Tuesday, December 29, 2020

TRY Channel Sneaks In An Opera Reference - For Better Or Worse

The TRY Channel on YouTube feature comedians from Ireland, well, trying things. In this most recent holiday edition, they plow through advent calendar drink boxes (beer, gin, whisky) and there is one funny moment at the 18:25 mark if you need a laugh. Watch more of their videos here: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheTRYChannel/videos. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Bulgari "Never Too Much" With the Help of Verdi Force

Presenting MAI TROPPO: a celebration of the joyful exuberance of Bulgari and Rome. The new MAI TROPPO (Never Too Much) Bulgari advertising campaign, is an ode to life, joy and happiness. Deeply rooted in a Roman flamboyant exuberance, Bulgari invites to enthusiastically enjoy every single moment, here and now. Starring super model Lily Aldridge, British actress & singer Naomi Scott, American actress Zendaya. Directed by Johan Renck. The ad uses music from the Overture of Verdi's La Forza del Destino. Watch the full ad, as well as excerpts from the opera, after the jump.

WW84 Confusingly Uses Mozart For Emotional Affect

Remember coloratura soprano Christine Johnston? Well, she's resurfaced in the second full-length feature Wonder Woman film titled WW84. Unfortunately it's not flattering for anyone. For some reason the producers decided to use the aria "Voi che sapete" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro in what is supposed to be a fantastical scene of discovery as Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) sees the technology in the world of 1984 that he's been thrust into after being resurrected from 1918. Much of this film reads as a cheesy B-movie from the '80s, but this was a real lost opportunity. In the context of the opera, the character of Cherubino is Count Almaviva's page and a teenage boy who is girl-crazy. In opera this is known as "pants role" and sung often times in modern day by a mezzo-soprano. For this aria, we find out that the Count is tired of Cherubino's philandering with women so he's sending him off to army duty in Seville. Cherubino sings to Countess Almaviva and the servant Susanna about how much love he has to give. Hijinks ensue as any good as any plans that Beaumarchais created in his play La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro on which Da Ponte based his libretto. The opera premiered in 1786, so maybe there is supposed to be some cleverness about the '80s? The film score was hammered out by Hollywood veteran Hans Zimmer so maybe this was his idea? At any rate, the audience has to endure a pedantically sung piece that has no place in this movie. You can watch the film on HBOMax: https://www.hbomax.com/wonder-woman-1984. After the jump is a performance of "Voi che sapete" by Frederica von Stade.

Rapper Drake Installs MET Chandelier in $100 Million Mansion

Canadian rapper Drake has finally has revealed his $100 million mansion in Toronto and it is a showstopper. Coming in at just 5,000 square feet less than the White House, this home is filled the finest craftsmanship. So why just get any light fixture when you can get a replica of one that is in the Metropolitan Opera? His interior designer, Ferris Rafauli, turned to the Viennese family company J.&L. Lobmeyr that created the original starburst chandeliers that hang in the MET back in 1963. "Founded in 1823 with its head office on Kärntner Strasse in Vienna city center, manufactures chandeliers in all shapes and styles as well as high-quality crystal glass, according to designs ranging from Josef Hoffmann to Helmut Lang. The company used to supply the Imperial Palace, Schönbrunn Palace, the Bavarian royal palaces, and numerous European dynasties." You can see pictures of the interiors by clicking here. Watch a video of the chandelier installation and more of the home's interiors after the jump. 


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Opera Singing Countertenor John Holiday Rocks "The Voice"

High-soaring vocals ripped through the air of NBC's The Voice competition when countertenor John Holiday performed the Ella Fitzgerald hit "Misty." Pop star John Legend was the first to turn his chair within a few measures of the tune. Before COVID-19 cancellations, the young singer was to make his Metropolitan Opera debut this season and perform with Dallas Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Utah Opera, and the San Francisco Symphony. To learn more about this Texas native, click here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Amazon Prime's "Utopia" Lifts From Bizet's "Carmen" For New Ad

