Friday, October 9, 2015

Warner Classics Capitalizes On Natalie Dessay Discography

As Natalie Dessay makes the decision to exit the opera stage forever, her record label searches the archives to release a compilation pulled from her career over the last 15 years of singing Bach, Händel, Rameau, and Monteverdi with Emmanuelle Haïm and William Christie. The 2-CD set also comes with a DVD featuring Ms. Dessay in Händel's Alcina. The release is set for November 6. You can pre-order your copy by clicking here. See the complete track list after the jump.

Sabine Devieilhe Follows The Love Mozart Had For Weber Sisters

Mozart was in love with three sisters of the Weber family: Josepha, Aloysia and Konstanze. He wrote music for all of the muses (and their high tessituras) during the last 14 years of his life. This new recording, Sabine Devieilhe's second solo disc for Erato, features conductor Raphaël Pichon and Pygmalion creating a journey of Mozart's amorous awaking for these women as told through music that is bold, dangerous, naive and tormented. Some of the featured tracks include: "Der Hölle Rache" from Die Zauberflöte; "Non so d'onde viene" K.294; "Io non chiedo, eterni Dei" K.316; "Nehmt meinen Dank" KV 483; "Ah, vous dirais-je maman"; and more. Due out November 6, you can pre-order this limited edition disc by clicking here. Watch a video of the recording session after the jump.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Anna Netrebko And Yusif Eyvazov Perform Igor Krutoy In Sochi

Hip Opera Stars: Yusif Eyvazov and Anna Netrebko during rehearsals in Sochi, Russia, for "New Wave."
Soprano Anna Netrebko, currently singing Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore at the Metropolitan Opera, was joined by her fiancé Yusif Eyvazov in singing music of Igor Krutoy a the opening of the popular singing competition known as "New Wave" in Sochi, Russia. The October 5 event drew spectators like the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedeva and wife Svetlana, singer Philipp Kirkorov, singer Joseph Kobzon, actor Vladimir Vinokur, singer Lev Leshchenko, and more. This new musical project is based on poems of Lilia Vinogradova set to music of Igor Krutoy. The conductor for the evening was Nikita Mikhalkov. Ms. Netrebko has previously discussed the duets album she is recording with her fiancé of the Krutoy music. She has stated in an interview she is not interested in doing crossover music, but the lyrical songs of Igor Krutoy are just too beautiful not to sing. [Source] More photos, and a couple videos from the concert, after the jump.
Music Lovers: The happy couple backstage after singing Igor Krustoy in Sochi, Russia.

Plácido Domingo Surrounded By Yoncheva, Peretyatko, Yende At MET

Tenor Plácido Domingo backstage at the Metropolitan Opera following a performance of Verdi's Otello, a role he has sung over 225 times, with sopranos (left to right) Sonya Yoncheva, Olga Peretyatko and Pretty Yende.

Maria Luigia Borsi Interviewed During "La Bohème" At Atlanta Opera

A portrait of Maria Luigia Borsi by Brad Repp
"The masterpiece by Puccini introduces us to Mimì and Rodolfo, young lovers living in Paris in the nineteenth century. Their group of bohemians (poets, painters, philosophers) traverses the emotional landscapes of love, poverty and ultimately, loss. This production by General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun will bring a grand cinematic approach to one of the greatest operas of all time. Italian soprano Maria Luigia Borsi portrays Mimì. Tenor (and fellow Italy native) Gianluca Terranova plays her lover, Rodolfo. American soprano Leah Partridge sings the role of Musetta and baritone Trevor Scheunemann will portray Marcello. Theo Hoffman sings the role of Shaunard. Arthur Fagen, Carl & Sally Gable Music Director of the Atlanta Opera, will conduct." [Source] For ticket information, visit the Atlanta Opera website. Listen to the interview with Maria Luigia Borsi by clicking here. Hear the soprano sing "Donde lieta usci," from Act III of La Bohème, after the jump.

