Sunday, March 30, 2014

Two More Traviatas on the Tube

Both of these productions are/were controversial, but for different reasons. 

One is the Zefferelli film: you either love or hate it's "cinematicity". (I'm not a fan of Mr. Z's style, and the lovely Teresa Stratas sounds like she wasn't in good health when she recorded the soundtrack.)

The other is the 2012 La Monnaie production, widely hated by many (and lauded by some) for its unsettling setting. (I like the staging and appreciate the concept, but it is rather unpleasant. Well, it's supposed to be. Meanwhile, Simone Šaturová shines  as a jaded Violetta; and Sébastien Guèze's Alfredo is an adorable young pup.)

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Trio of Traviatas

Here are three Traviatas you can view (for now) in their entirety. Each has its charms (and foibles) and all are (mostly) beautifully sung.

A classic 1968 film version (with initially distracting lip-synching):

A more recent (2007), yet still "traditional" star-studded version (though I personally was not thrilled with the baritone in this one):

A very recent (2014), rather controversial version (although I'm a Regie fan, I had trouble with this staging, and with poor Violetta's unfortunate wardrobe):


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mezzo Madness – DiDonato and Garanca Recitals in the Concerthuis

Now on Netherlands Radio4 Concertuis (neither new, but both noteworthy):

Elina Garanca with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2008 singing Mozart, Bizet, and more. (I usually try to be very positive, but this version of Parto, ma tu ben mio seems strangely detached. I mean, I know it's a concert but...) 

And Joyce DiDonato's Drama Queens program with Complesso Barocco as heard last year in the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona. 

Both concerts are enjoyable, but I think these two photos pretty well depict the contrast I hear: the cool-ish tone of one program and the rather more fiery nature of the other. (To be fair, Ms. Garanca was a guest on an orchestra concert, while Ms. DiDonato was the concert!)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Enchanted Island - Live Online from the Met Tonight

Live broadcast tonight at another opportunity to hear The Enchanted Island.  The broadcast starts at 7:55 Eastern Daylight Time.

Conductor: Patrick Summers 

Miranda: Andriana Chuchman 
Sycorax: Susan Graham 
Prospero: David Daniels 
Ferdinand: Anthony Roth Costanzo 
Neptune: Plácido Domingo 
Caliban: Luca Pisaroni 

And this weekend is the Saturday Matinee broadcast of Wozzeck, this time with Thomas Hampson back in the lead. (Live on many NPR stations.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gratuitous Malin Hartelius and Luca Pisaroni Post

An opera blog with the intriguing name Kinderkuchen for the FBI is published by an intriguing blogger known as Dr. B, who is a fellow musician, a fellow opera fan, and a fellow Jonas Kaufmann groupie. KftF is a source of thoughtful posts about opera, particularity in New York City, and the occasional helpfully translated article or interview. If you don't already, you should follow Dr. B. 

The latest KftF post points us to a tumblr site called operaselfies, which contains...well, selfies taken by opera singers. It's great fun, particularly since there is a heavy concentration of photos of and by Joyce DiDonato and Erwin Schrott. I have to say I am not sure the above photo of Malin and Luca counts as a selfie, but it's wonderful and it definitely illustrates the Opera Selfies motto: 

Opera singers are ridiculous.
This is why we love them. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

And Just in Case Clicking a Link Feels Like Too Much Work... do you feel about embedded audio of Handel's Theodora, as performed last month at Carnegie Hall?

Thank you WQXR. And thank you, Stray

More on the Radio: Joyce DiDonato in Chicago

Impromptu, presented by WFMT in Chicago is a live afternoon series of “impromptu” music and conversation that often features artists appearing in Chicago. 

This week, they welcomed Joyce DiDonato, who is in town for performances of La Clemenza di Tito (which our friend Earworm just saw live). JDD is charming as usual, chatting about and singing opera. 

Impromptu is also available as a podcast (but the JDD episode is not posted yet)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Kaufmann – Winterreise: The Recording & Werther: The Lost Audio

Those who were able to see the Live in HD broadcast of Massenet's Werther on Saturday witnessed the technical difficulty the Met experienced and missed the audio for a chunk of the finale. (Those of us listening to the radio broadcast at home heard the whole opera, but of course didn't get to see any of it.)

By way of apology, the Met posted the final scene from Saturday's broadcast. Thanks to Intermezzo for sharing this link. (This is why I keep up with other people's blogs.)

The BBC Radio 3 will be airing Saturday's radio broadcast on Monday afternoon (March 17) at 2 PM London time (6 PM U.S. Eastern time). 

Jonas Kaufmann was interviewed on the radio last week about his Met Werther, his brand new Winterreise recording, and live opera on video. (Sorry for the email chime in the middle of the Schubert song.)

ARTE pays tribute to Gerard Mortier with Brokeback, Alceste, and Cosi

In tribute to Gerard Mortier, who passed away just a few days ago, Arte Liveweb is featuring three operas from Teatro Real in Madrid. 

