Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pretty Yende Does Splashy Fashion Essay In Essence Magazine

"She's come a long way from the small South African town of Piet Retief, where—after first singing in church and at family sing-alongs—she discovered opera as a teenager in a British Airways commercial featuring 'The Flower Duet' from Léo Delibes's Lakmé. 'I heard the music, and somehow my soul knew what it was, but my mind didn't know,' says Yende, sipping her caffe latte at Manhattan's Empire Hotel. 'The following day I asked my high school teacher what it was, and he told me it's called opera. I said, 'Is it humanly possible?' and he said, 'Of course.' I said, 'Well, you need to teach me that.'' Soon her career goal had switched from accountant to opera star—something she couldn't have imagined before the fall of apartheid in South Africa. 'Black people were not allowed to study opera in schools before,' says Yende, who now embraces being a trailblazer in opera circles. 'I had to learn to accept that it will be something I will carry with me all the time, because I can't change the color of
my skin. Seeing that minority inspired me more, because I love a challenge. I hardly enjoy comfort zones because I must find out what's the best in me.' Yende—whose offstage style is much more comfortable than the corsets she sometimes wears in costume—will have to keep on hitting those high notes. 'I'm booked until 2020,' she says, 'so no babies until then!'" [Source] See more of the glamorous photos by Hao Zeng by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Deborah Voigt "Today Show" Appearance Snowed Out. Watch Online!

 Although the media chose to air weather reports about the blizzard Juno that never really happened, Deborah Voigt still appeared on The Today Show to discuss her new book, Call Me Debbie. The video of that appearance is now streamed online. Watch it after the jump.

Deborah Voigt enjoyed music from an early age.

As a little girl, the soprano was spinning around the room to the music of My Fair Lady.

Trapped At Home By Blizzard Juno? Enjoy Catalani's "La Wally"

"La Wally is an opera in four acts by Alfredo Catalani, composed on a libretto by Luigi Illica, and first performed at La Scala, Milan, on 20 January 1892. The libretto is based on a hugely successful Heimatroman by Wilhelmine von Hillern (1836–1916), Die Geyer-Wally, Eine Geschichte aus den Tyroler Alpen (literally: "The Vulture-Wally: A Story from the Tyrolean Alps"). The Geyer-Wally is a girl with some heroic attributes. Wally is short for the name Wallburga. (There may have been an actual young woman Wallburga Stromminger on whom the legend is based.) She gets her 'geyer' or 'vulture' epithet from once stealing a vulture's hatchling from her nest. Von Hillern's piece was originally serialized in Deutsche Rundschau, and was reproduced in English in 'A German Peasant Romance,' in The Cornhill Magazine, July 1875. The opera is best known for its aria 'Ebben? Ne andrò lontana' ('Well, then? I'll go far away,' act 1, sung when Wally decides to leave her home forever). American soprano Wilhelmenia Fernandez sang this aria in Jean-Jacques Beineix's 1981 movie Diva – a performance at the heart of the thriller. Catalani had composed this aria independently as Chanson Groënlandaise in 1878 and later incorporated it into his opera. The opera features a memorable operatic death in which the heroine throws herself into an avalanche. It is seldom performed, partly because of the difficulty of staging this scene, but Wally's principal aria is still sung frequently." [Source] The synopsis of the opera, a performance of Akiko Nakajima singing Chanson Groënlandaise , and a clip of Wilhelmenia Fernandez singing the famous aria from the film Diva, can all be found after the jump. And if you're interested in visiting Tyrol, consider staying at a luxury resort by clicking here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Deborah Voigt Launches Cross-Country Book Tour Extravaganza

With the official release of her new autobiography, Deborah Voigt will be making several appearances across the country beginning with The Today Show at 10 AM EST on January 27. From there she will travel to Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Phoenix, and San Francisco. New York highlights of the tour include an appearance at 86th Street Barnes & Noble on the Upper East Side in conversation with Brian Kellow, the features editor for Opera News magazine, on January 28 and a stop at the Metropolitan Opera Gift Shop on February 5 to sign books. For complete information of appearances, click here. Other recent press for the book, Call Me Debbie, has included an article for People Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. After the book tour, the soprano will be seen on the stage in April for performances at the Michigan Opera Theatre as Hanna Glawari in Lehár's The Merry Widow.

