Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bolshoi Theatre Revives Robert Carsen Circus "Rigoletto"

Kristina Mkhitaryan as Gilda
"Giuseppe Verdi's immensely popular opera Rigoletto returned to the Bolshoi Theater earlier this month, after an absence of 25 years, in a staging by Canadian director Robert Carsen co-produced by the Bolshoi, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, in France, where it originated in the summer of 2013, and the opera houses of Brussels, Strasbourg and Geneva. The Bolshoi played host to the Russian premiere of Rigoletto in 1859 and over the next 130 years the opera went on to become one of the theater's most-performed works, appearing nearly 1,600 times in 11 different stagings. To say that Carsen's production is unlike any seen before at the Bolshoi would amount to a gross understatement. Moving the action from its
Justina Gringyte as Maddalena and Sergey 
Romanovsky as the Duke of Mantua
original locale, the 16th-century ducal court of Mantua, in northern Italy, to a modern-day circus arena, Carsen has turned the libidinous Duke into an equally libidinous circus director and the court jester, Rigoletto, into a clown. To conduct Rigoletto, the Bolshoi engaged prominent Italian conductor Evelino Pido, who encountered certain difficulties in coordinating his forces and for whom the orchestra played rather insensitively at times. The principal treat vocally on opening night was the Duke of Sergei Romanovsky, who, after a brief stint with Novaya Opera, left Russia in 2009 to pursue a career abroad. His bright, technically secure lyric tenor proved a near-perfect fit to the music, marred only by a few cracked high notes. And he played the philandering Duke with enormous gusto and conviction. Kristina Mkhitaryan, a
Dimitris Tiliakos as Rigoletto
member of the Bolshoi's Young Opera Artists Program, showed considerable potential in her sympathetic account of the doomed Gilda, though she lacked, on opening night at least, the pure, bell-like high notes heard from the part's finest interpreters. The vocal disappointment of the evening was the Rigoletto of Greek baritone Dimitris Tiliakos, who seemed to possess several different voices, principal among them an only intermittently full-bodied sound in the mid-range of a sort that marks the true 'Verdi baritone' and rather weak and fluttering notes in music's upper reaches." [Source] Click here for information about Rigoletto performances at the Bolshoi. Watch a video after the jump.

Silvesterkonzert Selfie: A Gipsy Princess And Her Men

(Photo: Facebook)
Anna Netrebko with tenor Juan Diego Flórez (right) and Maestro Christian Thielemann (left) after the Silvesterkonzert performance of Kálmán's Die Csárdásfürstin at the Staatskapelle Dresden. Watch the performance after the jump.

Greek Soprano Dimitra Theodossiou Survives Ship Fire

The soprano at a concert in China last May.
Dimitra Theodossiou was a first-class passenger on the Norman Atlantic ferry when she awoke to smoke in her cabin. The opera soprano describes in detail throwing on a sweater, grabbing money, and gathering identification, before making her way to the upper decks of the ship. She was shocked to see men pushing women out of the way to make it to the helicopters rescuing passengers. A fellow passenger also slapped her face to keep her awake waiting for her chance for rescue declaring, "You must not sleep. If you sleep, you die." She was particularly distressed by the lack of no fire alarm on the ship and the fact that not all of the life boats were put in the water. The full account of the tragic event can be found after the jump. Read the full interview with the soprano by clicking here. For videos of the fire and rescue, click here. Read the soprano's complete biography hereListen to a telephone interview, and watch a video tribute to the Greek opera star, below.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Anna Netrebko Covers Russian Tatler Magazine For December

Soprano Anna Netrebko is featured in the Russian edition of Tatler magazine. Inside pages feature the singer in her New York apartment with fiancé Yusif Eyvazov (pictured at left) and son Tiago. The photos catch a glimpse of the glamour that surrounds the opera world's superstar. Ms. Netrebko will next be seen performing at the Metropolitan Opera in Iolanta by Tchaikovsky from January 26 - February 21, 2015. The HD broadcast in movie theaters will take place on Valentine's Day, February 14. To purchase her new recording of the opera on Deutsche Grammophon, click here. More photos from the Tatler pictorial can be found after the jump. For additional information about the issue, click here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Opera Singers Important To "Christmas In Washington" History

