Saturday, August 31, 2013

Meeting of the Minds – The Mezzo Edition: JDD Interviews Dame Janet

Dame Janet Baker retired from the opera stage at the height of her career. (We can probably all name a singer or two who might be/have been wise to follow her example.) Thanks to The Eyes Have It for pointing out this wonderful video interview that Joyce DiDonato did with Janet Baker to honor Dame Janet's 80th birthday. It's a little bit of a mutual admiration society; Dame Janet is so so gracious, as we might expect. And as she always does with other singers, JDD brings out fascinating insights from Dame Janet. Do set aside the 31 minutes necessary to see/hear the entire interview. This video is can be found at Grammophone Magazine's website.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – Joyce DiDonato & Peter Mattei are Rosina & Figaro

How charming are they? SOoooooo Charming!!! After Jonas Kaufmann, the two most visited singers at RnR are Joyce DiDonato and Peter Mattei. In fact, Peter Mattei's Carmina Burana clip is the all time most-visited post here. So in honor of their popularity on my blog, here is a clip that features them both. This is from the 2006 Met Broadcast of The Barber of Seville. I believe JDD was hailed as a "newcomer" in this production. It's hard to imagine she hasn't always been on stage! (Now if we could just get them to switch roles...just once!)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Salzburger Festpiele Yearbook Photo – The Cast of Don Carlo

Because a lot of my facebook peeps are clergy and/or church-related folk, this photo kind of blended into my timeline. But something looked a little different—it mighta been that golden guy. This pic was nicked from Thomas Hampson's Facebook page. It's nice to see the whole gang together and smiling.

Donnerstag Duetten mit Dorothea

I have to admit I only downloaded three tracks from Matthias Goerne's 2000 opera recital album. These would be the three that include Dorothea Röschmann as his duet partner. Two are Mozart, in roles she's sung many times elsewhere at better tempi (these feel somewhat rushed.) However, if you've heard Dorothea sing Alban Berg's Der Wein and thought, gee I bet she'd be a good Marie or Lulu, here is an opportunity to sample. This is the Act 3, Scene 2 of Berg's Wozzeck, in which Wozzeck murders Marie. I always think of MG as a little intense, and maybe a bit strange. This is the final track of his CD. Just sayin'...

German text below:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sopranos and Countertenors in Disguise – Emöke Barath and Valer Barna-Sabadus

So Menelao is this guy who falls in love with Elena (Helen) of Troy (who doesn't?) and takes the novel approach of dressing like a girl in order to get closer to her. (A lot of that sort of thing seems to happen in Cavalli operas.) I think by the time they get to this scene, Elena knows he's a guy, even though he's still wearing a dress. So they fall in love and sing this gorgeous duet. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

There’s an App for that – Ö1 Radio

Even better than listening to 7 Tage Ö1 on my desktop is listening on my mobile phone! I had trouble carving out time at home to get through last week's Salzburg performance of Giovanna d'Arco. Enter Ö1 iRadio. Now I can listen at home, at work, or on the go!

With the Ö1 iRadio app, I can listen to live programming or to any of the archived performances in 7 Tage Ö1. Finding programs is just a bit more labor intensive than using the web version. But once you're listening, you can browse other streams or read program notes, or check email. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Mozart, ma non Manico

I've been listening, in between Salzburg broadcasts (or not) and so far, I am most impressed with the ladies of the cast (two of them, anyway). Here is a dreamy Ah guarda sorella, from the new Cosi:

P.S. In context (after the rather shouty opening trio of guys) this sounds even sweeter!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Christopher Lowrey Sings Handel

The first singer you see/hear in Cavalli's Elena from the Festival of Aix en Provence is American-born, British-trained countertenor Christopher Lowrey; and his appearance is arresting. He sings beautifully and remains engaging even when the focus is on other singers. Here is some bio information from his website:
Countertenor Christopher Lowrey, originally from the United States, holds degrees with distinction from Brown University, St John's College, Cambridge, and the Royal College of Music International Opera School. He won the New England Regional Finals of the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions...[and] was a finalist in the 2008 London Bach Society Competition.
Christopher is a flexible singer/actor, portraying Disorder in the prologue, as one of Neptune’s wavy/watery attendants, and other assorted characters.

