The Mad, Mad World of Opera!
I wonder how many of you fellow opera-lovers have ever witnessed some
"strange happenings" live on opera stages. I have seen a few,
but mostly my collection of "Opera Oddities" (incidentally,
my all-time best seller) are documentations of various events that have
taken place over the years and sent to me by other opera lovers...those
who enjoy a good laugh along with their serious interest in the vocal
art. I will list a few below and believe me, they DID HAPPEN!
- New! Margherita Ruffino, whose repertoire also included Lucia
di Lammermoor (!) adds a little verismo to the Judgement
Scene from Aida.
- Rita Gorr, at a Dallas I rehearsal, yells
at Mario del Monaco for being out of costume.
- The famous "Dristan und Isolde" -- where Jon Vickers tells
the audience (Dallas again..maybe it is the climate?) to "shut
up with your damn coughing!"
- Franco Bonisolli, famous for his outbursts, calls for "Wasser"
just before he takes the first high C in "Di Quella pira"
in a Hamburg performance. I guess they brought it to him, because he
then unleashes a mighty one! (after some booing)
- I attended a City Opera Cavalleria once, in which a fellow
in the audience hated the scenery and yelled,
"That's not Sicily, you morons!"
- Poor Risë Stevens! She sprained her arm playing tennis, and during
the third act of a broadcast Met Carmen, Giuseppe di Stefano
twisted it so badly that it broke! You can hear her saying,
"Put my arm down!" as clear as can be. (An aside to this is
that I was supposed to go to see Risë the next day, since we had
our annual music club meeting , and my friends has planned a surprise
party for me when I arrived back home..well, no Risë club meeting..thanks
to Pippo...so how would they get me out of the house? They finally convinced
me to see her when she came from the doctor..and so the party did take
place..but Mr.Di Stefano almost screwed up my life!)
- Montserrat Caballé faints
halfway through a rendition of "Addio del passato" in 1972
at the Paris Opera. But give her credit at least for trying! Five years
later, when she canceled the opening night of Turandot at La
Scala, Maestro Zubin Mehta had to go out and announce
the bad news to the audience.
- The funniest soprano in the world (yes, even funnier than Florence
Foster Jenkins), Mari Lynn, of public access television fame, reads
the letter from La Traviata..which sounds much closer to
La TraviYENTA! I played this for Diana Soviero, telling her this was
a "Violetta the likes of which she had never seen before"
and she almost fell off the couch!
- More inimitable performances: Madame Lynn sings "Sempre
- The legendary Olive Middleton (80-something year old prima donna of
La Puma Opera) takes the optional "Kitty Carlisle" high C
in the Miserere from Trovatore
- An insane lady in the City Opera audience lets out a blood-curdling
"primal scream" just before
tenor Henry Price begins act two Traviata aria.Worse than Klytaemnestra
- And speaking of screams, here's a re-engineered version of the final
scene from Tosca...
| Zinka Milanov | Virgina
Zeani | Regina Resnik | Mad!
| Live Opera | Welcome