Monday, July 27, 2015

MET On Demand Skips Popular Streaming Providers For Roku

Opera On Demand: A snapshot of the MET Roku channel
Rather than joining powerful on-demand Internet streaming media provider Netflix, which has 26 million subscribers worldwide and is available to viewers in North America, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and parts of Europe (Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland and United Kingdom), the Metropolitan Opera has decided to create their own subscription service channel on Roku. Typically Netflix partners with content providers to license streaming rights for movies or television shows. Perhaps the blockbuster company had no interest in negotiating with the MET for their content? Or maybe the opera company thought their revenue stream could potentially be higher going their own route? It's not clear what the motivation might be in choosing to go with Roku. Users must first purchase a Roku plaer. Three options of players are available: Roku 1 (Basic Player) - $49.99; Roku 2 (Lightning Fast Performance) - $69.99; and Roku 3 (Fully Loaded) - $99.99. The second step will be to pay the $14.99/month subscriber fee for the MET Opera on Demand channel. Roku recommends a minimum download speed of 3.0 Mbps for HD content from your cable service to get optimum quality when viewing streams. The Roku Streaming Player does give full access to free channels such as AthiestTV, Crackle, Jewelry Television, and YouTube. Other premium channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Vudu must be paid for separately. "Met Opera on Demand delivers instant streaming of more than 550 full-length Metropolitan Opera performances on

Juan Diego Flórez Sports Car Is Tradition Selling Italian Songs

Is that a Fiat or a Ferrari? Juan Diego Flórez sells it either way 
on the cover of his latest album.
The new release for Juan Diego Flórez, Italia, features the tenor leaning on a convertible sports car as the cover art. It's not the first time the classical music industry has used this idea in promotion. Giuseppe Di Stefano and Franco Corelli released albums of Neapolitan songs with them prominently enjoying the comforts of luxury automobiles. This concept wasn't limited to male singers. See what soprano happily sprawled across the car hood for one of her Decca recordings, as well as the cover art for the tenors mentioned above, after the jump. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Palm Beach Opera Hires Singers For Administrative Roles

David Walker
"Now that Palm Beach Opera has stabilized its finances, the company has turned its attention to surmounting the challenges facing most arts groups these days — expanding its audience and raising more money to support its programs. Two recent hires play into those goals. Jourdan Laine Howell signed on in September as education and community engagement manager. David Walker will begin work Aug. 3 as director of institutional advancement. The two were hired because of their 'experience, personality and drive,' General Director Daniel Biaggi said. There’s no doubt about the drive. Howell resolved to pursue a doctoral degree in music when she was a freshman in high school. She achieved her goal in December, after earning undergraduate and master degrees in vocal performance. (Stage fright steered her into a career as an educator. Walker pursued two master’s degrees in arts administration while holding down intern and consulting
Jourdan Laine Howell
jobs — and successfully battling prostate cancer. He had an 18-year international career as a countertenor before transitioning to arts management in 2010. He left performing to become an administrator because the art form needed him, he said. While he was singing, 'I discovered that many in top leadership had business or artistic acumen,' he said. 'Rarely did they have both.'He’s held a number of development jobs, most recently at North Carolina Opera in Raleigh. During his two-year tenure, the fledgling company’s contributed income increased by 58 percent. 'I see no weaknesses in David,' said Dr. Stephen Prystowsky, the company’s former board president. [Source]

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wagner On A Sousaphone Accompanies KKK Marchers To Rally

A man cleverly uses a sousaphone alongside marching members of the Klu Klux Klan. The choice of slumbering, almost cartoonish music, is perfection. He even slips in "Ride of the Valkyries" by Richard Wagner! Check out the Vienna Philharmonic playing the full version as it was originally intended in the opera Die Walküre.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Seán Curran On Dance For Edwardian "Salome" At Santa Fe Opera