I’ll write more about Elena (available now on, and featuring an cast of impressive soloists) in a few days. Meanwhile, here is Christopher Lowrey singing Giulio Cesare’s aria Aura, deh per pieta:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

La Donna, non Cosi – Ö1 Changes their Schedule

© Michael Pöhn
I am not sure why, but Austria's Ö1 Radio is not broadcasting the Salzburg Cosi fan tutte tonight/day. I just got a "Seite nicht gefunden" message when I clicked to double-check on it. (I swear it was listed there before!)

Maybe it's due to the crushing reviews Christoph Eschenbach received for his (non)-interpretation. Apparently, he prefers ketchup on his Cosi. It seems he was too busy touring with another ensemble to show up in Salzburg until the final dress rehearsals. The reviewer for the Salzburger Nachrichten said (more or less): 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – Fritz Wunderlich ist Ferrando (Italienischer Oper auf Deutsch )

In the great tradition of opera in the vernacular, here is FW singing Un aura amorosa as Dem Odem der Liebe. Had he lived longer, he likely would have re-recorded much of his repertoire in the original languages. But we are fortunate to have so many recordings from his tragically short life and career.

And influential? I can't think of a tenor who does not name Fritz Wunderlich as an idol and/or influence. And there are more than a few basses, baritones, mezzos, and sopranos who also look up to Fritz as a consummate vocal artist. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

More Music of Agostino Steffani – Cecilia and Friends

Found while browsing teh Interwebz:

Cecilia Bartoli has top billing, but if you drill down a bit, you'll find who drew me in: 
  • Daniel Behle
  • Julian Pregardian (yes, son of Christoph)
  • Nuria Rial

Product Description from

...Cecilia Bartolis exploration of the music of Steffani continues on from her best-selling recording Mission with an album of the celebrated Stabat Mater alongside Steffanis greatest sacred works for chorus, orchestra and soloists, constituting the most comprehensive collection of Steffanis sacred choral music on CD.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Everything's Different, Nothing's Changed – Salzburg Festival "Cosi"

© Michael Pöhn
SN: Sie haben alle Da-Ponte-Opern in Zürich inszeniert.... Stimmt, was Intendant Alexander Pereira versichert: In Salzburg wird alles ganz und gar neu?

Bechtolf: Das weiß ich noch nicht.* 
Now we know. The answer to the burning question (well, my burning question) is here. What did Sven-Eric Bechtolf do to upgrade his 2009 Zurich Cosi fan tutte for the 2013 Salzburg Festival?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco on Austria's Ö1 Radio – But Only for a Few Days

Austria's Ö1 radio has a great archive system called 7 Tage Ö1, which holds broadcasts for replay for ... um, 7 days. I highly recommend it for everything, but in particular, I enjoyed Saturday’s concert performance of Giovanna d'Arco with Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, and some other singers. (I'm being facetious  It's a strong cast all around.) Paolo Carignani conducts the Philharmonia Chor Wien and the Münchner Rundfunkorchester.

There’s an App for that –

Last week, I reminded my Dad that if he was free on Friday afternoon, he might want to check out Don Carlo from the Salzburg Festival on He replied, “Yes, I read about that on your blog.” (Hey, my Dad reads my blog! Cool!) On Friday, he called me at work during a scene change to let me know he was watching the broadcast, and he wanted to know if I felt envious. (Nice. Of course I did!)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two on 3 – Werner Güra and Dorothea Röschmann's Recitals from Edinburgh and One on 1 – Christian Gerhaher im Salzburg

Listen now:

Werner Güra and Christoph Berner
Werner Güra (tenor) and Christoph Berner (piano) perform music by Beethoven and Schubert.
German tenor Werner Güra and pianist Christoph Berner perform live at the Edinburgh International Festival. Love and longing, life and loss are explored in this song recital of works by Beethoven and Schubert.