Brokeback Mountain and Alceste are brand new (February and March 2014, respectively). With the third opera, they have given us another opportunity to see Michael Hanke’s production of Cosi Fan Tutte

It’s not clear how long these recordings (particularly Cosi) will remain online, so check them out soon (After tonight’s broadcast of Theodora, of course!)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

More Handel: Theodora from Carnegie Hall – This Sunday at 7

         The English Concert Plays Handel's Theodora

From the WQXR website:

Last month, early-music specialist Harry Bicket came to Carnegie Hall with the English Concert for the latest installment in their Handel project—the rarely heard oratorio Theodora.
Tune in Sunday at 7 pm to hear that performance featuring an all-star lineup of soloists: soprano Dorothea Röschmann, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, countertenor David Daniels, tenor Kurt Streit and bass-baritone Neal Davies.
On choral duties is the Choir of Trinity Wall Street led by Julian Wachner.
Theodora was "Handel's biggest flop and the piece he was most proud of," according to Bicket. But then one could look at other works that "perhaps didn't have such a great reception the first time around and we now appreciate as the masterpieces that they are." Bicket called it a social-political story, influenced by Thomas Paine, among other thinkers, and also an introspective work.


  • The English Concert
    Harry Bicket, Artistic Director and Conductor
  • Dorothea Röschmann, Soprano (Theodora)
  • Sarah Connolly, Mezzo-Soprano (Irene)
  • David Daniels, Countertenor (Didymus)
  • Kurt Streit, Tenor (Septimius)
  • Neal Davies, Bass-Baritone (Valens)
  • The Choir of Trinity Wall Street
    Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts

Update 3/17/2014: It's down there in the comments, but in case you don't make it that far, I wanted to call your attention to the following information from a blog buddy who shared the link to the WQXR archive of this broadcast: 

Wouldn't it be great if some radio station archived it online? Absolutely!

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Handful of Handel Operas

Everyone wants to put their stamp on the classics. On one hand, a classic Peter Sellers regie production of Theodora; and on the other, a more recent, generally disliked regie production of Giulio Cesare. In between, we have two updated, but not hated productions; a concert performance of a stage work; and a staged performance of a concert work: the controversial (and—in my opinion—musically and dramatically brilliant) Messiah from Claus Guth. 

So, several handfuls of Handel. It will take more than a handful of hours to get through them, but I think they’re all worth the time. As always, some of these videos have a short shelf life, so get ’em while they’re hot!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Patricia Petibon in Concert from Radio 4 Concerthuis (Netherlands)

I always think of Patricia Petibon as quirky and chirpy (Queen of the Night, Lulu, and assorted Baroque showpieces), but lately it seems her voice has taken on more depth and color than I remember from before. 

In this recital of (mostly) French Chanson (plus some Spanish songs, and a little Bernstein and Arlen), she sounds smoky and sometimes even seductive. 

She has not left the quirks completely behind; she gets a little silly now and then, and the audience is having a great time. The Poulenc (and Bernstein) songs are indeed quirky songs, but they’re hardly chirpy. But the pièce de résistance here is Ravel’s Shéhérazade.

Thanks to an anonymous reader who, a few months ago, posted a link to Netherlands Radio 4 Concerthuis ("All of Radio 4’s concerts under one roof"). They have a treasure trove of archived concerts, including many vocal recitals and of course many Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra concerts. 

Oh boy! More reasons to spend more time in front of my computer! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ö1 Radio: Broadcasts of Mozart Past – Mitridate, Re di Ponto (1997)

Bruce Ford (Mitridate)
Cyndia Sieden (Aspasia)
Christiane Oelze (Sifare)
Vesselina Kasarova (Farnace)
Heidi Grant Murphy (Ismene)
Toby Spence (Marzio)
Larissa Rudakova (Arbate)
Camerata Salzburg
Sir Roger Norrington

Live recording from the 
1997 Salzburger Mozartwoche 
on Ö1 Radio now!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Just Another Manic Mozart (Sesto as Vitellia Part 2: Joyce DiDonato)

Sestos who would be awesome Vitellias. 

Well, last week we heard Vesselina Kasarova, and this week, we have Joyce DiDonato from the Met Orchestra concert last fall with James Levine. She really sounds like she's going mad, and not just angry that her plan didn’t work. 

I've a feeling JDD'd present a very human character—a Vitellia you'd actually feel sorry for by the end of the opera. It can't be an easy role to play (and I don't mean just vocally.) It seems hard to present Vitellia as anything other than a cold-hearted b...ahem, princess who’s totally bent on revenge; but somehow, I think JDD could do it. (Special thanks to the intrepid fan who captured this performance!)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Schumann Faust Scenes on Ö1 Radio (Röschmann, Gerhaher, Pisaroni)

Christian Gerhaher and Daniel Harding
Broadcast last night on Ö1 Radio, this will be in the 7 Tage Ö1  archive for about six more days. 