Alex Penda (aka Alexandrina Pendatchanska) in
 a costume designed by Christian Lacroix in
2013 for a Salome production directed
 by Vincent Boussard.
"'You don’t want to end up hating her,' said Seán Curran, choreographer for Santa Fe Opera’s new production of Salome, describing the character with all the veils. Curran has worked on several SFO productions, including 2011’s The Last Savage and Oscar in 2013. 'Why does she ask for what she asks for?,' he said, referring to Salome’s request for the head of Jochanaan (John the Baptist). 'She’s a teenage girl.' Oscar Wilde’s play, the basis for the opera’s text, suggests that she had a sexual yearning for the prophet. In April, the opera flew Curran to Paris to work on the dance. He spent 48 hours in a studio with Salome’s director, Daniel Slater, and their Salome, Alex Penda, who lives in the city. Slater has chosen to set the production in 1905 Europe, the year Richard Strauss’ opera premiered in Dresden. 'It’s very Downton Abbey — Edwardian,' Curran said. 'There are no biblical references. All the slaves become servants. As for the 'Dance of the Seven Veils,' he said that 'it feels like Art Nouveau — like a Toulouse-Lautrec painting.' Curran said Strauss made his job easier. 'Salome is one of the great operas. The music evokes so much emotion — it does the storytelling for you. Strauss does tonal painting. You can see the color of the grass. You can hear the wind. It’s visceral, violent, sexual music to me.' At the rehearsal studio, Curran led a warm-up with Penda — as a way of easing her into the movement but also as a way for him to begin to understand the singer as a dancer. 'Alex has played this part before,' Curran said. 'I directed and choreographed it for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Danny has never seen or directed the show.' Slater is a director who likes to be involved in every aspect of a production. He knew that Strauss was influenced by the theories of Sigmund
Edwardian Steampunk: Choreographer Seán Curran
 looks like he could be in the current production
 of the SFO Salome.
Freud, which were coming into vogue in Vienna’s intellectual circles at the time of the opera’s origin. 'Slater wanted a psychological take on the dance,' the choreographer said. 'There was an image of an iceberg and the psyche. Here is a woman only exhibiting the tip of the iceberg until she starts to dance. Alex has a fearless physicality,' Curran continued. 'She understands the difference between energy and effort. She’s not afraid to look awkward or ugly.' Together with Slater, they developed movement motifs — 'the silent scream,' 'the mourning section,' and 'the daddy dance.' 'We wound up with a hybrid. My ingredients, Danny with the big picture, and Alex’s contributions.' Curran’s previous experience with the opera gave him an understanding of the physical requirements for the soprano, not just the emotional aspects. 'Salome has to dance. She has to knock it out of the park and then sing nonstop for the last 10 minutes of the opera. You have to have the body of a sixteen-year-old and the lungs of a forty-year-old to do this part.'" [Source] Read about The Santa Fe Opera founder John Crosby and his affinity for Strauss and Salome by clicking here. Watch Alex Penda in the trailer for Nayo Titzin film Unveiling Salome and a video interview with David Robertson who is conducting the SFO Salome, after the jump.

Friday, July 17, 2015

World's Best Tenors Captured On Film By Johannes Ifkovits

High C: The cover and back inlay for the book World's Best Tenors captures the artists 
singing the infamous note. (Photo: Johannes Ifkovit)
Opera Rifko Verlag, the publisher that designed the book Die Oper Kocht featuring opera singers in the kitchen cooking, releases a new book dedicated to the greatest kings of the high-C's living today: Die weltbesten Tenöre (World's Best Tenors). The duo team of photographer Johannes Ifkovits and stylist Evelyn Rillé created an essay that highlights 44 opera tenors from around the globe that had time or willingness to participate in the project. The Festival Castell de Peralada featured an exhibition of the book with large images surrounding the grounds of Palau Robert in Barcelona, Spain. Inside the book, portraits of legendary tenors like Plácido Domingo, Vladimir Atlantov, René Kollo stand alongside their hot young counterparts like Pavol Breslik, Giuseppe Filianoti, and Michael Fabiano. The book will soon be available for pre-order here. More photos after the jump. 
(Click to enlarge image)
Strumming His Guitar: Juan Diego Flórez captured by photographer Johannes Ifkovits

Rubber Ducky You're The One: Funny guy Rolando Villazón relaxes in the tub for his portrait by Johannes Ifkovits

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Joyce DiDonato Headlines Bastille Day Concert At Eiffel Tower

