Saturday, November 30, 2013

David Hansen Sexes Up Cavalli's 400-Year Old "Giasone"

"Cavalli’s Giasone has it all – achingly beautiful music, unimaginable tragedy, and ultimate triumph. Giasone was the most frequently performed opera of the 17th century and took its plot from the Greek myth of Jason and his search for the Golden Fleece. (Those of a certain age will remember the ABC radio program The Argonauts’ Club, also loosely based on the story of Jason.) These days Giasone is rarely performed. Our production will be the Australian premiere. Cavalli was a groundbreaking composer of opera. Giasone – at once bawdy and beautiful – will showcase the impressive talent of rising international star, David Hansen, in the title role. Oh, and it’s a little bit naughty…" [Source] One more tastefully artistic photo after the jump and a photo gallery of rehearsal photos can be seen here.

Maria Callas Exclusive New 1956 "La Traviata" Vinyl Recording

Amazon has released a new recording of Verdi's La Traviata, from 1956 performances at La Scala in Milan, with a cast that includes Gianni Raimondi under conductor Carlo Maria Giulini in a production by Luchino Visconti. Click here to order the set. Watch a video previewing the set by clicking here. "This Deluxe Limited Edition Box Set of Verdi's highly esteemed La Traviata, performed by Maria Callas in 1956 has been digitally remastered and recorded on three 180 gram vinyl LPs, each individually hosted in a custom printed sleeve."
Also included is a high quality book, featuring:

- Historic detail of the original program
- An introduction to the opera
- A history of the staging
- Photographs from the La Scala archives, unearthing exclusive and rare images
- The opera libretto

All of these elements are presented in an elegant presentation box of red linen and gold impressions.

Designing Opera Costumes In The Digital Age Of High-Definition

Lisette Oropesa, who sings the role of Nanetta, fits herself in riding boots. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)
The New York Times visits the Metropolitan Opera costume department to expose all the difficulties in recreating period costumes that can sustain the scrutiny of a high-definition camera. Taking a peak at the latest cast and costumes from Robert Carsen's new production of Verdi's Falstaff, the newspaper features a wonderful gallery of photos along with the story. "High-definition cameras are only the latest challenge for members of the Met’s costume department. As it is, their work requires a combination of finely honed technical skills, a historian’s understanding of period costumes, and personalized attention to opera singers, their performance style and body hang-ups. At the same time, Met costumes have to be much more durable than regular clothes. Unlike couture fashion, these garments must last for many seasons — sometimes decades — and withstand rapid costume changes between scenes. In the past, that might have meant sturdier zippers and thicker hooks, but with cameras trained even on the backs of singers, the Met’s designers, drapers and seamstresses have had to become craftier." [Source]

Friday, November 29, 2013

Anna Netrebko Shows Strength: Son Tiago Is Autistic, Separation From Erwin Schrott, Mother's Early Death, Weight Gain And More

In what is certainly her most courageous interview during her professional career, soprano Anna Netrebko opens up about the most personal aspects of her life. Revelations include the disclosure of her son, Tiago, being born with Autism. She speaks out for the first time telling mothers in a similar situation not to be afraid and there are tools to help with the education of their children. In most recent history, American soprano Beverly Sills struggled with her own children: Meredith ("Muffy") was born profoundly deaf and has multiple sclerosis, while Peter, Jr. ("Bucky") is severely mentally disabled. Sills restricted her performing schedule to care for her children. Ms. Netrebko also discusses her most recent separation from bass-baritone Erwin Schrott who is the father of her child. She shows her strength and determination as a woman to get through these hardships. Her father is also interviewed about the death of Anna's mother with whom she was very close. This insightful interview will have fans seeing a very human side to one of the world's greatest opera stars. [Source]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Renée Fleming Joins Aretha Franklin & Janelle Monáe For NCTL

