Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Renée Fleming Dishes With Barbara Walters About Super Bowl Gig

Elizabeth Futral Answers Questions Before Making Portland Debut

"How did you get involved in opera? I started piano lessons when I was five, and I always loved music. My mom was a classically trained pianist and flutist, and my dad was a minister. She gave me a lot of the classics and he gave me his stage presence. He also has a beautiful natural singing voice. I grew up in Louisiana near New Orleans. I ended up going to a small Baptist university in Alabama…and had a wonderful mentor, my first voice teacher, Eleanor Owsley, who was the one who really encouraged me. She had the vision for me…she’s been a great friend over all these years. Then I went to Indiana University in Bloomington to graduate school, which is the big opera factory of the Midwest. It’s a huge music school and they have a really big opera program. From there, I went to Chicago’s Young Artists Program, and afterwards I just stayed there. I kind of kept going through the doors that were open to me, and they luckily were opened, and I had good activities along the way. I’m very fortunate." [Source] Read the full interview by clicking here.

Kim Kardashian Attending Vienna Opera Ball In February

"Kim Kardashian is headed to Austria! Kanye West's other half will be attending the annual Vienna Opera Ball next month. The gala will take place on Feb. 27 at Vienna's State Opera House. The 33-year-old Keeping Up With the Kardashians star and new mom will be the guest of Austrian director and producer Wolfgang Santner. Santner, 44, tweeted this morning, '@WolfgangSantner: Bringing @KimKardashian to the #world #famous #Opera #Ball in #Vienna #Happy #Ballroom #Dancing.' Kim retweeted the post, adding, 'Can't wait!' Santner replied, '@KimKardashian You will be the #princess in this #fairy #tale! It is sooo #beautiful.' The Vienna Opera Ball, which is usually held on the Thursday preceding Ash Wednesday, is one of the highlights of the Viennese carnival season and has been held each year since 1935." [Source]

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Famous August Sings Carmen "Habanera" Video Gets Selected

The original video posted on YouTube by August Schram a year ago has garnered nearly 1 million page views. It was chosen as an "Official Selection" in the Shorts Competition at the Sundance Film Festival 2014 and has won countless accolades at other festivals in other countries. From their website: "George Bizet`s 'Habanera' from Carmen has been reinterpreted and enhanced with electronic sounds for MeTube, a homage to thousands of ambitious YouTube users and video bloggers, and gifted and less gifted self-promoters on the Internet. About the Director: Daniel Moshel was born in 1976 in Offenbach am Main, Germany. During his multimedia studies, he directed the short film komA. In 2003, he founded the production company Moshel Film. In 2009, he produced the short film Der Doppelgänger, which was directed by Stephanie Winter. The film won the Excellence Award at the Busan International Short Film Festival. Login 2 Life (2011) was his first feature-length documentary. MeTube: August Sings Carmen 'Habanera' is his first music video." [Source] Cast, credits, and the video, are all after the jump. Remember, you can't un-see after you have watched it. For more information and photos, click here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fred Plotkin Examines Christa Ludwig's Golden Career For WQXR

(Photo: Ernst Kainerstorfer/ORF)

"Ludwig was born in Berlin on March 10, 1928 and grew up in Aachen. Her parents were singers and her mother was her first teacher. Her father became a stage director and manager. She grew up in the milieu of music and theater and absorbed it all. When Ludwig was seven, she heard her mother sing in Elektra and Fidelio conducted by a young Herbert von Karajan. Germany soon fell under Nazism and then came the horrors of World War II. When she was 16, her family home was destroyed by bombs. After her nation lost the war, Ludwig sang for American GIs in exchange for cigarettes, which were valuable as currency when money was worthless. Christa Ludwig was able to understand the awfulness of war and allow her emotional development to deepen without being derailed from her goals. She kept learning music, reading literature, thinking about characters. When German opera houses reopened in 1946, they needed good singers and few were in supply. Ludwig, at 18, was talented, attractive, tall and well-prepared. She was in the right place at the right time. She sang Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus in Frankfurt and was on her way, ultimately to Vienna, where she became a beloved star." [Source]

Moroccan-born Rapper French Montana Is Not A Fan Of Opera

"Not everyone's stoked about the opera singer who's booked to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl ... especially rapper French Montana who tells TMZ Sports, 'F**k that sh*t.' People have been divided about the decision to have renowned soprano Renee Flemming [sic] belt out the anthem before the big game on Feb 2 ... and Montana says he understands it's important to try something different. But at the end of the day, French says he's entitled to own opinion ... and his opinion is that opera music SUCKS." [Source] Watch the video of the rapper by clicking here. This all seems so ironic considering he and Maria Callas share the same taste in fur coats.

