Saturday, February 28, 2015

Joseph Calleja Is Judge On Corinthia Hotel Residence Panel

Somebody's Watching You: A possible room for the winner
"Corinthia Hotel London has announced that its fourth annual Artist in Residence programme is opera. Also announced is the prestigious panel of judges who will choose a winning idea from a range of artist applications. The selected artist will be awarded a month residency at the hotel, over which time they will develop and realise their vision. The finished project will launch in September. A selection of artists have been approached to submit ideas for the project, with one final ‘wild card’ position still remaining. Corinthia Hotel London’s General Manager Renaud Gregoire will select one final applicant from open submissions to join the other artists. The esteemed judging panel for 2015 is made up of: Alex Beard CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House; Joseph Calleja, internationally acclaimed award-winning tenor; Susanna Eastman OBE, Chief Executive of Sound and Music; Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican Centre; Justine Simmons, Head of Culture, The Mayor’s Office; Imogen Tilden, Classical Music Editor at the Guardian; Jenny Waldham, 14-18 NOW Director; Timothy Walker, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra; Graham Vick CBE, Artistic Director of Birmingham Opera Company, and Renaud Gregoire, General Manager of Corinthia Hotel London. On joining the panel, Joseph Calleja said 'I was delighted to be asked to be on the panel and am very excited to be involved in such a creative venture. The Corinthia’s Artist in Residence programme is a great way to nurture emerging opera talent. The nature of this enterprise means that it also has the potential to address preconceptions and reach new audiences. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with.'" [Source] See a photo of the tenor Joseph Calleja performing at the Corinthia Hotel London, and one with a special friend in one of the hotel rooms, after the jump.

Forte Tenors Invigorate "Game Of Thrones" With Opera High Notes

"Forte Tenors' operatic twist on the Game of Thrones theme song...will give you the right amount of goosebumps before HBO debuts Season 5 on April 12. And, yup, that's High Valyrian you're hearing as Forte Tenors, a group made famous as finalists on America's Got Talent Season 8, are taking a brave stab at the fictional language on top of the composer Ramin Djawadi's music. Members Josh Page, Sean Panikkar and Hana Ryu are including the song on their album, The Future Classics, ​which PledgeMusic will sell online later this year​. For now, you can add this to your workout playlist by purchasing it on Loudr, iTunes or Amazon." [Source] Enjoy the full video after the jump.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Diana Damrau Makes Late Entry Into Kristian Schuller MET Photos

(Click on all images to enlarge)
When the MET announced its 2015-16 season, their online brochure featured gorgeous photographs by Kristian Schuller for their new productions. One conspicuous omission was no photo of any artist for the new production of Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles featuring Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani, and Mariusz Kwiecień. Perhaps because it is a co-production originally created by English National Opera? Although the Manon Lescaut is a co-production with Baden-Baden Festival and Kristine Opolais made the brochure deadline. Whatever the reason, the MET has released the promotional photo featuring the soprano as Leïla. A photo of Diana Damrau working with Kristian Schuller, as well as other high resolution images by the photographer for the new season, after the jump.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mirella Freni 80th Birthday Celebration Begins At La Scala

Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, kicked off an early 80th birthday celebration of soprano Mirella Freni on Wednesday, February 25, with a conversation that included music critics Elvio Giudici and Alberto Mattioli. The evening was free to the public and included videos with audio clips documenting her career. [Source] In an interview prior to the evening, Madame Freni recounted the tale of how at the age of 2 she would forgo playing games to listen to music on the radio. And when asked at age 5 by her mother what she wanted to be when she grew up, she replied "a great opera singer." It was actually her Uncle who would play the piano and teach her songs for fun. That passion eventually grew and that's when she decided to study music. She debuted professionally in her hometown of Modena on February 3, 1955, at the age of 19 as Micaela in Bizet's Carmen. This is a role she would go on to sing all over the world and love so much that she named her daughter Micaela. She talks about all of her favorite roles and the secret to her long career was probably the ability to say "no" to certain offers. Read the whole interview by clicking here. Be sure to check out the birthday tribute with biography, photos, and audio clips, by clicking here. Friday, February 27, marks the official birthday of the soprano. Brava! See a wonderful archival photo of Mirella Freni from La Scala, and video of the evening in conversation with the soprano,  after the jump.

