Tuesday, September 29, 2015

OUT Magazine Features New 2016 Calendar Filled With Baritones

Vittorio Prato is one of the featured opera hunks in the 2016 calendar to raise money for fellow baritones.
"Each year, the Barihunks site surprises us with its dedication to opera singers with lower voices — as well as some musical theater notables (and a few non baritones for good measure). Their annual calendar features a selection of those same studs, and for its fifth edition, is no exception. All the singers included in the calendar are baritones or have lower voices — except for Eric Stoklossa, who is the first tenor featured in the calendar. Plus, four singers were photographed this past summer in the Loire Valley for an exclusive shoot, including Marco Vassalli and Malte Roesner (Pictured above). Proceeds from the charity calendar will be used to fund the creation of the Foundation for the Advancement of Baritones (F.A.B.), which will 'fund baritone and bass cash prizes at song competitions, commission music for baritones and basses, and be used to fund other projects featuring low male voices.'" [Source] You can buy the calendar here. See photos of featured baritones Marco Vassalli and Malte Roesner with (and without) shirts after the jump.

Luther College Produces Two Opera News Magazine Rising Stars

Cornfields To The Concrete Jungle: Andrew Stenson (far left) and Emily
Fons (second from right) both attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa,
and will be performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. 

(Photo: James Salzano - Click image to enlarge)
"Talking about their experiences at Luther College and their path into professional singing careers, Luther alumni Andrew Stenson and Emily Fons will be presenting career talks at Luther in October. Stenson, class of 2008, will speak at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, and Fons, class of 2006, will speak at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. Both career talks will be held in the Noble Recital Hall of the Jenson-Noble Hall of Music on the Luther campus. Both events are open to the public with no charge for admission. Stenson is quickly becoming recognized as one of the United States' most exciting young tenors. A 2011 recipient of the Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation, he will make his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut, as well as debuts with Arizona Opera, Fort Worth Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic in the upcoming 2015-16 season. Stenson earned a master's degree in music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Fons, a mezzo-soprano, recently made her German debut at the International Händel Festspiele in Göttingen. A former member of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Fons has also appeared with the Michigan Opera Theatre, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Santa Fe Opera, and the Atlanta Opera. Fons earned a master's degree in music from Southern Illinois University. Both Stenson and Fons both have contracts this year with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which is considered to be the best opera house in the world. Luther is home to one of the largest collegiate music programs in the nation, with six choirs, three orchestras, three bands, two jazz bands and nearly 1,000 student musicians. Luther students participate in large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. More than 300 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance." [Source] Watch a behind-the-scenes video of these young artists getting photographed for the most recent issue of Opera News, after the jump.

Opera In Australia Costing More Money While Audience Shrinks

Sinking Art: A promotional advertisement for Opera Australia's production of Madama Butterfly.
"The Federal Government pays an average of $60 for ticket-holder but opera is still losing both money and audiences. At least one company is on the verge of bankruptcy and opportunities for Australian artists are shrinking. The high level of subsidy is consistent with other major performing arts companies. Major dance companies are subsidised at a rate of $63 a ticket and orchestras even higher at $86 a ticket. But, unlike most other art forms, the subsidy is not delivering audiences to opera. The National Opera Review has found that despite increasing funding, Australia’s opera companies are facing reduced audiences, growing debt, and reduced artistic vibrancy. The high level of subsidy is consistent with other major performing arts companies. Major dance companies are subsidised at a rate of $63 a ticket and orchestras even higher at $86 a ticket. But, unlike most other art forms, the subsidy is not delivering audiences to opera. The National Opera Review has found that despite increasing funding, Australia’s opera companies are facing reduced audiences, growing debt, and reduced artistic vibrancy." [Source]

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dmitri Hvorostovsky Shown Love From Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

"Three months after announcing he had a brain tumor, and still in the midst of treatment, the cherished Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky returned to the Metropolitan Opera on Friday evening as the Count di Luna in Verdi’s Il Trovatore. An ovation greeted his first entrance, loud and long enough that he broke character to smile and pat his heart in appreciation. Three hours later, the curtain calls ended with the orchestra pelting Mr. Hvorostovsky with white roses, as his co-star, the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, appeared visibly moved." [Source] Watch a video of the curtain call, after the jump.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Susan Graham Sings For Pope Francis In New York Vespers Service

Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham sang "Laudate Dominum" from Mozart's Vesperae solennes de confessore for the Papal visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. See two clips of her performance, after the jump.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First Listen: Christine Goerke As Turandot At The Metropolitan Opera

Christine Goerke as Turandot with Marcelo Álvarez as Calaf in the Franco Zeffirelli production of Turandot.
Puccini's Turandot opens this evening with soprano Christine Goerke making her role debut at the Metropolitan Opera. Watch a video of her singing an excerpt from "In questa reggia," after the jump.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Behind The Scenes Of The Metropolitan Opera Costume Department

Stars Arrive For Metropolitan Opera Season Opening Night

See more photos of celebrities arriving at last night's opening of The Metropolitan Opera season, after the jump.

