Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bayerische Staatsoper 2018-19 plus my picks

The only one of these operas that I have never seen before is Krenek's Karl V.  The first list is those that have already been live streamed.

2013 Verdi: Il trovatore
2015 Strauss, R.: Arabella
2015 Donizetti: L'Elisir d'amore
2015 Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
2016 Verdi: Un ballo in maschera
2017 Wagner: Tannhäuser
2017 Giordano: Andrea Chénier
2017 Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
2018 Verdi: Les Vêpres siciliennes
2018 Wagner: Parsifal


pre Verdi: Otello   Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros, Gerald Finley
pre Smetana: Die verkaufte Braut Günther Groissböck, Pavol Breslik
pre Krenek: Karl V. Bo Skovhus, Anne Schwanewilms
pre Puccini: La fanciulla del West Anja Kampe, John Lundgren, Brandon Jovanovich
pre Gluck: Alceste Charles Castronovo, Dorothea Röschmann
pre R. Strauss: Salome Marlis Petersen, Wolfgang Koch, Pavol Breslik
pre Handel:  Agrippina Alice Coote

This is the rest of the season with some cast listings.

Beethoven: Fidelio Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Kampe, Günther Groissböck

Bellini: Norma

Bizet: Carmen Gaëlle Arquez, Joseph Calleja 

Donizetti: Roberto Devereux Sondra Radvanovsky, Charles Castronovo

Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel Tara Erraught

Janáček: Aus einem Totenhaus

Janáček: Jenůfa Karita Mattila, Hanna Schwarz

Mozart: Così fan tutte Despina: Tara Erraught

Mozart: Don Giovanni Simon Keenlyside

Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte Golda Schultz

Puccini: La bohème

Puccini: Madama Butterfly Ermonela Jaho

Puccini: Tosca Anja Harteros 

Puccini: Il trittico

Puccini: Turandot Golda Schultz

Tschaikowski: Eugen Onegin

Verdi: Nabucco

Verdi: Rigoletto Simon Keenlyside

Verdi: La traviata

Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer Anja Kampe, Bryn Terfel

Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Jonas Kaufmann

I think I would like any of the premiers, plus maybe Fidelio, an opera I never tire of, finally Jonas in Meistersinger, Keenlyside as Rigoletto, Bryn as the dutchman.  These would all make me happy.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


When I finally review Cosi fan Tutte from the Met, I will probably not have much to add to Anthony Tommasini's review in the New York Times Saturday.  He even talks about Kelly O'Hara's Italian diction.  I often feel a longing for Broadway diction at the opera.  What's the purpose for operatic diction?  The purpose, believe it or not, is not correctness but rather to achieve understanding by someone who speaks the language.  Tone is the other consideration.

He talks about the lame disguises that appear in every production which we are supposed to think fool the girls, a pet peeve of mine.

There's nothing to be done about the fact that the premise is simply disgusting.  It plays for the music.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Dawn Upshaw in Sacramento

Dawn Upshaw came to Sacramento for a recital at CSUS as part of the New Millennium concert series.  Her accompanist was Gilbert Kalish.  I last saw her in San Francisco in 2010.  After a rather spectacular career, this lyric soprano seems more like the single mom she is.  Die Zeit, sie ist ein sonderbar Ding.

The theme of the recital was love.

She performed two groups by female composers.  The first was "On Loving," three songs by Sheila Silver.  These songs can be found on YouTube.  I believe these songs were composed in memory of Gilbert Kalish's wife.

The second group by a female composer was four songs by Rebecca Clarke who mostly composed for her instrument, the viola.  From this group I most enjoyed "Infant Joy."  It also can be found on YouTube.

The rest of the program was wide ranging and began with familiar songs by Franz Schubert.  "Gretchen am Spinnrade" was my favorite.  I do also love "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt."

Mr Kalish played a movement from Charles Ives' Piano Sonata No.2, which was followed by three of Ives' songs.

My favorite group of the concert was five songs by Béla Bartók.  In school one is taught that Bartók was an ethnomusicologist.  This means he went around his native Hungary with a recorder taping every song he heard.  There are supposed to be hundreds of these, but this is the first time I have heard them on a concert.  They were fascinating.

The program ended with three songs by William Bolcom.  There are also YouTube films of these.

There was an encore:  Ives' "Two little flowers", a song I love madly which I must surely have sung at one time or another.

Curiously, Gilbert Kalish can be found accompanying many of these songs on YouTube.

Highlights of the career of Dawn Upshaw as seen from this blog.