"Aida" With Kaufmann And Harteros Gets 8-Month Lead Time Hype

Australian magazine Limelight discusses the most recent recording of Verdi's Aida for Warner Classics, featuring Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros, Ekaterina Semenchuk, and Erwin Schrott under the baton of Antonio Pappano, due in October 2015. Those lucky enough to be in Rome can attend a concert on February 27 of the opera with the cast. Tickets available here. "Over the past two decades the number of studio recordings produced by the world’s biggest record labels of grand operas has dwindled. However a new studio recording of Verdi’s epic masterpiece Aida being produced by Warner Classics and featuring an all star cast proves that the tradition of recording large scale operatic works in the studio is still alive. What’s more, the new recording, due for release in October this year, will boast an authentically Italian provenance with conductor Sir Antonio Pappano at the helm. Pappano, who since 2005 has been Music Director of the Orchestra and Chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, featured on this new recording, is a seasoned hand with Verdi repertoire. This will be the conductor’s second studio recording of a Verdi opera, after his 2002 release of Il Trovatore. His Warner Classics catalogue also contains an award-winning Santa Cecilia version of Verdi’s monumental Requiem. Pappano has assembled an extraordinary cast of similarly experienced Verdi performers, although two notable leads will be making their Aida debuts. In the title role, German soprano and former Cardiff Singer of the World champion
Anja Harteros has firmly established her Verdi credentials having appeared in productions of La traviata, Il trovatore, Simon Boccanegra, La forza del destino, Don Carlo and Otello. This will however be her first time performing the role of the Ethopian princess. Starring opposite Harteros will be superstar tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who is no stranger to Verdi’s heroic leads himself, although this too will be the tenor’s Aida debut in the role of the Egyptian warrior Radamès." [Source] Read the full article here. See an interview with Maestro Pappano, and a video of the recording session, after the jump.

Diana Damrau Fans Flames With Vocal Pyrotechnics For Erato

The artwork and track listing was previously revealed for Diana Damrau's forthcoming release Fiamma del Belcanto. Now the Warner Classics label gives us an inside look at the recording process in a new EPK. "In her first recital album devoted entirely to Italian opera, soprano Diana Damrau takes the golden age of bel canto, the early 19th century, as the starting point for an exploration of theatrical and musical passion that leads to the high-octane verismo drama of the 1890s. Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini and Leoncavallo are lit up by her coloratura pyrotechnics and dramatic prowess." [Source] Watch the EPK in full, and see two new publicity photos for the album, after the jump.

New Orleans Tenor Bryan Hymel Returns Home To Celebrate

Tenor Bryan Hymel (center) with conductor Emmanuel Villaume (right) during the recording session for Héroîque
"Bryan Hymel returns to New Orleans for a free mini-recital and major label CD-release party at Loyola University on March 1. The superstar tenor and New Orleans native is fresh from similar events in London and Paris where he previewed material from Héroïque, his debut recording for WarnerClassics. Hymel's New Orleans appearance will be the first CD promotional event in North America, with further appearances planned for Philadelphia and New York (where he is a Metropolitan Opera regular). 'I can't wait to sing these French arias in New Orleans -- it's the kind of repertoire that makes me think of the old French Opera House in the Quarter,' Hymel said. 'It fits my voice, and it fits my throat. Maybe it's genetic. It's New Orleans music from the era when the city was the capital of opera in the U.S.' Sadly, the French Opera House went up in flames a century ago..." [Source] Click here for more information about the album Héroïque. Watch Bryan Hymel recording a high note shattering version of 'Amis, amis, secondez ma vengeance,' from Guillaume Tell, and a behind-the-scenes video of the recording session that features his wife, Greek soprano Irini Kyriakidou, after the jump.
New King of the High C's: Bryan Hymel recording his album of French arias in Prague

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Jessye Norman Staggering 1979 Performance Of "Vier Letzte Lieder"

"Une magnifique interprétation des 'Vier letzte Lieder' de Richard Strauss par la soprano Américaine Jessye Norman et Wolfgang Sawallisch à la tête de l'Orchestre de la Suisse romande. Ce concert du 19 Septembre 1979 est donné à l'occasion de la manifestation Telecom 79." [Source] Watch the video performance after the jump.

