Sunday, March 31, 2013

Die Zauberflöte in Baden-Baden – Preview

The Berliner Philharmoniker established 
a new Festival at Baden-Baden. The main focus of the Easter Festival 2013 is four performances of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute” conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, in a production by a director well-known to readers of this blog. 

The Berliner Philharmonker Digital Concert Hall site says:
The Canadian Robert Carsen has directed productions for almost every major opera house. He is fascinated by the complexities in the Magic Flute: "It is completely designed around opposites. Day and night, love and hate, man and woman, the hero Tamino and the simple Papageno." Musically, too, the Magic Flute has an infinite variety - and given the immense popularity of the opera, this wealth is often overlooked.

Sunday Brunch – Tatiana Troyanos sings Mascagni

Mascagni – Cavalleria Rusticana: Inneggiamo

Tatiana Troyanos – Metropolitan Opera, 1978

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Edwin Crossley-Mercer is Don Giovanni

We just found out from our friends at Barihunks, that the video of Edwin Crossley-Mercer's Don Giovanni is finally available. They wrote:
Thanks to a heads up from an alert reader, we've learned that Edwin Crossley-Mercer just performed his first Don Giovanni in Dijon, France. He was joined by fellow barihunk Damien Pass as Masetto. If you missed the performance, you're in luck, as it's temporarily available on Click HERE to watch the entire performance. 
What a lovely Easter present. We can't wait to see it! In the same post, Dreamy Casting: Barihunks on the air, they mentioned several other broadcasts already available or coming soon. Thanks, Barihunks Blog!

Holy Saturday – Bach's Saint Matthew Passion from Munich

This performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is available for viewing (and listening) on Arte Live for about 45 more days. The Evangelist, tenor Julian Prégardien has a notable pedigree: he's the son of tenor Christoph Prégardien. He has inherited his father's clear light voice and sensitivity to the sung texts; he's an engaging and effective narrator. Bass Karl-Magnus Fredriksson sings the role of Jesus, and he sounds appropriately full-voiced and Christ-like. About the only think I would recommend to enhance their performances is complete memorization of their roles.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday – Rossini’s Stabat Mater: Sancta mater, istud agas

Abstract Pieta ©2013 ~lanestonecyper
At the height of his fame, Rossini walked away from opera and set the sorrows of the Virgin Mary to music. 

Rossini's setting is perhaps a bit bouncier than one might expect on a Good Friday, and it doesn't really match the solemnity of the text. At the same time, you might consider Rossini is focusing on standing beside Mary in solidarity, faith, and love.

Or, you could simply appreciate this quartet as pure, beautiful, virtuoso, vocal music. As you look over the soloists listed below for this recording, you will discover another reason I really love this recording.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bach Marathon for Easter Monday – John Eliot Gardiner

Thanks to Intermezzo for alerting us to Sir John Eliot Gardiner's 9-hour Bach Marathon from the Royal Albert Hall on Monday April 1. You can purchase an all-day standing room ticket for £10. It sounds exhausting and wonderful. 

For those of us who can't be in London next Monday, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting the entire programme. 

La Traviata and The Perfect American – Still on View at Arte Live

This is a reminder that the La Monnaie La Traviata will be available on Arte Live for about 75 more days. And here it is:

Simona Šaturová thoroughly inhabits Violetta, and Sébastien Guèze is cute and impetuous as Alfredo. If you have any interest at all in Regieoper and you are not ultra-sensitive, I recommend you take a look and listen while it's still availableIt's a somewhat disturbing production, but it's not boring. Here is my review of this Traviata.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fluffy, Not Stuffy

Ive been rethinking my statement yesterday about fluffy questions. The questions Bejun Mehta answers in that interview seem odd, off the wall, and non sequitur-ish. But they do invite thoughtful, interesting answers. After explaining how you cant possibly ever compare Barbara Streisand with Pierre Boulez, Mr. Mehta briefly discusses what each artist means to him. And you actually find out a little bit more about him. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bejun Mehta – Burger Queen?

