Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Opera Singers as Wax Figures at Musée Grévin in Paris

Opera blog Intermezzo reports today that Cecilia Bartoli has joined the ranks of fellow opera singers Maria Callas, Roberto Alagna and Luciano Pavarotti, by becoming a was figure herself at Musée Grévin in Paris, France. Check out another shot of Ms. Bartoli at the unveiling as well as photos of the other singers after the jump.

Amy Shuard Sings Immolation Scene from "Götterdämmerung"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Anna Moffo Concert & Opera Rarities Released on Gala Label

Although RCA has neglected to release the complete catalog of Anna Moffo since her death in 2006, the public relies heavily on pirated recordings of this great artist from several decades of performances. The latest addition is "The Art of Anna Moffo" released on July 22 by the budget label Gala. The 4-CD set features works of Händel, Bellini, Verdi and Respighi. To purchase the discs, click here. A full list of tracks and dates is after the jump.

"No Reservations" Features Plenty of Opera in the Kitchen

Looking back to the 2007 film, No Reservations featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin, there is enough opera interspersed throughout that it could be a fourth character. Original scoring for the film was done by Philip Glass. The film itself is no Academy Award-winning film, but it is a charming romantic story from director Scott Hicks (Snow Falling on Cedars, Shine and Hearts in Atlantis).

Some of the clips included in the film:

"Celeste Aida" Aida (Luciano Pavarotti)

"O mio babbino caro" Gianni Schicchi (Renata Tebaldi)

"Libiamo, libiamo" La Traviata (Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland)

"La donna é mobile" Rigoletto (Joseph Calleja)

"Un bel dì vedremo" Madama Butterfly (Renata Tebaldi)

"Cielo e mar" La Gioconda (Luciano Pavarotti)

"Nessun dorma" Turandot (Luciano Pavarotti)

A full synopsis of No Reservations is after the jump.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York State Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Congratulations to all couples who have waited to show their love through a married relationship like every other citizen. Now, there's the matter of just how that big day will go down:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Glossa Music Packages Roberta Invernizzi 2-CD Händel Set

Italian Händelian Soprano
(Photo: Bruna Ginammi)
Milanese soprano Roberta Invernizzi studied piano and double bass before focusing on singing. She worked with voice teacher Margaret Heyward to focus on early music repertoire before going on to sing with some of the world's most important conductors including Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Ivor Bolton, Ton Koopman and Gustav Leonhardt. Important performances in her career are Händel's Rinaldo at Teatro alla Scala, Galuppi's L'Olimpiade at Fenice di Venezia and Mozart's Mass in C minor at the Musikverein in Vienna and Davide Penitente at the Festival Styriarte di Graz with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Recently she has sung at the Salzburg Festival, Lufthansa Festival, Teatro San Carlo, Theatre des Champs Elysees and Teatro Massimo. Her discography includes over 60 recordings for Sony, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI/Virgin, Naïve, Opus 111 and Symphonia, that have won numerous awards including Diapason d'Or de l'année, Choc du Monde de la Musique, Grammophone Awards, Schallplatten Preis and a Midem Classical Award. Between 2005-09 the soprano was one of the main artists featured on a project to record the complete Händel cantatas with Fabio Bonizzoni. [Source]

Listen to some samples by going here. To order the new 2-CD set, click here. Complete track listing and album cover art is after the jump.

Anna Prohaska Sings Schubert's "Des Fischers Liebesglück"

Opera Fresh announced the exclusive contract Anna Prohaska signed with Deutsche Grammophon and now we have more information from her debut release that was discussed previously on the site. Here is a video for one of the tracks on the album. Check out her official page for Siréne. A full track listing for the album and biographical information on Anna is after the jump. NOTE: This album is only being released in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Rolando Villazón Takes on Barbara Streisand in New Recording