Bryn Terfel and Joyce DiDonato during a rehearsal in Paris
"She's no stranger to singing at major outdoor gatherings broadcast to a television audience of millions around the world, as she did last year when she performed the national anthem at the final game of the Major League Baseball World Series. Tonight Joyce DiDonato is an American in Paris, singing at the foot of the Eiffel Tower for Paris' annual Bastille Day classical gala, the Grand Concert de Musique Classique. Performing alongside the likes of Bryn Terfel (the duet 'La ci darem la mano' from Mozart's Don Giovanni), Lang Lang and Gautier Capuçon. The 2014 extravaganza was headed by the beloved homegrown soprano Natalie Dessay, but this year's vocal pyrotechnics come from the Kansas-born mezzo-soprano who received a major award from French classical music magazine Diapason d'Or for
Purchase Joyce DiDonato's new album here.
her last album of rare Italian arias, Stella di Napoli. There will certainly be an American flavour to proceedings, with Bernstein and Gershwin on the programme. Erato is proud of its strong French routes and early championing of French music and artists - but also of its international outlook today. Joyce singing for the people of Paris and viewers around the world in front of the Eiffel Tower could sum up perfectly Erato and Warner Classics' vision today. The concert will finish, as it does every year, with a spectacular fireworks display. Vive la France, vive la musique!" [Source] See the program and star-studded roster after the jump.

Netrebko, Florez, El-khoury To Sing At Lebanon's Beiteddine Festival

The Venue: Beiteddine Palace lies 45 km southeast of Beirut and is situated
 900 meters above sea level. Click to enlarge the panoramic photo.
"For the first time in the Arab World, the prodigiously gifted soprano Anna Netrebko will perform at Beiteddine Art Festival in Lebanon, an event scheduled to take place between 27 July and 5 September. Considered one of the biggest international stars, Netrebko has appeared in all the world’s great opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal Opera House, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, Berlin State Opera, and the Mariinsky Theatre. Netrebko will be one of the few notable international and regional artists to take a stage the Beiteddine palace, on the outskirts of Beirut, in what is considered an anniversary (30th) edition of the annual festival. Other musicians include tenor Juan Diego Florez, Lebanese composer, singer and songwriter Marcel Khalife, singers Kadim Al-Sahir and Reham Abdelhakim among others. The festival will open on 27 July with the Bel Canto tenor Juan Diego Florez and guest soprano Joyce El-Khoury, accompanied by the Filarmonica Gioachino Rossini Orchestra, under the baton of Christopher Franklin. Internationally acclaimed Lebanese musician Marcel Khalifé and Al-Mayadine Ensemble will take to the stage on 5 August, reviving his most famous songs, such as Rita wal Boundoukiyya, Oummi. Khalife's works have been critically acclaimed both in the Arab region and the world over. On 8 August, the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Chamber Choir of Armenia and the Hover Chamber will be conducted by Eduard Topchjan and the programme will feature well known classical music works. Soprano Anna Netrebko with guest tenor Yusif Eyvazov will perform towards the festival's end, on 27 August. A number of
Beiteddine Palace is a masterpiece of the early 19th century Lebanese 
architecture built by Emir Bechir Chehab II around a small 
Muslim-Druze hermitage. Click to enlarge.
other well known musicians will be featured in the anniversary year of the festival, including Rebecca Ferguson who will perform the greatest hits of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday, and David Gray who has established himself as one of the UK’s leading rock artists. Launched in 1985, the Beiteddine Art Festival 'came as an act of faith in Lebanon’s cultural role and power of creativity, a call for normality amidst the chaos and madness of war. It was born and has grown in very difficult times and made it against all odds,' we read on the festival's website. 'As of 1987, when Nora Joumblat and an Executive Committee took over the organisation of the Festival, it gradually gained regional and international recognition' and throughout the years it hosted hundreds of important international artists and spanning across music, performing and visual arts. All events take place within the 200-year old Palace in the Chouf mountains, considered to be a jewel of Lebanese architecture." [Source]