Measha Brueggergosman Discovers African Roots In Cameroon

"On Monday, February, 2, 2015 at 10pm ET, VisionTV will celebrate Black History Month with the world premiere broadcast of Songs of Freedom, a new 90-minute film from Rhombus Media’s Barbara Willis Sweete starring the internationally acclaimed Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman. Every Friday in February at 10pm ET, VisionTV will also broadcast the premieres of 30-minute Songs of Freedom episodes featuring additional footage from Measha’s performances. In Songs of Freedom, Measha performs for the first time, an intensely powerful and spiritual collection of 18 ‘Freedom Songs’, like 'Amazing Grace,' 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot,' 'Go Tell it on the Mountain,' and 'Go Down Moses,' that emerged from Africa via the slave trade to America, then to Canada via the United Empire Loyalist migration and the Underground Railroad. As Measha explores the role music played throughout these turbulent chapters in North American history, she also discovers her roots and embarks on a life-changing
Brueggergosman in Cameroon
odyssey to meet her ancestors in Cameroon, Africa. There, Measha learns about her tribal heritage, is initiated into their traditions, and uncovers the story of her family’s harrowing journey from Africa to slavery in America, and ultimately to freedom in Maritime Canada, where she and her family live today....Online, VisionTV will support the broadcast with a media rich easy-to-navigate website and mobile interactive songbook application for iPad and iPhone. Both the website (coming soon) and the Songs of Freedom App are centered around Measha’s full-length performances of 10 Freedom Songs as seen in the feature film and series. Articles, photos, and archival documents will give further context to the songs and a sing-along feature that generates synchronized lyrics of Measha’s performance will invite the online audience to share in their power. Exclusively for online viewing, four music performances have been recorded live on location in Cameroon, Nova Scotia and Ontario, using a 360° spherical camera. This user-controlled technology allows the audience to watch Measha’s performance from every point of view as if they were actually there standing beside her. The app will be available on iTunes (Search: Songs of Freedom)." [Source] Read more about the program by clicking here.

Measha in Cameroon with Bassa tribe elder

You've Got To Know When To Hold 'Em: MET Playing Cards

Purchase the playing cards here.
"Kevin Rawlings has been a professional make-up artist and photographer for nearly three decades. Combining these skills with his knowledge and love of opera, Mr. Rawlings has created a collection of operatic images like no other in 'Stars of the Opera.' The product is composed of a double-deck of 'face-cards' featuring 108 famous opera singers from around the world. This one of a kind, High Quality set of cards was printed by USPlaying Card Co. on bicycle card stock and air cushion platic coating. Surprise your opera loving friends with these Special Edition playing cards! Included in the Deck: Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming, James Morris, Dolora Zajick, Ben Heppner, Rene Pape and many, many more!!!" [Source] Find out more information by clicking here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Teatro Di San Carlo Gets Low Ranking For Government Support

"E il San Carlo finisce quasi in coda alla classifica degli enti lirici. Il massimo dei punti è 150 e li ottiene solo la Scala di Milano. Secondo è il Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, con 136. Sopra quota 100 c’è anche il Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, con 108. Il voto del San Carlo è un ben più misero 27, il Petruzzelli lo supera con 34, mentre due prestigiosi enti, come La Fenice di Venezia e il Regio di Torino prendono ancora di meno, rispettivamente 10 e 18." [Source] More about the Teatro di San Carlo after the jump.

