Sunday, May 31, 2015

Soprano Angela Meade Married By Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg

The Bride Wore Blue: Soprano Meade on
her special day (Photo: Facebook)
Congratulations to Metropolitan Opera star Angela Meade on her marriage to tenor John Myers on May 23, 2015, in Philadelphia. The ceremony was officiated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the opera world knows, Justice Ginsburg is a huge fan of singers. In fact, she previously presided over the ceremony of countertenor David Daniels back in June 21, 2014. Below is a picture from the 2013 Tucker Gala featuring Angela Meade, Justice Ginsburg, Barry Tucker, and Renée Fleming. The soprano will return to the MET as Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore during February 2016. See another image of the happy newlyweds at the Supreme Court with Justice Ginsburg and a shot from the 2014 Tucker Gala, after the jump.

Rolando Villazón "Traviata" Is Circus Clowns And A Willy Decker Clock

Time Stands Still For No One: La Traviata in Baden-Baden 
 (Photo: Andrea Kremper)
The new production of Verdi's La Traviata directed by Roland Villazón had its premiere on May 21, 2015, and the critics are giving their opinions on the opera that features soprano Olga Peretyatko and tenor Atalla Ayan. The first production Mr. Villazón directed for the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden was Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore in 2012. Watch a video featuring interviews and backstage rehearsals for La Traviata, after the jump.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

French Opera Singer Ève Brenner's Son Is Making It Big In Hollywood

Gilles Paquet-Brenner directs actress Charlize Theron in Dark Places (2014).
Gilles Paquet-Brenner born September 14, 1974, in Paris, is a director and screenwriter. He is the son of opera singer Ève Brenner. Gilles Paquet-Brenner was fascinated by film from an early age. He made ​​his directing debut with the short film 13 minutes 13 dans la vie Josh et Anna (1998). He continued two years later with La Marquise, with Patrick Bruel, Marion Cotillard and Stomy Bugsy. He made his mark in 2001 with his first feature film Les Jolies Choses (with Marion Cotillard , Patrick Bruel, Titoff, Ophélie Winter, and Stomy Bugsy) which won an award at the Deauville festival. In 2003, he directed the police comedy hit Gomez et Tavarès, in which we find Stomy Bugsy, Titoff - both already employed by the director for Les Jolies Choses - and Jean Yanne. In 2007, two of his films are released a few months apart: U.V. with Laura Smet and Jacques Dutronc and Gomez vs Tavarès, always with Titoff and Stomy Bugsy. In 2009, he signed his first American film, Walled In, with Pascal Greggory and Deborah Kara Unger. This low-budget horror film came out on DVD in Mexico and the United States, but remains unreleased in France. In 2010, Elle s'appelait Sarah, with Kristin Scott-Thomas and Mélusine Mayance, was acclaimed by critics worldwide. The film was also featured in several prestigious festivals such as the San Sebastian Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival film. Kristin Scott Thomas received the César Award for Best Actress. The film received the Audience Award and Best Director at International Film Festival in Tokyo. He wrote and directed the thriller Dark Places, based on the novel Les Lieux sombres by Gillian Flynn . Chloë Moretz, Tye Sheridan and Charlize Theron appear in the 2014 film. [Source] Here is a video of his mother performing "Le matin sur la rivière" on television in 1976. Watch more Ève Brenner videos, and read some of her biography, after the jump.

Angela Gheorghiu Discusses Falling In Love And Being A Diva

Angela Gheorghiu photographed by Gabi Hirit 
with styling by Domnica Margescu and
 Maurice Munteanu.
In the June issue of Elle magazine (Romania), soprano Angela Gheorghiu talks intimately about falling in love with one of her fans, Mihai Ciortea, at the lowest point of her career. They have been together for two years now and are happier than ever. She also goes into detail about how she feels about the word "Diva" and whether it is a compliment, accolade, or even an insult when describing bad behavior. For the fashion shoot she wears a Dolce & Gabbana, possibly not hearing about their most recent scandal. The magazine will have more of the interview with photos, out on newsstands now. [Source] Watch a video of the soprano singing the duets "Gia nella notte densa" from Verdi's Otello and "Va, je t'ai pardonné" from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, with tenor Teodor Ilincăi, after the jump.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Anna Netrebko Ushers Out John Copley "La Bohème" At ROH