A new television ad for Amazon Prime's new show Utopia features a deconstructed version of Bizet's famous Habanera "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" from Carmen"Utopia is an upcoming American drama web television series adapted by Gillian Flynn from the 2013 British original. It is scheduled to premiere on September 25, 2020, on Prime Video." The plot is as follows: "Utopia is a conspiracy thriller that follows a group of young fans who come together when they discover that the conspiracy in an elusive comic, Utopia, is real. The comic foretells the demise of humanity and the world as we know it, thrusting this group of underdogs to embark on a high-stakes twisted adventure to use what they uncover to save themselves, each other and ultimately humanity." 
"The score of the aria was adapted from the habanera 'El Arreglito ou la Promesse de mariage,' by the Spanish musician Sebastián Iradier, first published in 1863, which Bizet thought to be a folk song. When others told him he had used something written by a composer who had died 10 years earlier, he added a note of its derivation in the first edition of the vocal score which he himself prepared. Although the French libretto of the complete opéra comique was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, the words of the habanera originated from Bizet. The Habanera was first performed by Galli-Marié at the Opéra-Comique on 3 March 1875. Bizet, having removed during rehearsals his first version of Carmen's entrance song, in 3/4 with a refrain in 6/8, rewrote the Habanera several times before he (and Galli-Marié) were satisfied with it. Although Bizet kept the basic layout of the Iradier song, which has each verse in D minor and each refrain in the tonic major, he let go of the long ritornelli and second half material, and by adding chromaticism, variations in the refrain and harmonic interest in the accompaniment, made it a memorable number. The reharmonization, addition of triplets in the vocal line and the flute in its low register add to the effect."

Watch the Amazon commercial and a full clean version of Bizet's famous aria after the jump.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Sapphic European Opera Soprano Gets Lobotomy In "Ratched"

Harriet Sansom Harris plays the chain-smoking diva.

Ryan Murphy's latest exploration for Netflix is Ratched. Described as "an American psychological thriller drama web television series about the character of the same name from Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Created by Evan Romansky and developed by Ryan Murphy, the series stars Sarah Paulson in the title role and serves as a prequel to the novel. It premiered on Netflix on September 18, 2020." Netflix adds: "Ratched is a suspenseful drama series that tells the origin story of asylum nurse Mildred Ratched. In 1947, Mildred arrives in Northern California to seek employment at a leading psychiatric hospital where new and unsettling experiments have begun on the human mind. On a clandestine mission, Mildred presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be, but the wheels are always turning and as she begins
Barbaric Practice: If opera didn't do Ingrid in, this surgery might!
to infiltrate the mental health care system and those within it, Mildred's stylish exterior belies a growing darkness that has long been smoldering within, revealing that true monsters are made, not born." One character, a faded opera singer named Ingrid, appears in two episodes. She is equal parts Zinka Milanov and Eva Marton. When describing her repertoire, she says "I sang all the major dramatic roles from Brünnhilde to Turandot." Finding herself lost now that her career is over, she has arrived at the asylum for  new revolutionary procedure, which turns out to be a lobotomy. Things get a bit more complicated when it's revealed she is also a lesbian, something the hospital is trying to "cure" as well. In the second appearance of Ingrid, the scene opens with Puccini's aria "Tu che di gel sei cinta" from Turandot. Although Ingrid herself would have sung the title role of the opera, this from the character of Liù resonates with several themes within the show. 
The rest of the Ratched cast includes Sharon Stone, Sarah Paulsen, Judy Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Finn Wittrock, Jon Jon Briones, and Charlie Carver. See more stills of Ingrid from Ratched, and see videos of the above aria as well as others that Ingrid would have performed, after the jump. [Source, Source]
Naughty Nurse: Sarah Paulsen plays Mildred Ratched.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Christopher Macchio Slaughters Puccini In Political Propaganda Night

Opera suffered a major blow in the America's capital. Donald Trump ended the fourth evening of the Republican National Convention on the lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., with singer Christopher Macchio attempting to interpret Puccini's well-known "Nessun Dorma" from the portico balcony. Struggling through music that is beyond his faculties, even with a microphone, he followed the aria with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Schubert's "Ave Maria," Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," and ended with Katharine Lee Bates's "America the Beautiful." The entire spectacle was reminiscent of autocratic regimes in the world that flaunt crowds and wealth as political power. Remember in the context of the opera Turandot, from which the aria derives, the title character has threatened "This night, none shall sleep in Peking! The penalty for all will be death if the Prince's name is not discovered by morning." It's not clear whether the administration knew this in advance or perhaps that is why is was selected. 