(Photo: Decca/Andrew Eccles)
Watch the 2013 National Christmas Tree Lighting on Friday, December 6 starting at 4:30pm – featuring The Avett Brothers, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Aretha Franklin, Janelle Monáe, Arturo Sandoval, Train and more! For more details, click here. Renée was most recently at the White House to receive the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in July 2013. The soprano has had an ongoing relationship in the political capital since 1999 when she performed for President Bill Clinton during a Christmas celebration. She has also sung regularly for the Kennedy Center Honors and Presidential Inaugurations. [Source] Also on the concert program, for the tree lighting ceremony, will be violinist Joshua Bell. Due to their most recent collaboration, they may very will be performing together. Stay tuned for more details on additional entertainers and what the musical program will include in its entirety.

Deborah Voigt Coaches Professor Wigglesworth On "Beautiful Dreamer"

Renée Fleming Visits Joshua Bell At Home For Holiday Concert

The two classical music superstars appeared together for a live concert on in Mr. Bell's New York apartment to promote his most recent holiday recording, Musical Gifts. Watch last night's concert by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Barrie Kosky Magic Flute Makes Big Splash At LA Opera

"A celebration of true love conquering all, The Magic Flute transports us into an enchanted world where good faces the forces of darkness. Under the masterful baton of James Conlon, LA Opera presents the U.S. Production Premiere of a highly inventive staging that originated at the Komische Oper Berlin, created by director Barrie Kosky in combination with the British theater group '1927,' whose humorous shows have thrilled audiences all over the world with their interaction between film animation and live-performing actors: 'A perfect mixture of all the things worth loving: silent films, the cabaret of the Weimar Republic, David Lynch, and the brothers Grimm (The Guardian, UK).' Packed with exquisite singing and stage wizardry, Mozart's delightful blend of high comedy and serious drama enchants young and old alike." This is a co-production with Minnesota Opera, where it will be performed in April. Read the New York Times review by clicking here and check out a large photo gallery of the production here. The complete LA Opera cast list is after the jump.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anna Netrebko Says Verdi's Leonora Is "A Damn Difficult Role"

Click on the above photo to launch a video of rehearsal footage and artist interviews from Berlin's new production of Il Trovatore. After the jump, see Plácido Domingo's new official branding.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

David Bowie Goes Baroque For Louis Vuitton's "L'Invitation Au Voyage"

Pack your steamer trunks, Louis Vuitton takes you on a fantastical adventure in their latest advertising campaign, "L'Invitation au Voyage." Picture it, the Piazza San Marco in Venice during Carnival where David Bowie suddenly appears as the Duca Bianco in a crowd of 700 extras full of pomp and Baroque circumstance. He begins to play the harpsichord while operatically warbling his latest single "I'd Rather Be High." Watch model Arizona Muse traipsing through the palace with her Vivienne handbag in filmmaker Romain Garvas's episodic journey. Watch the campaign video and find more images of the campaign, photographed by David Sims, after the jump. And if Duparc is the way you like to travel, click here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Immortal Voice Of Luciano Pavarotti Sings On With Decca Edition

The Pav: One of opera's most legendary opera singers
with an immense legacy of recordings. (Photo: ©Decca) 
Decca will be releasing a 28-CD collection of complete opera recordings by the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti in one deluxe, limited-edition box. To see the whole track list, click here. Pre-order copies of the set by clicking here.

"Luciano Pavarotti (October 12, 1935 – September 6, 2007) was an Italian operatic tenor who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time. He made numerous recordings of complete operas and individual arias, gaining worldwide fame for the brilliance and beauty of his tone—especially into the upper register—and eventually established himself as one of the finest tenors of the 20th century. As one of The Three Tenors, Pavarotti became well known for his televised concerts and media appearances. From the beginning of his professional career as

a tenor in 1961 in Italy to his final performance of 'Nessun dorma' at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Luciano Pavarotti was at his best in bel canto operas, pre-Aida Verdi roles and Puccini works such as La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly. Pavarotti was also noted for his charity work on behalf of refugees and the Red Cross, amongst others. He died from pancreatic cancer on September 6, 2007." [Source]

