Saturday, August 30, 2014

Renée Fleming Brings Christmas Early With Latest Decca Release

"Christmastime in New York City is a magical and timeless experience beloved by New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. Picture a horse-drawn carriage in snow covered Central Park passing tree lined streets filled with twinkling lights. Come in from the cold, snuggle up by the fire and let these intimate renditions of holiday classics fill your home with Christmas cheer. American soprano Renée Fleming's first-ever holiday album celebrates the beloved and iconic Christmas season in New York City. From Rockefeller Center to the holiday windows lining 5th Avenue, the essence of the city at the most wonderful time of year is captured on Christmas in New York. With guests representing such genres as jazz, pop and classical, this album will appeal not only to Flemings core classical fan base but too all that embrace the holiday season. Joining Fleming for the Christmas celebration are guest artists ranging from Rufus Wainwright and Gregory Porter to Wynton Marsalis and Kelli O Hara. In total, Fleming and her guests have won 16 Grammy awards across multiple categories. Renée Fleming's elegant persona along with the intimate arrangements of holiday classics makes this album perfect for holiday parties, stocking stuffers and as a treasured holiday gift. This sophisticated album is sure to be a perennial favorite. An exclusive recording artist with Decca since 1995, Renee Fleming is known mostly as an opera singer with a career that has encompassed numerous genres and styles. This past February, Fleming became the first classical singer in history to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, which was enjoyed by more than 111.5 million viewers in the US. The release of this album will be supported by Renée Fleming's appearance on the nationally broadcasted Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and local and national holiday events along with a December pledge PBS Christmas special." [Source] The complete track list and release date schedule can be found after the jump.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

All In The Family: Diana Montague & David Rendall Produce Heir

Portrait of Huw Montague Rendall
 by Walter van Dyk
Sometimes in the opera world, celestial singers come together to create some formidable offspring. Such is the case with mezzo-soprano Diana Montague and tenor David Rendall. The English couple made Brockenhurst, Hampshire, their home and produced four children: Mimi, Ed, Nell, and Huw. It is impossible to not have talent on some level when growing up in a house surrounded by music. Witness the jazzy vocals of daughter Nell by clicking here. But it can be expected with such dramatic vocalists for parents, one of the children would venture into the world of opera. Such is the particular case of Huw Montague Rendall. He attended the Ballard School in New Milton, Hampshire, where he graduated in 2010. He went on to study at Brockenhurst College where he received a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts. Currently living in London, he is attending the
The Montague-Rendall clan with the
matriarch: Ed, Mimi, Diana, Nell, and 

Huw (Photo: Facebook)
Royal College of Music where he is studying as a baritone and will graduate in 2016 with a Bachelor of Music degree. Thanks to YouTube, we are able to witness his budding talent. Below are videos featuring Huw singing "Questo amor, vergogna mia" from Edgar by Puccini, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from Oklahoma by Rodgers & Hammerstein, "Ombra mai fu" from Xerxes by Händel, "Les Berceaux" by Fauré, and "Se Vuol Ballare" from Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart:

The name Huw is of Welsh
origin and means "heart,
mind and spirit"
(Photo: Facebook)
Other than a brief work stint at Tesco, a multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer headquartered in the UK, Huw's only other venture outside the classical music realm has been performing with the band Shrunk In The Wash. He has been lead singer since 2004. The band plays jazz and rock, among other favorites, for various functions. You can see the band in action by clicking here and listen to an amazing rendition of "It Ain't Necessarily So" below:

(Photo: Twitter)
Best of luck to Huw Montague Rendall on his future in music and we will be sure to feature him more often when he reaches the stages of the world's leading opera houses. Be sure to visit his Facebook page and his Twitter page to keep abreast of current engagements. You can read more about Diana Montague and David Rendall after the jump. [Source]

Warner Classics Gives Inside Look To Callas Remaster Process

See the earlier feature about Maria Callas and Warner Classics by clicking here
Learn more about the remastering process by clicking here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Andreas Scholl Makes Vocal Appearance In "Bob's Burgers" Cartoon

