Friday, December 07, 2018

Classical Music Grammy Nominees For 2019

Performance

Best Orchestral Performance

All from the USA.
  • "Beethoven: Symphony No. 3; Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1"
    Manfred Honeck, conductor (Performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
  • "Nielsen: Symphony No. 3 & Symphony No. 4"
    Thomas Dausgaard, conductor (Performed by the Seattle Symphony)
  • "Ruggles, Stucky & Harbison: Orchestral Works"
    David Alan Miller, conductor (Performed by the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic)
  • "Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1-4"
    Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (Performed by the San Francisco Symphony)
  • "Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 11"Andris Nelsons, conductor (Performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra

 Best Opera Recording

From many places, many styles.
  • John Adams, "Doctor Atomic"
    John Adams, conductor; Aubrey Allicock, Julia Bullock, Gerald Finley & Brindley Sherratt; Friedemann Engelbrecht, producer (Performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra; BBC Singers)  CD
  • Mason Bates, "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs"
    Michael Christie, conductor; Sasha Cooke, Jessica E. Jones, Edwards Parks, Garrett Sorenson & Wei Wu; Elizabeth Ostrow, producer (Performed by the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra) CD
  • Lully, "Alceste"
    Christophe Rousset, conductor; Edwin Crossley-Mercer, Emiliano Gonzalez Toro & Judith Van Wanroij; Maximilien Ciup, producer (Performed by Les Talens Lyriques; Choeur De Chambre De Namur) CD
  • Strauss, "Der Rosenkavalier"
    Sebastian Weigle, conductor; Renée Fleming, Elīna Garanča, Günther Groissböck & Erin Morley; David Frost, producer (Performed by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; Metropolitan Opera Chorus) DVD
  • Verdi, "Rigoletto"
    Constantine Orbelian, conductor; Francesco Demuro, Dmitri Hvorostovsky & Nadine Sierra; Vilius Keras & Aleksandra Keriene, producers (Performed by the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra; the Men of the Kaunas State Choir) CD

 Best Choral Performance

  • Chesnokov's "Teach Me Thy Statues"
    Vladimir Gorbik, conductor (Performed by Mikhail Davydov & Vladimir Krasov; PaTRAM Institute Male Choir)
  • Kastalsky's "Memory Eternal"
    Steven Fox, conductor (Performed by the Clarion Choir)
  • McLoskey's "Zealot Canticles"
    Donald Nally, conductor (Performed by Doris Hall-Gulati, Rebecca Harris, Arlen Hlusko, Lorenzo Raval & Mandy Wolman; The Crossing)
  • Rachmaninov's "The Bells"
    Mariss Jansons, conductor; Peter Dijkstra, chorus master (Performed by Oleg Dolgov, Alexey Markov & Tatiana Pavlovskaya; Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Chor Des Bayerischen Rundfunks)
  • "Seven Words From the Cross"
    Matthew Guard, conductor (Performed by Skylark)

 Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

  • "Landfall"
    Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet
  • "Beethoven, Shostakovich & Bach"
    The Danish String Quartet
  • "Blueprinting"
    Aizuri Quartet
  • Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring Concerto for Two Pianos"
    Leif Ove Andsnes & Marc-André Hamelin
  • "Visions and Variations"
    A Far Cry

 Best Classical Instrumental Solo

  • Bartok's "Piano Concerto No. 2"
    Yuja Wang; Simon Rattle, conductor (Performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker)
  • Biber's "The Mystery Sonatas"
    Christina Day Martinson; Martin Pearlman, conductor (Performed by the Boston Baroque)
  • Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46; Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26"
    Joshua Bell (Performed by the Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields)
  • Glass, "Three Pieces in the Shape of a Square"
    Craig Morris
  • Kernis' "Violin Concerto"
    James Ehnes; Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Performed by the Seattle Symphony)

 Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

Two of five are countertenors. None of the usual bunch.
  • "ARC"
    Anthony Roth Costanzo; Jonathan Cohen, conductor
  • "The Handel Album"
    Philippe Jaroussky; Artaserse, ensemble
  • "Mirages"
    Sabine Devieilhe; François-Xavier Roth, conductor
  • Schubert, "Winterreise"
    Randall Scarlata; Gilbert Kalish, accompanist
  • "Songs of Orpheus — Monteverdi, Caccini, D'India & Landi"
    Karim Sulayman; Jeannette Sorrell, conductor; Apollo's Fire, ensembles

 Best Classical Compendium

  • Fuchs, "Piano Concerto 'Spiritualist'; Poems of Life; Glacier; Rush"
    JoAnn Falletta, conductor; Tim Handley, producer
  • "Gold"
    The King's Singers; Nigel Short, producer
  • "The John Adams Edition"
    Simon Rattle, conductor; Christoph Franke, producer
  • "John Williams at the Movies"
    Jerry Junkin, conductor; Donald J. McKinney, producer
  • Williams' "Piano Concerto; Oboe Concerto; Seranade to Music; Flos Campi"
    Peter Oundjian, conductor; Blanton Alspaugh, producer

 Best Contemporary Classical Composition

  • "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs"
    Mason Bates, composer; Mark Campbell, librettist
  • "Air Glow"
    Du Yun, composer
  • "Great Scott"
    Jake Heggie, composer; Terrence McNally, librettist
  • "Violin Concerto"
    Aaron Jay Kernis, composer
  • "Vespers for Violin"
    Missy Mazzoli, composer

Production

Best Engineered Album, Classical

  • "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs"
    Mark Donahue & Dirk Sobotka, engineers; Mark Donahue, mastering engineer (Performed by Michael Christie, Garrett Sorenson, Wei Wu, Sasha Cooke, Edwards Parks, Jessica E. Jones & Santa Fe Opera Orchestra)
  • "Beethoven: Symphony No. 3; Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1"
    Mark Donahue, engineer; Mark Donahue, mastering engineer (Performed by Manfred Honeck & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
  • "John Williams at the Movies"
    Keith O. Johnson & Sean Royce Martin, engineers; Keith O. Johnson, mastering engineer (Performed by Jerry Junkin & Dallas Winds)
  • "Liquid Melancholy — Clarinet Music of James M. Stephenson"
    Bill Maylone & Mary Mazurek, engineers; Bill Maylone, mastering engineer (Performed by John Bruce Yeh)
  • "Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4& 11"
    Shawn Murphy & Nick Squire, engineers; Tim Martyn, mastering engineer (Performed by Andris Nelsons & Boston Symphony Orchestra)
  • "Visions and Variations"
    Tom Caulfield, engineer; Jesse Lewis, mastering engineer (Performed by A Far Cry)

Producer Of The Year, Classical

  • Blanton Alspaugh
  • David Frost
  • Elizabeth Ostrow
  • Judith Sherman
  • Dirk Sobotka

Here is a post script due to the presence of Renee Fleming.

