Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hello Spring; Farewell my Lovely

And so, another chapter in the ongoing battle between man and machine has come to a close. 
Yes, dear Readers, I have been dealing with some rather hairy computer issues over the last two weeks. 
I emerge bloodied but unbowed and ready to Blog anew. 

While I was away, spring made her appearance.  First, my white dogwood burst into life. 


And, not to be outdone, my neighbor’s pink dogwood decided to strut her stuff the following day. 

Then, Cecilia, my tortie, started sneezing…..always a sure sign that spring has sprung.
The following day, I started sneezing.  Hello spring.  Achooooo to you, too! 


Natalie Dessay and David Daniels in Giulio Cesare
As if there were any doubt that spring was upon us, last Saturday marked the end of the Metropolitan Opera season for me. 
The final opera on my subscription series was Giulio Cesare by Handel, a beautiful farewell to what has been a fascinating season. 
It was a year of hits, mega-hits and a few notable misses.  I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  
I’m already looking forward to next year. 


The end of opera season always leaves me feeling a bit nostalgic. 
We had dinner the night before the performance at one of our favorite restaurants, Abboccato, on 55th street, right across from the City Center. 
The City Center, with its magnificent Moorish façade, is a New York landmark. 

City Center Auditorium

But for me, the City Center will always be the original home of the New York CityOpera. 
Dubbed “the people’s opera” by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, New York’s newest opera company opened its doors in 1943. 
Its goal was to find and nurture the best young singers from here and abroad and give them the opportunity to go from good to great. 
And for years, they gave the Met a real run for their money. 
We have the New York City Opera to thank for helping to hone the skills of some of the world’s greatest singing artists. 

In 1965, the New York City Opera Company moved to the New York State Theater (now the David H. Koch Theater) right next to the Metropolitan Opera Theater at Lincoln Center. 
Thus began a friendly/not-so-friendly rivalry. 
Sadly, due to financial difficulties, City Opera left Lincoln Center in 2011 and has been more or less an itinerant opera company ever since. 
Rumor has it, however, that they may soon be coming home. 
Can it be that the New York City Opera will once again call City Center their home?  Stay tuned.
So, who were some of these great singing artists who honed their skills at the New York City Opera? 


Portrait by Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964)
Beverly Sills (née Belle Silverman), the magnificent, all-American beauty, both vocally and personally, was a huge star at the New York City Opera and a regular guest on TV shows long before she ever set foot on the Met’s stage. 
Sills was a national treasure, who worked tirelessly for the arts and young artists long after she stopped performing.  Her death in 2007 was a huge loss to the opera world. 
Photo by Beth Bergman
One afternoon many years ago, my brother, then a young voice student at the Curtis Institute, saw Ms. Sills standing under a poster of herself in the seductive role of Cleopatra outside the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.  Somehow, he found the courage to approach her and said, “You know, Miss Sills, that picture doesn’t begin to do you justice.”  Clever boy! 
She gave him the most dazzling smile, and when she discovered he was a singer, too, she took the time to give him some valuable advice and some great tips on technique, which he never forgot. 
l to r:  Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti

And did you know that two of the “Three Tenors” got their start at the New York City Opera? 

Do you recognize this handsome young man? 
Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo (né José Plácido Domingo Embil) made his New York debut at the New York City Opera in 1965 as B.F. Pinkerton in “Madama Butterfly.” 
It didn’t take him long to move next door to the Met.  Three years later he jumped in for an ailing Franco Correlli and the rest, as they say, is operatic history. 
Domingo is still singing at the Met and, by the way, is still just as handsome. 

 And how about this gorgeous young man?  Recognize him?
Spanish tenor José Carreras (né Josep Maria Carreras i Coll in Catalán) had feminine hearts aflutter when he made his American debut at City Opera in the same role of B.F. Pinkerton in 1972. 
Only two years later, he made his Met debut in the role of Cavaradossi, the painter/political activist, who woos and wins the beautiful soprano in Tosca.  I had the privilege of being in the audience. 
I’ll never forget it.  He was pure electricity. 

Here he sings Cavaradossi’s final aria moments before his execution.  After asking his jailer if he may write a farewell letter to the woman he loves, he stands alone on stage and sings of his love for life and for the woman he will leave behind.  You can almost see him take her in his arms and make love to her one last time in this beautiful, bitter-sweet aria. 

So, once again, it’s time to say farewell to the Metropolitan Opera, to the Venetian crystal chandeliers, the great gold curtain and to my red velvet chair. 
Farewell, my Lovely………………until September. 


  1. Lovely post, ma chère M-T. I do not know much about the Opera, so it is a real treat to be led by the hand by a connaisseur (-sseuse?) to discover this magical world. That is a side of New York City I am not that familiar with either. Merci pour la visite... Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. It will be my honor to be your tour guide through the NY opera world any time.

