Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ildar Abdrazakov Introduces Barbara Frittoli To Wine Journalist

Is that Mendoza Malbec in your globus cruciger?: Ildar Abdrazakov and Barbara Frittoli in
Don Carlo at Regio di Torino (Photo: Ramella & Giannese)
"On off days he and his Italian girlfriend love to drive the Tuscan countryside searching for wineries and wines to buy...He introduced the woman with him as Barbara, visiting him for about 10 days while he was singing here and on to Chicago for a Verdi Requiem with Muti conducting. Pretty and lively, dressed casually in jeans and a flowing blouse, she spoke English with a bit of an Italian accent but with more confidence and a better vocabulary than Ildar's. She became a vital part of our conversation. She seemed highly knowledgeable about opera. She looked vaguely familiar, too. I asked, innocently, 'Do you sing?' She said yes, and Ildar added, 'She's Barbara Frittoli.'" [Source]

Monday, December 30, 2013

Olympics Of Singing To Air January 11 On PBS

"Tune in to PBS on Jan. 11 to watch Stephanie Blythe, Stephen Costello, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Gregg Grimsley, Angela Meade, Eric Owens, Ailyn Pérez, Matthew Polenzani, and 2013 Richard Tucker Award Winner Isabel Leonard perform at the highly anticipated opera event. Check local listings: http://to.pbs.org/12CzT1B"

Fun Insider Secret Onstage At The Metropolitan Opera

(Photo: Jonathan Tichler/MET Opera)
"Another small insider homage could be found on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera this month, in its lavish production of Der Rosenkavalier, by Richard Strauss. In the third act, after the boorish Baron Ochs’s attempted assignation at a tavern goes disastrously and hilariously wrong, he is besieged with bills from the innkeeper and a host of others. Invisible to the audience — whether sitting in the back of the Family Circle or the front of the orchestra — is what the long paper bills thrust at him actually say. In flowing cursive writing, the bills list the cast from the current production’s 1969 premiere, starting with the conductor, Karl Böhm, and naming everyone from Leonie Rysanek, who sang the Marschallin, to Christa Ludwig, who sang Octavian, to Charles Anthony, who was the innkeeper that night (and who sang some 2,928 mostly small roles at the Met during his long career). The tradition of these kinds of in jokes goes back centuries. Mozart’s Don Giovanni has an allusion in the last act to his own Le Nozze di Figaro." [Source]

Side-By-Side: Sandi Patty Sings "We Shall Behold Him"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Opera Stars Pack Kennedy Center For Martina Arroyo Tribute

Denyce Graves
Renée Fleming
Jessye Norman
Joseph Calleja performs "Celeste Aida"
Sondra Radvanovsky performs "O Patria Mia"
Joseph Calleja and Sondra Radvanovsky sing the "Triumphal Scene" from Verdi's Aida

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Aprile Millo Celebrates Christmas With Carol Medley MP3

"Iconic Opera Singer Aprile Millo presents a tribute to her many fans in this brand new arrangement of beloved Christmas Carols telling the story of how we celebrate the Holidays during various stages of our life. In advance of her studio recording release later next year, Millo records here a singing Christmas Card, complete with a novel personal touch, directly speaking and singing to her fans around the world. A stunning arrangement by noted soprano and opera historian, Dr. Mary-Lou Vetere was written and it was recorded LIVE in Niagara Falls, ON. Mme. Millo has been compared to some of the greatest voices who ever sang in opera, Renata Tebaldi, Rosa Ponselle, Claudia Muzio and Zinka Milanov. The beloved soprano has for over twenty-eight years been a beacon of style, authentic Verdi sound and idiomatic phrasing; the geniune article lirico-spinto soprano d' agilita'. Millo has been thrilling audiences world over and for almost thirty years, she is considered the 'grande dame' of the Italian Wing at the historic

Opera World Filled With Perverts According To Russian Official

Politician and mezzo-soprano fights for gay rights
"Opera diva Maria Maksakova, an MP for the ruling United Russia party, says the controversial ban on propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors, dubbed the 'anti-gay' law in the West, must be revised as it damages the investment climate...Maksakova specifically drew attention to the negative impact of this initiative on Russian artists working in the West, who are now facing 'discrimination' because of the so-called 'anti-gay' law. A mezzo soprano soloist with St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater, she said her colleagues 'are being kicked out from plays and orchestras' in Europe...Meanwhile, the author of the law, St Petersburg municipal deputy Vitaly Milonov hit back saying he is 'totally opposed' to the singer’s proposal. In his words, Maksakova is an artistic person coming from the world where 'perverts' are not uncommon." [Source]