Thomas Hampson Bestowed With Honorary Doctorate

Hampson receiving honor in Boston 
(Photo: Andrew Hurlbut)
"Baritone Thomas Hampson, recently honored as a Metropolitan Opera Guild 'Met Mastersinger,' will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree from New England Conservatory,in a ceremony presided over by President Tony Woodcock that takes place during a masterclass Hampson will lead for voice and opera students at 2 pm in NEC’s Brown Hall. The event marks Hampson’s second visit to NEC, the baritone having previously directed a Richard P. and Claire W. Morse Masterclass in April 2013." The event took place on January 18, 2015. "Born in Elkhart, Indiana, Hampson grew up in Spokane, Washington, where he enrolled at Eastern Washington State College (now Eastern Washington University) in Cheney, majoring in political science/government. Concurrently, Hampson earned a BFA in Voice Performance at Fort Wright College under the tutelage of Sister Marietta Coyle. During the summers of 1978 and 1979, he studied under Gwendolyn Koldowsky and Martial Singher at the Music Academy of the West, where he won the Lotte Lehmann Award. He then continued his studies at the University of Southern California, where he worked with vocal coach Jack Metz and the baritone Horst Gunther, a lifelong mentor. In 1980, as a consequence of winning the San Francisco Opera audition, he completed in the Merola Opera Program, in which he met Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. In 1981, he was one of the winners in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions national finals." [Source, Source]

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What's In A Name: Rosamund Pike Photographed By Mario Testino

A Rose by Any Other Name: Rosamund Pike in Vanity Fair
"The name Rosamund (also spelled Rosamond and Rosamunde) is a girls' name and can also be a family name (surname). Originally it combined the Germanic elements hros, meaning horse, and mund, meaning 'protection.' Later, it was influenced by the Latin phrases rosa munda, meaning 'pure rose,' and rosa mundi, meaning 'rose of the world.' 'Rosamonda' is the Italian, 'Rosamunde' is the German and 'Rosemonde' the French form of the name. People named Rosamund or variations thereof include: Rosamund (Gepid) or Rosamunde (fl. sixth century), second wife of Alboin, King of the Germanic Lombards; Rosamund Clifford (before 1150 – c. 1176), medieval beauty and longtime mistress of King Henry II; Rosamund Greenwood (1907–1997), British actress; Rosamund John (1913–1998), English actress; Rosamund Kwan (born 1962), Chinese actress; Rosamund Pike (born 1979), British actress; Rosamunde Pilcher (born 1924), British novelist; Rosamund Stanhope (1919–2005), British poet and teacher; Rosamund Marriott Watson (1860–1911), English poet and critic who wrote under the pseudonym of Graham R. Tomson. Franz Schubert also wrote incidental music
scored for orchestra under the Rosamunde heading. "There are two overtures associated with Rosamunde: The overture used for the stage production was the overture Schubert had originally composed for Alfonso und Estrella, but Schubert thought it less suitable for that opera and in the 1891 publication of the Gesammtausgabe, the ten numbers of the Rosamunde music were preceded by the overture to Die Zauberharfe (The Magic Harp), without any proof it was ever Schubert's intention to associate that overture with the rest of the Rosamunde music" The first vocal version, "Der Vollmond Strahlt auf Bergeshöh'n" was published in 1824 as Op. 26, with piano accompaniment. The one vocal version for mixed chorus and orchestra, dated 1863, is written "Andante con moto." Other forms of the incidental music include an entr'acte, ballet, and choruses. Additional uses of the music include an excerpt of the piece incorporated into the Christmas carol "Mille cherubini in coro," a song made popular by Luciano Pavarotti in a 1980 TV Christmas program. The piece is also played in Marvel's film The Avengers in the German opera house scene. [SourceSource] Watch a Vanity Fair video of Rosamund Pike being photographed by Mario Testino, and listen to Elly Ameling singing the vocal version of Schubert's music, after the jump.
Reclining Rosamund: A scene that could easily be taken straight out of a Schubertiade.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering Opera Singers Present For March On Washington 1963

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, which celebrates the birthday of the great civil rights leader, we bring you two performances from the Civil Rights March on Washington that took place at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. This was the occasion for Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech:
Camilla Williams sings the National Anthem in Washington, D.C., 1963

Marian Anderson sings "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" in Washington, D.C., 1963

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Palm Beach Opera Rewarded For Vital Contributions To Arts

Hot Ticket: Next up for Palm Beach Opera is a recital by Ildar Abdrazakov, titled "Seduction of the Senses," on February 5, 2015. More details and tickets can be found here. (Photo: Julia Borodina)
"Palm Beach Opera, under the general direction of Daniel Biaggi, will receive the Classical South Florida Ziff Award at a luncheon Jan. 30 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. CSF honors organizations that make vital contributions to the arts. The award is sponsored by Dr. Sanford L. Ziff, founder of Sunglass Hut of America, and his wife Beatrice, who donated $1 million in 2007 to help found Classical South Florida 90.7. The nonprofit public radio organization is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale." [Source ] Read a review of the company's most recent performance of La Bohème by clicking here.