Opera singers have to put up with some pretty fluffy interview questions:  
Barbara Streisand or Pierre Boulez? 
Maria Callas or Cecilia Bartoli?
Gym Queen or Burger King? 
Who thinks up these questions? 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Two Favorite Barihunks in Don Giovanni: Bižić & Mattei

Men at work
We've posted about both Peter Mattei and David Bižić recently. Now it's time to see/hear them together. Mr. Bižić just made his debut as Don Giovanni at the Slovenia National Theater (I am still trying to find a review!) In the great tradition of Mozart bass-baritones, he started as Masetto, and moved up to Leporello. In fact, his Don Giovanni in this Michael Haneke production guessed it: Peter Mattei!

This is another one of those controversial French productions; it premiered in 2006 at the Palais Garnier, and was revived in 2012 at Opéra Bastille. Blogger Opera Cake loved it (I think we’d enjoy going to the opera with Opera Cake) but many, if not most others were not as enthusiastic. Mr. Mattei is a very controlling Giovanni (he sings gorgeously, of course) who uses his sex appeal to manipulate everybody (with Bižić at right). 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Christa Ludwig Singt Wagner

This is the third song from one of the classic recordings of Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder. Enjoy.
Christa Ludwig with Otto Klemperer conducting.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Britten – War Requiem Broadcast from Munich

The radio broadcast of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem is now available at the BR website. Mariss Jansons leads the Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, the Tölzer Boys Choir, soprano Emily Magee, tenor Mark Padmore, and baritone Christian Gerhaher.  

Emily Magee gives a dramatic reading to the Mass texts (check out the Sanctus and Libera me in particular) in concert with the two choirs. And Messers Padmore and Gerhaher take us from light to dark and back to the light again as they share the sometimes poignant, sometimes terrifying, and always emotional Owen texts. Maestro Jansons holds the notoriously-difficult-to-coordinate work together with aplomb.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Risë Stevens, Indisposed Singers, and Blog Trends (a Stream-of-Consciousness Post)

My first Risë Stevens album
Unless you've been out cold or under a rock for the past few days, you probably already know that the great American diva Risë Stevens died earlier this week at the age of 99. She was one of the first opera figures on my personal opera horizon. I had many of her recordings—she was my first Carmen, and first Orfeo—and I eagerly followed her career when she retired from singing and took on the leadership of the Mannes College of Music.

Gratuitous Friday – Markus Werba Sings Schubert

Is it time for another clip from Austrian baritone Markus Werba? Maybe not, but here it is anyway. Here he sings Schubert's Der Einsame (The Hermit) at the Verbier Festival in 2010, accompanied by Bengt Forsberg (Anne Sofie von Otter's long-time compan collaborator.) The text and translation can be found at The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Someone is Watching Me Watch Arleen Auger

Now don't feel paranoid...but we are being watched. It seems coincidental, but we know it's not. This video website knows I looked at some clips of Arleen Auger, and then checked out some Mahler Knaben Wunderhorn clips. Therefore, they suggested I watch this clip of Arleen Auger singing—you guessed it—Mahler. And what a fine suggestion it is.

It's a fun, wonderful, characterful performance. And it makes one a bit sad knowing that only a few short years later she died as a result of a brain tumor. Ms. Auger was only 53still in her vocal prime. So here is a bit of Mahler, followed by Mozart, from the same recital. There are more clips over there from this same program. Ms. Auger's death was a big loss to the vocal world. We are fortunate to have so many recordings with which to remember her.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Blame Game: Who's Responsible for Vocal Abuse?