Best Musical Theater Album:

  • “The Band’s Visit” — Etai Benson, Adam Kantor, Katrina Lenk & Ari’el
    Stachel, principal soloists; Dean Sharenow & David
    Yazbek, producers; David Yazbek, composer & lyricist
    (Original Broadway Cast)
  • “Carousel” — Renee Fleming, Alexander Gemignani, Joshua Henry,
    Lindsay Mendez & Jessie Mueller, principal soloists;
    Steven Epstein, producer (Richard Rodgers, composer;
    Oscar Hammerstein II, lyricist) (2018 Broadway Cast)
  • “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” — Sara Bareilles, Alice Cooper, Ben Daniels, Brandon
    Victor Dixon, Erik Grönwall, Jin Ha, John Legend,
    Norm Lewis & Jason Tam, principal soloists; Harvey
    Mason, Jr., producer (Andrew Lloyd-Webber,
    composer; Tim Rice, lyricist) (Original Television Cast)
  • “My Fair Lady” — Lauren Ambrose, Norbert Leo Butz & Harry
    Hadden-Paton, principal soloists; Andre Bishop, Van
    Dean, Hattie K. Jutagir, David Lai, Adam Siegel & Ted
    Sperling, producers (Frederick Loewe, composer; Alan
    Jay Lerner, lyricist) (2018 Broadway Cast)
  • “Once On This Island” — Phillip Boykin, Merle Dandridge, Quentin Earl
    Darrington, Hailey Kilgore, Kenita R. Miller, Alex
    Newell, Isaac Powell & Lea Salonga, principal soloists;
    Lynn Ahrens, Hunter Arnold, Ken Davenport, Stephen
    Flaherty & Elliot Scheiner, producers (Stephen
    Flaherty, composer; Lynn Ahrens, lyricist) (New
    Broadway Cast)

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Otello is Here


Musikalische Leitung / Conductor Kirill Petrenko
Inszenierung / Production Amélie Niermeyer

Otello Jonas Kaufmann
Jago Gerald Finley
Cassio Evan Leroy Johnson
Roderigo Galeano Salas
Lodovico Bálint Szabó
Montano Milan Siljanov
Ein Herold Markus Suihkonen
Desdemona Anja Harteros
Emilia Rachael Wilson

This performance of Verdi's Otello from Munich is unquestionably a masterpiece. We have here the ultimate domestic violence story.  It was a simple regie production in modern dress with many pictures to be seen here.  There are a few plot alterations.  Normally Otello and Desdemona are married before the opera starts, but here they marry shortly after he returns from war, after the love duet.  People enter and cover their bed with flowers.

In the past I have doubted that this opera was exactly right for Jonas Kaufmann, but now I may have to reconsider.  He refrained from pushing, as do many tenors here, and won me over.  This Otello is not black but he is also not beautiful.  This is why it is so easy for him to believe that this particular woman doesn't love him.  He believes in himself as a warrior but not as a lover.  Jonas has created this character in the manner of the great performer he certainly is.  We are lucky to live in his time.

The sets and staging focus on the couple and their relationship, and who better to play this couple than the great opera stage couple of our own era:  Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros.  Anja is a stage creature.  To come to her greatest triumphs requires the stage where she can show voice, movement, beauty, expression and I think perhaps most of all acting.  In my mind I think of Desdemona as a light, relatively insignificant role.  With Anja we have the greatest depths of tragedy.  We have love and fear together in abundance.  Like many others before and after, she prepares for her own death and does not think of escaping.  It was a triumph.

And as if that were not enough we have the dream Iago of Gerald Finley, one of the greatest singing actors in opera.  You need to overlook the outfit where he wears baggy pants and Adidas.  He approaches Otello rather more intimately than one would generally expect, creating a new dimension to the opera.  Our imaginations immediately leap to lovers.  Could it be jealousy that motivates all this mayhem?

Petrenko was marvelous, as usual.  In my group people complained that he is seen rather more during the drama than they would prefer.  At the start they jumped immediately to film of Anja, which meant no shots of Petrenko.

This was a genuinely great thing.  I'm going to watch it again tomorrow.

P.S.  I did.  It was wonderful the second time, too.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Barbara Hannigan

The career of Barbara Hannigan is endlessly surprising. The secret seems to be complete fearlessness.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Contrabandista


I first saw Javier Camarena in Zurich about a decade ago in Carmen.  I like him very much and have DVDs of him in Rossini's Otello and Le Comte Ory.  In his Fach (leggiero tenor) he is the best today.  This CD is an homage to Manuel Garcia, the famous tenor who was the father of Malibran and Viardot.  This homage is like similar ones in that Javier performs works from Garcia's singing repertoire.  In addition he also performs works by him; in fact fully half of the tracks are by Garcia.  The ones that sound familiar are all by Rossini.

One of the Rossini tracks is a duet from Armida with Cecilia Bartoli.  This is charming.  The recording may be regarded as a tour de force.

Cecilia Bartoli is listed as Mentor on this album.  Her orchestra Les Musiciens du Prince accompany conducted by Gianluca Capuano.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Maria by Callas, the Movie


I went today to see Maria by Callas, a movie on the life of Maria Callas, born Maria Anna Cecilia Sofia Kalogeropoulos in Manhattan. Callas is seen from the perspective of her own words.  In the movie she is seen and heard speaking, but I heard only English and French. The speaking voice reading things written by Callas was Joyce DiDonato.  Extensive footage of Callas in interviews is included, including a long one with David Frost and another with Barbara Walters.

We were shown the most important people in her life:  her mother Elmina Evangelia who organized her life into a musical career, her teacher Elvira de Hidalgo who created her wonderful technique, her husband the wealthy industrialist Giovanni Battista Meneghini who acted as her manager for most of her career, and her boy friend Aristotle Onassis.  They don't get to speak for themselves, but there is footage for all four.

Callas's voice swells to anger only in discussing the breakup with Rudolph Bing, then the manager of the Metropolitan Opera. She wanted new productions. Someone who has already triumphed at La Scala has a right to expect this. But she blames Meneghini for these problems. After the blow up with Bing, she separated from Meneghini.

