Friday, May 31, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – Peter Mattei is (still) Don Giovanni

Need I say any more?  

OK, I will acknowledge that some may question the appropriateness of his ornamentation in the repeat. And my reply is: it may not be 100% stylistically correct, but golly he sure does do it well! 

Simply Irresistible!

Don Giovanni: Deh vieni alla finestra (Aix en Provence, 2002)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Another Good Reason to Attend Local Opera Performances

Wolf Trap Opera Company Director Kim Witman wrote in her blog that the April issue of Opera News:
...featured the five 2013 Opera News Award Winners, two of whom – Eric Owens and Dawn Upshaw – are Trappers. The profiles of artists featured in that month’s Met broadcasts included Wolf Trap alums Stephanie Blythe, Erin Morley, Richard Paul Fink, Mark Delavan and Simon O’Neill. 

And Barihunks noted recently: 
If you want to catch Brandon Cedel, he'll be appearing at the Wolf Trap Opera beginning on June 21st in Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims. That production also includes barihunks Aaron Sorensen, Norman Garrett and Steven LaBrie. Additional information is available online

Pictured: Wolf Trap Opera Company's featured cast of Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims 
Left column from top: 
Kiri Deonarine, Ryan Speedo Green, Andrea Carroll, Steven LaBrie, Brandon Cedel 
Right column from top: 
Juan José de León, Maya Lahyani, Aaron Sorensen, Ying Fang, Brenton Ryan

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gratuitous Anja Kampe Post – Der Fliegende Holländer in Amsterdam

Anja Kampe really is Senta these days (and Seglinde now and then.) BBC Radio 3 broadcast her 2009 Holländer from the ROH last week. And the Bayrische Staatsoper featured her in their video webcast last month. 

This Fliegende Holländer is a concert version from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on Sunday May 26, broadcast on hr2-kultur Radio. Andris Nelsons led soloists, choruses, and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. 

I managed to catch Acts 2 & 3 of the broadcast, and here is Senta's Ballad—dramatic, tender, haunted, manic, beautiful. The full concert is available at Radio 4, Netherlands. Below the clip is the full cast list. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wagner Birthday Concert with Kaufmann, Thielemann, and the Dresden Staatskapelle

From 27 May to 2 June 2013, MDR FIGARO in concert is looping a Wagner 200th Birthday concert from the Dresden Frauenkirche. 

"On the eve of Wagner's birthday, Christian Thielemann conducted overtures and great tenor scenes from Wagner's operas. He was joined by Jonas Kaufmann, “one of the most sought after Wagner tenors of our time.” [ed. - That's putting it mildly!] In memoriam Hans Werne Henze, the Staatskapelle performed Henze's Fraternité – Air pour l'orchester."

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wagner 200: The Flying Dutchman @ BBC Radio 3 – Anja Kampe and Bryn Terfel

Wagner 200: The Flying Dutchman
BBC Radio 3 recently broadcast the 2009 Royal Opera House production of The Flying Dutchman, starring Bryn Terfel as the ghostly sea captain and Anja Kampe as Senta (both shown at left). 

Andrew Clements of The Guardian said Terfel's ...performance is mesmerising – hauntingly well-sung..." and Fiona Maddocks (also at The Guardian) noted, "Anja Kampe's Senta— nervy, intense, powerful in high fortissimo passages, tenderly inflected and sinuously acted—was outstanding."

The recording is available for about 3 more days.

The Dutchman ..... Bryn Terfel (baritone)
Senta ..... Anja Kampe (soprano)
Daland ..... Hans-Peter Konig (bass)
Erik ..... Torsten Kerl (tenor)
Steersman ..... John Tessier (tenor)
Mary ..... Clare Shearer (soprano)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Marc Albrecht, conductor

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Sills Sings Schubert’s Shepherd Song

This was my most very favorite Beverly Sills record for a long time. I love chamber music and the opportunity it gives musicians to really work as partners, rather than all being led by one guy (or gal) with a stick. Also, I enjoyed the mostly unknown selection of music. Since I posted Daniel Behle's performance of Schubert's Der Hirt am Felsen the other day, I have been wanting to hear Ms. Sills do it again. and then I decided it would only be right to share it. So, here it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I still do.

