Sunday, January 25, 2015

Teatro Di San Carlo Gets Low Ranking For Government Support

"E il San Carlo finisce quasi in coda alla classifica degli enti lirici. Il massimo dei punti è 150 e li ottiene solo la Scala di Milano. Secondo è il Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, con 136. Sopra quota 100 c’è anche il Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, con 108. Il voto del San Carlo è un ben più misero 27, il Petruzzelli lo supera con 34, mentre due prestigiosi enti, come La Fenice di Venezia e il Regio di Torino prendono ancora di meno, rispettivamente 10 e 18." [Source] Morea about the Teatro di San Carlo after the jump.

Thomas Hampson Bestowed With Honorary Doctorate

Hampson receiving honor in Boston 
(Photo: Andrew Hurlbut)
"Baritone Thomas Hampson, recently honored as a Metropolitan Opera Guild 'Met Mastersinger,' will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree from New England Conservatory,in a ceremony presided over by President Tony Woodcock that takes place during a masterclass Hampson will lead for voice and opera students at 2 pm in NEC’s Brown Hall. The event marks Hampson’s second visit to NEC, the baritone having previously directed a Richard P. and Claire W. Morse Masterclass in April 2013." The event took place on January 18, 2015. "Born in Elkhart, Indiana, Hampson grew up in Spokane, Washington, where he enrolled at Eastern Washington State College (now Eastern Washington University) in Cheney, majoring in political science/government. Concurrently, Hampson earned a BFA in Voice Performance at Fort Wright College under the tutelage of Sister Marietta Coyle. During the summers of 1978 and 1979, he studied under Gwendolyn Koldowsky and Martial Singher at the Music Academy of the West, where he won the Lotte Lehmann Award. He then continued his studies at the University of Southern California, where he worked with vocal coach Jack Metz and the baritone Horst Gunther, a lifelong mentor. In 1980, as a consequence of winning the San Francisco Opera audition, he completed in the Merola Opera Program, in which he met Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. In 1981, he was one of the winners in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions national finals." [Source, Source]

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What's In A Name: Rosamund Pike Photographed By Mario Testino

A Rose by Any Other Name: Rosamund Pike in Vanity Fair
"The name Rosamund (also spelled Rosamond and Rosamunde) is a girls' name and can also be a family name (surname). Originally it combined the Germanic elements hros, meaning horse, and mund, meaning 'protection.' Later, it was influenced by the Latin phrases rosa munda, meaning 'pure rose,' and rosa mundi, meaning 'rose of the world.' 'Rosamonda' is the Italian, 'Rosamunde' is the German and 'Rosemonde' the French form of the name. People named Rosamund or variations thereof include: Rosamund (Gepid) or Rosamunde (fl. sixth century), second wife of Alboin, King of the Germanic Lombards; Rosamund Clifford (before 1150 – c. 1176), medieval beauty and longtime mistress of King Henry II; Rosamund Greenwood (1907–1997), British actress; Rosamund John (1913–1998), English actress; Rosamund Kwan (born 1962), Chinese actress; Rosamund Pike (born 1979), British actress; Rosamunde Pilcher (born 1924), British novelist; Rosamund Stanhope (1919–2005), British poet and teacher; Rosamund Marriott Watson (1860–1911), English poet and critic who wrote under the pseudonym of Graham R. Tomson. Franz Schubert also wrote incidental music
scored for orchestra under the Rosamunde heading. "There are two overtures associated with Rosamunde: The overture used for the stage production was the overture Schubert had originally composed for Alfonso und Estrella, but Schubert thought it less suitable for that opera and in the 1891 publication of the Gesammtausgabe, the ten numbers of the Rosamunde music were preceded by the overture to Die Zauberharfe (The Magic Harp), without any proof it was ever Schubert's intention to associate that overture with the rest of the Rosamunde music" The first vocal version, "Der Vollmond Strahlt auf Bergeshöh'n" was published in 1824 as Op. 26, with piano accompaniment. The one vocal version for mixed chorus and orchestra, dated 1863, is written "Andante con moto." Other forms of the incidental music include an entr'acte, ballet, and choruses. Additional uses of the music include an excerpt of the piece incorporated into the Christmas carol "Mille cherubini in coro," a song made popular by Luciano Pavarotti in a 1980 TV Christmas program. The piece is also played in Marvel's film The Avengers in the German opera house scene. [SourceSource] Watch a Vanity Fair video of Rosamund Pike being photographed by Mario Testino, and listen to Elly Ameling singing the vocal version of Schubert's music, after the jump.
Reclining Rosamund: A scene that could easily be taken straight out of a Schubertiade.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering Opera Singers Present For March On Washington 1963