Anyone interested in Callas should see this. It is best for the pictures and films from all phases of her career and for the carefully selected recordings that play throughout. My favorite was "La mamma morta." I thought I spotted Franco Corelli several times. Even as a very young woman her huge voice boomed out. She was even chosen as a Wagner singer at the start. It was her giant voice that separated her from the crowd.

You will see more facial expressions here. The men in her life were unquestionably bad for her. The overall impression is that she was extremely sensitive and took the storm that followed her everywhere very badly. She more or less retired at 41 and died at 53. Opera singing is very hard and requires a peaceful life. She emerges more fully human than ever before.



I'm putting this here so I can watch it later.



Friday, November 16, 2018

Salzburg 2019 Summer Season

Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949) Salome

Franz Welser-Möst Conductor
John Daszak Herodes
Anna Maria Chiuri Herodias
Asmik Grigorian Salome
Gábor Bretz Jochanaan

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) Idomeneo

Teodor Currentzis Conductor
Peter Sellars Director
Russell Thomas Idomeneo
Paula Murrihy Idamante
Ying Fang Ilia
Nicole Chevalier Elettra

Francesco Cilea (1866 - 1950) Adriana Lecouvreur 

Marco Armiliato Conductor
Anna Netrebko Adriana Lecouvreur
Yusif Eyvazov Maurizio, conte di Sassonia
Anita Rachvelishvili La principessa di Bouillon

Luigi Cherubini (1760 - 1842) Médée 

Thomas Hengelbrock Conductor
Simon Stone Director
Sonya Yoncheva Médée

George Frideric Handel (1685 - 1759) Alcina 

Gianluca Capuano Conductor
Cecilia Bartoli Alcina
Philippe Jaroussky Ruggiero
Sandrine Piau Morgana
Kristina Hammarström Bradamante
Christoph Strehl Oronte

George Enescu (1881 - 1955) Œdipe 

Ingo Metzmacher Conductor
Christopher Maltman Œdipe
John Tomlinson Tirésias
Brian Mulligan Créon

Jacques Offenbach Orphée aux enfers 

Enrique Mazzola Conductor
Barrie Kosky Director
Marcel Beekman Aristée / Pluton
Martin Winkler Jupiter
Joel Prieto Orphée
Kathryn Lewek Eurydice
Max Hopp John Styx
Anne Sofie von Otter L’Opinion publique

Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901) Simon Boccanegra 

Valery Gergiev Conductor
Luca Salsi Simon Boccanegra
Marina Rebeka Amelia Grimaldi
René Pape Jacopo Fiesco
Charles Castronovo Gabriele Adorno

Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901) Luisa Miller 

James Conlon Conductor
Roberto Tagliavini Il conte di Walter
Piotr Beczala Rodolfo
Teresa Iervolino Federica
Plácido Domingo Miller
Nino Machaidze Luisa
John Relyea Wurm

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Jonas Kaufmann Operas on Blu-ray

These are only the complete operas on Blu-ray or perhaps DVD.  There are 17 films of complete operas on YouTube.  There are also quite a few videos of concerts.  Jonas with Anja Harteros:



They have also done Il Trovatore and Andres Chenier (YouTube--I prefer this one) together.

Jonas with Nina Stemme (also on YouTube):



Jonas with Angela Gheorghiu:




Jonas with Emily MaGee:




Jonas with Vesselina Kasarova:



Jonas with Maria Agresta:



Jonas with Kristina Opolais:



Jonas with Sophie Koch:



Jonas with Eva-Maria Westbroek:


My favorites are Werther, Fanciulla and Lohengrin, but all of them are good.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Marnie HD


Conductor.....................Robert Spano
Production....................Michael Mayer

Marnie..................Isabel Leonard (mezzo)
Mark Rutland........Christopher Maltman (baritone)
Marnie's Mother.....Denyce Graves (mezzo)
Mr. Strutt..............Anthony Dean Griffey (tenor)
Terry Rutland.........Iestyn Davies (countertenor)
Laura Fleet.............Ashley Emerson
Malcom Fleet........Will Liverman
Derek...................Ian Koziara
Miss Fedder...........Marie Te Hapuku
Mrs. Rutland..........Janis Kelly (soprano)
Dr. Roman...............James Courtney
Lucy....................Jane Bunnell
Dawn....................Stacey Tappan
Little Boy..............Gabriel Gurevich
Shadow Marnies: Deanna Breiwick, Disella Lárusdóttir, Rebecca Ringle Kamarei, Peabody Southwell

Wikipedia says, "Marnie is an opera in English by Nico Muhly to a libretto by Nicholas Wright based on the 1961 novel by Winston Graham. It premiered at the English National Opera in November 2017 and at the Metropolitan Opera in October 2018." However, this story is most famous as an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The premier at the ENO explains the presence of so many English singers.

The story and the production are dense and complicated, more like a crime novel than an opera.  Marnie has four alter egos who dress in similar outfits and occasionally sing.  No one but Marnie notices them.  She invents identities for herself and gets jobs in offices where she is the payroll clerk.  Then she steals the money.  This all takes place in small towns in southern England.


The alter egos aren't the only strange figures wandering around the stage.  We have frequently thin men in gray business suits and hats who seem to be merely menacing.  Reminder:  thin people in the opera generally indicates ballet.

In one scene in Act I Marnie visits her mother, played by the great Denyce Graves.  Mother constantly suspects and accuses.  Marnie is reminded that she killed her younger brother.

Mark Rutland recognizes Marnie and blackmails her into marrying him. She agrees to stay with him if he moves her horse to the country.  He makes her see a psychiatrist.  This is one crazy lady.  In Act II there is an extended scene where Marnie rides her beloved horse on a fox hunt.  The horse injures itself, and she is forced to shoot it. Her mother dies and much is revealed.  The ending is ambiguous. That's enough plot stuff.  The production has an acceptable air of mystery and creepiness.

Isabel Leonard is a wonderful actress as well as an excellent singer, and pretty much carries this opera.  She has 15 costumes or maybe more.  They showed us a film of her going in and out of her cubicle in the wings.

The score as played by the orchestra was fascinating and rather beautiful.  I have been listening to the Festival of New American Music all this week, and I must say Nico Muhly's style is more coherent than seems to be generally the case these days.  I enjoyed listening to it.  My only problem with the music here was with the material composed for the voices.  Act I lacked any sense of vocal legato, the core feature of opera.  There was more solo material and therefore quite a bit of improvement in Act II.  It was entertaining, but I'm not sure I would want to see it again.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

News


Nicholas McGegan's retirement as director of Philharmonia Baroque after the 2019-2020 season was announced in a headline in the New York Times:

Maestro of the Influential Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra to Step Down


I cannot imagine how they will find someone to replace him.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Top American Singers 2018

Order is alphabetical.