Wynton Marsalis Interviews Martina Arroyo On CBS This Morning

Monday, December 23, 2013

Teatro Real Madrid To Auction Opera Items For Fundraiser

"The ghosts of operas past have returned to haunt the elegant labyrinth that is the entrance hall, staircase and hallways of the Teatro Real in Madrid. There, close enough for anyone to touch, are the characters from the theater's 2003 production of Isaac Albéniz's Merlin, or those from the 1999 staging of Bizet's Carmen, or the 2005 version of Mozart's Don Giovanni, among many others. In total there are over 1,000 items, ranging from costumes, masks and wigs to furniture and stage props, made in the theater workshops and used in productions from 1997 onwards. And the best part is that anyone can take them home — for a price. All the items will be auctioned off on December 26 as part of an initiative called La Almoneda del Real (Auction at the Real). Similar sales have been held at other major European opera houses, such as Covent Garden in London and the Opéra Nationale de Paris. The items vary wildly in nature and price: there are objects with a starting price of 20 euros, while the most expensive piece is a scale model of a 1930 Packard LeBaron car that was built for Don Giovanni and will admit no lower bid than 7,800 euros. A model of a horse used in the same opera is going for 1,500 euros; the Excalibur sword from Merlin has a starting price of 150 euros; Morgana's dress starts at 1,500 euros; a mining wagon used in Macbeth begins at 180 euros; and a makeup kit used in Japanese Kabuki theater has an initial price tag of 40 euros....And some are for mythomaniacs, like the headdress we made for [Spanish soprano] María Bayo or the outfit we created for [mezzo-soprano] María José Montiel for the 150th anniversary of the theater. They were only used once. As a curiosity, even the old ushers' uniforms are being auctioned off after the theater's previous artistic director, Gérard Mortier, had them changed when he took up his position. These are going for 30 euros each." [Source]

Opera Index To Honor Mezzo-Soprano Rosalind Elias

"On Sunday, January 12, 2014, Opera Index will presents its 35th Distinguished Achievement Award to mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias, described as one of the finest singing actresses of our time, at its Winter Gala in the Grand Salon of the JW Marriott Essex House, 160 Central Park South, beginning at 6 p.m. with a reception in the Petit Salon. The three-time Grammy and two-time Emmy Award-winning artist made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1954 and over her half-century-long career, has sung more than 50 roles. Ken Benson, renowned artists manager and longtime Opera Index supporter, will present the award to Ms. Elias." [Source]

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Verdi Makes Appearance In 2006 Curious George Film

"Ms. Plushbottom, Ted's neighbor, wanted her apartment painted like a picture of the Opera Hall. The painters only painted three colors on the wall. The colors on the wall were blue, red, and yellow. Mrs. Plushbottom was voiced by Joan Plowright, who starred in films such as Dennis the Menace (1993) and 101 Dalmatians (1996)." After firing the painters, the diva decides to soak in the tub while opera plays throughout the apartment. Watch the video clip from Curious George: Show Me The Monkey (2006) that features the cabaletta "Tutto sprezzo che d'Ernani" from Ernani by Giuseppe Verdi, as well as a clip of Leona Mitchell singing the full aria from the Metropolitan Opera, after the jump. [SourceSource

Mado Robin 8-CD Forlane Release Uncovers Rarities

"Phénomène vocal exceptionnel, Mado Robin fut aussi une agréable collègue. Elle fut une de mes Rosine à la fin des années cinquante. Eloignée de la scène pour une opération chirurgicale, elle ne tarde pas à reprendre sa carrière. C'est encore Le Barbier de Séville qui nous rassemble. Mado chante son air avec ses notes vertigineuses. Sa voix est intacte mais c'est dans le texte de Beaumarchais qu'un trou de mémoire, sans doute une séquelle de l'anesthésie, vint interrompre la scène avec Figaro. Le barbier que j'étais improvisa une phrase pour reprendre le fil de la pièce et fit signe au chef d'orchestre d'attaquer le duo Rosine-Figaro. La représentation se déroula sans autre incident et le public, satisfait, ne s'était aperçu de rien." [Source] Track listings are after the jump.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Plácido Domingo Sings For His Argentinian Supper In Berlin

