Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Baroque Arias – Bach and Matthias Goerne (and Barbara Bonney)

I know secular "christmas" is over, but it's still Christmastide in my world. And who has time to look at/listen to Christmas programming before Christmas, anyway? 

This whole program of Baroque (and one Mozart) music (from 1999) is wonderful. Ms. Bonney and Herr Goerne each have a few solo arias and one sweet duet, plus there's some nice orchestral and brass music—none of it blatantly, commercially Christmas-y. Because I love Matthias Goerne singing Bach, I would like to draw your particular attention to Herr Goerne’s rendition of this aria from Bach's Christmas Oratorio:
Großer Herr, o starker König,
Liebster Heiland, o wie wenig 
Achtest du der Erden Pracht! 
Der die ganze Welt erhält, 
Ihre Pracht und Zier erschaffen, 
Muss in harten Krippen schlafen.

Great Lord, O mighty king,
dearest saviour, O how little
you regard earthly splendour
He who maintains the whole world 
and created its glory and adornment
must sleep in a hard crib.

Here are some other seasonal posts from the past.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rinat Shaham in Cendrillion at La Monnaie on The Opera Platform

One of my favorite mezzos, Rinat Shaham, as Massenet's Cendrillion at La Monnaie. This broadcast is available starting today from The Opera Platform (an offshoot of Arte Concert, where you can also see Anna Netrebko and Francesco Meli in Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco

Here's an excerpt from Cendrillion with Rinat Shaham and Sophie Marilley:

Note: you may want to track down a libretto (here is one in French only) since the website says: Kindly supported by La Monnaie, THE OPERA PLATFORM presents CENDRILLON free of charge as video on demand. This opera is a full-length performance offered in addition to our regular programme. Therefore subtitles will not be provided.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Joyce at Julliard (again) Re-Joyce!!

If you missed the live stream today of JDD's master classes at Julliard (like I did), take note of these two tweets:

What amazing talent in these 4 singers, today!

More Miah (Interview from 2011) Plus Sarah and John Mark

I was actually doing a search on tenor John Mark Ainsley, which led me to a 2008 interview with mezzo Sarah Connolly, which (obviously?) led me to this Miah Persson interview from 2011. As we know MP became an amazing Donna Elvira and Governess (in Turn of the Screw); and she turned out a rather charming Adina in L'Elisir. So, meanwhile, here she is in (for me) some unexpected repertoire. Can you imagine her Violetta? Sigh!

OK since I mentioned JMA and SC, here are some clips from them, too 
(in more expected repertoire):

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday Matinee – Cosi Fan Tutte in Santa Monica (via Lyon)

I thought I discussed this 2011 French production of Cosi fan tutte in my own blog when excerpts of it appeared on YT a year or so ago. But apparently it was in the comments section in another blogger’s domain (most likely The Earwormwho has written extensively on other Cosi productions). I was drawn to it at the time because I was looking for anything that German tenor Daniel Behle was involved in. Meanwhile, there are other good performances here, and it's yet another take on the "lovers on vacation" theme—this time in Southern California.

This is another “not happily ever after” Cosi. In this production—as happens so often these daysit turns out that the couples were not well matched to begin with; and three of the six principals clearly are not pleased by the final outcome of Don Alfonso's experiment. I offer this tidbit not as a spoiler, but as an enticement to take some time with the performance.

This transfer is not perfect. There are some hiccups, stutters, and skips; but not enough to spoil the performance—and it’s free.

Lionel Lhote (Don Alfonso)
Daniel Behle (Ferrando)
Vito Priante (Guglielmo)
Maria Bengtsson (Fiordiligi)
Tove Dahlberg (Dorabella)
Elena Galitskaya (Despina)

Orchestre et Choeurs de l'Opéra de Lyon
Stefano Montanari (conductor) 
Adrian Noble (stage director)
Recorded in 2011 at the Opéra National de Lyon

Friday, November 6, 2015

Gratuitous Friday – Luca Pisaroni Sings Schwanengesang Excerpts

It is a blessing to Liederlieber everywhere that Luca Pisaroni is one of our great opera singers who continues to perform in recital. Bringing some stage presence to the concert stage is never a bad thing. 

Here are the six Heine settings from Schubert's Schwanengesang, performed in Chicago this past September, while LP (and his entourage--apparently Tristan appeared again in his acclaimed portrayal of "the Count's Dog") were there for the Lyric Opera's production of Le Nozze di Figaro

I love the viewer comment on YT that LP is "clearly...a bit stressed..." D'ya think that's not stress, but maybe—oh I don't know—acting? I mean, these Heine poems are not exactly happy-go-lucky little ditties! (Are any Heine poems happy-go-lucky?)