Sopranos:

Christine Goerke
Lisette Oropesa *
Ailyn Pérez
Sondra Radvanovsky * Is she Canadian now?
Nadine Sierra

Mezzos:

Jamie Barton
Joyce DiDonato *
Susan Graham *
Isabel Leonard

Tenors:

Lawrence Brownlee*
Michael Fabiano *
Brian Jagde
Bryan Hymel 
Matthew Polenzani *

Baritones/basses:

Thomas Hampson, baritone *
Christian Van Horn, bass-baritone
Quinn Kelsey, baritone *
Eric Owens, bass-baritone  *
Morris Robinson, bass 

Countertenors

Anthony Roth-Costanzo

General Comments.

This is my list if I admit only American singers that I have heard.  I haven't done one of these before.  Your favorite might be someone I haven't heard or someone I think of as retired.  Here's a longer list.

Sopranos:


Patricia Racette *
xSondra Radvanovsky *  Is she Canadian now?
Christine Goerke
Leah Crocetto
Nadine Sierra
Lisette Oropesa *
Angela Meade
Ailyn Pérez
Amber Wagner  
Erin Morley
Nicole Cabell

Mezzos:

Dolora Zajick *
xJoyce DiDonato *
Susan Graham *
Stephanie Blythe
Jamie Barton
Isabel Leonard
Kate Lindsay 
J'nai Bridges

Tenors:

xMatthew Polenzani *
Bryan Hymel
Lawrence Brownlee*
Michael Fabiano *
Jay Hunter Morris
Stephen Costello 
Charles Castranovo 
Russell Thomas 
Brandon Jovanovich
Paul Groves
René Barbera 
xBrian Jagde

Baritones/basses:

Thomas Hampson, baritone *
Dwayne Croft, baritone 

Nathan Gunn, baritone
Quinn Kelsey, baritone *
Christian Van Horn, bass-baritone
Eric Owens, bass-baritone  *
Greer Grimsley, bass-baritone
Mark Delavan, bass-baritone
Morris Robinson, bass 

Countertenors


Anthony Roth-Costanzo

Saturday, October 27, 2018

La Fanciulla del West in HD


Conductor...............Marco Armiliato
Production..............Giancarlo Del Monaco

Minnie..................Eva-Maria Westbroek
Dick Johnson........Jonas Kaufmann
Jack Rance............Željko Lučić

Today was the simulcast of Puccini's La Fanciulla del West in HD from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. I have seen this production at least three times before, including here, and it works very well.  They almost seemed like real cowboys.

Due to my love of the version with Jonas Kaufmann and Nina Stemme here, I have come to love this opera very much.  To work it requires a strong spinto soprano with personality and a romantic hero tenor for her to fall in love with, and I find that we have them here in Kaufmann and Westbroek.  We saw them together in Die Walküre at the Met in 2011 where they actually seemed like brother and sister.  In Fanciulla you believe that they fall in love.

In the intermission Eva talked about how much she loves the role, and it was easy to believe it is her favorite.  The part she performed better than anyone before her was the ending.  She goes around one by one to each of her former customers and reminds them of their relationship to that date.  It was deeply touching and beautiful.  I loved it.  I cried and believed that they truly could not hurt her in this way.  It is a time in life where we are in need of unselfish love.

_____________________________________
P.S.  I apologize for not writing much about Jonas.  I find that I prefer his DVD with Nina Stemme to this one.

Note


On Friday the Metropolitan Opera Guild honored Anna Netrebko.  Opera Wire in his report of the occasion mentions that Peter Gelb who spoke concerning the blackface controversy surrounding Aida said he talked with Netrebko and,“We discussed which shade she would be, but she resolved the issue by going to a tanning salon,” I am posting this because at the time I said that Anna gets that dark with a tan.  If that's her natural skin with a tan, it can't be blackface.  So there.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Arabella in San Francisco

























--

Conductor Marc Albrecht *
Director Tim Albery *
Production Designer Tobias Hoheisel

Waldner family:
Arabella, elder daughter of the Waldners: Ellie Dehn (soprano) ‡
Zdenko/Zdenka, Arabella's sister: Heidi Stober 
Countess Adelaide Waldner, their mother: Michaela Martens ‡
Count Theodor Waldner, a retired cavalry officer, their father: Richard Paul Fink ‡

Arabella's suitors:
Mandryka, A Croatian landowner Brian Mulligan ‡
Matteo, a young officer Daniel Johansson * ‡
Count Elemer, one of Arabella's suitors Scott Quinn ‡
Count Dominik, one o f Arabella's suitors Andrew Manea † ‡
Count Lamoral, one of Arabella's suitors Christian Pursell † ‡

A Fortune - Teller to Countess Waldner: Jill Grove ‡
The Fiakermilli, a cabaret singer Hye Jung Lee ‡

* San Francisco Opera debut † Current Adler Fellow ‡ Role debut

A new production of Strauss's Arabella is currently running at the San Francisco Opera.  This opera is very nice, has lovely music and a perfect ending, as long as you remember that everyone in it is an idiot.  The Waldners have two daughters and no money because papa gambles it all away.  They are trying very hard to find a wealthy and suitable husband for their elder daughter Arabella.  Father remembers his old army buddy Mandryka and sends him a picture of his daughter.

Younger daughter Zdenka goes around in male clothing and calls herself Zdenko because she likes to and because it's less expensive for her parents.  She is "best friends" with a young officer Matteo who sends flowers every day to Arabella.  Zdenko is constantly showing up with love letters supposedly from Arabella.  She rants at older sister about what a great husband Matteo would make.  Meanwhile Arabella is obviously completely uninterested in Matteo.  Many of these people know, including the fortune teller, that Zdenko is really Zdenka, but not a single one ever goes, "Oh. She likes him."  This is such a Duh conclusion that it makes the opera annoying.  All are thinking only of themselves. At the start Heidi looks very masculine in her disguise, but this gradually wears off.

Did I like the production?  It's very gray, too gray.  Yes, they're poor, but they're not really that poor.  Vienna isn't that drab.  Nevertheless, it almost works. It suggests an institutional space.