According to various biographies, the entertainer attended the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Macchio came to the attention of Donald Trump after he performed at a New Year's Eve Party thrown at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Read more about his achievements here. "His exploits can be followed online though his website, www.christphermacchio.com, through social media, and experienced on his debut album, DocliMomenti, which showcases a stylistic range that can delicately draw an audience in, and
then build to a virtuoso climax that leaves
goosebumps on the arms and tears in the eyes."
Reviews have been less than favorable of the performance. Watch it here. A professional version of the famous aria can be found after the jump.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Marina Abramović Is About to Birth "7 Deaths of Callas" In Munich


What was dubbed "An opera project by Marina Abramović (2020)," the new performance for 7 Deaths of Callas is set top open on September 5 at the Bayerische Staatsoper. With music by Marko Nikodijević and scenes of operas by Georges Bizet, Gaetano Donizetti, Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi, the original opening was sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is to be co-produced with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Greek National Opera, and Opéra national de Paris. The additional plans for future performances, however, have not been released. Singers involved include Hera Hyesang Park (Violetta Valéry), Selene Zanetti (Floria Tosca), Leah Hawkins (Desdemona), Kiandra Howarth (Cio-Cio-San), Nadezhda Karyazina (Carmen), Adela Zaharia (Lucia Ashton), and Lauren Fagan (Norma).

Watch the promo video, which features Willem Dafoe, after the jump.


Friday, August 21, 2020

MET Opera Home Audiences Finally Get The Big Picture With Demo

Easy as 1-2-3: The new tutorial to stream opera onto your television posted on Instagram has over 12K views
Twelve years ago when the Metropolitan Opera was getting ready to launch its MET on Demand streaming service, the company likely wasn't prepared that one day the world would have a pandemic forcing it to rely on its videography cache of the Live in HD catalog to sustain some cash flow from audience members and engagement with donors through the announcement of Nightly Met Opera Streams this spring. This blog discussed the option of the MET to go with Roku as a streaming service for their operas and now for the first time if you don't have the service, you can still watch on the big screen with the new tutorial posted on Instagram.
Home Theater: Enjoying the opera greats in the comfort of your living room
"Experience every stunning performance in our Met Stars Live in Concert series on a bigger screen using Google Chromecast or Apple AirPlay. Follow these easy step-by-step instructions to learn how to cast the high-definition stream onto your television. Tickets for the entire series on available now at metopera.org/metstars." This is extremely important considering that the MET has been forced to not only lean on the huge back catalog but also employing a pay-per-view model creating new content for online users worldwide. "After having to cancel their upcoming
Free Trial: How many operas could you watch in seven days?
performances due to coronavirus concerns, the Metropolitan Opera announced it would stream encore presentations from the award-winning Live in HD series of cinema transmissions on the company website for the duration of the closure. This new offering will begin Mar. 16 [2020] with the 2010 HD performance of Bizet’s Carmen Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and starring

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Ex-wife of Andrew Lloyd Webber to Receive Star in Hollywood

Happy Duo: Sarah and Andrew
Soprano Sarah Brightman has performed with opera legends Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, as well as Andrea Bocelli. In June it was announced that she will be getting a rare honor: a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Curious about the opera singers that Ms. Brightman will share the same sidewalk with in California? After the jump, you can see them all and you're going to be surprised by how many appear on the list! Notably missing thus far is Renée Fleming. The British songstress first
 launched into fame with a 1978 hit "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper" with the group Hot Gossip. She went on to marry composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber which propelled her stage career like a rocket after appearing in several of his musicals. She has an estimated net worth of $60 million while her former husband is estimated to have $1.2 billion. Her Facebook page made the announcement: "Sarah to Be Honoured with a Star on the Iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame! Today, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced that Sarah will be honoured with a star on the world-renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles for her outstanding contributions in live theatre and live performance. Currently celebrating its 60th year, the Walk of Fame was created to "maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world." Watch the announcement on the official Hollywood Walk of Fame Facebook page: https://bit.ly/37GR230. More details about when Sarah's star will be unveiled along Hollywood's most majestic walkway will be revealed in the coming year!" In his tell-all book, the Broadway composer discussed his relationship with the Royal College of Music graduate: "'I suppose it was
Music Makers: Talking music drew the couple together
inevitable that I was going to have a serious affair at some point,' writes composer Andrew Lloyd Webber of his romance with singer Sarah Brightman in his book Unmasked. The candid new memoir hits stands on Tuesday, the same month as the theatrical legend’s 70th birthday. What made the affair complicated? They first met during Brightman’s audition for Cats in the early 1980s, a time when they were both married. Lloyd Webber also had two young children with his first wife (also named Sarah) of 12 years. '[The affair with Sarah Brightman] is one of the parts of my life that I have been dreading writing about the most,' Lloyd Webber writes. 'What you are reading is the umpteenth rewrite. That is the best I can say.' In the chapter titled 'Miss Sarah Brightman,' Lloyd Webber details how his famous musical Phantom of the Opera came into existence — a show that brought both Lloyd Webber, the composer, and Brightman, who starred as Christine Daaé, great success. With their professional relationship thriving, their personal