Anna Netrebko In Mexico City For Concert At Palacio De Bellas Artes

See a video of the press conference, featuring soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Yusif Eyvazov in Mexico City for a concert this evening at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, after the jump. More about the press conference can be found here and here. As a bonus, there is also a video of the soprano singing "Vieni, t'affretta" from Verdi's Macbeth with conductor Antonio Pappano and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome.

World Sopranos Announced For Cardiff Singer Competition 2015

Competitors have been announced for the 2015 Cardiff Singer of the World. The list of sopranos inlcudes Nadine Koutcher (Russia), Aviva Fortunata (Canada), Anaïs Constans (France), Kelebogile Besong (South Africa), Regula Mühlemann (Switzerland), Lauren Michelle (USA), and Céline Forrest (Wales). Watch videos featuring all of these women after the jump. Learn more about all the singers in the competition by clicking here. Sopranos Soile Isokoski and Kiri Te Kanawa will be on the jury for the competition, the full list is here. Cardiff Singer of the World will take place June 14-21, 2015.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Jolly Rancher Bites Gets A Lift From Wagner's Valkyries

A new commercial for Jolly Rancher's Bites candy features the "Ride of the Valkyries" from the opera Die Walküre by Richard Wagner. The bite-sized gummies are available in watermelon, green apple and cherry flavors. Check out their website for more information by clicking here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Rubin Singer Reaches Opera Pinacle With Anna Netrebko Couture

Russian Forces: Rubin Singer (r), whose grandfather dressed 
Joseph Stalin, stands in the Saks Fifth Avenue showroom with 
Anna Netrebko to discuss a gown he will custom make for 
the soprano. (Photo: Instagram)
Rubin Singer is known in the popular music world for design clients such as Beyoncé, Shakira, Fergie, and Alicia Keys. He was introduced into the realm of opera by creating gowns for soprano Ailyn Pérez. She has worn his works for such high-profile events such as The Richard Tucker Gala and her most recent debut in Carmen at The Metropolitan Opera. Now he has reached the everest by designing a couture gown for Anna Netrebko. The two met on Friday, February 20, 2015, at the Saks Fifth Avenue in New York to discuss he creation for the world-famous singer. "Coming from a family of couturiers, Rubin Singer was exposed from a young age to refined technique and elegant design. Rubin is a third-generation couturier, his father Alik created costumes for the Bolshoi Ballet and Stanislavski Theater. His grandfather, for whom he is named, was one of the most celebrated designers in the Soviet Union, dressing Russian royalty, Soviet political figures, and the social
Singer Extravaganza: (left to right) Rubin Singer, Ailyn Pérez, Isabel Leonard, and Susan Graham,
at The Richard Tucker Gala at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
elite. His family heritage in fashion shaped who he is today, not only in having the genetic makeup of precise touch and creativity, but there is a certain sensibility and level of refinement necessary in order to make beautiful clothing that he was in tune with from a young age. Steeped in this heritage, Rubin saw a stark yet beautiful contrast between traditional craftsmanship and
Ailyn Pérez wearing one of Rubin Singer's gowns in concert
contemporary aesthetics. Rubin’s career reached new heights after moving to New York, as he became an Associate Designer at Oscar de la Renta. It was during his tenure at Oscar that brand identity became real and powerful to him, and he began to understand the integrity and unique character required to be the head of an iconic fashion brand. He would move on from Oscar to become Head Designer of three Bill Blass licensees, and later the Head Designer of Kai Milla, a company started by and named for Stevie Wonder’s wife Kai. All the while, the creative direction for his personal collection was blossoming. The

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Evelyn Lear Legacy Continued By Dolora Zajick Through Students