Did I like the conductor?  He is another of our auditioners for the position of musical director.  His Strauss was better, I thought, than most of the conductors at the Strauss Festival in Berlin.  It felt rhythmically interesting and flowing.  I have the usual complaint that the orchestra was often too loud for the singers.  Ellie warmed into her role slowly and you should have followed her.

Arabella is Queen of the Ball for the last day of Fasching (carnival).  Three counts follow her around and give her presents,  Then the nephew of Father's old friend--old friend has died--shows up to court Arabella.  They fall quickly in love.  Zdenka lures Matteo up to Arabella's room while Arabella is busy dancing.  Zdenka and Matteo make love.  Then we have identity confusion and anger, threats of duels and Zdenka in her night gown no longer looking the least masculine.

Hoffmannsthal died during the creation of this opera which might have worked better with a full libretto by him.  Success depends on beautiful music, which we achieved, and magical romance which did not quite happen.  We should be happy when the music is so good.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

American Bach Soloists in Davis


I enjoyed this concert by the American Bach Soloists in Davis on Monday very much.  Above is their conductor Jeffrey Thomas.  This concert consisted of 2 Brandenburg Concertos, No.1 and No.3, and The Hunting Cantata.  One reason for loving this group is because in addition to calling themselves after Bach they also play a lot of Bach.  In this case the entire concert was Bach.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major began the concert.  Of the two concertos this one was the less familiar.  I believe it was chosen because it includes two parts for natural horns which appear again in The Hunting Cantata.  Elizabeth Bloomenstock, the concert mistress, was also a soloists here.

Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G Major, a very familiar work, orchestrated for three violins, three violas and 3 cellos with continuo, completed the first half.  All 9 designated parts perform as soloists   It is an unusual orchestration both for Bach and for the world at large.  Bach was always trying to stretch himself.

Apparently it is the habit of this group to add movements to established works. Brandenburg No.3 has only two movements, but an allegro from a trio sonata transcribed from an organ piece was inserted between the other two movements.  The players reorganized themselves.  The complex concerto was well played.

For me the treat of this concert came after the intermission:  The Hunting Cantata, a work written to praise the Margrave of Brandenburg Schwedt.  The Margrave was named Christian, a word that appears several times in the text.  I found it interesting that they would use his first name.  Apparently he was much loved and enjoyed hunting.  The hit tune from this work I had not heard before is "Sheep may safely graze." 

The performance began with the Allegro from Oboe Concerto in F Major featuring the oboist Stephen Bard?  The vocal soloists were:
  • Hélène Brunet soprano (Pales)
  • Julie Bosworth soprano (Diana)
  • Derek Chester tenor (Endymion)
  • Mischa Bouvier baritone (Pan)
The Hunting Cantata is the most cheerful and lively piece by J.S. Bach I have ever heard.  It is fun and was of course very well performed.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Richard Tucker

I watched the Richard Tucker Gala on medici.tv.

Cast
Stephanie Blythe | Mezzo-soprano (1999)
Javier Camarena | Tenor
Yusif Eyvazov | Tenor
Michael Fabiano | Tenor (2014)
Christine Goerke | Soprano (2001)
Quinn Kelsey | Baritone
Angela Meade | Soprano (2011)
Anna Netrebko | Soprano
Nadine Sierra | Soprano (2017)
Christian Van Horn | Bass-baritone
New York Choral Society, Members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Marco Armiliato | Conductor

They are all like old friends.  I am embarrassed to say I needed a program.  Someone has found one for me, but it's still hard to work out.

  PROGRAM
Opening Speech Barry Tucker 


Giuseppe Verdi, Nabucco sung by our winner Christian Van Horn.
 

Jerónimo Giménez / Manuel Nieto, El Barbero de Sevilla
II: "Me llaman la primorosa" with Nadine Sierra.

 
Giuseppe Verdi, Luisa Miller
II: "Quando le sere al placido chiaror d'un ciel stellato" with Michael Fabiano
 

Richard Strauss, Ariadne Auf Naxos, Op. 60
"Es gibt ein Reich" with Christine Goerke.  Wonderful. 
 

Small speech by Javier Camarena telling how he was robbed and was thus wearing Richard Tucker's cuff links and studs.  Good luck?

Manuel Garcia, Florestan
II: "Dieu!... pour venger un père, faut-il devenir assassin…" by Javier Camarena from his CD, spectacularly sung.


Giuseppe Verdi, I Lombardi Alla Prima Crociata
II: "Oh madre, dal cielo…No, no! giusta causa" with Angela Meade also spectacularly sung.
 

Giuseppe Verdi, Falstaff
II, 1: "È sogno? o realtà?" with Quinn Kelsey.


Giuseppe Verdi, Il Trovatore
III, 2 - Scena ed Aria : "Ah! Sì, ben mio"
with Yusif Eyvazov.
 

Giuseppe Verdi, Don Carlo (revised version in 4 acts)
III, 1: "Ella giammai m'amo!" with Christian Van Horn
 

Gioachino Rossini, Armida
"Amor! Possente nome" a duet with
Angela Meade and Javier Camarena.

Pietro Mascagni, Cavalleria Rusticana
Regina Coeli...Inneggiamo with Christine Goerke.


Leonard Bernstein, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Take Care Of This House with Stephanie Blythe.


Jules Massenet, Manon
"Toi! Vous!" (St. Sulpice duet sung Nadine Sierra and Michael Fabiano.)


Vincenzo Bellini, I Puritani
II: "Riccardo! Riccardo!" with Quinn Kelsey and Christian Van Horn.


Georges Bizet, Carmen
"L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" with Stephanie Blythe.


Umberto Giordano, Andrea Chénier
IV: "Vicino a te s'aqueta" big finish provided by Anna Netrebko and
Yusif Eyvazov.

It was a terrific concert in the Richard Tucker style of big voices.  For some reason I expected an ensemble at the end but did not get it.

Season Opener for Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera


The 2018-19 concert season of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera featured guest conductor Andrew Grams with guest violinist Angelo Xiang Yu playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.  They were fun together with their surprisingly matching over the top enthusiasm.  This was met with great audience excitement.  Yu played an encore of a solo version of the Meditation from Thais by Massenet.

The concert finished with Schumann's Symphony No. 4.  Maestro Grams brings much excitement to his performances.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Samson et Dalila in HD


Conductor................Mark Elder
Production...............Darko Tresnjak

Samson..................Roberto Alagna
Dalila.....................Elina Garanca
High Priest.............Laurent Naouri
Abimélech..............Elchin Azizov

Today was the HD broadcast of Camille Saint-Saëns' opera Samson et Dalila.  There was a lot of complaining about this very flashy production, but except for the rather perverse ballet I loved it.  I can't help wondering if the Philistines would have dressed so colorfully and the Israelites in contrast so drably.  One imagines really more similarity.  The production handled well the task I normally assign to it--explaining the plot.  Each transition of the story is well demonstrated.