Schubert "Die Forelle" Used To Sell Axe Dry Spray Antiperspirant

Nothing Fishy Here: Ad man promotes the new product from Axe.
The latest product from Axe, White Label Dry Spray Antiperspirant, features the music of Franz Schubert's famous lied "Die Forelle" in the commercial promoting the product. "Introducing the first ever dry spray antiperspirant line from Axe® -- an entirely new way from Axe® to stay dry. Applied to the underarms, this revolutionary new product was specially designed to go on instantly dry with no visible residue, keeping you fresh and protected from sweat for 48 hours. Featuring a cool rush of grapefruit, lavender, cedarwood and praline notes, the Axe White Label Night dry spray will keep you immaculately fresh so you feel your finest." [Source] Watch the commercial for Axe, and hear Renée Fleming sing "Die Forelle," after the jump.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mary Lambert Gets Wagnerian In Her "Secrets" Music Video

Wagnerian Tribute: Mary Lambert in her music video for "Secrets"
Seattle-based singer Mary Lambert released her debut album Heart on My Sleeve in October 2014. Featured on the album was the single "Secrets," which peaked at number one on U.S. Dance charts. She is a declared Christian and out lesbian. Often described as a mix of Adele, Tori Amos and James Blake, the singer often writes about her own personal experiences of early childhood sexual abuse, body image, bipolar disorder, and her sexuality. She taught herself how to play piano and write songs at age 6. She is originally from Everett, Washington, where she attended Mariner High School between 2003 and 2007. Her mother is a recording artist. Lambert moved to Seattle, Washington, to study at Cornish College of the Arts where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Composition. In the music video for "Secrets," you see a clip of Mary Lambert assuming the role of a Valkyrie from a Wagner opera. Watch the video, after the jump. [Source]

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Natalie Dessay Claims No Opera Roles Left For Her To Sing Onstage

Dynamic Duo: Dessay (left) with recital and recording partner
Philippe Cassard in a photo from their most recent release.
"French soprano Natalie Dessay gave a recent recital in London that one critic called 'sublime' and her latest CD of French art songs has been well received, but she says her fans will never see her again on the opera stage that made her famous. Dessay, the petite gamine of the French opera world, soared to fame as the mechanical doll Olympia in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann and scared the living daylights out of her male counterparts as the mad, knife-wielding Lucia in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. But at age 50, she says the opera is no longer for her. 'I have no roles anymore, I've done everything I could do and I don't want to repeat myself over and over,' Dessay told Reuters in an interview at London's Barbican....With opera behind her, Dessay is alternating song recitals, with piano accompanist Philippe Cassard, and tours with the French pop song and film composer Michel Legrand, but her real passion is for live theater. She recently starred in a French revival of the British playwright Howard Barker's dark, one-woman play Und, about a Jewish woman whose guest is overdue for tea, and who will not accept that the reason her house comes under a series of escalating malicious attacks is because the visitor is a German camp officer. She is looking for more such roles, but in the meantime she hopes her opera audiences will look out for her in the different venues where she will still be performing. 'It turns all the time around the same thing,' she said. 'How to make people travel with me, how to tell them stories in different ways.'" [Source]

Stephen Costello Leans On Family Member During Tough Times

Familial Lifeline: Stephen Costello (left) with his cousin
Brian Costello (Photo: Facebook)
"'Not trusting people, not believing you have anyone there to support you. I did have people, but I just didn’t know they were there.' One of the few people who knew the full story was Costello’s cousin Brian Costello. They grew up together in the working class suburb of Northeast Philadelphia. Brian’s dad Pat co-founded a boxing club for underprivileged teens from the neighborhood with their uncle, Tim, named the Jack Costello Boxing Club after their father, Costello and Brian’s grandfather. At the opening of the boxing club in 1996, Stephen sang the national anthem for the inaugural exhibition fight, in which Brian fought. They were 15. Born less than a month apart, Costello and Brian grew up together having sleepovers every weekend, watching horror movies, and eating pizza. Costello’s interest in music started in sixth grade; Brian played the saxophone and Costello “wanted to be like Brian,” so he took up the trumpet. Brian, sober since 2010, lives in their grandmother’s old house in the Tacony section of Philadelphia right down the street from the boxing club with his wife Nicole and two children. When Costello first decided to divorce he called Brian, who flew immediately to be with him in Chicago. In the midst of his Traviata cancellation crisis, Costello called Brian again, just after he had pulled out of the first performance, and the second one approaching. Brian told The Daily Beast, 'He called me and I could barely hear him. He had such a depressed tone. He felt like he let people down.' Brian told Costello he had to let go of everything that happened prior, and the stress of worrying about what people thought and how things looked. He came to join him in New York, and attended Costello’s second night of Traviata, Brian’s first opera at the Met, and the first opera he had seen Costello in. Brian gave Costello the 24-hour AA coin they had given him the day he left rehab. 'I told him what happened yesterday or last week