Vogue Features Erin Morley Stepping Into MET Strauss Role

The Girl Gets the Rose: Soprano Morley
will sing the role of Sophie at the MET in
Der Rosenkavalier (Photo: Dario Acosta)
"Tonight, Der Rosenkavalier returns to the stage at the Metropolitan Opera. Written by Richard Strauss (with a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal), the opera was a smashing success the night it debuted in Dresden in 1911—and continues to be so to this day. It tells the complicated story of the romantic entanglement of four characters: a loutish baron; his fiancée, a bourgeois innocent named Sophie von Faninal; the handsome Count Octavian Rofrano; and the Marschallin, a married, older woman with whom Octavian is having an affair. The soprano Mojca Erdmann was originally cast to play Sophie, but will be unable to go onstage tonight due to fighting a recent bout with pneumonia. But opera fans needn’t be sad—her understudy, the talented and beautiful Erin Morley, 33, has stepped in to sing the part. Morley is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and received her master’s from Juilliard; she was also a Lindemann Young Artist. She took a moment recently to talk about her big Met debut, which will surely be the beginning of a glittering operatic career." Read the interview by clicking here. [Source]

Charlotte Church Comes Out Against Sexualized Record Industry

The soprano has an estimated net worth
of $15 million, mostly earned from her many
recordings made during her tween years.
"It is a male-dominated industry, with a juvenile perspective on gender and sexuality. From what I can see, there are three main roles that women are allowed to fill in modern pop music. Each of them restrictive for both artists and audience. They are mainly portrayed through the medium of the music video, you’ll find them very familiar. I call them One of the Girls’ Girls, the Victim/Torch Singer, and the Unattainable Sexbot. The One of the Girls’ Girls role is a painfully thin reduction of feminism that generally seems to point to a world where, ‘so long as you can hang out with your girls it’s possible to sort of wave away the evils that men do.’ This denigrates women and men equally, and yet is commonly lauded for being empowering. The Victim/Torch Singer can be divided into the sexy victim (ie, Natalie Imbruglia in the ‘Torn’ video) and the not-so-sexy victim. One female artist who does not use her sexuality to sell records is Adele. However, lyrically, her songs are almost without exception written from the perspective of the wronged woman, an archetype as old as time. Someone who has been let down by the men around her, and is subsequently in a perpetual state of despair. But to me, the Unattainable Sexbot is most

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Simon Estes Gives Gratitude To God For His Vocal Gifts

A 1990 recording from Philips Classics
featuring the bass-baritone giving praise.
"Estes gives full credit to God for his voice and success. His mother and an older sister also had incredible voices. His sister played piano and the family listened to classical music when he was a child.... 'We have very special gifts and talents from God,' Estes says of himself and his fellow opera singers. The ability to project their voices, and fill large opera houses, without the assistance of microphones, requires "very special vocal cords.' Estes said he cares for his vocal cords by avoiding alcohol, tobacco, drugs and by thanking God every day for his gifts. 'I really give the Lord credit,' Estes said....Throughout his illustrious career, Estes has performed for kings and queens, presidents and other world leaders. Three years ago, Estes was asked to perform during the grand finale concert of the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa. He was called there to perform, Estes said, and while in Africa, God had another mission for him. It was while he was in South Africa that Estes learned that one million children in Africa die of malaria each year. Of all of the deaths from malaria in the world, 90 percent occur in Africa. Every 30 seconds, someone dies. In most cases, the disease is contracted through mosquito bites. 'It's been heavy on my heart for quite some time,' Estes said. He has set a goal, with his foundation, to purchase one million mosquito nets to save African children. He is receiving assistance from the United Nations Foundation." [Source] Watch a video profile of Mr. Estes after the jump.