Mezzo-Soprano J'Nai Bridges Gives Her Great Big Story To CNN

"J’Nai Bridges knows that most people perceive opera as being an artform for the elite. Because opera was traditionally catered towards nobility, many today still don’t feel welcome. Bridges wants to change that. The mezzo-soprano is a rising star in the opera world, with starring roles on stages around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera House and the San Francisco Opera. When she’s not belting out arias, she’s going to local schools to give students a chance to experience an opera, or teaching masterclasses at colleges. As a Black, female artist, Bridges knows the importance of showing children—especially BIPOC children—that classical music is possible. As Bridges says, when she walks into a room or onto a stage, her goal is to 'change minds, heal hearts, and make music.'" Watch the video after the jump. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

100 Years Later: All The American (Operatic) Ties To Susan B. Anthony

The original "Iron Lady": Susan B. Anthony
On this day 100 years ago in America, the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified which began to pave the way for all women's right to vote. One of the most profound leaders in the suffrage movement was Susan B. Anthony. Her name and legacy would have influence that delved even into the opera world. Let's being at the beginning."[Susan Anthony was] born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she collected anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17. In 1856, she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. In 1851, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who became her lifelong friend and co-worker in social reform activities, primarily in the field of women's rights. In 1852, they founded the New York Women's State Temperance Society after Anthony was prevented from speaking at a temperance conference because she was female. In 1863, they founded the Women's Loyal National League, which conducted the largest petition drive in United States history up to that time, collecting nearly 400,000 signatures in support of the abolition of slavery. In 1866, they initiated the American Equal Rights Association, which campaigned for equal rights for both women and African Americans. In 1868, they began publishing a women's rights newspaper called The Revolution. In 1869, they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association as part
A Century Ago: Parade for Voting Rights
of a split in the women's movement. In 1890, the split was formally healed when their organization merged with the rival American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association, with Anthony as its key force. In 1876, Anthony and Stanton began working with Matilda Joslyn Gage on what eventually grew into the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage. The interests of Anthony and Stanton diverged somewhat in later years, but the two remained close friends. In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting in her hometown of Rochester, New York, and convicted in a widely publicized trial. Although she refused to pay the fine, the authorities declined to take further action. In 1878, Anthony and Stanton arranged for Congress to be presented with an amendment giving women the right to vote. Introduced by Sen. Aaron A. Sargent (R-CA), it later became known colloquially as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It was eventually ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. Anthony traveled extensively in support of women's suffrage, giving as many as 75 to 100 speeches per year and working on many state campaigns. She worked internationally for women's rights, playing a key role in creating the International Council of Women, which is still active. She also helped to bring

Sunday, August 16, 2020

In Conversation: Lawrence Brownlee Interviews Denyce Graves

As part of his online interview series, Sit Down With LB, tenor Lawrence Brownlee has a Facebook LIVE conversation with the legendary mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. From their homes in Florida and New York, the discussion covers the gamut from hearing Leontyne Price the first time and knowing she wanted to become an opera singer to when she gave Samuel Ramey his wake-up call as a clerk working at the Omni Parker House! We also get to hear about her experience singing with Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti; learning to become a better cook; being friends with Ruth Bader-Ginsburg; admiring singers like Kathleen Battle and Elly Ameling; coping during quarantine life with a family; nurturing her life outside opera by spending time on the farm with horses, dogs and alpacas; and how teaching young singers has brought her a renewed sense of appreciation for the art form. You can see the full interview here.  Watch Denyce Graves sing the "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Carmenand "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" (Samson et Dalilaafter the jump.

