Monday, May 30, 2016

New Releases

This is coming in September--just announced.  We're not sure about the picture and anything about verismo.

Recent releases from the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD.

Maria Stuarda with Joyce DiDonato

The Merry Widow with Renée Fleming

La Donna del Lago with Joyce DiDonato--my recent favorite

Macbeth with the ever fabulous Anna Netrebko

More below the break.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera 2016-2017


Saturday, October 8, 2016
Benjamin Britten – Violin Concerto
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 5
Michael Christie, conductor  and Karen Gomyo, violin

Saturday, November 12, 2016 
Giuseppe Verdi – Dramatic moments from La Forza del destino, Otello, and Un ballo in maschera
Pietro Mascagni – Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana
Giacomo Puccini – La Bohème Act I Finale
Gioachino Rossini – Semiramide
Ottorino Respighi – The Pines of Rome
Christoph Campestrini, conductor, Katherine Whyte, soprano, Adam Luther, tenor

Saturday, January 21, 2016 
Gioachino Rossini – Italiana in Algeri Overture
Joseph Haydn – Symphony No. 101, “Clock”
Antonio Vivaldi – “The Four Seasons”
Andrés Cárdenes, conductor and violin

Saturday, February 25, 2017
Takemitsu – Quotation of Dream
Johann Sebastian Bach – Double Keyboard Concerto
Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 7
Andrew Grams, conductor, Peter Serkin, piano, Julia Hsu, piano

Saturday, March 4, 2017
Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 4
Ludwig van Beethoven - Violin Concerto
Michelle Merrill, conductor Chee-Yun Kim, violin

Saturday, April 29, 2017 
Giuseppe Verdi – La Traviata
José -Luis Gomez, conductor


Perhaps this is new or I just didn't know about it, but there is also a pops series.

Saturday, November 26, 2016 
Classical Mystery Tour – Featuring a full Beatles cover band: Roll up for the “Classical Mystery Tour” on Thanksgiving Weekend. All your Beatles memories performed LIVE by the Sacramento Philharmonic and members of the original cast of Broadway’s Beatlemania! Fab Four Hit after Fab Four hit!
Martin Herman, conductor

Saturday, January 14, 2017 
The Music of David Bowie : A Rock Symphony: Few artists have redefined rock. David Bowie was the one – and only. To mark the first anniversary of his passing, the Sacramento Philharmonic presents a symphonic salute. “Changes,” “Space Oddity,” “Fame,” Heroes,” Rebel Rebel,” nearly 20 classics. The best of Bowie – from A to Ziggy. Are you ready? Then “Let’s Dance”!
Brent Havens, conductor

Saturday, April 8, 2017 
Pet Sounds Live: A Beach Boys Celebration: The sun-melt harmonies – and all the good vibrations. Conductor Jeff Reed recreates the music of The Beach Boys. Every endless summer smash hit, and wouldn’t it be nice to hear those path-breaking “Pet Sounds” in a 50th anniversary tribute?
Jeffrey Reed, conductor

Tickets for both of these series are now on sale.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lucia di Lammermoor from ROH

Conductor: Daniel Oren
Designer: Vicki Mortimer

Lucia: Diana Damrau
Edgardo: Charles Castronovo
Enrico: Ludovic Tézier
Arturo: Taylor Stayton
Raimondo: Kwangchul Youn
Normanno: Peter Hoare
Alisa:  Rachael Lloyd

The notorious Lucia di Lammermoor from the Royal Opera Covent Garden played last night in my local movie theater.  It was a not to be missed.

This is Lucia with all the details left in and then more details added.  The stage is divided into two sections for every scene, allowing the character Lucia to be on stage throughout the opera.

The opera begins at the haunted fountain where Enrico and his cohorts are searching for clues to an intruder and ultimately find a message from Lucia to Edgardo hidden in the fountain.  The ghost of the fountain is there, but the men do not notice her.  On the other side of the stage Lucia is in her dressing room preparing to go out disguised as a man.