"Although he has starred in a glittering roll-call of operatic roles, Rolando Villazón has always felt inspired by a broader range of music. 'I love musicals!' he declares. 'When I was twelve I used to sing the soundtrack of Man of La Mancha. I was Don Quixote.' Villazón also adores zarzuela, that distinctively Spanish genre which mixes opera, popular song and dance, and so it’s no great surprise to find that the ever-enthusiastic Mexican tenor should also be a fan of classic songs from the movies, of which he has made a personal selection for this new album. It is a collection of memorable and evocative tunes, sung with passion and brio by Villazón. He has enlisted some expert musical assistance in his quest to capture the spirit of the movies on disc. Arrangers Nicholas Dodd and Steven Baker can reel off a list of
Villazón: Opera Star to Pop Star
credits in choral, orchestral and vocal recordings, and Dodd has regularly collaborated with David Arnold on his James Bond soundtracks. Grammy-winning producer Simon Franglen has experienced Hollywood at its most lavish, having worked on James Cameron’s big-budget epics Avatar and Titanic, as well as on Baz Luhrmann’s musical fantasy Moulin Rouge. In addition, he has collaborated with some of the music industry’s all-time best-selling divas, namely Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand. It was of course Streisand who made the world sing along to the soundtrack from Yentl, in which she starred in 1983 and from whose soundtrack Villazón has picked 'A Piece of Sky.' Like many listeners, he was captivated by the song’s spirit
of wonder and its aspirational mood, which he movingly evokes here. Streisand was also one of the singers who popularized 'The Summer Knows,' taken from Michel Legrand’s soundtrack to the 1971 coming-of-age drama Summer of ’42. In fact the song became such a popular favourite that it was recorded by a host of legendary performers, not least Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams, so Villazón had to make sure he was tuned to perfection the day he recorded that one." [Source]

Sony Classical Launches Website for Nino Machaidze

With the release of her debut album Romantic Arias dropping on June 17 in Germany (as a limited edition), Sony Classical has launched an extensive site for soprano Nino Machaidze that features tons of glamorous photos, sound clips from the new release, latest news, as well as a full calendar engagements around the world. Check out the website by clicking here. Below are some of the gorgeous publicity photos that have been released:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sir Willard Wentworth White Pays Tribute to Paul Robeson

Willard White just keeps rollin' along
(Photo: Lee Durant)
"'I always sang for myself, ever since I was a youngster. To explore the possibility of being a professional only came to me when I was in my 20th year.' White says he experienced some difficulties in his career but adds: 'I stuck to what I believed in, which is that my voice and my talent is not for nothing. Therefore I must try it and explore it - so I did that. What is more amazing to me is the whole purpose of living and being alive and the path my life has taken is not what I dreamed it would be. That for me is very interesting. Even if our dreams are not fulfilled we can still lead fulfilling lives.' Music, though he says, can unify people and can help people find a voice, just as Robeson did. 'Music is very important as far as I’m concerned. Singing is probably the important, it comes from the heart of the body.'" [Source]

An Evening with Willard White - Robeson Re-Explored will take place at Fairfield Halls - Park Lane on June 28 at 8pm. For more information, go to

Florida Grand Opera Announces Nadine Sierra For 2011-12

La Sierra in Louboutins
(Photo: Kenneth Edwards)
"Florida Grand Opera (FGO) is proud to announce West-Palm-based soprano Nadine Sierra’s debut with the company in Rigoletto’s leading female role as Gilda next season. 'It has always been an important part of FGO’s mission to foster and further young talent in South Florida. We have a long and proud history of showcasing promising artists at the dawn of their careers and it is our honor to do so once again with such a fresh, yet refined voice as Nadine Sierra,' said Bob Heuer, FGO’s general director and CEO. The rising 23-year-old soprano debuted with Boston Lyric Opera last season in what the Boston Globe called 'a beguiling Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She later returned to Palm Beach Opera as Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice with 'a bright, weighted instrument [bringing] effortless personality to the stage...' according to South Florida Classical Review. Closing the Sunday Afternoons of Music Series this past June, Sierra performed a recital at the University of Miami’s Gusman Hall, which yielded repeated standing ovations. South Florida Classical Review described her performance as a 'creamy soprano voice...gleamed and weighted, rich and full through its range, used with an agility and theatrical sensibility that brought arias to life.' It was at this recital that she announced her upcoming debut at La Scala in Milan, Italy, as Nanetta in Verdi’s Falstaff, realizing a life-long dream that began at the age of 10 with a VHS recording of the Metropolitan Opera’s Madame Butterfly." [Source]

See more photos of Nadine Sierra's fashion photo shoot with Uptempo magazine after the jump.