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, which celebrates the birthday of the great civil rights leader, we bring you two performances from the Civil Rights March on Washington that took place at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. This was the occasion for Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech:
Camilla Williams sings the National Anthem in Washington, D.C., 1963

Marian Anderson sings "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" in Washington, D.C., 1963

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Palm Beach Opera Rewarded For Vital Contributions To Arts

Hot Ticket: Next up for Palm Beach Opera is a recital by Ildar Abdrazakov, titled "Seduction of the Senses," on February 5, 2015. More details and tickets can be found here. (Photo: Julia Borodina)
"Palm Beach Opera, under the general direction of Daniel Biaggi, will receive the Classical South Florida Ziff Award at a luncheon Jan. 30 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. CSF honors organizations that make vital contributions to the arts. The award is sponsored by Dr. Sanford L. Ziff, founder of Sunglass Hut of America, and his wife Beatrice, who donated $1 million in 2007 to help found Classical South Florida 90.7. The nonprofit public radio organization is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale." [Source ] Read a review of the company's most recent performance of La Bohème by clicking here.

"Sophie's Choice" Uses Johann Strauss Jr. For Big Dance Scene

Sophie (Meryl Streep) and Nathan (Kevin Kline) are having an evening of Southern decadence when the scene climaxes with the two characters dancing romantically to "Frühlingsstimmen" of Johann Strauss II. "'Frühlingsstimmen' ('Voices of Spring'), Op. 410, is a waltz by Johann Strauss II, written in 1882, for orchestra and solo soprano voice. Strauss dedicated the work to the pianist and composer Alfred Grünfeld. The famous coloratura soprano Bertha Schwarz (stage name Bianca Bianchi) sang this concert aria at a grand matinée charity performance at the Theater an der Wien in aid of the 'Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth Foundation for Indigent Austro-Hungarian subjects in Leipzig.' The waltz was not a great success at its premiere, but was more successful when performed on Strauss' tour of Russia in 1886. A piano arrangement by the composer contributed much to its success beyond Vienna. Bianca Bianchi was then a famous member of the Vienna Court Opera Theatre and Strauss was sufficiently inspired to compose a new work, a waltz for solo voice, for the acclaimed singer. The result was his world-renowned "Frühlingsstimmen" waltz which celebrated spring and remained one of the classical repertoire's most famous waltzes. The piece is sometimes used as an insertion aria in the act 2 ball scene of Strauss' operetta Die Fledermaus. The waltz makes a grand entry in the key of B-flat major with loud chords preceded with the waltz's three beats to the bar ushering the first waltz's gentle and swirling melody. The second waltz section invokes the joys of spring with the flute imitating birdsong and a pastoral scene. The plaintive and dramatic third section in F minor probably suggests spring showers whereas the fourth section that follows breaks out from the pensive mood with another cheerful melody in A-flat major. Without a coda, the familiar first waltz melody makes a grand entrance before its breathless finish, strong chords and the usual timpani drumroll and warm brass flourish. A performance lasts between seven and nine minutes." [Source] Watch Carlos Kleiber conduct an orchestral and Kathleen Battle sing a vocal version of "Frühlingsstimmen," as well as more information on Sophie's Choice, after the jump.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mozart Lends Music For 2015 Turbo Tax Season

"It’s not always easy, but love finds a way. No matter what you went through last year, answering questions about it is simple. Get your taxes done right with TurboTax." The tax company uses "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. Watch Lucia Popp (Pamina) and Wolfgang Brendel (Papageno) perform the piece on stage under conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jessye Norman Honors Martin Luther King Jr. With "Amazing Grace"