Text and translation can be found at the Daniel Behle post.
This concert is now available as part of a 2-disc set called Beverly Sills & Friends.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – Stephen Costello: Call Him Ishmael

Tenor Stephen Costello will reprise the role of Ishmael in Jake Heggie's Moby Dick next season at the Washington National Opera. I look forward to hearing this haunting music and gorgeous voice live! 

(He will also appear as Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Glyndebourne Live on Your Desktop

Here is exciting news to me, and it may be both news and exciting to you, too. The Guardian will be streaming six Glyndebourne productions this summer—three live and three previously recorded.

First, on Tuesday June 4, is the new production of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, directed by Katharina Thoma. The cast includes Sir Thomas Allen (Music Master), Soile Isokoski (Ariadne), Kate Lindsey (Composer), Laura Claycomb (Zerbinetta), and Sergey Skorokhodov (Bacchus). 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gratuitous Luca Pisaroni Post – Rossini: Stabat Mater

photo copyright (c) Pietro Spagnoli

I don't know about you, but I can never get enough of Luca Pisaroni's smooth warm bass-baritone voice. Here are two movements from Rossini's Stabat Mater. This was recorded in concert last year with the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus, led by Franz Welser-Möst

If player does not appear, click here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Opera From Sweden – Reimann's Lear: On-Demand Audio for a Week

Rickard Söderberg, Fredrik Zetterström och Karolina Andersson.
Foto: Janne Wieslander/Sveriges Radio
On April 27, 2013 the Malmö Opera gave the Swedish premiere performance of Aribert Reimann’s Lear, which had its world premiere in 1978. Here is a set of brief video excerpts. Below that is the full audio stream, which is available from Sveriges Radio for only seven more days. Apparently you can also download the audio if you are of a mind to download from file-sharing sites.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Divas and Scholars – A Book Review

Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera 
by Philip Gossett

This title of this book tells the reader exactly what to expect. It is part musicological discussion—opera research, scholarship, and performing editions—and part current backstage…well, I won’t say gossip, but…backstage insider information. 

One thing I take away from this book is a better understanding of why it’s so difficult to establish definitive, “authentic” versions of 19th century Italian opera (and others). Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi revised their operas pretty much every time they were associated with a performance. Music was adapted to the language and tastes of the audience (all of them did French and Italian operas), including the types of spectacle the audience expected (ballet in France) and the current trend in vocal ornamentation.  Sometimes music was rewritten to accommodate a diva or divo. Sometimes, especially in Rossini, entire arias, choruses, or duets were given a new text, and subsequently, new orchestrations to reflect that text. All of these variants render the expression, “what the composer intended” moot at best. At the very least, the lesson learned here is that a lot more qualification may be needed before the “composers intent” can be stated with authority (if at all).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gratuitous Malin Hartelius & Anna Bonitatibus Post – Rossini's Stabat Mater

Because I finally figured a way to embed sound files in my blog posts... is the soprano duet from Rossini's Stabat Mater, with Franz Welser-Most and the Cleveland Orchestra. Heavenly!  

Sunday Brunch – Daniel Behle Sings Schubert

Schubert: Der Hirt Am Felsen

Daniel Behle –Tenor
Andy Miles – Clarinet
Oliver Schnyder – Piano

If player does not work, 
click here to listen.

Graham Johnson calls this a "trouser cantata," as it was written originally for soprano, but it seems pretty clear that the narrator is male.  Prima Donna Anna Milder requested a showpiece from Schubert, and Mr. Johnson tells us that Schubert:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Download 2013 Recitals from the Schwetzinger Festspiele – Die Konzerte zum Nachhören

Michael Nagy
Nearly all of the Schwetzinger Festspiele concerts are available at SWR2 for about a year. Recently, I noticed that in addition to streaming the 2013 concerts, you can download them as mp3s. 

This is especially handy for mobile listening; listening at work or other locations where streaming is restricted/verboten; and just for listening over and over. The really good news is now we can step away from our computers for a few minutes and still hear great live performances!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gratuitous Friday Special Edition – Die Ferne Geliebte is Closer Than You Think

You know how you hear a piece maybe one time—maybe it was a long time ago—and you never really think about it again? Then all of a sudden it's everywhere you look (listen). I finally downloaded Christian Gerhaher's recording of Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved) (mostly for the Berg and Schoenberg selections) and rediscovered the joys of this song cycle.