Interview With Hockey Player-Turned-Opera Singer Elliot Madore

"You can add Elliot Madore to that ever-growing list of 'only in the age of Obama.' Madore is a 'half-black' (his phrase) Canadian former hockey player who now sings opera (baritone) in leading roles on the world’s major stages. He has a paid position in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and for the Saturday matinee at Opera Theatre of St. Louis he will close the curtain on his performance in the title role of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The Opera Theatre of St. Louis production (directed by James Robinson and Michael Shell, with choreography by Sean Curran) is so rich in physical comedy it verges on slapstick. It makes the most of the vital athleticism of this former hockey player, who has leading man looks reminiscent of former NBA star (and fellow Canadian) Rick Fox."

The Don Juan of Missouri: Elliot Madore in Don Giovanni (Photo: Ken Howard)
The article about the singer attempts to broach the topic of opera productions being colorblind, but the multiple uses of the awkward phrase "half-black" gets in the way. Not to mention this tidbit, "In addition to staging an incredibly athletic production, Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ casting is as ethnically diverse as it gets. The leading lady who has been abandoned by Don Giovanni, Donna Elvira, is played by Kishani Jayasinghe. The beautiful soprano hails from Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southeast coast of India, though from the seats at the Loretto-Hilton in Webster Groves, she is easily mistaken for an African American....In fact, Madore replaced another actor in the lead role just a week before rehearsals commenced, and the switch from a non-black lead to a 'half-black' lead required no changes whatsoever in conceptualizing the production." [Source]

If the photo above taken from the Don Giovanni production looks familiar, you might want to check out why after the jump.

MET Opera Event Producer David Stark Lists His Favorite Things

Magic Man: David Stark
(Photo: Anna Rose)
"Many hope to freewheel through summer, but for New York event producer David Stark, business is just heating up. Fall gala season is fast approaching, which means Stark is busy crafting otherworldly environments for events that include a black-tie fundraiser for the Metropolitan Opera and a dinner for the Cooper-Hewitt's National Design Awards. The designer has risen to the top of the industry by building parties that feel like art installations. 'It's about creating something event-specific, site-specific, and client-specific,' says Stark, who lists MoMA, Louis Vuitton, and Beyoncé among his clients. 'Flowers are only one tool in the toolbox. Many instances require different kinds of thinking and materials to bring the occasion to life.'" Check out the list of his eight essentials for Fast Company magazine that will make any party special. [Source]

Mr. Stark's previous work at the Metropolitan Opera includes parties for the 125th Anniversary Gala (left) and Opening Night of Das Rheingold (right).

"Aida" Under Finzi Pasca's Big-Top Production at the Mariinsky

"A minimalist and deeply philosophical show is perhaps not quite what most people would expect from a production of Verdi’s Aida directed by a man who has made an international career producing shows for a circus. Yet this is exactly what Swiss-born director Daniele Finzi Pasca is offering audiences at the Mariinsky Theater Concert Hall....What links Aida with Finzi Pasca’s show Corteo, with which Cirque du Soleil toured Russia last year, is a sense of surreal fantasy. In Corteo, the audience watches a clown’s dream about his death and funeral that is magically transformed into a carnival. Aida is designed in the same ethereal aesthetic. Firstly, the director has cleansed the production of any visual element that would link it to a particular era or ethnicity. The costumes of both the Egyptians and the Nubians border in style somewhere between circus grotesque and futuristic minimalism....In terms of spirit, Pasca’s Aida is both humane and intimate. The director seemingly chose to make Amneris a central character. Yekaterina Semenchuk’s performance strengthens Pasca’s ideas. Head and shoulders above the rest of the cast, Semenchuk dazzled as the pharaoh’s daughter, tormented by her jealousy, engrossed by her sorrow, troubled by her tardy remorse and devastated by her sudden loneliness. Her stage partners failed to create as emotionally captivating incarnations of their characters. Yekaterina Shimanovich was technically adroit as Aida, yet she remained unsettlingly estranged from her supposedly beloved Radames (Avgust Amonov). It did not help that Amonov chose to present a somewhat anemic portrayal of his character, as if trying to depict someone who leaves it up to the women around him to decide his fate. Aida’s emotional connection to her father (Edem Umerov) was far more compelling. Umerov created a powerful image of Aida’s father, Amonasro, the King of Nubia, at once noble and passionate." [Source]

Read an extensive interview with Daniele Finzi Pasca about the production by clicking here.

