Thursday, October 31, 2013

Renée Fleming Appears On Joshua Bell Holiday Disc

With Musical Gifts, world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell imagines friends coming to his home during the holiday and joining in on songs that celebrate the warmth, beauty and magic of the season. Following the concept of his critically acclaimed 2009 album, At Home with Friends, Bell is paired with a variety of special guests including Gloria Estefan, Alison Krauss, Kristin Chenoweth, trumpeter Chris Botti, jazz greats Chick Corea and Branford Marsalis, opera stars Plácido Domingo and Renée Fleming, Michael Feinstein and a cappella group Straight No Chaser. "I wanted to capture the feeling and celebration of the holidays and that spirit of December," says Bell. Musical Gifts combines Bell's distinctive violin playing with fresh new takes on popular holiday songs. "I love the idea of celebrating music in ways different from how it was originally written, bringing in new arrangements and creating new repertoire." Check out the full track list (which also includes a guest appearance by Plácido Domingo), after the jump. Click here to hear "I Want an Old-Fashioned Christmas" featuring Ms. Fleming.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Freshest Idea That Makes Opera Look Pretty Cool

Declaring "Where the opera is grand & so is the style," photographer Rose Callahan displays some pretty high-fashion (not to mention several beautiful) audience members attending Benjamin Britten's adaptation of A Midsummers Night's Dream at the Metropolitan Opera on her Tumblr page titled Last Night At The Met. This would be a great marketing tool for the MET to utilize, as it instantly makes being there seem hip. One more adorable picture after the jump. And be sure to check out the whole series by clicking here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nedda Casei Ready To Leave Sutton Place Home For $5.5 Million

pic name pic name
"This seven-room apartment on the top floor of 16 Sutton Place is a little jarring at first glance, but begins to make sense, somehow, once you consider that it belongs to famous mezzo-soprano Nedda Casei. The 17th-floor co-op is pretty much the definition of customized, with wood plank ceilings, pink walls, working gas fireplace, and 18th century furniture, as well as two lush,
planted terraces with full irrigation systems, garden lights, and fountains. The whole place, of course, is soundproofed and wired with a stereo system throughout, with controls in every room. It's asking $5.5 million." [Source] "This is an extraordinary unique sun filled classic 7 with set back terraces that have spectacular views of the city and east river, both day and night. From the moment you step out of the elevator onto your semiprivate landing you will escape into a special world. This dramatic home was designed in a timeless European style by a former star of the Metropolitan Opera. The gardens, stained glass windows, wood paneling and built-ins, represent a warm, gracious, and elegant bygone era. There are closets galore and a formal library has been made out of one of the bedrooms. The eat-in kitchen has a huge walk-in pantry, sub-zero refrigerator, and professional Thermador stove vented to the outside with barbecue." View the complete listing on the Halstead Property by clicking here.
Baltimore-born Nedda Casei made her 1964 Metropolitan Opera debut as Maddalena in Verdi's Rigoletto alongside Roberta Peters (Gilda) and Carlo Bergonzi (Duke of Mantua), under the baton of conductor Nello Santi. She went on to sing 284 performances with the company in such roles as Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Bersi (Andrea Chénier), Third Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Dangeville (Adriana Lecouvreur), Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro), Preziosilla (La Forza del Destino), Leonora (La Favorita), Zulma (L'Italiana in Algeri), Flora (La Traviata) and the title role of Carmen. Her last performance with the MET was 1984 as Larina in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. More biographical information about the mezzo-soprano after the jump.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa To Celebrate Big Birthday With Tour Dates

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in full-on Dynasty mode
in this portrait from September 1982.
"Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, one of the world’s greatest ever voices, will tour Australia in 2014 to mark her 70th birthday (March 6, 2014). The New Zealand / Mäori soprano became an international opera star in 1968. She has performed in the great music halls all over the world. Dame Kiri sang at the wedding Charles and Diana in 1981 and in 1984 was selected by conductor Leonard Bernstein for the part of Maria in his re-recording of West Side Story. Queen Elizabeth II appointed Dame Kiri a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to opera in 1984. In 1992 she performed with Paul McCartney for his classical work Liverpool Oratorio." Birthday Gala tour dates are:
May 10 and 11, Melbourne, Recital Centre
May 13, Perth, Concert Hall
May 16, Canberra, Llewellyn Hall
May 18, Adelaide, Festival Hall
May 20, Sydney, Opera House

