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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Met season 22-23

I prefer a chronological sequence:

HD date
Medea New Production Luigi Cherubini Sep 27 - Oct 28 10/22/2022
Idomeneo Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Sep 28 - Oct 20
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk Dmitri Shostakovich Sep 29 - Oct 21
Tosca Giacomo Puccini Oct 4 - Apr 15
Peter Grimes Benjamin Britten Oct 16 - Nov 12
La Traviata Giuseppe Verdi Oct 25 - Mar 18 11/5/2022
Don Carlo Giuseppe Verdi Nov 3 - Dec 3 11/19/2022
Rigoletto Giuseppe Verdi Nov 10 - Dec 29
The Hours New Production Kevin Puts / LIBRETTO BY Greg Pierce Nov 22 - Dec 15 12/10/2022
Aida Giuseppe Verdi Dec 2 - May 18
The Magic Flute—Holiday Presentation Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Dec 16 - Jan 6
Fedora New Production Umberto Giordano Dec 31 - Jan 28 1/14/2023
L’Elisir d’Amore Gaetano Donizetti Jan 10 - Apr 29
Dialogues des Carmélites Francis Poulenc Jan 15 - Jan 28
Lohengrin New Production Richard Wagner Feb 26 - Apr 1 3/18/2023
Norma Vincenzo Bellini Feb 28 - Mar 25
Falstaff Giuseppe Verdi Mar 12 - Apr 1
Der Rosenkavalier Richard Strauss Mar 27 - Apr 20 4/15/2023
Champion New Production TERENCE BLANCHARD / LIBRETTO BY Michael Cristofer Apr 10 - May 13 4/29/2023
La Bohème Giacomo Puccini Apr 21 - Jun 9
Don Giovanni New Production Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart May 5 - Jun 2 5/20/2023
Die Zauberflöte New Production Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart May 19 - Jun 10 6/3/2023
Der Fliegende Holländer Richard Wagner May 30 - Jun 10

Perhaps I'll post some details later.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Lise Davidsen Grieg Songs

Lise Davidsen's Grieg album with fellow Norwegian Leif Ove Andsnes on piano came out yesterday.  I am listening on the Amazon stream.  There are 28 tracks, and so far only two of them are familiar:  Op. 25 - 2. En Svane (The Swan) and Op. 5 - 3. Jeg elsker Dig! (I love you).  This whole album is very beautiful.  This is Lise's sweet voice.  For Wagner and Verdi she shows much heavier singing.


Friday, December 24, 2021

2021 Opera Year in Review KK Awards

I'm not sure 2021 was any better than 2020.  I am counting only performances that took place this year or films I had never seen before this year.  This was another year aggravated by both COVID and my advancing age.  I still saw some very nice stuff.

Here is the all too short list of operas new to me this year.

  • BEST NEW OPERA AWARD   It's hard to choose one.  I enjoyed most Heggie's Three Decembers from the San Jose Opera, but this was probably because the lead role was played by the always amazing Susan Graham.  The two modern operas from the Metropolitan Opera did not grab me.  I require musical interest, and not just theater.  Donizetti is famous mostly for his comic operas L’Elisir d’Amore and Don Pasquale, plus Lucia, of courseLinda di Chamounix is very beautiful, but perhaps the plot is too dated.  It is opera seria with a happy ending, a genre we don't follow that much.  The award seems to go to Three Decembers
  • BEST OF MOZART, BEETHOVEN, AND WEBER AWARD     My only Mozart was Cosi fan Tutte, November 28, from San Francisco in a lovely modern production, part 2 of their Da Ponte trilogy.  I saw two new versions of Beethoven's Fidelio this year:   Fidelio, Jan 29, from Birmingham England and some years old, and Fidelio, October 15, from San Francisco.  Weber Der Freischütz, Feb 16, from Munich. All four of these operas might be regarded as regie.  The Birmingham Fidelio features a row of washing machines.  Der Freischütz, which we see all too seldom, is in a sky scraper.  Modernizing it loses some of the mystery.  Cosi is in a Country Club which people join to play golf and tennis.  I dearly love Fidelio, but I think the most successful of this group has to be the San Francisco Cosi fan Tutte, and I award to it.

  • BEST OF WAGNER AWARD  This turned out to be a big year for Wagner for me.  I saw two new Wagner productions:  Tristan und Isolde, August 12, from the Bayerische Staatsoper with Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros and Der fliegende Holländer, Sept 37, from Bayreuth with Asmik Grigorian, who does not touch my heart.  She's quite celebrated, but these are my opinions.   Both were regie productions.  I also finally saw the full Ring cycle from the San Francisco Opera:  Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Die Götterdämmerung.  The last two were new for me.  
The concert version of act I of Die Walküre, July 17, also from the Bayerische Staatsoper with Jonas Kaufmann and Lise Davidsen is the final entry.  This last was quite wonderful, but I find it not quite as wonderful as the amazing and surprising Tristan und Isolde, also from Munich.  It is hard to top the combination of Jonas and Anja.  Musically and theatrically they are completely in tune.  I award to that.  Lise may be turning me into a Wagnerian.
  • BEST OF VERDI, MUSSORGSKY AND R. STRAUSS AWARD  The pickings in the late Romantics are pretty slim.  Lise Davidsen makes her only staged opera appearance in a rather odd Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos, Feb 4, from Aix en Province.  I say odd because in this regie production Ariadne doesn't await a god to rescue her; instead she awaits a baby because she is pregnant.  Lise frowned almost constantly.  The singing was wonderful.  Other performances in the running are Verdi Aida, February 18, from Paris and Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, October 9, from the Met in a shortened version.  The Aida with Jonas Kaufmann and Sondra Radvanovsky has puppets.  None of these are anything I would want to see again, but I award to Aida.

  • BEST VERISMO AWARD  The Verismo operas for this year were Korngold Die Tote Stadt, June 20, from the Bayerische Staatsoper, Janáček's Káťa Kabanová, August 2, from West Edge, and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, August 20, from Chicago.  West Edge was in a poor venue and can't really compete with the other companies.  Verismo operas are modern enough to allow for regie productions with no complaining, at least from me.  The Korngold starred Jonas Kaufmann who is hard to beat in anything.  Pagliacci starred our boy Quinn Kelsen who gave us a marvelous prologue.  The pictured performance was a television show, The Honeymooners, which I am old enough to have seen.  If you hadn't seen it, you would not get the back story.  I award to Pagliacci, for fun.
  • SINGER OF THE YEAR   This has to go to Jonas Kaufmann, who managed to find a way onto the stage and our screens in spite of everything.  I especially loved him in the reopening of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Act I of Die Walküre with Lise Davidsen, who was glorious.  This is the most I have become emotionally involved with this scene. His fully staged operas were Aida with Sondra Radvanovsky, Die Tote Stadt with Marlis Peterson, Tosca with Anna Netrebko in Salzburg and with Sondra Radvanovsky in Spain, and the triumph that puts him above all others:  Tristan und Isolde with Anja Harteros.  I loved every bit in spite of the fact that it was very much regie.  With such great artists it doesn't seem to matter.

 It was a pretty strange year.  Let's hope for better things in the future.