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Thread: Opera anecdotes

  1. #16
    Member aussiebushman's Avatar
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    Earnings of Opera singers

    I read in the sleeve notes on a set of recordings of Galli-Curci that in 1925 she demanded and was paid $2,500 per performance. The US government calculator converts that figure to $34,969 in 2017 money.

    A recent review suggest that these days, chorus members of the Met generally earn between $100.000 and $200,000 per year whereas the "stars" get $17,000 a night. The latter is roughly half what Galli-Curci was getting in today's money. However, the "super-stars do much better. At the height of his fame, Pavarotti was getting $100,000 per performance. With sponsorships and recording contracts, $5 million a year is not beyond reach of the top artists.

    As well as having great talent, these singers have trained for decades and live unbelievably stressful lives. I figure they are worth every cent, whereas top executives of even fairly mediocre companies get even more than that. In my opinion, they rarely earn it

    In Australia for example, the former CEO of Australia Post was getting $A5.4 million and the organisation never made a profit!
    Last edited by aussiebushman; Jun-17-2018 at 02:29.

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    Senior Member Tuoksu's Avatar
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    In a interview (which I sadly couldn't find) Maria Callas told the interviewer about a story how during a rehearsal of I think Parsifal (I forgot the details really), she was too shy to kiss the guy, so the conductor went up to him and kissed him then turned to Maria and said: "If I can kiss a man on the mouth like that you'd better do it!"
    Last edited by Tuoksu; Jun-23-2018 at 21:14.

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  5. #18
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    This is a classic regarding tenor Leo Slezak (father of actor Walter Slezak). Playing Lohengrin one time, and prepared to enter on a boat drawn by a large mechanical swan, he was startled to see the swan leave the station without him due to a backstage error. He had the presence of mind to be heard out front quipping "What time's the next swan?"

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    Senior Member Sieglinde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkW View Post
    This is a classic regarding tenor Leo Slezak (father of actor Walter Slezak). Playing Lohengrin one time, and prepared to enter on a boat drawn by a large mechanical swan, he was startled to see the swan leave the station without him due to a backstage error. He had the presence of mind to be heard out front quipping "What time's the next swan?"
    This is attributed to several singers, and some version include the tenor being very drunk and missing his swan.

  7. #20
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    Then there was the time at the Detroit Opera when the procession in Aida was led by the Energizer Bunny. :-)

    (It popped up again in Louisville, playing the bass drum during the Turkish March variation in Beethoven's Ninth.)
    Last edited by MarkW; Jun-28-2018 at 20:54.

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    Then there was the horn player in Hamburg who slipped in the opening of Der Rosenkavalier in place of Siegfried's leitmotif once in the middle of a performance of "Siegfried."

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    . . . and the Tosca, whose trampoline was too bouncy, and was seen reappearing above the parapet after she threw herself over.

  10. #23
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    And the Boris Godunov at the Paris Opera whose Coronation Scene was interrupted when the chandalier crashed down. (Enough!)

  11. #24
    Member aussiebushman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkW View Post
    And the Boris Godunov at the Paris Opera whose Coronation Scene was interrupted when the chandalier crashed down. (Enough!)
    Actually not an opera performance but I was at the Sydney Opera House for a performance of the Shostakovich 7th when one of the "donuts" crashed down from the roof, nearly missing an orchestra player. It says a lot for the Svetlanov/USSR symphony that they hardly missed a beat . I guess the Russians of that era were used to it!

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    Two bass players were engaged for a run of Carmen. After a couple of weeks, they agreed each to take an afternoon off in turn to go and watch the matinee performance from the front of house.

    Joe duly took his break; back in the pit that evening, Moe asked how it was.

    "Great," says Joe. "You know that bit where the music goes `BOOM Boom Boom Boom'--well there are some guys up top singing a terrific song about a Toreador at the same time."

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  14. #26
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    What's the difference between a Wagnerian soprano and a Wagnerian Tenor?
    About 10 pounds.

