Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Cecilia's Grammys

I reposted this because Cecilia has just received a new Grammy nomination, at the bottom of the list. 

1992  Rossini Heroines Classical Vocal Solo Nominee
1992  Rossini Heroines  Classical Album Nominee

1995 · The Impatient Lover Classical Vocal Solo Winner

1996   La Clemenza di Tito Best Opera Recording Nominee


1998 · An Italian Songbook Classical Vocal Solo Winner


2001 · The Vivaldi Album Classical Vocal Solo Winner

2002 · Gluck Italian Arias Classical Vocal Solo Winner

2005   Opera Proibita Classical Vocal Solo Nominee

2009 · Maria Classical Vocal Solo Nominee
2009 · Maria Classical Album Nominee

2011 · Sacrificium  Classical Vocal Solo Winner
2011 · Sacrificium  Classical Album Nominee

2014 · Mission  Classical Vocal Solo Nominee

2016 · St Petersburg   Classical Vocal Solo Nominee

2016  Giulio Cesare Best Opera Recording Nominee

2021  Farinelli Best Classical Vocal Solo Nominee

According to Google November, 2019, Cecilia Bartoli has sold 12 million records.  Things have dropped off lately.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Rigoletto SFO stream


Conductor Nicola Luisotti 
Director Harry Silverstein 

The Duke of Mantua - Francesco Demuro 
Rigoletto - Željko Lučić
Gilda - Aleksandra Kurzak 
Maddalena - Kendall Gladden 

I appear to have missed this series of Rigoletto performances at the San Francisco Opera in 2012.  It's the same production as the one I saw in 2017.  I saw the second cast which consisted of Marco Vratogna as Rigoletto, Albina Shagimuratova as Gilda and Arturo Chacón-Cruz as The Duke of Mantua

We have more name artists than in the other presentations.  Perhaps this was Zeljko Lucic's preparation for his Met performance in 2013.  I like Željko Lučić in roles where he is truly nasty:  Iago, Scarpia.  That sort of thing.  Rigoletto is a truly tragic figure who demands more.  He was fine in the clownish rat pack version from the Met.  He does not replace Quinn Kelsey from 2017 in my heart.  "Cortigiani" should tear your heart.

This may be my first view of a performance by Aleksandra Kurzak, whom I know mostly for her relationship with Roberto Alagna.  I will have to listen to something more recent.  She very successfully brings us the youth and innocence of Gilda.  For this innocent child Rigoletto should have had an entirely different reaction.

The ending is excellent. Lučić rises to the occasion.  I'm sorry I missed them the other time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Die Vögel


Conductor: Ingo Metzmacher
Production: Frank Castorf

Prometheus: Wolfgang Koch (baritone)
Wiedhopf, einstens ein Mensch, nun König der Vögel [hoopoe; once a person, now king of the birds]  Günter Papendell (baritone)
Nachtigall [nightingale] Caroline Wettergreen (soprano)
Zaunschlüpfer [wren] Emily Pogorelc (soprano)
1. Drossel [thrush] Yajie Zhang (soprano)
2. Drossel [thrush] Eliza Boom (soprano)
Adler [eagle] Bálint Szabó (bass)
Rabe [raven] Theodore Platt (bass)
Flamingo [] George Vîrban (tenor)
Hoffegut [Good Hope] Charles Workman (tenor)
Ratefreund [Loyal Friend] Michael Nagy (bass)

Die Vögel [The Birds], 1920, by Walter Braunfels, after Aristophanes, comes to me from the Bayerische Staatsoper München, Germany.  It's 100 years old and was popular in its day. 

This opera appears to be about politics.  Two human guys, Hoffegut and Ratefreund, come looking for the king of the birds, Wiedhopf, to talk him into overthrowing the gods by building a city in the sky.  He was once a human and probably carries some of this desire for dominance with him from the human state.   The humans wear their regie uniforms of black suits.  The birds all have fancy feathers, including Wiedhopf.  The sets only suggest human life and never bird life.  It looks like a construction site, perhaps suggesting that building a city in the sky is already under way.

Spoiler Alert!  Aristophanes writes that the birds replace Zeus and become rulers of the world.  This band of birds fail in their quest.

I liked everything about the Nightingale, her voice, her costume, the music for her character, and so forth.  She is a modern day coloratura soprano.  Hoffegut courts her in an extended scene, but I don't think she's buying it.  Alfred Hitchcock makes an appearance.  You remember he had a movie called The Birds.  It's a horror film which this is not.  Briefly scenes from the movie appear.  Another reference is to a rock group called THE BYRDS poster in English.

A man enters in a NAZI uniform.  This appears to be Ratefreund.  There are long stretches with no singing which are filled up with political activities.  Two pigeons are to get married.  Clearly the opera allows for much range of interpretations, and this one is dark.  Perhaps birds and humans cannot cheerfully mix.

Finally a man with a gray beard is announced.  This at last is Prometheus.  Wolfgang Koch is magnificent in this role.  The dream fails.  They praise Zeus once again and return to the city.