Just Another Manic Monday Mozart – Christa Ludwig is Dorabella

This is from the Karl Bohm EMI Cosi fan tutte. Like JDD, Christa Ludwig didn't need video to convey Dorabella's distress. There is a filmed version of her, along with Gundula Janowitz as Fiordiligi...somewhere...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Dorothea Röschmann sings Mahler at the Salzburg Festival

So I just “discovered” Austria’s Ö1 webradio. They broadcast a good bit (if not all) of the Salzburg Summer Festival. I found this out while searching for a broadcast of Cosi fan tutte. Not only do they broadcast live, but they hold recordings in archive for a short period of time. 

This is how I got to hear DR singing the last movement of Mahler's 4th Symphony – exquisitely as always  from the Salzburg Festival. And now you can hear it, too. 

I don’t always think of a timbre like hers for this particular song. Often we hear a lighter, more child-like voice. (And sometimes, even an actual child, though that does not usually work as well.) However, she evokes both the innocence and the odd Mahlerian darkness of this little piece. Yet another example of Dorothea Röschmann’s exemplary vocal artistry. Enjoy!

You can hear Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco at Ö1, too. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Salzburger Festspielen – Workouts and Condiments

Luca in Guglielmo's Costumes
According to an article in der Standard in Austria, Franz Welser-Möst withdrew from the Salzburg Festival Cosi Fan Tutte (to be broadcast Saturday, August 24 on Ö1 Radiodue to the singer-unfriendly curtain time of 11 AM (This may not be news to anyone else, but I never heard exactly what his objection was.) Clearly, Herr Welser-Möst has no experience as a church musician. 

Luca Pisaroni is more pragmatic: "When I have to sing at 11 AM...I get up at 7 AM and go to the gym, or run a bit."* 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – Rainer Trost is Ferrando

Continuing the Cosi theme this week, here is a German tenor we maybe don't think about very often, but we should. He's a busy tenor, having appeared at the Bregenz Festival this summer as Tamino. He is a dramatic Tito in the Mackerras audio recording of La Clemenza di Tito, a romantic Flammand in the Paris Capricco, and a dashing Ferrando in this Cosi fan tutte (also from Paris, 1996).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Another "Cosi" Moment – Soave sia il vento

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming DG recording of Cosi fan tutte. It's the track you can download free at DG's "buzz" page: "Soave sia il vento" sung by Miah Persson, Angela Brower, and Alessandro Corbelli, with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Bon voyage!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

...and in other news:

I don’t usually lift full, unedited items from other bloggers, but this one from Parterre Box was too good not to share. 


“schau sie an, ein gefangener der gosse”

In a starling last-minute change of programming, the Salzburg Festival has canceled all further performances of the critically-reviled Peter Stein production of Don Carlos. Weltstars Anja Harteros and Jonas Kaufmann will instead perform My Fair Lady (pictured).

And Thomas Hampson would be an awesome Henry Higgins!!

Verdi: Don Carlo Live from Salzburg Friday, 16 August 2013

The webcast on starts at 11:30 AM Eastern U.S. time.
I wonder if my boss will mind if I call in due to a case of severe opera attack.

Matti Salminen...................................................................... Flilppo II
Jonas Kaufmann................................................................. Don Carlo
Anja Harteros....................................................... Elisabetta di Valois
Thomas Hampson.................................. Rodrigo, Marchese di Posa
Ekaterina Semenchuk.................................... La Principessa Eboli

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More Mozart Madness – Joyce DiDonato is Dorabella

This clip is audio-only, and I sure wish there were a video of this one. On the other hand, JDD conveys Dorabella’s craziness quite well without the visuals, thank you very much!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday Mozart – Liliana Nikiteanu is Dorabella