Monday, July 13, 2015

Leading Ladies Of The Late Jon Vickers In Opera Performances

Jon Vickers (center) and Leontyne Price (right) are seen talking with producer Richard Mohr
during the recording of Verdi's Aida for RCA in 1961 at the Rome Opera.
With the most recent passing of the heroic tenor Jon Vickers, we look back at the outstanding roster of female partners he had on the opera stage and in the recording studio. During an era when operatic pairings like Callas & Di Stefano, Tebaldi & Del Monaco, and Nilsson & Corelli were commonplace, the Canadian powerhouse voice of Jon Vickers sang with voices as far-ranging as Teresa Stratas to Gré Brouwenstijn. Find more astounding clips featuring Katia Ricciarelli, Renata Scotto, Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé, Maria Callas, Jessye Norman, and many more, after the jump.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Natalie Dessay Rejoins Philippe Cassard For "Fiançailles pour rire"

The Happy Couple: Natalie Dessay and Philippe Cassard
make a musical "marriage" made in heaven for Erato. 

Pre-order the disc by clicking here.
"For their second Warner Classics album of French song - a follow-up to the Debussy CD they released in 2011 - soprano Natalie Dessay and pianist Philippe Cassard have adopted the title of Francis Poulenc's song cycle Fiançailles pour rire (A betrothal for fun). Poulenc's compact, charming and touching cycle, composed in 1939 to poems by Louise de Vilmorin, is programmed with some of the best-loved mélodies in the repertoire, such as Fauré's 'Après un rêve', 'Mandoline', and 'En sourdine', Duparc's 'Invitation au voyage' and 'Au pays où se fait la guerre', and Chausson's 'Le temps des lilas' and 'Chanson perpetuelle'. In 2013, Natalie Dessay announced that she was leaving the opera stage, but since then her inimitable vocal and dramatic talents have been showcased in the music of Michel Legrand - in concerts of his songs (and the Warner Classics CD 'Entre elle et lui') and in a semi-staged version of Les parapluies de Cherbourg (available on a Warner Classics DVD) - and in further live recitals with Philippe Cassard....On this new disc she can also enjoy the company of some old friends: in Chausson's 'Chanson perpetuelle' she is joined by the Quatuor Ebène (who welcomed her as a guest artist on their best-selling Fiction album back in 2010) and by the bass-baritone Laurent Naouri - who is, as it happens, her husband. Naouri also duets with her on the final track of the album, Poulenc's haunting 'Colloque', a setting of words by Paul Valéry. 'There can be no doubt as to Natalie Dessay's intelligence as an interpreter and her finesse as a musician,' wrote the French magazine Diapason when the Debussy album was released, also praising Philippe Cassard for playing that was 'warm and eloquent, and not prone to the
Single Lady: Dessay last month in a monologue of Howard Barker
 directed by Jacques Vincey with sets by Mathieu Lorry-Dupuy.
 She will reprise the character at the Festival Paris Quartier
d'été starting July 21, 2015.
mistiness of would-be Impressionism or to outbursts of sentiment.' 'Dessay has a real relationship with Cassard,' wrote the American magazine Opera News, 'He is the rare pianist, in Debussy's songs or in his piano music, who understands that Debussy wrote genuine contrapuntal lines that are not meant to be negated by washes of pedal.' The magic of the Dessay-Cassard partnership was captured by The Telegraph after they gave a recital at Wigmore Hall in London in 2012: 'The second half began with Chabrier's hesitantly beautiful 'Chanson pour Jeanne' [also on the new CD] and Chausson's rapturous 'Le temps de lilas'. But the highlight was Dessay's veiled and shimmering account of Duparc's masterpiece 'L'Invitation au voyage', in which her vision of Baudelaire's 'luxe, calme et volupté' dissolved into the deep velvet cushioning of Philippe Cassard's wonderfully soft-textured pianism ... Like Shakespeare's Cleopatra, Dessay makes hungry where most she satisfies. Her singing never moves straight forward; it avoids the obvious, the clear-cut, it treats words as if they were paint. And in her throat, these mélodies remain a mystery, a realm in which shadow counts for more than light.'" [Source, Source] The complete track list is after the jump.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dorothea Röschmann Delivers Mozart Arias For Sony Classical