Queen Lear: During the zenith of her career
"Since 2013, Washington’s Wagner Society and Zajick’s institute have been linked in a partnership that picks up where the Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Program left off with Lear’s death in 2012. Lear and Stewart were two leading American singers of their generation who, with the help of the Wagner Society, worked with more than 75 singers over 12 years. Their program lives on. Reborn as the American Wagner Project and funded by the Wagner Society, it now represents one of six distinct training arms of the institute. 'It’s under the umbrella of our program,' Zajick said, 'but it runs on its own engine.' It’s headed by Luana de Vol, the American Wagnerian who has sung extensively in San Francisco and Europe. 'I gave her carte blanche,' Zajick said, 'to do whatever she wants.'....Lear recognized the importance of Zajick’s program. John Edward Niles, the conductor who oversaw the Emerging Singers Program in Washington for 12 years and is now on the faculty of the American Wagner Project, recalled in an e-mail a conversation he had
Force of Nature: Dolora Zajick leads the next
 generation of large voices in opera 
(Photo: David Sauer)
with the soprano shortly before she died. 'You have got to PROMISE me,' he said she told him, 'that you will keep the ESP going and merge the program with Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. I know now that this is the ONLY place for the ESP.' Niles added, 'If Evelyn Lear asks you something in that tone, YOU DO IT!'"[Source]  Watch videos of big voices of the future Issachah Savage and Rachel Willis-Sørensen, as well as the possible mystery tenor mentioned in the Washington Post article, after the jump. Learn more about the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, including the multitude of programs offered for various levels of experience, by clicking here. Also visit the official website of Dolora Zajick for her upcoming opera engagements by clicking here.

Stars Come Out To Viennese Opera Ball In New York City

Last night stars gathered at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for The Viennese Opera Ball, an annual fundraising gala, in New York City. "The Viennese Opera Ball in New York is an annual charity gala held annually under the auspices of the United States-Austrian Chamber of Commerce. Dignitaries, Diplomats and Debutantes 'Open' the international Ball, long regarded as one of New York City’s 'greatest annual events,' garnering worldwide media coverage for over five decades. There is nothing formulaic about the event; with four generations of guests, the Ball reflects the universal appeal of Austria’s cultural and culinary treasures. The gala evening features Opera, Classical Music and Ballroom Dancing including, of course, Waltzing. One popular highlight is the Midnight Quadrille, conducted by a Viennese choreographer. Following an 8 p.m. champagne reception, the Ball runs from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., and includes a four-course dinner service. The 'Tanz Bar' (post-Ball party) follows from 1:00 to 4:00 a.m. and includes a full buffet supper with the Viennese Opera Ball's Signature Goulash Soup, as well as multiple venues featuring: a Jazz Band, Dance Band, DJ, Vienna Coffee House with Viennese pastries, and Casino. The Ball opens with the Grand March of Dignitaries and Diplomats. The ceremonial tone of the Ball Opening continues with the Presentation and Posting of the Flags by a West Point Color Guard. The Program continues with the Presentation of Debutantes (ages 16 to 25) and their dance Escorts (ages 18–30). A choreographed waltz routine by young ballroom dance couples (ages 18–30) is followed by a call for 'Alles Walzer!' (Everyone Dance!) and guests join the dancers for the first official waltz of the Ball. Peter Duchin and his Orchestra play continuous dance music throughout the Ball, stopping only for Program highlights or performances by the featured Opera singers." [Source] For more information about The Viennese Opera Ball, click here. See more photos of Alyson Cambridge, Sherrill Milnes, Linda Watson, Thomas Robert, Omar Sharif Jr., Amy Shoremount-Obra, Melissa Batalles, and more, after the jump.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kristian Schuller Is New Metropolitan Opera Brochure Photographer