"'Ear-sy Rider' is the first episode of the third season of the animated comedy series Bob's Burgers. The episode premiered on September 30, 2012 in the United States on Fox. The episode's title is a parody of the film Easy Rider. Mort is holding a funeral for Horny Dave, the head of a motorcycle gang called the 'One-Eyed Snakes.' After the ceremony, the gang goes to Bob's Burgers to have beers, much to Bob's dismay. After having wrecked much of the restaurant, Critter, the new leader of the 'One-Eyed Snakes,' pays for the damage and gives Bob a card which he can use to ask the gang for a favor in the future. Meanwhile, the kids are crossing by a street corner which is often occupied by skateboarding teenagers after school. Louise taunts Logan, one of the teens, to the point where he grabs Louise's bunny ears and runs off. Louise, unable to cope with the loss, starts to act crazy and wears a hoodie as a replacement. She is determined to get her bunny ears back. When bribery fails, Louise begins to follow and stalk Logan in numerous desperate attempts to get them back. Logan is resistant because he believes that the bunny ears have given him good luck. She finally tattles on Logan to his parents. When his parents confront him, Logan tells Louise that he had them sent to the dumpster. When Louise tries to track them down to the waste management plant but it is believed that they are incinerated and she is too late. This brings Louise to her breaking point as she plots revenge. She cashes in the 'One-Eyed Snakes' card and the gang arrives to threaten Logan. He confesses to never having thrown the bunny ears away and pulls them out of his backpack to give back to Louise. The gang returns to Bob's Burgers to celebrate as Louise tells them food and drinks are on the house. Having learned that their son was threatened, Logan's family gathers the neighbors and they all confront the "One-Eyed Snakes" in the restaurant. Linda gets into a fight with Logan's mom. When Critter tries
To purchase this Andreas Scholl CD, click here.
to break up the fight, Logan's mom accidentally tears off Horny Dave's jacket from Critter and a standoff between the neighbors and the 'One-Eyed Snakes' ensues. Critter, in an attempt to prove his leadership, plans to beat the neighbors up. Before the fight can begin however, Mudflap, Horny Dave's pregnant lover, goes into labor. Logan's dad is a doctor and takes charge of the delivery where everyone in the restaurant lends a hand. After the baby is born, Mudflap confesses to Critter that he is the child's biological father. Everyone is at peace, except for Louise and Logan who were looking forward to the fight. But Louise is happy to have her ears back anyway." [Source] Watch the clip in the episode featuring Andreas Scholl singing "Cum dederit delectis suis somnum" from Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus by clicking here. Watch the countertenor sing the whole piece live after the jump.

Opera Crowd Taking ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Around The World

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Plácido Domingo Set To Release Mediterranean Songs In October

Pre-order your copy in Europe and America.

Watching Opera Search Trends On Google Yields Odd Results

If you use the Google search to watch trends on any given topic, it is surprising to see a spike in the term "opera" in 2005. What would cause an exorbitant amount of people looking this up on Google? Find the answer by clicking here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sumi Jo Sings For Assumption Day At Papal Mass Of Pope Francis

Rockwell Blake Administers Honest Advice To Young Singers

"Ignore almost everything you were taught when you were in school and move yourself toward an ethic of aesthetic....The ethic is simple. You want to take your audience. You want to pick up your audience. You want to shape your audience. And, you want them to thank you for doing so." [Source] Watch a video of the tenor singing "Ah! Dov'e il cimento" from Rossini's Semiramide, after the jump.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Legendary Italian Soprano Licia Albanese Dies At Age 105

For audio clips featuring the late Licia Albanese, as well as biographical information about her life and career, click here. The complete New York Times obituary can be read here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams At The Metropolitan Opera House

"A Night at the Met is the third official album release by Robin Williams in 1986. It features segments recorded live at Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The album won the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Performance Single or Album, Spoken or Musical. The album was released the year before Williams' critically acclaimed performance in the motion picture Good Morning, Vietnam (1987). He had been shifting his focus from stand-up comedy to film making for several years, and A Night at the Met would be one of his last major concerts during the 1980s. The show is a mix of Williams' rapid-fire humor and voice work, with riffs on the topics of drugs, sex, world affairs and children. References to the events and people of the 1980s are strewn heavily
throughout; U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, and President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev are central to many of the jokes." [Source] Watch the complete performance from the opera house (including the "opera rap") after the jump, along with a bonus of the comedian's rendition of "Largo al factotum" from his film Mrs. Doubtfire.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Decca Veteran Charged With Remastering Complete Callas Catalog