Living on Love: Rodolfo (Joseph Calleja) and Mimì (Anna Netrebko) struggle to make ends meet,
but they still have each other until death do them part at Covent Garden.
"So now we bid farewell to another dear old friend, as John Copley’s venerable production of Puccini’s weepie, rich in period detail and devoid of interpretative tricks, is being laid to rest after four decades in service, embracing twenty-six revivals and well over two hundred sold-out performances. To be honest, this loyal carthorse of a show does seem a trifle sclerotic nowadays. I’ve seen stagings recently that feel more youthfully raw and emotionally urgent; aspects of its 'realism' look dated; and the second interval slows the pace down unhelpfully. But the tableaux for the snowy Barrière d’Enfer and bustling Café Momus remain wonderfully atmospheric, and the straightforward characterisations never inhibit the singers. Richard Jones, rumoured to be
Herr Direktor: Read more about 
John Copley by clicking here.
commissioned for a replacement, will have his work cut out to provide anything sturdier. Copley, a spry octogenarian, returned to rehearse this final outing and made a lively job of it. Sharp cameos from Ryland Davies (Alcindoro) and Donald Maxwell (Benoit) sprinkled light relief. Marco Vinco’s Colline mourned his pawned coat in style, Lucas Meachem presented an exuberant jock of a Marcello, and Jennifer Rowley was a brassy Musetta, with a touch of Ethel Merman about her gusto....His Mimi was the mercurial Anna Netrebko, in lustrous voice. She is not a subtle artist, and having adjusted her focus to more dramatic repertory, her resinous soprano can’t convey the fragility of the consumptive flower-girl. She also failed to float the rapturous 'ball of light' note at the end of Act I. But she never just phones it in or holds back à la Gheorghiu, and here she gave of herself unstintingly, most notably in an affecting account of the third act - one of Puccini’s most masterly inspirations." [Source]

Andris Nelsons Innaugural Concert With Kaufmann & Opolais To Air

"Andris Nelsons’s first season as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra has come and gone — but in case you missed it entirely, you wanted more, or you just wondered what all the buzz was about, you can now catch a glimpse of the new partnership from the comfort of your living room. On Friday at 9 p.m., PBS will broadcast the young Latvian conductor’s inaugural concert with the orchestra, recorded live in Symphony Hall last September....Among the highlights on the night itself were the contributions of the two star vocal soloists, especially tenor Jonas Kaufmann’s outstanding performance of 'In Fernem Land' from Act III of Lohengrin, an account whose intensity and poetry is conveyed here. The Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais, Nelsons’s wife, sings a vivid 'Un Bel Di' from Madama Butterfly as well as a smoldering duet with Kaufmann: 'Tu, Tu, amore? Tu?' from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, a work this pair is slated to perform together next season in a new Met production directed by Richard Eyre. For an additional opening night souvenir, the two singers also offered as an encore a melting, sweet-toned account of 'O Soave Fanciulla' from the Act I finale of La Bohème." [Source]
(Photo: Chris Lee)