Domingo, Netrebko, and Chakall, in Berlin (Photo: Wiese Genusskommunikation)
"Das 'Sudaka' in Berlin-Schöneberg ist für Daniel Barenboim fast so etwas wie sein zweites Wohnzimmer. Viel Fleisch, Empanadas – also die typisch-argentinische Küche von Fernsehkoch Chakall – hat es dem Star-Dirigenten angetan. Und deshalb lag es überaus nahe, dass der 71-Jährige nach einem harten Arbeitstag in sein Stammrestaurant kommen würde – diesmal mit seinen Kollegen. So durfte Chakall am späten Sonntagabend Starsopranistin Anna Netrebko und Plácido Domingo in seinem Restaurant an der Schöneberger Golzstraße begrüßen. So spät, weil sie zuvor gemeinsam ihren großen Auftritt in der Staatsoper im Schiller-Theater im Stück Il Trovatore hatten....Auf ganz besondere Weise bedankte sich Domingo beim Koch für Pfannkuchen mit Dulce de Leche, eine argentinische Spezialität. Chakall bekam vom Opernstar ein kleines Privatkonzert, der für ihn den Tango 'El Día Que Me Quieras' im Restaurant anstimmte. Bereits beim letzten Besuch hatte er ihn mit Gesang belohnt. 'Im März bin ich wieder da, da komme ich auf jeden Fall wieder vorbeikommen", sagte der spanische Startenor, der mit seiner Frau zum Abendessen gekommen war. Am Essen teil nahm auch der spanische Botschafter Pablo García-Berdoy." [Source] Check out the menu for the restaurant by clicking here.

Rolando Villazón Finds The Clown In Mozart Concert Arias

(Photo: Monika Hoefler/DG)
"In January Deutsche Grammophon releases Villazón’s new CD, Mozart Concert Arias – a collection of rarely recorded concert arias for tenor recorded with Sir Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra. The star tenor declares that the coming year will be 'all Mozart, all the time,' adding that with the new album '...It is as if I have uncovered a whole new world. No composer speaks to me as directly as Mozart.' Villazón will be touring the Mozart Concert Arias repertoire widely in 2014, including U-Live concerts in Prague (28 March), Munich (31 March), Vienna (3 April), Paris (6 April), Dortmund (29 April), Berlin (2 May) and London (6 May)." [Source]

Friday, December 20, 2013

Felipe Sanguinetti Gets Exclusive MET "Falstaff" Access

Filmmaker and photographer Felipe Sanguinetti was granted access to the rehearsal and opening night of the Metropolitan Opera's new Robert Carsen production of Verdi's Falstaff.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Revisiting 1979 "Madam Butterfly" By The Tavares Brothers

"Tavares (also known as The Tavares Brothers) are a American R&B, funk and soul music group, composed of five Cape Verdean-American brothers from New Bedford, Massachusetts. Madam Butterfly is the seventh album by American soul/R&B group Tavares, produced by Bobby Martin and released in 1979 on the Capitol label. By this stage in the group's career, they had become known as a disco act due to successful singles such as 'Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel', 'Whoduni' and 'More Than a Woman.' Madam Butterfly is however noted for its lack of anything approaching disco material, and as such is considered to be
more akin in style to the group's 1973-1975 albums than to their 1976-1978 Freddie Perren-produced output. 'Never Had a Love Like This Before', one of several slow jams on the album, became a top 5 R&B hit and has subsequently become a quiet storm classic, while tracks such as 'I'm Back for More' are more funk-based than listeners had come to expect from Tavares. Madam Butterfly performed respectably on the R&B chart, peaking at #13, but failed to achieve substantial sales in the crossover market. Its reputation has grown over the years and it is now considered among the group's best." [Source, Source]

Julianna Di Giacomo Marries Alessandro Polselli

Wedded Bliss: The newlywed couple in Las Vegas, NV (Photo: Facebook)
Soprano Julianna Di Giacomo married Alessandro Polselli on December 14, 2013. They decided to honeymoon in beautiful Hawaii. For any fans or friends who haven't already sent a gift, check out the registry here. Congratulations and a lifetime of joy to the happy couple!

Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker Sings Opera (And Likes Soda)

Be a Pepper, Drink Dr. Pepper: Justin Tucker enjoys making music of all varieties
"Justin Paul Tucker (born November 21, 1989) is an American football placekicker for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). He was signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He played college football at the University of Texas. He graduated from Westlake High School, near Austin. Tucker played college football at the University of Texas. In 2011, concluding a 118 game rivalry with Texas A&M University and The University of Texas, Tucker kicked the game winning field goal as time expired. Texas (then ranked #25) won, 27-25. He played in the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl." [Source] Watch the video of footballer Justin Tucker, performing "Deh vieni alla finestra" from Mozart's Don Giovanni as he sings the praises of Dr. Pepper, after the jump. You can also read more about the soda promotion by clicking here

Angela Gheorghiu And Virginia Zeani Have Mutual Adoration

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Deborah Voigt Entertains Mormon Tabernacle For Holidays

"The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square welcomed American soprano Deborah Voigt and British actor John Rhys-Davies for their annual Christmas concerts this past weekend in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The guest artists also joined the choir and orchestra for the weekly Music and the Spoken Word broadcast and a mini-concert on Sunday, 15 December. About 700 cast and crew are involved in the annual production, including dancers and the Bells on Temple Square. This is the first time Voigt and Rhys-Davies have made appearances with the choir. 'These are two such great additions for all that is happening on stage,' says Ronald B. Jarrett, president of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who spoke during a news conference Friday at the Conference Center, which seats 21,000 people. 'It has been an absolute thrill to be here,' says Voigt, a leading dramatic soprano revered for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. The Chicago native raised in California has also portrayed heroines of Italian opera to great acclaim. 'I have been a fan of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for a long time because I myself grew up in a church environment in the choir, where you will find a lot of opera singers have their first opportunity to sing,' explains Voigt. 'I have been blessed to sing in a lot of venues, but this was something really unique. The first time I walked in here and saw the vastness of this center, I couldn’t believe it. It feels much more intimate once it’s full of people.'" [Source]

Verizon Droid Uses Mozart's Königin Der Nacht In Advertisement

"Der Hölle Rache" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte sung by Königin der Nacht.

Christoph Waltz Makes Directorial Debut At De Vlaamse Opera

Christopher Waltz, Academy Award-winning actor, makes his opera directorial debut with Der Rosenkavalier at De Vlaamse Opera this evening. The Austrian-German star of Quentin Tarantino's films Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained grew up in Vienna where he studied acting at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. He also attended the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. He started as a stage actor, performing at venues such as Zurich's Schauspielhaus Zürich, Vienna's Burgtheater, and the Salzburg Festival. He became a prolific television actor. In 2000, he made his directorial debut, with the German television production Wenn man sich traut. Mr. Waltz comes from a theatrical family and so the Flemish opera cast rehearsed scenes without music to help gain more insight to their characters. [Source, Source, Source] Cast list is after the jump.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tonino Benacquista Book-Turned-Movie Gets The Verdi Treatment

La Famiglia: Click here to watch an advertisement, featuring "La donna é mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto, promoting the release of the DVD/Blu Ray for the 2013 film The Family.
"A mafia boss and his family are relocated to a sleepy town in France under the witness protection program after snitching on the mob. Despite the best efforts of CIA Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) to keep them in line, Fred Manzoni (Robert De Niro), his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their children Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D'Leo) can't help but revert to old habits and blow their cover by handling their problems the 'family' way, enabling their former mafia cronies to track them down. Chaos ensues as old scores are settled in the unlikeliest of settings in this darkly funny film by Luc Besson (Taken, Transporter)." [Source]