  • CDs of works by Oswaldo Golijov including Ayre and Oceana.
  • A live performance of Ayre in Berkeley.  This did not seem possible since so much of it is electronic.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Semiramide in HD

Camarena - DeShong - Meade - Abdrazakov
Conductor...........Maurizio Benini
Production..........John Copley

Semiramide, Queen of Babylon, widow of King Nino, soprano:  Angela Meade
Assur, a prince, descendant of Baal, bass:  Ildar Abdrazakov
Arsace, Commander of the Assyrian army, contralto:   Elizabeth DeShong
Idreno, an Indian king, tenor:   Javier Camarena
Oroe, high priest of the Magi, bass:   Ryan Speedo Green
Azema, a princess, descendant of Baal, soprano:   Sarah Shafer
Mitrane, Captain of the Guard, tenor:  Kang Wang
Nino's Ghost, bass:  Jeremy Galyon

This wasn't my first time with Rossini's Semiramide.  My first time was probably the only time it played at the San Francisco Opera in 1981 with Montserrat Caballé, Marilyn Horne and James Morris.  I sat next to a woman who was a Caballé fan, and we alternated sighing for the two female stars.  This in spite of the weirdness of the costumes.  Richard Bonynge conducted.

I bought a film from the Bel Canto Society filmed in 1980 with a very similar cast which included Sam Ramey.  The singing is amazing if you'd like to hear it.

And then a year ago I watched a stream from Munich starring Joyce DiDonato and Daniela Barcellona which I enjoyed very much for the singing but which was modernized.

Let's just say I had certain expectations today.  For one thing I expected not to like it.  Instead I got surprises.

Semiramide is Rossini's last opera seria.  It may in fact be the last opera seria at all.  This form of opera means serious opera, has serious subject matter, consists of endless rows of da capo arias and ensembles, and usually has a happy ending.  The singing is the point.  You can see from the pictures that this is the first time in my experience that any effort was made to make the costumes look Assyrian.  In Marilyn's version the soldiers looked a bit like playing cards.  In Joyce's everyone seems like modern middle-eastern.  Today's costumes may not be pretty, but they are trying to be period.

I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed Angela Meade in this role.  She has a steelier voice than either Caballé or DiDonato.  In fact that could be said of the other singers as well.  DeShong is steelier and heavier than Horne or Barcellona.  Camarena is heavier than Brownlee or Ariaza.  The result is a shift to a much more intense and dramatic work altogether.  All are working together to set a tone of intense tragedy.

There's only one problem with that:  all that intensity can become tedious.  Sometimes I appreciated it, and sometimes I didn't.  Bonynge and company focused on beautiful singing above all else.  This is pleasing in an entirely different way.

I was surprised by Ryan Speedo Green.  What a voice.  I was surprised by the clarity of the plot.  I saw the Commendatore from Don Giovanni in Nino's Ghost.  I liked it in a surprising way.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Beethoven and Mozart in Sacramento

Dmitri Sitkovetsky came to Sacramento to conduct and play solo violin for the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera.  I found this to be a particularly well constructed concert program and assigned this success to Dmitri.  Thank you for coming.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Suite No. 4 "Mozartiana", Op. 61 (1887)  

These movements are all based on music by Mozart. (Notes from Wikipedia)

  1. Gigue. Allegro (G major) After the Little Gigue for piano, K. 574. 
  2. Menuet. Moderato (D major) After the Minuet for piano, K. 355. 
  3. Preghiera. Andante ma non tanto (B♭ major) After Franz Liszt's piano transcription of the Ave verum corpus, K. 618. (In 1862 Liszt wrote a piano transcription combining Gregorio Allegri's Miserere and Mozart's Ave verum corpus, published as "À la Chapelle Sixtine" (S.461). Tchaikovsky orchestrated only the part of this work that had been based on Mozart.) 
  4. Thème et variations. Allegro giusto (G major) After the piano Variations on a Theme by Gluck, K. 455. (The theme was the aria "Unser dummer Pöbel meint", from Gluck's opera La Rencontre imprévue, or Les Pèlerins de la Mecque). 

I admit I'm not a huge Tchaikovsky fan.  Sitkovetsky conducted.