Clamma Dale
Performing for Presidents of the United States has long been a duty and service that comes with great honor for classical musicians for more than a century. Particularly highlighted during the holiday season in December each year since 1981, opera singers have played an integral part of the concert Christmas in Washington. Standing alongside fellow musicians from virtually every genre of the music world to celebrate holiday favorites has brought the world of opera to larger audiences via television. Taking a look back over the years, the following singers have been fortunate enough to be part of this American tradition: Frederica von Stade (1984), Clamma Dale (1986), Kathleen Battle (1988), Barbara Hendricks (1990), Dawn Upshaw (1995) Ruth Ann Swenson (1996), Thomas Hampson (1997), Harolyn Blackwell (1998), Charlotte Church (2001), Renée Fleming (2003),  and Andrea Bocelli (2010). Take a look at some of the
Kathleen Battle
performances after the jump. "One of two annual holiday specials produced by George Stevens, Jr. (the other being the
Kennedy Center Honors), the variety show first aired in 1981 on NBC before moving to its current home on TNT in 1998. Recorded in Washington, D.C. at the National Building Museum, on the second Sunday of each December before being re-edited for later broadcast, Christmas in Washington is a one-hour concert featuring artists from musical genres. Each guest perform at least one solo, but the marquee performer usually has one or two more songs. The show also has at least one guest from the world of opera. Each of the musical performances are backed by a full orchestra and chorus. The show's finale consists of a medley performed by all the musical guests before
Frederica von Stade
the attendees-of-honor, the President of the United States and the First Lady, make a closing statement. Recent events have benefited Children's National Medical Center. The show also has a host. For many years, the show was hosted by Dr. Phil and his wife, Robin. However, since 2009, the show has had a single host. The 2013 edition featured Hugh Jackman as host and The Backstreet Boys as marquee performers, marking the first time in six years that a group has been featured as marquee performers. The show airs live on pay-per-view internationally and in most major cities, after which a re-edited 42-minute version (with commercials in a one-hour slot) airs on the aforementioned TNT network." [
Source, Source, Source, Source, Source]  
Renee Fleming performing during the Christmas in Washington at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2003. | gettyimages.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Will The Metropolitan Opera Be Forced To Sell Chagall Paintings?

Renée Fleming in the new Susan Stroman production of Lehár's The Merry Widow (Die Lustige Witwe) which opens this month at the Metropolitan Opera. It will replace the last new production they did of the operetta in 2000. (Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)
"New York City’s Metropolitan Opera Association had its rating cut by Moody’s Investors Service to three steps above junk and is again turning to works by Marc Chagall for collateral as its cash dwindles. The nation’s largest performing-arts organization is putting the Chagalls hanging in its lobby -- 'The Triumph of Music' and 'The Sources of Music' -- up as collateral on a line of credit with Bank of America Corp., Sam Neuman, a spokesman for the opera, said in an e-mail today. The opera is tapping the paintings anew after using a $100 million bond sale to pay off bank loans backed by the artwork in 2012. Moody’s today lowered that debt one level to Baa1 and assigned a negative outlook, meaning more cuts are possible. The Met’s deficit ballooned to an estimated $22 million in fiscal 2014, from $2.8 million in 2013, according to financial documents. The opera, which had its first performance in 1883, expects to balance its budget in the next two years by cutting expenses such as labor costs, Neuman said....In fiscal 2013, the organization had monthly liquidity of $46 million, covering 53 days of cash expenses, according to Dennis Gephardt, a Moody’s analyst. Without a $17 million draw on its line of credit, liquidity fell in half, according to preliminary fiscal 2014 results, Gephardt wrote in today’s report." And the New York Times points out: "Some of the Met’s biggest stars recently agreed to cut their fees to help the Met. This week, another cost-cutting measure was evident: It did not put up its Christmas tree."[Source]

Friday, December 19, 2014

Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Ideas From Heavenly Voices On High

Purchase the album here.
Recommended track: "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
If you want to turn the frequency up this holiday season, check out the plethora of recordings from divas both past and present. From the latest release by Measha Brueggergosman to the Germanic overtones of Rita Streich, Maria Stader, and Anneliese Rothenberger, high notes during the holidays will ensure everyone has a holly jolly time. Check out more than 30 albums after the jump to give you instant holiday spirit through sacred seasonal music or christmas classics. Each one is linked to the full digital version to allow you to either choose the entire package or simply download the tracks you enjoy most. You can even make a compilation off the recommended tracks from each selection. Joyeux Noël, Buon Natale, Frohe Weihnachten, Feliz Navidad and с рождеством! Remember to share the music with someone you love this holiday season.

