Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Santa Fe Opera Announcement


The Santa Fe Opera has announced its season for 2021.  There was much conversation about resisting COVID19, which I will not repeat.  So here is the list.

  • Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.  The production is by Laurent Pelly.  Harry Bicket will conduct. 
  • The world premier of Corigliano's The Lord of Cries with a libretto by Mark Adamo.  James Darrah will provide the production.  Johannes Debus will conduct.  This will star Anthony Roth Costanzo and Susanna Phillips.  It seems to be a joining of Euripides and Bram Stoker.  It sounds like fun.
  • Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin has Alessandro Talevi as the producer.  Nicholas Carter will conduct.  Nicole Car will portray Tatiana and her husband Etienne Dupuis will sing Onegin. 
  • Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream done in a fantasy production by Netia Jones.  She has imagined it in the specific surroundings of the Crosby Theater in New Mexico.  It sounds exciting.  Harry Bicket will conduct.  Erin Morley will sing Tytania.
  • Angel Blue in concert.  John Fiore will conduct the orchestra.

Harry Bicket is the music director of the Santa Fe Opera.  This film played with the announcement.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Donald Runnicles, formerly the musical director of the San Francisco Opera, is now officially Sir Donald Runnicles.  Congratulations.



Conductor - Nicola Luisotti
Director - Gabriele Lavia

Attila, King of the Huns - Ferruccio Furlanetto
Uldino, Attila's Breton Slave - Nathaniel Peake*
Odabella, daughter of the Lord of Aquileia - Lucrecia Garcia
Ezio, a Roman general - Quinn Kelsey*
Foresto, a knight of Aquileia - Diego Torre*
Leone (Pope Leo I) - Samuel Ramey

The San Francisco Opera reran last weekend Verdi's Attila from 2012.  It is a fabulous baritone feast with Furlanetto, Kelsey and Ramey.  I'm sorry if you missed it. The sets all relate to interiors of theaters.  You may feel free to make up a reason for this.  This version seems to be shortened.

Here's my review when I saw it live.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Die Entführung aus dem Serail from Vienna

Musical Direction - Antonello Manacorda
Production - Hans Neuenfels

Bassa Selim - Christian Nickel (spoken)
Konstanze - Lisette Oropesa (soprano)
Konstanze - Actress - Emanuela von Frankenberg
Blonde - Regula Mühlemann (soprano)
Blonde - Actress - Stella Roberts
Osmin - Goran Jurić (bass)
Osmin - Actor - Andreas Grötzinger
Belmonte - Daniel Behle (tenor)
Belmonte - Actor - Christian Natter
Pedrillo - Michael Laurenz (tenor)
Pedrillo - Actor - Ludwig Blochberger 

Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail  (The Abduction from the Seraglio) comes to us from the Wiener Staatsoper.  It is directed by Hans Neuenfels, one of the more scandalous regie producers.  One of his characteristics is to dress the chorus all in the same outfits.  Here in spite of the fact that they are a mixed chorus, they are all dressed as men in black.

This is a Singspiel, which means it comes with spoken dialog in German.  In the original version of the opera there is a character, Bassa Selim, who does not sing.  Everyone else both sings and speaks.  So Neuenfels has seized on this and doubled all the rest of the cast.  So in addition to the singers, he has cast a whole other cast who play the rest of the roles and only speak.  He has also added more words.  This is hard to follow.  Two people in the same outfits are the same person.  You get a lot of easy to understand German from the actors and beautiful singing from the singers.  The actress Blonde occasionally speaks English.  "Me too."

Lisette is singing a very serious aria, and a young man in his underwear is holding a giant snake.  Huh?  What you would want to keep from this is Lisette and her arias.  "Martern alle Arten" is especially great.  She changes the opera completely.  Suddenly it is enormous.

I can think of only one semi-legitimate reason for this double casting.  Singers have careers that take them all over the world.  This is why the performing of operas originally in other languages but sung in the local language of the opera house is a practice that has pretty much died out.  We perform Hansel and Gretel and Magic Flute in English, but that is pretty much it.  The singer learns the role with the original text and then sings it everywhere with only some brief rehearsal.