Wolfgang Mozart, Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major (1775)

This is a lovely violin concerto, Mozart's last, from the time when part of his income source was playing violin solos.  He was 19.  Sources point out that his violin concertos don't show off all the possibilities of the violin as Beethoven and Brahms do.  Ok.  Mozart would have played these pieces himself, while Beethoven and Brahms would have relied on professional violin soloists active at their time.  Mozart's concerto is characterized by beautiful melodies and typical Mozart style.  For me it was very beautifully played.  Sitkovetsky was conductor and soloist.  The orchestra played well without constant attention from the maestro.

Arvo Pärt, Fratres (Brothers) (1977)  

The title refers to religious brothers.  This was the first time I have heard Arvo Pärt played live on a concert.  He is a living composer from Estonia.  This piece was undoubtedly chosen because it is also a violin concerto of sorts.  It begins with a series of jarring violin arpeggios and goes on to repetitive chords and arpeggios.  You will note that this piece dates one year after Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass.  Both Pärt and Glass are pioneers of the minimalist school.  We went to the lecture before where this was mentioned.  Sitkovetsky was the violin soloist and occasionally had opportunity to conduct.

Ludwig Beethoven Symphony No. 8 (1814)

Sitkovetsky returned to conducting for this.  This is a somewhat small symphony which could have come from an earlier period.  Again it was well played.

I enjoyed the way this concert was constructed with works from many styles which all related back to the influence of Mozart.  I especially liked hearing the Mozart concerto, a favorite.  Now that I understand that Arvo Pärt is a minimalist, I hope he will appear again for me.  Otherwise I only know about him from recordings.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

St. John Passion in Davis

Jeffrey Thomas conductor

Remember when I said about the motets concert by American Bach Soloists last April, "Choosing to play all of them on one program would have to do with generating a CD, probably." You probably don't remember it. Well now there is a CD called Bach's Motets for Double Chorus from American Bach Soloists based on the this concert.  It was an easy prediction.

Last night they performed Bach's St John Passion.  This is a repeat from 5 years ago but is probably a different version of the work.   Apparently Bach performed his Saint John Passion four different times over the years in four different arrangements.

I want to be sure to mention the soloists.  The first four form the narrative from the gospel. Several also are from the chorus.

Aaron Sheehan, tenor, Evangelista
Jesse Blumberg, baritone, Christus
Bryan Jolly, baritone, Pilatus, chorus
Jefferson Packer, bass, Petrus, chorus
Robin Bier, contralto, chorus
Hélène Brunet, soprano, chorus
Stephen Brennfleck, tenor, chorus

All did a fine job, with very minor suggestions about the German diction.  I especially liked Robin Bier, contralto.  Her voice and style are very beautiful.

The work was performed in German with a translation provided.  I was curious to read that in English Barrabam is a thief while in German he is a murderer.  One might wish to have a theological discussion concerning the Bible in German.

The chorus is very strong for such a small group.  The maestro kept the pacing quick without seeming rushed.

I never get the final chorus I want so I'll just put it here.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Kinderkuchen most Frequently Reviewed

This is the top 10 list of my most frequently reviewed operas:

La Bohème #4 Puccini
Der Rosenkavalier #37 Strauss R
La Traviata #2 Verdi
Tosca #6 Puccini
Le Nozze di Figaro #5 Mozart
Aida #13 Verdi
Don Carlo #41 Verdi
Il Trovatore #23 Verdi
Carmen #3 Bizet
Rigoletto #10 Verdi

Half are Verdi, two are Puccini, none are Wagner.  This is all as should be expected.  Here's another list of operas from the twentieth century that have been reviewed 3 or more times.  There's nothing surprising here either as long as you remember I prefer Lulu to Wozzeck.

Der Rosenkavalier #37 Strauss R
Bluebeard's Castle Bartók
Lulu Berg
Turandot #15 Puccini
Arabella Strauss R
Ariadne auf Naxos #46 Strauss R
Elektra #49 Strauss R
Jenůfa #61 Janáček
La Fanciulla del West #100 Puccini
Porgy and Bess #68 Gershwin
Rusalka #56 Dvorák
Salome #32 Strauss R

Saturday, February 24, 2018

La Bohème in HD

Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Production:  Franco Zeffirelli

Mimi:  Sonya Yoncheva
Rodolfo:  Michael Fabiano
Musetta:  Susanna Phillips
Marcello:  Lucas Meachem
Schaunard:  Alexey Lavrov
Colline:  Matthew Rose
Benoit/Alcindoro:  Paul Plishka

Today was the HD for Puccini's La Bohème from the Metropolitan Opera.  Michael explained that they don't really get to rehearse.  Nevertheless it was a beautiful ensemble performance with excellent conducting.