Renée Fleming Honored By Daughter's Alma Mater Harvard

Talented Offspring: Amelia Ross, daughter of Renée Fleming,
is a Harvard University alumni and singer as well.
"One of the most acclaimed opera singers and sopranos of all time, Renée Fleming sang 'America the Beautiful' at Harvard's 364th Commencement on May 28, 2015 at Tercentenary Theatre." The star also received an honorary Doctorate of Music from the prestigious University. It also happens to be where her eldest daughter Amelia Ross attended college. As a graduate of the 2014 class, Ms. Ross has experience as Treasurer of the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Performers as well as a Tanglewood Office Associate for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She also speaks German and French. Watch videos of the young singer performing during her time at Harvard, in the title role of Massenet's Cendrillon and in Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, after the jump. [Source]
Back row from left: Robert Axelrod, Wallace S. Broecker, Denis Mukwege, Patricia A. Graham, Linda B. Buck, Bryan Stevenson, and Peter Salovey. Front row from left: Alan Garber, Renée Fleming, President Drew Faust, Deval L. Patrick, and Svetlana L. Alpers (Photo: Harvard Magazine/JC)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Alumni Deborah Voigt Returns To California State University - Fullerton

CSUF Star Alumni: The School of Music turned opera stars
like Deborah Voigt, Rodney Gilfrey, Charles Castranovo,
and most recently Renée Tatum.
"Opera star and alumna Deborah Voigt will offer a 7 p.m. master class Monday, June 8, at Clayes Performing Arts Center's Meng Concert Hall. Participating School of Music students include: Trinidad Cano, Juliet Kidwell, James Lesu'i, Megan Ralston, Amanda Salmen and Joslyn Sarshad. A brief Q&A session with the soprano will follow. Cal State Fullerton students, faculty and staff can stop by the School of Music office in the CPAC 220 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a complimentary ticket. Tickets are also available for purchase online or at the door....After her June 8 master class at Cal State Fullerton, alumna Deborah Voigt will perform at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa June 11-13." [Source, Source]

Maria Callas Vocals Appear In "The Cleveland Show" On TBS

Season 2, episode 22, of The Cleveland Show is titled "Hot Cocoa Bang Bang." The plot summary is as follows: "Cleveland takes the entire family to a comic convention in an attempt to sell his comic book, Waderman. While there, Donna is horrified to find out that Robert Rodriguez is screening a Blaxploitation film that she starred in when she was younger, and Cleveland Jr., tired of Comic-Con being a playground for Hollywood to peddle their projects, gathers a band of geeks together to take the Con back to its true origins." [Source] During one of the scenes the aria "La mamma morta," from Giordano's opera Andrea Chénier (sung by soprano Maria Callas), can be heard in the background. Listen to the remastered version of the aria sung by the soprano, after the jump. Watch the full episode here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bryan Hymel On Family, Santa Fe Opera, High Notes, "Les Troyens"

Shaken, Not Stirred: Bryan Hymel brings cool to opera with his heroic high notes. (Photo: Dario Acosta)
"French grand opera makes great demands on singers, with performances clocking in at times that rival Wagner and orchestras crowding the pit. New Orleans native, Bryan Hymel (pronounced ee-mel) will continue to embrace that repertoire in performances of epic works like Les Troyens in San Francisco next month and Les[sic] Damnation de Faust in Paris this coming December. In between, he’ll sing the roles of the Duke in Rigoletto and Don Jose in Carmen at Santa Fe and Washington National Opera respectively. His bow as Rodolfo at the Met last year earned him continued praise from the New York press, which had welcomed his triumph on short notice in 2012, stepping in for a save-the-day kind of performance in Les Troyens appropriate for someone whose voice type is most often described as heroic. His list of awards is long, and illustrious, and includes the Metropolitan Opera’s Beverly Sills Artist Award and first

Richard Margison's Daughter Lauren Manages Classical And Crossover

The 23-year old daughter of famed opera tenor Richard Margison is now emerging into the world of classical music as a strong contender to continue his musical legacy. Not only has the soprano proven that she has the chops to make it on the classical side, she also sings pop, jazz, Broadway, and folk music with equal panache. Her mother, Valerie Kuinka, is a stage director and violist. While pregnant with Lauren, she played in the orchestra for the opera in Toronto. Lauren joined the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus at age seven and was quickly promoted to the principal chorus. Richard’s own upbringing was a musical one. His mother was a piano teacher and his father was an amateur singer with a strong baritone voice, who also played viola with the Victoria Symphony early on. Lauren has performed at events like the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and shared stages with Gordon Lightfoot, Rufus Wainwright and more. Experience two videos of Lauren Margison after the jump to hear the diversity of this young singer. [Source]