So, by now you've probably heard all about Antonio Pappano complaining about singers who cancel. He seems to blame younger singers for not really caring enough. Over at Slipped Disc there are actually two discussions going on. It seems maybe we misinterpreted what he said, but maybe not. Known and unknown singers (and non-singing, but in-the-industry folks, fans and other interested parties) have chimed in on the subject. And much of the discussion is centering around singers taking on roles for which they are not vocally prepared. Christine Goerke and Susan Graham are among the professional singers who have weighed in. While some blame the system, others feel it's the responsibility of the singer. Rosalind Plowright stated:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gratuitous Peter Mattei Post: Eugene Onegin

He's won rave reviews for his performance as Amfortas at the Met. Not only because Peter Mattei doesn't usually sing Wagner, but also because he is a great singer/actor. The pain of his Amfortas is palpable. 

Peter Mattei doesn't always get to play the good guy, either. Well, I suppose Amfortas has his issues. But Eugene Onegin? It's hard to find anything really to like about Eugene Onegin. (He's right up–or down–there with B. F. Pinkerton in my book.) 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Brunch – David Bižić sings Fauré

More warm, reverent, and mellow tones from David Bižić. Here he sings the Libera Me from Fauré’s Requiem with Choeur Accentus and Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, under the directon of Laurence Equilbey. The performance took place in June 2010 at the Basilique Cathédrale.

Faure Requiem: Libera me 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

La Traviata – Duet from Debut of Damrau and Domingo

Diana Damrau and Placido Domingo debuted Thursday night as Violetta and Germont pére, and some enterprising opera lover captured some of the live audio stream. 

Mike Silverman of the AP said Damrau "was nothing short of sensational," and Domingo's "portrayal of the stern father was unusually tender and melancholy."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thomas Hampson’s Master Class – Live Webcast March 19

This is quite possibly the most unattractive Web advertisement I have seen in the last 10 years. It's saved only by its content: the photo of the handsome Mr. Hampson and information about his upcoming appearance.

(Updated 03/20/13: The archived video will be posted on March 27)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Insurance Companies Make Medical Decisions, and the INS Makes Artistic Decisions

Apparently one reason we don't see certain musicians performing in the U.S. much, if at all, has to do with the immigration folks who issue travel visas. While googling one of my new favorite tenors, I came across a reference in a blog called The City and the World, to this article from the New York Times, dated March 16, 2010 (bolding is mine): 
Recently the Cleveland Orchestra’s application for Martin Mitterrutzner, an acclaimed young Austrian tenor, was denied for reasons that left the orchestra perplexed: the report from immigration officials said, among other things, that the scheduling of Mr. Mitterrutzner’s performances did not indicate prestige, since he was booked for matinees, not evening performances. After two denials, the orchestra retained a lawyer and got the decision reversed in the nick of time — but only after considerable expense.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Britten – War Requiem Broadcast from Lucerne: March 23, 2013

In observance of the Benjamin Britten centenary, Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus and Orchestra will present his War Requiem. They'll be joined by the Tölzer Boys Choir, American soprano Emily Magee, English tenor Mark Padmore, and German baritone Christian Gerhaher. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fantasy Opera Casting – Part Deux

©2002 Warner Bros., Inc. 

Probably more opera nerds play Fantasy Opera Casting than would care to admit. It’s even happened on this blog. Here’s a twist: 

In her master classes at Julliard this winter, Joyce DiDonato demonstrated a great affinity for the role of Figaro in Barber of Seville. And I thought, gee she would be a good Figaro. 

This got me thinking about how Jesusa Rodriguez recast Don Giovanni a few years back, calling her show Donna Giovanni. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Webcast: Met National Council Award Winners – Archived at WQXR

WQXR invites us to see the 2013 winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition. The event was webcast March 11th at 7 PM at and you can still see the archived video.

This marks the singers' first New York performance following the grand finals. They’ll be joined by Met star and former National Council winner, bass-baritone Eric Owens (at left). 

Barihunks points out that three of the six singers are baritones:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Parsifal – Excerpt from Act II with Kaufmann and Dalayman

Yes, more about Kaufmann as Parsifal from the Met. This 40-minute clip was just uploaded. 

Given the ephemeral nature of videos at YT, I recommend taking look at it before it disappears again. 