Miguel Lerín Laments Current State Of Vocal Preparedness

A small collection of singers whom Miguel Lerín counts as friends in the opera world.
"Miguel Lerín, promotor del Concurso Internacional de Canto Francisco Viñas y biznieto del célebre tenor, recibió el relevo al frente de esta responsabilidad de su madre, María Vilardell -gran pianista- aunque fuera su abuelo y yerno del Tenor Viñas, Jacint Vilardell, quien fundara el concurso -que ha cumplido ya su 50 aniversario- en el año 1963. Ganar el primer premio del Concurso Internacional de Canto Francisco Viñas, asociado al Teatro del Liceo, no garantiza, sin embargo y a priori, una plaza de excepción en piezas operísticas de postín. 'Los artistas jóvenes ahora van muy deprisa', se lamenta Miguel Lerín, argumentando que el estudio insistente y sintetizado de la técnica vocal, será lo que les permitirá afrontar con éxito los 'roles' destinados a sus diferentes 'tesituras' de voz. Así, finalmente, gana el que más depura la técnica apoyado por profesores adecuados y no el que tiene, solamente, el privilegio de poseer las facultades vocales fisiológicas para el Canto. Tanto insiste Lerín
Señor Lerín
en 'la técnica' que, durante el recorrido que realizamos por su estudio -un amplísimo piso de carácter modernista repleto de alusiones a la Opera, piezas de 'atrezzo' pertenecientes a diferentes interpretaciones del Tenor Viñas y varios pianos- hace que me detenga ante una colección de fotografías de los artistas contemporáneos más relevantes, que ocupan toda una pared de la amplia estancia. Lo que a cierta distancia parecía una dedicatoria con firma sobre el retrato, es algo mucho más relevante. Miguel Lerín les pidió que definieran -en ese espacio limitado- lo que significa, según sus diferentes criterios, 'la técnica'; y el resultado es sorprendente. Digna de mención, por gráfica, es la de Montserrat Caballé, que insiste, con extraordinario sentido del humor, en aprender a “dominar bien la propia anatomía” como estrategia de técnica vocal." [Source] Watch a video interview with Miguel Lerín after the jump.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Anna Caterina Antonacci Brief Interview About Singing Career

Timed to coincide with a recital of Wagner, Berlioz, Resphighi, Tosti, Mascagni, Debussy, and Fauré, soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci gives an interview in which she discusses how she decided to become a singer; starting out as a Rossini specialist; the role she always longed to sing; whether she teaches or offers young singers advice; what her happiest performing experience has been in her career; and ends the interview with a funny anecdote of a staging mishap. Read the full interview here.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mariella Devia Honors Rita Levi-Montalcini (And Women) With Essay

Living In a Man's World: Italian soprano
Mariella Devia talks about succeeding
as a professional woman (Photo: Klangvokal)
Nine great women pay tribute to a 103-year old Italian neurologist and Nobel Prize recipient who passed away last year in a new book titled Rita Levi-Montalcini: Aggiungere Vita Ai Giorni. They discuss their own personal struggles as women and challenges that they had to overcome in their respective professions. Among them is coloratura soprano Mariella Devia. "Il pensiero di Rita Levi-Montalcini è sintetizzato in una sua preziosissima testimonianza, una delle ultime che ci ha lasciato poco prima di morire e che è pubblicata in questo libro insieme ai contributi di altre illustri donne italiane. Nove grandi artiste, scienziate e intellettuali rendono omaggio a Rita Levi-Montalcini raccontando come sono riuscite a vincere le sfide che ogni donna, in tutto il mondo, si trova ad affrontare: superare i pregiudizi, imporsi in ambienti spesso dominati dagli uomini, conciliare il lavoro con gli affetti e la maternità. Riunite in un solo volume, dieci personalità eccezionali, dieci storie uniche per altrettante visioni del mondo da cui emerge un’affascinante concordanza sui valori fondamentali: dedizione al lavoro, passione, impegno e sacrificio, onestà e attenzione agli altri, e soprattutto la forza di rialzarsi sempre dopo le inevitabili sconfitte."
Con i contributi di:
Rita Levi-Montalcini, premio Nobel per la Medicina
Carla Accardi, artista
Biancamaria Bosco Tedeschini Lalli, rettore
Chiara Castellani, chirurgo
Nicoletta Conti, direttrice d’orchestra
Mariella Devia, soprano
Micol Fontana, stilista
Carla Fracci, ballerina
Margherita Hack, astrofisica
Maria Luisa Spaziani, poetessa


Watch Diana Damrau As Violetta In "La Traviata" From La Scala

Soprano Diana Damrau (Violetta) with director Dmitri Tcherniakov discussing the opera

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Maria Guleghina In Candid Interview With Russian Exclusive Magazine

In a lengthy interview with Russian magazine Exclusive, soprano Maria Guleghina discusses a variety of topics. When asked how she feels about opera singers doing crossover material, she fires a zinger last line that translates: "An opera singer singing jazz, is like going into a disco on pointe." [Source]

