Monday, December 31, 2012

Handel Wants More Time – Voglio tempo

We all want more time. And this seemed like a good theme for New Year's Eve. This is a promo video from the lovely and talented (but annoying to watch at work) Emanulle Haim's recording of Handel's Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (The Triumph of Time and Enlightenment). 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Brunch – Sull' Aria (Röschmann & Schwartz)

Here is another Sull' aria, this time in the proper language. Unfortunately there is no video here, but some lovely singing. Of course, Dorothea Röschmann is incomparable as the Countess. I’m not familiar with the Susanna – Spanish (!!) soprano Sylvia Schwartz – but she’s a soprano to watch out (and listen out) for, with a smooth, light, lyric voice.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

More Joy from Malin Hartelius

The MDR Radio Choir will perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on New Year’s Eve with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Choir under the leadership of Riccardo Chailly. Why do we care? The soprano soloist will be none other than Malin Hartelius, and Matthias Goerne will sing the bass part.

MDR Figaro radio will broadcast the concert live on December 31 at 17:00, Leipzig time, which by my calculation is 11:00 AM here in the Eastern United States. There is more information at the MDR website about the concert. Here, with the help of Bing and Google translating engines (and somewhat cleaned up by me) is a translation of the blurb from MDR Figaro:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gratuitous Friday – Rolando Villazón Sings Tchaikovsky

Rolando Villazón sings Lensky's aria from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. Back in 2009 he got stuck in a truly dreadful production in Berlin (though he claims to have liked being in it.) My readers know I’m all for new directorial interpretations. But from what I have seen and heard of this one, it’s a concept that has nothing to do with the opera; and it’s a concept that could easily be applied to virtually any opera. The Mostly Opera blog posted several photos, plus a review of that production.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Elīna Garanča Sings Ave Maria (no, not THAT one)

I almost skipped this one, thinking: oh boy, another Ave Maria. But not reading the fine print, and wondering if it were the Gounod or the Schubert, and loving Elīna Garanča's voice, I clicked. (Elīna Garanča is of course, the beautiful Latvian mezzo-soprano known for her many stage roles, including Carmen, La Ceneterola, Dorabella, and Sesto.)

This is gorgeous: it's a Spanish setting, that is almost pop or broadway-opera-crossover. Ave Maria, while a prayer to the Virgin Mary, is not really a Christmas text, but it crops up a lot at this time of year, and it is about Jesus' mom. This is from the same Viennese concert as the Genia Kühmeier clip. 

Garanča sings Ave Maria by William Gomez.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kaufmann is Lohengrin at La Scala: The Video (Another Pre-Review)

Well, I finally found it! I am probably a bit late to the party. I've only viewed bits on my iPhone, and the quality there was not great, but given the other comments at YT, I would guess that's a connection issue on my end.

I don't think I've ever heard JK sing better. Annette Dasch sounds better to me than in the Bayreuth recording; and she stepped in more or less at the last minute here. Evelyn Herlitzius may just be the best current Ortrud (sorry, Petra Lang, I still love you, too.) René Pape is suitably regal. 

The 12 Days Of Christmas – Frederica von Stade & Kathleen Battle

This clip is from the wonderful 1991 Carnegie Hall Christmas Concert. Frederica von Stade and Kathleen Battle joined forces with the New York Choral Society, the American Boy Choir, and  the Orchestra of St. Luke's, all under the direction of Andre Previn. Wynton Marsalis and his quartet also appeared on their own and with the sopranos in various combinations. I have had this program on CD for years, and I enjoy the variety of straight up classical, pop-ish arrangements, and jazz. All of the principal artists do a great job in each style. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Genia Kühmeier sings Reger's Maria Wiegenlied

The lovely Genia Kühmeier has appeared as Pamina in the M22 Zauberflöte, Michaela in Carmen with Kaufmann and Kožená, and a charming Zdenka in the recent Vienna production of Arabella. Here, in a 2009 Christmas Concert from Vienna, she sings Max Reger's beautiful Maria Wiegenlied (cradle song). Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jonas Kaufmann sings Cantique de Noël

O Holy Night is possibly my all-time least favorite (sacred) Christmas song. I have heard way too many people massacre it in various hideous ways. On the other hand, have you ever tried finding any recordings of JK singing Christmas music? And in the right hands (voice) it can be a lovely aria. In the YT comments, someone bashes JK (it seems like a popular hobby) for some "alterations" of the melody in the second stanza. But if my memory serves me, it is actually written that way. In any event, who can pass up any opportunity to watch and listen to Jonas Kaufmann sing? 

Cantique de Noël
Advent Concert, Dresden, 2009

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Brunch – Hansel und Gretel: Abendgesang

This isn't really a Christmas song. But the opera is often presented at Christmastime. (Although some recent productions are not of the happy, fluffy, Christmas fairy tale variety. I probably would not take kids, for example, to the Richard Jones production!!)

Anyway, this duet is sometimes featured on Christmas albums. It's sung beautifully by the ever-wonderful goddess of song Malin Hartelius as Gretel, and Zurich stalwart mezzo Liliana Nikiteanu, who is super in a dress or in pants, as Hansel. 