Fleming, Calleja, Mehta LIVE in Theaters for Jerusalem Concert

The concert entitled "Live from Jerusalem," that features Zubin Mehta conducting the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with soloists Renée Fleming and Joseph Calleja honoring the legacy of American tenor Richard Tucker, will be broadcast by NCM Fathom and Mod 3 Live in a Delayed Live Broadcast in more than 475 select movie theaters nationwide on Thursday, July 28, 2011, at 7:00 pm (local times). Filled with majestic arias and duets, the spectacular performance will include a sweeping visual and audio experience that will bring down the curtain on the Jerusalem Season of Culture 2011. [Source]

Click here to find a list of theaters for the event.

Opera Unions Take on George Steel....And They Are Mad

"Unions representing New York City Opera singers and musicians said yesterday that they have lost confidence in artistic director and general manager George Steel. They called his plan for next season, which includes an opera featuring two mutes, 'a formula for continued failure.' At the Manhattan office of City Opera's law firm, Proskauer Rose LLP, Steel offered the union members from Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians and the American Guild of Musical Artists a page-and-a-half, 230-word 'working schedule' of four operas.  Opera 2 is a '21st-century American Opera (running time 2:50)' with two lead roles, two featured and two mute roles. It would be the only production with a full orchestra and one of two with no chorus. Defending the plan before 53 singers, production personnel and musicians, Steel said the unnamed works, to be presented in undisclosed venues, had been chosen to please donors, not the public. He said that calls for traditional operas were 'misguided,' according to a statement from the two unions. Steel, who took over the 68-year-old company in February 2009, recently announced that the troupe could no longer afford to stay in its home at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. The opera chief left the room after the about two-hour meeting. The union members then took a 'no confidence' vote, said Tino Gagliardi, president of Local 802....Until yesterday, the union hadn't publicly criticized Steel. 'It's pretty pathetic what Steel is trying to do to a main-stage opera company,' Gagliardi said. One singer, not identified in the statement from the unions, said that 'Steel should be calling this the Pot Luck Opera.'" [Source]

Ol' Blue Eyes Listened to Opera, So Says His Last Wife Barbara

The crooner & opera legend Luciano Pavarotti
"Frank Sinatra could be a difficult man, and it’s to the credit of Barbara Sinatra’s new memoir Lady Blue Eyes that she doesn’t ignore her husband’s temper. But those stories are just part of a larger picture that she paints in the book, from Sinatra’s romantic nature to his passions for music, cooking, and King Charles Spaniels. Barbara Sinatra met her future husband while she was married to Zeppo Marx, one of the original Marx Brothers. Give her this: She has interesting taste in men.

What music did Frank Sinatra listen to? He listened to a lot of opera, and concert music. He never really listened much to popular music. He wasn’t a harsh critic of other singers, unless you asked him a direct question. Of the later vocalists, he liked Tony Bennett. He thought he was great. And Dean Martin was like a brother – he always said that 'Dean thinks funny' – and Sammy Davis. He liked their music, and a lot of their arrangements were similar to his arrangements." [Source]

Istanbul Opera Festival Advertising Catches Media Attention

"Posters for next month’s İstanbul International Opera Festival have been gracing billboards across the city since the beginning of this week. The city’s historic venues -- including Yıldız Palace, Topkapı Palace, the Rumeli Fortress and the Aya İrini Museum -- will be home to 18 opera performances from July 1 to 21 for the second edition of the İstanbul Opera Festival, launched last year as part of the city’s tenure in 2010 as a European Capital of Culture. In one of the festival’s much-talked about posters, model/actress Sedef Avcı is seen getting in a cab at the gate of the Yıldız Palace while in another, actor Yetkin Dikinciler, as Sultan Mehmet II, converses with young people in Tophane. Another poster shows baritone Kenan Dağaşan in the role of Sultan Murat IV as he points to a target for the riot police in Beyoğlu’s Tünel quarter. Other posters depict singer/actress Zuhal Olcay as she poses for a street artist in Salacak, and actor Selçuk Yöntem captured by paparazzi as he exits the Adile Sultan Palace with a young woman next to him. The festival’s posters feature scenes from present-day İstanbul, everyday people, characters from opera pieces and celebrities. Yekta Kara, the artistic director of the İstanbul Opera Festival and chief director of the State Opera and Ballet General Directorate (DOBGM), tells us why.
Q: What’s the story behind these colorful, lively and different posters?
A: People are in a constant rush, it’s difficult to catch their attention. That’s why we used diverse elements together in the posters. There are four elements: the opera characters, the city of İstanbul, the people and celebrities. Eight artists posed for the posters and the photographs were taken by Mehmet Turgut."

