Sunday, March 19, 2023

Classical Grammies 2023

Engineered Album, Classical

  • WINNER: “Bates: Philharmonia Fantastique – The Making Of The Orchestra”
    Shawn Murphy, Charlie Post & Gary Rydstrom, engineers; Michael Romanowski, mastering engineer (Edwin Outwater & Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
  • “Beethoven: Symphony No. 6; Stucky: Silent Spring”
    Mark Donahue, engineer; Mark Donahue, mastering engineer (Manfred Honeck & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
  • “Perspectives”
    Jonathan Lackey, Bill Maylone & Dan Nichols, engineers; Joe Lambert, mastering engineer (Third Coast Percussion)
  • “Tuvayhun – Beatitudes For A Wounded World”
    Morten Lindberg, engineer; Morten Lindberg, mastering engineer (Anita Brevik, Nidarosdomens Jentekor & Trondheimsolistene)
  • “Williams: Violin Concerto No. 2 & Selected Film Themes”
    Bernhard Güttler, Shawn Murphy & Nick Squire, engineers; Christoph Stickel, mastering engineer (Anne-Sophie Mutter, John Williams & Boston Symphony Orchestra)

Producer of the Year, Classical

  • Jonathan Allen
  • Christoph Franke
  • James Ginsburg
  • Elaine Martone
  • WINNER: Judith Sherman


Orchestral Performance

  • “Adams, John Luther: Sila – The Breath Of The World”
    Doug Perkins, conductor (Musicians Of The University Of Michigan Department Of Chamber Music & University Of Michigan Percussion Ensemble)
  • “Dvořák: Symphonies Nos. 7-9″
    Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • “Eastman: Stay On It”
    Christopher Rountree, conductor (Wild Up)
  • “John Williams – The Berlin Concert”
    John Williams, conductor (Berliner Philharmoniker)
  • WINNER: “Works By Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman”
    Michael Repper, conductor (New York Youth Symphony)

Opera Recording

  • “Aucoin: Eurydice”
    Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Barry Banks, Nathan Berg, Joshua Hopkins, Erin Morley & Jakub Józef Orliński; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
  • WINNER: “Blanchard: Fire Shut Up In My Bones”
    Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Angel Blue, Will Liverman, Latonia Moore & Walter Russell III; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
  • “Davis: X – The Life And Times Of Malcolm X”
    Gil Rose, conductor; Ronnita Miller, Whitney Morrison, Victor Robertson & Davóne Tines; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Odyssey Opera Chorus)


Choral Performance

  • “Bach: St. John Passion”
    John Eliot Gardiner, conductor (English Baroque Soloists; Monteverdi Choir)
  • WINNER: “Born”
    Donald Nally, conductor (Dominic German, Maren Montalbano, Rebecca Myers & James Reese; The Crossing)
  • “Verdi: Requiem – The Met Remembers 9/11″
    Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Donald Palumbo, chorus master (Michelle DeYoung, Eric Owens, Ailyn Pérez & Matthew Polenzani; The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)

Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

  • “Beethoven: Complete String Quartets, Volume 2 – The Middle Quartets”
    Dover Quartet
  • “Musical Remembrances”
    Neave Trio
  • “Perspectives”
    Third Coast Percussion
  • WINNER: “Shaw: Evergreen”
    Attacca Quartet
  • “What Is American”

 Classical Instrumental Solo

    “Abels: Isolation Variation”
    Hilary Hahn
    “Bach: The Art Of Life”
    Daniil Trifonov
    “Beethoven: Diabelli Variations”
    Mitsuko Uchida
    WINNER: “Letters For The Future”
    Time For Three; Xian Zhang, conductor (The Philadelphia Orchestra)
    “A Night In Upper Town – The Music Of Zoran Krajacic”
    Mak Grgić

Classical Solo Vocal Album

    Joyce DiDonato, soloist; Maxim Emelyanychev, conductor (Il Pomo D’Oro)
    “How Do I Find You”
    Sasha Cooke, soloist; Kirill Kuzmin, pianist
    “Okpebholo: Lord, How Come Me Here?”
    Will Liverman, soloist; Paul Sánchez, pianist (J’Nai Bridges & Caen Thomason-Redus)
    “Stranger – Works For Tenor By Nico Muhly”
    Nicholas Phan, soloist (Eric Jacobson; Brooklyn Rider & The Knights; Reginald Mobley)
    WINNER: “Voice Of Nature – The Anthropocene”
    Renée Fleming, soloist; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, pianist

