Monday, December 12, 2016

Mozart Monday: Sesto as Vitellia – Frederica von Stade

Frederica von Stade seems so nice it's hard to imagine her being Vitellia; but then again, she could show us a gentler side of the character. She certainly makes a good musical case for one angle I’ve suggested now and then: Vitellia as a hurt little girl. 

Gratuitousness Updated: meanwhile, I finally caught up with my indexing. I thought I was way behind, but I didn't post many (any) random clips in 2016, so catching up didn't take long. I think I now have all the aria/duet clips cataloged (clearly I am someone with too much spare time!) The next step is to go back and un-index stuff that's been deleted from YT (or update links). That may take longer!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dmitri Hvorostovsky – no opera "for the foreseeable future"

Sad news noted by fellow bloggers Parterre Box and Kinderkuchen for the FBI: Dmitri Hvorostovsky will not be participating in any opera performances in the near future. The good news is that, in spite of complications associated with his illness, he'll still be recitalizing and recording. However, this means he will not be singing in the Met's Eugene Onegin this season. 

The consolation prize (for many of us) is that Peter Mattei is slated to cover for DH in the April 22 Live in HD broadcast of EG. 

Meanwhile, best well wishes to Maestro Hvorostovsky for skilled doctors, effective treatments, and a speedy recovery.

Conversation about Carsen's 'Kavalier with Renée Fleming (and others)

We won't see it till next spring, but it's happening now in London. Here is an early preview of another new Met (and ROH) production: Robert Carsen's production of Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. Kaspar Holten and Renée Fleming (and a host of others, including Andris Nelsons, who is conducting in London, and the Man Himself, Mr. Carsen.) chat about the current performances in London at the Royal Opera House. 

12/09/2016 – In my original post I neglected to credit Anik, who blogs at Eye Bags, for alerting me to this program. Thanks Anik!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

L'Amour de Loin Preview from the Met

If you're like me, you know next to nothing about this opera. And, if you're like me, you may be wishing the Met chose their Guillaume Tell instead of this for the Live in HD series. But with my luck, it would have been the ash-abbreviated performance that made the broadcast.

The point is they didn't, and what we have coming up on Saturday is L'amour de Loin by Kaija Saariaho. Even though I never heard of it, the opera was premiered in Salzburg in 2000, and it's been around the block a few times; and it's gotten some good notices along the way, too.  There is a DVD of the Salzburg production and at least one audio recording.

The plot seems both Tristanesque and Pelleas-esq, while the music is more evocative of Debussy than Wagner—and not just because it’s sung in French—but much more 20th Century-sounding, of course. With Robert LePage directing, and the billions and billions of LED lights  (but no machine this time), it promises to be an interesting afternoon.

If you heard the first Met radio broadcast of Manon Lescaut last Saturday (which was not half bad), you got to hear a preview of sorts of L'Amour de Loin—an interview with the composer, librettist, and conductor. It’s not in-depth, of course, but it provides a bit more background, and I found it helpful. If you missed this discussion (with musical excerpts), I just happen to have recorded it for you: 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Re-Joyce, Re-Masterclass, Re-Carnegie, Re-Medici

After watching JDD's recent master classes, I went back to look at what I wrote about JDD's classes last January. Gasp! I never did a blog post about them. I was too deeply embedded in the Twitterverse at the time. SOoooo... In case you missed them, they still are available on medici. One highlight among many is JDD's revelatory work in the second session on Cara sposa with countertenor Daniel Moody that brought me to tears. Wow!!

Here is the second of the three January 2016 sessions:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Opera Rocks – and so does Joyce DiDonato

It's no secret that I think Joyce DiDonato is a beautiful person—inside and out. She gives so freely of herself, her art, her experience, and her insight. Observing her masterclasses, one learns about singing, breathing, acting, thinking, and yes, life itself! I also have said more than once that she could seriously have a successful career as a stage director and/or life coach.

Not too long ago she started a newsletter called Opera Rocks, which is aimed at high school students interested in singing and other performing arts. I hope she doesn't mind that some of her subscribers are well beyond our teen years; for we are still eager to learn as much as we can from her—about singing, opera, music, and life.

You can read the latest issue of Opera Rocks by clicking on the link. Her Caregie Hall master classes start today at 4:00PM New York time, live (and later archived) at

Friday, October 28, 2016

As Seen on Facebook – Devil, Dogs, and Discomfort

The devil you say!
Just when you thought Luca couldn't get any hotter.
(In Faust at the Houston Grand Opera.)
It's a dog's life.

Lenny and Tristan chillin!

This looks like it will be a dramatic and appropriately uncomfortable rendering of Mozart's problematic opera (though probably not as icky as the Bieito production!) After all, the it's not the Rescue from the Seraglio, it’s the Kidnapping (abduction is too romantic a word). This blogger looks forward to a video!

Pavol Breslik "rescues" Olga Peretyako in the new
Zurich production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

More Master Classes from Joyce DiDonato

Hooray!  Joyce is back at Carnegie Hall with another series of master classes. The first one is live on October 29 at 4:00pm, New York time. 

