Sunday, January 21, 2018

Russian Festival at Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera

Last night at the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera we were treated to three major pieces from Russian repertoire.

Mussorgsky – Night on Bald Mountain in the arrangement by Rimsky-Korsakov began the concert.  This is supposed to be a witches Sabbath or in short a tone poem.  The Community Center Theater has changed the concert acoustical padding at the back of the stage.  When you combine this with brasses which all point directly out at the audience, you get very loud brasses, particularly in this piece.  Otherwise it's a lot of fun.

I'm going to pause for a second to say that Berlioz traveled to Russia and gave concerts.  He may be said to be the father of the Russian school.  If you listen, you can hear how this might be true.  The orchestral flamboyance in almost all Russian repertoire is the main indication of his influence.

Tchaikovsky– Piano Concerto No. 1 with Andrew von Oeyen, piano, seen above.  He is a lovely, energetic young man with just the right enthusiasm for this piece.  The first movement is so long that the audience thought it might be the end.  The piano, orchestral balance was excellent.

Rachmaninoff – Symphonic Dances.  This is supposed to be Rachmaninoff's last composition.  I have probably never heard it before.  Dances are normally named after a dance, but here they used the usual tempo markings as names.  The first one is called "non allegro" which made me laugh.  One doesn't generally ask what something isn't.  It seemed beautiful but completely unstructured.

This is a difficult program which I found well played.  It was sold out.  The second half is next week.

Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera 2018-2019

Part of Saturday night's concert was the announcement of next season's concerts.


Saturday, October 20, 2018
Andrew Grams conducts:
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Schumann Symphony #4.

Saturday, November 17, 2018
Opera Favorites
Christoph Campestrini will conduct selections from operas by Puccini, Bizet and Verdi.
The concert ends with the Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet excerpts.

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Beethoven Festival:
These two concerts recreate the "monster concert" in 1808.
Jeffrey Kahane conductor and pianist.
Symphony #6 "Pastoral"
"Ah Perfido" (concert aria)
Piano Concerto #4

Saturday, January 26, 2019
Beethoven Festival: 
These two concerts recreate the "monster concert" in 1808.
Jeffrey Kahane conductor and pianist.
Symphony #5
Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus from Mass in C
Choral Fantasy  (love this)

Saturday, February 23, 2019
Rhapsody in Blue
David Alan Miller conducts, Kevin Cole, piano
Loren Loiacono Sleep Furiously
Gershwin An American in Paris
Steven Stucky Concerto for Orchestra #2
Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Saturday, April 13, 2019
Michael Christie will conduct
Verdi's Rigoletto
Cast to be announced


Saturday, November 24, 2018 (Thanksgiving Weekend)
Music of Journey
Symphonic Tribute The Sacramento Philharmonic, backed by a full rock band. Martin Herman, conductor

Saturday, March 2, 2019
Best of Broadway
Stuart Chavez conductor
Broadway hits.

Saturday, April 27, 2019
Star Wars
Stuart Chavez conductor
Music by John Williams

Friday, January 19, 2018

Klimt at the Legion of Honor

At the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco is currently an exhibition of Klimt paintings. Above is The Virgin, a strange painting with I counted 6 heads.  I presume the named person is the one with two arms in the center.

I love this landscape.  All of his styles are very attractive.

This last example is a copy of a section from the Beethoven Frieze.  I visited this in Vienna when I went there in 2007, and I was pleased to have recognized it.  It is near the opera house, so when you go to Vienna to see the opera, be sure to drop by.  It's an entire room with paintings up high on the wall.  That's what makes it a frieze.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Opera House

The Opera House is officially a movie about building the new Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center.  Unofficially it is about the youth of Leontyne Price.  She's the best part.

San Francisco Opera 2018 -- 2019

Today next season's schedule for the San Francisco Opera has appeared.  It has shrunk to 8 operas.  We start with the fall series.

Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci

Music by Pietro Mascagni / Ruggero Leoncavallo
September 7–30, 2018

Cast for Cavalleria:
Turiddu Roberto Aronica
Santuzza Ekaterina Semenchuk
Alfio Dimitri Platanias *
Lola Laura Krumm
Mamma Lucia Jill Grove

Cast for Pagliacci:
Canio Marco Berti
Nedda Lianna Haroutounian
Tonio Dimitri Platanias *

Roberto Devereux

Music by Gaetano Donizetti
September 8–27, 2018
This features the excellent cast:
Elisabetta (Elizabeth I) Sondra Radvanovsky
Roberto Devereux Russell Thomas
Sara Jamie Barton


Music by Giacomo Puccini
October 3–30, 2018
Floria Tosca Carmen Giannattasio
Mario Cavaradossi Brian Jagde
Baron Scarpia Scott Hendricks


Music by Richard Strauss
October 16–November 3, 2018
Arabella Ellie Dehn
Zdenka Heidi Stober
Matteo Daniel Johansson *
Mandryka Brian Mulligan

It's a Wonderful Life

Music by Jake Heggie
November 17–December 9, 2018
George Bailey William Burden
Clara Golda Schultz *1
Clara Kearstin Piper Brown *2

There are three operas for the summer series.


Music by George Bizet
June 5–29, 2019
Francesca Zambello production.
This features the excellent cast:
Carmen J'Nai Bridges
Don José Matthew Polenzani welcome back Matthew.
Micaëla Anita Hartig *


Music by George Frideric Handel
June 9–27, 2019
Orlando Sasha Cooke
Angelica Heidi Stober
Dorinda Christina Gansch *
Medoro David Daniels
Zoroastro Christian Van Horn


Music by Antonín Dvořák
June 16–28, 2019
Production David McVicar
Rusalka Rachel Willis‐Sørensen
The Prince Brandon Jovanovich
Vodník (Water Gnome) Ferruccio Furlanetto  (love him)
Ježibaba Jamie Barton  (worth the ticket just for this)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Carrie Hennessey Puccini Recital

Just when you thought Carrie Hennessey had already done the most impossible recital you could imagine, she does something even more impossible:  Thirteen Puccini arias.  This was accompanied by Jason Sherbundy on the piano, played with the lid all the way up.  The recital is titled To Live and Die for Love, the Heroines of Puccini.

'O mio babbino caro' from Gianni Schicchi. This is Lauretta, and after declaring in this aria that she will jump off the Ponte Vecchio if she cannot have her true love, lives happily ever after.

'Signore, ascolta' from Turandot followed by 'Tu che di gel sei cinta' from Turandot. In the opera these are sung by Liu who commits suicide to keep Calaf's name secret.

'Senza mamma' from Suor Angelica. She finds that her child has died and commits suicide.  Then the pianist played the Intermezzo from Suor Angelica.

We then were treated to three arias from La Bohème. 'Si, mi chiamano Mimi,' followed by 'Donde lieta uscì.'  These are sung by Mimi who dies of natural causes at the end of the opera.  'Quando me'n vo,' which is sung by Musetta who does not die.  Carrie wandered up and down the aisles trying to seduce us.  I think she was successful.


'Chi il bel sogno di Doretta' from La Rondine.  Doretta is not a character in the opera, and in her aria she only falls in love..

'Un bel di' from Madama Butterfly followed by 'Tu, tu piccolo Iddio' also from Madama Butterfly. Cio-Cio-san commits suicide using the Japanese ritual.

'Vissi d'arte' from Tosca.  Is it necessary to explain this?  She leaps off the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome.

Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut came next.  The recital ended with two arias from Manon Lescaut:  'In Quelle Trin Morbide' and 'Sola Perduta, Abbandonata.'  Just before she dies in the desert of Louisiana Manon sings "I don't want to die."  There is, of course, no desert in Louisiana.