А как вы относитесь к жанру кросовер, когда оперные поют с эстрадными или рок-певцами: Монсерат Кабалье и Фреди Меркури, Хворостовский с Крутым, Нетребко с Киркоровым? Кому удается – пожалуйста. Когда начала готовить программу «Военные песни», меня разрывали сомнения: как петь? Оперным голосом – ну никак нельзя, петь без тембра – тогда где Мария Гулегина? Петь голосом и душой – это можно, как колыбельные своим детям. На джаз никогда не покушалась. Петь джаз оперным певцам – все равно что прийти на дискотеку в пуантах.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Washington Post Salutes Martina Arroyo Via Anne Midgette

Finnish Bass-Baritone Tom Krause Is Dead At 79

Portrait of an Artist: Tom Krause
"Tom Gunnar Krause (July 5, 1934 − December 5, 2013) was a Finnish operatic bass-baritone, particularly associated with Mozart roles. Born in Helsinki, he first studied medicine, while singing and playing the guitar in a jazz band. His vocal talent led him to leave his medical studies for serious voice studies at the Vienna Music Academy where he was a pupil of Margot Skoda, Sergio Nazor, and Rudolf Bautz. He made his operatic debut in Berlin, as Escamillo, in 1959, and quickly gained a reputation in opera and concert throughout Germany and Scandinavia. He joined the Hamburg State Opera, where he sang mostly Mozart, Verdi, and Wagner roles, but also such rarities as Rossini's La pietra del paragone and Handel's Jephtha. He began making guest appearances in Munich, Amsterdam, and Brussels, and made his debut in Bayreuth, as the Herald in Lohengrin, in 1962. His English debut took place in 1963, at the Glyndebourne Festival as the Count in Capriccio. His American debut in 1967, at the Metropolitan Opera as the Count in The Marriage of Figaro, received an ovation. From 1968 on, he appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival, notably as Don Giovanni and Guglielmo. The year 1973 saw him making
A multitude of recordings is left as Mr. Krause's legacy
debut at the Opéra de Paris, the Royal Opera House in London, and La Scala in Milan. His wide repertory included lead baritone roles in opera such as L'elisir d'amore, Don Pasquale, Rigoletto, La traviata, Fidelio, Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, La bohème, Andrea Chénier, Faust, and Carmen. He took part in the premiere of Krenek's Der Goldene Brock in 1964, and of Searle's Hamlet, in 1968, both in Hamburg. Krause was also very active as a recitalist of German Lieder, as well as songs by Mussorgsky, Sibelius, and Mahler. He has released many recordings, including an acclaimed collection of the complete songs of Sibelius. He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity. He died in December 2013, aged 79." [Source] Listen to sound clips of the bass-baritone singing Schumann, Bizet, Verdi, and Sibelius, after the jump. 

Audra McDonald In Acclaimed "Sound Of Music" Performance On NBC

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Faith Esham To Give Free Fundraising Holiday Concert In Hometown

Have a Little Faith This Season: The soprano
performs December 29, 2013
"Grammy Award-winning soprano opera singer Faith Esham will return for a special free concert Dec. 29 at Holy Redeemer Church in Portsmouth, with local artists Dr. Stanley Workman Jr. and Jonathan Burton. Proceeds from the concert will go to Notre Dame schools. Titled, 'Sounds of the Season,' the concert was first organized in 2011 by volunteers Janie Sand and Jan Gerken for the Notre Dame schools, and will return again this year. Workman will perform on the piano while Burton sings a selection of Christmas songs with Esham. Esham was born in Portsmouth and grew up in Vanceburg, Ky. She won a Grammy for her performance in the 1984 film rendition of the Bizet opera Carmen, playing the role of the maiden Micaela, opposite the legendary Placido Domingo as Don Jose. She has also been seen in the TV series 'Live From the Lincoln Center,' and in two made-for-television movies. The Holy Redeemer Choir will also perform. 'It was way beyond my expectations,' Sand said of the 2011 fundraiser concert. 'Most people I’ve talked to said it was truly inspirational. Way beyond what they expected, when Faith came out to sing. Then with Jonathan Burton — the two of them together was a very inspiring moment.' The concert, beginning at 7 p.m. on Dec. 29, is free, but a free-will donation will be collected to benefit the Notre Dame schools." [Source] Watch Faith Esham sing "Caro nome" from the 1988 broadcast of Verdi's Rigoletto performed at New York City Opera:

Angela Gheorghiu Sings Romanian Music For The Holidays

"Angela Gheorghiu released her first Romanian Christmas carols CD. It has 16 tracks, 16 traditional Romanian Christmas songs especially orchestrated for her. 'I recorded this album to bring back the genuine joy of Christmas spent with the dearest people. I am happy and touched to be able to present to the audience the first CD of some of the most important Romanian carols. All the arrangements were conceived for my spirit and my voice. It is a dream come true for me, because this project is very dear to me. It is the first project produced by the foundation I established, the Angela Gheorghiu Foundation. I thank to all the friends that supported me in offering you the most valuable Romanian traditional Christmas music. I wish you happy holidays, with joy and peace in your souls!' said Angela Gheorghiu" [Source] Download the album by clicking here. One more video after the jump announcing the CD release.

Bulgarian Soprano Svetla Vassileva Joins Andrea Bocelli In Las Vegas

"Andrea returns to America this month for a run of concerts that begins this Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena. This is his fifth concert performance at MGM, although he has made special appearances here for Andre Agassi’s Grand Slam and his first-ever appearance at Bellagio in 2000 for a high-roller private show. This time, Andrea will be joined by conductor Eugene Kohn, soprano Svetla Vassileva and Tony- and Grammy-winning guest vocalist Heather Headley." [Source]

The soprano has sung at the Rome Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Arena di Verona, Royal Opera Covent Garden, and Teatro Bellini, as well as at the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Los Angeles Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, San Francisco Opera, and New Israeli Opera.

For more information about Ms. Vassileva, please visit her Facebook page by clicking here.

Puccini Inspires International Love Among Airplanes In Animated Film

Love at 10,000 feet above sea-level: Canada and Mexico
Director Klay Hall (King of the Hill, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Father of the Pride, The Simpsons) brings Planes, a spin-off the popular Cars film, to the big screen with a host of eclectic characters voiced by some of Hollywood's star players. While the main character of the film is Dusty, "a cropdusting plane with a fear of heights lives his dream of competing in a famous around-the-world aerial race," it's two of his supporters that provide the romance in this comedic adventure: El Chupacabra (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui) and Rochelle (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The two spot each other for the first time as the international planes arrive to begin the race around the world. As El Chupacabra admires Rochelle, the music cued under the scene is "Ancora un passo or via" from Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly. Commonly known as "Butterfly's Entrance," this operatic excerpt makes hearts swell. We're just glad the love affair between the two planes had a happier ending than that of Cio-Cio San and Pinkerton in the opera. Biographies and a scene featuring the two lovers can be found after the jump. Listen to a 1965 live performance of Pilar Lorengar singing the aria in a Munich production.

Rick Pitcairn Recalls Lifetime Wealth Of Opera Experiences

Opera Under the Stars: The Santa Fe Opera's first theater
"On a starry desert night in August, I sat between my mother and daughter at the open-air Santa Fe Opera House in New Mexico. My mom has attended operas there since the early 1960s; that night, before the first note was struck, she regaled us with stories of operas past, about the time when the seats did not have a roof overhead, and how she and my dad had watched Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier in rain suits. A special glow came over me, for my 21-year-old daughter, her granddaughter, was to my right, probably the youngest aficionado there and rapidly developing her own particular brand of expertise. The orchestra began to swell with Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, as the lights of Los Alamos twinkled on a mountainside many miles away and we learned of lecherous old men and optimistic young lovers and the tensions between rich and poor, recounted in an opera written and originally staged in 1786. The story needed no updating; those issues are as relevant today as they were when the piece was written. My daughter leaned over and whispered that her good friend, the rising baritone Zach Nelson, 'really sounds great tonight, doesn't he?' The story of how my parents passed their love of opera to me and I, a young widower, in turn passed this gift to my daughter is really about legacy. In our household, that transmission of family essence happened
Conductor, and Founder of The Santa Fe Opera,
John Crosby (left) sits in rehearsal with
composer Igor Stravinsky
to a large part while we were at the opera. I still remember, so clearly, the first opera I attended as a seven-year-old boy. My family lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, at the time. The Metropolitan Opera toured in those days, and my mother and grandmother drove me three hours to see Georges Bizet's Carmen in San Antonio. South Texas then was about football and oil wells. That opera introduced me to sensations that were so totally different, I wasn't sure I liked it. But I sure knew my mother and grandmother did. Each summer in the early 1960s, my mother would move our whole family to Santa Fe, where in 1956 the late John Crosby had established a summer opera festival he hoped would rival the first-class European festivals of Salzburg and Glyndebourne." Read the entire fascinating article on Barron's by clicking here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Maria Callas Google Doodle Continues Celebration Of Opera Singers