Filmmaker Casey Neistat Vlog Gets Operatic Opening From Soprano

Thanks to a diva neighbor, Casey Neistat captures some soaring high notes flying around his Tribeca neighborhood office for the opening of his most recent vlog posting on YouTube. Think you can identify the soprano? Watch the video (titled "The Day I Almost Died"), and see a couple of the most famous commercials (Nike, Mercedes Benz, J Crew) Mr. Neistat has directed, after the jump. Keep up with the rest of his vlog videos by clicking here. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sumi Jo Sings In "Youth" Film Competing For Palme D'Or Prize

Soprano Sumi Jo performing in the film Youth.
"American composer David Lang has written what he calls 'candy-wrapper music' for the Cannes competition film Youth in which Michael Caine plays a retired musician wrestling with old age. It won't win him another Pulitzer Prize, the award he got in 2008 for his haunting Little Match Girl Passion, and the music he composed for the film's candy wrapper scenes wasn't even used. Instead, the film by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino has occasional scenes with scratchy sounds and a catchy rhythm that come from Caine's character scrunching up a candy wrapper in a very deliberate way and manipulating it back and forth in his fingers. Youth, which is competing for the main Cannes Palme d'Or prize, has Caine playing Fred Ballinger, a retired composer and conductor taking a holiday at a posh resort in Davos, Switzerland. Lang, who gets the music credit for the film, said he had actually composed music for the candy-wrapper scenes, although what he wrote in the end was not used. 'Let's just say I wrote a lot of different versions of candy-wrapper music and we had many, many discussions about what kind of candy it should be,' Lang said after a screening of the film on Wednesday. He said he'd 'auditioned' many different candy wrappers to find the one that was 'most sonorous' but could not remember which one had finally been selected. He credited the director Sorrentino, who got to know of Lang by using his music in La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty), which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, for having a wonderful musical sensibility. 'He loves music, he's very musical, 'The Great Beauty' has an incredible score,' Lang said about working with Sorrentino for the new film. 'When talking to him about it, it was very clear that music was part of the organizing principle of the film.' On behalf of the movie's fictional composer, Lang wrote a piece called Simple Songs which is performed by soprano Sumi Jo, violinist Viktoria Mullova and the BBC Symphony Orchestra." [Source] See the trailer for the film after the jump.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Christian Grey Uses Music South Of The Border To Seduce Ana Steele

Billionaire Christian Steele invites college student Anastasia to his penthouse apartment to find that she is a virgin and quickly rectifies that by making love to her. As she wanders the lavish home, there is the soft sounds of string in pizzicato and a soprano voice floats over the top. The piece is from a larger work called Bachianas Brasileiras composed by Heitor Villa-Lobos. The particular selection is known as "No. 5 Ária (Cantilena)". A translation of the text is as follows:

Eventide, a rosy cloud, slow and transparent
over the spot, dreamlike and beautiful!
The moon gently appearing beyond the horizon,
embellishing the eventide, like a sweet maid
preparing herself till she's dreamily gorgeous,
with her soul avid to become beautiful
yelling to heaven and earth, to all of Nature!
Silent are the birds to her sad laments
and reflected on the sea all of Her richness...
Soft the light of the moon awakes already
a fierce desire that laughs and cries.
Eventide, a rosy cloud, slow and transparent
over the spot, dreamlike and beautiful! [Source]