The music is rather heavy neo-romanticism.  Only the nightingale brought lightness of feeling.  She returns at the end.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Florencia en el Amazonas, Bloomington

Conductor: David Neely 
Stage Director: Candace Evans 

Singers: Lauren McQuistin, Hayley Lipke, Courtney Bray, Michael Day, Robert Gerold, Christopher Seefeldt, Rivers Hawkins

This version of Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán) comes from Indiana University, Bloomington, 2016, by way of Opera on Video.  We are on a wonderful paddle wheel boat going up the Amazon.  Our heroine, Florencia Garibaldi, now a famous opera singer, has returned to the Amazon after 20 years in search of her long lost lover.  She will sing at the opera house when they arrive.  

The boat is surrounded by mysterious dances in the water.  There are 5 other people on the boat:  the captain, his crewman, a quarreling couple, and a woman who wishes to write a biography of the singer.  None of them recognize her.

The water gets rough and one of the men falls off.  I think it's the husband in the quarreling couple.  A man sings who is with the water creatures.  "We're adrift."  End of Act I.

I like the Florencia singer very much.  There are no hit tunes in this opera.  After the storm there is much singing about love.  The husband is rescued.  No one has died.  When they arrive, there is cholera, and they can't disembark.  Florencia is supposed to turn into a butterfly after her wonderful extended solo, but there is only a suggestion.

I find the production satisfying.  They've done an excellent job with this.  If you want to see this opera, I recommend this version.  This is my first viewing of a production from the IU opera theater.  I should try again some time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Tosca from Wien


Director:  Marco Armeliato
Production:  Margarethe Wallmann

Tosca  Sondra Radvanovsky
Mario  Piotr Beczala
Scarpia  Thomas Hampson

This production of Puccini's Tosca at the Vienna State Opera is very popular.  I can see why.  In Act I the church shows members of the Swiss Guard.  I was going to question this when I remembered we are in period, the time of Napoleon, when Rome was ruled by Naples.  I associate the Swiss Guard only with Vatican City.  Perhaps the Bishop of Rome is attending.

I love Sondra in this.  She dominates her male partners.  She sings and acts with such wonderful intensity.  Tosca is a diva of the greatest quality, and should seem so.  

There is a lot to like here.  Unless I am hallucinating, Piotr gets a bis for "E lucevan le stelle."  Cool.  I don't seem to tire of Tosca as long as it's new people each time.


Sunday, November 08, 2020

Festival of New American Music Part II

Saturday Afternoon


Lara Downes (1973-  ), piano 

Florence Price (1887–1953):  Clouds

Stephanie Ann Boyd (b. 1990):  My Grandmother’s Garden(world premiere)

Mary Kouyoumdjian(b. 1983):Aghavni(2009)

Florence Price:  Meditation(1929)

Abbey Lincoln (1930–2010):  Caged Bird (with Magos Herrera, mezzo)

Marta Valdés (b. 1934):  ¿Hacia Dónde? (with Magos Herrera, mezzo)

Margaret Bonds (1913–1972): Tangamerican

Elena Ruehr(b. 1963): Quiet Streets.  This piece includes a small instrumental ensemble which remains invisible.

I read that Lara grew up in San Francisco near the beach.  She has a very distinctive style of playing which very much suits and brings alive these pieces, which are all by women.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Festival of New American Music

I am currently watching the 43rd Annual Festival of New American Music at Sac State.  Normally I would drive over the bridge and go inside, but this year it is a virtual festival.  Probably the artists aren't even in town.


It began with a Gala Concert featuring Hub New Music, Lara Downes and Loadbang.  I think the way this festival works is a member of the faculty is assigned to organize it, and then the artists reflect that person's taste.  They are trying to feature female composers.


Monday an entire concert featured Hub New Music, an ensemble of Michael Avitabile, flute; Nicholas Brown, clarinet; Alyssa Wang, violin; and Jesse Christeson, cello. The flute doubles on piccolo, and the clarinet doubles on bass clarinet.   I liked this combination of instruments.

Kati Agócs (b. 1975):  Rogue Emoji (2019) 

Takuma Ito (b. 1984):  Wavelengths (2019) 

Hannah Lash (b. 1981):  The Nature of Breaking (2020) 

  1. Refractions 
  2. In remembrance of 
  3. Time/place4.Hold nearly




Next loadbang reappeared.  This is a wind ensemble featureing Andy Kozar, trumpet; William Lang, trombone; Adrián Sandí, bass clarinet; and Jeffrey Gavett, baritone voice.  For me this ensemble is a little strange.  Maybe I'm just out of touch.  The baritone behaves like just another wind instrument and basically just makes sounds. 

Angélica Negrón (1981):  Dóabin (2016)

Heather Stebbins (1987):  Quiver (2014)

Chaya Czernowin (1957):  IRRATIONAL (2019)

Eve Beglarian (1958):  Island of the Sirens (2011)

Li Qi (1990):  Like a Dream (2018)

Paula Matthusen (1974):  old fires catch old buildings (2016)

You can see from the dates of the pieces listed that this music is indeed very new.  Perhaps it is too new for my old ears.  Loadbang appeared again on Wednesday afternoon to present a program of pieces by students at Sac State


Tony Arnold, soprano will perform this evening.  Her repertoire is not quite as exotic as the other performers.  There are men, and I've actually heard of these people.  I will report additional information after I've heard this.  No accompanist is listed, so we will see.  And what we see is her singing alone.

Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez (b. 1964):  ChanceForest Interludes(2015)  Short vocal pieces, each dramatized.  It's in English.  Each small piece has a literary quote to introduce it.

Chaya Czernowin(b. 1957):  Adiantum Capillus-Veneris I (2015)  Sounds.  No words.  Breathing sounds.

Luciano Berio (1925–2003):  Sequenza III(1966)  This has words though they are not understandable.  She calls herself Screamer, but when she screams her face turns red.

Kaija Saariaho(b. 1952):  Lonh(1996)  This is very much accompanied, both instrumentally and vocally.  The text is in English and is about love from a distance.  I'm going to guess that it is in anticipation of L'Amour de Loin, her opera which came 4 years later.  I'm enjoying this the most.  Saariaho is a wonderful composer.

This was all astoundingly amusing.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

La Traviata from Philadelphia


Conductor:  Corrado Rovaris
Director:  Paul Curranan *

Violetta: Lisette Oropesa 
Alfredo: Alek Shrader
Giorgio Germont;  Stephen Powell: 

I am here for Lisette, naturally.  I think this is her role debut in 2015 in one of Verdi's greatest operas, La Traviata.  The other two leads were also good.  I especially liked Stephen Powell in the second act.

The sets are fascinating and beautiful.  The costumes are relatively modern.  I think Lisette is developing into a great singer.  Her emotional range is considerable here.  This counts for a lot.  Violetta just wants to have fun and go to parties.  Then she decides for love and spends all her money to move to the country.  She enters completely into love.

Then Giorgio Germont, Alfredo's father, sees the softness in her heart and convinces her to sacrifice everything for his children.  She goes back to being the party girl, or at least she convinces Alfredo that she has.  Then she becomes ill and dies.  A great Violetta must cover all of this grand scope of emotions while singing difficult bel canto arias.  "E tardi."  You feel it with her.  The opera only works with this.  

Lisette sings the sad aria before Alfredo arrives lying down on her bed.  There is blood everywhere.

Opera Philadelphia is a good company.  I wish we could see more of them.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Lucia di Lammermoor in San Francisco

ConductorJean-Yves Ossonce†
Production designer-Paul Brown

Normanno-Matthew O'Neill
Enrico Ashton-Gabriele Viviani †
Raimondo Bidebent-Oren Gradus
Lucia-Natalie Dessay
Alisa-Cybele-Teresa Gouverneur
Edgardo Ravenswood-Giuseppe Filianoti
Arturo-Andrew Bidlack

This is Natalie Dessay in San Francisco in 2008 singing Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.   I attended and reviewed at that time.  This is Donizetti's most popular serious opera, but perhaps I only like the comedies. 

I've seen 6 different productions of this opera by now, and my favorite by a wide margin is the Zimmerman version with the fountain and the ghost.  The ghost is my favorite.  I understand they are retiring it, which seems very sad to me.  This one from San Francisco is rather dull.

I am enjoying Filianoti more this time.  The singing is fine. I have only seen 6, so from the ones I've seen, I prefer the one with Lisette and Javier I saw in 2018.  I apologize for all this comparing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Santa Fe Opera Announcement


The Santa Fe Opera has announced its season for 2021.  There was much conversation about resisting COVID19, which I will not repeat.  So here is the list.

  • Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.  The production is by Laurent Pelly.  Harry Bicket will conduct. 
  • The world premier of Corigliano's The Lord of Cries with a libretto by Mark Adamo.  James Darrah will provide the production.  Johannes Debus will conduct.  This will star Anthony Roth Costanzo and Susanna Phillips.  It seems to be a joining of Euripides and Bram Stoker.  It sounds like fun.
  • Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin has Alessandro Talevi as the producer.  Nicholas Carter will conduct.  Nicole Car will portray Tatiana and her husband Etienne Dupuis will sing Onegin. 
  • Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream done in a fantasy production by Netia Jones.  She has imagined it in the specific surroundings of the Crosby Theater in New Mexico.  It sounds exciting.  Harry Bicket will conduct.  Erin Morley will sing Tytania.
  • Angel Blue in concert.  John Fiore will conduct the orchestra.

Harry Bicket is the music director of the Santa Fe Opera.  This film played with the announcement.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Donald Runnicles, formerly the musical director of the San Francisco Opera, is now officially Sir Donald Runnicles.  Congratulations.



Conductor - Nicola Luisotti
Director - Gabriele Lavia

Attila, King of the Huns - Ferruccio Furlanetto
Uldino, Attila's Breton Slave - Nathaniel Peake*
Odabella, daughter of the Lord of Aquileia - Lucrecia Garcia
Ezio, a Roman general - Quinn Kelsey*
Foresto, a knight of Aquileia - Diego Torre*
Leone (Pope Leo I) - Samuel Ramey

The San Francisco Opera reran last weekend Verdi's Attila from 2012.  It is a fabulous baritone feast with Furlanetto, Kelsey and Ramey.  I'm sorry if you missed it. 

The sets all relate to interiors of theaters.  You may feel free to make up a reason for this.  This version seems to be shortened.  A film played in one of the theaters, and this has been omitted.  In house one sees everything in full screen, while in a film a full screen is unusual.  This diminishes the effect of the theater interiors and increases the importance of the singers.  It's much better this way.