So Neuenfels wanted to add a lot of new German dialog, and in order to have extended rehearsals, he assigns these new words to local people he can rehearse for a long time.  This is the only thing I can think of.  We don't care about this added dialog.  Maybe Neuenfels doesn't really like opera.

They love only Lisette.  As do I.  Serious booing for Neuenfels.

Sunday, October 11, 2020




Conductor - Riccardo Frizza
Director - Jose Maria Condemi

Mario Cavaradossi - Brian Jagde
Floria Tosca - Lianna Haroutounian
Baron Scarpia - Mark Delavan

When this performance of Tosca first played in San Francisco in 2014, I must have missed it.  It is being streamed today from the San Francisco Opera.  I saw Brian sing Cavaradossi in Santa Fe in 2012, and may have felt it was to soon to see him again.

There are some fun things in this production.  From the evidence, Tosca seems to be the most conservatively dressed female in all of Rome.  In the Te Deum we have men in uniforms of the Swiss guards.  In Act II we see that the walls are painted with figures, as they would be in the Palazzo Farnese,  but the lighting is too dim to allow us to see them.  In general they have done a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of Rome.  A little more light would have been nice.

Mark Delavan is fine but not really snarly enough for Scarpia who needs to project evil in the sound of his voice.  But then I've seen Thomas Hampson in the role, and he isn't snarly at all.

Brian is lovely, handsome and romantic.  Better than at Santa Fe. And Lianna Haroutounian plays the Diva with charm and intense jealousy.  She's trying to make the best of a bad situation, and ultimately fails.  She presents the varied emotions of the character vividly.  I like her very much.  She is why you would want to see this.  She crosses herself before jumping.  Of course.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Cecilia again.

Here is a film I haven't seen before. It's from Rossini's Semiramide.

I've often wished Cecilia would sing this role.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Queen of Baroque


Cecilia Bartoli announces a new CD from Decca:  Queen of Baroque.  It will be released on December 18, 2020.  Pre-order now by clicking below.  It can be delivered in time for Christmas.  It's described as:

A collection of the very best of Bartoli's treasured recordings of musical delights and discoveries of the 17th and 18th century. Featuring two previously unreleased world premiere recordings of forgotten jewels by Leonardo Vinci and Agostino Steffani. With guest appearances from Philippe Jaroussky, June Anderson, Franco Fagioli and Sol Gabetta.  Here is a track list.

I trionfi del fato: “E l’honor stella tiranna”*

Alessandro nelle Indie: “Quanto Invidio…Chi vive amante”*

Rinaldo: “Lascia ch’io pianga”

Artaserse: “Son Qual Nave”

Stabat Mater, P. 77: 1. Stabat Mater dolorosa feat. Anderson

Griselda: Agitata da due venti

Niobe, regina di Tebe: “Serena, o mio bel sole… Mia fiamma…” feat. Jaroussky

A. Scarlatti
Il Sedecia, Re di Gerusalemme: “Caldo Sangue”

Serse: “Ombra mai fu”

Il nascimento dell’Aurora: “Aure andate e baciate” feat. Sol Gabetta

Adriano In Siria: Deh, tu bel Dio d’amore…Ov’e il mio bene?

Stabat Mater: “Eja Mater, fons amoris… Fac, ut ardeat… Sancta Mater… Tui nati, vulnerati” feat. Fagioli, Behle

Il Trionfo dell’Innocenza: “Vanne pentita a piangere”

La Resurrezione (1708), HWV 47: “Disserratevi oh porte d’Averno”

Germanico in Germania: Parto ti lascio, o cara

I Triondi del fato: “Combatton quest’alma” feat. Jaroussky

Rinaldo: “Bel piacere”

*Denotes a world premiere recording

And here is a sample.


Thursday, October 08, 2020

Erin Wall (4 November 1975 – October 8, 2020)




This is what I wrote about Erin when I first saw her at the Santa Fe Opera in 2007.