What made this performance work so much better than any I have seen before was our extraordinary pair of very sexy lovers.  Both Roberto Alagna and Elina Garanca sang beautifully.  Roberto explained in the intermission that he is allergic to smoke, which I assume referred to the flames seen all about the stage in the form of both torches and fixed flames.   Perhaps by this performance they were successful in curtailing the smoke.  I was happy to see that both Roberto and Elina received loud standing ovations.  It was a pleasure to hear and see them.

Laurent Naouri, Natalie Dessay's husband, is a lovely cheerful person who has to work very hard to seem villainous. 

If you missed this, go on Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New Releases



Cecilia Bartoli will release at the end of November a new second CD of arias by Vivaldi.  Here is a sample.






At the end of October Javier Camarena will release a new CD called Contrabandista which includes a duet with Bartoli.




This release by Jonas Kaufmann includes your choice of CD or DVD.  It's number one on the classical charts in Germany.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Les Huguenots


Director:  Andreas Kreigenburg
Conductor : Michele Mariotti et Łukasz Borowicz

Marguerite de Valois, catholic queen : Lisette Oropesa
Raoul de Nangis, protestant: Yosep Kang
Valentine: Ermonela Jaho
Urbain, Queen's page: Karine Deshayes
Marcel, Raoul's servant: Nicolas Testé
Le Comte de Saint-Bris : Paul Gay
La dame d’honneur : Julie Robard‑Gendre
Une bohémienne : Julie Robard‑Gendre
Cossé, un étudiant catholique : François Rougier 
Le Comte de Nevers : Florian Sempey 
Tavannes, premier moine : Cyrille Dubois
Méru, deuxième moine : Michal Partyka
Thoré, Maurevert : Patrick Bolleire
Retz, troisième moine : Tomislav Lavoie
Coryphée, une jeune fille catholique, une bohémienne : Élodie Hache
Bois-Rosé, valet : Philippe Do
Un archer du guet : Olivier Ayault
Quatre seigneurs : John Bernard - Cyrille Lovighi - Bernard Arrieta - Fabio Bellenghi

From Paris Opera Bastille I have found a film of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, 1836, which I wanted to watch live on Thursday.  The action takes place in 2063[?] according to a text on the screen.  The Catholic men wear clown-like ruffs around their necks while the protestants look a bit more like business men.

In Roberto Devereux we heard "God Save the Queen" in the overture.  In this opera the well known tune incorporated into the story is Luther's "Ein feste Burg."  This is to represent Protestantism.  Les Huguenots precedes Roberto Devereux.  We know that Meyerbeer was Wagner's patron and got him his start in composing operas, which might help to explain the presence of the Dresden Amen in Tannhäuser and Parsifal.  In spite of his rants against Meyerbeer, imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery.  Perhaps it serves to suggest an aura of religious feeling.  I digress.

I'm finding the production pretty hard going.  I have no background with this opera.  I am here to see Lisette Oropesa, and here at the mid point I must say she is magnificent.  The first scene is men and the second is women, with the queen's page going back and forth between them.  What is one to make of religious persecution in the future?  The set in Act II is very beautiful and includes a bit of nudity.

I am exploring this opera and am surprised to see a male chorus singing "Rata plan"  See also Donizetti's La fille du régiment, and Verdi's La Forza del Destino.  Again, this opera  appears to be the first.  I didn't realize how much borrowing went on.  There's a lot of choral work which I am finding unattractive.  Verdi bombast is somehow more fun.  Things going on in my soul are also interfering with my enjoyment of this opera.  I am tired of hatred and violence.

There is a line across Europe across the Alps dividing the descendants of  Roman culture and the descendants of Vikings, Germans, etc.  The former group remained catholic while all of the north, except maybe Poland, changed to protestant.  I have always felt that when Luther went to Rome, he was mostly experiencing culture shock.  However, in the Catholic countries were also pockets of Protestantism.  There were two results:  war and immigration to America.  My German friends would always ask why we had so many religions in America.  Because when you chased them out of Europe, they came to us.  Again I digress.

Yosep Kang has a very beautiful tenor voice but fluffs a high note later on.  As a lyric tenor he's wonderful.  As a dramatic tenor not so much.  Ermonela Jaho hasn't had much to sing in the first half but sings a lot in the later acts. Jaho is well known in Europe but has not really crossed my path that much.  All the big coloratura show pieces are for the queen while Valentine is a full lyric type with very little coloratura.    That seems to be the pattern with Meyerbeer.  All the coloratura arias are for a specific voice.  I admit to not being wild about any of these operas.

The greatest influences on Wagner seem to be Meyerbeer and Liszt, Meyerbeer for the heavy orchestration and dramatic style, Liszt for the invention of the tone poem which provides the through-composed concept applied to the full act of an opera.  I have to say I very much prefer mythology to politics for opera plots.  The only hit tune from this opera, other than the borrowed one, is the page's aria in act I.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Aida from New York


Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
Production:  Sonja Frisell

Aida:          Anna Netrebko
Radamès:   Aleksandrs Antonenko
Amneris:    Anita Rachvelishvili
Amonasro: Quinn Kelsey
Ramfis:      Dmitry Beloselskiy
King:          Ryan Speedo Green
Messenger: Arseny Yakovlev [Debut]
Priestess:    Gabriella Reyes, not seen [Debut]

Today was the simulcast of Verdi's Aida from the Metropolitan Opera starring Anna Netrebko and Anita Rachvelishvili.  This performance series was the first time these two great ladies had sung together.  They were perfection together and brought us a new Aida in spite of the same old production we have been seeing since 1988.  The scene with the two women together was the best I've ever seen.  Anna Netrebko brings an intensity to the role of Aida that exceeds all. Anita was much more a woman in love than the usual revengeful bitch.  These two ladies will sing together again in Adriana Lecouvreur later this season.

The film director has a lot of influence over the impression made by an HD broadcast.  In this case the emphasis was on the two women in love with Radamès.  Camera shots were often chosen for intimacy rather than pomp and melodrama.