Anna Netrebko's New York Apartment Has Plenty To Love

Anna Netrebko, wearing Oscar de la Renta, sits in the "Diva Chair" from Mackenzie-Childs with a painting by SoHo artist Hulbert Waldroup in the background on Beaujolais-colored walls. Read the full New York Times story by clicking here. (Photo: Fred R. Conrad)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Diana Damrau Live At Le Poisson Rouge March 27 In NYC

Following on the heels of a night of Russian exoticism featuring Anna Netrebko, soprano Diana Damrau will perform at Le Poisson Rouge on March 24, 2014 at 7:30 PM. No word on whether the theme will be Bavarian. Purchase tickets by clicking here. During March, the coloratura is in town singing La Sonnambula at the Metropolitan Opera and a concert at Carnegie Hall with Zubin Mehta. The little New York City village hot spot Le Poisson Rouge is becoming a regular hangout for stars of the MET. In addition to the most recent concert that also featured Ildar Abdrazakov and Anita Rachvelishvili, past performers have included Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, Kathleen Kim, and Patricia Racette. To learn more about Diana Damrau, visit her website by clicking here.

Éva Marton International Singing Competition Accepting Applications

Click here to start filling out the application. Grand-prize winner will walk away with 15,000€. Start brushing up on your Liszt, it's part of the audition requirements. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Remembering Maestro Claudio Abbado And His Opera Stars

Claudio Abbado backstage with Renata Scotto after I Capuleti e i Montecchi at Teatro alla Scala in 1967
Conductor Claudio Abbado passed away on Monday, January 20, 2014, at the age of 80. He left an immaculate legacy of live musical performances and countless recordings on a variety of labels. He conducted a great majority of opera throughout his career and subsequently had many friendships with singers from around the globe. Check out some spectacular photos of the Maestro with singers from the past 50 years, along with some biographical information, after the jump.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kiri Te Kanawa Celebrates Over 50 Years Of Recording

"New Zealand soprano comes up with a staid celebration of 50 years in the recording studio. Te Kanawa's creamy lyric soprano was not made to evoke the malevolent sea monsters of Te Taniwha. Max Cryer's liner notes for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's Waiata make an engaging read. He provides another succinct introduction to the thorny issue of "Maori song" (as he did for Te Kanawa's 1999 Maori Songs) followed by notes on individual tracks. This is a celebration of the soprano's half-century recording career, enlisting the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the University of Auckland Chamber Choir, in arrangements by Carl (Piano by Candlelight) Doy. In time for Christmas, Waiata is an unabashed stocking-stuffer, offering minimal rewards for those with a respect for the achievements of this singer. Beside it, her earlier Maori Songs CD, which occasioned a few giggles and squirms in its time, takes on classic status. It had stronger songs and Te Kanawa's voice was 14 years younger. Its ethnic trimmings of kapa haka groups (including Mahinarangi Tocker and George Henare) and a wash of taonga puoro now seem positively piquant. Waiata is a staid affair. Doy's arrangements have fleeting moments of inspiration, with a few impressive Mantovani string clusters, but tinkling piano and churning rhythmic ostinati try the patience, along with overlooked production glitches."[Source] In addition to the new release of Waiata by Sony (set globally for March 2014), other labels such as Warner Classics (featuring former EMI Classics material) and Decca (featuring former Philips Classics material) are reissuing box-sets of their own to commemorate the occasion. Check out the beautiful editions after the jump. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When Joseph Calleja Met The Leader Of The Free World

(Photo: White House)
"Joseph Calleja meeting US President Barack Obama after he performed at the Kennedy Centre Honors last month in tribute to American soprano Martina Arroyo. The tenor is currently appearing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York before moving on to London for a seven-performance run of Faust at the Royal Opera House and a solo concert at the Royal Festival Hall." [Source]

Did Anna Netrebko And Mercedes Bass Get A Contact High?