It's fascinating to see how various directors/producers treat Dorabella in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, especially in her rather over-the-top first act recitative and aria. In this 2000 Zurich Oper performance conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Liliana Nikiteanu really puts the drama in Drama Queen. This recording also stars Cecilia Bartoli as Fiordiligi and Agnes Baltsa as Despina. One reviewer complained that it's too many mezzos. Is there really any such thing as too many mezzos?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Verdi Requiem: Domine Jesu Christe (excerpt)

Decca offers us a teaser from the La Scala Verdi Requiem recorded earlier this year. It will be available in the U.S. on DVD, Blu-ray, and CD on September 3. Have you pre-ordered yours yet?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Godunov Going Fast – Only 7 More Days to Watch

Calixto Bieito's production of Modest Mussorgsky's Boris Gudonov for the Bayerische Staatsoper is on view at Arte live, but only for a few more days. The musical values are high and the production is strange, as  expected; but it's much lower on the gross-out meter than we've come to expect from Bieito. Watch it before it disappears.

Meanwhile, La Sonnambula is still online for about another month. 

And if you live in Europe, you have 14 days to see the Bregenz Festival Die Zauberflöte (not available in the U.S.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – Angela Brower is Dorabella

Angela Brower appears as Dorabella in the new Cosi fan tutte from Deutsche Grammophon. Here is another appearance she made as Dorabella at the Bayerische Staatsoper with Aga Mikolaj as her sister. This is their duet from Act 2.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The New Cosi – Nézet-Séguin, Persson, Villazón, and Friends

Here is the follow-up to last year’s intriguing Don Giovanni, just released in Europe a few days ago and due in the U.S. on August 20. There are some lesser known names here, and most are worth keeping track of. The recording promises to be good, and it will be worth it just to hear Miah Persson's Fiordiligi again!

Rolando Villazón explains the plot* (in his inimitable, fun, animated, but confusing way):

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

This Magic Moment – Mozart at the Bregenzer Festspielen 2013

© Bregenzer Festspiele/Karl Forster 
David Pountney’s fantastical, gigantical Zauberflöte is on display this summer (and next) on the stage in the lake at the Bregenzer Festpielen. There is a video on Arte Live Web, but apparently it’s only available to European viewers. It keeps telling me, very politely of course, “Sie haben keine Rechte...”

However, there’s always hope that someone will make it available to all via that video-sharing website or other pirate-y sources. But in the meantime, there are a handful of video clips to tease, titillate, or tick us off. Among the fine (double and triple) cast of singers is Rainer Trost as Tamino. The lovely and talented Ana Durlovski reprises her Queen of the Night, last seen in Baden Baden; she also appeared recently as our damaged sleepwalker im Stuttgart.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

And in Addition to Herheim...More Met Rumors

I love the interwebz! Intermezzo reported that Peter Gelb, in an interview for the Austrian Kurier,  said that Calixto Bieto will be directing at the Met in the near future. Likely Impossibilities picked that item up, and opined:
Why didn't he give this interview to the Times's Anthony Tommasini, who is also in Salzburg; or the New Yorker's Alex Ross, who is as well? This is quite rude to loyal Met audience members who care about these things. (While some of them will be hostile to this development, many would welcome it, and it seems bad form to talk about it behind New York's back.)
Hear, hear!! Save the good stuff for us, PG! So meanwhile, Parterre box passed the notice along, and among her reader comments were the following:

oedipe says:
“Calixto Bieto und Robert Lepage werden auch wieder an der MET inszenieren.” 
Separately or together? It may make a difference.
Ilka Saro says:
Bieito will be directing a production of Lakme, with Natalie Dessay as Nilakantha, set in a Nevada bordello. Lepage will add projections and a bunch of people walking on the ceiling.

and I says: I love an opera lover with an overdeveloped sense of whimsy!

Monday, August 5, 2013

EZ-Pass to Herheim's Meistersinger

If, like me, you are having a difficult time (particularly in the U.S) accessing this performance of Die Meistersinger at TV (and/or keeping it from freezing), some enterprising soul posted it You-Know-Where. Thanks to La Cieca for the tip. 