Elisa Balbo Entertains Valentino Flagship Store Opening In Shanghai

L'Italiana in China: Balbo Serenades 
On Thursday, November 14th, a party celebrating the opening of Valentino’s first flagship in Shanghai, designed by architect David Chipperfield, and a runway spectacle debut of the brand’s new Shanghai ready-to-wear and Haute Couture collection, which will be available in stores next April took place at the bedazzling Shanghai International Cruise Terminal, whose 40,000 square meters of space include a riverside park and suspended enclosures dubbed the “Shanghai Chandelier." Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chirui and Pierpaolo Piccioli were joined by a mix of models and actresses like Du Juan, Hanne Gabe Odiele, and Jun Hasegawa. Guests enjoyed views of the city’s futuristic skyline, lounged on votive-lit louche red sofas and were serenaded by opera soprano Elisa Balbo before the Djs Sean and Anthony Souza took over. This marked the opening of Valentino’s second largest flagship in the world (the first is in Milan) and the first time the brand has developed a city-specific collection. [Source] Watch a video of the soprano, singing "Tacea la notte placida" from Verdi's Il Trovatore, after the jump. The soprano performed last April for S.Pellegrino's tribute to Luciano Pavarotti in New York and most recently at the Arena di Verona for "Opera on Ice." You can also find her on Facebook.

Sylvia McNair Takes Gershwin Tour Back On The Road

"Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, ‘Here to Stay’ is the multimedia concert event celebrating the greatest team of collaborators in the history of American music. ‘Here to Stay’ provides unique and entertaining insight into the legendary Gershwin duo, and offers rare audio and video footage of the Gershwin’s. Family photos, rare video clips, and elegant, state-of-the-art visuals provide a distinctive and unique experience and an unforgettable offering of the Gershwin brothers’ best." [Source] Tour dates are as follows:

North Carolina Symphony - January 18, 2014
Des Moines Orchestra - February 15, 2014
Austin Symphony - February 21, 2014
Naples (FL) Big Band - March 14, 2014
Chattanooga Symphony - April 4, 2014

Visit Sylvia McNair's official website by clicking here.

Christine Goerke Celebrates Dramatic Voice Change

Goerke is all smiles after a four-year absence
from the MET stage, she will return in
Wagner during the 2018-19 season.
"The change, when it came, took her by surprise. 'I noticed it during the run of Alcina at City Opera (in 2003),' Goerke said. 'Handel always felt easy and comfortable, and it didn't feel easy. I went home and told my then-fiance: 'I broke it.' . And it turned out that in fact, my voice was just changing . and I had disconnected from my support, because my voice got so big and I was trying to keep it very slim.' Once she corrected the problem, she said, her voice became 'immediately twice the size, then three times, and my coach said, 'My God, there's still more in there!' It wasn't something that was broken, just something I had to grow into.' At the same time, Goerke was growing into a new personal life. She married her fiance (whom she affectionately refers to as "a tone-deaf construction worker") and had two children, girls now 4 and 7. Her reincarnation as a full-fledged dramatic soprano began when she sang the title role of Strauss' Elektra in Madrid in 2011, a part she has reprised in Chicago and London. But coming back to the Met
The soprano at the beginning
of her career (Photo: Christian Steiner)
was special. Born on Long Island, she had apprenticed with the Met's program for young artists. Her Met debut came in 1995 and she sang there regularly for a while. But since 2004, her only appearances had been in 2009 as the Foreign Princess in Dvorak's Rusalka. 'Singers should never think of a house as a 'home' because it's all business,' Goerke said. 'But this will always be home to me. I grew up here.' Within days of the Frau opening, the Met announced it had signed her to sing Brünnhilde in Wagner's Ring cycle in 2018-19, as well as to appear in Elektra and as Ortrud in Wagner's Lohengrin. Other Ring cycles are on her calendar, including one in Houston. And she's studying new roles, among them Isolde, Lady Macbeth and Cassandra in Berlioz's Les Troyens. And she looks forward to many years of singing at the top of her game. 'It's very rare at 44 to be able to say I'm a baby,' Goerke said. 'It's just at the beginning of where things start to get comfy in this repertoire.'" [Source] Find a fun photo, that may have foreshadowed Christine Goerke's future singing endeavors, after the jump.