"Sophie's Choice" Uses Johann Strauss Jr. For Big Dance Scene

Sophie (Meryl Streep) and Nathan (Kevin Kline) are having an evening of Southern decadence when the scene climaxes with the two characters dancing romantically to "Frühlingsstimmen" of Johann Strauss II. "'Frühlingsstimmen' ('Voices of Spring'), Op. 410, is a waltz by Johann Strauss II, written in 1882, for orchestra and solo soprano voice. Strauss dedicated the work to the pianist and composer Alfred Grünfeld. The famous coloratura soprano Bertha Schwarz (stage name Bianca Bianchi) sang this concert aria at a grand matinée charity performance at the Theater an der Wien in aid of the 'Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth Foundation for Indigent Austro-Hungarian subjects in Leipzig.' The waltz was not a great success at its premiere, but was more successful when performed on Strauss' tour of Russia in 1886. A piano arrangement by the composer contributed much to its success beyond Vienna. Bianca Bianchi was then a famous member of the Vienna Court Opera Theatre and Strauss was sufficiently inspired to compose a new work, a waltz for solo voice, for the acclaimed singer. The result was his world-renowned "Frühlingsstimmen" waltz which celebrated spring and remained one of the classical repertoire's most famous waltzes. The piece is sometimes used as an insertion aria in the act 2 ball scene of Strauss' operetta Die Fledermaus. The waltz makes a grand entry in the key of B-flat major with loud chords preceded with the waltz's three beats to the bar ushering the first waltz's gentle and swirling melody. The second waltz section invokes the joys of spring with the flute imitating birdsong and a pastoral scene. The plaintive and dramatic third section in F minor probably suggests spring showers whereas the fourth section that follows breaks out from the pensive mood with another cheerful melody in A-flat major. Without a coda, the familiar first waltz melody makes a grand entrance before its breathless finish, strong chords and the usual timpani drumroll and warm brass flourish. A performance lasts between seven and nine minutes." [Source] Watch Carlos Kleiber conduct an orchestral and Kathleen Battle sing a vocal version of "Frühlingsstimmen," as well as more information on Sophie's Choice, after the jump.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mozart Lends Music For 2015 Turbo Tax Season

"It’s not always easy, but love finds a way. No matter what you went through last year, answering questions about it is simple. Get your taxes done right with TurboTax." The tax company uses "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. Watch Lucia Popp (Pamina) and Wolfgang Brendel (Papageno) perform the piece on stage under conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jessye Norman Honors Martin Luther King Jr. With "Amazing Grace"