Carrie sings big and continued to sing big all the way to the end.  There was no encore and the pianist did all of the talking.  It is difficult to imagine doing something this difficult.  Tristan?  She is a lirico-spinto and avoided the dramatic roles of the ice queen and Minnie.

Carrie has followers who shout and scream.  This is fun.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Die Fledermaus from Glyndebourne

Prince Orlovsky, Herr von Eisenstein
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Director:  Stephen Lawless

Gabriel von Eisenstein tenor/baritone Thomas Allen
Rosalinde, Eisenstein's wife soprano Pamela Armstrong
Adele, Rosalinde's maid soprano Lyubov Petrova
Alfred, a singer teacher tenor Pär Lindskog
Dr Falke, a notary baritone Håkan Hagegård
Dr Blind, a lawyer tenor Ragnar Ulfung
Frank, a prison governor baritone Artur Horn
Prince Orlofsky mezzo-soprano (en travesti) Malena Ernman

I'm always on the lookout for a good Die Fledermaus in German, and I have found one from Glyndebourne.  The deutssche Ausprache [German diction] is excellent.  It is for a long time commonplace to change the book for Fledermaus.  If you see 3 of them from 3 different places, the story will use 3 different versions of the spoken dialog, and I don't mean because it was translated.  In this version they talk quite a lot, thus the importance of good diction, but they skip the part in act I where Dr Falke personally invites Rosalinde to Orlovsky's party.

This is truly an outstanding cast.  Thomas Allen is perfect for Eisenstein, both as singer and as actor.  He is both affectionate and a bit indifferent toward his wife.  There is a joke where he pretends to be a tenor by tuning his wife's piano down.  He knows she prefers tenors.  I like the Rosalinde very much.  The dialog makes clear that Rosalinde and Alfred were former colleagues in the musical theater.

It is mentioned more than once that Prince Orlovsky is 18 and bored.  Bored is nothing new, but I don't recall hearing how old he is.  And Malena Ernman may be the greatest of all cross-dressers.  Why did I not mention her in my cross-dressing discussion?  Partly because I haven't seen her that much.  She doesn't make it to the west coast.  Did you know she sings Olympia and Queen of the night?  I certainly didn't.  She enjoys very much the theatrical side of opera.  She goes around patting the men on the butt.  Genial.  She ornaments the final verse of "Chacun a son gout."  I don't recall ever seeing that.

The stage rotates to show the entertainment.  Doctor Falke reveals many things to Rosalinde about her husband, all of which she forgives, until he tells her that he is actually not a tenor.  Then she threatens to murder him.  Herr and Frau Eisenstein go immediately to the watch seduction which she already knows all about.  "You may remove my mask tomorrow at breakfast."  He answers "Morgen habe ich andere Sorgen."  [Tomorrow I have other problems.]  One of my favorite lines.  Tomorrow he will be in jail.  She steals his watch and leaves. The watch scene is reasonably amusing.

Now comes the Csárdás.  This is the wrong order but works fine.  "Brüderlein und Schwesterlein" for Falke and chorus is a personal favorite.  There's a guy taking photographs.  Oops.

On to the jail.  Frosch's long pantomime is cut.  All proceeds exactly as it should except Orlovsky removes his disguise and shows Malena Ernman.  I smile and sing along.  "Und mein Schlafrock?"  "Requisite."  [And my dressing gown?  Properties.]  In this version everyone is part of the revenge set up, which explains a lot.  A good English translation of the title would be Revenge of the Bat.  I do love it so.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Classical Grammy Nominations 2018