Deborah Voigt And Mormon Tabernacle In Festive Holiday Mode

"Leading dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt and acclaimed British actor and voice artist John Rhys-Davies join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in a concert of holiday favorites.Among the highlights of the concert, conducted by Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, are Voigt’s performances of the English carol 'The Holly and the Ivy' and the light-hearted 'The Twelve Days After Christmas' with the choir and orchestra. The program includes a new Mack Wilberg twist on the traditional song 'Christmas Is Coming (The Geese Are Getting Fat).' The Bells on Temple Square join the choir and orchestra for an upbeat rendition of 'Ring Those Christmas Bells.' The concert also includes Rhys-Davies’ dramatization of A Dickens Christmas with Robin Dick and the Christmas Players. The vignette features Rhys-Davies as the Ghost of Christmas Present soaring overhead at the LDS Conference Center in a dazzling scene of aerial choreography. Rhys-Davies also reads Luke 2: The Christmas Story with a fervor that
moves audiences. Recognized as one of the world’s most versatile singers, Deborah Voigt is a leading dramatic soprano revered for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. She also has portrayed heroines of Italian opera to great acclaim. An active recitalist and performer of Broadway standards and popular songs, she appears regularly as both performer and host in the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series. Acclaimed British actor and voice artist John Rhys-Davies is one of modern cinema’s most recognizable character actors, best known to film audiences for his role as Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and more recently as the ax-wielding dwarf Gimli in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Together with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, Voigt and Rhys-Davies performed before a combined audience of 80,000 people in the annual concert taped in December of 2013 at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah." [Source] Check your local listings for performance times this evening. You can also purchase the DVD and CD by clicking here.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chris Pine Meets The Barber During Armani Code Commercial

Actor Chris Pine seen here in the elusive cologne commercial for Armani Code. An electronic version of the overture from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia plays under the ad. Watch the clip after the jump.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

For Anna Netrebko Baby Questions Are Harder Than Politics Right Now

Modeling in a fashion show for friend and designer Irina Vitjaz, Anna Netrebko is joined by son Tiago and fiancé Yusif Eyvazov in Vienna. After a stroll down the catwalk, the couple is interviewed for German television. During the segment the host makes mention of fellow opera singer, Ukrainian mezzo-soprano Zoryana Kushpler, and the pending birth of her child. Without skipping a beat, she then asks the recently-engaged couple if offspring is a topic with Anna. See the video here
Holiday Spirit Hits The Runway: Anna Netrebko with son Tiago and fiancé Yusif Eyvazov in Vienna 
(Photo: Irina Vitjaz)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Royal Party Report From University of St. Andrew 600th Anniversary

As mentioned a few days ago, Renée Fleming was a guest among the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's attendance at the 600th Anniversary Gala for the University of St. Andrews. New York Social Diary reports: "After the dinner Renee Fleming, who was at royal couple's table, sang 'O mio babbino caro' from Puccini's short opera Gianni Schicchi. Beautiful, with a voice as splendidly eternal as the ancients' creations surrounding us. She then sang us 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' (originally written for Judy Garland in the MGM movie, Meet Me In St. Louis). Again wonderful. Fleming has an equally alluring non-operatic style to her voice." [Source] The soprano was a stand-in for Sting, who was unable to attend due to his performance schedule in his Broadway show, as she told Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan the other morning on their show. No word on whether the gown is by Vivienne Westwood or another British designer for the occasion. Read more about the evening and see lots of photos by clicking here

Coffee Break: Vocalise-Étude en forme de Habanera By Ravel

"L'Indolence" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928)

Lush Meets Lush: The transcendent voice of Jessye Norman wraps itself in the intoxicating perfume of Maurice Ravel's romantic music in G minor composed in 1907. The composer marked the score: "Presque lent et avec indolence." This music is meant to be luxurious, but not self-indulgent. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Real-Life Opera Between Chinese Restaurant & Harvard Professor

All Mixed Up: Bar manager Ran Duan might feel like he is in the middle of an opera plot gone bad.
"Ben Edelman is an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit. Ran Duan manages The Baldwin Bar, located inside the Woburn location of Sichuan Garden, a Chinese restaurant founded by his parents. Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food from Sichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location. Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out. Read the complete email exchange by clicking here. Ran Duan moved to the U.S. from
Plaintiff: Ben Edelman
China when he was 3-years-old. His father had hoped to support the family with a career as an opera singer, but when that didn’t pan out, Duan says 'like all Chinese families we decided to open up a restaurant.' Sichuan Garden opened its doors in Brookline in the early 1990s. A second location followed in Woburn." [Source] You can learn more about Benjamin G. Edelman by clicking here and if you're in Woburn area, check out The Baldwin Bar. The "Read Between the Lines" cocktail looks particularly delicious. Read a Boston Magazine feature on Ran Duan ran in June 2014 and a 2011 story by the Boston Globe reveals his mother was also a promising opera singer.

Angela Gheorghiu Provides Live Vocals For Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe

Live From New York: Gheorghiu sings an aria to
accompany a dance depicting violence between a man
 and a woman in a relationship. (Photo: Facebook)
"The joyless 'Uprising' had contradicted this, and so did what followed: the depiction of a mutually abusive male-female relationship that is Mr. Battle’s 'Unfold.' The woman’s showily sustained backbends seem to invite her partner to manhandle her; he duly obliges, and occasionally she gets him back by tugging him down to the floor. If you understand the ecstatically erotic French words of the operatic aria that Mr. Battle takes as his accompaniment here — 'Depuis le jour,' from Gustave Charpentier’s Louise — then you see that Mr. Battle means his duet as an exercise in pointed theatrical irony. The soprano sings of the delicious tremblings arising from her charming memories of living with her lover; the dancing shows us a couple forever locked in grimly flamboyant and aggressive behavior that brings them no joy. Is this really part of the Ailey legacy? To me, it looks wholly anti-Ailey. Usually, 'Unfold' is accompanied by Leontyne Price’s slow, lush recording of the Louise aria. On this occasion, the aria was sung live onstage by Angela Gheorghiu, with Eugene Kohn’s piano accompaniment. Ms. Gheorghiu’s singing, often under the note, was into a microphone; though she makes more of the words than Ms. Price, her singing on this occasion was unusually tense and unsteady. (It’s worth listening to recordings from Charpentier’s day, all of which take a far less dilatory tempo.)" [Source] Ms. Gheorghiu had a similar personal situation back in 2013 regarding domestic abuse. Watch a brief clip of the Alvin Ailey dance after the jump.

Diana Damrau On Her Mad Journey With "Lucia di Lammermoor"

A Vision of Delirium: Diana Damrau
(Photo: Rebecca Fay)
"So when did this particular journey begin? 'I saw my first Lucia performance in Vienna standing in the famous Stehplätze [standing places] for a few euros,' she tells me. 'I was a student and I went to Vienna and I got to see Edita Gruberová in Lucia. But I think I already heard the Sutherland recording and also Callas.' And the Damrau version? She’s probably more ‘Callas’ than ‘Sutherland’. But where have her ideas about the part come from? 'Lucia di Lammermoor is the most veristic of the bel canto roles,' she explains. 'The madness of Lucia makes it a real role for acting and singing. Lucia’s madness is an illness. It’s not just a vehicle for a soprano to show her skills and her technique. I talked to doctors about that. She is bipolar and you can hear that very clearly in the first aria.' The particularly modern concept of a bipolar bel canto heroine is intriguing and Damrau has clearly thought it through. 'She gets very, very happy and almost frenetic when she talks about her visions. And ill people can have visions – she’s not just the standard ‘romantic’ figure of the time. Because she is bipolar she really gets very dark and very frightened. Everything seems to be real and very dramatic to her.
Click here to purchase the recording.
She’s under great, great pressure because her mother has died and she’s in a really bad situation. This comes to its peak when she finds out her brother betrayed her – that he forced her into a political marriage and everyone around her has actually manipulated her. When Edgardo comes back and curses her and says, 'you betrayed love and you betrayed God', that’s more tension than she can take. Then the illness comes. The madness breaks out and she kills someone.'" [Source] Read Diana Damrau's tribute to Maria Callas by clicking here. You can sample Erato's new recording of Lucia di Lammermoor featuring Diana Damrau. A video of the mad scene from the recording is after the jump.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rose Hall Will Be New York City Opera Performance Home By 2015

"We plan to return New York City Opera to Lincoln Center in 2015 at an exciting new venue that was designed as one of the world’s finest medium-sized opera houses: the 1100-seat Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Its state-of-the-art technical specifications, acoustic design and spacious orchestra pit make it an ideal new home for City Opera. The shops, restaurants and nightlife of the Lincoln Center will provide City Opera’s patrons with a host of amenities for pre- and post-performance enjoyment as well as easy and convenient transportation options. Since late fall of 2013, our team has laid the groundwork for a successful re-launch of City Opera. A new Board of Directors has been formed; over $2.5 million in pledges of financial support have been secured; artistic alliances have been created with industry leaders at home and abroad; and we have reached a landmark, 5-year agreement with American Federation of Musicians Local 802. With a highly experienced artistic and production team in place, our business plan combines a distinctive and imaginative artistic vision with a streamlined, entrepreneurial structure. City Opera’s return will include a broad slate of educational programs to introduce opera to New York City’s schoolchildren. The company’s commitment to advancing American opera will continue with a revitalized VOX Contemporary American Opera Lab in collaboration with American Opera Projects, and its long tradition of fostering emerging American talent will continue in a partnership with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance® program. Our first full season will launch in 2015 with details to be announced this spring. We invite you to be part of this exciting new chapter of City Opera’s history." [Source]

Renée Fleming Among Guests To Attend Royal Fundraiser

Crème de la Crème: Soprano Fleming 
(Photo: Timothy White/Decca)
"During their three-day trip, the royals will be staying at the Carlyle Hotel, a favorite of William's mother, the late Princess Diana, when she frequently visited Manhattan in the 1990s. William and Kate, who are expecting their second child in April, have scheduled a full slate of events in New York, including a visit to the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum and a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their visit also will include some events with other high-profile guests. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton are accompanying William and Kate to a New York reception highlighting conservation efforts. The royals also are due to join actor Tom Hanks, opera singer Renee Fleming and others at a black-tie, up-to-$10,000-per-seat scholarship fundraiser for the University of St. Andrews, the Scottish institution where the royal couple met and earned degrees." [Source] Renée Fleming is a close friend of Prince William's father, Prince Charles, and has sung for many occasions of the Royal Family. See a wonderful photo after the jump from 2008.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What Is Missing From The 57th Annual GRAMMY Nominee List?