Quinn Kelsey was beautiful as the Ethiopian King.  The only disappointment was in the Radamès of Aleksandrs Antonenko.  I heard so much grousing about him that I expected him to be rather more horrible than actually turned out to be the case.  However, it is still true that Anna deserved better.  I remember when Pavarotti made his debut in the role in San Francisco years ago, that there was a lot of grousing then, too.  I often wonder about the modern state of opera singer training.  He could benefit from better physical conditioning.

Nicola Luisotti was his usual wonderful self.  I found that the shift of emphasis off of war and on to romance found in this performance made for a very pleasurable Aida experience.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Le Prophete from France


Conductor:  Claus Peter Flor
Director:  Alfonso Caiani

Jean de Leyde, tenor, John Osborn
Fidès, Jean's mother, mezzo-soprano, Kate Aldrich
Berthe, Jean's bride, soprano, Sofia Fomina
Jonas, an Anabaptist, tenor, Mikeldi Atxalandabase
Mathisen, an Anabaptist, bass or baritone, Thomas Dear
Zacharie, an Anabaptist, bass, Dimitry Ivashchenko
Oberthal, a feudal count, bass, Leonardo Estevez

Meyerbeer's Le Prophete (1849) came to me from Toulouse by way of Culture Box.  My only live experience of Meyerbeer was L'Africaine at the San Francisco Opera.  I begin to think Meyerbeer is neglected, perhaps not in France but certainly here.  Perhaps Yannick will change this.

Giocomo Mayerbeer was a truly international composer as very few are.  He was born in Berlin of rich Jewish parents, studied and composed extensively in Italy in the time of Rossini, and then established himself in Paris and Berlin. We know him primarily for his French operas.  However, Robert le Diable was written for Berlin.  It is hard to grasp that such a prominent composer is virtually unknown to me.  As would be expected, his works are orchestrated in the German style, emphasize chorus like a French opera and don't particularly follow the Italian ideal of bel canto.  I think I should delve further before making any decisions about him.  He is the main proponent of Grand Opera, a style that includes:

(a) obligatory spectacular scenes,
(b) death, not happy endings, in librettos by Scribe, (including this one),
(c) potpourri overture,
(d) extended ornate arias, though less ornate than bel canto,
(e) chorus and ballet, and
(f) a new heavier type of dramatic tenor as the featured hero.

Two of his most famous operas concern European religious minorities, here the Anabaptists.  They are at war with the main population.  We in America have had a great political civil war, but until the recent events have never experienced religious wars.  Many may dislike people from other religions, but the phenomenon of taking up arms against them has not happened.  We love our religious freedom.

You have to enjoy John Osborn to like this performance.   There is a lovely duet between Aldrich and Fomina.  Two hours in we have kitschy almost naked ladies.  People are singing in Latin.  There is a huge role in this opera for mezzo, Fidès, originally sung by Pauline Viardot.  I like Kate Aldrich but imagine Viardot must have been heavier.  I think this whole scene is supposed to be in a church.

Jean makes a big entrance in a crown and white robe.  He says he's the son of god and Fidès calls out "my son."  He says "who is this woman?" Someone says she blasphemes.  Women surround her.  She sees that things will go bad for him if he admits he's her son.  He's supposed to be god's son.  So then the coronation goes on.

This music is interesting and often quite beautiful.  It follows in the footsteps of Gluck who was very influential in France.  There is no discernible recitative, but there are arias.  The orchestration is like Berlioz to my ears.  For my ears it's more musically sophisticated than bel canto.  There is only occasional ornamentation with nothing like the extended coloratura found in the bel canto operas of the era.  However, at the beginning of Act V there is an enormous, florid aria for Fidès.  Viardot may have insisted.  The music is pleasing, but the plots are outside our knowledge.  It is not, I think, a coincidence that I have only seen L'Africaine which is about Vasco da Gama, someone we learned about in school.  I predict Le Prophete will never be popular here.

The biggest problem with this performance is that the voices need to be heavier.  Here toward the end is an incredible trio.  All in all I enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Albert Herring

Conductor Michael Rosewell
Director Liam Steel

Albert Herring Nick Pritchard
Superintendent Budd Matt Buswell
Sid Nicholas Morton
Nancy Angela Simkin
Emmie Catriona Hewitson
Lady Billows: Janis Kelly
Miss Wordsworth Natasha Day
Florence Pike Polly Leech
Mrs Herring Amy Lyddon
Cis Rowan Pierce
The Outsider Michael Taylor Moran
Mr Gedge Julien Van Mellaerts
Mr Upfold Joel Williams
Harry Max Todes

I have watched Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring presented by the Royal College of Music by way of Operavision.  This is Benjamin Britten's idea of comedy.  I think you have to be British.  It's very much an ensemble opera which makes it a good choice for a music school.

It is time to choose the Queen of May for the May Day celebration, and none of the current crop of young women are found suitable.  When widening the field of celebration, the council chooses Albert to be King of May because he just sells vegetables all day in his mother's shop.  As King he even wears a white dress as if he were a bride.  Albert's drink is spiked and he gets the hiccups.

A couple called Sid and Nancy enliven the scenes.  Are we amused that a young man is dressed up like a girl and declared to be saintly?  There's a lovely quartet toward the end when they all think he's dead.  The goings on in an English village seem mysterious to us I think.  They may have to abandon their dream of sinless youth.

I enjoyed the singing, but there are no arias.  Only Janis Kelly is a professional singer.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci in San Francisco

Priest places a statue of Jesus in a niche. 

Conductor Daniele Callegari *
Production José Cura *

Turiddu, tenor: Roberto Aronica
Santuzza, mezzo:  Ekaterina Semenchuk
Alfio and Tonio, baritone: Dimitri Platanias *
Lola, mezzo: Laura Krumm
Mamma Lucia, contralto:  Jill Grove
Canio, tenor: Marco Berti
Nedda, soprano: Lianna Haroutounian
Silvio, baritone: David Pershall
Beppe, tenor: Amitai Pati

Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci are now in rotation at the San Francisco Opera.  I have listed the casts of the two operas together because the two operas have here become one. 

The story of this production is reasonably interesting.  In Buenos Aires, Argentina, exists a mural by Omar Gasparini called Escenografico.  Here is a photo of the original.


From my seat in the balcony circle I saw the stage in a manner very much like the photo at the top,  The mural was shown on the wall at stage left which I saw only fleetingly when the conductor entered.  I know about it only from pictures in the program.  The famous Intermezzo was staged as a ballet.