Best Classical Compendium

  • WINNER: “An Adoption Story”
    Starr Parodi & Kitt Wakeley; Jeff Fair, Starr Parodi & Kitt Wakeley, producers
  • “Aspire”
    JP Jofre & Seunghee Lee; Enrico Fagone, conductor; Jonathan Allen, producer
  • “A Concert For Ukraine”
    Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; David Frost, producer
  • “The Lost Birds”
    Voces8; Barnaby Smith & Christopher Tin, conductors; Sean Patrick Flahaven & Christopher Tin, producers

Contemporary Classical Composition

  • “Akiho: Ligneous Suite”
    Andy Akiho, composer (Ian Rosenbaum & Dover Quartet)
  • “Bermel: Intonations”
    Derek Bermel, composer (Jack Quartet)
  • “Gubaidulina: The Wrath Of God”
    Sofia Gubaidulina, composer (Andris Nelsons & Gewandhausorchester)
  • WINNER: “Puts: Contact”
    Kevin Puts, composer (Xian Zhang, Time for Three & The Philadelphia Orchestra)
  • “Simon: Requiem For The Enslaved”
    Carlos Simon, composer (Carlos Simon, MK Zulu, Marco Pavé & Hub New Music)


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Santa Fe Opera 2023 Season



The Met is drifting toward new operas, but Santa Fe is staying firmly in the traditional repertoire.

Tosca by Puccini  June 30 - Aug 26

Angel Blue and Leah Hawkins -- Tosca, Joshua Guerrero and Freddie De Tommaso - Cavaradossi, Reginald Smith, Jr - Scarpia, John Fiore conductor

The Flying Dutchman by Wagner  July 7 - Aug 25

Nicholas Brownlee -- Dutchman, Elza van den Heever -- Senta, Morris Robinson -- Daland, Thomas Guggeis - conductor

Pelléas et Mélisande by Debussy  July 15 - Aug 18

Huw Montague Rendall -- Pelléas, Samantha Hankey -- Mélisande, Harry Bicket - conductor

Rusalka by Dvorak    July 22 - Aug 22

Ailyn Perez -- Rusalka, Robert Watson -- The Prince, Raehann Bryce-Davis -- Jezibaba, Lidiya Yankovskaya - conductor

Orfeo by Monteverdi   July 29 - Aug 24

Rolando Villazon -- Orfeo, Paula Murrihy -- Messaggera, Harry Bicket - conductor

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Lyric Symphony by Zemlinsky

  Davidsen, Petrenko, Gerhaher

1. Ich bin friedlos, ich bin durstig nach fernen Dingen - baritone

2. O Mutter, der junge Prinz -  soprano

3. Du bist die Abendwolke -  baritone

4. Sprich zu mir, Geliebter -  soprano

5. Befrei mich von den Banden deiner Süße, Lieb -  baritone

6. Vollende denn das letzte Lied - soprano

7. Friede, mein Herz -  baritone

Alexander von Zemlinsky - Lyrische Symphonie, Op. 18 (1923), Lise Davidsen and Christian Gerhaher performed with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Kirill Petrenko conducting.  Texts are taken from The Gardener by Rabindranath Tagore in a German translation by Hans Effenberger.

I admit to being fascinated by this piece which I will call post romantic.  It's intense.  The purpose of the concert is to bring back memories of three Jewish composers driven out of Germany and Austria by the Nazis.  The other two composers are Erwin Schulhoff and Leone Sinigaglia.

I am here for Lise Davidsen, of course.  I am beginning to feel curious about Zemlinsky.  His opera Der Zwerg was supposed to be presented in San Francisco, but was cancelled due to covid.  Perhaps I should look into it.  Both Davidsen and Gerhaher express the music well.

Saturday, June 11, 2022


I want to apologize for the current state of this blog.  I have passed the 80 years mark and find that I am both physically and mentally old, perhaps too old for blogging.

Sources of opera have been drying up:

  1. Opera companies have shut down due to covid.  Most have restarted, but there are still fewer than before.
  2. I am too old to travel.  I have even cancelled my tickets to the San Francisco Opera because it is now to far for me to drive.
  3. Fewer companies are streaming than before.  This is now my primary source of opera and it's nothing like what it was before.

That's enough for now.  

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Lucia in HD


Conductor:  Riccardo Frizza
Director:  Simon Stone

Enrico Ashton, Lucia's brother:  Artur Ruciński (baritone)
Lucia Ashton:  Nadine Sierra (coloratura soprano)
Riamondo Bidebent, Lucia's tutor:  Christian Van Horn (bass)
Edgardo, Lucia's fiance:  Javier Camarena (tenor)

Host:  Anthony Roth Costanzo

The HD from the Met today was Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in a new production by Simon Stone. It turns out I've already seen two productions by him:  Korngold's Die Tote Stadt from the Bayerische Staatsoper and Saariaho's Innocence from Aix en Provence.  He likes a lot of detail.  Today there was rather an astounding amount of detail, which, surprisingly, seemed to match the libretto.  He likes a small rotating set.  This one represented a small American town with a pawn shop, a church, etc.  There were two cars:  an orange Pinto and a pick up truck. The prop master was interviewed and said there might be about 1000 props.  The presence of cell phones, used rather frequently, places us in a narrow time period.  Thus the confusion when a drive in film of Bob Hope appeared.