"Doodles are the fun, surprising, and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists." [Source] Today the web portal celebrates the birth of soprano Maria Callas by featuring her front and center above the search box. Other opera singers that have been honored in the past include:

Feodor Chaliapin

Leyla Gencer

Luciano Pavarotti

Dame Nellie Melba

Solomiya Krushelnytska
Even the Sydney Opera House has been featured!

We didn't forget about the composers, they can be found after the jump.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fabio Luisi Tweets About Death Of Conductor Angleo Campori

Fabio Luisi took to Twitter on November 25 to discuss the death of fellow Italian conductor Angelo Campori. Luisi also commented that Campori, who died at age 79, "was one of the last Italian conductors who knew exactly what Italian opera means and how to conduct it." Maestro Campori worked with many of the great opera sopranos: Renata Scotto, Maria Chiara, Raina Kabaivanska, Giusy Devinu, and Anna Caterina Antonacci. "For the soundtrack to Woody Allen's Hannah and her Sisters, the indie film auteur, who knows his opera, plumped for an authentically Italian excerpt from Puccini's Manon Lescaut. The cast was from the Ragio Theater of Turin, the conductor was Angelo Campori. And the complete performance from which that was taken is indicative of the conductor Campori became--a noted exponent of musical Italy. It featured in its cast good voices that were idiomatically Italianate, with Maria Chiara and Nicola Martinucci in the leads...His closest associations were with the Teatro Regio in Parma and with the Verona Arena. But he had an American profile, as well. He had been close to Leonard Bernstein and had performed at the Metropolitan Opera, in Philadelphia and elsewhere. He had been seriously ill a decade ago and had required heart surgery, since when he'd been almost completely unable to perform. He left several recordings. As well as that Manon Lescaut, there's a film of Lucia Di Lammermoor from Parma starring Alfredo Kraus and Luciana Serra, Soliva's rarely-heard Guilia E Sesto Pompeo on the CPO label and Licinio Refice's Cecilia with Renata Scotto on VAI Audio." [Source] More about the conductor, and a riveting performance he conducted of Renato Bruson in "Cortigiani, vil razza dannata" from Verdi's Rigoletto, after the jump.

Melissa McCarthy Is A Rebellious Bird In "Identity Thief"

"L’oiseau que tu croyais surprendere, battit d’aile et s’envola"
In Seth Gordon's 2013 comedy, Identity Thief, there is a scene shot in a mall where the lead female character (played by Melissa McCarthy) is on an afternoon shopping bender with someone else's credit card. The background music begins and it is none other than Bizet's Carmen. The aria being played is "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" or more commonly known as the Habanera. "Habanera is the popular name for the aria 'L'amour est un oiseau rebelle' (Love is a rebellious bird) from Georges Bizet's 1875 opera Carmen. It is the entrance aria of the title character, a mezzo-soprano role, in scene 5 of the first act. The vocal range covers D4 to F♯5 with a tessitura from D4 to D5. The score of this aria was adapted from the habanera 'El Arreglito,' originally composed by the Spanish musician Sebastián Yradier. Bizet thought it to be a folk song; when others told him he had used something that had been written by a composer who had died only ten years earlier, he had to add a note to the vocal score of Carmen, acknowledging its source. The French libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. It is based on a descending chromatic scale followed by variants of the same phrase in first the minor and then the major key, corresponding to the vicissitudes of love expressed in the lyrics." [Source] Watch Maria Callas sing the famous aria, and a trailer for the film, after the jump.

"Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) gets a nice call confirming his name and other identifying information. The next thing he knows, a spa in Florida is reminding him of his appointment and his credit cards are maxed out. With his identity stolen, Sandy leaves his wife, kids and job to literally bring the thief to justice in Colorado. Keeping tabs on the other Sandy (Melissa McCarthy) and run-ins with bounty hunters is harder than he was expecting, and ultimately the cross-country trip is going to find both Sandys learning life tips from one another." [Source]