Deborah Voigt Confesses To People About Men, Wine, and Weight

I Am Woman: Deborah Voigt (Photo: Heidi Gutman)
"When Deborah Voigt was fired for being too fat to fit into a (size 12) little black dress for a production of Strauss's Ariadne aug [sic] Naxos at London's Royal Opera House in 2004, public outrage was immediate. 'It's incredible someone can get away with saying those words,' Voigt, 54, tells PEOPLE exclusively. 'It's still open season on overweight women.' Voigt details her lifelong struggles with food in a new memoir, Call Me Debbie (cowritten by former PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff). She writes about her first binge at age 5 (when she slugged back a jar of olives), her late night fast food runs once she got her driver's license, stuffing herself with Pepperidge Farm coconut layer cakes 'until I passed out.' 'At first I'd say 'I'll never go over 180 lbs., then it was 200 lbs.,' she admits. 'It just went up and up and up.' At the same time, she was becoming one of the world's leading opera stars. In that world it was fine, even expected, to be large. But once she became obese, some directors started to comment. 'It was hard being Tosca at 300 lbs.,' she says. 'They're singing about her being so beautiful, and I'm feeling 'I am not and I will never be.'' While the 2004 firing was humiliating, she now understands the decision. 'There's a difference between being a larger-than-life opera singer and what I was, a poster child for food addiction,' she explains. Afterwards, Voigt took the money from the canceled performance and scheduled gastric bypass surgery. 'I had eaten everything there was to eat,' she says. 'How many more binges do you have to have?' She lost over 100 lbs. But soon, there was another struggle. 'My drinking just escalated,' she tells PEOPLE. 'It would be nothing for me to go through two bottles of wine, then my blackout would happen sometime around the third bottle.' Through therapy, she learned about how one addiction can lead to another. Men came next: for a brief time, she even frequented websites for men who wanted 'big gals.' 'The whole idea of being able to attract a man was so new to me,' notes Voigt. 'It was like, 'Could I?' Lo and behold, I could, and it was like feeding the monster.'" [Source]

Sonya Yoncheva Makes Vogue Magazine Spread For Debut

A Star is Born: Soprano Sonya Yoncheva Arrives
"As Yoncheva made her debut in major operas in Europe, word of her singular range and tone made its way to Gelb. 'We have a very sophisticated scouting system,' he later explained by phone. 'Sometimes I hear reports about young singers that make it clear we should bring them in. European opera houses are typically smaller than the Met. Singers who can make an impression in a smaller European house sometimes do not have the same success on stage at the Met. The singer has to be even more intensely charismatic on stage.' Following her turn as Gilda, Gelb said, Yoncheva has been on a 'meteoric rise to operatic stardom.' Tonight, Yoncheva will begin the first of four performances in La Traviata, one day after releasing her first album, the result of an exclusive, long-term deal with Sony Classical. She is now booked five years out, including in the opening of the Met’s next season, when she will sing the part of Desdemona in a new production of Verdi’s Otello that is slated for a live-broadcast in movie theaters around the world." [SourceRead the full article "Meet Sonya Yoncheva: Opera's Brightest New Star" by clicking here and see more photos by Vogue's Ruven Afanador after the jump. Sonya Yoncheva will be appearing at the Metropolitan Gift Shop on January 22 to sign copies of her new CD, see details here. Sample tracks off the soprano's new album are also after the jump. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Elena Obraztsova Has Passed Away In Germany At 75

"Prominent Russian opera singer Elena Obraztsova passed away on Monday in Germany at the age of 75. Details about the cause of Obraztsova’s death have not been made public. Representatives of Obraztsova’s charitable organization told RIA Novosti that she was recently undergoing treatment at a German clinic. Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the family and friends of Obraztsova, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Monday. Elena Obraztsova was born on July 7 in Leningrad (Saint Petersbrurg), USSR. Thanks to her outstanding vocal abilities, she was widely recognized as one of the greatest opera singers of all time." [Source] More about the mezzo-soprano, as well as an extensive gallery, after the jump.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Renée Fleming Headlines All-Star Evening Of American Voices

"World-renowned American opera singer Renée Fleming convenes a festival of special guests to celebrate the diverse range of America’s vocal artistry. Young artists receive mentoring from respected singers including Ben Folds, Dianne Reeves, Sutton Foster, Eric Owens, Kim Burrell and Alison Krauss. Also see performances by Josh Groban, Sara Bareilles and Norm Lewis. A documentary about the festival will air on Great Performances on PBS Friday, January 9 at 9/8c." [Source] Watch the complete performance,  or just an excerpt of Renée Fleming singing "Danny Boy," after the jump.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Wagner Meets The Playground In "Step Brothers" Film