Nominations for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards came out today and there were some albums, artists, and labels, conspicuously missing from the classical opera, choral, and vocal, recital lists. Eligibility rules state that for the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards albums must be released between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014. For whatever reason, here is a sampling of those not making the list: Elīna Garanča - Meditation (DG); Verdi: Giovanna d Arco- Anna Netrebko, Plácido Domingo (DG); Juan Diego Flórez - L'Amour (Decca); Jonas Kaufmann - You Mean the World to Me (Sony); Jonas Kaufmann - Die Winterreise (Sony); Max Emanuel Cencic - Rokoko: Hasse Opera Arias (Decca); Ildar Abrazakov - Power Players: Russian Arias for Bass (Delos); Rolando Villazón - Mozart Concert Arias (DG); Sabine Devieilhe - Rameau: Le Grand Theatre de l'amour (Erato); Marina Rebeka - Mozart Arias (Warner Classics); Iestyn Davies - Arise, My Muse (Wigmore Hall Live); Javier Camarena - Tenor Recitales (Urtext); Karina Gauvin - Mozart: Concert & Opera Arias (ATMA Classique); Anna Prohaska - Behind the Lines (DG); Thomas Hampson - Notturno: The Strauss Recital (DG); Madgalena Kozená - Prayer: Voice & Organ (DG); Poulenc: Stabat Mater, Gloria, Litanies à la Vierge noire - Patricia Petibon (DG); Verdi: Simon Boccanegra - Hampson, Opolais, Calleja, Pisaroni; Zanetti (Decca); Joseph Calleja - Amore (Decca); Muhly: Two Boys - Coote, Appleby, K. Miller; Robertson (Nonesuch); Vittorio Grigòlo - Ave Maria (Sony Classical); Sacred Verdi - Maria Agresta; Nagano (Warner Classics); Olga Peretyatko - Arabesque (Sony). Ever wonder how your favorite recordings get nominated each year? Find the answer out after the jump, which is where the complete list for year's best opera, choral and solo vocal recordings can be found as well.

Kiri Te Kanawa Takes Plácido Domingo Golfing And He Is A Real Sport

In December 1980, BBC Interviewed Kiri Te Kanawa and Plácido Domingo during a holiday concert. The topic of sports came up and Mr. Domingo talks about how he always wanted to be a football player (that's soccer to Americans....). He also mentions that he would love to learn golf as it is supposed to be good for the breathing. An accomplished golfer traveling to courses all over the world, Dame Kanawa takes the tenor out to her territory for a few rounds. Watch the video after the jump.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Angel Blue Latest Soprano Recital Added To Opus Arte Series

Joy to the World: Soprano Angel Blue displays
vocal elegance in her debut recording
titled Joy Alone
"A protégé of Plácido Domingo, Angel Blue has enjoyed recent opera house triumphs in Valencia and at English National Opera. Followingher acclaimed Wigmore Hall recital last year, this new Rosenblatt Recital studio recording features songs by Strauss, Rachmaninov, a selection of zarzuelas, and Gershwin’s classic 'Summertime.' She is accompanied by the noted pianist Iain Burnside." [Source"The young American soprano Angel Blue - hailed by Plácido Domingo as 'the next Leontyne Price' - displays exceptional artistic versatility on this, her first solo album. George Gershwin's 'Summertime,' which 'soars sweetly to angelic heights' (Financial Times), sets the scene for a wide-ranging rectial in which her luminous and pure tone comes to the fore, from Liszt, Rachmaninov and Strauss to rousing spirituals, songs by acclaimed American contemporaries Heggie and Adolphe, and intoxicating Spanish zarzuelas." [SourceListen to excerpts from the recording after the jump.

Jerry Seinfeld's 1971 Daytona Ferrari Breakdown Is No Clowning Matter

If only Starbucks had roadside assistance: Amy and Jerry stuck on the side of the road. "Oh Ferrari, so sorry."
In his web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld is joined by friends for a cup of coffee and a drive in a classic car, sharing stories all along the way. In the episode featuring Amy Schumer, the 1971 Daytona Ferrari they are driving breaks down. As they linger off the West Side Highway we hear "Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio...." which is the beginning of "Vesti la giubba" from Leoncavallo's opera I Pagliacci. Mr. Seinfeld was also caught in the same predicament of not knowing whether he was a man or a clown. See the video of how it all goes down, and a clip of Plácido Domingo singing the famous aria, after the jump. This isn't the first time opera has dropped by the coffee shop. In season four, Jerry takes Robert Klein out and the latter breaks into a bit about being an opera pimp looking for his commission on the latest Così fan tutte performances. Watch that episode by clicking here. For more about the series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee click here.