At 61, Dolora Zajick Proves Still Explosive As Verdi's Amneris

(Photo: Lynn Lane)
"....volcanic-voiced American mezzo Dolora Zajick, the reigning international interpreter of Amneris, who could sing this role in her sleep. Her voice is one of the wonders of the world, sailing through, and over, Verdi's thick orchestral color to give real life to the Egyptian princess racked by jealousy. For this revival, thankfully, her costumes have been lightened by more of Rhodes's gauzy fabrics, so she no longer looks like a walking sarcophagus as she did at this production's premiere. Rich and plummy, her instrument is beautiful through all ranges, and she can float a pianissimo with seductive softness like no other. But it's her phenomenal agility and power-in-agility that have made her the leading Verdian mezzo. She is divine, if not out-of-this-world, rock solid and commanding. In the cluttered stage pictures, you always know where she is." [Source] More photos of Dolora Zajick in the Zandra Rhodes production of Aida at the Houston Grand Opera after the jump.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Is Sabine Devieilhe France's Next Big Coloratura Soprano?

Can Sabine Devieilhe carry the
torch of Janine Micheau, Mady
Mesplé, Lily Pons and
Natalie Dessay?
"Sabine Devieilhe née le 12 décembre 1985 à Ifs est une soprano française. Après des études de violoncelle et de musicologie, Sabine Devieilhe sort en 2011 du Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris avec le Premier Prix à l’unanimité et les Félicitations du Jury. Elle suit ainsi les enseignements de Jocelyne Chamonin, Martine Surais, Pierre Mervant, Malcom Walker ou encore Kenneth Weiss, Anne Le Bozec, Susan Manoff et Olivier Reboul. Membre de plusieurs ensembles professionnels tels que Pygmalion (dir. Raphaël Pichon) et Les Cris de Paris (dir. Geoffroy Jourdain), elle se produit dans un vaste répertoire de la musique ancienne à la musique contemporaine. Affectionnant tout particulièrement le Lied et la mélodie, elle se produit en récital aux côtés d’Anne Le Bozec. Sabine Devieilhe débute à la scène dans Lucia/Le Viol de Lucrèce au CNSM de Paris, ainsi que dans Lauretta/Gianni Schicchi (mes Jean-Michel Fournereau ) et d’Yniold/Pelleas et Melisande (mes Vincent Vittoz ) au festival Messiaen. Deux rencontres marquantes avec Jean-Claude Malgoire et Alexis Kossenko lui font aborder le répertoire baroque de Bach à Rameau, notamment aux Festivals d’Utrecht, Bruges, à l’Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing ou encore au Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. La saison 2010-11 est marquée par une nouvelle production de L’enfant et les sortilèges avec l’ONDIF (dir. David Levi), un programme Bernstein à la Salle Pleyel avec l’Orchestre de Paris, un
The soprano's debut recording on Erato captures
her baroque capabilities exquisitely.
programme Mozart avec les Solistes de l’Orchestre National de Montpellier à Nîmes, une nouvelle production de Dardanus (Ensemble Pygmalion, dir. Raphaël Pichon) au Festival International de Musique Baroque de Beaune et à l’Opéra de Versailles etc. En 2011-12, elle fait ses premiers pas dans le bel canto avec Amina/La Sonnambula avec l’Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing, fait ses débuts avec Les Arts Florissants à la Cité de la Musique avant de retrouver Jean-Claude Malgoire dans La Passion selon St-Jean de Bach avec La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy. L’enthousiasme remporté par ces premiers engagements lui ouvrent aujourd’hui de nombreuses perspectives : elle fait ses débuts au Festival d’Aix-en-Provence dans Serpetta/La Finta Giardiniera (mes : Vincent Boussard , juillet 2012) et se produit au Festival de Bruges dans un programme Mozart avec Les Ambassadeurs d’Alexis Kossenko. En 2012-13 : débuts dans le rôle-titre de Lakmé à l’Opéra de Montpellier ; tournée de concerts Offenbach avec Marc Minkowski & Les Musiciens du Louvre, Le Magnificat de Bach et le Dixit Dominus de Haendel avec Hervé Niquet et Le Concert Spirituel, divers programmes Bach avec Raphaël
This nightingale has the goods to please any canary fancier.
Pichon à la tête de Pygmalion, La Folie/Platée (dir. Jean-Claude Malgoire) et La Reine de la Nuit/La Flûte enchantée à l’Opéra National de Lyon. En 2013-14 : elle retourne à l’Opéra National de Lyon pour Constance/Dialogues des carmélites et fait ses débuts à l’Opéra Comique dans Lakmé, à l’Opéra National de Paris dans La Reine de la Nuit /La Flûte enchantée et à La Monnaie de Bruxelles dans Euridyce/Orphée et Eurydice. A partir de 2014-15 : reprise de Lakmé à l’Opéra de Toulon ; Adèle/Die Fledermaus à L’Opéra Comique, ainsi que ses débuts dans Nanetta/Falstaff à l’Opéra de Marseille et Le Feu, La Princesse et le Rossignol /L’enfant et les sortilèges au Festival d’Opéra de Glyndebourne etc. [Source, Source] Purchase the debut album by clicking here. Watch the EPK for the new album and get the complete track list after the jump.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Highly Fashionable Opera Divas On The Cover Of A Magazine