Here's my review when I saw it live.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Die Entführung aus dem Serail from Vienna

Musical Direction - Antonello Manacorda
Production - Hans Neuenfels

Bassa Selim - Christian Nickel (spoken)
Konstanze - Lisette Oropesa (soprano)
Konstanze - Actress - Emanuela von Frankenberg
Blonde - Regula Mühlemann (soprano)
Blonde - Actress - Stella Roberts
Osmin - Goran Jurić (bass)
Osmin - Actor - Andreas Grötzinger
Belmonte - Daniel Behle (tenor)
Belmonte - Actor - Christian Natter
Pedrillo - Michael Laurenz (tenor)
Pedrillo - Actor - Ludwig Blochberger 

Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail  (The Abduction from the Seraglio) comes to us from the Wiener Staatsoper.  It is directed by Hans Neuenfels, one of the more scandalous regie producers.  One of his characteristics is to dress the chorus all in the same outfits.  Here in spite of the fact that they are a mixed chorus, they are all dressed as men in black.

This is a Singspiel, which means it comes with spoken dialog in German.  In the original version of the opera there is a character, Bassa Selim, who does not sing.  Everyone else both sings and speaks.  So Neuenfels has seized on this and doubled all the rest of the cast.  So in addition to the singers, he has cast a whole other cast who play the rest of the roles and only speak.  He has also added more words.  This is hard to follow.  Two people in the same outfits are the same person.  You get a lot of easy to understand German from the actors and beautiful singing from the singers.  The actress Blonde occasionally speaks English.  "Me too."

Lisette is singing a very serious aria, and a young man in his underwear is holding a giant snake.  Huh?  What you would want to keep from this is Lisette and her arias.  "Martern alle Arten" is especially great.  She changes the opera completely.  Suddenly it is enormous.

I can think of only one semi-legitimate reason for this double casting.  Singers have careers that take them all over the world.  This is why the performing of operas originally in other languages but sung in the local language of the opera house is a practice that has pretty much died out.  We perform Hansel and Gretel and Magic Flute in English, but that is pretty much it.  The singer learns the role with the original text and then sings it everywhere with only some brief rehearsal.

So Neuenfels wanted to add a lot of new German dialog, and in order to have extended rehearsals, he assigns these new words to local people he can rehearse for a long time.  This is the only thing I can think of.  We don't care about this added dialog.  Maybe Neuenfels doesn't really like opera.

They love only Lisette.  As do I.  Serious booing for Neuenfels.

Sunday, October 11, 2020




Conductor - Riccardo Frizza
Director - Jose Maria Condemi

Mario Cavaradossi - Brian Jagde
Floria Tosca - Lianna Haroutounian
Baron Scarpia - Mark Delavan

When this performance of Tosca first played in San Francisco in 2014, I must have missed it.  It is being streamed today from the San Francisco Opera.  I saw Brian sing Cavaradossi in Santa Fe in 2012, and may have felt it was to soon to see him again.

There are some fun things in this production.  From the evidence, Tosca seems to be the most conservatively dressed female in all of Rome.  In the Te Deum we have men in uniforms of the Swiss guards.  In Act II we see that the walls are painted with figures, as they would be in the Palazzo Farnese,  but the lighting is too dim to allow us to see them.  In general they have done a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of Rome.  A little more light would have been nice.

Mark Delavan is fine but not really snarly enough for Scarpia who needs to project evil in the sound of his voice.  But then I've seen Thomas Hampson in the role, and he isn't snarly at all.

Brian is lovely, handsome and romantic.  Better than at Santa Fe. And Lianna Haroutounian plays the Diva with charm and intense jealousy.  She's trying to make the best of a bad situation, and ultimately fails.  She presents the varied emotions of the character vividly.  I like her very much.  She is why you would want to see this.  She crosses herself before jumping.  Of course.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Cecilia again.

Here is a film I haven't seen before. It's from Rossini's Semiramide.

I've often wished Cecilia would sing this role.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Queen of Baroque


Cecilia Bartoli announces a new CD from Decca:  Queen of Baroque.  It will be released on December 18, 2020.  Pre-order now by clicking below.  It can be delivered in time for Christmas.  It's described as:

A collection of the very best of Bartoli's treasured recordings of musical delights and discoveries of the 17th and 18th century. Featuring two previously unreleased world premiere recordings of forgotten jewels by Leonardo Vinci and Agostino Steffani. With guest appearances from Philippe Jaroussky, June Anderson, Franco Fagioli and Sol Gabetta.  Here is a track list.

I trionfi del fato: “E l’honor stella tiranna”*

Alessandro nelle Indie: “Quanto Invidio…Chi vive amante”*

Rinaldo: “Lascia ch’io pianga”

Artaserse: “Son Qual Nave”

Stabat Mater, P. 77: 1. Stabat Mater dolorosa feat. Anderson

Griselda: Agitata da due venti

Niobe, regina di Tebe: “Serena, o mio bel sole… Mia fiamma…” feat. Jaroussky

A. Scarlatti
Il Sedecia, Re di Gerusalemme: “Caldo Sangue”

Serse: “Ombra mai fu”

Il nascimento dell’Aurora: “Aure andate e baciate” feat. Sol Gabetta

Adriano In Siria: Deh, tu bel Dio d’amore…Ov’e il mio bene?