It worked for me.  Lucia's brother was a drunk and a drug fiend whose budget is deeply in dept,  thus explaining his need for his sister to marry Arturo instead of Edgardo, the man she loves.

The singing was magnificent.  Nadine has a gorgeous voice, and Javier is one of the best lyric tenors around.  I've seen Ruciński before only in the La Boheme in outer space.  And Christian Van Horn is always wonderful.  The mad scene is often orchestrated for flute, but we were treated to the wonderful glass harmonica.  It seems the ideal sound to portray madness.

The combination of beautiful singing, great acting, and lots of dramatic detail,made this a wonderful performance for me.  And I need to report that the sound in the theater was much better today.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

My Singers

This is interesting.  

name  year born year I met their age when met
Cecilia Bartoli 1966 1993 27
Anna Netrebko 1971 1995 24
Dmitri Hvorostovsky 1962 1996 34
Jonas Kaufmann 1969 2007 38
Lise Davidsen 1987 2017 30

These are my singers.  It shows when they were born, when I noticed them and the age they were when this happened.  

I first saw Cecilia Bartoli on TV.  I have flown the most number of times to see Cecilia.  My favorite performances are:

La Cenerentola in Zurich long ago
Le Nozze di Figaro from the Met
L'Italiana in Algeri from Salzburg   And many more.

Anna did Ruslan and Luidmila at the San Francisco Opera and has been going strong ever since.  For me it is a terrible tragedy that the Met kicked her out.  My favorite performances are:

I saw Dmitri in San Francisco and on streams from the Met.  He was still at the peak of his career when he died.

Eugene Onegin from the Met with Renee Fleming
Il Trovatore from the Met with Anna Netrebko

I first saw Jonas in a performance of Fidelio in Zurich on one of my trips to see Cecilia.

Fidelio in Zurich
Werther in Paris
Lohengrin in Munich

Everything he sings is first class, so the list would need to be longer.  Search label AandJ.

Lise is the newest addition to my list, and she is only young when you compare her to Dmitri and Jonas.

Die Walküre Act I from Munich was the one I got most excited over.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Classical Grammy Nominees for 2022 Plus Winners


  • Archetypes, Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion
  • Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears, Yo-Yo Ma & Emanuel Ax
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, Manfred Honeck, Mendelssohn Choir Of Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Chanticleer Sings Christmas, Chanticleer  WINNER
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony of a Thousand,’ Gustavo Dudamel, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Luke McEndarfer, Robert Istad, Grant Gershon, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus, Pacific Chorale & Los Angeles Philharmonic


  • Blanton Alspaugh
  • Steven Epstein
  • David Frost
  • Elaine Martone
  • Judith Sherman WINNER


  • Adams: My Father Knew Charles Ives; Harmonielehre, Nashville Symphony Orchestra
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Muhly: Throughline, San Francisco Symphony
  • Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3, Philadelphia Orchestra, cond. Yannick Nézet-Séguin WINNER
  • Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra; Scriabin: The Poem Of Ecstasy, Seattle Symphony Orchestra


  • "Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle,” Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  • “Glass: Akhnaten,” The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus WINNER
  • “Janáček: Cunning Little Vixen,” London Symphony Orchestra; London Symphony Chorus & LSO Discovery Voices
  • “Little: Soldier Songs,” The Opera Philadelphia Orchestra
  • “Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmélites,” The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus, cond. Yannick Nézet-Séguin


  • It’s a Long Way, Jonas Budris, Carrie Cheron, Fiona Gillespie, Nathan Hodgson, Helen Karloski, Enrico Lagasca, Megan Roth, Alissa Ruth Suver & Dana Whiteside; Skylark Vocal Ensemble
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony of a Thousand,’ Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan McKinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’Neill, Morris Robinson & Tamara Wilson; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus & Pacific Chorale  WINNER
  • Rising w/ The Crossing, International Contemporary Ensemble & Quicksilver; The Crossing
  • Schnittke: Choir Concerto; Three Sacred Hymns; Pärt: Seven Magnificat-antiphons, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
  • Sheehan: Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom, Michael Hawes, Timothy Parsons & Jason Thoms; The Saint Tikhon Choir
  • The Singing Guitar, Estelí Gomez; Austin Guitar Quartet, Douglas Harvey, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet & Texas Guitar Quartet; Conspirare