Netrebko and Bass post-concert at
Le Poisson Rouge (Photo: Facebook)
"They say the old culture-world distinction between uptown and downtown New York has vanished, but on Wednesday evening at Le Poisson Rouge, the Greenwich Village basement club, it still felt like a meeting of two disparate domains. There was delicious incongruence between the sight of Mercedes Bass, the Metropolitan Opera’s elegantly coifed vice chairwoman, and the unmistakable scent of marijuana just a few feet away. Ms. Bass and cannabis had descended the stairs for the latest in a series of concerts presented by the Met in collaboration with the indie-hip, intimate Le Poisson Rouge. The program, 'Russian Exoticism and ‘Prince Igor,’' was offered as a kind of promotion for the Met’s new production of 'Igor,' the Borodin masterpiece, which opens Feb. 6." [Source]

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MET Soprano Sharleen Joynt Receives First Rose On "The Bachelor"

Basking in the Sun: TV contestant on America's most popular dating television show (Photo: Andrea Joynt) 
"It’s a long way from the Metropolitian Opera in New York and European opera houses to TV’s The Bachelor but Ottawa singer Sharleen Joynt has made the journey. The 29 year-old soprano is taking it all in stride after appearing in the premiere episode of the ABC-TV reality series Monday night and attracting the attention of Juan Pablo Galavis, the hunk who is this season’s single man. In the beginning of the season, 27 women are hoping to win the heart of the 32-year-old former soccer player and single dad originally from Venezuela. Joynt was one of 18 women handed a rose by Juan Pablo on Monday. But by most accounts the exchange was a little forced. 'I guess I thought I would feel more of this instant chemistry than I did. I guess I feel a little distraught,' she is reported to have said after laying eyes on Juan Pablo." [Source
Juan Pablo Galavis seems under the spell of soprano Sharleen Joynt (Photo: Rick Rowell/ABC)
"'Silvery'-voiced coloratura soprano Sharleen Joynt has been 'sparking audience enthusiasm' with her 'special and unexpected amber timbre', 'a vocal range that is second to none', her 'scintillating stage presence', and her 'love for taking risks'. Sharleen's 2013/14 Season includes rejoining the Metropolitan Opera roster to cover Fiakermilli in R. Strauss'
Arabella. She also appears with the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Theater und Orchester Heidelberg, Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland, and makes her France debut. For the 2012/13 Season Sharleen spent her second year as an ensemble member of the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg, performing Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and receiving critical acclaim for her 'stratospheric' Soprano 1/Ariadne in Wolfgang Rihm's Dionysos. She also made both a role and house debut with the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe as Marie in La Fille du Régiment. Her uncommonly honest embodiment of characters and fearless

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sumi Jo Counts Italy As Her Second Home For Over 30 Years

In an interview with Il Tempo, Sumi Jo discusses her life-long love of Italy. After attending Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia she quickly ascended to performing Un Ballo in Maschera with Plácido Domingo and Herbert von Karajan. She discusses her love of Rome, advice from Maestro von Karajan, Koreans in Italy, music education in the country, and her favorite roles. Read the full interview here.

Edith Wiens Teaches After Leaving Opera Stage A Decade Ago

The soprano today spreads
knowledge through teaching
"The world-renowned soprano has been feted in Berlin, Vienna, London and Buenos Aires. She can now add her hometown to that list. Wiens returned to the city this fall for the first time in 'quite a while' to receive her honorary doctor of letters from the University of Saskatchewan. 'It was just fabulous. It made me feel very patriotic,' Wiens said. Although she retired from performing 10 years ago and now teaches at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, Wiens sang at the TCU Place ceremony this fall. 'I love to teach, but there’s nothing like singing,' she said. Wiens has taken on some of the most challenging pieces by Mozart, Wagner, Brahms and others. For her work, she won a Grammy Award and was installed as an officer of the Order of Canada. Born in Saskatoon in 1950 to Mennonite parents, Wiens later attended bible college in Vancouver and earned a master’s degree in music at Ohio’s famed Oberlin College, the first U.S. post-secondary institution to regularly admit female and African-American students. Her singing career was launched after a first-place showing at a European competition in 1979. Over the next two decades,
Edith Wiens with conductor Kurt Masur in earlier days
she would perform with the top symphonies and opera companies in the world, including 14 appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Wiens, whose husband and two sons are acclaimed musicians, accepted a position in New York at the Juilliard School several years ago to teach others. Several of them have already achieved high honours at global competitions. Wiens is spending six weeks in at a Munich fine arts school, evaluating and hosting auditions for 120 applicants vying for the 15 spots. In 2014, she’s scheduled to teach “master classes” in Frankfurt, London and Zurich." [

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pumeza Matshikiza Sings Traditional African Songs For Decca

As previously announced, Decca's latest artist-signing was African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza. Her debut album, Voice of Hope, is set for release in March 2014. In the meantime, the label has released three traditional african songs in advance. Click here to sample and purchase the MP3 album.

