Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jonas Kaufmann – Video Preview of "The Verdi Album"

Here is the new promotional video for Herr Kaufmann's forthcoming Verdi Album (mid-September in the U.S.). It's always a joy to watch him at work, and to hear him talk about singing and about the music,  

Also, over at his official website there is a great video about his recital activities, including excerpts from several lieder and chansons. (I am not sure how new it is, but it's new to me, at least!) 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tiny Tidbits of Troubling Tannhäuser – News Clips of the Cancelled Opera

Finally! A glimpse of the terrifying, troubling Tannhäuser from Dusseldorf; unfortunately these are really, really brief TV-news items (less than a minute each.) Still, it's better than nothing! At least we get to see a tiny bit of what was so shocking to the Germans. But I still think it's wrong to condemn it before seeing a bit more of the production!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hampson on Hardtalk – Opera May be Expensive, but it’s not Elitist

Thomas Hampson is one of our best ambassador/advocates for opera for  and to the people. He is down to earth, well-spoken, accessible, and of course, one of our many favorite baritiones! Here is a interview aired today on BBC 3 Radio on the program Hardtalk, a chat program of  interviews with the world's leading politicians, thinkers and cultural figures. Here is the intro to the chat: 
"Opera is one of the least watched art forms in the world, and possibly the most expensive. Hardtalk speaks to opera superstar Thomas Hampson. He says the way to get people to love opera is to get them to understand it, and then it has the power to transform. If he is right, could one of the most elite and expensive art forms have worldwide appeal?" 
Listen to it on iPlayer for 7 more days and/or listen and/or download it as a podcast.

Just Another Manic Monday Mozart – Anja Harteros is Elettra

Since the Earworm commented specifically on Anja Harteros on my post yesterday about this Idomeneo, I decided to see if Harteros' version of Ekettra's final aria was online. Her Elettra is not just lovelorn, frustrated, or merely p-ssed off—she has literally gone mad. 

This Elettra is not singing about metaphorical snakes and serpents tearing at her. They’re not really there; but she sees them! And when she calls for a sword, Neptune conveniently wanders by to hand her a dagger. I also love the way that Frau Harteros, during the (tumultuous) applause, keeps the insanity flowing. The translation below is by Opera Cat (whose blog, sadly, has not been updated in quite a while.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Mozart: Idomeneo: Andrò rammingo, e solo

Salzburg 2006: Visually, this M22 production may seem a bit bizarre, but with these wonderful singersMagdalena Kozena, Ekaterina Siurinas, Anja Harteros, and Ramón Vargasand Sir Roger Norrington on the podium, there is musical magic. The whole production is wonderful. (Text and translation are below.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – David Daniels is Oscar Wilde

Ken Howard/Santa Fe Opera
Theodore Morrison's Oscar, based on the writer and wit Oscar Wilde, premieres tomorrow at the Santa Fe Opera, with David Daniels in the title role.

Here is today's NPR piece on David Daniels, as heard on Morning Edition.  

And here a link to David singing My Sweet Rose from Oscar, recorded at dress rehearsal the other night.

And here is David discussing Oscar (before he shaved off his beard):

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wagner's Ring at the Proms on BBC Radio 3

  •    Wagner: Der Ring des Niebelungen 
       from the Proms
       Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim conductor

    The first two operas can be heard on BBC Radio 3 now; the rest are on their way.

Das Rhinegold (7/22)

Iain Paterson baritone (Wotan)
Anna Larsson mezzo-soprano (Erda)
Johannes Martin Kränzle baritone (Alberich)
Eric Halfvarson bass (Fafner)

Die Walküre (7/23)

Bryn Terfel bass-baritone (Wotan)
Eric Halfvarson bass (Hunding)
Simon O'Neill tenor (Siegmund)
Anja Kampe soprano, Proms debut artist (Sieglinde)
Nina Stemme soprano (Brünnhilde)
Ekaterina Gubanova mezzo-soprano (Fricka)

Siegfried (7/26)

Lance Ryan tenor, Proms debut artist (Siegfried)
Nina Stemme soprano (Brünnhilde)
Terje Stensvold baritone (Wanderer)
Peter Bronder tenor (Mime)