Stabat Mater: “Eja Mater, fons amoris… Fac, ut ardeat… Sancta Mater… Tui nati, vulnerati” feat. Fagioli, Behle

Il Trionfo dell’Innocenza: “Vanne pentita a piangere”

La Resurrezione (1708), HWV 47: “Disserratevi oh porte d’Averno”

Germanico in Germania: Parto ti lascio, o cara

I Triondi del fato: “Combatton quest’alma” feat. Jaroussky

Rinaldo: “Bel piacere”

*Denotes a world premiere recording

And here is a sample.


Thursday, October 08, 2020

Erin Wall (4 November 1975 – October 8, 2020)




This is what I wrote about Erin when I first saw her at the Santa Fe Opera in 2007.

"Since she was by far the best singer at Santa Fe, (Daphne in Daphne) I thought it would be nice to know more about Erin Wall. She's from Alberta, Canada, and has competed in the Singer of the World in Cardiff."  The full review is here.

I've seen her in some wonderful things over the years.  My favorite was her Arabella at Santa Fe.  Most recently she sang Donna Anna in San Francisco in 2017.

I enjoyed everything I saw and wish I had seen more.  She has died of cancer.  I feel it is a loss.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Weber's Euryanthe


Conductor- Constantin Trinks
Director- Christof Loy

Euryanthe- Jacquelyn Wagner, soprano
Count Adolar, her betrothed- Norman Reinhardt, tenor
Eglantine- Theresa Kronthaler, soprano
Count Lysiart- Andrew Foster-Williams, baritone
King Louis VI- Stefan Cerny, bass

Weber's Euryanthe, 1823, comes to me from Operavision. The performance is Theater an der Wien, Vienna, in 2018.  It's unusual for an early German language opera because there is no spoken dialog.  We seem to be getting orchestral recitative.

Women's costumes are from the 1950s.  We are in a large room with windows on the left and a door at the back, containing only a small hospital bed and a grand piano.Throughout the opera a super plays the queen.

Adolar loves Euryanthe and praises her purity.  Lysiart says purity is not to be found among women.  They argue and make a bet.  The King must hold the proofs of the bet.  They all just look like business men in dark suits.

A blond woman enters and sings about her Adolar.  She must be Euryanthe.  And the dark haired woman must be Eglantine.  Euryanthe has rescued Egalantine, but despite this she still tries to ruin Euryanthe's life by betraying her.  Because she too loves Adolar.  The music is very serene.  If you didn't know what was going on, would you guess it was this?  Egalantine has a nice rage aria to liven things up.  

At the beginning of Act II we have an extended male nude scene with Lysiart.  The lighting and camera angles are carefully managed to blunt the effect of this.  Why do it if you can't see it?  This is an opera about violent jealousy.  The two villians, Eglantine and Lysiart sing an extended duet where they swear revenge on Euryanthe.  At the end of Act II Eglantine is seen banging away theatrically on the piano.  I don't really hear a piano.  They blame Euryanthe for revealing a secret she has sworn to keep, and she runs out.  Even Adolar rejects her.  The secret is personal, so I don't see what the fuss is about.  Adolar's sister Emma has killed herself and her ghost still roams.  She needs the tears of an innocent to put her soul to rest.

Act III same room, no furniture.  They're supposed to be outdoors and attacked by a giant serpent.  Instead we're still in the same white room.  There are no hit tunes in this opera, but there is a very nice hunting chorus with horns.  This is Weber, after all.

The scene changes, and the hospital bed is back.  This production explains nothing.  Eglantine is marrying Lysiart, who appears to love her.  They sing about roses, but the flowers appear to be lilies.  Eglantine is killed, and Euryanthe marries Adolar.  Emma goes to her rest.

The women have all the fun in this opera.  The villain is a woman.  Small people with evil passions, but good wins in the end.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Metropolitan Opera in HD for 2021-2022

Disclaimer.  The contents of this list comes from Opera Wire.  I hope it is accurate.

Oct. 9, 2021 – Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky. The opera will be presented in its original 1869 version which appears to have no role for Marina.  This opera was presented at the Met in the longer version in 2010 in the same production which also starred René Pape in one of his greatest roles.

  • Production - Stephen Wadsworth
  • Conductor - Sebastian Weigle
  • René Pape - Boris
  • Alexey Markov
  • Stanislav Trofimov
  • David Butt Philip
  • Ain Anger
  • Maxim Paster 


 Oct. 23, 2021 – Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Terence Blanchard, libretto by Kasi Lemmons.  This opera had its premier in 2019 at Opera Theater of St. Louis.

  • Production- James Robinson and Camille A. Brown
  • Conductor- Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Angel Blue, Destiny/Loneliness/Greta
  • Latonia Moore - Billie
  • Will Liverman- Charles


Dec. 4, 2021 – Eurydice by Matthew Aucoin.  This is a new Orpheus opera having its Met premier.  The world premier was at the LA Opera 2/1/2020 just before everything shut down.

  • Production- Mary Zimmerman
  • Conductor- Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Erin Morley _ Eurydice
  • Joshua Hopkins, baritone - Orpheus
  • Jakub Józef Orliński, countertenor - Orpheus' alter ego. 


Jan. 1, 2022 – Cinderella by Massenet is usually called Cendrillon, but will here be presented in an English-language translation. We had this with the same production in French with Joyce DiDonato in 2018.  This is a shorter, more family oriented version.

