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‘I wouldn’t pay £2 to hear her, let alone £200′

The Times critic Richard Morrison is pretty harsh on Angela Gheorghiu in the Covent Garden revival of La Rondine. He writes that she looks more ‘like a desperate housewife’ than a ‘desired courtesan’…. and that ‘her singing is all over the place, horribly below the note in places….’

In other words, he wrote a stinker.

Being personally averse to La Rondine, I won’t go. Do others who have seen the show share Richard’s outrage?

angela gheorghiu roh

UPDATE: Other critics had a much better time. Erica Jeal, in the Guardian: Vocally, Gheorghiu now seems to be using her resources very carefully indeed. When she sings out, her creamy, steel-tipped tone remains glorious – her early aria, Chi il bel sogno di Doretta, is beautifully done. But there are also whole passages when she makes us strain to hear her..

John Allison in the Sunday Telegraph: Gheorghiu overacts, making eyes more at the audience than her on-stage lovers. Perhaps she is compensating for a worrying loss of freshness and bloom in her voice, but she sings cautiously even when she gets past “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta“, a cruelly testing way to start the evening. Only a few moments, such as the Act II quartet, find her soaring freely.

Judge for yourselves here.

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  1. I notice that there are several glasses of wine on the table. I imagine, if what is said about Richard Morrison’s review is true, he, like another newspaper critic when he made derogatory remarks about a Wagnerian diva should expect one to be poured over his head at the next Crush Bar reception.

  2. Theodore McGuiver says:

    La Mujer Alagna was meant to do this production a few years ago in Toulouse with her soon-to-be ex. Nothing came of it and Inva Mula and Giuseppe Gipali sang the leads, making possibly the first pair of Albanian lovers on a French operatic stage, at least in this repertoire. LMA nearly took part in it shortly afterwards in the Festival des Régions in Paris in 2005, ultimately dropping out at the last moment and enabling Inva Mula to fulfill a life-long dream of getting on a red-eye flight from Aix, just a few hours after singing in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. It was Boesman, I think, who announced her performance-saving antics in front of a rapturously grateful audience.

    The Guardian was much more charitable towards her performance. Solidarity, maybe.

    A friend of mine was hired to sing in an opera at the Salzburg Festival a few years ago. Romania’s finest was also in the cast and present at the pre-rehearsal reception. She introduced herself to him, saying ‘Hi, I’m Angela’. Caught completely off guard, my friend replied ‘Angela who?’. The two events may not be related, but he hasn’t been invited back since.

    All this to say: OK, she sings well on a good day, but do we really need this woman?

  3. Theodore McGuiver says:

    By the way, I don’t think La Rondine is a bad piece. I’d take it over Il Trovatore – a piece for cretins, invariably sung by cretins – any day. Importantly, Nicolas Joel loves La Rondine, and that shows. But it’s hard to find a stage director who really believes in Il Trovatore. Just ask Philip Stölzl…

    • Kulta Heila says:

      “but do we really need this woman?”

      Booooooooooooooooooooo Mr.Theodore McGuiver

    • “a piece for cretins, invariably sung by cretins”

      I think you need to review your terms of abuse, and soon.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        You’re right; I shouldn’t have used the same noun twice in one sentence.

  4. Olivier Keegel says:

    “Do we really need this woman?” is, in my opinion, not a very civilized way of putting things.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      You’re both right, it wasn’t particularly elegant. How about: ‘Do we really need this idiot’?

    • Well, he also says Trovatore is a piece for cretins sung by cretins. Having both performed and watched it with relish and adored it since the moment I first heard it, I’d say I qualify on both counts. Who cares whether stage directors believe in it or not? Keith Warner certainly made he most of the production I was in. Mr McGuiver does indeed appear to be a lot less civilised than he thinks he is.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        Context counts for a lot, it’s true. My experience of Trovatore was with a mostly awful cast, dismal stage direction and an overrated conductor with no stick technique whatsoever. The anvil chorus sounded like a fourth-rate Italian oompah band after eight pints of beer. I can usually find something positive in things I generally dislike but Trovatore defeats me in my search every time. I can see why you like it, though, Mark; you’re a great italophile and the work has a wonderful role for you…I also might have felt differently if I’d done a production with someone as good as Keith Warner. I realise I’m in a minority of one, hating the piece, but that’s the way it is.

  5. Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    I have heard la Gheorghiu in La Rondine several years ago in San Francisco. She was fabulous then. No one is getting younger over time, and Ms. Gheorghiu being all over the place and missing her notes is, sadly, something that is reported with frequency. Looks like a career comes to an end. Of course, for any professional on the stage (musician, singer, actor, dancer, clown….) the most important thing to know (and do) is: to leave the stage at the appropriate time. Hopefully, Ms. Gheorghiu knows this – and acts accordingly…

    • itrinkkeinwein says:

      She is nowhere near the end of her career. She sings relatively infrequently and has always taken exemplary care of her voice, both in her choice of roles and in her refusal to push (vocally).

  6. Tristan says:

    She is so overrated like many others…she looks rather nice but there was never blood, heat or anything else. She was always boring on stage and even in her main repertoire like Mimi she never reached Cotrubas, Freni or Scotto. Her Tosca was very weak, her Adriana was dull and none of her recordings are even worth mentioning. However let’s be happy to have her around, she seems to amuse the world of opera. She is no major singer at all.

  7. What I cannot stand about Gheorghiu is that she is now giving opera singers a bad name. Read her interviews. The interviewers seem to believe all singers exhibit horrible behavior. It’s the opera way.

  8. Michael Bo says:

    Whether or not Ms Gheorghiu is a nice person or whether some find her attractive and others not is to me completely irrelevant. Vocally she has been soaring for years, and, yes, even now. She is nowhere near the end of the line, and I remain stupefied by how ungracious and downright cruel opera lovers and critics can be

    • I completely agree!

    • Mr Oakmountain says:

      I completely agree with you, and I am reminded of fans of reality TV who want to see people rise fast and crash badly while entertaining them with their private life. I’m sure opera fans could do better than this …

    • Jane Green says:

      I have met her many times at the stage door and she is always absolutely charming to me and to my husband. We would travel absolutely anywhere to hear her sing and to see her act.She is the best.

  9. Istvan Horthy says:

    I take anything Morrison writes with a large pinch of salt: he tends to exaggerate wildly and uses a lot of slang in order to try and appear trendy. The old school of serious and fair-minded critics like William Mann or Peter Heyworth must be turning in their graves.

  10. The quickest way to get attention is to say something controversial. Seems like someone is just looking for attention.

  11. Jonathan Gibson says:

    Went last night–first time I have ever been to hear her and I thought that at the big moments she was just in a different league from the other singers–though as Erica Jeal says, she was inaudible for much of the rest of the time. If I had seen her a few years ago, maybe I would have been more disappointed… Her acting was as naff as Morison says, however. And Castronovo I found dull (Ed Miliband in early 20th-century leisurewear with a voice to match). £2? I paid £15 and was happy…

  12. harold braun says:

    I enjoyed many of her performances and I think she is great.Every great artist has some evening when it just “doesn’t work’,especially a singer.I also enjoyed many of Mr.Morrison’s intelligent comments,but this is unnecessary polemic and deserves a polemic answer:With all due respect,Sir,this is crap talk.
    Personally,I would spend up to 20 pounds for a CD of hers,up to 200 for a performance,and(if i ever had the money) 2 million for…….ok,I leave that to your imagination! I think she is wonderful,one of the last larger then life divas in an age so sadly bereft of them!

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