The Grammys will be awarded January 28, 2018


Best Orchestral Performance
(Award to the Conductor and to the Orchestra.)
• Concertos For Orchestra
      Louis Langrée, conductor (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)
• Copland: Symphony No. 3; Three Latin American Sketches
      Leonard Slatkin, conductor (Detroit Symphony Orchestra)
• Debussy: Images; Jeux & La Plus Que Lente
      Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)
• Mahler: Symphony No. 5
      Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra)
• Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio
      Manfred Honeck, conductor (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
Best Opera Recording
(Award to the Conductor, Album Producer(s) and Principal Soloists.)
• Berg: Lulu
      Lothar Koenigs, conductor; Daniel Brenna, Marlis Petersen & Johan Reuter; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra)
• Berg: Wozzeck
      Hans Graf, conductor; Anne Schwanewilms & Roman Trekel; Hans Graf & Brad Sayles, producers (Houston Symphony; Chorus Of Students And Alumni, Shepherd School Of Music, Rice University & Houston Grand Opera Children's Chorus)
• Bizet: Les Pêcheurs De Perles
      Gianandrea Noseda, conductor; Diana Damrau, Mariusz Kwiecień, Matthew Polenzani & Nicolas Testé; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
• Handel: Ottone
      George Petrou, conductor; Max Emanuel Cencic & Lauren Snouffer; Jacob Händel, producer (Il Pomo D'Oro)
• Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel
      Valery Gergiev, conductor; Vladimir Feliauer, Aida Garifullina & Andrei Serov; Ilya Petrov, producer (Mariinsky Orchestra; Mariinsky Chorus)
Best Choral Performance
(Award to the Conductor, and to the Choral Director and/or Chorus Master where applicable and to the Choral Organization/Ensemble.)
• Bryars: The Fifth Century
      Donald Nally, conductor (PRISM Quartet; The Crossing)
• Handel: Messiah
      Andrew Davis, conductor; Noel Edison, chorus master (Elizabeth DeShong, John Relyea, Andrew Staples & Erin Wall; Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Toronto Mendelssohn Choir)
• Mansurian: Requiem
      Alexander Liebreich, conductor; Florian Helgath, chorus master (Anja Petersen & Andrew Redmond; Münchener Kammerorchester; RIAS Kammerchor)
• Music Of The Spheres
      Nigel Short, conductor (Tenebrae)
• Tyberg: Masses
      Brian A. Schmidt, conductor (Christopher Jacobson; South Dakota Chorale)
Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
(For new recordings of works with chamber or small ensemble (twenty-four or fewer members, not including the conductor). One Award to the ensemble and one Award to the conductor, if applicable.)
• Buxtehude: Trio Sonatas, Op. 1
• Death & The Maiden
      Patricia Kopatchinskaja & The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
• Divine Theatre - Sacred Motets By Giaches De Wert
      Stile Antico
• Franck, Kurtág, Previn & Schumann
      Joyce Yang & Augustin Hadelich
• Martha Argerich & Friends - Live From Lugano 2016
      Martha Argerich & Various Artists
Best Classical Instrumental Solo
(Award to the Instrumental Soloist(s) and to the Conductor when applicable.)
• Bach: The French Suites
      Murray Perahia
• Haydn: Cello Concertos
      Steven Isserlis; Florian Donderer, conductor (The Deutsch Kammerphilharmonie Bremen)
• Levina: The Piano Concertos
      Maria Lettberg; Ariane Matiakh, conductor (Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin)
• Shostakovich: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
      Frank Peter Zimmermann; Alan Gilbert, conductor (NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester)
• Transcendental
      Daniil Trifonov
Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
(Award to: Vocalist(s), Collaborative Artist(s) (Ex: pianists, conductors, chamber groups) Producer(s), Recording Engineers/Mixers with 51% or more playing time of new material.)
• Bach & Telemann: Sacred Cantatas
      Philippe Jaroussky; Petra Müllejans, conductor (Ann-Kathrin Brüggemann & Juan de la Rubia; Freiburger Barockorchester)
• Crazy Girl Crazy - Music By Gershwin, Berg & Berio
      Barbara Hannigan (Orchestra Ludwig)
• Gods & Monsters
      Nicholas Phan; Myra Huang, accompanist
• In War & Peace - Harmony Through Music
      Joyce DiDonato; Maxim Emelyanychev, conductor (Il Pomo D’Oro)
• Sviridov: Russia Cast Adrift
      Dmitri Hvorostovsky; Constantine Orbelian, conductor (St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra & Style Of Five Ensemble)
Best Classical Compendium
(Award to the Artist(s) and to the Album Producer(s) and Engineer(s) of over 51% playing time of the album, if other than the artist.)
• Barbara
      Alexandre Tharaud; Cécile Lenoir, producer
• Higdon: All Things Majestic, Viola Concerto & Oboe Concerto
      Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer
• Kurtág: Complete Works For Ensemble & Choir
      Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor; Guido Tichelman, producer
• Les Routes De L'Esclavage
      Jordi Savall, conductor; Benjamin Bleton, producer
• Mademoiselle: Première Audience - Unknown Music Of Nadia Boulanger
      Lucy Mauro; Lucy Mauro, producer
Best Contemporary Classical Composition
(A Composer's Award. (For a contemporary classical composition composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year.) Award to the librettist, if applicable.)
• Concerto For Orchestra
      Zhou Tian, composer (Louis Langrée & Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)
      Track from: Concertos For Orchestra
• Picture Studies
      Adam Schoenberg, composer (Michael Stern & Kansas City Symphony)
      Track from: Schoenberg, Adam: American Symphony; Finding Rothko; Picture Studies
• Requiem
      Tigran Mansurian, composer (Alexander Liebreich, Florian Helgath, RIAS Kammerchor & Münchener Kammerorchester)
• Songs Of Solitude
      Richard Danielpour, composer (Thomas Hampson, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
      Track from: Danielpour: Songs Of Solitude & War Songs
• Viola Concerto
      Jennifer Higdon, composer (Roberto Díaz, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
      Track from: Higdon: All Things Majestic, Viola Concerto & Oboe Concerto