Here's a bit of info from Wikipedia on the six Heine poems in Die Schwanengesang:

·        Der Atlas ("Atlas": the singer, having wished to experience either eternal happiness or eternal wretchedness, has the latter, and blames himself for the weight of sorrow, as heavy as the world, that he now bears)
·        Ihr Bild ("Her image": the singer tells his beloved of how he dreamed (daydreamed?) that a portrait of her favoured him with a smile and a tear; but alas, he has lost her)
·        Das Fischermädchen ("The fisher-maiden": the singer tries to sweet-talk a fishing girl into a romantic encounter, drawing parallels between his heart and the sea)
·        Die Stadt ("The city": the singer is in a boat rowing towards the city where he lost the one he loved; it comes foggily into view)
·        Am Meer ("By the sea": the singer tells of how he and his beloved met in silence beside the sea, and she wept; since then he has been consumed with longing — she has poisoned him with her tears)
·        Der Doppelgänger ("The double": the singer looks at the house where his beloved once lived, and is horrified to see someone standing outside it in torment — it is, or appears to be, none other than himself, aping his misery of long ago)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A (Literally) Cool Concept – Winterreise Winterized

I just saw this written up over at the Barihunks® blog. Baritone Christopher Herbert has come up with an interactive, wintry way to present Schubert’s mammoth song cycle. You can read more about Chris' project at Barihunks®

Except for the part about standing about in the cold, I'd love to attend one of these performances. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Gratuitous Dorothea Röschmann Post – Nannetta in Falstaff

Did you know that Dorothea Röschmann sang Nannetta in (at least one performance of) Verdi's Falstaff? Neither did I. My guess is that this 2001 recording is from a concert performance. Anyway, here she is, sounding lovely as always, in Act 3. Enjoy!

And this track contains her Act 1 duet with the dulcet-toned tenor Daniil Shtoda as Fenton.


The recording also features some soprano named Adrianne Pieczonka, Bryn Terfel, and Thomas Hampson. You can hear the rest of it on Spotify.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

More Must-See Medici.TV (Mozart and Beethoven)

Tristan and Luca
Luca Pisaroni as the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro. Do I really need to say more? 

The performances are quite good, and I really dig the Upstairs/
Downstairs theme (and set.) Having the Count, Countess, Figaro and Susanna all about the same age also makes sense. I am not sure I like seeing Luca as a bad guy. I mean he does it well, playing a textbook abusive husband, alternately loving and threatening. But, well...Luca's such a nice guy, I think he should always be the hero! The whole cast is pretty impressive*, including Zurich stalwart Martina Janková as Susanna, and Anett Fritsch (a cool Donna Elvira last season), and Adam Plachetka as Figaro. ...and the rest! Anyway, watch it while you can. 

*including a furry cameo by Luca's doxy Tristan as, appropriately, the Count's Dog. I am still waiting to see Lenny get a juicy opera role. 

While you're hanging out at, be sure to watch the new Claus Guth production of Fidelio with Jonas Kaufmann and Adrianne Pieczonka. I’ve seen only a brief excerpt so far. But it looks pretty good. I mean, it's Claus Guth...and of course, there's JK and AP! (It also has dancer Paul Lorenger, and sign language artist Nadia Kichler who both appeared in Guth’s amazing staging of Handel’s Messiah.)

Having missed all but Act 1 of Carmen, and barely catching the Bayerische Staatsoper Lulu** before it went off the web***, I am pledging to myself to re-watch Nozze and watch Fidelio from beginning to end before they disappear!!

**Marlis Peterson is amazing as Lulu. I thought Tcherniakov’s production was illuminating—in Acts 1 and 2. Act 3 seems to be a stumbling block for many directors. But MP is amazing—really the whole cast is impressive. If it turns up—ahem—elsewhere, do take time to watch it. I am looking forward to hearing MP in the new Met production. Speaking of Lulu at the Met, there is a really good article/appreciation of this opera in the latest issue of Opera News. Lulu (like Wozzeck, I guess, but I am not as big a fan) provides new insights (to the music and to the characters) with multiple hearings. 

***I left the browser window open for the past few days, and still was able to watch Act 3 today, even though technically it was no longer available.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Gratuitous Friday – Mixed Reactions to Dorothea Röschmann

Really, it's a mixed reaction to this email from Spotify:

Looking at the picture, I assumed the whole album was there. Hooray!!! Looking at the actual message, I realized one song was there. Boooo!! Well, Hooray for that, too, since it's a lovely song and a beautiful performance:

It was kind of a kismet moment, since just yesterday I'd listened to Ms. Uchida's Schumann recital with the secret Dorothea Röschmann track. (I sort of remembered DR was on this disc, but it still came as a (pleasant) surprise to hear her beautiful voice pop in for a minute or so after all that amazing piano playing.)