Major Directors On Board For Marina Abramovic To Portray Maria Callas In Operatic Death Scenes

Maria Callas
Marina Abramovic
"Marina Abramovic plans to start filming her Seven Deaths project next summer, 25 years after she first conceived the idea of playing her heroine, the opera singer Maria Callas. In the seven short videos, the artist takes on the role of Callas performing the death scenes of seven operas, including Carmen, ToscaMadam Butterfly and La Traviata. 'I [have been] obsessed with this unbelievably romantic idea of dying for love,' Abramovic tells us. 'It’s my story, but it’s definitely related to Callas and my complete craziness for her. She died of a broken heart.' The artist, who is in Miami this week, has invited leading film directors to collaborate with her. So far, five have agreed: Roman Polanski, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Marco Brambilla, Giada Colagrande and Yorgos Lanthimos. Abramovic also asked Lars von Trier, but the Danish director declined owing to a scheduling clash. After Miami, all of Abramovic’s other engagements will be put on hold, a spokesman for her studio tells us. The Norwegian writer Petter Skavlan has completed the general script, and the scripts for each opera are due to be finished this month. Abramovic also plans to make a behind-the-scenes documentary featuring interviews with the directors, as well as portraying Callas’s life and her death from a heart attack in 1977." [Source]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sondra Radvanovsky & Jamie Barton: Opera Rivalry And Friendship

Donizetti Darlings: Jamie Barton (left) and Sondra Radvanovsky take on historical figures at the Lyric Opera of Chicago starting December 6, 2014. (Photo: Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune)
"On a recent afternoon backstage at Lyric Opera, Sondra Radvanovsky and Jamie Barton were behaving like the gal pals they are, hugging each other and singing each other's praises. Quite the contrast to the emotional sparring partners the singers are playing in Lyric's new production of Gaetano Donizetti's Anna Bolena — the castoff consort Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, Anne's lady-in-waiting and rival for the affections of the cruel King Henry VIII. Indeed, in conversation, neither the Berwyn-born soprano nor the Georgia-native mezzo-soprano came across as your standard-issue diva, however imperious they behave in the long-awaited Lyric return of Donizetti's bel canto masterpiece, which opens Saturday night at the Civic Opera House. 'It's fun
Sondra Radvanovsky as Anna Bolena
(Photo: Todd Rosenberg/Lyric Opera of Chicago)
and exciting when we put our voices together,' said Radvanovsky, who's familiar to Lyric audiences for her portrayals of the big Verdi soprano roles, and who's lately been enhancing her star status in the bel canto repertory as well. 'Yes, it's fascinating how well our voices blend,' agreed Barton, a singer whose stellar promise Lyric has nurtured in various supporting roles since her company debut in 2011. The sublime beauty of classically trained voices intertwining in soaring melodic arcs is one of the hallmarks of bel canto opera, of which Anna Bolena (1830), Donizetti's first big international success, is a shining example." Read the full interview and see lots of rehearsal photos by clicking here. Lyric Opera's production of Donizetti's Anna Bolena opens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and continues through Jan. 16 at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive; $34-$244; $20-$40 children; 312-827-5600, lyricopera.org. [Source] One more production photo after the jump.

Renée Fleming Sings With Daughters And Sister For PBS Christmas

"American soprano Renée Fleming and special guests bring the magic of Christmas in New York to homes across America. The essence of the city during this most wonderful time of year is captured in a series of intimate and unique musical performances in a beautiful setting decorated for the holidays. Fleming performs popular seasonal favorites with Kurt Elling, Kelli O’Hara, Gregory Porter and Rufus Wainwright, and is joined by her daughters and sister to sing heartwarming Christmas carols. Guests discuss family, food, traditions and more, and scenes filmed around the city during the holidays make this an unforgettable musical experience. Renée Fleming - Christmas In New York premieres Thursday, December 4, 2014 on PBS. Backed by a who’s who of New York musicians, Renée and her guests perform beloved holiday songs, as well as 'Central Park Serenade,' a new song from Diane Warren. Renée Fleming - Christmas In New York features these selections: 'The Christmas Waltz,' 'Still, Still, Still' (with Kurt Elling), 'Winter Wonderland,' 'Silver Bells,' (with Kelli O’Hara), 'Central Park Serenade' (with Gregory Porter), 'In the Bleak Midwinter' (with Rufus Wainwright), 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' (with Gregory Porter) and traditional holiday carols, featuring Renée’s sister and daughters." [Source] Watch the video preview after the jump. See what special upcoming events are planned for Ms. Fleming by clicking here.