Anna Netrebko And Yusif Eyvazov Cover OK! Magazine Russia

Anna Netrebko, in New York City for the debut of a new production of Verdi's Il Trovatore opening on September 25 at the Metropolitan Opera, graces the new Russian edition of OK!
Magazine with fiancé and tenor Yusif Eyvazov who will make his debut in Puccini's Turandot in November also at the MET. Inside the magazine, the interviewer asks questions regarding the soprano's weight; a one-time trip to the spa for a facial; her shopping habits; parenting a son with autism; wanting another child (perhaps a little sister for Tiago); the couple's meeting in Milan for the first time; details of the pre-nuptial contract; the plans for their upcoming wedding in Vienna scheduled for December 29; their first joint album together singing music of Igor Krutoy; and plans to return together for Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi Theatre in 2016; and more. Read the full article by clicking here. See more pictures after the jump.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Warner Classics Marks 100th Birthday Of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

In honor of the late German soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's 100th birthday this year, Warner Music is releasing a deluxe edition box set of her complete recitals recorded between 1954-1974 with original cover art: "Die große Elisabeth Schwarzkopf schrieb nicht nur fast vier Jahrzehnte Gesangs- und Schallplattengeschichte. Sie war auch eine der ersten Sängerinnen überhaupt, die die Platte als eigenständiges künstlerisches Medium nutzten. Zusammen mit ihrem Ehe-mann, dem legendären EMI-Produzenten Walter Legge, konzipierte sie das Repertoire ihrer Schallplatten so akribisch wie Konzertprogramme. Zum 100. Geburtstag der Jahrhundert-Sängerin erscheinen diese Recitals nun erstmals in ursprünglicher Programmgestaltung und originalem LP-Artwork als Deluxe-Edition - remastert anhand der Originalbänder unter Leitung des Tonmeisters der Callas-Edition. Generationen von Musikliebhabern kennen Elisabeth Schwarzkopfs berühmte Aufnahmen, die sie bei ihrem Stammlabel EMI produzierte. Doch fast niemals waren die Originalprogramme der LP-Recitals auf CD erhältlich, da meist durch Füller erweitert. Bis jetzt! Zwischen 1952 und 1974 nahm die 2006 verstorbene Künstlerin eine Fülle von akribisch konzipierten Programmen auf – jedes einzelne ein diskografischer Meilenstein: Vertreten sind ihre berühmten Strauss-Orchesterlieder, Klavierlieder von Schubert, Schumann, Wolf und Strauss, dramaturgisch aufgebaute Programme großer Opernarien von Gluck über Mozart bis Wagner, einige wie die Brahms-Volkslieder oder Wolfs Italie-nisches Liederbuch interpretiert an der Seite des großen Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Besonderer Höhepunkt dieses Vermächtnisses, das mit einem Schubert-Album aus dem Jahre 1952 beginnt, ist der Live-Mitschnitt des legendären Konzerts zu Ehren von Gerald Moore in der Royal Festival Hall 1967 – mit Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau und Victoria de Los Angeles." [Source] See more about the Maria Callas box set released by Warner Classics last year by clicking here. Learn more about Elisabeth Schwarzkopf by clicking here and to pre-order the new box (set due for international release on November 13, 2015) click here. If you can't wait for the box set, perhaps this tasty morsel will whet your appetite. See details of the Warner Classics box set contents after the jump.

Nina Stemme Brings Hitchcock "Notorious" Film To Life As An Opera

Nina Stemme as Alicia Hauser, a role made famous by Ingrid Bergman in the original film version of 
Notorious, with Michael Weinius as Alex Sebastian in a scene from the Hans Gefors opera inspired by 
Hollywood that is now performing at The Göteborg Opera in Sweden. (Photo: Mats Bäcker)
Wagnerian soprano Nina Stemme sings the lead role of Alicia Hauser in the operatic interpretation of Alfred Hitchcock's 1946 film Notorious for The Göteborg Opera which began performances on September 19. Composer Hans Gefors and librettist Kerstin Perski were responsible for taking this film noir classic and bringing it to life as an opera. British stage director Keith Warner leads Ms. Stemme and an arresting group of artists including Katerina Karnéus, John Lundgren, and Michael Weinius, in a new production by set and costume designer David Fielding, lighting designer John Bishop and choreographer Michael Barry. Patrik Ringborg conducts all the performances that take place through November 1, 2015. Read more about the production details by clicking here and check out a Swedish article about the opera by clicking here. Watch more videos after the jump.