      I am as passionate about opera as I am about sharing it.

      Gros bisous ma chère Véro,


  2. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Lovely post and the passion that is being expressed in this beautiful aria from Carmen is very touching!
    The photo that you borrowed here from Stan Fellerman did surprise me in a way that Plácido Domingo did look in his younger years very much like my Pieter... in HIS younger years!
    Love your dogwood photos and felines very much.
    Did you catch my post about {Hats & Me} ?
    We were gone for 11 nights and I had scheduled several posts. We did celebrate Pieter's Birthday on the island of Curaçao with daughter Liz and husband Hans from Rotterdam. We had them fly in from Amsterdam and meet us. A great family time with sunshine and adventure.
    Now back to doing laundry and catching up!

    1. Lucky you, ma chère Mariette, to have a husband who looks like Domingo.

      I did catch your post "Hats & Me" and loved it. I left a comment. I hope you got it. Thank you for the link to my post, "My Life in Hats."

      Welcome back. So glad you had a wonderful time with your family.

      Happy belated birthday to Pieter.

      Warm hugs,

  3. Spring has finally sprung here in London at last and the blossom is out. I am sneezing! I did not know that cats can get Hayfever too. We are looking forward to the start of the Holland Park open air opera season here in London. Not quite up to the standard of the Royal Opera House but if the weather is good it is great fun having a picnic and then enjoying the opera in the park.

    1. I've been in London in the spring and it is beautiful, even when it rains. I love London. It's been too long.

      Yes, cats can indeed get seasonal allergies and Ceci starts sneezing every spring right on schedule. Me, too.

      How wonderful that you have an open air opera season. We used to go to Massachusetts for the Tanglewood Festival every year. It was a beautiful setting for a picnic.

      Until a few years ago, the Met would come to the Cooper River Park only minutes from my home every August and the turnout would be in the tens of thousands. They came with their star singers, full orchestra and their own acoustic tent. The only thing missing were the costumes. It was wonderful.

      I suppose budgetary restraints have put an end to that, although they still do them in Central Park every summer.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

      Warm regards, M-T

  4. Haaaa the opera + Great post. I use to work in the production depart of the HGO! loved hearing them.

    1. Hey, it seems we have yet another thing in common. I've heard good things about Houston Grand Opera, although I'm sure now that you've left them they're not nearly as good (smile).

      How about doing a post on your experiences at HGO? That would be fabulous. I'd be the first to comment.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Warmest regards,

  5. Such an interesting post M-T. I enjoy your posts so much as I always learn something. I had no idea about the New York City Opera. Placido was/is very handsome. Did you know that José Carreras sang recently with Jackie Evancho. You can read about it and find links to some clips here:

    By the way, are your dogwood trees the same as our magnolia trees. The flowers look much larger than our Red Osier Dogwood bushes.

    1. I will be interested to check out the clip with Jackie Evancho. Sadly, José has not aged as well as Placido due to his extended fight with leukemia, but he will always be the same beautiful man in the hearts of those who love him.

      On a lighter note, magnolia trees are not the same as dogwood trees. My mother had a beautiful magnolia tree in her front garden. I believe this variety of dogwood is indigenous to the US. I've never seen it anywhere else. It is glorious, but lasts only one to two weeks at the most. I look forward to it blooming every year, however fleeting its beauty

      Cheers, M-T

  6. I love your opera posts and listen to all the clips you include. I've been listening to Werther clips all weekend. I hadn't heard of Werther or Jonas Kaufmann or Sophie Koch before your post. I'm probably going to buy the opera because Kaufmann perfectly embodies that hopelessly lovesick romantic. He's hot in this role!

    Your tortie Cecilia is gorgeous and adorable. I showed my boyfriend her picture, and he exclaimed, "That's a beautiful kitty!" You can tell she's a tiny, delicate beauty, too.

    1. My Dear Anonymous,

      I can't tell you how thrilled I am that you enjoy my opera posts, and that you have clearly entered into this wonderful world of the highest vocal art. I am honored that I have introduced all this to you. Keep exploring. There's so much there.

      On a sad note, my gorgeous Cecilia passed away a few months ago. She was just short of her 23rd birthday. She was a very special cat. Everyone fell in love with her. She slept curled up under my right arm every night. It feels very empty now. Sometimes I think I still feel her there.

      It was so hard to say goodbye, but I still have two beautiful kitties to love.

      Please stop by again.

      Cheers, M-T

    2. Oh, Marie-Thérèse, I'm sorry to hear about Cecilia's passing! You must have taken very good care of her, though, for her to reach 22 years of age. She does indeed sound like a very special cat. I'm sorry that space under your right arm feels so empty now! I hope your other two kitties are taking good care of you. Thank you for sharing your Cecilia with us!


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