Between scenes was a lot of hammering.  My impression was that the workers were repairing the ancient and well used sets.  Each set slides in on the stage machinery.  Garret stage left, Momus stage right and snow scene from the back.  There was a film of this happening.  So why all the hammering?

Sonya and Michael are both wonderful singing actors who play well with one another.  They both have beautiful emotional range which is the secret to great opera.  Or maybe opera has a lot of secrets and this is just one.

She died a couple of seconds before her chord, but I have decided to forgive everyone.  Look.  There is scene painting in the orchestration in this opera.  First you hear the flames going up in Act I when Rodolfo throws his play into the fire.  And there is a chord at the end that signals Mimi dying.  Am I the only one who knows this?

It was lovely to see Paul Plishka who once appeared frequently in San Francisco.  The magic worked once again.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Quinn Kelsey in Rigoletto

For me when it comes to Rigoletto this is the make or break aria.

I'm sorry we don't get the whole aria.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Convergence II Episode I

Maquette Kuper, Deborah Pittman, Omari Tau

MôD Artists are difficult to classify.  They are all classically trained and play a wide variety of other styles.  One of the things they do is celebrate the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento, which, it turns out, has its own Wikipedia page.  We had Convergence I which also celebrated Oak Park here, and now we move into Convergence II Episode I which covers 1860 - 1950.

The period celebrated included an amusement park called Joyland which existed from 1895 - 1920.  We were treated to a film about this era which showed a spectacular looking roller coaster.  The program included a song devoted to Joyland composed by tuba player Portia Njoku.  I am not old enough to remember Joyland.

However, I am old enough to remember the old state fair which was on the south side of Stockton Blvd.  The display space was much bigger than the current state fair, making the exhibits much more interesting.  The film shown in this concert seemed to think it was closed due to a lack of parking.  At a certain point driving automobiles everywhere was encouraged and street cars disappeared.  I remember streetcars in San Francisco but not in Sacramento.

Is this supposed to be sounding like a review?  The group performed a couple of old time songs:
  • When the Harvest Days are over (1901) by Harry von Tilzer.
  • In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree (1905) by Harry Williams.
The program ended with what is now their signature piece:
  • Bach/Gounod Ave Maria arranged by Deborah Pittman with dancer Diego Campos.  At first he is carrying a bag which eventually he leaves behind.  Perhaps he has arrived in heaven.  Omari sings Bach's arpeggios while the others play.  This time he sang some of the melody.
I am by now a devoted follower.  This series will have two more segments:
  • Episode II The Spirit (60s - 80s)  Sunday, April 8
  • Episode III Convergence/Hello (1980  - present) Sunday, June 3

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sacramento State Faculty, Alumni, and Friends Gala

This concert is part of the New Millennium Concert Series.  All the publicity photos have been of flutist Laurel Zucker.  However, the Faculty Gala concert at Sacramento State began with a group by Percussionist Daniel Kennedy.

The stage was littered with instruments and stands much as shown in the picture above.  He is said to be dedicated to the performance of contemporary percussion repertoire.  I only know about the traditional kind.  He played:

  • Five by five, an improvisation on an instrument called a solo riq.  It looked a bit like a tambourine.
  • To the Earth, by Frederic Rzewsky, played on ceramic pots such as you might plant flowers in.  There was also talking, but his voice was unamplified and not loud enough for me to understand.  He struck a gong to announce the end of the piece.
  • Poly Patterns, an improvisation played on caxisis, small objects held in each hand.
  • Shradanjali, by John Bergamo.  Daniel played the tabla and was assisted by Nariman Assadi on the tombak.

This was a new experience for me.

Next Laurel Zucker and John Cozza performed Sonata for Flute and Piano by Francis Poulenc in three movements.  Poulenc has long been a personal favorite.

The final group featured The Peregrine Trio (George Hayes, violin, Burke Schuchmann, cello, Miles Graber, piano) playing Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, Opus 87 by Johannes Brahms.  Like all of Brahms this is a very traditional piece.  They sounded well together.  I especially liked the beautiful playing of the cellist.  I love Brahms.  This program was designed for me.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Metropolitan Opera 2018-19 in HD

Here is the announced season of Live in HD choices.  I would have liked Pelléas et Mélisande.  The choices we are getting are great.