Sydney Opera House Serves As Inspiration For Miss Universe

Opera Sails: Not since the television show Dynasty
has the world seen power shoulders this dynamic.
"Dame Edna is as Australian as a jar of Vegemite - but would you want to replicate her style? The iconic figure is the inspiration behind a gravity-defying costume in the running to grace the stage at Donald Trump’s International Miss Universe Final. Giant cat-eye glasses, the sweeping sails of Sydney Opera House and tonnes of reef-inspired blue tulle make up the designs that best represent our country, as The Elucent Skincare National Costume Competition reveals its four finalists. The designs, which were unveiled on Sunrise on Monday, represent what it means to be Australian and will be worn by Miss Universe Australia Monika Radulovic. Previous years have seen the newly crowned Miss Universe Australia clad in earthy-toned outback themed designs, Crocodile Dundee couture and high-heeled woollen Ugg boots. This year has seen a step away from the sunburned country to the sea, as all four designers used Sydney Opera House as inspiration....The final design will be announced on Friday, October 5 on Sunrise. Monika Radulovic was crowned Miss Universe Australia in June this year. The brunette beauty fled war-torn Bosnia with her parents when she was just four years old. She went on to attain an honours graduate in psychology and hopes to bring light to Dr Charlie Teo's cure brain cancer foundation and ending world hunger through her ambassador role." [Source] See more designs after the jump.

Win Tickets To See Angela Gheorghiu Live In Australian Concert

Enter here for your chance to win tickets to Angela Gheorghiu's upcoming appearance in Australia (dinner included!). The press release and concert program can be seen after the jump.

A Change Of Color For The Venetian Moor In MET Opera "Otello"

The Moorish Chief by Eduard Charlemont (1878)
"At a recent dress rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera, there was something missing when the Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko sang the title role of Verdi’s Otello: the stage makeup with names like Indian Red and Otello Brown that opera companies have used for more than a century to darken pale singers playing the part. 'The Met breaks tradition, and I will be white,' Mr. Antonenko shrugged as he was powdered in his dressing room. It was an offhand way of phrasing a seismic shift. That leading opera houses have continued to use blackface into the early 21st century, long after minstrel shows and similar performances have been rejected as racist, may be more surprising to many people than that the practice is now being ended by the Met, after 124 years, for the new production of Otello that will open its 2015-16 season on Monday, Sept. 21. The change comes in a year when the massacre of nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, S.C., spurred a national discussion about racism and the power of symbols, and prompted South Carolina officials to remove the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds after years of resistance. And it comes more than a generation after leading theater companies stopped 'blacking up' white actors to play Othello in Shakespeare’s play....Plácido Domingo, the pre-eminent Otello of the 1980s and ’90s, said in an interview that

Netrebko, Gelb, And Sher Discuss MET Season With New York Times

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mimi Lerner's Son And Grandson Featured Humans Of New York

A photography project started in 2010, titled Humans of New York, has grown to 14.6 million followers on Facebook and 3.7 million followers on Instagram. As random people are photographed in the city by Brandon Stanton, a short story or quote accompanies each image. This week features Dan Lerner playing ball with his son Julian. Dan's mother is the late opera singer Mimi Lerner. The mezzo-soprano passed away in 2007 from complications of a heart tumor. See the photos with captions, learn more about HONY, and read details of Mimi Lerner's career, after the jump.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Anna Moffo Box Set Is Best Thanksgiving Gift For Opera Fans