Philip Pierce Named New Director of Artistic Administration At FGO

Sunshine State-Bound: Philip Pierce gets new position
"Florida Grand Opera (FGO) is pleased to welcome Philip Pierce as Director of Artistic Administration. Mr. Pierce will be responsible for the overall supervision and logistics of the artistic department, including the casting process, rehearsal schedule, artistic budget, and contracting of artists, among other duties. In recent months, Mr. Pierce has transitioned actively from a solo career into the realm of artistic administration Through these experiences, he acquired a great understanding of the opera companies, agents, and singers. Most recently Mr. Pierce has served as the assistant to the Director of Opera at the Caramoor Music Festival in Katonah, NY. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University and his Master of Music Degree from the New England Conservatory. 'Philip is very intelligent, highly organized, and passionate about opera and FGO,' says Susan T. Danis, General Director & CEO of Florida Grand Opera. 'We look forward to his arrival and welcoming him to the team!'" [Source]

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gheorghiu And Kaufmann At European Culture Awards In Dresden

Award-Winning Smiles: Gheorghiu and Kaufmann
"Thirteen individuals and organizations have been honored with the European Culture Award in Dresden. Awardees include former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and former VW supervisory chief Ferdinand Piech. The prizes were awarded at Dresden's Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) on Friday, with 25 years of Germany's reunification as its central theme. The ceremony looked back at special achievements before and after the historical event. The European Culture Award is given out to individuals and organizations who have contributed towards the idea of a unified Europe. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann and Romanian soprano singer Angela Gheorghiu were the two soloists honored this year. The organizers also recognized the contributions of actress Kathrin Sass, the British violinist Daniel Hope and a civil society intiative for the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Former VW supervisory chief Ferdinand Piech and former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez , who worked towards Germany's reunification, won the prize of honor at Friday's event. The Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic, led by Kristjan Järvi and cellist Maximilian Hornung were honored in the emerging talents category. 22-year-old Iva Kovic, a Lebanese artist of Slovenian origin, was the inaugural winner of the new visual arts category. The European Culture Prizes were awarded for the first time in 1993 and carry no monetary compensation. Its organizers include the European Cultural Foundation and the Frauenkirche in Dresden." [Source]

Friday, October 2, 2015

Baritone Jarrett Ott Profiled For Opera Philadelphia "La Traviata"

Baritone Jarrett Ott (bottom) in Philadelphia, with current boyfriend Adam Franklin (top) who is the Artistic Administrator at The Santa Fe Opera, for performances of Verdi's La Traviata. (Photo: Facebook)
"No sooner than Opera Philadelphia scored a huge success last month with its queer-centric Andy: A Popera, in collaboration with FringeArts and the Bearded Ladies, comes the beginning of its season, its sparkling annual gala and the Oct. 2 start of La Traviata, the Verdi opera in three acts about fallen women and the men who love them. The antiquated notion of salvaging reputations (remember when celebrities, politicians and royalty could be shamed — ah, the past) is where we find the heart of La Traviata. Set at the mouth of 18th-century Paris and based on La Dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, grand opera doesn’t come any grander or more traditional than this. 'The opera world is a gay man’s world,' Ott said, talking about the welcoming environment of the classical vocal stage. 'It’s never been frustrating, but rather comforting, to meet some of the warmest people.'.....'Getting to share the stage with this cast is pretty incredible,' Ott said. 'During this rehearsal process, I have had the wind knocked out of me several times listening to my colleagues. Philadelphia is in for an operatic treat with this gorgeous production all around.' When asked what is most testing about his role of Marchese, Ott was quick to joke, 'Going to the gym every day in order to be stripped down to shirtless in act two.'" [Source] Watch a video of rehearsal footage for La Traviata at Opera Philadelphia featuring Jarrett Ott, and a teaser clip for the production, after the jump.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dominic Purcell Hears Operatic Overtones In Yoplait Whips Ad