  • 6-Oct-18 Aida  This is the Met standard production with Anna Netrebko as Aida.  She premiered this role in Salzburg last summer.
  • 20-Oct-18 Samson et Dalila   Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna will inhabit a new production by Darko Tresnjak. 
  • 27-Oct-18 La Fanciulla del West  It turns out that what I want is to see is Eva Maria Westbroek as Minnie. Jonas Kaufmann is her love.  I love this opera for no reason I could explain.  The romance has to work before the opera does.
  • 10-Nov-18 HD Marnie  Isabel Leonard, Christopher Maltman and Denyce Graves star.  This is a new opera with music by Nico Muhly, libretto by Nicholas Wright, based on the novel by Winston Graham.  They are letting us see the new stuff this time.
  • 15-Dec-18HD La Traviata  Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Michael Mayer’s richly textured new production, featuring a dazzling 18th-century setting that changes with the seasons. Soprano Diana Damrau plays the tragic heroine, Violetta, and tenor Juan Diego Flórez returns to the Met for the first time in five seasons to sing the role of Alfredo, Violetta’s hapless lover. Baritone Quinn Kelsey is Alredo’s father, Germont, who destroys their love.  From Met advertising.  I'm not wild about traditional La Traviata productions which is what this is.
  • 12-Jan-19  Adriana Lecouvreur  This is a new production by David McVicar starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala and Anita Rachvelishvili.  This is not the greatest opera, but it will be enjoyable to see Anna and Piotr perform it.
  • 2-Feb-19 Carmen  This time with Roberto Alagna will be his wife Aleksandra Kurzak.  Our Carmen is Clémentine Margaine.  Here she is singing Carmen a few years ago in Latvia.  There's a baby crying.

  • 2-Mar-19 HD La Fille du Régiment  This is for your Javier Camarena and Pretty Yende fix.  Javi gets encored in this opera.  Maybe he will in our performance.
  • 30-Mar-19 HD Die Walküre  Christine Goerke plays Brünnhilde, Wotan’s willful warrior daughter, who loses her immortality in opera’s most famous act of filial defiance. Tenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek play the incestuous twins Siegmund and Sieglinde. My schedule says that our Wotan is Greer Grimsley. Philippe Jordan conducts.  We get to see Christine's Brünnhilde.  I can't wait.
  • 11-May-19 Dialogues des Carmélites  The Met's promotional materials say:  "Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings the touching role of Blanche and soprano Karita Mattila, a legend in her own time, returns to the Met as the Prioress."  Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct.  I have seen this production before and was very moved.  We die that others may live.  As messages go, this one is the best.
I think this is a respectable season that shows the biases of our new maestro.

I don't promise not to edit this later.


The big news is that Yannick Nézet-Séguin will be music director beginning in the 2018-19 season.  This is very good news and two seasons earlier than planned.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wishes for 2018-2019

Futures missed that La Boheme will appear as usual.  This is changed to reflect the actual choices which I am pretty happy with.

Changes appeared in the Futures post so I changed mine.

In a couple of weeks the Met will announce the coming season.  While there is still time I would like to take the guesses on Future Met Wiki and express which ones I would like to see in HD. DEFINITE YES!! means I would definitely like to see this in HD.

New Productions

Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila (Opening Night)   GOT THIS!!
Production: Darko Tresniak
Samson: Roberto Alagna/Kristian Benedikt* [1]
Dalila: Elina Garanca
(The coproduction by Michieletto with the Opéra National de Paris has been cancelled [1])

Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur      GOT THIS!!
Production: David McVicar
Adriana: Anna Netrebko
Maurizio: Piotr Beczala
Princess de Bouillon: Anita Rachvelishvili
Michonnet: Ambrogio Maestri

Nico Muhly's Marnie   GOT THIS!!
Production: Michael Mayer
Margaret "Marnie" Edgar: Isabel Leonard
Co-production with the English National Opera [2]

Verdi's La Traviata   GOT THIS!!
Production: Michael Mayer
Date: November and December
Conductor: Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Violetta: Diana Damrau
Alfredo: Juan Diego Florez
Germont:Quinn Kelsey

Rigoletto from the ROH

Conductor Alexander Joel
Director David McVicar

Duke of Mantua Michael Fabiano
Rigoletto Dimitri Platanias
Gilda Lucy Crowe
Sparafucile Andrea Mastroni
Maddalena Nadia Krasteva

My local cinema brought me Rigoletto from the ROH in London.  They are attempting a realistic Rigoletto.  The duke's court is an actual orgy with nudity and obvious sexual brutality.  No wonder Rigoletto wants to keep his daughter away from them.  Usually the duke makes it with everyone but the rest of the court are relatively well behaved.  The story makes a lot more sense this way.