Well it may go without saying, that all this limited DR/Schumann exposure was a bit frustrating. So I went to this disc (not Schumann, but hey, Schubert did some pretty melodies, too!) as a consolation prize.

At this point, it also probably goes without saying that every time I think I’m not that into Lieder, I happen upon performances like these recordings from DR, that make my ears (and mind and heart) perk up. 

Finally, apropos of nothing really: I never thought about how tragic Gretchen am Spinnrade (#6 above) is, until I listened DR sing it this morning. Based on my experiences accompanying all my soprano buddies in my undergrad years, I always thought of this more as a really annoying finger exercise. I really should stop thinking that I'm just not that into Lieder, and just listen to more!

I have more to say about Schumann Lieder, but I will save that for another post. 

P.S. Yes I am still around. I am in the throes of moving house (again!) I hope to post more regularly again once we are re-settled. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Puccini: Manon Lescaut Webcast from Bayerische Staatsoper 7/31/2015

July 31, 2015, 8.15 p.m. (C.E.T.)

Giacomo Puccini
New production
Musical Direction: Alain Altinoglu
Stage Direction: Hans Neuenfels
With Kristine Opolais, Jonas Kaufmann a.o.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Vocal Joys (and more) from the Verbier Festival

Joyce DiDonato sings Berlioz 
Malin Hartelius, Marie-Claude Chappuis, and others led by Ton Koopman in Mozart's Requiem
Mark Padmore singing Schubert, Tippet, and Purcell
Thomas Quasthoff conducts Bach's St. Matt (with Mark Padmore, Manuel Waiser, Christine Karg, Bernarda Fink, Mauro Peter, and Christopher Maltman) 
Daniela Barcelona, Piotr Beczala and others singing Verdi
Matthias Goerne as Bartok's Bluebeard

Plus a ton of wonderful orchestral and chamber music! See the full list of programmes (some already in archive, and some still to come) at  Go! Watch! Listen!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Orfeo and Eurydice and Franco and Malin (for a few more days)

There're only a few more days to catch this concert version of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice (the Vienna version, with some extras, like the zippy Act 1 finale) on Laurence Equilbey conducts with Franco Fagioli as Orfeo, Malin Hartelius as Euridice, Emmanuelle de Negri as Amore, the accentus choir, and the insula orchestra. How could you go wrong!?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dutch National Opera Rosenkavalier Promo (Ewwww or Hmmmmm?)

So, after learning of HEM's upcoming debut as Sophie, I hopped over to the DNO site to learn more about their upcoming production of Rosenkavalier and found this:

(click this link to see the animated version)

Intriguing or Creepy? You be the judge. 

Alls I'm sayin' is I don't think die alte Marschallin is supposed to be an octogenarian! Who comes up with these ad campaigns? Someone with a minimal knowledge of the opera I guess. Imagine the description the designer was given: "This old broad is messing around with a hot teenage boy... now go design something!" 

Maybe not, but I wonder...

You can also see the video without the text across it. If you wanna..

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gratuitous Soprano Duet – Aber der Richtige (aus Arabella)

Sigh! I didn't get to see all of this in the live webcast. I am hoping an enterprising might have snagged 'n' shared it. Meanwhile, I found this kindly posted by the Bayerische Staatsoper. Anja Harteros and Hanna-Elisabeth Müller…

Sigh….that’s all…just…sigh!

Well, there is one more thing. I am tempted into a bit of fantasy opera casting. I am thinking, well, AH has sung the Marschallin, and HEM will be a marvelous Sophie (she makes her debut as Sophie in Amsterdam this fall). Who would be your choice of Octavian to place between them?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Jonas Kaufmann and Kate Aldrich in Carmen Live Tomorrow

More live opera this weekend: 
Saturday, July 11, 4:45 Eastern U.S. Time 

Kate Aldrich (Carmen) 
Inva Mula (Micaëla) 
Hélène Guilmette (Frasquita) 
Marie Karall (Mercédès)
Jonas Kaufmann (Don José) 
Kyle Ketelsen (Escamillo) 
Jean Teitgen (Zuniga) 
Olivier Grand (Le Dancaïre) 
Florian Laconi (Le Remendado) 
Armando Noguera (Moralès)

Choir of the Angers-Nantes Opera, Choir of the Opera Grand Avignon
Choir of the Nice Opera, Mastery Des Bouches Du Rhône
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France 
Mikko Franck musical direction
Louis Désiré stage director, set designer, costumes 

Gratuitous Friday Benjamin Appl Sings Beethoven

Here is Benjamin Appl with Jonathan Ware, performing Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte at the Ravinia Festival (Chicago), Summer 2010. I fell in love with his recent Schubert recital from Schwarzenberg. His singing is so expressive that you don't need to see him to "get" what he's doing. But it doesn't hurt, either! Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Arabella from the Bayersiche Staatsoper (Live on July 11)

From the STAATSOPER.TV website:

Bayerische Staatsoper will at 7 p.m. on Saturday, 11 July show the new production of Arabella by Richard Strauss with Anja Harteros in the title role.