We are still at the fountain when Lucia enters with her maid, also disguised as a man.  She sees the ghost who goes up to her and kisses her.  Lucia seems to be the only one who notices the ghost.  She sings "Regnava nel silenzio" and describes the ghost to Alisa.

Edgardo arrives for the love duet.  They undress each other and fuck while singing bel canto, to mysterious effect.  I wonder if the porn industry has thought of this.  Edgardo must leave for France, and they exchange rings.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Opera Today

It is with fascination that I avail myself of the fruits of modern technology.

Practically immediately after they finished singing it, Coloraturafan posted a film of a concert version of Verdi's Otello from Cincinnati, starring singers I was not familiar with but whose names I had heard:  Gregory Kunde, Tamara Wilson and Egils Silins.  It turned out to be exciting and beautifully sung.

And now I am listening to an audio of Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala in Lohengrin in Dresden.  This performance also included Evelyn Herlitzius as Ortrud.  I'm only about halfway through it, but Anna's diction is excellent.  Sunday's performance was on Wagner's birthday, so afterward they all appeared in the square and sang a bit for the crowds.  He's very good, but she is astounding.  No one gets that much intensity into her singing.  It is my suspicion that Netrebko wanted to do a traditional Lohengrin.  It was a small price to pay.

And then there is the "O sole mio" by Cecilia Bartoli, performed as an encore to a recital in Bad Kissingen just a couple of days ago with the theme Melodie italiane.  We should all have noticed that as she approaches her 50th birthday, she has finally done crossover. 

I might want to also have a life.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Posted yesterday

Sweetie, perhaps I will love only you.

Footnote.  I suppose only I will truly love this.  I cannot explain why.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Gregory Kunde

This is Gregory Kunde, winner of the International Opera Awards Male Singer.

If you watch a lot of films on YouTube of Gregory Kunde, you will see that until recently he has focused on bel canto, a field where he blends into the crowd.  Now suddenly he has begun to appear as a spinto tenor, and it turns out he is amazing.  We'll probably never know why he waited, but we welcome him heartily.

Sorry.  Otello has been removed.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Request for Streaming from Salzburg

The operas for this summer from the Salzburg Festival are:

Thomas Adès The exterminating angel with Anne Sofie Von Otter, Charles Workman, Eric Halfvarson,  John Tomlinson, Thomas Allen

Richard Strauss Die liebe Der Danae.

Faust with Piotr Beczala, Ildar Abdrazakov, Maria Agresta, Tara Erraught

West Side Story with Cecilia Bartoli .

All 3 Mozart/da Ponte operas will play.  Don Giovanni is very much the same as last year.  Nozze di Figaro also streamed last year.

Manon Lescaut with Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov.

Otto Nicolai il Templario with Juan Diego Flórez and Joyce DiDonato

I always want to see things I haven't seen before.  My choices are:

Manon Lescaut for Anna
West Side Story for Cecilia
The Exterminating Angel
Il Templario for Juan Diego and Joyce
Die liebe der Danae to get a better idea of it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Maestro is stepping down

Nicola Luisotti will end his tenure as Music Director of the San Francisco Opera in the summer of 2018.  This gives us two more years.  I hope they find someone as good as our last two.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Noch einmal Netrebko

On the occasion of her premier as Elsa in Lohengrin.  She makes me want to go shopping.

Noch einmal Meistersinger

I'm listening to Die Meistersinger stream from Munich.  I think I really like only the third act with the gorgeous trio, the procession of the Meistersingers, the Prize song and the sometimes, lately most of the time, the imaginary happy ending.  In my heart it has a happy ending.

I am liking Jonas Kaufmann, of course, but I also like marvelous chorus, Sara Jakubiak as Eva, and Wolfgang Koch as Hans Sachs (though not as much as Michael Volle in Salzburg.)  The opera belongs to Sachs.

Petrenko's conducting is masterful.  The biggest applause is for him.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Schottlands Weiten -- Salzburg Pfingstfest 2017

The festival opens with the opera Ariodante by George Frideric Handel in the House for Mozart. The production will be carried over to the summer. Five performances are already planned "six could be good", but had not yet been agreed to, said the designated festival director Markus Hinterhäuser. Christof Loy directs, and Cecilia Bartoli sings the title role, of course. The orchestra in the pit is "Les Musiciens du Prince - Monaco" headed by Diego Fasolis.