Deborah Voigt Confesses To People About Men, Wine, and Weight

I Am Woman: Deborah Voigt (Photo: Heidi Gutman)
"When Deborah Voigt was fired for being too fat to fit into a (size 12) little black dress for a production of Strauss's Ariadne aug [sic] Naxos at London's Royal Opera House in 2004, public outrage was immediate. 'It's incredible someone can get away with saying those words,' Voigt, 54, tells PEOPLE exclusively. 'It's still open season on overweight women.' Voigt details her lifelong struggles with food in a new memoir, Call Me Debbie (cowritten by former PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff). She writes about her first binge at age 5 (when she slugged back a jar of olives), her late night fast food runs once she got her driver's license, stuffing herself with Pepperidge Farm coconut layer cakes 'until I passed out.' 'At first I'd say 'I'll never go over 180 lbs., then it was 200 lbs.,' she admits. 'It just went up and up and up.' At the same time, she was becoming one of the world's leading opera stars. In that world it was fine, even expected, to be large. But once she became obese, some directors started to comment. 'It was hard being Tosca at 300 lbs.,' she says. 'They're singing about her being so beautiful, and I'm feeling 'I am not and I will never be.'' While the 2004 firing was humiliating, she now understands the decision. 'There's a difference between being a larger-than-life opera singer and what I was, a poster child for food addiction,' she explains. Afterwards, Voigt took the money from the canceled performance and scheduled gastric bypass surgery. 'I had eaten everything there was to eat,' she says. 'How many more binges do you have to have?' She lost over 100 lbs. But soon, there was another struggle. 'My drinking just escalated,' she tells PEOPLE. 'It would be nothing for me to go through two bottles of wine, then my blackout would happen sometime around the third bottle.' Through therapy, she learned about how one addiction can lead to another. Men came next: for a brief time, she even frequented websites for men who wanted 'big gals.' 'The whole idea of being able to attract a man was so new to me,' notes Voigt. 'It was like, 'Could I?' Lo and behold, I could, and it was like feeding the monster.'" [Source]

Sonya Yoncheva Makes Vogue Magazine Spread For Debut

A Star is Born: Soprano Sonya Yoncheva Arrives
"As Yoncheva made her debut in major operas in Europe, word of her singular range and tone made its way to Gelb. 'We have a very sophisticated scouting system,' he later explained by phone. 'Sometimes I hear reports about young singers that make it clear we should bring them in. European opera houses are typically smaller than the Met. Singers who can make an impression in a smaller European house sometimes do not have the same success on stage at the Met. The singer has to be even more intensely charismatic on stage.' Following her turn as Gilda, Gelb said, Yoncheva has been on a 'meteoric rise to operatic stardom.' Tonight, Yoncheva will begin the first of four performances in La Traviata, one day after releasing her first album, the result of an exclusive, long-term deal with Sony Classical. She is now booked five years out, including in the opening of the Met’s next season, when she will sing the part of Desdemona in a new production of Verdi’s Otello that is slated for a live-broadcast in movie theaters around the world." [SourceRead the full article "Meet Sonya Yoncheva: Opera's Brightest New Star" by clicking here and see more photos by Vogue's Ruven Afanador after the jump. Sonya Yoncheva will be appearing at the Metropolitan Gift Shop on January 22 to sign copies of her new CD, see details here. Sample tracks off the soprano's new album are also after the jump. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Elena Obraztsova Has Passed Away In Germany At 75

"Prominent Russian opera singer Elena Obraztsova passed away on Monday in Germany at the age of 75. Details about the cause of Obraztsova’s death have not been made public. Representatives of Obraztsova’s charitable organization told RIA Novosti that she was recently undergoing treatment at a German clinic. Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the family and friends of Obraztsova, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Monday. Elena Obraztsova was born on July 7 in Leningrad (Saint Petersbrurg), USSR. Thanks to her outstanding vocal abilities, she was widely recognized as one of the greatest opera singers of all time." [Source] More about the mezzo-soprano, as well as an extensive gallery, after the jump.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Renée Fleming Headlines All-Star Evening Of American Voices

"World-renowned American opera singer Renée Fleming convenes a festival of special guests to celebrate the diverse range of America’s vocal artistry. Young artists receive mentoring from respected singers including Ben Folds, Dianne Reeves, Sutton Foster, Eric Owens, Kim Burrell and Alison Krauss. Also see performances by Josh Groban, Sara Bareilles and Norm Lewis. A documentary about the festival will air on Great Performances on PBS Friday, January 9 at 9/8c." [Source] Watch the complete performance,  or just an excerpt of Renée Fleming singing "Danny Boy," after the jump.