    What's the difference between a soprano and a pirhana?
    The lipstick.

    How do you tell if a tenor is dead?
    The wine bottle is still full and the comics haven't been touched.

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    Senior Member NickFuller's Avatar
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    The celebrated Austrian tenor, Leo Slezak, was singing Otello at the Houston Opera House and here he recounts how the program set out the operatic entertainment for the evening. Slezak was aware that American Opera Houses had pioneered the exploitation of sponsorship and advertising but even the humorously quick-witted Slezak was unprepared for the way that Crisco, a brand of shortening (baking fat) was brought to the attention of the audience:



    OTELLO
    Opera in four acts, by Giuseppe Verdi


    Act 1
    The people of Cyprus on their knees are praying for the safety of Otello, whose ship is fighting the elements. The danger passes, Otello arrives and greets the people with the words:

    USE CRISCO, THE BEST SHORTENING

    "Rejoice! The Turk is vanquished and drowned in the sea" The people hail Otello:

    CRISCO IS UNSURPASSED

    Iago, jealous of Cassio, who enjoys Otello's confidence, tries to render Cassio drunk. A drinking song:

    CRISCO HAS NO RIVAL

    is heard, and Cassio, by now quite drunk, attacks Montano. Otello rushes in and calls out:

    CRISCO IS ECONOMICAL

    "Down with your swords!" Cassio is being demoted. Desdemona, Otello's bride, appears in the doorway to the castle. Otello takes her hand and they sing a lovely duet:

    CRISCO USERS ARE SATISFIED

    which belongs to the best Verdi wrote, and is considered one of the pearls of operatic music.

    And so it continued through to the finale.

    After Otello has strangled Desdemona, he plunges his dagger into his breast, and dying, sings the touching phrase:

    ASK ONLY FOR CRISCO, THE FAMOUS SHORTENING

    "Kiss me, kiss me again!" He dies. End of the opera.
    From The Rough Guide to Opera by Matthew Boyden.
    https://super-conductor.blogspot.com...something.html

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  17. #28
    Senior Member NickFuller's Avatar
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    The 1981 Genoa Opera synopsis of Carmen for English-speaking tourists:

    Act 1. Carmen is a cigar-makeress from a tobago factory who loves with Don Jose of the mounting guard. Carmen takes a flower from her corsets and lances it to Don Jose (Duet: “Talk me of my mother”). There is a noise inside the tobago factory and the revolting cigar-makeresses burst into the stage. Carmen is arrested and Don Jose is ordered to mounting guard her but Carmen subduces him and lets her escape.

    Act 2. The Tavern. Carmen, Frasquito, Mercedes, Zuiniga, Morales. Carmen’s aria (“The sistrums are tinkling”). Enter Escamillio, a balls-fighter. Enter two smuglers (Duet: “We have in mind a business”) but Carmen refuses to penetrate because Don Jose has liberated her from prison. He just now arrives (Aria: “Slop, here who comes!”) but hear are the bugles singing his retreat. Don Jose will leave and draws his sword. Called by Carmen’s shrieks the two smuglers interfere with her but Don Jose is bound to dessert, he will follow into them (final chorus: “Opening sky wandering life”).


    Act 3. A roky landscape, the smugler’s shelter. Carmen sees her death in cards and Don Jose makes a date with Carmen for the next balls fight.

    Act 4. A place in Seville. Procession of balls-fighters, the roaring of the balls is heared in the arena. Escamillio enters (Aria and chorus: “Toreador, toreador, All hail the balls of a Toreador”). Enter Don Jose (Aria: “I do not threaten, I besooch you”) but Carmen repels him wants to join with Escamillio now chaired by the crowd. Don Jose stabbs her (Aria: “Oh rupture, rupture, you may arrest me. I did kill her”) he sings “Oh my beautiful Carmen, my subductive Carmen.”
    Last edited by NickFuller; Jun-30-2018 at 08:30.

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  19. #29
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    Absolutely wonderful! Thank you

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