Read the full interview by clicking here. See all of the ads and a schedule of performances for the festival after the jump.

Dramatic Hungarian Soprano On the Rise: Csilla Boross

"Nel dì della vittoria...Vieni, t'affretta!"
Macbeth (Verdi)
Born in Hungary, dramatic soprano Csilla Boross studied at the Liszt Ferenc University of Music where she received teaching degrees in both piano and voice before going on to get a masters degree in vocal performance from the same institution. Her teachers have included Judit Németh, Boldizsár Keönch, Ilona Tokody and Gabriella Imre. In 1998 she was granted a scholarship by the town of Székesfehérvár, and she also attended several master classes given by Ileana Cotrubas, Walter C. Moore, István Gáti, Ralf Döring, Anna Reynolds and Renato Bruson. She was the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Czech Television’s THALIA Prize for her appearance in Brno as Cio-Cio San in Puccini's Madama Butterfly and the 2009 recipient of the DIVA Prize for the best woman soloist of the Janácek Theater Brno given by the audience.

Upcoming performances include Manon Lescaut at the Opera National de Montpellier directed by Jean-Paul Scarpitta, Tosca in Rome Caracalla , Lady Macbeth at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, with Riccardo Muti, Nabucco (Abigaille) at Washington National Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. During the 2010-11 season, she made important Italian debuts including in fall appearances as Violetta in La Traviata at the Teatro Verdi di Trieste and in spring at the Teatro Comunale di Modena, Piacenza and Bolzano as Lady Macbeth. She made her USA

"Puskay Pogibnu Ya"
Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
debut as Abigaille in Verdi's Nabucco with Palm Beach Opera on December 11 and 13. In 2010 the artist was heard as Fiordiligi, and Elettra (Idomeneo) at the National Theater in Prague and as Aida in a new production in Brno. Her most recent and notable performances include Nabucco (Abigaille) at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma with Riccardo Muti, which was broadcast on live television throughout Europe on ARTE. She was also chosen by Maestro Muti to perform in the gala performance celebrating the 150th anniversary of Italy. The artist was also heard at the National Theater Prague as Fiordiligi, Elettra and Donna Anna and at the Janacek Theater Brno in a new production of Nabucco and revivals of Eugene Onegin (Tatiana), Aida, Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio San), La Traviata (Violetta), and Macbeth (Lady Macbeth).

"Sempre libera" La Traviata (Verdi)
Since August 2008 soprano Csilla Boross has been a soloist and member of the National Theater (Janácek Theater) in Brno, and from September 2002-2008 was a soloist of the Hungarian State Opera. Ms. Boross has also been a regular guest of the National Theater of Prague since 2008 and continues to perform as a guest at the Hungarian State Opera. Roles in Brno have included Lady Macbeth (Verdi’s Macbeth), Tatiana (Eugene Onegin), Madama Butterfly (new production). Other recent performances include Mimi at the Gut Immling Festival in summer 2009. In the 2008-09 season Ms. Boross was heard as Aida, (Loket Cultural Summer), Tosca (Szeged National Theater, State Opera Prague), Violetta (Brno), Donna Anna (Estates Theater Prague), Tatiana (Brno), Venus (Hungarian State Opera, Japan), and Lady Macbeth (Brno). The artist also performs on the concert platform on a regular basis and has an extensive repertoire. [Source, Source]

"Frühling" Vier letzte lieder (R. Strauss)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vito Mazzeo Dances to "La Forza del Destino" Overture

Watch Vito Mazzeo dance Choix choreographed by Emanuela Tagliavia set to the music of Giuseppe Verdi's La Forza del Destino overture. Fellow dancers include Gabriele Corrado and Elena Marzano. Click here to launch the media.