Nina Stemme soprano (Brünnhilde)
Andreas Schager tenor (Siegfried)
Mikhail Petrenko bass (Hagen)
Gerd Grochowski baritone (Gunther)

Also coming up:

Tristan und Isolde (7/27)

Tannhauser (8/4)

Parsifal (8/25)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Another Gratuitous Peter Mattei Post – Carmina Burana (ca. 1995)

Before Peter Mattei became world-famous (at least among opera lovers) he was nation-famous – in his native Sweden. He made several recordings in relative obscurity on the Swedish recording label BIS, mostly singing music of Swedish composers. Since BIS also had pianist Roland Pontinen, the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble, and other Swedish musicians on hand, they made this recording of the chamber version of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana for two pianos and percussion. At, Santa Fe Listener (one of the non-stupid reviewers) said:
...what led me to this recording in the first place was the remarkable solo singing by Swedish baritone Peter Mattei. He was thirty in 1995 and a rising young star, but no one could have predicted the suave subtlety he brings to Orff's songs, along with power and ebullience when they are called for. Luckily, his seven solos can be heard separately on a collection called [A] Kaleidoscope...

Anyone listening to him sing Omnia sol Temperat back in 1995, when he was a mere 30 years old, could have predicted a great career in the making. Sigh.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Manic Monday Mozart – Julia Varady sings "Vengo ! Aspatate"

The polar opposite (tempo-wise, at least) of Harnoncourt and Röschmann in Salzburg, this is Julia Varady (from the John Eliot Gardiner La Clemenza di Tito recording again) as Vitellia. No wonder Sesto is so confused; this Vitellia is really a mess: 

I love you, I hate you; kill him, don't kill him; why didn't you kill him? Oh right. I told you not to. OMG why did you try to kill him? Oh right. I told you to...

With this tempo and snappy articulation in the strings, we really feel Vitellia's panic. The first really high note she sings really sounds like a (very musical) scream! I also love her stacatti on those high notes at the end.

Julia Varady was my first Vitellia, so she set the tone for me. She and Dorothea Röschmann are both mezzo-y enough to make a great impact in this difficult role, but are different enough from one another that they both have a place in my heart. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Ah Perdona (Catherine Robbin and Sylvia McNair) & ASvO Bonus

Two-and-a-half minutes of Mozartean soprano bliss. These ladies need no pardon. Catherine Robbin and Sylvia McNair as Annio and Servilia. Maybe it's because it's my first "Ah perdona.." but I think this is the best I've ever heard.

Ah perdona al primo affetto

This recording of La clemenza di Tito is led by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and also boasts Julia Varady as Vitellia, Anne Sofie von Otter as Sesto, and Anthony Rolfe Johnson as Tito.

OK, so I let the opera keep playing and got to Parto...sung by ASvO. mmmmmmmm!
So here is that one, too:

Parto, parto...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gratuitous Friday/Gratuitous Luca – Luca Pisaroni is Lucifer

This little clip is from Handel's lesser known Italian Oratorio Per La Resurrezione Di Nostro Signor Gesù Cristo. Emannuelle Haim leads her little band and bass-barihunk Luca Pisaroni is the devil himself. 


Caddi, è ver, ma nel cadere
Non perdei forza né ardire,
Caddi, caddi, caddi, etc.…
…no, no, no, non perdei, etc.
Per scacciarmi dalle sfere
Se più forte allor fu Dio,
Or fatt’ uomo al furor mio
Pur ceduto ha con morire.
Caddi, è ver, etc.
I fell, ‘tis true, but in falling
I lost neither strength nor courage,
I fell, I fell, I fell, etc.…
…no, no, no, I lost not strength, etc.
Though when He threw me from the spheres
God was then the stronger,
now, as a man, He has succumbed
to my hate by dying.
I fell, ‘tis true, etc

Thursday, July 18, 2013

On the Ephemeral Nature of the Interwebz – Opera Fugit

A Regie, or Not Regie post from a few days ago.
Pursuant to the discussion about Coloraturafan's departure from YT (again) over at Kinderkuchen for the FBI and at Parterre Box and the ephemeral nature of clips on that website: 

I lost my YT privileges over some BSO stuff, too. It pays to move quickly when we find out about these video/audio postings. 