The video quality is not optimal, but it's a nice big chunk of Act 2 for those of us who haven't had a chance to see any of the broadcast to enjoy. Nice too for those who did see it and would like to reminisce a little bit. (BTW, there's less than 24 hours to hear the full radio broadcast over at BBC 3.)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Name’s Crossley-Mercer—Edwin Crossley-Mercer

I love it when coincidences conspire to bring diverse and interesting things (recordings, singers, organizations, music, events) to my attention. 

Last week, the Barihunks blog posted a review of a recital by French barihunk Edwin Crossley-Mercer. And it turns out they've been tracking him for a while. 

In fact, Barihunks named him Hottest Recitalist in their Best of 2010 and they averred that "it was as much for his artistry as his hunkiness." (prematurely gray, hyphenated name, easy on the eyes, and really big...hands—what's not to like? Oh, and he sings really really well, too!)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Parsifal – Zurich, 2007 (Great Singing, Dull Staging)

It seems that in Zurich, it’s often feast or famine. It’s probably like this with other opera houses, too. Zurich (fortunately) makes a lot of its productions available on video (and I tend to look for them), so perhaps that’s why it's their productions in particular seem so uneven to me.

This Parsifal is strong musically, but like the Zurich Arabella production of the same season, it’s dramatically dull and visually cheap. Notes on back of the DVD call the setting “austere” and that’s being generous. It doesn’t look deliberately sparse; it looks like they had no budget for scenery or props. The most interesting aspect is the tables that emerge from the floor. The flower maidens carry some “magic” acrylic panels that just look silly. Seriously, I think a junior high drama department could come up with something better.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Met Parsifal Replay on BBC Radio 3

I missed the Live in HD cinema transmission of Parsifal. (I'm planning to attend the encore presentation.) But I got to the car and home in time to listen to quite a bit of the performance. If you missed the radio broadcast too, we have about four days more to catch it on-demand from (interestingly) BBC Radio 3. Click here to listen to Parsifal from the Met.  It's complete with entertaining (or annoying, depending on your mood) intermission features. 

Mozart Requiem for Mozart

I recently rediscovered a lovely performance of Mozart's Requiem—sung as part of a full Mass almost 20 years ago to celebrate Mozart—It contains some striking contrasts, performer-wise. And it’s a performance I will enjoy watching and listening to again.

This is the last Mozart performance of the lovely and tragically short-lived soprano Arleen Auger—a quintessential Mozart singer who succumbed to cancer in the prime of her career. It's also one of the last performances of the elderly Sir Georg Solti (and I hope I don’t sound unkind if I say he probably should have stopped conducting sooner.) The always-slightly-under-the-radar Vinson Cole was early-mid career; and Cecelia Bartoli and Rene Pape were just getting their feet wet (RP was not yet thirty!). 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Nina Stemme Show: Turandot at the Royal Swedish Opera

Riccardo Massi & Nina Stemme
I just came across a thorough review by Aksel Tollåli at bachtrack of Nina Stemme's debut as Turandot. He also provides some detail on the production, which sounds intriguing. 
...the chorus, originally an angry, bloodthirsty mob of Chinese people, was turned into an angry, blood-thirsty mob of an opera audience, dressed to the nines, and seated in replicas of the chairs of the Royal Opera’s auditorium... The chorus egged on the singers in front of them...before leaving the stage after all of the interesting bits had happened, only to return after a while, champagne flutes in hand, for the next big moment. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Gratuitous Friday Special Edition – Nina Stemme and the Wesendonck Lieder – Complete

I posted Im Triebhaus last week, but I just had to share all five songs with my readers. Here is the complete set of Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder sung by Nina Stemme, with Josef de Beenhouwer at the piano, and recorded in 2003. 

Frau Stemme's voice is so full and strong, yet so delicate. She is a consummate Wagner and Strauss singer, lacking only that heavy, wobbly, old-fashioned Wagnerian sound. And that's a good thing! (Don't forget to check out her Turandot broadcast, too!)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...