Michael was his usual fantastic self, but vocally I didn't get excited about the other singers.  If you want to understand this opera, this is the one.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Leontyne Price

Happy birthday.

L’Elisir d’Amore in HD

CONDUCTOR:  Domingo Hindoyan
PRODUCTION:  Bartlett Sher

ADINA:  Pretty Yende
NEMORINO:  Matthew Polenzani
BELCORE:  Davide Luciano
DULCAMARA:  Ildebrando D'Arcangelo

We saw in HD today the excellent Bartlett Sher production of Donizetti's L’Elisir d’Amore.  I've seen this production before and know that the top hat worn by Adina proclaims that she is the landlord of this country property seen at the beginning of the opera.  Matthew was Nemoriino the last time.

Something happened this time that hasn't happened for me:  in the second scene in town before Dulcamara arrives Adina and Nemorino tease and play with one another.  Clearly she already has eyes only for him.  What we with our egalitarian perspective don't notice is that penniless Nemorino is far too much lower in class for land owner Adina.  I felt tremendous rapport between Pretty and Matthew in this performance, and it changed the dynamic of the opera for me.  Pretty is charming and beautiful.

This is the sixth time I have blogged about this opera, and I think I have enjoyed this one the most.  It was extremely cheerful, and I think I prefer it that way.  The prompter's arm was seen as he struggled with the elixir. Lidia Bastianich appeared in the intermission to tell us about her new pasta dish called "pasta d'amore."  Food and opera are her great loves.  She did standard opera bragging by telling that her first live opera was Aida at the old Met with Leontyne Price and Franco Corelli.  Dulcamara ate the pasta on stage.

Jamie singing Brahms

Don't forget if all the world fails you, there is Jamie Barton singing the Brahms Alto Rhapsody.


Friday, February 09, 2018

L'Histoire du soldat

L'Histoire du soldat by Igor Stravinsky and Swiss writer C. F. Ramuz was created during WWI while Stravinsky was living in Switzerland.  Unfortunately it's premiere coincided with the flu epidemic.  The combination of the war and the flu prevented it from being heard very much.

We heard it in a faculty performance at California State University, Sacramento on Thursday evening.  It was originally written in French for performance in the French section of Switzerland, but has since been translated into English.

Our instrumental ensemble consisted of faculty members:

Anna Presler, violin
Chris Castro, bass
Sandra McPherson, clarinets
David Wells, bassoon
Steve Roach, trumpet
Phil Tulga, trombone
Daniel Kennedy, percussion

Omari Tau, speaker, who magically changed his voice to represent the soldier, the devil and the narrator.  I believe it was conceived for three actors.  In our performance there was a single speaker.  Sometimes it is performed with ballet, but we did not experience that.

Stravinsky lived in the time of jazz which he only knew from transcriptions.  In the sections below everything sounded like Stravinsky and not jazz, with the small exception of the section called Ragtime.

Part I

The soldier's march
Airs by a stream

Part II

Royal march
The little concert
Three dances: a, Tango - b, Waltz - c, Ragtime
The devil's dance
The little chorale
The devil's song
The great chorale
The devil's triumphant march

There is a plot.  The soldier is going awol.  He carries a fiddle which the devil offers to trade him for a book on how to get rich.  So this is a Faust story.  Soldier teaches devil how to play the fiddle, devil teaches soldier how to interpret the book.  After two days they part.

The soldier gets rich but is unhappy.  He plays cards with the devil to reverse the trade if he loses.  He does and gets back his fiddle and loses all his money.  He meets and marries a princess.  The devil tells the soldier that they must remain in the princess's castle, but you know that doesn't happen.  The devil wins and celebrates.  So in this Faust story the devil wins.

I like this and wish sometime to experience it with the ballet.

Thursday, February 08, 2018


Santa Fe Opera's Board of Directors appointed Robert K. Meya as General Director, replacing Charles MacKay who has been General Director since 2008. Alexander Neef, the intendant of Canadian Opera Company, will become artistic director of Santa Fe Opera, a new position created just for him.  To complete a trio of new appointments Harry Bicket will be Musical Director.  This is a very classy leadership trio for Santa Fe Opera.  This item is rewritten.