"Born in Vibo Valentia, Italy, Vito Mazzeo trained at La Scala Ballet School in Milan. In 2005, he joined the Royal Ballet where he danced for several years, prior to joining Rome Opera Ballet in 2008. Mazzeo has performed lead roles in variety of works, including Prince Desiré in The Sleeping Beauty, Albrecht and Hilarion in Giselle, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Basilio in Don Quixote, Birbanto in Le Corsaire, the Golden Slave in Sheherazade, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. His repertory also includes principal roles in Balanchine’s La Chatte and Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Chalmer's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Fokine’s Les Sylphides, and Nijinska’s Les Biches. In 2010, Mazzeo received the Premio Positano Leonide Massine Award for Best Italian Dancer as well as the Danza & Danza Award for Best Dancer of the Year." [Source]

More photos after the jump.

Joyce DiDonato Speaks Out About Arts Being Slashed in Kansas

World opera star and Kansas native.
"With one, autonomous slash of the pen, every state penny for the arts in my home of Kansas has vanished, simultaneously obliterating all matching federal funds. This is the Sunflower State that I have proudly boasted about across the world, fearlessly defending it even in the face of harsh quizzical looks from the most skeptical of folks (“You live where?”). It’s the state of my first piano recital and choir concert. The home field of my artistic curiosity and education. The homeland that taught me to freely dream big and without limitation; one where the arts were once alive, vibrant and supported. I’ve welcomed the assumption of being an unsolicited but mightily proud artistic ambassador for Kansas to the great cities of the world. Now, for the first time, I feel shame. Eliminating a state arts commission is an ignorant, short-sighted, fearful and unspeakably damaging act to the spirit and soul of this great state. I’m not a politician or historian. I’m a humble opera singer, a home-grown product of an agricultural state that used to value the arts, like all great societies and cultures of the past. But my anger rivals a good ol’ western Kansas Category 5 tornado’s destructive force when I begin to think of where I’d be without an education fueled by the arts that informed my way of thinking. Or without a community theater, choir or art exhibit that gave me true solace and an emergency exit from some of the great crises in my life. Or without that musical outlet that helped me understand myself and the mystery of life a little better."

Read the full article at the Kansas City Star.

Gale Edwards Stages "La Bohème" For Opera Australia

"Berlin in the 1930s. The Spiegeltent’s fairy lights are twinkling and the music is playing but, in reality, people are hungry and cold. Rodolfo meets Mimi and hardship melts in a blaze of passion. Musetta sings and she is the most beautiful woman in the world. But the world is changing, and love won’t pay the rent. A new production of Puccini’s La bohème is always a big event. In 2011 Opera Australia is thrilled to present a bold reworking of Puccini’s romance from director Gale Edwards and starring Takesha Meshé Kizart as Mimi. La bohème is a young person’s opera, about falling in love, and losing the love of your life. Get ready to have your heart stolen by some of the finest young singers in Australia and beyond." [Source]

Also a warning to Australian audiences: there will be partial nudity in Act 2! Full cast listing after the jump.

Dmitry Tcherniakov Will Open Renovated Bolshoi Theater

Director Dmitry at Bolshoi
"After six years of renovations that have been beset with allegations of corruption, infighting, delays and political point-scoring, the Bolshoi Theater’s main stage will open again to the public this autumn. Following a gala concert at the end of September that will likely be attended by both the cultural and political elite of the country, the more serious business of opera and ballet will begin on October 2, as one of the world’s most famous theaters finally gets its home back. The first performance on the newly renovated stage will be of Mikhail Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila, regarded as the first major Russian opera—so far, so predictable. Somewhat more surprising, perhaps, is the choice of director for the opera. Dmitry Tcherniakov offended traditionalists with his Bolshoi production of Eugene Onegin in 2006 so much that legendary soprano Galina Vishnevskaya vowed never to set foot inside the theater again."