Kristine Opolais as Manon Lescaut by 
Kristian Schuller for MET 2015-16 season
On February 18, 2015, The Metropolitan Opera announced its 2015-16 season. As new productions and artist debuts were heralded, something else was new in the presentation: the photographer. In previous seasons, photographer Brigitte Lacombe was tasked with capturing opera stars in costume for upcoming new productions via lavish photo shoots for the brochure. Now we look through the lens of Paris-based fashion photographer Kristian Schuller. He was born in Hălchiu, Romania, on December 24, 1970. His grandfather was a priest in Cata and his father is the controversial playwright and director Frieder Schuller. He emigrated with his parents and brother to Germany at an early age, growing up in Bonn and Düsseldorf. Interested in fashion since youth, he began to study clothing design with Vivienne Westwood in 1997. Within the next five years she would take him to France to introduce him to the world of fashion shows and the atmosphere of Paris. It was during this time that he discovered an interest in photography. He studied with F.C. Gundlach at the University of Fine Arts Berlin and decided to combine his two loves to become
Lens Meister: Photographer Kristian Schuller seen
with Metropolitan Opera star Anna Netrekbo
during a photo shoot for Deutsche Grammophon
a fashion photographer. In 2003, English fashion editor Isabella Row brought him to Condé Nast Publications in London. Here he had the opportunity to shoot top models like Gisele Buendchen, Amber Arbucci, and Heidi Klum in original and creative settings for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Glamour. He married his partner Peggy, who serves as a designer and stylist for his shoots, in 2007. They collaborate on the process for new series. At the beginning he makes rough sketches of ideas for sets and costumes. His inspiration comes from old photographs, art history, and films (particularly those by Federico Fellini). He has stated that his work is also influenced by theater experiences in childhood. Once the initial concept is done, he works with Peggy on locations, models, hairstyles, make-up, and clothing. By 2010 he was serving as a guest judge on Heidi Klum's television show Germany's Next Top Model. That same year he released his first book, 90 Days, One Dream. He photographed actress Penelope Cruz for Campari's 2013 calendar. Most recently he is known in the world of opera for photographing soprano Anna Netrebko for her Verdi album of arias on Deutsche Grammophon. Another of his captivating photos appears on the cover of her latest release: Vier letzte lieder by Richard Strauss. Learn more about the photographer on his official website and look at fashion images on his Instagram account. Examine the whole season and brochure photos at the official site of the MET. See a plethora of extra images from the 2015-16 season of The Metropolitan Opera as captured by Kristian Schuller, as well as two bonus shots, after the jump. [Source, Source, Source, Source]

Sondra Radvanovsky captured by Kristian Schuller in the photo shoot for Roberto Devereux
Kristian Schuller in the photo shoot for Roberto Devereux

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Soprano Susan Bullock Bestowed With Order Of The British Empire

"Opera singer Susan Bullock holds her Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) medal which was presented to her by The Princess Royal, for services to opera, during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, 13 February 2015." [SourceRead more about the soprano after the jump.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Vienna Opera Ball 2015 Shows No Political Bias To Sopranos

Dominique Meyer, Director of the Vienna State
Opera, flanked by Olga Bezsmertna (left)
 and Aida Garifullina (right)
Two sopranos from political hotbed countries performed for the 2015 Wiener Opernball: Ukranian Olga Bezsmertna (singing "Dove sono" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro) and Russian Aida Garifullina (singing "Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette). "The Crimean crisis was an international crisis in 2014 that instigated the ongoing dispute involving Russia and Ukraine over the control of the Crimean Peninsula, culminating in its annexation by the Russian Federation and incorporation as two separate federal subjects. The crisis was part of the wider 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine which also includes the Donbass region of Ukraine. The current international status of Crimea and Sevastopol as federal subjects of the Russian Federation is only explicitly recognized by five UN member states, other than Russia. All other countries recognize Crimea as part of Ukraine....On 17 April 2014 Russian president Vladimir Putin confirmed Russian involvement in Crimea, remarking that 'of course, Russian servicemen backed the Crimean self-defense forces.' In an interview on 22 January 2015 Igor Girkin, one of the major 'Russian self-defence' commanders in Crimea at that time, explained that the 'overwhelming national support for
Aida Garifullina singing Juliette's Waltz
the self-defence' as portrayed by the Russian media was fiction, and they actually had to 'forcibly drive the deputies to vote [to join Russia].' Majority of the law enforcement, administration and army did not support the 'self-defence' (one notable exception being Berkut) and only the presence of regular Russian army in Crimea 'made the whole thing work.'" [Source] Politically-neutral Spanish baritone Carlos Álvarez also sang, "Fin ch'han dal vino" from Mozart's Don Giovanni, at the Opera Ball. See more photos of the performances, as well as other opera attendees including Angelika Kirschlager, Isabel Leonard and Naomi Campbell, after the jump.