Friday, November 15, 2013

American Studies: Dorothy Kirsten And Patricia Racette

Two American divas that forged careers singing the same celebrated roles of Violetta in La traviata, Madame Lidoine in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Mimì in La bohème, Micaëla in Carmen, Nedda in Pagliacci, and the title role in Puccini's Manon Lescaut. Both also fearlessly crossed over into more popular idioms of vocal music without compromising their vocal integrity. With itineraries that spanned the globe, both sopranos were primarily based in America with a special affinity for the San Francisco Opera. Ms. Racette will even be venturing into one of the roles that Ms. Kirsten is best-remembered (thanks to a riveting pirate recording): Minnie in La Fanciulla del West. Read more about the many similarities between the two sopranos, and listen to more audio clips, after the jump.

Vissi d'arte" from Tosca (Puccini) as sung by Dorothy Kirsten

Vissi d'arte" from Tosca (Puccini) as sung by Patricia Racette

Alfred Brendel's Island Has Daniels, Jurinac & Fischer-Dieskau

Alfred Brendel chooses his top 8 "Desert Island Discs" for the BBC. Among them are David Daniels interpreting "Al lampo dell'armi quest'alma" from Handel's Giulio Cesare, Sena Jurinac singing "Zeffiretti lusinghieri" from Mozart's Idomeneo, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau performing "Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht" from Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen by Mahler. His love of vocal music may have developed from his childhood on the little Croatian Island of Kirk where his nanny taught him a number of folksongs. He also operated the phonograph of the hotel, that his parents ran, on which he played operetta records whilst he sang along. Listen to the legendary pianist discuss his choices on the radio broadcast by clicking here.

Lisette Oropesa Loses Weight The Old Fashioned (Healthy) Way

Special thanks to Opera Chic for pointing out this great feature on soprano Lisette Oropesa's journey to a healthy lifestyle! Be sure to check out another story done last year about her running by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Coven Chooses Opera Over Jazz On American Horror Story

Based on an historical figure, a murderous musician who hides an axe inside his saxophone case declares to the citizens of New Orleans that he will spare their life if they are playing jazz music loudly in their homes on a particular evening. The resident ladies of the coven in 1919 refer to themselves as suffragettes and they decide they have nothing to fear. So rather than play jazz, they opt for the more logical choice of Bellini's "Casta
Diva" from Norma, who happens to be opera's most famous Druidess. As the phonograph blares upstairs, the head witch (played by Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer) slowly turns the tarot cards waiting for a potential slaughter. The tables are quickly turned and the serial killer meets his ultimate fate. The synopsis for the opera of Norma: Act 1: The grove. A secret love unites the seer Norma with Pollione, the Roman proconsul, father of her two children. But Pollione has grown tired of the aging druid and has fallen in love with Adalgisa, a young temple virgin. Despite Adalgisa's piety and virtue, she agrees to flee to Rome with Pollione. Adalgisa innocently tells Norma of her love, and Norma curses Pollione for his treachery. Act 2: Norma’s apartment. Norma is about to kill her children,
but her love for them finally consigns them to the care of Adalgisa. When Pollione comes to take Adalgisa from the temple, Norma denounces him; after he refuses to give up Adalgisa, he is seized by the Druids. Norma proclaims herself equally guilty with him. The pyre is lighted and Norma ascends it to die with her lover.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kathleen Battle Continues Alicia Keys Collaboration In New York City

Alicia Keys (left) with Kathleen Battle in 2008 after performing together at the Black Ball.
Opera star Kathleen Battle has been working alongside popular songstress Alicia Keys since 2007 to help raise money for a worthy cause. This Thursday, November 7, the pair will be on the stage together once again for the Keep a Child Alive Foundation's 10th Black Ball. "An inspiring evening of music and philanthropy to benefit children and families affected by HIV in Africa and India." This year's event will also feature performances by Carole King, Laura Mvula, Ron Ayers, and others to be announced. The show takes place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The Black Ball has raised over $18.4 million since 2004. [Source] Watch performances of the two ladies from previous years, after the jump.