It's rumored that this production soon will be coming to the Metropolitan Opera. This announcement, in connection with the name Stefan Herheim, has already ruffled the delicate sensibilities of some regie-0-phobes. Not surprisingly, the outrage exploded before anyone has heard much about the actual production, much less actually seen and heard it. What I’ve seen so far doesn’t look nearly as freaky as, say, Herheim’s Parsifal or La Boheme; in general, I find Herheim's Personenregie thorough and convincing; so far so good, here

Act 1

3sat Television Online – Salzburg's Seasons and Mastersingers

Dorothea Röschmann and Michael Schade 
I was watching Haydn's The Seasons from Salzburg again. It is an über-Austrian wonder of music making, with Nickolaus Harnoncourt, Dorothea Röschmann, Michael Schade, and Florian Boesch fronting the Viennese chorus and Philharmonic. Papa Haydn would be proud! The oratorio is a hymn of praise to God and nature. The libretto is kind of hokey—maybe naïve would be a nicer way to say it—but the three soloists give it their all.

Unfortunately, the 3sat Television feed kept freezing. The good thing is the screen-cap above. When the feed froze on this image, I just knew I had to share ittwo singers who love what they’re doing, and seem to love singing together. Here is the link to the Seasons feed.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Brunch – Christian Gerhaher is Wolfram

William R. Braun recently wrote in his review of the Marek Janowski Tannhäuser in Opera News: 
Gerhaher must be tired of constant comparison to the impeccable performances of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, but the way he has apparently thought about every vowel sound he sings in the entire opera, and his ability to sing the three notes of a major triad perfectly in tune, make this point of reference unavoidable. 
Incidentally, the MP3 download at of this Tannhäuser is a great deal – $9.49 for the entire opera. Robert Dean Smith and Nina Stemme also star. Here is Herr Gerhaher (say that out loud – it's fun) singing the famous "Evening Star" aria from this recording:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fantasy Opera Casting – Joyce DiDonato Style

During one of her master classes last spring, Joyce DiDonato said that Figaro in Barber of Seville is a role she'd very much like to play. 

More recently, she revealed that another dream role is Scarpia. So I think it’s time for another round of Fantasy Opera Casting!!! (read with echo added)

The last time we played this game, we gender-switched all the roles, which could be the way to go again; but if you really have a dream cast member that is the same gender as the role, that's cool too. So. If Joyce is Scarpia, fill in the rest of the cast of Tosca (I added one suggestion.):

Floria Tosca                                                                 
Mario Cavaradossi                                                    
Baron Scarpia                               Joyce DiDonato
Cesare Angelotti
A Sacristan
A Jailer
A Shepherd boy                    Philippe Jaroussky

Friday, August 2, 2013

Gratuitous Friday – Ann Hallenberg is Ariodante

The post called belief in a higher power, over at, is a wonderful appreciation (adulation?) of the Swedish mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg. It's exciting to know there are other Ann-fanns out there. DeCaffarrelli also mentions another handful of marvelous, but less-superstar-famous sopranos from the past, most of whom we True Opera Fans already know. If you don’t know them, check them out. But first, watch/listen to the clip below, then go read DeCaffarrelli’s great post. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Opera is Not Necessarily for Everyone, but Everyone Should have Access

It occurred to me that some people read my Monday notice about Thomas Hampson’s interview, but did not actually listen to the podcast. It’s an interesting discussion and well worth the 23 or so minutes. 

I’ve not listened to BBC Radio 3’s Hardtalk programme before, so I don’t know if the host is always so confrontational, but I found the second time I listened, the discussion made me feel very tense. The host tends to talk over Mr. Hampson (a really crappy interview technique), and is almost hostile towards him. She is the kind of interviewer who takes everything her subject says, and picks it apart and tries to turn it back on the interviewee, challenging him to contradict himself. But Mr. Hampson is not easily cowed.

He does not really say opera is for everybody, but he feels everyone should have an opportunity to be exposed to opera.  He doesn’t disagree completely with the opera snobs. It is good to know as much about the opera as possible—singers, directors, conductors, and audience alike.
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