In a scene not for the faint of heart, Will Ferrel and John C. Reilly play step brothers that get beat up by a gang of young kids on the playground. The end of the scene is sophomoric, but underscores the ineptitude of the characters. The music accompanying the scene is the Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. "Step Brothers is a 2008 American buddy slapstick comedy film starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. The screenplay was written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, from a story written by them with Reilly. It was produced by Jimmy Miller and Judd Apatow, and directed by McKay. The film was released on July 25, 2008, two years after the same group of men wrote, produced, and starred in another comedy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. 39-year-old Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and 40-year-old Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) are two unemployed, middle-aged, offensive, and self-centered men who still live with (and are reliant on) their parents. They have no intention of moving out or finding jobs and behave childishly. When Brennan's mother Nancy (Mary Steenburgen) and Dale's father Robert (Richard Jenkins) marry, Brennan and Dale are forced to live with each other as step brothers." [Source] Watch the movie scene, and listen to Hildegard Behrens singe the complete arias, after the jump.

Danielle De Niese Dubbed "Opera's Coolest Opera Singer"

Life Is A Stage: The soprano photographed by Sven Arnstein
"The world's coolest opera singer is headed our way which will delight Ireland's loyal circle of music fans and Danielle de Niese, has every excuse to bring lots of luggage and fab gowns. The trouble with YouTube is everything is filmed these days, so you really 'can't wear the same dress twice', explains the lyric soprano who has been described by the BBC as the 'most sought-after singer on the planet'. Indeed, the New York Times described her voice as 'seductive enough to woo gods as well as mortals.' Chatting to her over the holidays, I discovered that Danielle's diary is booked up five years in advance and she is excited about performing with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at Dublin's National Concert Hall on January 15. Opera is such vibrant territory for great socialising in Ireland - just ask the legions who descend on Wexford - and you can expect lots of drinks' invitations to be going out this week, held to mark her return to Dublin. This lady has the best fashion connections. Donna Karan designed the gown for her fairytale wedding to Gus Christie who is the third-generation boss of the famous Glyndebourne Festival. Danielle wears Vivienne Westwood because she loves the designer's mix of modern and baroque and says the gowns 'feel as comfortable as pyjamas'. If the soprano is escorted on stage by security, it's because she's wearing her Van Cleef and Arpels jewels. Off stage, Danielle likes to walk Caesar, her Portuguese water dog who is actually related to the Obamas' dog, Bo." [Source] Watch a video of the singer's photo shoot after the jump.

Paul Potts Operatic Story Told In Television Movie

Big Break: Actor James Corden portrays opera singer Paul Potts during his competition experience.
"From the director of The Devil Wears Prada, One Chance (tomorrow, Fox Movies Premium, 9pm) is the remarkable real-life story of Paul Potts, a shy, humble shop assistant who became an overnight sensation after appearing on Simon Cowell's variety show Britain's Got Talent. Ruthlessly bullied for his love of opera and chubby physique, everyman Potts (played by James Corden of Gavin & Stacey fame) spends his days working as a mobile-phone salesman alongside his best friend, Braddon (Mackenzie Crook; below left, with Corden), and his nights as an amateur choir singer. When Paul meets his dream girl on the internet, his life changes and they fall deeply in love. Fueled by his girlfriend's unwavering belief, Potts journeys to Venice to study opera but he chokes during a performance for Luciano Pavarotti and returns home, along with his shattered dreams, to the small Welsh industrial town of Port Talbot. But, this being a rags-to-riches story much in the vein of Billy Elliot and The Full Monty (and with Potts' YouTube video being one of the top 10 most-viewed videos ever), it leads predictably to a by-the-numbers crowd-pleasing climax. One Chance is a humorous biopic that never feels overly sentimental and Corden imbues Potts with bundles of charm. There is a touching chemistry between the cast, but, it must be said, the wonderful comic talents of Julie Walters, playing Potts' supportive mother, seem woefully underused. Of course, and thank heavens, it's not really Corden doing the operatic warbling (this comes from the real Paul Potts) but he does put on a convincing lip sync and it would take a cold-hearted person indeed to not get goose bumps when he belts out Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma' in all its thunderous glory." [Source] Watch the trailer after the jump.

Celebrate The Birthday Of Legendary Grace Bumbry

Today marks the 78th birthday of opera singer Grace Bumbry. See a selection of rare photos after the jump that give a glimpse into her glamorous life and read more extensively about the singer's life by clicking here.

