Monday, 30 July 2007

Top to bottom

In Great Operatic Disasters, Hugh Vickers describes a night to remember at L’Opéra in 1954:

Of all the things that can go wrong with Rigoletto, this is surely the worst, affecting what we might loosely describe as the emotional heart of the entire opera.

At the very moment when the courtiers are brutally mocking him in Act II, Rigoletto’s hump slid slowly down his back. As their taunts increased, the audience was puzzled to see a hunchback transformed before their eyes into a perfectly normal man—except for an enormous behind.

Guy Parsons of Geneva, who witnessed this, assures me, however, that much more entrancing were the baritone’s efforts to push the hump back up again, while singing the great cavatina beginning La la, la la.

Corregiani, vil razza dannata, indeed. As he points out, one would have thought they knew something about handling hunchbacks in Paris.

1 comment:


One example in nasty audience response: a student recital of Aida at Juilliard was so unbearably awful that when the soprano sang O, terra adio at the end, someone stood up and yelled, "You'd live a lot longer if you just shut up!"