These classes are always fascinating, exciting, and enlightening for singers and lovers of singing. It's exciting to watch these young singers grow throughout the three day class. The only thing that would make these classes better would be if you could be there in person. That and be able to see the morning sessions that they don't broadcast!

Don't worry if you can't catch these live. The good folks at keep these archived for quite a while, so we can watch and rewatch; learn and relearn; Joyce and rejoice!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Overheard at the Cinema – What we all were thinking

"Just give it a rest, caro!"
Met in HD Don Giovanni Finale

Octavio: Marry me
Anna: Let's wait another year
Woman two seats over from me: Oh Jesus!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Tristan und Isolde in HD – I love you so much I could die!

Stuart Skelton and Nina Stemme as Tristan und Isolde
This post/review of the Met in HD performance of Tristan und Isolde is a slightly expanded (and better proof-read) version of a comment I posted at The Earworm's review of last Monday night's performance. 

I enjoyed the Met broadcast on Saturday. I have to confess it’s my first time sitting straight through Tristan und Isolde; and I found myself drifting a bit during Act 3. That said, I confirmed my conviction that you really just need to “give in” to Wagner’s pace; let time stand still, as it were; and the piece doesn’t seem quite as long as it really is.

All of the singing was glorious; but I wished for better acting from Tristan and Kurwenal (and less barkiness from K). I find I have a tendency to close my eyes during these broadcasts, not because I don't want to see the scenery or the singer but because it allows me to wallow in the sheer sound of both voice and orchestra! Nina Stemme...well, she's awesome; I do need to open my eyes when she sings, because she also is an engaging actor. Stewart Skelton and Ekaterina Gubanova also sang beautifully; and of course René Pape is in a class of his own as King Marke. Really, everyone sang well. 

I was not bothered by the updated setting, though the set was nothing if not dreary. For me, the cargo ship setting enhanced the feeling of Isolde being kidnapped. The sailors menacing the women was creepy but appropriate. A little part of me wanted Isolde to be a bit dressier; but, her dress and demeanor accentuated the “captive” aspect.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Berlioz from Glyndebourne – Only Two More Days

Will they or won't they? (B&B have a moment.)
I finally got my act together and watched Berlioz' Béatrice et Bénédict from Glyndebourne. Unfortunately, it's only available for a few more days. (I don't know whose "midnight" is the cutoff time, though I'd guess it's GMT.) However, I am sure it will show up somewhere else. 

It’s not performed often, and one can imagine why. It’s a pleasant little piece, and this is a fun production, but not terribly profound or moving. It’s short enough to absorb (unlike Les Troyens) in a single shot. The cast—especially Stephanie D’Oustrac and Paul Appleby as the title couple—act well and sing beautifully. The chorus seems to have fun and does a great job (as does the orchestra!) And no one dies in this one.

The look of Laurent Pelly’s production set vaguely in a 1940s “black and white” film is startling at first, then soothing—makeup and costuming are all in blacks, whites, and greys. During the curtain calls, it’s startling again, when the “life-like” creative staff show up on stage, in an odd contrast to the cast. The set consists of boxes, representing the expected way of life that Béatrice et Bénédict do not wish to follow—they don’t want to be “put in a box.” However, if you know the play on which this is based (Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which most people do in fact know), you won’t be surprised when they give in to love, and end up in a “happily married” box.

I am trying not to say “fluffy,” but there’s not a lot of substance to this little opéra comique. That said, there is some pretty music—particularly a duet and trio for the principal women, and Béatrice’s aria, in which she realizes she really is in love with Bénédict. The production is fun, well sung, and looks pretty; and it’s pretty amusing. If you can catch it on the Glyndebourne site in the next day or so, do take a watch and listen. (And/or watch for it to show up elsewhere.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wozzeck aus dem Opernhaus Zürich mit Herr Gerhaher

© Monika Rittershaus
I haven’t had a chance to watch/listen to this new performance of Wozzeck yet—I did do a quick random click-through just to get a taste. But I wanted to call attention to this performance on It looks very interesting—almost a Punch and Judy-like setting. Based on the cast, it should be very well sung.

What is it about Wozzeck that attracts fine Lieder singers?

P.S. Sorry. I couldn't disable the accursed auto-play for this post, so I am settling for posting this link.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Rameau's Les Indes Galantes – This Sunday on

As seen on Facebook:

Live and free of charge from Prinzregententheater: The festival premiere of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Les Indes Galantes!

With Anna Prohaska, Mathias Vidal, Lisette Oropesa, dancers of the Compagnie Eastman a.o. 

Don't miss our online broadcast on!