Kathleen Battle (Japan, 1992)
Barbara Hendricks (Paris, 1987)
Anna Netrebko (Russia, 2012)
Renée Fleming (USA, 2005)

It's pretty typical to find opera sopranos gracing the covers of industry magazines in glamorous gowns and jewels, but it is a rare sight to see these divas go mainstream with coverage the likes of Tatler, Vogue, Esquire, and Town & Country. Here we have some wonderful samples of ladies who truly reached the zenith of popularity and gave good face for these leading publications. We didn't forget the men. Be sure to check out a special cover (not for the faint of heart...) after the jump. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nicole Car Wins Neue Stimmen Vocal Competition In Germany

"Australian soprano Nicole Car has won joint first prize in Germany’s Neue Stimmen vocal competition. She takes home 15,000 euros. The American soprano, Nadine Sierra was the co-winner amongst the women with Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan placed third. Nicole, who can be seen next year with Opera Australia as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Mimi in La Bohème and Desdemona in Otello, was in excellent voice....Nicole, who received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Melbourne in 2007 was awarded the title Symphony Australia Young Vocalist the same year. Her debut as Donna Anna at Victorian Opera followed in 2009. Since 2011 Nicole has appeared as Donna Anna, Mimi and Micaëla with Opera Australia in Sydney....The televised competition held in Gütersloh is billed as the world’s biggest and has previously thrown up names such as Nathalie Stutzmann, Kristīne Opolais, Vesselina Kasarova and René Pape. This year’s jury included such vocal luminaries as Anja Silja, Siegfried Jerusalem and Francisco Araiza." [Source] Watch an interview video about the soprano after the jump, as well as a stupendous rendition of "Caro nome" by Nadine Sierra.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Anne Sofie Von Otter Serves Up Two Sides of French Song

"The love of Sweden's most famous singer for the French language is well known. Anne Sofie von Otter performs this album with exceptional sensitivity and intelligence. Von Otter's successful journeys beyond the boundaries of classical music, whether with Elvis Costello or Brad Mehldau, inform her unique view of two centuries of French Chanson, from Mélodies by Fauré and Debussy to Barbara, Piaf, Ferre, Moustaki, and Trenet. United by the magic of words and the emotion of simple and sensitive music, these melodies are timeless treasures of the French heritage and spirit, which this great artist performs with her legendary elegance." [Source] Preview the EPK for the album and check out the entire track list for the 2-CD set after the jump. You can pre-order your copy of the recording here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Did Elijah Moshinsky Influence American Horror Story Coven?

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered: Cast members from left to right - Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau, Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode, and Kathy Bates as Madame Delphine LaLaurie.
Last night FX premiered the third season of its wildly successful series American Horror Story. Titled "Coven," the theme revolves around witchcraft, voodoo and telekinesis. As promos began to air leading up to the premiere, one in particular stood out: "Initiation." The tall statuesque figures of the leading ladies conjured up memories of the three nymphs (Najade, Dryade, and Echo) in the Elijah Moshinsky production of Ariadne auf Naxos, which ran from 1993-2011 at the Metropolitan Opera. Check out comparison images after the jump.