Happy Christmas Eve Eve. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

O Tannenbaum – Roberto Alagna and Thomas Hampson

Opera singers singing Christmas music through a Hollywood orchestral filter in O Tannenbaum (orchestrations by the great Jonathan Tunick). It looks like this is from a 1996 Christmas album they did with Kiri Te Kanawa. It might be fun to hear the rest of it. Unfortunately there's no video of our divos, but they do sound lovely in their brief few bars together.

Roberto Alagna and Thomas Hampson

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gratuitous Friday – Sándor Kónya is Lohengrin

Following up the Italian opera in German (Sull' aria on Sunday) and on last week's discussion at the Earworm opera blog, here is some German opera in Italian. In his recent Lohengrin interview, Jonas Kaufmann discussed the Italian-ness of the opera. He advises young singers starting to work on the role to learn a few pages of it in Italian, in order to work on line. Elaborating on his theory, Kaufmann named Sándor Kónya as a “perfect interpreter” of the role. Lo and behold, Kónya did sing the role in Italian. (Apparently, it was always sung in Italian in Italy up through the 1960s.) 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reading Reviews of Röschmann's Rosenkavalier

Several fellow bloggers got to see Dorothea Röschmann and Magdalena Kožená in Der Rosenkavalier in Berlin this week. I stayed home and watched a DVD of Lohengrin (Bayreuth 2010).  Rats! Not that I didn't enjoy Lohengrin, but I have to admit I am jealous of my Berlin-visiting colleagues.  Fortunately they've shared their thoughts in their blogs.

Don Giovanni – Zurich 2006 (Part 2: Never Put Your Hand Inside a Singing Statue)

Simon Keenlyside
as Don Giovanni
as Leporello
As I noted yesterday, I didn't like this Don Giovanni much the first time I watched it. But reading the Earworm's recent reviews encouraged me to revisit the performance. The mirrors and drapes and other nice touches in the production emphasize the ambiguity that one often feels about this opera. Donna Anna sings her Act 2 aria (Non mi dir) supposedly to Ottavio, but she is wearing Giovanni's red velvet jacket, and holding the hand of her dead father (or the hand of a representation of her dead father.) Her heart belongs to Daddy, and she feels obligated to Ottavio, but I think she wants Giovanni. As Ottavio moves towards her, she steps downstage, waves her hand to bring down a curtain behind her, blocking Ottavio. She sings the bravura ending of her aria "in one", downstage in front of the curtain.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Don Giovanni – Zurich 2006 (Part 1: The Music and The Mirror)

After reading the Earworm's recent review(s) of this performance, I decided watch it again. The first time (seems like ages ago, but was only a few months), I had trouble finding a way into the director's concept. I just didn't care that much. It's still not a top favorite Don Giovanni, but I like it better and I understand more of it now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Philippe Jaroussky sings Offenbach? (with Natalie Dessay)

I was listening to beginning of this performance of the Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffmann and thinking, "Oh, he's doing it as a solo. Wouldn't it be cool if..." and then Natalie Dessay wandered in and started singing, too. Now I was actually thinking about Max Emanuel Cencic singing the alto part and PJ moving up to soprano, but yeah. This works too. I also like the chamber-sized salon music arrangement. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Neuenfels’ Lohengrin: No Escape from the Rat Race (A Pre-Review)

Note to self:  next time don't ask
Ortrud to be 
Maid of Honor. 

And, speaking of Lohengrin...

I've been viewing and re-viewing Neuenfels' Lohengrin from Bayreuth. It's the one I mentioned when discussing curtain calls and scene changes. It's not nearly as complex a staging as Herrheim's  Parsifal, but there is still a lot to absorb. The other  Lohengrin I've seen (for comparison) is the Konwitschny  production  from Spain. While I loved Emily Magee as Elsa, I was disappointed with Ortrud and the titular tenor.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Brunch – Sull' Aria (Rothenberger & Jones)

Here is a surprise treat: Gwyneth Jones before she shredded her voice, and the ever-lovely Anneliese Rothenberger, who probably never sang an ugly note in her life. Together, they perform the beautiful soprano duet from Mozart's Die Hochzeit des Figaro. I am not sure, but this duet was probably performed in isolation, specifically for TV (not a full opera production.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gratuitous Friday – Richard Croft is Belmonte

Richard Croft rocks Belmonte in this 1990 performance from
the Drottingholm Palace Theater. This difficult aria from Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail
is often cut, and many tenors (unwittingly) demonstrate why that's a good idea. 

In this case, keeping it in was an even better idea.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Lohengrin, More on Regie, and More Blog Posts I Wish I had Written

Today's Operaramblings pointed me in the direction of a post here at barczablog. Well, actually it directed me to a different post, but I'm linking this post because today's post makes more sense if you read yesterday's first. 