"20 years after her critically acclaimed début at the Salzburg Festival as Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro, Dorothea Röschmann releases her first solo Mozart CD including, among others, famous arias from Don Giovanni and Le Nozze Di Figaro. Dorothea Röschmann is in the prime of her voice and referred to 'as one of the leading Mozart Sopranos today' (Der Tagesspiegel). The CD track list reflects her at her best and is also a dream come true for Dorothea: 'Mozart is the reason I wanted to do opera,' she says. 'To be able to embody Mozart figures on stage, that was my dream. His characters are real human beings, with sadness and joy and wit. It’s the whole picture that you get. It sounds strange, but singing Mozart really is a dream come true.' (Dorothea Röschmann interview with the Guardian). The album is recorded with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Harding." [Source] Click here to pre-order Mozart Arias. Release dates for the album: Germany & France (September 11, 2015); UK (November 6, 2015). Track list is after the jump.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Katherine Jenkins To Make "Carmen" Her First Stage Role In Opera

Katherine Jenkins showing baby bump last week at
Wimbledon with husband Andrew Levitas.
"Mum-to-be Katherine Jenkins has signed up to sing all the arias from Bizet's Carmen at next year's Llangollen International Eisteddfod. Katherine Jenkins will perform her first ever full opera at next year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, when she takes on the classic arias of Carmen. The mezzo soprano, who has never sung a full opera in one concert before, will appear at the festival for the first time since 2010. She will be treating the audience at the opening night of the 2016 Eisteddfod to a concert version of Bizet’s Carmen, the tale of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier seduced by the fiery gypsy. The singer said: 'I’m really excited as it something I always wanted to do. I studied Carmen at the Royal Academy of Music before I graduated. It’s special as it was written for a mezzo soprano. I’ve always talked about doing this and it will be the first time fans will be able to hear all the arias in one evening. I do usually include several operatic arias in my concerts but I have never condensed and performed all the arias from a single opera into one concert. It’s something I’m really looking forward to; it’s going to be a special Llangollen evening. It’s always been a dream of mine to perform Carmen. Carmen is such a wonderful character and it’s one of the most popular operas and every aria is special. It’s going to be a wonderful night, something I hope everyone will really look forward to.' Katherine, 34, is now planning on taking a break until the New Year as she, and husband, Andrew Levitas, are expecting their first baby in the autumn. She said: 'I have always said I want

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Montserrat Caballé Health Remains Major Factor In Court Case

Soprano Montserrat Caballé, seen here in a wheelchair while visiting Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery 
back in 2013 with her daughter by her side, remains plagued by court issues in Spain while she remains ill.
"A Barcelona court is to send a medical examiner to the home of opera star Montserrat Caballé in order to verify whether her health problems really are preventing her from attending a hearing to ratify the deal she signed with the public prosecutor and the Tax Agency over fraud worth €500,000. The 83-year-old soprano’s lawyer has claimed that her mobility problems have stopped her coming into court to sign off on the agreement, in which she will admit to having defrauded €500,000 in tax in 2010. In exchange, she will receive a lighter, six-month sentence that will allow her to avoid jail time. The judge in the case has now agreed to a request from the public prosecutor to send a doctor to verify her claim. Several weeks ago, Caballé’s lawyer filed a request for his client to appear in court via videoconference to ratify the deal. While common practice for witnesses and medical examiners when making court statements, it is unheard of in the case of the accused. The judge will rule on the matter once the medical report is available. The case open against Caballé is the result of a complaint filed against her last year by the public prosecutor, which accused the singer of failing to present a tax declaration for 2010 after falsely claiming that she was living in Andorra, when, in reality, her main residence was Barcelona. After arduous negotiations, the soprano admitted to the charges and paid back the €500,000 defrauded, which allowed for the punishment to be reduced to a six-month sentence for tax crimes. The soprano has twice been summoned to formally sign off on the deal in recent months. On the first occasion, she presented a medical certificate to excuse her. But on the second, on May 12, she failed to offer any explanation for her failure to show up. However, her lawyer did appear to announce that there was a 'lack of confidence' between himself and his client, and he stated that he would no longer be defending her. Almost a month later, Caballé appointed a new attorney, who has since presented medical reports to back up the fact that the singer’s delicate health meant she has been unable to attend a hearing." [Source]