Sondra Radvanovsky Video Interviews Post MET Norma Debut

Fresh from her MET role debut in Bellini's Norma, The New York Times had this to say: "As the soprano Sondra Radvanovsky sang 'Casta Diva' at the Metropolitan Opera on Monday evening, she drew listeners in with her expressive shadings and heartfelt delivery. She earned a thunderous ovation after the cavatina, in which the druid priestess Norma prays to the moon goddess for peace. Ms. Radvanovsky proved dramatically and vocally arresting in her inaugural American performance of Bellini’s Norma, as John Copley’s drab production returned to the Met for the first time this season. Ms. Radvanovsky has made a name for herself in recent years as a Verdi interpreter, but recently added bel canto roles to her repertory. She has described the title character in Norma, which she recently sang in a concert performance in Catalonia, Spain, as her ideal role both vocally and temperamentally." After the jump, see the soprano interviewed by F. Paul Driscoll and Fred Plotkin in two separate conversations preserved on video.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Marina Rebeka Set To Release Mozart Arias CD On Warner Classics

"Marina Rebeka began her musical studies in Latvia, and in 2007 graduated from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome. She also attended the 'Internationale Sommerakademie Universität Mozarteum“ in Salzburg where she studied with Grace Bumbry, and the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro, under the guidance of Alberto Zedda. Since her international debut in 2009 at the Salzburg Festival in Rossini’s Moise et Pharaon, Marina Rebeka has appeared as regular guest of the world’s most prestigious concert stages and opera houses including the New York Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, Royal Opera House Covent Garden London, Vienna State Opera, Opernhaus Zürich, Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Rossini Opera Festival Pesaro, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia. Marina Rebeka has sung under the baton of Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, Fabio Luisi, Paolo Carignani, Roberto Abbado, Alberto Zedda, Mikhail Jurowski, Stéphane Denève, Yves Abel, Michele Mariotti, Theodor Currentzis, Alessandro De Marchi, Gustav Kuhn, to name a few.....Her first EMI release was issued in April 2013 as the soprano soloist in Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle under the baton of Antonio Pappano with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia." [Source] Watch the EPK for the recording after the jump to hear a particularly well-phrased opening to "Non mi dir" from Don Giovanni, as well as other selections from the new disc.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Susanna Phillips Graces Vanity Fair For MET Return

The soprano photographed in Santa Fe
(Photo: Erik Madigan Heck)
"A native of Alabama and southern to her core—five years ago more than 450 Alabamians attended her Met debut, as Musetta in La Bohème, a role she reprises this season—Phillips, 32, is a sparkler herself. She is almost six feet tall and a former basketball player: 'You can’t be almost six feet tall in Alabama and not play basketball,' she says, laughing. Then there’s her big, glorious voice—glittering in the upper register, lustrous in the lower. To date, she has made the Mozart repertory particularly her own, both at the Met and at the Santa Fe Opera. 'He’s my musical home,' she says. Phillips will also star this season as Rosalinde in the Met’s sumptuous new Sacher torte of a Die Fledermaus, which debuts on New Year’s Eve. But first, there’s that eagerly awaited Così. 'I’m so excited,' says Phillips, who has collaborated only once before with Levine. 'He never really needed to say anything; he showed you what to do. By the way he used his arms I found myself wanting to make music with him.'" [Source]

Friday, October 4, 2013

Opera Manager Andrea Anson Opens The Doors To His Townhouse

"A New York townhouse filled with family heirlooms and antique treasures. In his 1830s Manhattan home, music-world consultant Andrea Anson lives amid colorful rooms layered with African artifacts, European accents, and fond memories. Most people prefer clarity over confusion: crisp thoughts, unequivocal conversations, and perfectly precise rooms where just enough is quite enough. Manhattanite Andrea Anson is not one of those people. Stepping inside the transitional Federal/Greek Revival townhouse of this classical-music power broker—he is a consultant to Columbia Artists Management, where he has guided the careers of superstars such as Deborah Voigt and Angela Gheorghiu—is like walking into another place and time. The front door closes, muffling the touristy clamor of SoHo just outside, and a virtual English country house suddenly comes into view. Gilt-framed portraits and landscapes punctuate the colorful walls, portly delft vessels march across the top of a doorway, and every floor is spread with a Turkish carpet or two. 'Believe it or not, this place started out very clean and spartan,' Anson says. Some 30 years ago, though, his mother and father—a widowed Italian duchess and a British Army officer who crashed into each other on a ski slope during World War II and fell in love—gave up their enormous apartment in Rome, along with the king’s ransom of antiques and art it contained. Anson flew over to see what he could take back to the U.S. Accompanying him was his partner, Gordon McCollum, a commercial real-estate executive with an encyclopedic knowledge of New York City architecture. (McCollum died in 2000.)....Decorative exuberance wasn’t McCollum’s
plan in 1970, when he acquired the then-derelict property. One of the city’s grand merchant’s houses, the 1834 structure had been ill-served by the passage of time. At some point it had been divided into apartments, and in the 1920s a speakeasy took over the parlor floor. (Repairs to the basement boiler uncovered evidence of a secret corridor through which tipsy flappers fled during police raids.) A fire escape had been added to the redbrick façade, and the home’s stone mantels had vanished. Enough charm remained, though, to entice McCollum to purchase the building, for about $17,000, settle into one of the cramped flats, and begin a restoration that expanded into the other spaces as tenants gradually departed. McCollum retrieved period architectural details from demolition sites in New York and transplanted an 1830s staircase from a condemned house in Connecticut. Off came the fire escape, and beige and white paints were brushed onto the plaster walls—a neutral background for a few sinewy American Colonial antiques. Then, in 1978, along came Anson. The couple’s meeting was as much a thunderbolt as the ski-slope collision that brought together Anson’s parents. As he recounts, 'A friend invited me to a dinner party here, and when Gordon opened the door, I was done for.' The alliance changed not only their lives but also their surroundings, as the pared-down decor swiftly evolved into an Anglophilic layer cake of styles and eras. As Anson explains, 'Gordon allowed himself to become much more playful after we met.'" [Source] More photos of the interior after the jump.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Smells Like A Dozen Famous Sopranos And Is Red All Over?