Beethoven's little work allegedly started the whole German song cycle craze. Most song cycles we know comprise many individual songs, and this one does, too, but Beethoven's prototype is a continuous stetting. Many recitalists will program just a few songs from a Schubert or Schumann or Wolf cycle, but I can't imagine anyone excerpting one song from this set. The final stanza of the opening song even comes back at the end—very cyclical.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Luca Pisaroni – A James Dean for Mozart (According to the Salzburg Festspielfreunde)

"Luca Pisaroni has a very special relationship with the Salzburg Festival. He has been performing here for as long as he has been an opera singer, and throughout his career he has had an association with the Festival. In 2013 he is singing Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, an opera in which he reads between the lines."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

La Forza del Destino – Opera Royal de Liege, Wallonie

Luciano Montanaro and Daniele Dessi
Under the laid back musical leadership of Paolo Arrivabeni, La Forza del Destino at the Opera Royal de Liege, Wallonie is another night for the basses and baritones. Domenico Balzani does well as the cranky Fra Melitone, and Giovanni Meoni as Don Carlo acquits himself ably, matching his tenor rival pretty much note-for-note. Best of all is Luciano Montanaro—profound, warm, pious, and reassuring as Il Padre Guardiano. Mezzo Carla Dirlikov is pretty and perky but comes across as a tame (and mature-sounding) gypsy, and Giovanni Iovino’s Trabuco just made me sad.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Great Düsseldorf Tannhäuser Scandale – A Panel Discussion

This excerpt from WQXR's (Classical Radio in New York City) Conducting Business series  is a discussion of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein's "controversial" Tannhäuser. On the panel are ENO's John Berry, Parterre Box's James Jorden, and the Washington Post’s Anne Midgette, chaired by Naomi Lewin.

Note that everyone on the panel declines to make an artistic judgement about the production, because they haven't seen it.  The commentators on this panel are refreshingly open-minded.

More Hints from JDD

Here is another hint from JDD about her impending new project:

And because every time I go on YT (one of life’s biggest time-sinks, not that I am complaining), I find something new (to me, at least) to get excited about, here are hints from Joyce DiDonato and her colleagues about singing.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Lighten Up People. It's Only Opera!

I love love love love love love opera.

I love to watch it, sing it, listen to it, write about it, read about it, watch it, listen to it…oh, I said that already. 

But for heaven's sake, people, it's OPERA. It’s a vital and living art form. It’s probably the highest art form the western world has to offer. It’s more than an art form—it’s a composite art form: Music, Dance, Singing, Scenery, Lighting, Words, Instruments, Acting…

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What I Learned from Posting Comments at Other Blogs

Many people seem to be more interested in bludgeoning others with their opinions and then personally attacking anyone who disagrees with them…

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pelléas et Mélisande – La Monnaie-De Munt, Brussels

I am sure I could find people to argue with me about this, but I think Pelléas et Mélisande is such a strange opera that there really is no wrong way to stage it. There certainly is no literal way to stage it! This work becomes whatever the listener/viewer makes of it. 

Stéphane Degout and Dietrich Henschel
Keris9 at Opera Journal just reviewed this production from La Monnaie-De Munt, Brussels. It will only be available for streaming from the opera company website till May 24, so I decided to get out this notice and link to the review now, instead of waiting till I can review it myself.

Go watch it now! We can talk about it later.

La Monnaie-De Munt, Brussels
Ludovic Morlot, Pierre Audi, Anish Kapoor, Stéphane Degout, Monica Bacelli, Dietrich Henschel, Sylvie Brunet-Grupposo, Frode Olsen, Patrick Bolleire, Alexandre Duhamel, Valérie Gabail
La Monnaie Internet Streaming through May 24, 2013

Update 05/26/2013: This is now available at (for about 6 months.) No subtitles.

Gratuitous Friday – Daniel Behle: Lieder Revolutionary

So, as I mentioned the other day, I was listening to more of the Schwetzingen Festpiele Concerts. I clicked on an unknown (to me) name, and found a program of lieder by Beethoven, Grieg, Schubert, and Richard Strauss. What drew my attention was Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Feslsen, with clarinet, almost always sung by a soprano. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Joyce DiDonato Answers Sixth-Graders' Questions about Opera

Our Yankee Diva answers questions from a class of sixth-graders who are learning about opera. 

Watch this video to fall in love all over again with Joyce DiDontao. Who's afraid of opera? Not me!