  • Adams, John Luther: Lines Made By Walking, Jack Quartet
  • Akiho: Seven Pillars, Sandbox Percussion
  • Archetypes, Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion
  • Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears, Yo-Yo Ma & Emanuel Ax WINNER
  • Bruits, Imani Winds


  • “Alone Together,” Jennifer Koh  WINNER
  • “An American Mosaic,” Simone Dinnerstein
  • “Bach: Sonatas & Partitas,” Augustin Hadelich
  • “Beethoven & Brahms: Violin Concertos,” The Knights
  • “Mak Bach,” Mak Grgić
  • “Of Power,” Curtis Stewart


  • Confessions, Laura Strickling; Joy Schreier
  • Dreams Of A New Day – Songs By Black Composers, Will Liverman; Paul Sánchez
  • Mythologies, Sangeeta Kaur & Hila Plitmann (Virginie D’avezac De Castera, Lili Haydn, Wouter Kellerman, Nadeem Majdalany, Eru Matsumoto & Emilio D. Miler) WINNER
  • Schubert: Winterreise, Joyce Didonato; Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Unexpected Shadows, Jamie Barton; Jake Heggie (Matt Haimovitz)


  • American Originals – A New World, A New Canon, Agave & Reginald L. Mobley; Geoffrey Silver, producer
  • Berg: Violin Concerto; Seven Early Songs & Three Pieces for Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor; Jack Vad, producer
  • Cerrone: The Arching Path, Timo Andres & Ian Rosenbaum; Mike Tierney, producer
  • Plays, Chick Corea; Chick Corea & Birnie Kirsh, producers
  • Women Warriors – The Voices Of Change, Amy Andersson, Conductor; Amy Andersson, Mark Mattson & Lolita Ritmanis, producers  WINNER


  • Akiho: Seven Pillars, Andy Akiho, composer (Sandbox Percussion)
  • Andriessen: The Only One, Louis Andriessen, composer (Esa-pekka Salonen, Nora Fischer & Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • Assad, Clarice & Sérgio, Connors, Dillon, Martin & Skidmore: Archetypes, Clarice Assad, Sérgio Assad, Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin & David Skidmore, composers (Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion)
  • Batiste: Movement 11′, Jon Batiste, composer (Jon Batiste)
  • Shaw: Narrow Sea, Caroline Shaw, composer (Dawn Upshaw, Gilbert Kalish & Sō Percussion) WINNER


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Don Carlos in HD

Patrick Furrer

Conductor -Patrick Furrer

Headshot of Sonya Yoncheva

Élisabeth de Valois -Sonya Yoncheva

Headshot of Jamie Barton

Eboli -Jamie Barton

Headshot of Matthew Polenzani

Don Carlos -Matthew Polenzani

Headshot of Etienne Dupuis

Rodrigue -Etienne Dupuis

Headshot of Eric Owens

Philippe II - Eric Owens

Headshot of John Relyea

Grand Inquisitor - John Relyea

Production by David McVicar

Saturday we viewed the live HD performance of the French version of Verdi's Don Carlos. This opera seems to be attempting to imitate reality, so perhaps a little reality is required. This is a calendar of historical events related to the life of Philip II of Spain. 

1527 Philip born
1543 Philip marries Maria Manuela of Portugal
1545 Carlos born, Maria Manuela mother
1545 Maria dies
1545 Elisabeth of Valois born
1554 Philip marries Mary I of England [bloody Mary] becoming her co-regent
1556 Philip becomes King of Spain
1558 Mary dies, Philip returns to Spain
1559 Philip marries Elisabeth of Valois
1568 Elisabeth dies
1568 Carlos dies
1570 Philip marries Anna of Austria
1580 Anna dies
1598 Philip dies

From this we see that Carlos and Elisabeth were about the same age and died at about the same time. Philip was already King of Spain for three years before he married Elisabeth of Valois. So it is unlikely that his coronation took place after he married Elisabeth.

The plot begins when Carlos, who believes he will marry Elisabeth, wishes to meet his future wife and tracks her to the Forest of Fontainebleau, France. They meet and fall in love.  By the end of the scene a political agreement has been reached offstage, and Carlos and Elisabeth find that she is to marry Carlos' father Philip.  This is the context for the rest of the opera, so the story doesn't make much sense if this scene is omitted.

I thought this was a brilliantly and beautifully executed performance.  The story felt right, perhaps for the first time.  This is the most I have liked Sonya Yoncheva whose performance shaped the drama.  I never felt a desire to go home early because it was all so fascinating.