For more information about the soprano, check out a video from the recording studio with the artist discussing the concept by clicking here

Olga Peretyatko Sparkles At Silvestergala In Baden-Baden

"Olga Peretyatko, in der Branche mit ihren Schubladen längst als Netrebko-Nachfolgerin gehandelt, lässt in der Rosenarie der Susanna ihr russisch-dunkles Stimmtimbre aufblühen, das auch schon andeutet, auf welche Reise diese Stimme gehen könnte. Im Augenblick sind’s noch die Koloraturen, mit denen sie reüssiert. Bei den beiden Mozart-Konzertarien gleichwohl überzeugt nicht alles. In 'Ah se in ciel', in der Mozart schon seine Königin der Nacht andeutet, kämpft sie mit den Höhen, und mitunter bekommt auch die Intonation leichte Blessuren. Die großen Koloraturarien der französischen Romantik dagegen sind für diese Stimme wie geschaffen. Sei es die Schwalbenarie aus Gounods Mireille oder die mit hinreißender Koketterie in Szene gesetzte Gavotte von Massenets Manon: Hier brilliert sie als Rossignol – als Nachtigall, silbern, kokett und handwerklich sauber in den Spitzentönen. Auch Roth und das animiert spielende Orchester stürzen sich mit Begeisterung ins Abenteuer Opéra comique: Ambroise Thomas’ herrliche Mignon - Ouvertüre gerät zu einem musikalischen Rausch der Klangfarben. Was ebenso für Gershwins transparent aufgeblätterte Kubanische Ouvertüre gilt. Bei dessen 'Rhapsody in Blue' zeigt Gabriela Montero noch einmal ihr hohes Maß an Eigenwilligkeit, wobei ihrem Anschlag hier oft eine Prise Nonchalance und Glanz fehlt, den sie dann in ihren Dialog mit Olga Peretyatko und dem Orchester bei Puccinis Operettennummer 'Chi il bel sogno' aus La rondine legt. Eine von drei Zugaben: Arditis Kuss-Walzer 'Il bacio', Paradestück für charmant-virtuose Sopranistinnen und eine Improvisation aus Bernsteins West Side Story gehören auch dazu. Das Thema gibt Konzertmeister Christian Ostertag vor, die Pianistin entführt es dann in den romantischen Salon und die Welt der Habanera. Ein klein wenig Jam-Session zum Jahresausklang und ein träumerisches Thema: 'There’s a place for us' – vielleicht ein Hoffnungsschimmer für das SWR-Sinfonieorchester?" [Source]

Marilyn Horne Celebrates 80th Birthday With Song

Marilyn Horne Song Celebration
Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 7:30 PM
Zankel Hall
"Marilyn Horne, founder and guiding voice of The Song Continues series, has long demonstrated a commitment to nurturing gifted young vocal talent. The legendary songstress is honored on her 80th birthday in a festive evening of songs performed by an all-star lineup of special guest artists." Performers
Samuel Ramey, Host
Frederica von Stade, Host
Barbara Cook, Vocalist
Renée Fleming, Soprano
Brenda Rae, Soprano
Jamie Barton, Mezzo-Soprano
Isabel Leonard, Mezzo-Soprano
David Daniels, Countertenor
Piotr Beczala, Tenor
Lester Lynch, Baritone
Martin Katz, Piano
Warren Jones, Piano
Lee Musiker, Piano

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Veronese Soprano Cecilia Gasdia To Get Recordings Reissued