Fall Surprise: The late Anna Moffo will be celebrated
with new box set of RCA recordings
Special thanks to the blog oleconquistador for pointing out the newest box set release from Sony Classical: Anna Moffo - The Complete RCA Recital Recordings. Scheduled for an international release date of November 13, 2015, this 12-CD original jacket collection is welcome news for fans of the soprano. As oleconquistador outlines the tracklisting for each disc, there are some glaring omissions from her discography by the label. Most obvious is the complete Thais. Although controversial at the time, as many felt the soprano was past her prime, it is still a recording that should have been included here. Another rarity that has escaped inclusion is a disc featuring highlights of Halévy's La Juive featuring colleagues Richard Tucker and Martina Arroyo. Also missing from the collection are all of the Eurodisc recordings which fell under the Ariola label in Europe, which was an outlet of Bertelsmann. Ariola would go on to acquire RCA in 1983, and now all are owned by Sony. These included Die Schöne Galathée (composed by Suppé), Italian and French Opera Arias (conducted by Kurt Eichhorn), Toujours l'Amour (album of arias from famous operettas); Lucia di Lammermoor (her second recording of the work with conductor
Glamorous Beauty: Moffo on La Rondine LP cover
Carlo Felice Cillario); Die Csárdásfürstin (Kálmán); and Lieder Recital (featuring works of Shcubert, Schumann, and Brahms). M
any of these were released on CD by the Japanese market in 2006 and 2007. Two LPs were recorded with the tenor Rudolph Schock: True Love (famous melodies of Porter, Kern, Rogers, Bernstein, and more) and Bist du's, lachendes Glück (duets from German operettas). Neither have made their way to CD, nor are included in the new box set. Although RCA/Eurodisc has in the past released the complete operas Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck), Carmen (Bizet), Orfeo ed Euridice (Gluck), L'amore dei tre re (Montemezzi), Il Filosofo Di Campagna (Galuppi), Madama Butterfly (Puccini), La Rondine (Puccini),  Iphigenie in Aulis (Gluck),  La Bohème (Puccini), and La Traviata (Verdi), a remastering of the original tapes would have been welcome in this release. It should be noted her Luisa Miller, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Rigoletto recordings are remastered and will be available individually this fall.
Flirty Fun: Anna Moffo was known for her
smoky vocal and vivacious form 
The other missing studio items from the Sony collection include: 
Neapolitan Songs (with Radio-Orchester Stuttgart under conductor Bert Grund); Songs of her own composition (lyrics by Mario Lafranchi) with Billy Smith and his orchestra; La Serva Pedrona (opera by Pergolesi); Meine Stimme für Venedig (songs of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, with Giorgio Favaretto at the piano); Sakura (the soprano sings two Japanese songs - "Karatachi no hana" and "Sakura" - recorded for RCA and printed exclusively in limited edition for Japan); and some miscellaneous Christmas items have been scattered among several labels ("Joy to the World"; "Ave Maria"; "Silent Night"; and "O Bambino"). A disc titled A Song For You was released by the record label Bridge and featured works recorded in studio (Tracks: "Vilja" from The Merry Widow; "The Song Of Long Ago" from The Merry Widow; "Oh, For The Life Of An Actress" from Die Fledermaus; "Mein Herr Marquis" from Die Fliedermaus; "Baskets Of Treasure" from A Night In Venice; "Wishing On A Waltz" from A Night In Venice; "Romance" from The Desert Song; "The Sabre Song" from The Desert Song; "Indian Love Call" from Rose marie (duet with Richard Fredricks; "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" from
Opera Seductress: Playing the part of Massenet's Thais
Roberta; "Let's Begin" from Roberta (duet with Stanley Grover); "Bill" from Show Boat; "Italian Street Song" from Naughty Marietta; "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess) that seems as though the contents could have been licensed for this occasion. One last rarity that is from an Ariola recording titled Peter Alexander präsentiert Walt Disney Welt that includes guest appearances by Anna Moffo alongside Mireille Mathieu, Wencke Myhre and Freddy Quinn. Perhaps a supplemental box set will be produced with all the missing content. Until then, the world can enjoy several newly mastered versions of classic recordings to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the legendary soprano's passing. Pre-order your copy of the box set by clicking here. Read a description of the limited edition box set, and see covers of the missing recordings, after the jump.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Six Generations Of Sopranos Preserve Grand Tradition Of Singing