If you have any interest at all in the new La Scala Lohengrin, the work of Claus Guth, Jonas Kaufmann, or Annette Dasch, or Regieoper in general, you need to read this. In this post, Mr. Barcza said, in part:
Regietheater is simply a response to who we are. While texts seem to be etched in stone, humanity (thank goodness) is not. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jonas Kaufmann Interview: Lohengrin

Now, here is a video I am very glad to have found. Jonas Kaufmann takes time out from singing at La Scala to share his thoughts about Lohengrin: the opera (which he characterizes as Italian), Lohengrin:the tenor (whom he characterizes as a lyrico-spinto), and Lohengrin: the man (whom he characterizes as...well, listen to the interview). He also talks about other Lohengrin productions he's sung.

Unsurprisingly, Herr Kaufmann is both diplomatic and gentlemanly as he answers questions about Regieoper. His comments about Hans Neuenfels' Lohengrin at Bayreuth are both positive and complimentary. He is less positive about Richard Jones' vision in Munich; but he's never rude, nor is he ever particularly negative. While indirectly suggesting that some directors should see a therapist instead of working out their parental issues on stage (politely naming no names), Herr Kaufmann also offers a positive argument for thoughtfully presented Regieoper.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thoughts During a Pledge Break

Saying mean things about Andrea Boccelli is probably passé at this point. However, being out of style or behind the times has never stopped me before. So, I found myself in front of the TV the other night, and with over 200 channels to choose from, the least offensive program was Boccelli’s 2011 “Gift to New York” concert, which my local PBS station was showing during their monthly pledge drive. The PBS website notes that this 
historic event…saw the tenor following in the distinguished footsteps of opera superstars Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo, both of whom have given memorable Central Park performances.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Further Stupid Reviewer Comments

Ready or not, here comes round three of reviewer comments from reviews:

…the stage was very dark (i.e. lack of lighting)

Thanks for clarifying that.

...if you are deaf and color-blind I urge you to purchase this recording.

A strong endorsement from the folks at ADA?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gratuitous Friday – Malin Hartelius Sings Mozart's Alleluia

More gorgeous singing by the always-wonderful Malin Hartelius. The recording is a bit dicey (another iPhone recording?) It's too far back in a very very live space; it almost gives the illusion of multiple Malins.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Don Carlo: In Spite of the Director

Baltsa & Carerras
(not from Don Carlo)
I will probably go to music hell for this, but whoever told Herbert Von Karajan, “Sure! Go ahead and do the staging! You’re a conducting god, and I am sure you will be a directing god, too,” should be shot.  But, I guess since it was his Festival, he could do whatever he wanted. And this 1986 Don Carlo does preserve some marvelous singing. HvK could certainly pick the super-singers! It’s a good thing, because beyond the singing, there is a lot left to be desired from this performance.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Schubert's Fierrabras – Father Knows Best?

Don’t get this disc for Jonas Kaufmann. Yes he’s in it, and yes he’s good, and yes he plays the title character. But don’t get this disc for Jonas Kaufmann.  Fierrabras’ minor role in his own opera is noted by director Claus Guth throughout the production. Fierrabras makes sure Schubert knows he feels about the size of his part, and the quality or at least tone of the music he is given to sing. (Check his non-verbal feedback to the composer in his—one—aria.) Fierrabras is not very happy about having to be so noble. He clearly would rather do away with Eginhard so he could marry Emma himself.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Curtain Calls and Scene Changes

For some reason, when watching an opera video, I really dislike seeing the curtain calls between scenes and after each act. But I don't mind at all seeing behind-the-scenes stuff.  In the Met HD Elisir, I liked seeing the (excruciatingly long) set change between scenes in Act 1. In the Neuenfels' Lohengrin you can see the chorus getting ready for the final scene, and during the prelude to Act 3, there is a specially produced video of backstage stuff. But those are video-only bits. The audience in the opera house doesn't see that. It's part of the video production. 

This video continues past the Act 3 Prelude. 
The mice/rats singing of the Bridal Procession 
is pretty cool (and yes, a little weird.)

I guess that maybe why it doesn't bother me. Scene changes don't take me out of the drama, because changing the scenery is part of the production. I enjoy the mechanics of theater. Sometimes you even get to see the scenery changes right on stage (e.g., the wonderful Minghella Butterfly) and those changes really are part of the show.  Somehow that artificiality is not distracting to me. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monteverdi Monday – Melanto and Eurimaco Get Down!

A while back, I posted another version of this duet featuring Malin Hartelius. That version is well-sung, sweet, and cute; and it's definitely G-rated  for family viewing.  This version of the Act 1 duet from  Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria is more... well... earthy. This is a convincing pair of young lovers—both easy on the eyes. (I think Ed Lyon qualifies as a Hunkentenor!) If we were thinking early baroque opera was stuffy, here's some evidence to the contrary. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Brunch – Lakmé: Flower Duet

This is a beautiful, wonderful duet, even before British Airways hijacked it for a TV commercial and turned it into a warhorse! I remember back in my dark ages (LPs and Reel-to-Reel tapes) my parents hung out with a bunch of other singers. Two of their soprano buddies sang this duet and Mira, O Norma (and Sull' aria, of course) pretty much at the drop of hat! I was hooked on soprano duets before I even knew what was going on!  
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