"Australian actor Dominic Purcell stars in this Yoplait ad as 'A Man of Yogurt.' Sitting outside in a stylish suit, he describes in his deep, husky voice the experience he had with the Greek 100 Whips! Strawberry Cheesecake yogurt. He gets into detail about the texture, saying it's like "a little fluffy fluffy cloud" in his mouth. Now, cue the opera music as he eats more of the snack." [Source] Although the snippet is not from any particular composed opera, it sounds like something that might be heard in a duet from Lucia di Lammermoor. Watch the commercial after the jump.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

OUT Magazine Features New 2016 Calendar Filled With Baritones

Vittorio Prato is one of the featured opera hunks in the 2016 calendar to raise money for fellow baritones.
"Each year, the Barihunks site surprises us with its dedication to opera singers with lower voices — as well as some musical theater notables (and a few non baritones for good measure). Their annual calendar features a selection of those same studs, and for its fifth edition, is no exception. All the singers included in the calendar are baritones or have lower voices — except for Eric Stoklossa, who is the first tenor featured in the calendar. Plus, four singers were photographed this past summer in the Loire Valley for an exclusive shoot, including Marco Vassalli and Malte Roesner (Pictured above). Proceeds from the charity calendar will be used to fund the creation of the Foundation for the Advancement of Baritones (F.A.B.), which will 'fund baritone and bass cash prizes at song competitions, commission music for baritones and basses, and be used to fund other projects featuring low male voices.'" [Source] You can buy the calendar here. See photos of featured baritones Marco Vassalli and Malte Roesner with (and without) shirts after the jump.

Luther College Produces Two Opera News Magazine Rising Stars

Cornfields To The Concrete Jungle: Andrew Stenson (far left) and Emily
Fons (second from right) both attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa,
and will be performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. 

(Photo: James Salzano - Click image to enlarge)
"Talking about their experiences at Luther College and their path into professional singing careers, Luther alumni Andrew Stenson and Emily Fons will be presenting career talks at Luther in October. Stenson, class of 2008, will speak at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, and Fons, class of 2006, will speak at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. Both career talks will be held in the Noble Recital Hall of the Jenson-Noble Hall of Music on the Luther campus. Both events are open to the public with no charge for admission. Stenson is quickly becoming recognized as one of the United States' most exciting young tenors. A 2011 recipient of the Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation, he will make his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut, as well as debuts with Arizona Opera, Fort Worth Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic in the upcoming 2015-16 season. Stenson earned a master's degree in music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Fons, a mezzo-soprano, recently made her German debut at the International Händel Festspiele in Göttingen. A former member of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Fons has also appeared with the Michigan Opera Theatre, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Santa Fe Opera, and the Atlanta Opera. Fons earned a master's degree in music from Southern Illinois University. Both Stenson and Fons both have contracts this year with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which is considered to be the best opera house in the world. Luther is home to one of the largest collegiate music programs in the nation, with six choirs, three orchestras, three bands, two jazz bands and nearly 1,000 student musicians. Luther students participate in large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. More than 300 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance." [Source] Watch a behind-the-scenes video of these young artists getting photographed for the most recent issue of Opera News, after the jump.

Opera In Australia Costing More Money While Audience Shrinks

Sinking Art: A promotional advertisement for Opera Australia's production of Madama Butterfly.
"The Federal Government pays an average of $60 for ticket-holder but opera is still losing both money and audiences. At least one company is on the verge of bankruptcy and opportunities for Australian artists are shrinking. The high level of subsidy is consistent with other major performing arts companies. Major dance companies are subsidised at a rate of $63 a ticket and orchestras even higher at $86 a ticket. But, unlike most other art forms, the subsidy is not delivering audiences to opera. The National Opera Review has found that despite increasing funding, Australia’s opera companies are facing reduced audiences, growing debt, and reduced artistic vibrancy. The high level of subsidy is consistent with other major performing arts companies. Major dance companies are subsidised at a rate of $63 a ticket and orchestras even higher at $86 a ticket. But, unlike most other art forms, the subsidy is not delivering audiences to opera. The National Opera Review has found that despite increasing funding, Australia’s opera companies are facing reduced audiences, growing debt, and reduced artistic vibrancy." [Source]