Mark S. Doss is someone I know from the Santa Fe Opera. I received news that he is making his debut with the Welch National Opera as Scarpia in Tosca. Toi toi toi.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Simon Estes in Sacramento

The great operatic bass-baritone Simon Estes appeared in recital here in Sacramento at the Sacramento State Capistrano Hall recital hall.  I remember him best from his appearance on television when Leontyne Price gave her farewell performance in Aida at the Met.  He will be 80 in March.  He sang seated and alternated his groups with a few numbers by Omari Tau, a local baritone.  Mr. Estes was accompanied by Judi Goble, pianist.

He opened with Malotte's "The Lord's Prayer."  He then performed two operatic arias:  "Il Lacerato spirito" from Verdi's Simon Boccanegra and Zacharia's Prayer from Verdi's Nabucco.  They were both nicely done.  This group ended with "Precious Lord, Take my Hand".

Omari Tau then came out with the Sacramento State Opera Theater Chorus, Virginia Electra, pianist, and performed "Ain't Gonna let Nobody Turn Me Around".  Omari and Virginia then performed "This Little Light of Mine" which I prefer at a slightly faster tempo.  Omari and the students kept their selections in tune with Mr. Estes' selections.  This is Omari Tau's theater style.   Next Thursday he will perform Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat her in this same performance space.

Simon Estes has had a glorious career, singing in all the great houses.  It is satisfying to hear how much of his fabulous vocal instrument still remains.  The middle group were spirituals.

The Opera Theater chorus sang something from Ragtime, followed by Omari Tau in "Make Them Hear You' from the same show.  The Broadway theme provided an introduction to these great Broadway songs sung by Simon Estes:

"You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel
"Climb Every Mountain" from The Sound of Music

He closed with "Without a Song" by Vincent Youmans.

 Thank you for continuing to sing.  It was a joy.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

International Opera Awards Singer Nominees 2018

Samples of the candidates for the singing prizes.

Female Singer

Malin Byström sings Salome:

Carmen Giannattasio sings Nedda:

Barbara Hannigan in her Grammy winning performance:

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Classical Grammy Winners and Nominations 2018

The Grammys were awarded today, January 28, 2018.  The usual standard of awarding to modern repertoire was followed.  Barbara Hannigan, Daniel Trifonov, Jennifer Higdon


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  WINNER
      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   WINNER
      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)

Russian Festival Part II

Mei-Ann Chen

The Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera presented Part II of its Russian Festival last night.  See here for Part I.

Mikhail Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila (1840) began the program.  Conductor, Mei-Ann Chen conducted from memory.

Sergei Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto (1909) followed with Andrew von Oeyen on the solo piano.  He was our pianist from last week and is very exciting.  Chen used a score on this one.  This is the concerto I heard in Berlin in 2016.

After the concert our pianist mentioned Sibyl Sanderson, an opera singer from Sacramento and Massenet's inspiration for Thais.  To honor her Andrew played a piano arrangement of The Meditation from Thais.  Beautifully.

Last came Modest Musorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (1874) in an orchestral arrangement by Ravel.

Russian music is lots of fun.  Our festival stuck strictly to Romantic and Neo-romantic works and covered the main highlights.  Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich did not make appearances.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tosca in HD

Conductor...............Emmanuel Villaume
Production..............David McVicar

Tosca...................Sonya Yoncheva
Cavaradossi........Vittorio Grigolo
Scarpia.................Željko Lučić

Now wasn't that interesting.  I'm talking about the new McVicar production of Puccini's Tosca in HD from the Metropolitan Opera.  It was originally supposed to star Jonas Kaufmann, Kristine Opolais and Bryn Terfel, and its conductor would have been Andris Nelsons.  So everyone is completely different.  And now I'm going to be frank:  I don't think anyone from the original cast could have improved on today's spectacular performance.  So thank you all for finding something else to do today.  Emmanuel Villaume replaced James Levine in turn and did well.

First of all let's talk about the production which is a replacement for the unpopular Bondy production, which in turn replaced Franco Zeffirelli.  Act I is remarkably similar to Zeffirelli.  It takes place in a church in Rome which anyone may visit.  Act II takes place in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome which is now the French embassy and cannot be casually visited.  Unfortunately for me, my collection of books includes a photo collection of Palazzo Farnese.  This means I know exactly what it actually looks like.  None of these productions even remotely resemble it, but perhaps an exact portrayal would be distracting.  The McVicar is like Palazzo Farnese seen by someone extremely near sighted.

The third act shows us the roof of the Castel Sant'Angelo pretty much as it actually is.  Why try to improve on perfection?  For me all three of these sets, though large and difficult to assemble, functioned well as background for our story.  It's traditional and fuddy duddy, but for me it works.