Maria Callas with Nanni Ricordi in 1958. She recorded
Cherubini's Medea at La Scala with Tullio Serafin for
Dischi Ricordi on Mercury label equipment flown in
from New York. Warner Classics now owns the rights.
When the compact disc revolution began to hit the classical music world in the early 1980s, many labels looked to their back catalogs for a treasure trove of riches. The process by which they went about reviving some of the great masters was a bit painstaking to say the least. First the old analog master tapes had to be located and transferred into a new digitally encoded master. "The digital process merely translates everything on the old tape - hiss, bumpy splices, bad balances and mixes, deterioration of tape oxide - onto a new tape. Sometimes the sound is beefed up with added reverberation, filtering of high and low frequencies (to eliminate hiss and rumble) and occasionally a touch of compression (ostensibly to protect your home system from the shock of dynamic extremes)....After the recording to be reprocessed has been designated, the balance engineer assigned to the project goes back to the original
The original British cover art has been faithfully reproduced.
For more information about the release, click here.
master tape to see what shape its in. First he determines what sort of equipment it was recorded on, so it can be played back on the same system (otherwise, hiss becomes intolerable). He then looks it over for oxide deterioration, for weak or sticky splice joints, and other signs of age and/or wear. It must be remembered that producers and engineers counted on certain flaws on the master tape - poor splices, extraneous noises such as subways or outside ground and air traffic, musicians coughing, even distortion - vanishing in the general swooshing of the vinyl on the turntable....If the splice is too sticky, the tapes has to be thoroughly cleaned. If the oxide has fallen off, another copy of the master must be raided to supply the affected area. If a
Maria Callas with EMI producer Walter Legge during a break recording Ponchielli's La Gioconda. Legge is one of the few people whom could try to produce on vinyl what the Callas voice sounded like in person. An engineer working on the project today, would be working with a ghostly memory of the soprano if they had heard her live at all.
splice is too crude (as occasionally happened), it has to be targeted for attention later in the process. Then the analog master is converted to digital. Any digital cleaning up of poor

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Catching Up With Anna Netrebko At The Salzburg Festival 2014

Anna Netrebko with fiancé Yusif Eyvazov at the Salzburg Festival.
More photos of the production can be found by clicking here. See more images of Anna Netrebko with Plácido Domingo after the jump.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dutch Soprano Cristina Deutekom Is Dead At 82

"Cristina Deutekom, één van Nederlands grootste opera-zangeressen, is donderdag na een kort ziekbed overleden in het VU-ziekenhuis in haar geboorteplaats Amsterdam. Dat heeft haar voormalig manager bekendgemaakt. De wereldberoemde sopraan is 82 jaar geworden. Deutekom kwam zaterdag ongelukkig ten val, raakte in een coma en overleed afgelopen avond in het ziekenhuis. Volgens haar oud-manager Pieter Alferink was ze tot het einde van haar leven' geestelijk goed bij'. Deutekom kreeg internationale bekendheid met een optreden in de Staatsopera van München in 1966. Drie jaar later was ze als Koningin van de Nacht te horen in de Metropolitan in New York, met een lovende recensie van The New York Times na afloop. Critici prezen haar om haar grote bereik en soepele stem, maar ze stond ook bekend om haar passie en overgave tijdens het zingen. Gedurende haar loopbaan werkte ze met beroemde dirigenten en zangers als Riccardo Muti, Renato Bruson, Nicolai Gedda, Placido Domingo, Ruggero Raimondi, Luciano Pavarotti, Alfredo Kraus, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf en José Carreras. Na een zangcarrière van bijna 25 jaar zette ze op de laatste dag van 1986 abrupt een punt achter haar loopbaan. Ze had problemen met haar gezondheid. In oktober 2011 kreeg 'La Deutekom' met een galaconcert een eerbetoon in Koninklijk Theater Carré in Amsterdam." [Source]

Cristina Deutekom (August 28, 1931 - August 7, 2014) was a Dutch coloratura soprano opera singer. She sang with all the leading tenors of her time, including Carlo Bergonzi, José Carreras, Franco Corelli, Plácido Domingo, Nicolai Gedda, Alfredo Kraus, Luciano Pavarotti, and Richard Tucker. Deutekom was born in Amsterdam as Christine (Stientje) Engel. After some smaller roles, her breakthrough came in 1963, portraying the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Dutch National Opera. She then sang the same role at all major European opera houses and also at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1968. In 1974 she opened the Met season as Elena in I vespri siciliani alongside Plácido Domingo. Besides the Queen of the Night, her Mozart roles included Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito. She sang the great
bel canto roles, specifically in Rossini's Armida, in Bellini's Norma and I puritani, and in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. She went on to the great dramatic Verdi roles including Abigaile in Nabucco, Lady Macbeth, Leonora in Il trovatore, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, and Elena in I vespri siciliani. Other roles which were captured in commercial recordings include Giselda in I Lombardi and Odabella in Attila. Finally, she sang the title role in Puccini's Turandot. Deutekom's stage career ended in 1986, when she suffered a heart attack. She turned to giving master classes internationally. She made a return in November 1996 at the Concertgebouw Operafeest, at the age of 65 singing the Bolero from I vespri siciliani and Anna Elisa's aria 'Liebe, du Himmel auf Erden' from the operetta Paganini, reportedly 'bringing the house down.' As of 2001, she was a guest teacher at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, but after suffering a stroke in 2004, she retired from public life. She died on August 7, 2014 after a fall in her home." [Source]

More photos and musical selections after the jump.

Tax Slayer Uses Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" In Commercial

Music underlying the advertisement is the "Walkürenritt" from the beginning of Act III in Richard Wagner's Die Walküre. No guarantee if it will help you put Ikea furniture together though.