  • Production- Laurent Pelly
  • Conductor-Emmanuel Villaume 
  • Isabel Leonard - Cinderella
  • Jessica Pratt - Fairy Godmother
  • Emily D’Angelo - Prince Charming
  • Stephanie Blythe - MMe
  • Laurent Naouri - Pandolfe


Jan. 29, 2022 – Rigoletto by Verdi.  No more Rat Pack. This is a new production by Bartlett Sher.  I am so pleased we will all get to hear Quinn Kelsey's wonderful version of Rigoletto.

  • Production - Bartlett Sher
  • Conductor - Daniele Rustioni
  • Rosa Feola - Gilda
  • Piotr Beczala - Duke
  • Quinn Kelsey - Rigoletto


March 12, 2022 – Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss. This is for Lise Davidsen, of course.  I am very happy with this choice.  When Brandon Jovanovich comes out at the end, we will know he is a god.

  • Production - Elijah Moshinsky
  • Conductor - Marek Janowski
  • Lise Davidsen - Ariadne
  • Brenda Rae - Zerbinetta
  • Isabel Leonard -  The Composer
  • Brandon Jovanovich -  Bacchus


March 26, 2022 – Don Carlos by Verdi.  Met Opera audiences will get a chance to see Verdi’s famed opera in its original French version for the first time in its history. Elina and Sonya were in a version from Paris in 2017.

  • Production - David McVicar
  • Conductor - Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Elina Garanca - Eboli
  • Matthew Polenzani - Don Carlos 
  • Sonya Yoncheva - Elisabeth
  • Étienne Dupuis - Rodrigue
  • Günther Groissböck - Philippe II
  • John Relyea - Grand Inquisitor

May 7, 2022 – Turandot by Puccini.  This is the traditional Zeffirelli production, and Anna Netrebko's Met role debut.

  • Production - Franco Zeffirelli
  • Conductor - Marco Armiliato
  • Turandot - Anna Netrebko
  • Calaf - Yonghoon Lee
  • Liu - Michelle Bradley


May 21, 2022 – Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti.  This is a new production, but I loved the old one.  The ghost at the fountain was genius.

  • Production - Simon Stone
  • Conductor - Riccardo Frizza
  • Nadine Sierra - Lucia
  • Artur Rucinski - Enrico
  • Javier Camarena -  Edgardo
  • Matthew Rose -  Raimondo


June 4, 2022 – Hamlet by Brett Dean which had its world premier at Glyndebourne in 2017.

  •  Production - Neil Armfield
  • Conductor - Nicholas Carter
  • Brenda Rae - Ophelia
  • Rod Gilfry - Claudius
  • Allan Clayton -  Hamlet
  • Dame Sarah Connolly -  Gertrude
  • Sir John Tomlison - Ghost

Our list includes 3 new operas, and new productions of Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor.  In addition we can count the Met premier of the original French version of Verdi's Don Carlos.  This is pretty interesting stuff.

Things we are missing:

Die Meistersinger with Lise Davidsen and Antonio Pappano.  This is something I would really like to see.  Otto Schenk is their current production.

Most of the rest is repeats of recent HD broadcasts.

Metropolitan Opera in HD for 2020-2021 -- Cancelled

More news:  I regret to say the entire 2020-21 Met season has been cancelled.  We await the 2021-22 season announcement.

Jan 16, 2021 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Zauberflöte.   This is the old Julie Taymor production and will be done in German. 
  • Conductor Gustavo Dudamel
  • Production Julie Taymor 
  • Pamina Christiane Karg 
  • Queen of the Night Kathryn Lewek 
  • Tamino Stanislas de Barbeyrac 
  • Papageno Thomas Oliemans 
  • Sprecher Christian Van Horn 
  • Sarastro Stephen Milling

Jan 30, 2021 Charles Gounod Roméo et Juliette
  • Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Production Bartlett Sher
  • Juliette Nadine Sierra, she sang this for us in San Francisco this season.
  • Stéphano Julie Boulianne 
  • Roméo Stephen Costello  
  • Tybalt David Portillo 
  • Mercutio Joshua Hopkins 
  • Capulet Laurent Naouri 
  • Frère Laurent Ildar Abdrazakov 

Mar 27, 2021 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Don Giovanni   This is the old Michael Grandage production with an excellent cast.
  • Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Production Michael Grandage
  • Donna Anna Ailyn Pérez 
  • Donna Elvira Isabel Leonard 
  • Zerlina Hera Hyesang 
  • Don Ottavio Ben Bliss 
  • Don Giovanni Peter Mattei 
  • Leporello Gerald Finley 
  • Masetto Alfred Walker 
  • The Commendatore Ryan Speedo Green

Apr 17, 2021 Jake Heggie Dead Man Walking  This is a new production of an opera new to the Met.  It's not new to me since I was at the world premier.
  • Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Production Ivo van Hove 
  • Sister Rose Latonia Moore 
  • Sister Helen Prejean Joyce DiDonato 
  • Mrs Patrick De Rocher Susan Graham 
  • Joseph De Rocher Etienne Dupuis 