Angela Gheorghiu Makes "House Of Cards" Debut In Opera Scene

Heard But Not Seen: Angela Gheorghiu's voice
makes an appearance in House of Cards.
(Photo: Gabriel Hennessey/EMI)
The Netflix series House of Cards could be an opera without music. The leading couple, Claire (Robin Wright) and Francis "Frank" Underwood (Kevin Spacey), have been described as Lady Macbeth and Iago. For three seasons, this duo has made drama fly around a fictionalized version of Washington, D.C., on the streaming hit show. But it was in Season 2, Chapter 26, "Hail to the Chief," that we got an operatic injection. We see Frank attending a concert version of Madama Butterfly. Filmed at Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric in Baltimore, the scene captures a soprano (played by soprano Annie Gill) in profile singing "Un bel dì vedremo" from Act 2 of the Puccini opera. The track playing is the voice of Angela Gheorghiu. Next we see feuding villains Frank and Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) have a face-to-face meeting in the basement of the opera house. During their conversation the love duet "Bimba dagli occhi pieni di malìa" from Act 1 can be heard faintly in the background (decidedly NOT Gheorghiu this time). As the two are wrapping up their non-productive negotiations, Tusk says, "When they put you in that box, barely bigger than a coffin, remember how beautiful the music was tonight." Frank shoots back, "Puccini's such a downer. I prefer something more optimistic." In Puccini's masterpiece, Cio-Cio San asks Pinkerton if it's true that in America they catch butterflies and pin them to boards. He says yes, so they don't fly away. The U.S. Navy Lieutenant has complete dominance over the 15-year old Japanese girl.  Is it possible that Raymond feels "pinned" and helpless under the power of Frank during this episode, knowing he must submit to his destiny? Read more about the episode here. Watch a music video of Angela Gheorghiu singing "Un bel dì vedremo," as well as three other classical bits of music used in the three seasons of House of Cards, after the jump. [Source, Source]
Raymond Tusk receives his invitation to a "Madame" Butterfly from Frank Underwood

Annie Gill lip synching Puccini's "Un bel dì vedremo" from Madama Butterfly

Adrianne Pieczonka Brings Strauss And Wagner Lieder To Delos

Voice & Piano: Pieczonka departs from recording
arias with orchestra to lay down lieder tracks
 with Juilliard's Brian Zeger. (Photo: Bo Huang)
"Praised for her 'impeccably pure and iridescent voice' (Financial Times), soprano Adrianne Pieczonka is primarily known for her vocally opulent and interpretively intense performances in operas by Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner - though her vocal and stylistic versatility enables her to be at home in dramatic roles by Verdi, Puccini and others. In this - her first release with Delos - she blesses us with a captivating and varied program of songs by Strauss and Wagner. Particularly fond of the art song genre (and of the soprano voice), Strauss created 158 of them throughout his long life, and many of his dozen songs heard here are among his true masterpieces. The opera specialist Wagner, on the other hand, wrote far fewer songs than Strauss. Best-known among them are the five songs of the ecstatically romantic Wesendonck-Lieder, also considered a masterpiece among Lieder cycles. Adrianne delivers this varied and sumptuous fare with conspicuous emotional depth and luxuriant vocal tone. Collaborating with technical finesse and interpretive sensitivity is pianist Brian Zeger, one of the great piano collaborators of our time." [Source] Click here to listen to Adrianne Pieczonka perform the track "Du meines Herzen Krönelein, Op. 21, No. 2" by Richard Strauss. The album will be released in the United States on July 10. Order your copy by clicking here. Cover art and track list are after the jump.

Melodiya Releases "Tosca" Recording With Milashkina and Atlantov

Finalmente: Milashkina & Atlantov onstage in Tosca.
"One of the most popular operas of the world repertoire, Tosca was finished in the last year of the 19th century. It was based on the French playwright Victorien Sardou’s drama written for Sarah Bernhardt. The premiere of the opera that took place in 1900 in Rome was not accepted with much enthusiasm, and only the performance at La Scala under Arturo Toscanini became a true triumph. The story of singer Floria Tosca and her beloved painter Mario Cavaradossi who fell victim to bloody despot Baron Scarpia on the background of the revolutionary events in Italy of the early 19th century is still able to move to the innermost of one’s heart as the heat of dramatic fervour is masterfully captured in the music. Numerous audio and video recordings of the opera featuring the world’s best singers and conductors were made in the previous century. This recording was realized by the USSR Bolshoi Theatre in 1974. The celebrated internationally recognized soloists of the opera company of the 1970s Tamara Milashkina, Vladimir Atlantov, Yuri Mazurok and others perform the opera in the original language under the prominent conductor Mark Ermler." [Source] International release date is July 15, 2015. Pre-order your copy by clicking here. More photos, and some excerpts from the recording, after the jump.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Renée Fleming Goes Glam For Ruven Afanador In "Spirit And Flesh"