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Operas in Germany

This is the repertoire of my two seasons at the Ulmer Theater 1975-77.

Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro $Susanna
Rossini  La Cenerentola
Lortzing  Der Wildschütz   UT only
Flotow Martha $Martha              UT only
Gounod Faust $Marguerite
Verdi La forza del destino *
Smetana The Bartered Bride $Mařenka  (mama)
Strauss II Die Fledermaus $Rosalinde
Millöcker Gasparone $Carlotta  UT only
Tchaikovsky The Queen of Spades *  (Pauline)
Zeller Der Vogelhändler  $Electress   UT only
Humperdinck Hänsel und Gretel $Hänsel
Strauss Salome  (page)
Puccini La Fanciulla del West *
Kálmán Gräfin Mariza      UT only
Loewe My Fair Lady  (maid)

*  directed by Giancarlo del Monaco

Five of these are works that I have never seen since then.  I truly loved Martha and think it should be performed more often.  All were performed in German except the arias in Figaro.

I wrote about my life there in A Day in the Life.  Some comments about our directors can be found here.  I also wrote a brief essay about a colleague from those days.  $ is for Ursula who was a lyric soprano, followed by the roles she performed.  In parentheses are the roles I performed.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Silvesterkonzert der Berliner Philharmoniker


Antonín Dvořák Carnival Overture, op. 92
Igor Stravinsky Pas de deux from Apollon musagète
Richard Strauss Orchestral Songs Joyce DiDonato mezzo-soprano
Leonard Bernstein 3 Dance Episodes from On the Town
Leonard Bernstein Take Care of this House Joyce DiDonato mezzo-soprano 
Dmitri Shostakovich Suite from The Golden Age, op. 22a

I am here for Joyce, of course.  The Strauss songs were truly wonderful, both for Joyce's singing and for Sir Simon Rattle's conducting.  So Strauss conducting is not dead after all.  I found this on ARTE.

Take Care of this House is suitable both for 100 years of Leonard Bernstein and for the blessing on our own White House.