"La casa Teldec ripropone poi una ristampa, uscita proprio in questi ultimi giorni dell'anno, di alcune opere in cui appare come interprete il soprano veronese Cecilia Gasdia. È il caso dell'edizione del Faust di Gounod (Teldec 1993) che viene rieditata con la partecipazione di interpreti di fama internazionale: dal tenore Jerry Hadley, a Samuel Ramey, Alexandru Agache, Brigitte Fassbaender, Suzanne Mentzer e dalla direzione di Carlo Rizzi a capo della Welsh National Orchestra. Un giorno di regno di Verdi è invece un video live dal Teatro Regio di Parma del dicembre 1997, per la regia, scene e costumi di Pier Luigi Pizzi, riproposto dalla Hardy Classic, in cui Cecilia Gasdia è a fianco di altri noti cantanti, come Anna Caterina Antonacci, Paolo Coni, Alfonso Antoniozzi e Bruno Praticò nella direzione di Maurizio Benini. Al 1981 appartiene la felice edizione live della verdiana Luisa Miller, con una Cecilia Gasdia ancora fresca della sua strepitosa vittoria al Concorso Callas (1980). L'opera andò in scena al Teatro Fraschini di Pavia, con la direzione di Gianandrea Gavazzeni e i cantanti Nazzareno Antinori, Simone Alaimo, Carlo Desderi, con il Coro e l'Orchestra della Rai nella regia di Filippo Crivelli. L'opera viene ora proposta in Dvd dalla Hardy Classic. E infine di questi giorni anche l'uscita della Aida areniana del giugno 2012 (in versione Blue Ray 3D) con Hui He, Marco Berti, Andrea Ulbrich, Ambrogio Maestri, la direzione di Daniel Oren, per la Opus Arte." [Source]

Dame Malvina Major Returns To Pastures of Taranaki Region

"Taranaki favourite Dame Malvina Major will take to the stage at the Bowl of Brooklands next year. Reporter Taryn Utiger spoke to the opera singer to see how life has been since she moved away from the province. Dame Malvina Major is a world-class opera singer but the former Coastal Taranaki dairy farmer misses seeing cows every day. After winning the New Zealand Mobil Song Quest in 1963 and studying in London, the Hamilton- born singer, her husband Winston Fleming and their young son Andrew settled on a farm at Pihama in Coastal Taranaki. Before the 70s finished the rising international star had two more children, Alethea and Lorraine, fell in love with life in Taranaki and declared herself content with being a farmer, wife and mother. Despite her contentment, overseas conductors asked for the gumboot-wearing diva when they came to tour New Zealand and by 1986 she was back on the international stage. It seemed, for a while, she could have her career, her family and her farm. That ideal was shattered four years later when tragedy struck the
In concert with fellow New Zealander Kiri Te Kanawa
family. In September 1990 her husband died suddenly at home. He had come back from the milking shed complaining about pains in his chest. Although she rushed to phone the doctor and get her husband into bed, he died right after telling her, 'I love you.' She left Taranaki soon after. Since then she has gone on to dominate the opera world, perform for kings and queens and amass a series of concerts many would envy. Next year she celebrates 60 years as one of the world's top opera singers and she is eagerly awaiting her concert at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands." [

American Coloratura Gianna D'Angelo Is Dead At Age 74

"Gianna D'Angelo (18 November 1929, some sources say 1934- 27 December 2013), was an American coloratura soprano, primarily active in the 1950s and 1960s. Born Jane Angelovich in Hartford, Connecticut, she studied first at The Juilliard School in New York City with Giuseppe De Luca. In the early 1950s, she moved to Venice, Italy, where she became a pupil of Toti Dal Monte, who also advised her to italianize her name. She made her debut in 1954 at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome as Gilda in Rigoletto, a role she would remain closely associated with throughout her career. She was rapidly invited at all the major opera houses of Italy, Naples, Florence, Bologna, Trieste, Parma, Milan, etc. She also made appearances at the Paris Opéra and the Glyndebourne Festival as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia and at the Edinburgh Festival as Norina in Don Pasquale. She made her American debut at the Cosmopolitan Opera in San Francisco, in March 1959, in the title role
As Gilda, with Renato Capecchi, for
the recording of Rigoletto
of Lucia di Lammermoor (opposite Giuseppe Campora and Norman Treigle), and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, on April 5, 1961 as Gilda (with Robert Merrill as Rigoletto), and remained there for eight seasons, appearing in roles such as: Lucia, Amina, Rosina, Norina, Zerbinetta, the Queen of the Night. She also appeared in Philadelphia, Houston, New Orleans, etc. D'Angelo made few commercial recordings. The most notable was Musetta in La bohème with Renata Tebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi and Ettore Bastianini under Tullio Serafin, recorded in 1959 in Rome. Other recordings include Il barbiere di Siviglia and Rigoletto both with baritone Renato Capecchi, as well as

the doll Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann, opposite Nicolai Gedda. A live performance of I puritani from Trieste in 1966, has also been recently released on DVD. After retiring from singing, she became a voice teacher at the Jacobs School of Music, where she remained from 1970 until 1997. She died on December 27, 2013, at the age of 84, in Lawyers Glenn Asisted Living, in Mint Hill." [
Source] Videos after the jump of the soprano singing "A vos jeux, mes amis" (Hamlet by Thomas) and "Il dolce suono" (Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti).