New York-based portrait photographer Ruven Afanador has captured haute couture images of soprano Renée Fleming donning Oscar de la Renta for the latest issue of Spirit And Flesh Magazine. Well known for his striking black and white photos of bullfighters known as torero, he has also worked with Anna Netrebko on several occasions as well as Sonya Yoncheva and Plácido Domingo. The article features an interview with Ms. Fleming conducted by Andrew Basile. "This will come as no surprise: I’m passionate about singing, but I don’t mean just classical or opera. I love great vocalism in virtually every style, whether it’s gospel, jazz, bluegrass or world music. The voice is our most primal expression – direct and unique to each individual. It also says a lot about our national culture and identity." Other topics discussed include describing her own voice; who she would like to sing to directly; exploring Appalachian music; what she feels before stepping onstage for a performance; hopes for her daughters; what opera she would make a film; why she is called the "anti-diva"; and much more. Read the whole piece here. More stunning photos after the jump.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ildar Abdrazakov Named Artistic Director Of Obraztsova Music School

"Dima, You Will Win!": Ildar Abdrazakov, Anna Netrebko, Ekaterina Gubanova, and Aleksandrs Antonenko
wear t-shirts that support colleague Dmitri Hvorostovsky at the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow for a
concert in memory of the late Elena Obraztsova.
"An international music school dedicated to legendary Russian opera star Yelena Obraztsova is to open its doors to pupils this summer in St. Petersburg. The inauguration of the Academy of Music will take place at the city’s Bolshoi Gostiny Dvor on August 8. The evening will see a gala concert featuring opera stars and some of the closest friends of the legendary opera singer, who died in January. The Mariinsky Theater's leading soloist Ildar Abdrazakov is to serve as the Academy's artistic director. 'Students from abroad will also be coming to the Academy. I am very often asked, both in Russia and abroad, about where I teach, where you can take a master class. Naturally, I will invite everybody to the Yelena Obraztsova Academy, where classes will be taught by professionals with a capital P,' Abdrazakov said at a press conference in St. Petersburg. 'Thomas Hampson and Deborah Voigt have already agreed to my proposal. And Anna Netrebko will also come,' said Abdrazakov. In addition, the creators of the academy have promised that the country’s best teachers will teach there on a regular basis, and the school itself will become international – talented young singers from different countries will come to the institute to exchange their experiences. Yelena Makarova, Obraztsova’s daughter and the
Abdrazakov and Netrebko in France last week. The two sang
on a July 4th gala concert at Château de Versailles.
director of the academy, said that to open such an educational institution had been her mother’s dream. 'It's a dream that my mother nurtured for many years. A dream that helped her fight her illness,' she said. According to her, the Obraztsova Academy will provide training for both adults and children. The purpose of opening the academy is to create a unique educational institution, taking into account the peculiarities and individuality of each student. Ildar Abdrazakov will give the first master class between November 1 and 12. Training at the academy will be provided on a fee-paying basis, but there will be 10 free places in the adult department and another 10 available for children. In addition, individual grants from Makarova and Abdrazakov are being planned. The gala concert to celebrate the opening of the Obraztsova Academy will feature Abdrazakov, Olga Makarina, Vasily Ladyuk, Yusif Eyvazov and Yelena Makarova, as well as an orchestra led by the Mikhailovsky Theater's principal conductor Mikhail Tatarnikov." [Source] More photos after the jump.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ljuba Kazarnovskaya Gets Blacklisted By Azerbaijan Foreign Minister