The church is at the back, and near it is a store that sells vegetables.  Mamma Lucia owns the cafe at the front, and when Turiddu sings "O Lola," Lola peeks out one of the windows above and Santuzza peeks out from another.  Silvio from Pagliacci is one of Mamma Lucia's waiters. At the end of Cavalleria Turiddo is killed, and his casket is carried by at the beginning of Pagliacci.  Mamma Lucia and a very pregnant Santuzza also appear in the cafe in Pagliacci. This unified production made the pairing of these two operas make a lot more sense than is generally the case, but everything was much cheerier than others I have seen.

A number of conductors are making their San Francisco Opera debuts this season because we are without a maestro.  Callegari brought us a very beautiful, very Italian verismo experience.  The singing was excellent if a bit on the heavy side.  I even rather liked Berti who was very heavy indeed.  The only thing that seemed missing was acting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

American Bach Soloists 2018-19


22-Oct-18 D 7:00 Bach Brandenburgs ABS Davis Community Church
18-Feb-19 D 7:00 Favorite Bach Camtatas ABS Davis Community Church
25-Mar-19 D 7:00 Matthew Passion ABS Davis Community Church
6-May-19 D 7:00 Bach Brandenburgs ABS Davis Community Church

These are the American Bach Soloists concerts in Davis.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Roberto Devereux in San Francisco


We were discussing the current queen of opera Sondra Radvanovsky, and I suggested we sing "God Save the Queen" when she came out for her bow, forgetting entirely that the opera starts with that same tune.  I am speaking of the current production of Roberto Devereux from the San Francisco Opera, a wonderful performance of a less than entirely wonderful opera. 

Conductor: Riccardo Frizza
Director: Stephen Lawless

Elisabetta (Elizabeth I): Sondra Radvanovsky
Roberto Devereux, Earl of Essex: Russell Thomas
Sara: Jamie Barton
Duke of Nottingham: Andrew Manea [Adler]
Lord Cecil: Amitai Pati [Adler]
Walter Raleigh: Christian Pursell [Adler]

This opera is questionable from a plot perspective.  The above listed characters are all members of the British upper class.  It is fairly easy to describe the relationship aspects of the story.

Elizabeth and Roberto have a secret relationship.  Since Nottingham knows nothing about it, we may assume that this is truly secret.  Then before leaving England to lead a war in Ireland, Robert starts a love relationship with Sara, a young woman in the court.  Robert goes off to war, and while he is away, Sara's father dies.  An upper class woman cannot be left free in the world, so Elizabeth arranges a marriage for her with the Duke of Nottingham.  No one is aware that she is in love with Essex.

Essex returns from war where he has been unsuccessful to find that Sara is married.  Meanwhile Elizabeth hopes that he still loves her.  An emotional mess ensues, the kind of emotional mess that can only happen in an Italian opera.  Long ago Elizabeth gave Robert a ring which he was to send to her if he was ever in danger.

Robert goes to see Sara.  So why isn't he locked up in the Tower of London?  She gives him a love token which her husband recognizes.  

The part of the plot that makes no sense is the political part.  In real life Essex is supposed to have tried to overthrow the queen, which would make nonsense of her part in the emotional, operatic plot.  So the charges are trivial and relate to him being overly merciful toward the Irish.  So he is executed for no apparent reason.  The ring doesn't arrive in time. It's even more complicated than what I have described.

This is Queen Elizabeth's most vulnerable moment, and it happens in her old age.  She died in her 69th year.  It is mysteriously wonderful how Sondra Radvanovsky fits this role.  She is tall and regal, and has a large, commanding voice.  You believe that she is the absolute monarch who has fallen in love in her old age.  It is difficult to imagine any other soprano bringing this role to such spectacular heights.  She should sing it in your city, too.

The production which comes from Canada made the complex plot very clear, clearer than the recent Met production.  Sondra's supporting singers, primarily Russell Thomas, Jamie Barton and Andrew Manea, rose almost to her magnificence.  I don't think this is a great opera, though it is leading the path to Verdi, but it is a great opera for Sondra Radvanovsky.  Brava.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Favorites by Year

My interest is primarily in opera that is being presented now.  It would be colossally boring for me to see the same ancient productions over and over. Nevertheless I do enjoy a surprisingly large amount of different things.

This is just something fun and is constantly a work in progress.  I went through the blog from the beginning to find the things that stood out in my memory.  I am only including the things I liked and have trimmed it down to no more than 10 per year.  If you're looking for pans, this isn't the place.  I like a lot of stuff, but you will notice that La Boheme only appears twice.

My goal with opera is simply to fall in love.  I prefer new opera performances because I'm not very likely to fall in love with people from the long ago past.

** live, live stream or HD
## top 20 all time


2017

For the sake of my budget I made no opera trips farther away than San Francisco this year.  I will resume in the new year.  To compensate the international opera festivals brought me an overwhelming selection of live streams.

  • Gounod's Roméo et Juliette in HD is mentioned for intense sexiness. Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau projected wonderful youthfulness.   Met HD

  • Jean-Philippe Rameau's Le temple de la Gloire was brought to us by Berkeley's Philharmonia Baroque.  It featured traditional Baroque dancing.    Local


  • Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier from the Met with the spectacular cast assembled by Peter Gelb for Renée Fleming's retirement.    Met HD  ##

  • Richard Strauss's Elektra from San Francisco.  This included a modern production and Christine Goerke as Elektra.    Local  ##
The singing prize goes to Quinn Kelsey for his magnificent Rigoletto.

For me there was much to love from all over the world in 2017.  New operas for me:

Le Temple de la Gloire by Rameau which was performed by Philharmonia Baroque (Live),
Sorochyntsi Fair by Mussorgsky from The Opera Platform (F),
Tartuffe by Kirke Mechem done live at CSUS,
Artaserse by Leonardo Vinci from an old film (F),
Oberon by Carl Maria von Weber from Munich (LS),
The Chastity Tree by Vicente Martín y Soler performed by West Edge (Live),
Theodora by Handel from Glyndebourne (F),
Patience by Arthur Sullivan and presented by Sacramento Lyric Opera (Live),
Bel Canto by Jimmy López which was shown on television (F),
Flight by Jonathan Dove which was presented by Opera Parallele, (Live)
Autumn Sonata by Sebastian Fagerlund from Finland (F),
The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adès in HD from the Met (HD) and
Girls of the Golden West by John Adams given its world premier by the San Francisco Opera (Live).  
Cinderella by Alma Deutscher made its American premier at Opera San Jose and was streamed.

Only the last 4 were new for everyone.