With this opera, the film director Andreas Dresen will make his debut at Bayerische Staatsoper. Standing on the podium of Bayerisches Staatsorchester will be the Swiss conductor and musical director of the Paris Opera, Philippe JordanAnja Harteros will be participating in a Festival premiere for the fourth time after her premiere performances in Alcina (2005),Lohengrin (2009) and Il trovatore (2013). Singing at her side will be Kurt Rydl (Count Waldner), Doris Soffel (Adelaide),Hanna-Elisabeth Müller (Zdenka) and Joseph Kaiser (Matteo). Thomas J. Mayer, who was heard most recently at Bayerische Staatsoper as Wotan in Der Ring der Nibelungen (2012 and 2015), will be performing Mandryka.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Happy 90th Birthday, Nicolai Gedda

There are a lot of musical birthdays this month. Here's one that might have slipped by us, if not for the diligence of Ö1 Radio in Austria. They are broadcasting not one but three programs to celebrate tenor Nicolai Gedda's 90th birthday. This man could sing anything. And he did. And he sounded good doing it for many many years. 

Here are links to the three programs, all available for 7 days after the (broadcast date):
Nicolai Gedda – on his 90th Birthday (3/3) (Coming soon, on July 9)

The second program also contains some excerpts from an entertaining 1998 interview in which, among other things, Herr Gedda discusses some of the great maestros he worked with and asserts that "there are no boring [opera] roles. Only boring singers and boring actors."

Brief bio of NG from Wikipedia:
Nicolai Harry Gustav Gedda was born in Stockholm [July 11, 1925] to a Swedish mother and a half-Russian father. Gedda was raised by his aunt Olga Gedda and his adoptive father Mihail Ustinov (a distant relative of Peter Ustinov), who sang bass in Serge Jaroff's Don Cossack Choir and was cantor in a Russian Orthodox church. Gedda grew up bilingual in Swedish and Russian. From 1929 to 1934 they lived in Leipzig, Germany, where young Nicolai learned German. They returned to Sweden after Hitler came to power. In school he later learned English, French and Latin. After leaving school he learned Italian by himself.
Gedda worked first as a bank teller in a local bank in Stockholm. One day he told a client that he was searching for a good singing teacher, and the client recommended Carl Martin Öhman, a well known Wagnerian tenor from the 1920s, who is also credited with discovering Jussi Björling. Later he also taught the Finnish bass Martti Talvela. Öhman was enthusiastic about Gedda and took him as a pupil, at the beginning without payment, because Gedda was at the time supporting his parents. After a few months he obtained a scholarship and was later able to pay for Öhman's singing lessons.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Another Marriage of Figaro? Really?

Do we need another Le Nozze di Figaro? Well, I do. It's my favorite opera. And Luca Pisaroni as Figaro makes any Nozze a don't-miss performance! In honor of his recent San Francisco appearance (and in lieu of a recording of those performances), here he is. There are some other singers and a conductor, too. 

Figaro – Luca Pisaroni
Susanna – Rosemary Joshua
Il Conte Almaviva – Pietro Spagnoli
La Contessa Almaviva – Annette Dasch
Cherubino – Angelica Kirchschlager
Marcellina – Sophie Pondjiclis
Antonio – Alessandro Svab
Bartolo – Antonio Abete
Don Basilio – Enrico Facini
Barbarina – Pauline Courtin
Don Curzio – Serge Goubioud
Conductor  Rene Jacobs

Monday, July 6, 2015

Benjamin Appl: Life as a Singer (BBC Interview)

German baritone Benjamin Appl didn't just suddenly appear on the music scene (Barihunks® has been following him for a bit), but he's new on my horizon. I am borderline obsessed with his recent Schwarzenberg Schubert recital (still available from Ö1 Radio for a few more days). 

Although still young, Benjamin has been busy, studying and performing in Europe, the UK, and the United States.  He is a BBC New Generation Artist; and during the 2015/16 season he also will be an ECHO Rising Stars artist, appearing in recital at the major venues throughout Europe. A few of his recital performances can be found on YT (stay tuned); and I am on the lookout for a recording of his recent Wigmore performance (broadcast on BBC Radio 3 a few months ago), and any others that may be out there. 

Here is Herr Appl's recent interview with the BBC:

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