The "Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia" by Antonio Pappano comes with Mendelssohn, Wagner and Verdi in the Grosses Festspielhaus. Dance is prominently represented again with "Les Sylphide" and the Ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre St. Petersburg. The orchestra will be as this year in ballet, the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra.

The concert opera for 2017 is La donna del Lago by Rossini, for Cecilia Bartoli one of the masterpieces of Rossini, "I have dreamed of for a long time." With this work the "Scotland-mania" started in Italy in 1819.  This work of Rossini was followed with 25 more operas with Scotland references by different composers.   Among others Cecilia Bartoli or Edgardo Rochabe will be singing.  Also play here "Les Musiciens du Prince - Monaco" under Diego Fasolis. An aria matinee featuring the countertenor Max Emanuel Cenčić and Armonia Atenea under George Petrou are in the Great Hall of the Mozarteum.

Festspiele Pfingsten" lasts from 2. to 5. June 2017.

I'm not sure I can translate the title, but the theme is clearly Scotland.  This is translated from DrehPunktKultur.

Philippe Jaroussky in Berkeley

Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor, and Jérôme Ducros, piano, appeared May 12 for Cal Performances in Berkeley with a program of songs by Fauré, Debussy, Hahn, Poldowski, Bordes, Séverac, Chauson, Honegger, Saint-Saëns, and Chabrier, all in settings of poems by Paul-Marie Verlaine (1844 – 1896).  I don't recall anything like this.  This is a very high bar to set for oneself.

This type of song is called a mélodie, and is considered to have started with Les nuits d'été  by Hector Berlioz.  It's considered the French equivalent to the German Lied.  In a Lied the piano is sharp and angular, while in a mélodie we hear much more legato and almost impressionist playing.  Enough history.

The program was performed virtually without applause.  To elicit applause he would sing something more flamboyant and throw up his arms.  At the end it was a setting of "Chanson d'automne" by Charles Trenet, the composer closest to modern times whose song sound much like a modern pop song.  The rest of the time they immediately went on virtually without pause to the next song.  Short piano solos were interspersed while Jaroussky sneaked off to the wings.

The same poems appeared repeatedly with different composers:  "Green," "Clair de lune," "En sourdine," "Mandoline," etc.  It was deeply satisfying, a marvelous exploration of a style of music heard here almost only on recording.  It suited the sound of his voice.  Yes, we were surprised how much we liked it

The last encore was the most famous setting of one of these texts:  "L'heure exquise" by Reynaldo Hahn.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Beethoven 9

Last night ended the resurrection season for the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera.  This was as close to opera as we came this season.  The first half of the program consisted of the overture, two arias and a chorus from Beethoven's Fidelio.  Jonathan Burton, tenor, sang "Gott! welch Dunkel hier!"  He has a lovely tone, very suitable for this particular aria.  Jennifer Holloway, soprano, sang "Abscheulicher" to close out this part of the program.  Our conductor was David Alan Miller.

After the intermission came Beethoven's Ninth Symphony when the solo quartet added Jeanne Ireland, mezzo-soprano, and Brandon Cedel, bass-baritone.  May 7, the date of our performance, just happens to be the anniversary of the first performance of Beethoven's Ninth. 

It's good to quote a few words here:

"Joy.  All men become brothers where your soft wings hover.  Be embraced, you millions.  This kiss is for the whole world."

Some may question the value of classical music.  My only comment is that we can easily justify our case through Beethoven alone.  Hail, maestro.  For the joy that you bring us.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Il Matrimonio segreto at Sac State

Conductor and director:  Omari Tau
Pianist:  Jennifer Reason

Geronimo (bass):  Act I Roy Domoe, Act II Jordan Krack
Carolina, his daughter (soprano):  Elise Savoy
Elisetta, also his daughter (soprano or mezzo-soprano): Nicole James
Fidalma, his sister (mezzo-soprano): Monica Serrano
Paolino (tenor):  Matt Hidalgo
Count Robinson (bass): Walter Aldrich 

Last night I went to Cal State Sacramento to see Il matrimonio segreto (The Secret Marriage) by Domenico Cimarosa (1792), an opera buffa from about the same time as Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.  It also previewed in Vienna.  There is a lot of sexual innuendo such as one would find in Mozart but without the political sophistication. 