With that in mind, hurry over to another Kinderkuchen post about complete operas on YT. Get 'em not only while they're hot, but also before they're suddenly not. 

Gratuitous Malin Hartelius Post – Jauchzet Gott... (J.S. Bach)

Malin Hartelius is a wonderful soprano I found out about by reading Earworm Opera. Earworm commented that Frau Hartelius' name drew many a searcher to her blog. (I got there by searching Dorothea Röschmann!) 

So far I've never heard Malin Hartelius make an unattractive sound. Sir John Eliot Gardiner likes her singing, too. He brought her on for his Bach Cantata pilgrimage, and gave her the honor of singing the solo cantata no. 51 Jauchzet Gott in alle Landen! 

Well, he didn't give it to her, she deserves it!  Anyway, here is the opening volley, for virtuoso soprano and trumpet. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gratuitous Dorothea Röschmann Post – If God Be For Us (Messiah)

Dorothea Röschmann is one of the singing actors who helped to reignite my interest in opera a few years ago. She got her “big break” doing early music, and many of these lovely recordings are still available. 

This is one of my favorite arias from Handel’s Messiah. This recording (from the late 1990s) conducted by Paul McCreesh contains some alternate versions of familiar arias, and unfortunately (for DR fans) splits the soprano role between two singers. (This is good news for fans of Susan Gritton, who also participated in Claus Guth’s staging of Messiah a few years later.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar' Ding – RnR’s First Anniversary

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my very first post on this blog. Back then, I wondered how long it would last. The blog has evolved some over the past year. I think it looks better, and reads smoother. But best of all, people are reading it. Thanks to all of you who keep coming back, and especially to those of you who take the time to comment and engage in conversation. I've made a lot of virtual friends in the past year and I've learned a lot. 

I have always been an opera fan, and in this past year, I have really focused more and more on this great art form. Because stats are always entertaining (to some of us), here are some fun facts about the past year.

What do Victor Hugo and Arte LiveWeb Have in Common?

This summer you can see two Victor Hugo-based operas at Arte LiveWeb:

Robert Carsen's production of Verdi's Rigoletto from the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence

Guy Joosten's production of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia from La Monnaie

M. Hugo was such a cheerful fellow, n'est pas?

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Plot is Thicker than Water – La Sonnambula at Staatsoper Stuttgart

Act 1
We’ve already discussed the lack of drama inherent in this opera libretto (isn’t that nicer than calling it “stupid”?) and I think that any literal stage interpretation of La Sonnambula cannot be much more than a pretty evening of singing (provided the singers are good.)

It’s interesting how the directors have changed this from a fluffy plot to something quite tragic (though with comic elements) without changing or really being untrue to the text. In some scenes and arias, Amina’s happy lyrics come out as ironic, and in the end she is totally unhinged. Her wild coloratura makes a dramatic statement, with some of her brilliant outbursts coming out more as screams* (particularly at the end of the finale. It's a scream, but it's brilliant and musical.) 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Miah Persson Sings Mozart

The text of this recitative and aria is attributed to Lorenzo da Ponte. It was written originally as an insertion aria for Idamente for a performance in Vienna. Mozart wrote this new setting for his original Susanna: Nancy Storace, and most likely played the piano in the first performance. I like this aria partly for its hybrid status of aria/piano concerto, not to mention the lovely music and thoughtful word setting.

I’ve also been thinking that even though she’s not a mezzo, Miah Persson would be an awesome Idamente. And maybe an even more awesome Elettra! This is from her 2006 recording of Mozart Arias.

Ch'io mi scordi di te?
Che a lui mi doni puoi consigliarmi?
E puoi voler che in vita?
Ah no! Sarebbe il viver mio di morte assai peggior.
Venga la morte, intrepida l'attendo.
Ma, ch'io possa struggermi ad altra face,
ad altr'oggetto donar gl'affeti miei, come tentarlo?
Ah, di dolor morrei!