Elle France Follows Anna Netrebko For A Day In New York City

Anna Netrebko, with Plácido Domingo, photographed by Benno Kraehhan in Berlin during December 2013
"De Vienne à Los Angeles, la soprano russe, affole tous les opéras du monde. A New York, où elle vit la moitié de l’année, la star des cantatrices raconte sa journée de bonne vivante." Read the daily schedule by clicking here.

Tenor Michael Fabiano Praises Renée Fleming And Aprile Millo

Tenor Michael Fabiano, with his mother Carole, at the opening night reception for the
MET's new production of Die Fledermaus (Photo: Facebook)

"'Renee Fleming has been very good to me. During the Paris [run of Otello] she took a big leap of faith with me,' he stated. 'And there were moments when we would have time to talk and I would be able to listen to her and learn. Even small moments, three minutes or six listening to an expert is magnificent. It is something that you don't get with others. To talk
Singing Lucrezia Borgia
with Renée Fleming at the
San Francisco Opera in
with someone so special like Ms. Fleming and understand what is running in her mind about the business and how she sings and the pressures of it. Those kinds of moments are priceless.' Another major influence on his life has been soprano Aprile Millo; the tenor noted that he met Millo during a master class at age 21 and has kept in touch with her since. 'She is a wonderful soprano who has been a dear friend and given me very wonderful advice throughout the last several years,' he stated. 'I look up to her for the old tradition of singing. The grand opera tradition. Because she was part of that I think more of that is needed today.'" [

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New York Times Clips Wings Off Metropolitan Opera's "Bat"

Susanna Phillips (Rosalinde) and Christopher
Maltman (Eisenstein) in Johann Strauss, Jr.'s
Die Fledermaus at the Metropolitan Opera
(Photo: Nick Heavican)
"Real Champagne tends to provoke sticker shock in cash-strapped young people hoping to drink their way through New Year’s Eve. A popular solution is André, the saccharine, mass-produced sparkling wine that sells for about $4 or $5 a bottle. The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s tuneful farce Die Fledermaus, which rang in the new year on Tuesday evening, is operatic André: bubbly, sweet and syrupy. It’s not subtle or deep, but if you’re determined to have a party, it’ll get the job done. And the Met’s youthful cast is nothing if not determined to celebrate. The performers sing, dance and mug their way through Strauss’s classic waltzes with big smiles and lots of hearty laughter, intent on showing the audience a good time. But their lines are often worthy of groans more than giggles." [Source]

Renée Fleming Hosted Largest Karaoke Night In Dresden?

La Fleming and Maestro Thielemann Toast
(Photo: Matthias Creutziger/DG)
"In what was arguably 2013’s most expensive karaoke night, Renée Fleming read her song texts live from a gigantic TV prompter screen at the back of the Dresden Semperoper auditorium. This was particularly piquant when she tried to waltz with Klaus Florian Vogt simultaneously. This year’s New Year’s eve concert in Dresden was broadcast internationally, hence the need for big-name stars and the guarantee that said stars would be tense. Fleming and Vogt are both celebrities and old friends of chief conductor Christian Thielemann, but none of them is particularly at home in the world of operetta and musicals – the stuff of this concert. It felt a little like watching Angela Merkel attempt stand-up comedy, or Vladimir Putin dance the cancan....Banks of mirrors behind and above the performance meant that the bright garb of the State Opera chorus members was revealed in all its glory, and that the audience could see itself. It also meant that the audience could see Fleming’s autocue prompts rolling backwards up the screen. Two complaints. First, since she was reading the text, why was it still not possible to understand the words when she sang? Second, no matter how unfamiliar this repertoire is to her, could she not have learnt her five songs and three duets by heart, given the prestige of the event?" [Source]