"'Lyubov [sic] Kazarnovskaya has violated Azerbaijan’s law on 'State border' and illegally visited our country’s territories occupied by Armenia,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmat Hajiyev told APA-Economics while commenting on illegal visit of Russian opera-singer Lyubov Kzarnovskaya to Azerbaijan’s occupied territories. According to him, this person will be added into the list of “undesired persons” as a result of relevant investigation: 'Kazarnovskaya’s speeches in Azerbaijan’s occupied territories promote Armenia’s aggression and occupation against Azerbaijan, bloody ethnic cleansing committed against Azerbaijanis in the occupied territories and Armenia, while the art figures should serve peace and truce. Speaking about establishment of Music Center in the occupied territories, Kazarnovskaya must know that as a result of aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and barbarism committed in the occupied territories, Azerbaijani people’s material and cultural heritage, as well as Karabakh music school underwent destruction and devastation.'" [Source] Read more about the soprano, watch a performance and interview, after the jump.

Georgia Jarman Returns Triumphant In Santa Fe Opera "Rigoletto"

Gilda In The Desert: Jarman sings the Verdi role
at The Santa Fe Opera (Photo: Ken Howard)
Former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Georgia Jarman currently sings the lead role of Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto at the Santa Fe Opera: "The plot, derived from a Victor Hugo play, revolves around the curse to which Rigoletto is referring just then. It focuses specifically on how he loses his daughter, Gilda, to the decadent Duke of Mantua, whom Rigoletto serves as court jester. Soprano Georgia Jarman proves to be a splendid Gilda, acting the part with forthright simplicity and displaying the vocal heft, timbre and agility needed to meet its demands. One of the evening’s high points was her aria 'Caro nome,' which started in loveliness and ended five minutes later in otherworldly beauty — her coloratura encompassing some clearly articulated, sustained trills, to boot. Conductor Jader Bignamini had led a sturdy interpretation up to that point, but in the aria he and the orchestra supported Gilda’s musings by allowing breathing room of their own. Jarman’s aria 'Tutte le feste al tempio' was similarly affecting, and the duet with her father into which it escalates was one of the evening’s most touching highpoints." [Source] Watch a video interview with the soprano discussing her role, after the jump.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Finale Of XV International Tchaikovsky Competition Voice Division

Opera Fresh highlighted some outstanding soprano and mezzo-soprano voices that entered the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition. All four choices made it to the second round, with two making it to the finals. These are the artists and the selections they sang with orchestra:

 Antonina Vesenina (Russia)

"Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" from Die Zauberflöte by Mozart

"Hymn to the Sun" from The Golden Cockerel by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Click here to watch the performance
Yulia Matochkina (Russia)

"Prostite vy, holmy, polya rodnye" from The Maid of Orleans by Tchaikovsky

"Acerba voluttà" from Adriana Lecouvreur by Cilea

Click here to watch the performance

Did one of these singers win the prize? See results after the jump.

British Coloratura Finds A Home At Prague State Opera House

"Opera singer Christina Johnston says she would love to be based in her home country but there is simply much more opportunity in Prague. 'Prague has a lot more cultural enthusiasm for opera than England,' she told the Prague Post. 'In England you have this stereotype it’s for people who have money, and here it is young people, old people, no matter where they are from,' she said, adding that London with a population of more than 8 million has two opera houses, while Prague with a population of 1.25 million has three opera houses. 'The whole culture is a little more available,' she said. Her favorite venue in Prague is the State Opera. 'As a little girl it is what I dreamed an opera house would look like,' she said. She also finds the atmosphere in Prague less competitive. 'So many wonderful opera singers here are so wonderful and so down to earth, really the opposite of [the stereotype]. It has always been a pleasure to work with people in the Czech Republic It has always been a team effort,' she said. 'In England I think there is a lot more competition.' She also said she is probably treated a bit better since she is a foreigner here. 'I feel very lucky to come here and be accepted by these people,’ she added. Between July and August, she will be appearing in a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Estates Theater. This is a different one than is put on in the regular season. 'We are doing it the way Mozart did it,' she said, adding that this production is intended to be a re-creation of the premiere in Prague in 1787 at the same theater where Mozart conducted it." [Source] Read more of the article here and watch a performance of Christina Johnston singing, after the jump.