Note: By my calculation, it should be on at 12:00 PM Eastern time in the U.S. 
I’m sure it will be great, but it’ll be hard to live up to the visuals of Laura Scozzi’s production from Bordeaux (this is one of the safe-for-work images):

P.S: Next Sunday (July 31) is the new Die Meistersinger with none other than Jonas Kaufmann...and some other singers, probably. That will be an earlier start. Looks like I should have gotten a substitute organist.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hello, Ragazzi! (Part Two)

I just noticed that it's been about four months since my last post. I have been watching and listening to and thinking about opera...just not writing about it lately. So, I am trying to decide whether to spew all my thoughts out in this one post, or spread them out over a few days. I think I will spread them out.

So, last night I saw the Met in HD encore of the 2014 broadcast of Cosi Fan Tutte. This post is not about that. Seeing Cosi led me to binge-reading older Cosi posts on my own blog and at The Earworm. This post is not about what I learned during this late-night binge-read. 

This post also is not about the new high-end theater that hosts the Met transmissions (wine and cheese at intermission). This post is about is the other opera series—or what’s left of itat my local high-end cinema this year. There is one more opera in August. This post is about that opera. 

That opera is Puccini’s La fanciulla del west from La Scala. I am pretty sure I want to see that! But before I buy my tickets, I wanted to find out more. (The cinema website is not helpful about details. I guess they figure either you want to see it or you don’t.)

So, this is the Robert Carsen production—my curiosity is officially piqued­—with a typically Robert Carsen meta-theater concept, and what the Bachtrack review calls a “final, brilliant coup de théȃtre [that] brings us full circle.” It seems Mr. Carsen has taken the spaghetti western concept and really run with it. The opera begins and ends in a movie theater. OK, now I gotta go see it. But before I do, I research a little more. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

In Memorium Nikolaus Harnoncourt

RIP Nikolaus Harnoncourt: cellist, conductor, musicologist, musician, artist. This man helped influence my love of Bach (through his chamber music recordings, the B-minor Mass, St. Matt Passion, the Gamba sonatas, and, especially his participation in the intrepid Bach cantata series on Telefunken). Later he taught me to listen to Mozart (and Beethoven and Schumann, and even Brahms and Verdi) in different ways. Fortunately, his expansive recorded legacy ensures that he will always be with us.

Speaking of Mozart, here is the finale from his quintessential 2003 La Clemenza di Tito.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Even More Mozart – from Dorothea Röschmann and Christian Gerhaher

And then there are these two fairly new discs, which I actually got a few weeks ago. 

The DR program is a known quantity from the radio broadcast of the concerts last year. It's remains a wonderful program; and I continue to wish someone would cast her as Vitellia again...soon...and somewhere I can hear her (and hopefully see her, too.) I also wonder, as her voice darkens wonderfully, if she (and any impresario) would consider taking on Dorabella. She’d be awesome in any variety of interpretations (insane, oversexed, neurotic, naïve, or any combination thereof.)

The GG program is completely new on my radar. Also, taken from live performances last year, this concert contains the usual suspects as far as arias go, but GG has made an effort to create a program with an overarching theme. While the DR concert had an entire Mozart piano concerto in the middle of it* (not included on the CD), GG's disperses the four movements of Symphony no. 36 throughout his program (and not in symphony order.) On paper it sounds messy and/or contrived; but in hearing, I think it works quite well. 

These discs (as well as the Clemenza I mentioned yesterday, plus both recently observed Zauberflöten) call for separate posts that are more review-like (vs. the wow! look what I found! type of post.)  

*I still think there was a missed opportunity here to program the concert aria (with piano), "Ch'io mi scordi di te? ... Non temer, amato bene;" but for some reason they didn't ask me when they were planning the concert.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vesselina (and Véronique and Charles) in my Mailbox...

Mozart Week continues at my house! This arrived today:

I finally tracked down a copy of this 2006 recording. It's hard to believe I haven't tagged any posts with LCdT for almost a full year. A while back I featured Tito's three arias sung by Charles Castronovo, not realizing they were from this recording. A quick search did not reveal any other clips from this CD over at the Toob. In the next week or so, I will see what I can do to address this gap.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Due Don Giovanni(s) aus Salzburg

Salzburg 1954: (English subs):


Salzburg 2014: (No subs):

Is this becoming a Mozart blog? Well, so what if it is?? Please enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday Matinee: Two More by Mozart

An "old friend" (with blue Kool-aid). English subs.

And a familiar opera in a crazy new setting (literally). French subs. (Are the inmates in charge?)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Three Salzburg Nozzes (Nozzi?) for a Wintry Weekend

Not saying too much about this first one yet, (for several reasons!) since we need time to check it out. 

1963 (no subs)

2006 (English subs)

And 2015, with a famous canine and a few singers we love (no subs).

(I am not labeling this post too carefully, so as not to draw too much of the wrong sort of attention. If you know what I mean.)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Die Zauberflöte from Norway – Mozart, Sci-Fi, and Hoverboards

Thanks to Den Norske Opera and The Opera Platform, we have a New Year's Day treat online! Mozart, Sci-Fi, and hover boards. Love it or hate it, it should at least be interesting. (It's sung/spoken in Norwegian with English subtitles.)

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