One King's Lane is currently running an auction of Metropolitan Opera memorabilia. Perhaps the most interesting item among the lot is a costume worn by a curious collection of divas that have sung the role of Elizabeth of Valois with the company over the last three decades, beginning with its original wearer Renata Scotto. A nice bargain of operatic history for only $4,999US and Halloween is just around the corner! 

A full image of the dress after the jump and be sure to check the tags at the end of this post to see the list of singers to wear the garment.

Click on the image to enlarge. You will see a detail of the tags sewn into the costume that designate some of the singers who wore it over the years. You can see sopranos wearing it here and here. Also watch the dress in action here.

Natalie Dessay On Future Recording And Brazilian Music Concerts

The soprano, seen here with current tour and recording partner Michel Legrand, will give a series of concerts of French melodies (also to be recorded) and then venture into Brazilian music with guitarist Liat Cohen.
"En musique classique, je ferai une série de concerts de Lieder avec Philippe Cassard au piano en mars et avril aux Etats-Unis, au Canada et en Asie. Nous enregistrerons aussi ensemble en juin un album de mélodies françaises. En mai-juin il y aura d'autres concerts de musique brésilienne avec la guitariste Liat Cohen: du classique de Villa Lobos, et des chansons brésiliennes avec Agnès Jaoui et Héléna Noguerra." [Source]

Celine Byrne: Cancer, Cancellations, Catholicism, Children, Carreras

Ireland's pride and joy, soprano Celine Byrne, gives an interview to the Belfast Telegraph to promote the October 15 concert she sings with tenor José Carreras at Waterfront Hall during the Belfast Festival. The candid singer discusses a wide range of topics including surviving cervical cancer two years ago, being a beneficiary on both ends of cancelled performances, her strong Catholic faith, the three children she has with the man who was her first kiss at age 14, as well as the touring she does with José Carreras. This article is jam-packed with fascinating details from this lovely singer who has just released a new CD of arias. Read the full story here. Learn more about the soprano by visiting her official website here.

Agnes Baltsa Brings Greek Recital To The Vienna State Opera

"Da kommt sie: stolz, aufrecht, blondes Haar fließt in ihren Nacken. Über Jahrzehnte hat Agnes Baltsa das Publikum der Wiener Staatsoper verzückt, hat hier 25 Partien gegeben, vom Octavian über die Isabella und die Carmen bis zur Küsterin. Nun ist die kraftvolle Diva, die im nächsten Jahr ihren 70. Geburtstag feiert, für einmal auf die Bühne der Staatsoper zurückgekehrt, mit Liedern aus ihrer Heimat. In einer Zeit, in der Griechenland nicht gerade in der Komfortzone der Sympathierankings europäischer Nationen zu finden ist, ist das auf jeden Fall eine gute Sache." [Source]

Teresa Berganza Shows Flexibility In More Than Vocal Cords

The 78-year old singer, photographed by José Luis Nocito in Santander, Spain, on August 14, 2013, doing yoga.
Read more about Teresa Berganza, and hear an audio clip of Offenbach's "Barcarolle" with soprano/daughter Cecilia Lavilla Berganza, after the jump. [Source]