"The Bachianas Brasileiras (Portuguese pronunciation: [bakiˈɐ̃nɐz bɾaziˈlejɾɐs]) are a series of nine suites by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, written for various combinations of instruments and voices between 1930 and 1945. They represent not so much a fusion of Brazilian folk and popular music on the one hand, and the style of Johann Sebastian Bach on the other, as an attempt freely to adapt a number of Baroque harmonic and contrapuntal procedures to Brazilian music (Béhague 1994, 106; Béhague 2001). Most of the movements in each suite have two titles: one 'Bachian' (Preludio, Fuga, etc.), the other Brazilian (Embolada, O canto da nossa terra, etc.)." [Source]
"Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2015 British-American erotic romantic drama film directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson with a screenplay by Kelly Marcel, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by British author E. L. James. It stars Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, a college graduate who begins a sadomasochistic relationship with young business magnate Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). The film premiered at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on February 11, 2015, and had a wide theatrical release on February 13, 2015, by Universal Pictures. Despite mixed reviews, it was an immediate box office success, breaking numerous box office records and earning over $569 million worldwide. It is currently the third-highest-grossing film of 2015. Its sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, are scheduled to be released on February 10, 2017, and February 9, 2018 respectively."

Purchase the 50 Shades of Grey: The Classical Album by clicking here. Watch Kathleen Battle sing Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, plus more plot info and a few more stills of the famous penthouse, after the jump. 

Renée Fleming Sings For Bill Clinton And Rahm Emanuel In Chicago

Soprano Renée Fleming, whose lucrative Creative Consultant position at the Lyric Opera of Chicago was recently renewed to 2017, performed this morning for the inauguration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She sang "America the Beautiful." Also in attendance was President Bill Clinton. More photos, and a video, after the jump.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Renée Fleming Gives Revealing Gotham Interview To Vera Wang

RF: You know what’s interesting for me—I don’t know if you feel this way—but I have this need to keep things fresh. My inspiration, in a way, is Joni Mitchell, because she would do these albums that were different; she went to jazz, to rock, and she would completely reinvent herself. I loved it. I know she would complain that she lost audience who only wanted the same thing, but I’m an artistic person, and I recognized her search. You have to do that every time you do a show. When I see your shows, I always wonder how you keep coming up with new ideas.
VW: Well, it’s very difficult; I can’t say it isn’t. Some seasons are better than others, but it’s an excruciating process! Bringing up some insane audiences that you have sung for—you have performed at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and also for President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. I just wonder: Do you feel extra pressure at these events?

RF: I really love doing these events because it is so exciting to be a part of history. In a way, it’s much more satisfying than having to sing in front of a core opera audience that is super critical—I find that much harder. In our field, we are criticized in the paper every time we perform, but there is also the blogger world now….
VW: Same thing in fashion today. Anyone can write anything they want about you, whether they are qualified or not.

RF: I think there is a tremendous misogyny towards women, especially with those of us who have public lives. One year, I saw two weeks of tabloid articles about Madonna’s hands. I just thought, What is this world we are living in?
VW: Do you run into a lot of good and bad things about being high-profile in New York?
RF: New York is no problem for me, unless I’m around Lincoln Center; people are so respectful and wonderful about what I do. You probably have a lot, though.

VW: I had dinner with you once at Sant Ambroeus, and I remember a very big patron of The Met came over and bowed in front of you at the table [Laughs]. I believe it was Bruce Wasserstein, and he wasn’t a man to bow in front of anyone. So I was very impressed that night.
RF: That’s not an every-evening event, I have to say. Maybe I should pay someone to follow me into restaurants and bow. That’s something Raquel, my character [in the play], would do.
VW: With all the accolades you have received, does it ever get old?
RF: Accolades never get old [Laughs]. It’s never enough, because those of us who are hugely self-critical, and I know you are as well, are always thinking things are not good enough and that you have to be better. It’s part of our nature to always be searching for something better, and no accolade from outside can change that.  [Source]
Read the full interview by clicking here. Watch a video of the photo shoot, complete with narration from Renée Fleming, after the jump.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Santa Fe Opera Announces 2016 Anniversary Season

The Santa Fe Opera has announced the 60th Anniversary Season for the summer of 2016! Operas will include La Fanciulla del West, Don Giovanni, Roméo et Juliette, Capriccio, and Vanessa. See the press release after the jump. (Photo: Paul Horpedahl)