Galina: Disgruntled Diva
"Then came the fateful Onegin in 2006, which replaced Boris Pokrovsky’s legendary 1944 staging. Vishnevskaya said she had 'cried in humiliation' in a letter to the Bolshoi’s management, and vowed never to set foot in the theatre again, cancelling an 80th birthday party due to be held at the theatre, and railing at the 'completely deformed' main characters. The soprano, who was probably the theatre’s most famous Tatyana of all time, wrote of Tcherniakov’s 'public desecration of our national treasure.'" [Source]

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Les Huguenots" Triumphant at Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels

"Drawing hearty performances from orchestra and chorus, Marc Minkowski conducts an admirably full account of the opera that runs to nearly five hours (including two intermissions). From his eloquent shaping of the Lutheran chorale 'Ein feste Burg' at the outset, Mr. Minkowski seeks out the music’s expressive potential. He is alert to fine points of orchestration in a score that never sounds formulaic. Clearly at one with the decision to emphasize Marguerite’s sexuality, Marlis Petersen, an acclaimed Lulu from Alban Berg’s opera, sings with seductive brilliance and moves with almost erotic allure — an unforgettable portrayal. Mireille Delunsch stews convincingly over Valentine’s conflict between love for Raoul and loyalty to family and religion. Julia Lezhneva, dressed in hotel attire, looks cherubic as Urbain and sings delightfully in both the page’s arias. The tenor Eric Cutler brings a winning combination of full- and head-voiced singing to the challenging role of Raoul. Soon after he sang his heart out in the fourth-act duet with Valentine — the most popular love duet of the 19th century — he shined again in Raoul’s taxing aria in Act 5. The baritones Philippe Rouillon and Jean-François Lapointe are excellent as the Comtes de Bris and de Nevers, respectively. And as Raoul’s retainer Marcel, the keen-edged bass Jérôme Varnier deals well with the crusty Huguenot’s quasi-comic moments and his stirring celestial vision in the face of death. The performances are double cast. Because of its impact on other composers, few works can be said to have changed the course of opera history as did Les Huguenots. Anyone who cares about opera should see this production." [Source]

An interesting promotional photograph for the opera is after the jump.

(Photos: Clärchen und Matthias Baus)

Angela Gheorghiu For Royal Opera House Olympic Programme

Monday, June 20, 2011

From the Vault: 1978 "La Flûte Enchantée" With Alain Lombard

The French label Barclay was purchased by Erato Records and in the late 1970s Alain Lombard teamed up with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg for a series of recordings that included this gem, along with Così fan tutte (Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Teresa Stratas, David Rendall, Jules Bastine) and Faust (Montserrat Caballé, Giacomo Aragall, Paul Plishka). Now owned by Warner, the below issue has never made it to CD or MP3 format.

Mozart: La Flûte Enchantée [Die Zauberflöte]
Recorded May 29,  & 30; June 1-3, 5-7, 1978
Palais de la Musique et des Congres Strasbourg, France; Orchestre de Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Choeurs de L'Opéra du Rhin, Alain Lombard (cond.); Kiri Te Kanawa (Pamina), Edita Gruberova (Reine de la Nuit), Kathleen Battle (Papagena), Helena Döse (1re Dame), Ann Murray (2e Dame), Naoko Ihara (3e Dame), Peter Hofmann (Tamino), Philippe Huttenlocher (Papageno), Kurt Moll (Sarastro), José van Dam (L'Officiant) and Norbert Orth (Monostatos).
Barclay 960 012/014 P1978 (3 LPs)

Carlos Álvarez Returns to Opera After 22-Month Absence

(Photo: G. Barnuevo)
"Fiel a su discreción habitual, evita ser tajante sobre su futuro. Dos recaídas y tres intervenciones para superar su afección en las cuerdas vocales le obligan a ser prudente. Pero el «optimismo antropológico» no le abandona... y deja caer algunas pistas: «Si todo va bien, el genio de Salzburgo me dará de nuevo la alternativa en el rol del disoluto castigado en pleno otoño musical de una ciudad helvética». Traducción: el barítono Carlos Álvarez regresa a la ópera de la mano de Mozart en el papel protagonista de Don Giovanni. Será el 6 de noviembre en Zurich. Habrán transcurrido entonces casi dos años -22 meses- desde la última vez que el malagueño se subió al escenario para interpretar teatro lírico. «Y a partir de ahí, a seguir», apostilla. No es la primera ocasión en que se escuchará su voz en público tras el último revés en su salud. Ya actuó el 2 de mayo en Bilbao y, una semana después, en Albacete, pero en aquellas ocasiones ofreció conciertos con un repertorio de una vocalidad menos intensa. Era la prueba de fuego, el examen para demostrarse a sí mismo que podía cantar y que, con el tiempo, podría asumir óperas, el género con el que ha pisado las tablas de los más prestigiosos escenarios del mundo durante dos décadas." [Source]