Between Act I and Act II is a short Intermezzo:  Little Harlequinade by Antonio Salieri.

Colombina:  Erin Flynn
Harlequin:  Jake Kolyoth
Brighella:  Jordan Krack

Carolina and Paolino have recently married but have not told her family about this.  Geronimo has arranged for her older sister Elisetta to marry Count Robinson, but when the count meets her, he doesn't like her.  He very much prefers Carolina.  Hmmm.  And if that isn't enough, Fidalma likes Paolino.

I very much admired how this was staged.  The cast of the Little Harlequinade are also Geronimo's servants who entertain us also in the overture and at intervals throughout the opera.  This was charming.  Since this is a student production, it provides increased opportunities for performing.

Paolino is also one of Geronimo's servants.  This explains why Carolina is so worried that someone will find out they are married.  Paolino follows his master from place to place throughout the opera.

A complex plot clearly and masterfully laid out, comic business of all kinds; who could ask for more?  The costumes were entertaining and contributed to the clarity of the plot.  They all live happily ever after.  I didn't see the need, though, for two people playing Geronimo. 

Musically we have the same things we might find in a Mozart opera:  recitative (with maybe a bit too much talking), arias and ensembles.  The ensembles were especially impressive.  There was an extended scene for two basses.  There was a gorgeous trio for the three ladies of the family.  It is probably the frequent ensembles and comic pacing that make this Cimarosa's most lasting opera.

These are large roles well handled by the student cast.

When the overhead lights are out, I could read the supertitles.  When they were on, I couldn't. 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Ranking the Simulcasts 2015-16

Every year I rank the simulcasts from the Metropolitan Opera.  This year, following my own personal tradition, I missed only Puccini's Madama Butterfly.  The buzz for this was quite good, but I cannot rank it.  First I will characterize each opera, and then I will rank them.

Verdi's Il Trovatore with Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky may possibly be the greatest Trovatore in my personal experience.  More cannot be asked.

Verdi's Otello with Aleksandrs Antonenko was far from being my best for this opera.  It didn't top the previous Met simulcast with Botha and Fleming.  Antonenko sings the role well, but his portrayal begins hard and unpleasant, dulling the effect of Iago's influence.

Wagner's Tannhäuser with Johan Botha, Eva-Maria Westbroek and Peter Mattei was a wonderful experience.  Westbroek was especially affecting.

Berg's Lulu was up to the very high Met standards but avoided originality in interpretation in favor of a production that focused strictly on visual effects.  The musical standards were impressive, but best Lulu award for the year must go to West Edge Opera.

Bizet's The Pearl Fishers with Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien created a male duo made in heaven.  This was a truly excellent Pearl Fishers which led one to wonder why we don't see it more often.

Puccini's Turandot with Nina Stemme was uneven across the cast with the least interesting Calaf I may ever have heard.  Besides, I hated Nina's makeup.

Puccini's Manon Lescaut with Kristine Opolais and Roberto Alagna was lovely.  After seeing versions of this with Kristine and Jonas Kaufmann from London and Munich, it was good to hear Roberto's very different energy.  The production was iffy at best, but Fabio Luisi was the best. 

The marriage of Donizetti's Roberto Devereux with Sondra Radvanovsky's voice turned out to be prescient.  It was overwhelming.

Strauss's Elektra with Nina Stemme was unrelentingly heavy.  It's supposed to be.  I think I might have liked a little more pacing, a little less relentlessness.

So here is my ranking:

Il Trovatore
Roberto Devereux
The Pearl Fishers
Manon Lescaut  

There were no out and out bombs, but then the Met doesn't really do that.

What would I buy if there were DVDs?  Probably Roberto Devereux and The Pearl Fishers.