Kenneth Pigott, Lyric Opera Of Chicago President And CEO, Has Died

Kenneth G. Pigott is seen in the upper right with 
singers Renée Fleming and Anna Netrebko, as well
 as Anthony Freud and Sir Andrew Davis of the LOC 
(Photo: Todd Rosenberg)
"Kenneth G. Pigott, Lyric Opera of Chicago's president and CEO, died Friday afternoon, according to a statement from Lyric opera. A cause of death and other details were not immediately available. Pigott was a member of the Lyric Opera's board of directors for 13 years before becoming president and CEO in 2011, according to the statement. 'We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn and to share the news of the death of Ken Pigott, president and CEO of Lyric Opera. In the few hours since his passing, we have only begun to grasp the depth and breadth of this unimaginable loss,' Anthony Freud, Lyric Opera's general director, said in the statement. 'Ken was a truly unique man. He was a visionary whose wisdom and passion transformed the lives of everyone at Lyric, and at the many organizations with which he was associated. He is irreplaceable.' The statement said Pigott was 'instrumental' in discussions leading to Renee Fleming's appointment as the company's creative consultant in 2010 and led the search for the company's general director in 2011." [Source] Watch a recent video of the Lyric Opera of Chicago that gives an insider view of the tight community, and Renée Fleming invites you to the new season, after the jump.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Soprano Lella Cuberli To Preside Over Jury Of Vocal Competition

Lella Cuberli in the title role of
Semiramide at the Metropolitan Opera.
"Il soprano Lella Cuberli presiederà la giuria internazionale della Sessantanovesima edizione 2015 del Concorso 'Comunità Europea' per Giovani Cantanti Lirici, che si terrà al Teatro Nuovo di Spoleto dal 24 al 28 febbraio. Gli altri membri della giuria sono: Antonina Boneva (docente al Conservatorio di Sofia-Bulgaria), Carlo Donadio (rappresentante della Direzione Artistica del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma), Claudio Desderi (baritono), Enrico Girardi (critico musicale del 'Corriere della Sera' e docente di Storia della Musica all'Università Cattolica di Milano e Brescia), Karen Stone (sovrintendente del Teatro di Magdeburgo) e Michelangelo Zurletti (direttore artistico del Teatro Lirico Sperimentale di Spoleto 'A. Belli'). " [Source] The competition will feature a new "Cesare Valleti Prize" of € 8,000.00. There are also prizes for 1st place (€ 4,000.00), 2nd place (€ 3,000.00), and 3rd place (€ 1,000.00). Learn more about the competition by clicking here. Watch a video of Lella Cuberli singing "A che il morir non è," from Rossini's Tancredi, after the jump.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Blandine Staskiewicz Inked Up On Cover Of New Recording

French mezzo-soprano Blandine Staskiewicz releases a new recording in March 2015. The disc, Tempesta, features arias of Vivaldi (Andromeda liberata, La verita in cimento, Griselda, L'Olimpiade), Händel (Agrippina, Radamisto, Serse), Porpora (Carlo il Calvo), and Pergolesi (Adriano in Siria). On the cover, the artist displays her bare back with the title of the album tattooed on her skin. It's a very avant-garde approach for a Baroque recording. "With Tempesta, her first recital disc, mezzo-soprano Blandine Staskiewicz has chosen to venture into the emotional storms and calms beloved of Baroque composers notably Vivaldi and Handel which provided their operatic arias with that intense charge that captivates listeners still. As befits one raised on the tranquil, yet at times tempestuous, Belle-Île-en-Mer, lying off the Brittany coast, Staskiewicz is able to portray a fabulous array of moods to match her vocal beauty. If the Neapolitans Nicola Porpora and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi are each represented on this disc by a single burst of concentrated dramatic feeling, it is to the fiery and tempestuous music of Vivaldi and the more psychological and interiorised offerings of Handel that Blandine Staskiewicz directs her attention in these arie di tempesta. Staskiewicz s control of the depths and heights of the soul are matched by the instrumental accompaniment from Les Ambassadeurs and its director Alexis Kossenko. Blandine Staskiewicz, who has appeared on previous Glossa albums in Lully, Campra and Handel in the company of Hervé Niquet and Fabio Bonizzoni, herself contributes an intriguing note about the genesis of this programme complete with an alluring cover design but it is her wonderfully controlled singing (and expertise in Baroque repertoire) which characterises Tempesta so beguilingly." [Source] Read a biography of Blandine Staskiewicz after the jump. Listen to a sampling of the mezzo-soprano:

"60 Minutes" Correspondant, And Opera Lover, Bob Simon Dies

UPDATE (02/14/15): "A private memorial for '60 Minutes' correspondent Bob Simon was set for 150 friends and colleagues on Monday in one of his favorite venues: The Metropolitan Opera House. The Lincoln Center sendoff, five days after Simon’s shocking death in a West Side Highway car wreck, was detailed in a Friday internal CBS memo obtained by the Daily News. A much larger public service was planned for 'the coming months, details to follow,' the memo said. Simon, 73, the award-winning international correspondent for CBS News, was a fan of German composer Richard Wagner and covered several music-related stories for the news magazine. Simon was a regular patron at the opera house, where his widow Francoise and their daughter Tanya were spotted Friday morning." [Source]
Bob Simon arriving at The Metropolitan
Opera's Opening Night in September 2007.
"On February 11, 2015 Simon was killed in a car crash in Manhattan, New York City. The New York Police Department said the accident occurred around 6:45 p.m. at 30th Street and 12th Avenue. He was a passenger in a Lincoln Town Car when it struck the driver's side of a 2003 Mercedes Benz that was stopped at a red light. 'He swerved into me,' said the driver of the Mercedes 'He hit me and he looked like he lost control of the car.' Simon's vehicle then veered off and collided with a metal barrier separating the two lanes of traffic. Simon went into cardiac arrest and was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, where he died. Simon is survived by his wife, Françoise, and their daughter, Tanya, who is a producer for 60 Minutes." More information about the late television personality is after the jump. Watch Bob Simon's report on 60 Minutes, "Reinventing Opera at the MET," by clicking here. Listen to an archived interview of him discussing his love of opera with Marilyn Horne on WQXR by clicking here. In the interview, he discusses his initial encounter with opera (Il Trovatore in A Night at the Opera with the Marx Brothers); attending his first performance (going to Mexico City to hear Giuseppe di Stefano in Andrea Chénier and Carmen, as well as hanging out with the tenor afterwards); his love of La Gioconda; seeing Aida in Luxor; hearing Birgit Nilsson and Wolfgang Windgassen sing Götterdämmerung during the late 1960s; attending two performances of Parsifal in one week; how he would like to play Don Giovanni; and that "Ella giammai m'amò" from Don Carlo is the aria that moved him the most 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Renée Fleming Uses Longtime Photographer For Broadway Ads

Bubbly Broadway Diva: Renée Fleming as
 Raquel de Angelis (Photo: Andrew Eccles)
On April 1, 2015, soprano Renée Fleming will take up residency at the Longacre Theatre in Manhattan to perform in Joe DiPrieto's new comedic play Living on Love. The official website features a hilarious photo of the entire cast from the play. The photographer? Andrew Eccles. Fans of Ms. Fleming will recognize his name from her CD covers and liner notes for the Decca Classics label. The British-born photographer worked with Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Steven Meisel before going solo in his career. He now shoots celebrities, models, athletes, politicians, musicians, and dancers. Get tickets to the performances of Living on Love by clicking here and visit the official website to learn more about the production here. A biography of photographer Andrew Eccles and memorable photos he has taken of Renée Fleming, as well as the full-page New York Times ad for the play, after the jump.
Photographer Andrew Eccles captures the play's plot marvelously in this full-cast image.
Stage Partners: Fleming and Sills
"The world's most famous opera singer Renée Fleming plays the world's most famous opera singer in the hilarious new screwball comedy Living On Love. Direct from a smash-hit run at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, this glamorous romp through the world of music, marriage and celebrity is written by two-time Tony Award® winner Joe DiPietro (Nice Work If You Can Get It), adapted from a work by Garson Kanin (Born Yesterday) and directed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes). Fleming stars alongside Tony nominee Douglas SIlls (The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Emmy® nominee Anna Chlumsky (Veep). When a demanding diva (Fleming) discovers that her larger-than-life maestro husband (Sills) has become enamored with the lovely young lady (Chlumsky) hired to ghostwrite his largely fictional autobiography, she retaliates by hiring her own handsome, young scribe to chronicle her life as an opera star. Sparks fly, silverware is thrown and romance blossoms in the most unexpected ways." [Source