Polish Film "The Hater" Uses Bach, Beethoven, Fauré, and Purcell

Dido's Lament: Ewa Majcherczyk is accompanied by string quartet in this 17th-century masterpiece
A new Polish film on Netflix directed by Jan Komasa, The Hater (Sala samobójców. Hejter), features classical music throughout. Selected pieces include  "Ach bleibe dich, mein liebstes Leben" from Ascension Oratorio (Bach); "Ode to Joy" from Symphony #9 (Beethoven); "Les berceaux" Fauré; and "When I Am Laid in Earth" from Dido and Aeneas (Purcell). This last selection is performed by soprano Ewa Majcherczyk in a scene that intersperses shots of the
Family Affair: Szymon Komasa
protagonist inside the theater against him working in the office. The significance of the music isn't lost on audiences as the characters in the opera mirror those in the movie with themes like betrayal, envy, jealousy, rejection, and abandonment. This is a sequel to Komasa's 2011 film Suicide Room (Sala samobójców) which also made use of classical music including works of Chopin, Gluck, Mozart, and Schubert. During the closing credits we also hear the director's brother, bass-baritone Szymon Komasa, singing "Lament Hansa" composed by Paweł Mykietyn. The track is featured on the singer's recording Polish Love Story. "An important movie, which exams Scio/Psychopathic behaviour in youth along with sides effects of social media presence in backdrops of political unrest in the world. This seems a lot to handle in one film, but Jan Komasa masterfully handled these subject matters. The film never felt overburden by the issues it tries to examine. Starring: Maciej Musiałowski, Agata Kulesza, Danuta Stenka, Vanessa Aleksander, Maciej Stuhr, Jacek Koman, Adam Gradowski, Piotr Biedroń, Martynika Kosnica"
Silent Obsession: Tomasz (Musiałowski) tries to seduce Gabi (Aleksander) at the disco
Read about the film, watch a video clip of Ewa Majcherczyk singing the Purcell piece, and view the trailer for The Hater after the jump.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński Breakdances & Sings For Pepsi Beat

Breakout opera-star Jakub Józef Orliński dances and adds vocals to a new track called "Never Alone" (Nigdy Sam) in a newly-released music video from Warner Music Poland. Known for his high-flying vocal ornamentations of undiscovered Baroque music, the young countertenor is also a well-skilled breakdancer. He puts his beat skills to the test in the high-energy track. Launched to fame with a YouTube performance that went viral (currently at nearly 6 million views...) of Vivaldi's "Vedrò con mio diletto" from Il Giustino, the Juilliard School of Music alumni has become a darling of Europe performing on several tours with Il Pomo d'Oro with whom he has recorded two albums. Check out the discs hereDuring the time of COVID-19, the Polish singer has done a recital for Aix-en-Provence and concerts with Capella Cracoviensis in Świdnica. Upcoming engagements include a pastiche project staged by Robert Carsen at Dans les Jardins de William Christie Festival in Thiré, France, and a charity concert at Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa in September.
"Never Alone" (Nigdy Sam) is the second, after the hit 'Where You,' the musical version of the Pepsi Taste The Beat project. Sir Mich again took up the production  and invited a line-up that could only be created on this platform. The first element of this surprising puzzle is Sarius, a top Polish rapper who has taken the Polish scene by storm in recent years. Another is BARANOVSKI, a discovery and great hope for ambitious pop. This absolutely magical trio is complemented by the participation of the repeatedly awarded and delighting countertenor - Jakub Józef Orliński. 'Never Alone' is a pulsating kaleidoscope of talents infecting with positive energy. The publisher of the song is Warner Music Poland and Papaya Films is responsible for the production of the clip directed by  Marcin Starzecki."
"Pepsi Taste The Beat is a timeless music project for those who love music, have their own taste, value their taste and are energized by the energy that lies in beating. This is where we break with the routine, discover the undiscovered, appreciate our sights, cultivate spontaneity and follow our passions! Meet the non-obvious collaborations of artists and a surprising mix of sounds over genres. Get to know a new phenomenon on the Polish music scene. Get carried away by the urban sound. Try this unconventional approach to the subject. This is lifestyle. This is what the city sounds like. This is what Pepsi sounds like. Listen to your taste."
Watch the full video for "Never Alone," the famous "Vedrò" clip, and other videos Jakub has worked on during the quarantine time, after the jump.