Non temer, amato bene,
per te sempre il cor sarà.
Più non reggo a tante pene,
l’alma mia mancando va.
Tu sospiri? O duol funesto!
Pensa almen, che istante è questo!
Non mi posso, oh Dio! spiegar.
Stelle barbare, stelle spietate,
perchè mai tanto rigor?
Alme belle, che vedete
le mie pene in tal momento,
dite voi, s’egual tormento
può soffrir un fido cor?
You ask that I forget you?
You can advise me to give myself to her?
And this while yet I live?
Ah no! My life would be far worse than death!
Let death come, I await it fearlessly.
But how could I attempt to warm myself to another flame,
to lavish my affections on another?
Ah! I should die of grief!

Fear nothing, my beloved,
my heart will always be yours.
I can no longer suffer such distress,
my spirit fails me.
You sigh? O mournful sorrow!
Just think what a moment this is!
O God! I cannot express myself.
Barbarous stars, pitiless stars,
why are you so stern?
Fair souls who see
my sufferings at such a moment,
tell me if a faithful heart
could suffer such torment?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Trovatore on the Tube (at least Temporarily) – Harteros & Kaufmann

I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with U-toob. 

This week it’s love: JDD’s Master Classes on Wednesday, La Donna del Lago with JDD and JDF on Thursday and this gem on Friday night! 

Watch the new Bayerische Staatsoper production of Il Trovatore as soon as you can. (There are no subtitles, but it's easy enough to find a libretto to follow, if you don't already know it by heart.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gratuitous Friday-Plus – La Donna del Lago with JDD & JDF!

Look what I found at YT: It's probably for a limited time only, and it has no subtitles, but it's a great way to tide us over till the DVD (please, please, please) comes out. 

I haven't been able to track down a (free) English translation, but here is a synopsis, and the Italian libretto, which should help in keeping track of what's going on. At least now I know how I'll be spending part of my weekend. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Joyce DiDonato: Master Singer, Master Coach, Master Class

Tent Poles
Once again, this time courtesy of the Royal Opera House in London, we are privy to the great insights of the great JDD. She is the kind of diva who'd be fun to have a beer with, or watch a movie, go on a hike, build a desk, or just hang out with.  I've pointed out before that Joyce DiDonato has lots of good advice, and not just about singing, but about life too. As I mentioned in an earlier JDD Master Class post, her Master Classes are not just for singers, or even just for musicians or opera lovers. Her classes are for everyone. If she ever (God forbid) gave up singing, she could have a marvelous career as a director.

So enjoy this classy lady's pearls of wisdom, and hear three up-and-coming young singers from the UK. The sessions are edited somewhat, which sounds frustrating; however, it's kinda nice to cut from the singing right to the coaching. The fourth clip is a special bonus: a brief interview with Our Yankee Diva. Thank you, JDD!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gratuitous Luca Pisaroni Post – Kleine Zeitung Interview

This started out as a random gratuitous post, but then I came back across this July 3rd newspaper interview with Luca. There's not really any new news here, but it's always nice to have a quick overview of his career. 

Luca Pisaroni: 

Verdi Instead of Soccer

In your biography we read: "Born in Venezuela”
LUCA Pisaroni: This was rather a mistake, because my parents worked there for ten years. But in 1980 we returned to Europe. I grew up in Busseto, so I am a true Italian, even though I’ve lived in Vienna for seven years.
Your way to becoming a singer. . . ?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gratuitous Gerhaher Post – Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer

I have to admit that Christian Gerhaher does angry, stressed, and serious better than he projects carefree, cheerful, and happy. His happy comes across more as ironic. Maybe it's just these songs. Be that as it may, Herr Gerhaher is a thoughtful interpreter with a smooth voice. We are used to hearing him only with piano, but he does do a lot of orchestral concertizing. Coming up soon will be a review of his (somewhat cranky) Papageno in the M22 Zauberflöte with Diana Damrau, Rene Pape, and Genia Kühmeier. 