Verdi's "Il Trovatore" Acts As An Alibi In The Dark Movie "Stoker"

Opera Lovers: Not since Salome and Herod has there been such familial heat. Pictured above is Uncle Charlie
watching out for his dear niece India in the deeply disturbing psycho-drama Stoker.
After a boy has gone missing, the local sheriff stops by the Stoker residence to question India who was the last one out with him. As she becomes more flustered trying to keep to her concocted alibi, her uncle steps in to clarify what time she arrived home. "It was 8:30 when you came home. Il Trovatore was playing on PBS," interjects her uncle. India takes it from there, "Yeah, when I came home my uncle was watching TV, so I watched it with him." The sheriff then stumbles with the title, "Il Tr..o..va..tore.....what is it, a horror movie?" And the uncle smugly replies, "No. It's an opera by Verdi. Would you like me to write it down?" Seeming
Under Investigation: PBS to the rescue
satisfied, the sheriff takes his exit. Watch the clip after the jump. [Note: At the point where the clip ends, the uncle ascends the staircase whistling "Stride la vampa" the aria of Azucena from Il Trovatore.] 
Also see a video of Dolora Zajick singing "Stride la vampa," and a bonus clip from the film of the incestuously erotic version of Piano Duet #1 by Philip Glass as seen in the movie, after the jump.

"India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard
Meet the Stokers: Kidman, Wasikowska, Goode
(Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peace of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident, but by the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman), India thinks the void left by her father's death is finally being filled by his closest bloodline. Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him." [Source] Learn more about the movie here. Purchase the soundtrack by clicking here

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pre-Order New Deborah Voigt Confessional Autobiography

Cover Girl: Pre-order a copy of the new book here.
"Internationally beloved opera star Deborah Voigt recounts her harrowing and ultimately successful private battles to overcome the addictions and self-destructive tendencies that nearly destroyed her life. Call Me Debbie is one of the most electrifying performances of Deborah Voigt’s life. The brilliantly gifted opera soprano takes us behind the velvet curtains to tell her compelling story—a tale of success, addiction, music, and faith as dramatic as any role she has performed. For the first time, she talks about the events that led to her dangerous gastric bypass surgery in 2004 and its shocking aftermath: her substantial weight loss coupled with the 'cross addiction' that led to severe alcoholism, frightening all-night blackouts, and suicide attempts. Ultimately, Voigt emerged from the darkness to achieve complete sobriety, thanks to a twelve-step program and a recommitment to her Christian faith. Colored by hilarious anecdotes and juicy gossip that illuminate what really goes on backstage, Voigt paints diverting portraits of the artists with whom she’s worked, her most memorable moments onstage, and her secrets to great singing. She also offers fascinating insight into the roles she’s played and the characters she loves, including Strauss’s Ariadne and Salome, Puccini’s Minnie, and Wagner’s Sieglinde, Isolde, and Brünnhilde, sharing her intense preparation for playing them. Filled with eight pages of color photos, Call Me Debbie is an inspirational story that offers a unique look into the life of a modern artist and a remarkable woman." [Source] And more from the soprano's official website: "In bookstores on January 27, Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva represents one of the most electrifying performances of Voigt’s career. In her strikingly honest memoir, she recounts – with characteristic candor, charisma, and wit – her harrowing and ultimately successful private battles to overcome the addictions and self-destructive tendencies that nearly cut short her life.....Enriched with hilarious anecdotes and juicy backstage gossip, she paints diverting portraits of the artists with whom she’s worked, her most memorable moments onstage, and the secrets of her singing. 'I never imagined myself becoming a world-famous dramatic soprano who’d share the stages of the biggest opera houses in the world with the most celebrated vocalists of our time,' Voigt explains. 'I didn’t yearn to meet presidents, princes, Pavarottis, and Plácidos. As a child, I only knew I loved to sing – I was singing before I was talking.' Voigt will discuss and read from the book in an extensive promotional tour in February (dates/locations TBA). Already known to Twitter fans as a 'dramatic soprano and down-to-earth diva,' Voigt was named as one of the top 25 cultural tweeters to follow by the Los Angeles Times. She offered something of a preview of her memoir in her confessional one-woman show, Voigt Lessons; boding well for Call Me Debbie, at its Glimmerglass Festival premiere, the show was pronounced 'chatty, witty, and sometimes painfully poignant' (New York Times)." [Source]

Young Opera Singers Join Together For AIDS Research Recording

Singers from left to right: Jamie Barton, Sean Panikkar, Susanna Phillips, and Keith Phares