In other JDD news, she has been dropping hints about a new project. Last week on her Facebook page, she wrote:
I'm about to come out of this semi-hibernation of the last weeks ... I hope you're ready! Watch this space in the coming weeks for the start of a new project where I will be imploring you for help. This could be epic, and will give me a chance to shine the spotlight on YOU, for a change. Get your imaginations ignited and watch this space ... this is going to be fun!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth Live Webcast Saturday, May 11

Live Webcast:
Saturday May 11 at 7:00 PM Munich Time

In order to make sure I had this out to my readers on time, I cheated and lifted the blurb from the Bayerische Staatsoper website. 
Here is the link for the webcast.

Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth
Francesco Maria Piave after William Shakespeare
Directed by Martin Kušej

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tannhäuser, Nazism, and Uninformed Opinions

There is a kerfuffle among the opera blogeratti this week about a new production of Tannhäuser at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. Fledgling opera director Burkhard C. Kosminski has introduced Nazis and gas chambers into the opera, which sounds inappropriate and unpleasant. I probably don’t want to see it, and it’s probably indefensible. However, my complaint is about all the complainers who are rushing to condemn this production without even seeing or hearing it.

photo: Hansjoerg Michel/Opera-am-Rhein
I mean, I can know from what I’ve read that I probably don’t want to see it. Nazis and gas chambers are offensive and unpleasant in pretty much any setting. I'm sure they have no business lurking in this opera. 

BBC Radio 3 Reminder – Britten and Wagner

Here's another chance to hear Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, originally broadcast in March by Bayrische Radio. The BBC will broadcast it on Radio 3, Wednesday May 8. The BBC usually archives these concerts for about a week after the broadcast. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

And Speaking of Don Giovanni...(In Paris)

Markus Werba and Miah Persson
So I was listening to more of the Schwetzinger Festpiele Concerts. I clicked on an unknown (to me) name, and found a program of lieder sung by tenor Daniel Behle.  

As is my wont, when I find a "new" singer, I googled Herr Behle, and discovered he was in a recent production of Don Giovanni in Paris. So I googled "Don Giovanni Paris 2013" and found the Théâtre des Champs Elysées site and schedule. This is the order in which the cast is listed there:

Markus Werba Don Giovanni 
Miah Persson Donna Elvira 
Daniel Behle Don Ottavio 
Sophie Marin-Degor  Donna Anna
Robert Gleadow Leporello 
Serena Malfi Zerlina 
Nahuel Di Pierro Masetto 
Steven Humes The Commendatore

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Kaufmann Sings Mahler

Enjoy this wonderful excerpt from Das Lied von der Erde on YT while you can. The BPO tends to have these posts pulled down quickly.

JK is so expressive (I know that is not news to RnR readers!) Maestro Abbado likes the performance, too. Check out the smile he gives JK at the end of the song.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde – Stemme und Storey on BBC Radio 3

As Brünnhilde und Siegfried
We have only a few days left to hear the Tristan und Isolde from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on BBC Radio 3.  The BBC SSO recorded each act separately and this is how the BBC is sharing it with us. The links for each act are below. From what I've read (and heard) so far, Acts 1 and 2 are don't-miss events. There were cast changes over the course of the performances, most notably the title characters are different in Act 3. 

So the news is Nina Stemme's Isolde. She recorded it quite a few years ago, so it's good to hear her current take on it. Tristan is Ian Storey (he'll be singing the role next season at Washington National Opera) and he is news, too. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – The Dutchman, The Girl, and The Gown

In Act 2 of Der Fliegende Höllander, Senta (Anja Kampe) finally meets her Dutchman (Johan Reuter). She seems more interested in the dress than she is in him. With that voice, I'd be paying attention to him! Of course, we know Senta is really more interested in the idea of the Dutchman than she is in the man himself. 

This clip is from the recent webcast of the Bayerische Staatsoper production. Act 2 takes place in a gym—spinning, get it? These girls don’t need to be good at making thread to catch a husband. They need to be in shape! Meanwhile, Ms. Kampe and Mr. Reuter would sound just as great in a gym, in a barn, or on a bare stage!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ravel: L’Enfant et les Sortilèges – Digital Concert Hall

There's also an audio version available
Something cool that one might overlook when visiting the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall is the amount of opera (in concert) they present. This spring they reprised their Baden-Baden Zauberflote; and in the recent past they’ve presented Salome and Porgy and Bess. Some of the works are “semi-staged” while others are more “concerty.”
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