Apr 24, 2021 Richard Strauss Die Frau ohne Schatten.  This is a spectacular cast.
  • Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Production Herbert Wernicke 
  • The Empress Elza van den Heever
  • The Dyer's Wife Nina Stemme
  • The Nurse Evelyn Herlitzius
  • The Emperor Klaus Florian Vogt
  • Barak Michael Volle
  • The Geisterbote Ryan Speedo Green

May 8, 2021 Giuseppe Verdi Nabucco.  This will be Netrebko's first Abigaille.
  • Conductor Marco Armiliato 
  • Production Elijah Moshinsky
  • Abigaille Anna Netrebko
  • Fenena Varduhi Abrahamyan
  • Ismaele Najmiddin Mavlyanov
  • Nabucco George Gagnidze
  • Zaccaria Dmitry Belosselskiy 

May 22, 2021  Vincenzo Bellini Il Pirata.  This is a new opera for me.
  • Conductor Maurizio Benini 
  • Production John Copley
  • Imogene Diana Damrau 
  • Gualtiero Javier Camarena
  • Goffredo Nicolas Testé 

Thursday, September 17, 2020




 I regret to show this announcement:

"Hello friends, I want to share with you that I have tested positive for COVID-19 and am currently in the hospital for medical treatment. I am doing well but also have COVID-related pneumonia, so I need medical supervision. I knew of course there was always going to be a risk that I might get infected. But I don’t regret going back to performing because I strongly believe that we need culture, now as ever. I am expected to make a full recovery thanks to the wonderful care I’m receiving. 
We are very, very grateful that Yusif and Tiago have tested negative for the virus. Yusif has tested positive for antibodies so he is clear to perform, which makes me very happy. Thank you all for the well wishes and continued support."

from Anna Netrebko 

We can only hope for the best.

P.S.  There is news that Anna is singing in hospital.

P.P.S.  Anna was in hospital for her birthday, Sept. 18, but as of this morning, Sept. 23, has been released and is recuperating.

P.P.P.S.  She reports that all is well with her voice, but is bored with nothing to do..


Sunday, September 13, 2020


This is the recital from the Metropolitan Opera starring Joyce DiDonato with Carrie-Ann Matheson on the piano and the ensemble Il Pomo D'Oro.  I'm going to tell who accompanies each piece.

  • “Addio Roma” from Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Il Pomo D'Oro
  • Didon’s Final Scene from Berlioz’s Les Troyens, Matheson.  I am very impress with Carrie-Ann Matheson as accompanist.
  • “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” by Gustav Mahler, Matheson.  Wonderful Mahler.  Sing more Mahler for us.

A clip from Maria Stuarda is inserted here while Joyce takes a break.

  • “Oh Shenandoah” Traditional
  • “As with rosy steps the morn” from Handel’s Theodora, Il Pomo D'Oro
  • “Illustratevi, o cieli” from Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, Il Pomo D'Oro
  • “Dopo notte atra e funesta” from Handel’s Ariodante, Il Pomo D'Oro.  This is the most heavily florid piece on the program so far.  It's nice to hear Joyce sing some coloratura.

The second pause comes here.  They have put in an interview concerning Dead Man Walking.

  • “I Dream a World” (World Premiere) by Kenyatta Hughes, arranged by Craig Terry, with text by Langston Hughes, Matheson and cello.
  • “Intorno all’idol mio” From Cesti’s Orontea, Il Pomo D'Oro.
  • “Voi che sapete” From Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Matheson.  This is the role Joyce made her Met debut in.
  • “La vie en rose” By Louiguy, arranged by Craig Terry, Matheson.  And now for something completely different.  Joyce has given herself much to enjoy. 
  • “Canción al árbol del olvido,” Op. 3, No. 2 by Alberto Evaristo Ginastera, Matheson.
  • “You'll Never Walk Alone” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, arranged by Craig Terry, Matheson.

This is all about lonliness, isolation and leaving.  She has chosen each piece for love, and it is a great success.  Sing what you love.  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Damnation of Faust Rerun

Conductor...................James Levine
Production..................Robert Lepage

Faust.......................Marcello Giordani
Marguerite..................Susan Graham
Méphistophélès..............John Relyea
Brander.....................Patrick Carfizzi

Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust is tonight's stream from the Metropolitan Opera, 2008.  See my discussion here of how it fits into the stream of Faust operas and plays.  The expense of installing the complex Lepage production has prevented it from being revived.  This is our only opportunity.  I am enjoying the complex but pleasing staging.  It allows for large masses of people moving on and off, dancing, birds flying, etc.  These fill the long stretches of instrumental interludes.  The opera was intended by Berlioz for the concert stage, but I am enjoying this staging.  If I remember correctly, the people who managed the Paris opera did not like Berlioz.

It is important to remember that Robert Lepage is the creator of Cirque de Soleil.  This explains the presence of acrobats who climb around the set.  We even have three of them being crucified.  They disappear suddenly when the scene changes.  Giordani and Relyea climb all over the set like the acrobats.  Lepage tends to forget that singers and acrobats have very different professions.

This is an excellent cast.  I sometimes wonder what has become of John Relyea. This is one of my favorite performances of Marcello Giordani.  The pervasive legato of Berlioz seems to suit him very well.

The set is more a commenting tableau than a staging.  Events are suggested rather than shown, but it stays true to the story. 