Robert Schumann: 

Szenen aus Goethe's Faust

Part 1
Nr.1 Szene im Garten
Nr.2 Gretchen vor dem Bild der Mater dolorosa
Nr.3 Szene im Dom

Part 2
Nr.4 Sonnenaufgang
Nr.5 Mitternacht
Nr.6 Fausts Tod

Dorothea Röschmann (Gretchen)
Anna Prohaska (Marthe; Sorge; Soprano Soli)
Andrew Staples (Ariel; Tenor Soli)
Christian Gerhaher (Faust)
Luca Pisaroni (Mephisto)
Elisabeth von Magnus (Mangel; Mezzosopran Soli)
Wiebke Lehmkuhl (Schuld; Alt Soli)
Franz-Josef Selig (Bass Soli)

Rundfunkchor Berlin
Knaben des Staats- und Domchors Berlin
Berliner Philharmoniker
Leitung: Daniel Harding

Thursday, March 6, 2014

As Seen On Facebook – Matthias Goerne Steps in for Thomas Hampson

I am very disappointed to have to cancel tonight’s performance of Wozzeck at the Met due to bronchitis. I hope to be better soon and look forward to singing this challenging genius opera. What great luck that my friend and colleague Matthias Goerne is in town and is willing to add tonight’s performance to his busy schedule. Wishing my wonderful colleagues, Maestro Levine, and the whole Wozzeck team and of course the audience a thrilling opening night. I will miss being there, be sure.
I feel sorry for Mr. Hampson. I know from personal experience that having bronchitis is no fun. And I'm very certain (though I do not have personal experience in this regard) that missing one's role debut as Wozzeck at the Met is extraordinarily disappointing. Best wishes for a speedy and thorough recovery, Mr. Hampson! 

I am sure Thomas Hampson fans holding tickets for tonight's performance were rather disappointed, too. But hopefully they were able to get over it and revel in the opportunity to hear the man who stepped in at very short notice.

It just so happens Matthias Goerne is in New York this week. Last night he sang Die Schöne Müllerin at Carnegie Hall, and last week he guessed it: concert with the Wiener Staatsoper. Herr Goerne is only just an Awesome Wozzeck (and an awesome just about anything he sings!)

It was live streamed on from the Met's website. I got to hear part of it. (in between wi-fi dropouts! Argh!!!) With James Levine conducting and Deborah Voigt, Matthias Goerne, and other fine singers singing, this work sounded lush and nearly romantic! It was an extraordinary performance!

I am so glad I just happened to check my Facebook feed at dinner time tonight!

As seen today on (who are very good about keeping their website up to date. He only said yes at around 2:00 PM today!): 

Goerne Steps in as Wozzeck

Matthias Goerne will be singing the title role in tonight's performance of Berg's Wozzeck, replacing Thomas Hampson, who is ill. Deborah Voigt stars as Marie, and Music Director James Levine conducts.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jonas Kaufmann Speaks about Werther

Jonas Kaufmann recently spoke to Opera Online about performing the role of Werther. JK is always so thoughtful and articulate—as much a joy when speaking as he is when singing. And here is that conversation. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winterreise Preview – New Release from Jonas Kaufmann

I don't normally condone pirating music that one can actually purchase commercially, but in this case, it's not yet available in the U.S. So... here are some clips from JK's new recording of Die Winterreise. 

Save up your Deutschmarks, Francs, Pounds, or bucks, because the official U.S. release date is April 1!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Manic Mozart Monday – Vesselina Kasarova is Vitellia (in Recital)

This audio recording is from her 1997 Mozart Arias recital disc with Colin Davis conducting. She makes Vitellia sound angry, desperate, and yes, at one point even a bit tired. Imagine what Frau Kasarova could do with this on stage (and with Maestro Harnoncourt conducting!) Add her to the list of Sestos I'd love to see move over to Vitellia!

I, for one, would like to see her in a few more girl's roles (even though, I think we all agree that she's an awesome Mezzo in Pants!)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

North Star – A Great Article About Kristine Opolais

North Star Kristine Opolais

It sounds like a fairy tale. A beautiful young girl sings a song, a handsome listener falls in love with her, and in a blink of an eye she becomes a star. Now they travel the world, making music together. In broad strokes, that is exactly what happened to Kristine Opolais, the Latvian soprano who made a sensational debut at the Metropolitan Opera this past season. The New York Times hailed her “plush voice with a throbbing richness that lends a touch of poignancy to every phrase she sings” in her portrayal of Magda in Puccini’s La Rondine.  

Did you know she's married to Andris Nelsons and that she's also a Mom? Read the rest of this article at Classical Singer Magazineand listen to Kristine Opolaias as Magda in La Rondine at the Met:

*Classical Singer Magazine is aimed primarily at singers, but it is provides fascinating reading for lovers of singing, too. You can subscribe to print or online only versions.

David Bižić Sings! (With Lisette Oropesa)

An audio excerpt from the new production of Werther at the Met:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

David Bižić Speaks!

Just posted: David Bižić's interview with Margaret Juntwait broadcast on Met Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM on February 24, 2014. He talks about making his debut at the Met and about his “ascent” to higher baritone opera roles. Mr. Bižić is well- spoken, and he has a speaking voice that’s as warm and wonderful as his singing voice!

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