Oh, and the Mahler Youth Orchestra is a-ma-zing!
Part two is below.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Disjointed, Self-Centered, Boring, and Condescending: Sir Rudolph Bing's "A Knight at the Opera"

I thought I found a really exciting find, but the find I found turned out to be better off lost. 

Last week, I was going through the accumulated library of the last three music directors of the church where I currently serve in the same role. There was a lot of crap (teaching method books from the 50s, ancient hymnals that no one would ever use, old worship bulletins) and a few cool finds—many opera vocal scores, a book about Toscanini, and a Dover complete edition of the Beethoven String Quartets.

And Sir Rudolph Bing's A Knight at the Opera. I thought I'd hit paydirt, but I should have put that one in the throw-away/give-away pile, too. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Auger and von Otter Sing Bach

Helmut Rilling's recording of Bach's B-minor Mass is a good representation of the state of  the modern-instrument/HIP hybrid of the 80s (We can tell it's the 80s from ASvO's haircut, and because Arlene Auger is still singing.) I think if you search diligently, you can find the entire mass on YT, in bits and pieces. This is sublime music making.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – Consolation Trovatore Audio from Munich

If you are at work like I am, and don't have permission (or time) to watch the streaming video from the Bayrische Staatsoper today, here is the audio from last week's premiere performance of Trovatore with Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros. On the other hand, if you are in any way at all able to watch the webcast, do it! (It starts at 1:00 PM Eastern U.S. Time.) And rest assured that some enterprising someone eventually will manage to make it available to us poor working slobs. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Plácido Domingo (und Freundinnen) auf der Freilichtbühne Loreley

Last night at the Freilichtbühne Loreley in Germany, Plácido Domingo held forth for a pleasant evening concert of opera excerpts, mostly Verdi and Wagner (I wonder how they came up with that program idea?) 

With him were two young up-and-coming American sopranos, whose careers he has been championing lately. The program kicks off with a rough-n-ready Meistersinger Prelude. You can see it for a few months on Arte LiveWeb.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ana Durlovski is La Sonnambula

Amina sings of her joy (?), while Mom
makes some final alterations to her party dress.
The other day I made a comment on Earworm Opera's blog about the silliness of the plot of La Sonnambula.  I went back to double-check the reference before I started on this post, and noticed that Earworm had been talking about I Puritani! She was kind enough to respond to me without commenting on my error. Really, it was a comment on Bellini plots in general. Many of Bellini's opera plots are far-fetched, silly, and/or undramatic. 

Then I found this Stuttgart Staatsoper performance of La Sonnambula on Arte LiveWeb. Widely acclaimed (in Germany, anyway), it took me a whole year to find out about this production. Directors Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito update the setting and probe the background of the story and the possible interrelationships of the characters, particularly complicating the dynamic of Annina and Elvino and their arranged marriage. They add a whole lot of interest and intrigue to the story line that complement and contrast with the beautiful music. They also manage to add humor and just a bit of obligatory ickiness.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gratuitous Luca Pisaroni Post – Publio (La Clemenza di Tito)

This little aria from La Clemenza di Tito often is treated as a throwaway. In fact, the whole role of Publio—except for his participation in several significant trios—often seems nearly superfluous. However, Martin Kušej made the most of having handsome, young, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni in the role.

This is not the school-principal Publio, the Cowardly Lion Publio, the stomping-around-shouting-commands Publio, or even the stand-around-and-be-ready-for-the-trios Publio. This Publio has just as many issues as the rest of this crazy group–maybe more. He may (or may not) have serious intentions towards Tito, Vitelia, and/or Sesto (and possibly any number of named and unnamed characters). 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Zerbinetta Reminds Us About Some Online Opera

Zerbinetta (the Likely Impossibilities blogger, not the opera character) reminds us of some good sources of (free) online opera viewing in her Sunday post called Opera on the interwebs. She says:

If you, like me, are feeling opera-deprived, there's some great stuff to watch on the internet. The Guardian is blowing some whistles that have nothing to do with American politics: as in previous years, they are streaming various productions from Glyndebourne, until August 31. 

Zerbinetta offers a lot more useful information; and you can read the rest (plus a comment from me, because I always have more to say) over at her blog
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