Renée Fleming Illumine la Scène de l’Opéra Bastille

Some stunning photos from the Andrei Serban production of Verdi's Otello taking place at l'Opéra National de Paris - Opéra Bastille. Head over to for more high-resolution images. Conducted by Marco Armiliato, singers featured include Renée Fleming (Desdemona), Aleksandrs Antonenko (Otello), Lucio Gallo (Iago), Michael Fabiano (Cassio), Francisco Almanza (Roderigo) and Nona Javakhidze (Emilia).

Tom Cruise Discovers Opera Runs in His Genes

Belting it like a rock (opera) star.
"Tom Cruise may be 48-year-old, but judging from the recent photo he tweeted of himself, he does not look his age. In the film Rock of Ages, which was adapted from the Broadway play of the same name, Cruise will portray a hard rocker Stacee Jaxx from the 1980s era. In the photo tweeted to his followers directing them to his website, we see a far-away shot of Cruise with a clearly toned and fit body....Adam Shankman, the director of the film, recent told Entertainment Weekly that Cruise is fit for the role. 'Here’s the thing about Tom Cruise,' Shankman said. 'I knew in my heart he would never put himself in harm’s way about taking on a part if he didn’t think he could deliver.' He also talked about the celebration at Cruise’s first singing lesson when the star proved he had great voice. His grandfather or his great-grandfather was an opera singer,' Shankman said. 'So he’s genetically predisposed for this sort of thing.' The film is expected to be released in 2012." [Source]

Valentina Naforniţă Wins Cardiff Singer of the World Prize

Valentina Naforniţă accepts her grand prize. Watch her performances in the video clips below:

Some exceptional stand-out performances came in the competition for the Song Prize. The first is American soprano Leah Crocetto who manages marvelously to sing Liszt back-to-back with Gershwin. The second is Ukranian baritone Andrei Bondarenko who went on to win first place. Both are outstanding. Two additional singers in the concert rounds also stood out. One especially worth listening to is Russian mezzo-soprano Olesya Petrova. The other is the wonderful coloratura soprano Hye Jung Lee.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

HGO Appoints Eric Melear as Associate Music Director

Maestro Melear at Houston Grand Opera
"Houston Grand Opera Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers today announced the appointment of Eric Melear as Associate Music Director, a newly-created position. The 2006 recipient of the Sir Georg Solti Foundation Award, Melear returns to Houston Grand Opera after a year on the music staff of the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera), where he assisted on fourteen productions and conducted two children's operas. Previously, he was Associate Conductor/Assistant Chorus master with Houston Grand Opera and served as Head of Music Staff and Studio Manager at Wolf Trap Opera. As Associate Music Director, Mr. Melear will support Mr. Summers by conducting, coaching and accompanying singers and managing music staff. He will serve as Music Director of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. 'Eric will be my right hand,' said Mr. Summers, 'and most importantly will oversee the selection and pedagogy of the young artists of the renowned Houston Grand Opera Studio. Eric is a peerless musician and colleague, and his presence in the company will be a tremendous calling-card for the talented young singers and coaches who seek to complete their professional training in Houston. I am excited and honored that he has accepted the position and I look forward to our artistic work together.'

Melear with Daniel Cátan & Plácido Domingo
'I have long felt fortunate to call Houston Grand Opera my musical home, and I am thrilled to return at this pivotal time for the company,' commented Mr. Melear. 'I look forward to working alongside Patrick Summers, the new leadership team, and HGO's unparalleled staff to continue to uphold the high artistic standards that set this company apart.' A native of Moline, Illinois, Mr. Melear was a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and San Francisco Opera's Merola Program. His studies also included graduate work with esteemed pianist Martin Katz at the University of Michigan and a double major in music and math from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa." [Source]

Coffee Break: Gorgeous Baroque Duet Executed in Glory

"Son nata a lagrimar" Giulio Cesare (Händel)
Live from the Metropolitan Opera, 1999
David Daniels........Sesto
Stephanie Blythe....Cornelia