Cherubino will be singing Ruggiero in the Papatanasiu/Minkowski “Alcina” in October. 😉 Another reason to look forward to it!

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          7. Yes, I know, and to be honest, I don’t really know yet what to make of her. I find her musical approach on Non so piu a bit to ‘straightforward’ (does this make sense, I don’t know how else to express it).

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          8. Yes, perfectly. But I hope she grew a little since then, since her material is nice. But I think she is also part of the Staatsoper ensemble and they apparently have the bad habit of picking up good (though not sensational) people very young and keeping than on permanent second row – after the recent Tito, I am wary about that.

            >

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      2. oh, i have to say i really enjoyed Susanna’s dancing during Voi che sapete! in fact that was _the_ first impression i had of P.Petibon that i thought i wanted to see/hear more of her! there’s something very natural (here comes this word again) about it, the flow, the moment.. may be i’ll get around to explain some day.. but yes, those precise dancing sequence!

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        1. Oh, how interesting. Well, just to clarify, I don’t mind at all the way PP is dancing, no, she is very elegant and you know I’m a huge fan of her way of moving on stage, but (and this is not PPs fault of course) for me Susanna is just going a bit to far with ridiculing Cherubio in front of the countess here.

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  3. The entire Montpellier Figaro with Rachel Frenkel:
    youtube.com/watch?v=T6bZZdjREUU
    — for the moment. The production appears assertively gendered, this reversal included, with Figaro and Almaviva as near Doppelgängern, Non più andrai angry and almost abusive, Figaro’s exceptional ease in the company of women less evident than elsewhere.

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    1. Thank you for the link, FF, and for the warning! Cherubino being manhandled by a jealous Figaro while the Count watches on in glee is something I have seen before – it may be one layer, but Mozart should never be reduced to just one layer, I believe. Some productions then revert it with Figaro addressing the Count, and teaming up with the women and marginalized masculinities. Which they agree on before the aria, and continue in the Second Act.

      >

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  4. The manner and more importantly the extent to which Cherubino is abused in Non più andrai calibrates for me the extent to which the director has indulged a taste for vulgarity. One version in particular has stuck in my mind. It had Almaviva gleefully collaborating with a venemously sadistic Figaro to wound, humiliate and disfigure a helpless and disheveled Cherubino. A hank of his hair was hacked off, his arm was sliced open and he was made to succumb on his knees to having his coat used as a straitjacket. I found that to be the most disgusting, over-the-top distortion of this scene in this opera that I have ever had the misfortune to witness.

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    1. As someone personally attached to Cherubino, or identifying with him for a long time (or still doing in some ways – whom am I kidding): agreed, hard to watch.

      From a narrative perspective, I am more at unease with – as FF pointed out – how this changes the character of Figaro (Cherubino, even if abused, is still Cherubino – who will cover his cut with the ribbon and thus have a stark set-up for the “comfort” scene with the Countess), who usually is not that toxic.
      And as a commentary on how people who are fluctuating between genders, or people who are not buying into a system of toxic masculinity, get treated under a dominant model patriarchal masculinity, I find it, sadly, very spot on.
      The cutting-off-Cherubino’s-hair detail, I have seen happen various times since the late 90s, as a picture of violent masculinization, and I find that it works well (again, from a staging viewpoint).

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      1. Yes, the Cherubino/ Non più andrai continuum can go from good-natured teasing to the meaner sort from whence it proceeds to bullying and to injury and sadism. It seems the grown men envy Cherubino’s easy access to female intimacy and affection, and suspect he gets more than that under the cloak of immaturity (men di quell che tu credi). Therefore their frustration puts Cherubino in an invidious position. They suspect him of getting some while they can not. Figaro is also angry at the Count for his presumptive seigniorial privilege of jus primæ noctis and takes out this anger (kiss up, kick down) on Cherubino. His clumsy attempt to make a ‘man’ of Cherubino is really an attempt to even the playing field so that Cherubino’s privileges with the ladies might be forced into attenuation. It is really an expression of sexual jealousy shading towards the sadistic. Whether I choose to see Cherubino as fluctuating between genders or as a juvenile male who will eventually reach adulthood I see no need to import such a degree of toxic brio as in the Christina Schafer version into the interlude. It also occurs to me that in sending him off to war, the Count really wishes to dispense with Cherubino in a more permanent fashion. I am resolving now to re-examine Mozart’s older adult men through the lens of a higher magnification.
        And now I think in this context I shall have to re-frame Il barbieri as the back-story ‘dead cat bounce’ for Almaviva’s soiled reputation.