"Since she was by far the best singer at Santa Fe, (Daphne in Daphne) I thought it would be nice to know more about Erin Wall. She's from Alberta, Canada, and has competed in the Singer of the World in Cardiff."  The full review is here.

I've seen her in some wonderful things over the years.  My favorite was are Arabella at Santa Fe.  Most recently she sang Donna Anna in San Francisco in 2017.

I enjoyed everything I saw and wish I had seen more.  She has died of cancer.  I feel it is a loss.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Cecilia's Grammys

1992  Rossini Heroines Classical Vocal Solo Nominee
1992  Rossini Heroines  Classical Album Nominee

1995 · The Impatient Lover Classical Vocal Solo Winner

1996   La Clemenza di Tito Best Opera Recording Nominee


1998 · An Italian Songbook Classical Vocal Solo Winner


2001 · The Vivaldi Album Classical Vocal Solo Winner

2002 · Gluck Italian Arias Classical Vocal Solo Winner

2005   Opera Proibita Classical Vocal Solo Nominee

2009 · Maria Classical Vocal Solo Nominee
2009 · Maria Classical Album Nominee

2011 · Sacrificium  Classical Vocal Solo Winner
2011 · Sacrificium  Classical Album Nominee

2014 · Mission  Classical Vocal Solo Nominee

2016 · St Petersburg   Classical Vocal Solo Nominee

2016  Giulio Cesare Best Opera Recording Nominee

Things have dropped off lately.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Weber's Euryanthe


Conductor- Constantin Trinks
Director- Christof Loy

Euryanthe- Jacquelyn Wagner, soprano
Count Adolar, her betrothed- Norman Reinhardt, tenor
Eglantine- Theresa Kronthaler, soprano
Count Lysiart- Andrew Foster-Williams, baritone
King Louis VI- Stefan Cerny, bass

Weber's Euryanthe, 1823, comes to me from Operavision. The performance is Theater an der Wien, Vienna, in 2018.  It's unusual for an early German language opera because there is no spoken dialog.  We seem to be getting orchestral recitative.

Women's costumes are from the 1950s.  We are in a large room with windows on the left and a door at the back, containing only a small hospital bed and a grand piano.Throughout the opera a super plays the queen.

Adolar loves Euryanthe and praises her purity.  Lysiart says purity is not to be found among women.  They argue and make a bet.  The King must hold the proofs of the bet.  They all just look like business men in dark suits.

A blond woman enters and sings about her Adolar.  She must be Euryanthe.  And the dark haired woman must be Eglantine.  Euryanthe has rescued Egalantine, but despite this she still tries to ruin Euryanthe's life by betraying her.  Because she too loves Adolar.  The music is very serene.  If you didn't know what was going on, would you guess it was this?  Egalantine has a nice rage aria to liven things up.  

At the beginning of Act II we have an extended male nude scene with Lysiart.  The lighting and camera angles are carefully managed to blunt the effect of this.  Why do it if you can't see it?  This is an opera about violent jealousy.  The two villians, Eglantine and Lysiart sing an extended duet where they swear revenge on Euryanthe.  At the end of Act II Eglantine is seen banging away theatrically on the piano.  I don't really hear a piano.  They blame Euryanthe for revealing a secret she has sworn to keep, and she runs out.  Even Adolar rejects her.  The secret is personal, so I don't see what the fuss is about.  Adolar's sister Emma has killed herself and her ghost still roams.  She needs the tears of an innocent to put her soul to rest.

Act III same room, no furniture.  They're supposed to be outdoors and attacked by a giant serpent.  Instead we're still in the same white room.  There are no hit tunes in this opera, but there is a very nice hunting chorus with horns.  This is Weber, after all.

The scene changes, and the hospital bed is back.  This production explains nothing.  Eglantine is marrying Lysiart, who appears to love her.  They sing about roses, but the flowers appear to be lilies.  Eglantine is killed, and Euryanthe marries Adolar.  Emma goes to her rest.

The women have all the fun in this opera.  The villain is a woman.  Small people with evil passions, but good wins in the end.