Sad News: Ailyn Pérez And Stephen Costello To Divorce

Soon to be a single lady: Ailyn Pérez talked recently about a new life (Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell)
Stephen Costello announces his pending divorce from wife, Ailyn Pérez, on his official website. Did the soprano hint about the news in a recent interview with Latin Post: "I'm about to start a new page. A different life but I don't know what it looks like. This one has been intense, I don't know how I am going to lighten it up but maybe I'll hang out with friends more, meeting new people, getting a hobby. I like dancing a lot. But I am going to figure it out. People just tell me to have fun and do the things that mean something to you." [Source] The last decade has seen divorces of other famous opera couples including Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu; Isabel Leonard and Teddy Tahu Rhodes; as well as the separation of Anna Netrebko and Erwin Schrott. See the news from the tenor after the jump.

San Francisco Opera Asks Stars About First Onstage Opera Kiss

Just in time for every lover's favorite holiday, Valentine's Day, San Francisco Opera has posted videos asking singers to recall their first onstage kiss in opera. Watch Heidi Melton, Brandon Jovanovich, Laquita Mitchell, Chauncey Packer, Eva-Maria Westbroek, and Charles Castronovo recount everything from enchanted to downright hilarious memories, after the jump.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Opera Connection To TIME Magazine Covers From 1942-1970

Portrait of Renata Tebaldi by Boris Chaliapin
Started in 1923, Time went on to have the world's largest circulation for a weekly news magazine with a readership of 25 million. Covers of the magazine featured politicians, business executives, religious figures, as well as artists from various genres including ballet, film, art, and music. Within the music category, it was opera singers, composers, instrumentalists, and conductors that were proudly splashed on the cover of the successful magazine. This coverage leant itself to widening the audience of the arts outside of the concert hall and opera houses. It may be surprising to know that the artwork for many of those covers was created by painter Boris Chaliapin, son of the famed Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin and brother to hollywood actor Feodor Chaliapin Jr. (know to many for his role in the operatically-based film Moonstruck). "Boris Chaliapin was the portrait artist Time magazine’s editors turned to first when they needed a cover in a hurry. As Time’s most prolific artist, he created 413 covers for the publication during his 28-year career, between 1942 and 1970. He could execute excellent likenesses in as little as 12 hours. Week after week, millions of faithful readers recognized Chaliapin’s familiar signature on the cover, and his co-workers nicknamed him 'Mr. Time.'" The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., ran an exhibition last year featuring 26 of the 300 works by Chaliapin. Browse the various works of art by clicking here. [SourceSource] Purchase past Time magazine covers here. After the jump: a curious comparison with one of Chaliapin's portraits; more biographical information about Boris Chaliapin; view all Time covers by various artists and photographers that were related to opera including such opera divas as Geraldine Farrar, Nellie Melba, Maria Jeritza, Lucrezia Bori, Mary Garden, Rosa Ponselle, Lily Pons, Kirsten Flagstad, Lotte Lehmann, Helen Traubel, Marian Anderson, Patrice Munsel, Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, and Beverly Sills. More music artist portraits by Boris Chaliapin:
George London

Gian Carlo Menotti
Alan Jay Lerner and Frederik Loewe
Fritz Reiner

Arturo Toscanini