Purchase Aprile Millo Rendition Of Famous Hymn On ReverbNation

The heavenly voice of soprano Aprile Millo
captured in hymn. (Photo: Christian Steiner)
Listen to operatic soprano Aprile Millo give a heart-swelling interpretation of the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee" by clicking here. Users may also purchase the track, along with other songs and arias. 

"'Nearer, My God, to Thee' is a 19th-century Christian hymn by Sarah Flower Adams, based loosely on Genesis 28:11–19,[1] the story of Jacob's dream. Genesis 28:11–12 can be translated as follows: 'So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it...' The hymn is well known, among other uses, as the alleged last song the band on RMS Titanic played before the ship sank. The verse was written by the English poet and Unitarian hymn writer Sarah Flower Adams (1805–1848) at her home in Sunnybank, Loughton, Essex, England, in 1841. It was first set to music by Adams's sister, the composer Eliza Flower, for William Johnson Fox's collection Hymns and Anthems. The hymn even made its way briefly onto the operatic stage. The singer Emma Abbott, prompted by 'her uncompromising and grotesque puritanism' rewrote La traviata so that Violetta expired singing not Verdi's 'Addio del passato,' but 'Nearer My God to Thee.'" [Source] Where else have you heard that tune? Check it out after the jump.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vinson Cole Could Have Been A Contender Says Carol Vaness

At home with the tenor Vinson Cole
(Photo: Jim Marcus/Kansas City Star)
"...native Kansas Citian Vinson Cole, is better known by opera fans in Europe (and mid-to-large American cities) than in his home town. In his 30-year career, Cole has never performed at the Lyric Opera but has sung leading roles at La Scala in Milan, Royal Opera House in London and other legendary Old World venues, as well as their New World counterparts, including the Sydney Opera House and the Met. 'Kansas City is not aware of what level of artist that he is,' said Ward Holmquist, artistic director and conductor of the Lyric Opera. 'Vinson had a long period of singing with the greatest conductors in the world at the greatest opera houses, singing all these operas in original languages.' Noted soprano Carol Vaness has sung opposite Cole in Tosca and other big productions. She says the only thing separating Cole from the popular Three Tenors (Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras) — and she has sung with all of them — is Cole’s lack of interest in self-promotion. 'I think if he had wanted to be as popular as those three he could have been,' Vaness said. 'If you ask anyone in the business, they will tell you he has an international tenor voice that is instantly recognizable. His voice is rich and is just as beautiful when he’s singing big as when he’s singing soft.' [Source] Watch a video of Vinson Cole in his prime singing a Mozart concert aria after the jump.

Huntress Lead Singer Jill Janus Is Former Coloratura Soprano

Jill Janus seems ready-made for
Lucia di Lammermoor, but prefers
the Heavy Metal scene instead.
"There's a lot to love about Huntress, and it's not just because frontwoman Jill Janus is gorgeous, bad-ass and intelligent. The band's debut album Spell Eater, recorded and produced by Chris Rakestraw, earned stellar reviews. The musicians--Janus, guitarists Blake Meahlt and Anthony Crocamo, bassist Ian Alden, and drummer Carl Wierzbicky--thrive on heavy riffs and spectral solos, occult science and bong rips, and a love for thrash and black metal. Influences like Judas Priest and King Diamond come into play, but with a modern sensibility about the heavy metal industry. And then of course, there's vocalist Jill Janus. Trained as a classical opera singer from childhood, she was drawn to metal from the first time she heard Suicidal Tendencies at the tender age of 13-years-old. That led to metal, punk rock and then thrash with her four-octave coloratura soprano range and a natural ability to growl and scream. She's been part of a witch coven since the age of 15, and hosted a night cabaret in the World Trade Center up until the night before 9/11." [Source] Think Jill Janus misses the fine art of opera? Find out after the jump.