"An all-star cast of renowned singers and instrumentalists comes together on one CD to sing for hope and in the cause of supporting AIDS research: Joyce DiDonato, Yo-Yo Ma, Jamie Barton, Noah Stewart, Susanna Phillips, Sean Panikkar, Matthew Polenzani, Anthony Dean Griffey, Monica Yunus, Camille Zamora, Isabel Leonard and many more. Actors Sharon Stone (Casino, Basic Instinct) and Ansel Elgort (The Fault In Our Stars) contribute readings of poetry. All profits from the sale of this album will go to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. This CD features new songs by established and emerging American composers, many specially commissioned to create a global musical portrait of AIDS today." [Source] Listen to excerpts from the recording by clicking here and click here to purchase. See the back inlay for the disc after the jump. Also be sure to check other original songbooks including Heartbeats and AIDS Quilt Songbook

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Renée Fleming Joins "A Prairie Home Companion" This Evening

Winter Delight: Fleming in Fur
(Photo: Timothy White/Decca)
Fresh from her parade adventures, soprano Renée Fleming will sing live from Town Hall in New York City on A Prairie Home Companion at 6PM EST tonight. She will be singing a few selections with their ensemble and her diva persona Renata Flambé will make an appearance as well. "This week: we’re back at The Town Hall in New York City for a live broadcast, with special guests, pub-rocker supreme Nick Lowe and musical ambassador Renée Fleming. Plus, the Royal Academy of Radio Actors, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Fred Newman; musical director Richard Dworsky with The 43rd Street Regulars (bassist Jeff Carney, cellist Eugene Friesen, Richard Kriehn on mandolin and fiddle, drummer Ray Marchica, and guitarist Chris Siebold); and the latest News from Lake Wobegon." To listen to the podcast, click here. [Source, Source] Be sure to check out the soprano's latest musical holiday release, Christmas in New York, by clicking here.

Puerto Rican Soprano Ana María Martínez Gets High Ranking

Viva Latina: Soprano Ana María Martínez
(Photo: Tom Specht)
"Now it is Ana María Martínez’s turn, a soprano singer that the London’s Opera Magazine ranks among the current top lyric sopranos. She is a Grammy Award winner with an international career that spans the world’s most important opera houses and concert halls. With a repertoire that encompasses opera’s most intriguing and diverse leading female roles, she engages her audiences time and time again with signature roles and captivating recordings. Ana María was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the daughter of Puerto Rican opera singer Evangelína Colón and Ángel Martínez, a Cuban psychoanalyst. She moved with her parents to the United States and grew up a few blocks north of the Lincoln Center in New York, spending summers in Puerto Rico. Her first stage experience was in Puerto Rico, as Laurey in a high school production of Oklahoma! Ana María went on to study music in the prestigious Juilliard School, graduating in 1993, and rose to prominence when she won the Plácido Domingo International Voice Competition Operalia 1995. She went on to work with the Houston Grand Opera studio, which gave her a platform from which to launch an international career. Today, Martínez has sung every major lyric role (including Mimi in La Bohème, Violetta in La Traviata, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro) in venues such as the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the San Francisco Opera." [Source]

Support Coloraturafan On Crowdfunding Platform GoFundMe

Known to YouTube watchers as Coloraturafan, Dillon is now starting a campaign to fund a new video venture: "I am looking to expand my video collection to include a new segment 'A chat with Coloraturafan.' With this new project includes the necessity to produce my own videos, which means I need to invest and spend. In order to expedite the process I am starting a GoFundMe account. This future venture will include video segments where I interview people in the Opera Industry (singers, directors, conductors, designers, fellow fans) in order to further explore this wonderful art that I love so much, and I hope that the videos will prove both entertaining and informative to the viewers of my channel." With over 16,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and thousands of videos posted, this young man deserves major support. Make a donation by clicking here. Watch his video after the jump.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Artwork For Sonya Yoncheva Debut Album On Sony Classical Revealed

You can pre-order the album by clicking here. Compare and contrast this cover with a series of other memorable label-debut albums of artists from the last 30 years.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Diva Renée Fleming Gets Captured By Rock Band KISS At Parade

Lead singer of KISS, Paul Stanley, wraps his cloak around his favorite diva Renée Fleming.
Watch the full video after the jump.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving From Mary Garden And Her Native Friends

"The Chiefs and the Prima Donna" (Photo: Underwood & Underwood) 
In a photo, originally published in the 1913 edition of The Outlook Magazine, soprano Mary Garden is seen greeting new friends: "A company of Indian chiefs from the Glacier Park National Reservation in Montana who recently came to Chicago to present a pair of moccasins to the Indian maid Natomah, in the opera of that name, a part taken by Mary Garden. The moccasins contained 200,000 beads, and it took two months' work by ten squaws to make them." [Source] Natomah is an opera in three acts by Victor Herbert. "First performances on any stage at the Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, February 23, 1911, with Miss Mary Garden, Miss Lillian Grenville, Mr. Huberdeau, Mr. Dufranne, Mr. Sammarco, Mr. Preisch, Mr. Crabbe, Mr. Nicolay, Mr. McCormack." A full synopsis, information about the opera and the Natomas, as well as audio excerpts from the opera, can all be found after the jump.