"D'amour l'ardente flamme" was performed by Susan Graham and Pedro Diaz Cosme on English horn.  This is a highlight of this opera and was quite gorgeous.

I enjoyed seeing this again.  Thank you.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Ariadne auf Naxos from Vienna

Conductor Peter Schneider
Director Sven-Eric Bechtolf

Ein Musiklehrer Markus Eiche
Der Komponist Rachel Frenkel
Der Tenor (Bacchus) Stephen Gould
Zerbinetta Erin Morley
Die Primadonna (Ariadne) Lise Davidsen

This has popped into my awareness just at the right moment.  It is Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos from the Wienerstaatsoper, 2017.  My copy has no subtitles.  We begin with this wonderful view of the rich man's garden and progress to the artists' dressing room.  Everyone does their own makeup.

I'm here for Lise Davidsen, of course.  In the opening scene Rachel Frenkel earns a mention.  She is an excellent Komponist, who appears only at the beginning.  Originally this opera consisted of only the second act which appeared after a play by Moliere.  In our production she appears around the set in the second half.

Complaining.  The voice/orchestra balance is terrible.  In the second half the purported audience is shown at the rear of the stage.  This would be the rich man and his guests.  The singers all turn towards us, of course, which seems rude.  The set for the second half is grand pianos thrown all around.  One realizes that if everything was changed at the last minute, it would all be exactly as chaotic as this staging.

I have not come in vain.  While Lise sings “Es gibt ein Reich,” Der Komponist walks slowly as though in a trance down from the onstage audience.  He cannot believe what he hears.  Such a glorious legato which moves effortlessly from low to high, from soft to loud we have never heard before. The upper register is gorgeous.  The clowns come out before she finishes, so there is no opportunity to clap.  This is a great lady.  It's always wonderful to have someone new to love.

You might also want Erin Morley for your Zerbinetta.

This is one of Strauss's more significant tenor roles, and it very well suits the Heldentenor we have here. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Lise Davidsen from Norway

Lise Davidsen with James Baillieu, piano.
I have changed the picture to this one that shows both of the faces of the performers in Lise Davidsen's Metropolitan Opera sponsored recital on Saturday.  For the performance they were dressed in normal recital clothes.

Lise began with what is already her signature piece:  “Dich, teure Halle” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser and followed it with “Allmächt’ge Jungfrau” from the same opera.  I reviewed her performance of this at Bayreuth in 2019 and said: "Lise Davidsen is utterly magnificent.  I adore her 'Dich teure Halle.'"  It's somewhat less impressive with piano but is still excellent.  I have also seen her in a production of Fidelio from the Royal Opera described here.

In a similar vein she performed “Es gibt ein Reich” from R. Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos.  This also displays perfectly her suitability for German repertoire.  I enjoyed this very much.

Operatic pieces included one Verdi,  “Morrò, ma prima in grazia” from Un Ballo in Maschera, and one Puccini, “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” from Manon Lescaut.  All of her operatic selections were easy for her.  She is never pushing or struggling with the notes.  She has been taught an excellent legato as well.  Or perhaps she comes by it naturally.
Operatic works were alternated with song repertoire.
  • “Ved Rondane,” Op. 33, No. 9 By Edvard Grieg 
  • “En Svane,” Op. 25, No. 2 By Edvard Grieg 
  • “Våren,” Op. 33, No. 2 By Edvard Grieg
  • “Säf, säf, susa,” Op. 36 By Jean Sibelius 
  • “Var det en dröm?” Op. 37 By Jean Sibelius 
  • “Ruhe, meine Seele!” Op. 27, No. 1 By Richard Strauss 
  • “Cäcilie,” Op. 27, No. 2 By Richard Strauss 
  • “Heimliche Aufforderung,” Op. 27, No. 3 By Richard Strauss 
  • “Morgen!” Op. 27, No. 4 By Richard Strauss  
She finished with pieces approaching pop songs, ending with "I could have danced all night" where we were invited to sing along.
  • “Johnny” By Benjamin Britten 
  • “Heia, heia, in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland” From Kálmán’s Die Csárdásfürstin 
  • “O lovely night!” By Landon Ronald 
  • “When I have sung my song to you” By Ernest Charles 
  • “I Could Have Danced All Night” From Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady
Thats Norwegian, Finnish, German, Italian, and English.

She grows on me very quickly.  The Queen of Norway loves her.  This is an excellent  selection of pieces for her voice.  She sings from a place of joy and peace.  And she's 6'2".  We should await a long career.

She was hosted by Christine Goerke.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Giusto Ciel

Early in my madness for Cecilia Bartoli this tune by Rossini was one of my favorites. It's just shown up on YouTube.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Elina sings Wagner

I have fallen quite by accident into a film of the Wiener Philharmoniker directed by Christian Thielemann with mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča singing Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder at this year's Salzburg Festival.  For many years these were my favorite Wagner.

This is something I sang myself.  Which means my head is full of ideas of how it should go.  Tempo, legato, etc.  It can't be helped.  Maybe it's just not Wagnerian enough.  I think it wouldn't have occurred to me that it should be like Schumann.  There's no evidence that she looks at him.  She's not required to, you know.  Now looking back at these songs I hear that they are not like a Wagner opera at all.  Perhaps she's right.  The orchestra claps and stands.

The concert goes on.