Previously this blog discussed the importance of musical lineage and the art of carrying on operatic traditions. This transfer occurs with the passing of experience from conductors and composers on to singers through working relationships. But perhaps the most intimate form of sharing comes directly from a voice teacher. Throughout history singers have traditionally worked with teachers who had a good career themselves on the opera stage. The many upsides to such a relationship include a direct connection to the previous generation's style and musical
Pauline Viardot-García
Natalia Iretskaya
Lydia Lipkowska
knowledge that often times could be linked directly to a composer. A current example of this linked artistry begins over 100 years ago with a leading nineteenth-century French mezzo-soprano, pedagogue, and composer of Spanish descent named Pauline Viardot-García. After a long career on stage, she began teaching young singers. One of those pupils was the Russian soprano Natalia Iretskaya, who would in turn passed her vocal pedagogy down to a fellow country woman named Lydia Lipkowska. This Russian soprano had a career that spanned several decades beginning at the Mariinsky Theatre and eventually crossing the ocean to perform quite often in the United States (Boston, Chicago, New York). At the end of her career she began to teach voice lessons in Romania. It was here that she convinced a young singer named Virginia Zeani that she was not a mezzo-soprano, but rather a soprano. Madame Lipkowska coached her in the roles of Violetta, Mimi, Marguerite and Massenet’s Manon. Romanian dramatic-soprano
Virginia Zeani
Marilyn Mims
Virginia Mims
Virginia Zeani is legendary for a career rivaling Maria Callas and is still connected to the spotlight thanks to a close friendship with current diva Angela Gheorghiu. But it was her engagement at Indiana University's music school in 1980 that allowed her to pass on her talents to another generation of sopranos including Sylvia McNair, Angela Brown, Elizabeth Futral, and Ailyn Pérez. One particular student stands out in the history of her teaching: Marilyn Mims. As fifth generation in this line of skilled singing technique, Ms. Mims went on to win the 1986 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Soon after she made her professional opera debut and began a career filled with roles in La Traviata, Robert le Diable, Die FledermausDie Entführung aus dem SerailDon Giovanni, Così fan tutteRigoletto, Lucia di Lammermoor, Pagliacci and more. Her singing career was cut short after being diagnosed with endometriosis in 1995. She now teaches on the voice faculty at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. And now the world will soon have another soprano to sing the "Viardot-García technique": Virginia Mims. Yes, daughter to Marilyn, this young lady is emerging as a strong talent in several singing competitions. She will be carrying an artistic torch that is steeped in excellence. With more than a century's worth of technique and musical knowledge being passed down from one stupendous soprano after another, this 18-year old is inheritor to a true treasure. Read about all these extraordinary divas, as well as sample audio and video clips, after the jump.

Watch Anja Harteros Record "O Patria Mia" For Warner Classics

"This magnificent recording of Aida, made in Rome, rises to all the musical and dramatic challenges presented by Verdi’s richly-coloured Egyptian epic. Antonio Pappano, once again proving his mastery of Italian opera, moves between sumptuous grandeur and touching intimacy. The responses of the Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia are both immediate and vibrant, while the singers – Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Ludovic Tézier and Erwin Schrott – do justice to every facet of their roles." [Source] Watch Anja Harteros sing "O Patria Mia" from Aida, as well as more excerpts from the recording session along with interviews with the artists, after the jump.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Former IMG Executive Bill Palant Launches Étude Arts LLC

Agent Man: Bill Palant launches venture
with exciting roster of opera singers
Now at the pinnacle of his career, artist manager Bill Palant has launched a new boutique company called Étude Arts LLC. We sat down with him to discuss his thoughts on the opera world and what it means to be independent in the opera industry: "Founder and Managing Director of Étude Arts, Bill Palant manages some of the world’s most acclaimed classical artists. His clients appear at the world’s greatest performing arts institutions and many have been recorded by the most distinguished media labels in the industry. Before establishing Étude Arts in 2015, Bill Palant was Senior Vice President at IMG Artists, where he served for nearly nineteen years. He also has worked for the Metropolitan Opera’s Rehearsal Department and for the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. He was graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in psychology."
"Étude Arts is an independent management agency built on experience, fuelled by integrity, and emboldened by the possibilities open to artists and the arts in the twenty-first century. Étude Arts offers flexible, personalized service underpinned by the authority, expertise, and vision of its founder, Bill Palant. Having guided the careers of some of the world’s most accomplished classical musicians, Bill Palant approaches the culture and industry of classical performance with skill and discernment, combining – like any great artist – distinguished technique with creative flair. Étude Arts embodies a commitment to the development of exceptional artistry at every level of the profession. Bill Palant is dedicated to the holistic success of both performer and presenter: to health and well-being, to dynamic growth and career longevity, to progressive business practice, and to outstanding performance on a global stage." For more information and a complete roster of artists, visit the official website by clicking here.

How did you come up with the name of the new company? I was inspired to name the company Étude Arts after attending a transformative performance of Philip Glass’ piano etudes at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Not only was it a magnificent concert but also the experience prompted me to consider the meaning of an etude and its function as well as its practice. That the etude promotes the exploration and expression of a particular skill and the strengthening of technique resonated with me greatly and served as the perfect metaphor of what I am doing in this evolution of my professional career.

What got you interested in managing opera singers? After working for five years at the Metropolitan Opera, I wanted to spread my wings beyond the responsibilities of the Rehearsal Department. At the time, there weren’t positions available in New York City with other performing arts organizations of the same (or even near the same) caliber of the one I had at Met, so I looked beyond the stages of great artistic institutions like Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, etc. My introduction to the world of artist management, during my Met years, was less than