Which brings us to our singers.  Scarpia is the slimiest of slimy villain baritones, and Zeljko Lucic knows how to turn on his dark side.  His voice is also good.

Vittorio Grigolo as Cavaradossi is right in his element.  His beautiful Italian overacting seems like it was made for Tosca.  You believe in his passion for his beloved as never before.  I enjoyed all three of his arias, but especially "O dolci mani."  [Oh sweet hands.]

While interviewing Sonya Yoncheva, Isabel Leonard exclaimed, "You are very brave!"  In this performance series Sonya made her debut as Tosca.  That means she has never performed Tosca before.  A debut in a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera and on the HD series.  Yes.  Very brave indeed.  I have heard her only a few times, and this seems the role that most suits her dark voice.  You will have noticed by now that I love best the dark voices.  For my ears her sound most resembles Callas of anyone I have heard.  Today she was simply glorious.  Viva Yoncheva.  I added her name to the singers list at the left.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Die Walküre

Conductor:  Kirill Petrenko
Production:  Andreas Kriegenburg

Siegmund:  Simon O'Neill
Hunding:  Ain Anger [Ain Anger is bae. I stole this]
Wotan:  John Lundgren
Sieglinde:  Anja Kampe
Brünnhilde:  Nina Stemme
Fricka:  Ekaterina Gubanova

Die Walküre streamed from the Bayerische Staatsoper today.  Somehow I thought it was tomorrow and missed the first part.  I'm watching it on demand.  This is my favorite Wagner.

The first thing we notice is the stage is full of thin young women from the ballet.  They seem to be mostly set dressing.  When the sword theme plays, they shine small palm lights on the sword in the tree.  The director says they represent a context.

The second thing we notice is that while Ain Anger is beautiful to hear and see, in his role as Hunding he is a pig.  He dries his hands on his wife's dress.

I would describe this production as rural minimalism.  Without the ballet women it might get too dull.  Above you see the dead who are brought to Valhalla hanging on poles.  Perhaps that's who the girls are--the paradise maidens.  This production is making me smile.

I love this opera, more than any other Wagner.  The singing from Munich is glorious.  I love that the story is about love.  I like Tristan, but this grabs me more.  Kirill Petrenko wins again with the most applause.  Perhaps my operatic soul is German.

There is lots of shouting.  This is as it should be.

Post Script.  I always love Nina Stemme best, but it is curious to see her drinking from a plastic bottle of water and then rolling it into the wings.  Anja Kampe was outstanding as Sieglinde.

John Lundgren as Wotan was powerful and godlike with a wonderful low register.

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.  This say new productions, but most of them come from other companies.  We are now working without a music director, so you should regard most of this conductors as auditioning.

We start with the fall series.

Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci

Music by Pietro Mascagni / Ruggero Leoncavallo
September 7–30, 2018
Conductor:  Daniele Callegari*
An Opéra Royal de Wallonie (Liège) production by Jose Cura

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
Conductor:  Riccardo Frizza
A Canadian Opera Company production directed by:  Stephen Lawless

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
Conductor:  Leo Hussain*
A San Francisco Opera production premiere directed by:  Shawna Lucey

Floria Tosca: Carmen Giannattasio
Mario Cavaradossi: Brian Jagde
Baron Scarpia: Scott Hendricks


Music by Richard Strauss
October 16–November 3, 2018
Conductor:  Marc Albrecht*
A co-production of the Santa Fe Opera, Minnesota Opera and Canadian Opera Company:  Tim Albery*

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
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
West Coast Premiere:  Leonard Foglia

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
Conductor:  James Gaffigan
Francesca Zambello production from Opera Australia.

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
Conductor:  Christopher Moulds*
A production of Scottish Opera directed by:  Harry Fehr*

Orlando Sasha Cooke
Angelica Heidi Stober
Dorinda Christina Gansch *
Medoro David Daniels
Zoroastro Christian Van Horn


Music by Antonín Dvořák
June 16–28, 2019
Conductor:  Eun Sun Kim*  (A woman conductor from South Korea)
A production of Lyric Opera of Chicago:  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)

Only one of these is actually a new production so I changed the information.  They're just new to us.

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.

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)
Honegger Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the Stake) 

*  directed by Giancarlo del Monaco

Six 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.  She was the star.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Favorites by Year

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 or HD


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

  • The new McVicar Norma from the Met.    Met HD
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.