Opera-Loving Civil Rights Senator Edward Brooke Dies

Before the Obamas: Edward Brooke, seen with his wife
and two daughters, paved the way for many.
"Edward W. Brooke III, who in 1966 became the first African-American elected to the United States Senate by popular vote, winning as a Republican in overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts, died on Saturday at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 95. Ralph Neas, a family spokesman, confirmed the death....Edward William Brooke III was born on Oct. 26, 1919, in Washington. He was the third child and only son of the former Helen Seldon and Edward W. Brooke II, a lawyer for the Veterans Administration and a Republican, as most blacks were then. He grew up in 'a cocoon,' he wrote in his autobiography, Bridging the Divide: My Life (2007). He had a stable home, firm religious guidance — he was an Episcopal altar boy — and a good education, attending Dunbar High School, a prestigious black school in Washington. Surrounded by middle-class blacks, he wrote, he rarely encountered direct racial discrimination, although when the Washington opera was closed to blacks his mother took him to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Mr. Brooke earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Howard University in 1941. A reservist during college, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant after Pearl Harbor in 1941 and joined the all-black 366th Combat Infantry Regiment. The regiment was assigned to guard duty in Italy; combat was reserved for whites. 'An insult to our dignity,' Mr. Brooke wrote. Put in charge of special events, he brought opera and the heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis to his troops." "He loved opera and served as president and chairman of the Boston Opera Company."[Source, Source]

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Joseph Volpe Winters In Florida To Boat And See Friends

The Volpes: Joseph and Jean in Florida
"Joseph Volpe, 74, worked his way up from apprentice carpenter to general manager of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, a position he held for a headline-making 16 years. Upon his retirement in 2006, The New York Times called him a 'famously demanding impresario.' Volpe and his wife, Jean, a ballet teacher and former principal soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, will winter on Longboat Key while he continues his work as a theater consultant, including helping plan a new opera house in Athens, Greece. 'He’ll never unwind,' says Jean. 'He’s always finding something to do.' [Source] The article also details the new boat he purchased; how he chose Florida as his winter destination; the couple's exercise routine; what arts organizations will be the recipient of their presence; and if he has any regrets about the Metropolitan Opera.

Diana Damrau "Fiamma Del Belcanto" Full Of Fireworks

Diana Damrau's upcoming release for Erato this spring, Fiamma del Belcanto, will feature the soprano in hardcore repertoire of Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi. The Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino is conducted by Gianandrea Noseda in works ranging from Rosmonda d'Inghilterra to Luisa Miller. The result is sure to please fans of the soprano as she mixes both familiar repertoire like "Sempre libera" from La Traviata with new offerings like "Lo Sguardo Avea Degli Angelilo" from I Masnadieri throughout the disc. The international release date is March 27, 2015. Pre-order a copy here. The full track list is after the jump.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Study Claims Steroids Stopped Heart Of Maria Callas

What really stopped the heart of the world-famous diva?
"A study held by the University of Bologna is about to completely change the attitude towards the world-famous soprano Maria Callas. It reveals that she was suffering from a rare disease of vocal cords rather than the proverbial whims of opera divas. Professors Franco Fussi and Nico Paolillo studied the records of the famous singer and her voice changes in the last 18 years of her life using the latest technology and have concluded that Maria Callas was suffering from a rare disease that affects muscles and tissues. Long intake of cortisone, which is used for symptomatic treatment of the disease, seems to have caused the premature death of the world famous singer. The two professors from the University of Bologna presented their research on the 'Callas case.' 'We managed to separate only her voice from several bad recordings made at that time. They were made in the period 1958-1976. It was very difficult to study the changes in her voice and make our conclusions. The available videos allowed us to note the anatomical state of the muscles and their formation over the time.' According to the research of the two professors, the famous soprano Maria Callas was sick with dermatomyositis - an illness that affects muscles and tissues, including those of the larynx. Dr. Franco Fussi stresses that the disease is treated with cortisone and immunosuppressive medications that can cause heart failure. According to the official medical report, Maria Callas died of cardiac arrest." [Source] Read the whole article here.