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        1. Thank you for this discussion, quite eye opening. The non piu andrai really is disgusting, I never like this scene but this is hard to watch. In this particular production, with Cherubino being staged so girly here I would also read it as an display of toxic masculinity against queer women and maybe that was the director’s intention? Figaro really looses it when Cherubino kisses Susanna in the beginning of the scene and would he react the same with a „male“ Cherubino? Quite often Nonpiu andrai has an air of „I show you your boundaries but, then, that’s just how we guys act“
          The change of the Figaro character by the Montpellier staging is interesting. FF mentioned his usual „exceptional ease in the company of woman“, and to me he usually comes across as rather boring especially when compared to the other male character of the count (but it may be just that the count has the more beautiful music). Figaro usually displays a kind of arrogant superiority and he doesn’t really seem to be conflicted in any moment which doesn’t really make him an appealing figure for me although he is probably meant to take that function for the audience? So, giving him some passion would generally be a good idea in my opinion but displaying him a homophobic sadist reallly is too much in my view.
          Another note on „toxic masculinity“: The office setting in the Aix 2012 productions stands out to me in that regard because I got sensitized to this while working in pharmaceutical research for a while some years ago. It’s really deeply internalized in such traditional companies culture and basically affects all woman, especially mothers, who are just not taken seriously anymore, the moment they are pregnant. And, while I was not personally bullied, I just found it too hard to witness (and couldn’t bear the sexist canteen talks anymore), one of the reasons I left there and returned to academia.

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  5. Yes, indeed it is “disgusting”. Figaro…. Its difficult to romanticise a factotum, so the ‘fact’ (sorry!) that he tends towards the boring end of the spectrum is (to mix my metaphors) already baked into the cake. At first he is oblivious to what I characterise as the Count’s lecherous conniving to seduce Susanna, but when she opens his eyes he becomes angry and malicious and sings that aria with lots of sexual double meanings about how he in turn would like to abuse the Count. So once again Agathe, I easily fall into step with your views. Non più andrai is in fact a bonding exercise of adult male bullies who objectify Cherubino – a lower status creature, not a ‘real’ man and not yet an adult – in order to hammer home a lesson about the meaning of masculinity. What really angers the Count is that a mere whippersnapper has better access to Susanna than he does, and what gets Figaro’s knickers in a twist is that the Count might be able to have a go at Susanna before he does. So neither aristocratic rank nor marital access can give these two what they so desperately desire. Yes, It is aggravated envy, but in artistic terms, try as I might, I cannot see a justification for taking it past teasing. The big deal about Figaro, in its day, was that it dissed aristocrats and showed that servants were really the ones in charge, and I don’t think this pretzel can be twisted into too much more than that. My admittedly uncharitable view is that the highest degree of complexity falls to Cherubino, while the others are stock characters in comparison.
    This is another inkbrain tangent, but have you read Norah Vincent’s “Self Made Man”? Its the real-life account of a lesbian who passed as a man for a year and then wrote a book about it, so it is an outsider’s inside view of the phenomenon of male socialisation.
    I am mostly out in left-field when it comes to opera, but I daresay I sometimes can summon a writerly analysis on a fictional character, and that tendency seems to bleed into how I see characters in opera as well. But there are times when I simply scratch my head and ask “Why?” Why bring this particular interpretation of Non più andrai to the forefront? After all, is there any need to get into the pulpit and try to teach us the lesson of ‘these are the rules about how we are expected to behave as adult males, and this is how we treat people who don’t learn the lesson and also break the rules’. I mean, we already know that. This is sheer banality recycled as cruelty and gratuitous sadism, and in my view it is merely horrifies without teaching us (the audience) anything new at all.

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