Thursday, February 27, 2014
Decca seems to be scouring the back-catalog to entice buyers to complete their collections before compact discs become obsolete. The latest batch of releases to include 50 CDs, with some familiar and not-so-familiar artists, is titled Most Wanted Recitals. Several of these discs have made it to CD transfer in chopped-up form, leaving buyers bewildered as to why the whole material was not simply released. For example, a two-CD set was released to commemorate the artistry of Pilar Lorengar. It was much of her recorded legacy with London/Decca. Only about half the material from an album done with Jesús López-Cobos made it to the set. Here at last, we will have itopera arias disc by Gwyneth Jones that was licensed by Belart, but did not have the complete Verdi scenes LP on it. Other discs have already had the material released in multiple sets. Such is the case with Cristina Deutekom recording of Viennese bon-bons. Material by Régine Crespin, Inge Borkh, Hilde Gueden, Virginia Zeani, and others, has made it to the store shelves in bits and pieces. It is nice to see a label dig deep into the archive and make an attempt to get some interesting programs out on CD, instead of just releasing them as MP3s. Hopefully this is the first round of this recital series, because we are still missing important releases [not countingNoel, Noel with Charles Dutoit), Birgit Nilsson (Songs of Scandinavia and Wagner complete with Colin Davis), Helena Döse (Puccini, Mascagni, Verdi), Virginia Zeani (Puccini Arias), Elisabeth Söderström (Jenny Lind Songs), Edith Mathis (Haydn Arias), Sylvia Geszty (Coloratura Arias and Duets with Peter Schreier), Montserrat Caballé (Dramatic Soprano Arias and Music of Spain), Elly Ameling (German Romantic Songs, Bach Cantatas and Schubert on Stage), Marilyn Horne (Sings Carmen with Henry Lewis), and Eileen Farrell (Songs America Loves). Not to mention that Felicia Weathers could have a whole box-set dedicated to her. In addition to the Verdi & Puccini Arias recording (released by Decca on CD inItalianische Opernarien [arias by Cilea, Verdi, Boito, Puccini and Giordano]; Die Schönsten Lieder der Welt [songs of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms]; Spirituals & Folksongs; Richard Strauss Lieder; Hello Young Lovers [songs from Musicals]; Liebe, Love, L'amour [songs from Films]; and the label could probably get the rights to release the material on her Intercord recording Wunderbar ist die Welt. Check out more of the soprano selections from the Most Wanted Recitals collection after the jump. You can see the complete list here. Items will be released in March/April.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
|Fresh from her stint at the closing ceremonies|
of Sochi Olympics 2014, Anna Netrebko wraps
herself in a new role.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Although we don't have video footage of Robert Merrill, Risë Stevens, Jan Peerce, Patrice Munsel, Richard Tucker, Julia Migenes, Sergio Franchi, Grace Bumbry, and Roberta Peters, from their appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, we are fortunate to have footage of Judith Blegen, Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Martina Arroyo, Marilyn Horne, Carol Neblett, and Plácido Domingo, from the program. As a bonus watch Kathleen Battle performing on The Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson's successor Jay Leno, after the jump. [Source]
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
|Renée Fleming under the hot pursuit of Nathan Gunn (Photo: Brigitte Lacombe/Metropolitan Opera)|
Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow as it will be performed in English) starring mega-star Renée Fleming in her role debut as Hanna. "The Merry Widow is an operetta by the Austro–Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. The librettists, Viktor Léon and Leo Stein, based the story – concerning a rich widow, and her countrymen's attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband – on an 1861 comedy play, L'attaché d'ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac. The operetta has enjoyed extraordinary international success since its 1905 premiere in Vienna and continues to be frequently revived and recorded. Film and other adaptations have also been made. Well-known music from the score includes the 'Vilja Song,' 'Da geh' ich zu Maxim' ('You'll Find Me at Maxim's'), and the 'Merry Widow Waltz'. The operetta was first performed at theSource] For a full synopsis, click here.
The thriller film Las Hijas de Danao is set in Paris during the 2005 urban riots. The opera is rehearsing to perform Salieri's Les Danaïdes, when a well-known soprano receives an anonymous threat. Coinciding with serious disturbances in the French capital, detectives do their best to infiltrate the opera company to solve the mystery. The director, Fran Kapilla, says the idea came out of the juxtaposition of the two worlds of protestors and the sophisticated opera society. If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, check out the description for Jean-Jacques Beineix's 1981 film Diva by clicking here. For more information about the film, visit the official website: http://www.lashijasdedanao.com/. See more cast photos, and find out the connection Montserrat Caballé has to this film, after the jump! [Source]
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
|Karen Marie Richardson portrays the entrepreneurial Madame C.J. Walker|
Yesterday marked the 87th birthday of soprano Mary Violet Leontyne Price and the United States deems February as "Black History Month," so we have double reason to celebrate this fine artist. Click here for a listening party in her honor and continue to celebrate the living legend every single day of the year, regardless of holiday.
|"Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne, Und die trägt er im Gesicht": Moreno as Macheath|
|Jenny Diver & Mack the Knife|
(Photos: Dave Lepori)
"Korean soprano Sumi Jo held music lovers in the palm of her hand during her Manila debut at the Samsung Hall in SM Aura in Taguig City. Voice teachers, classical singers, choral directors, pianists, theater directors, students and voice enthusiasts had earlier filled up the hall, eager to listen to the Korean diva, the pride of Asia. The concert was presented by the Korean Cultural Center, Edsa Shangri-La and Steinway Boutique Manila for the benefit of victims of Typhoon 'Yolanda.' The diva performed a bouquet of operatic arias from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary eras; as well as classical, Korean folk and Broadway songs. She immediately revealed her vocal might with her opening song, Henry Bishop’s 'Lo, Here the Gentle Lark,' for which she got a thunderous applause from the audience. The voice is of world-class quality, unmistakably honed in the bel canto style of singing. 'Beautiful singing,” the literal translation of the style, emphasizes the voice as the most expressive element in singing, especially in opera. Through a rigorous honing of a dynamic technique, singers of the bel canto style effortlessly intone elegant, velvety melodic lines that are well-kept in the same passage. To bring out the innate beauty of the human voice is the chief concern of such a style so necessary to express the dramatic import of the musical piece....Sumi Jo presented a facsimile check of the P450,000 donation to Margaret Sheehan, chief field officer of Unicef. She deserves to be heard again in Manila!" [Source]
Sunday, February 9, 2014
|Soprano Dawn Upshaw (left) with composer Maria Schneider|
Stephen Costello (left) at Houston Grand Opera and James Valenti (right) at Dallas Opera, share the same Peter J. Hall-designed robe as the Duke of Mantua in Michael Yeargan's production of Rigoletto that was shared by the two companies. It's clear both tenors get gym time into their schedule to be as healthy as possible for the athletic sport of singing.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
|Soprano Aprile Millo returned to the Italian city of Genoa for the role of Giorgetta in Puccini's Il Tabarro. The opera was performed in concert version at Teatro Carlo Felice. Watch a video excerpt after the jump.|
Friday, February 7, 2014
|Netrebko Does Russia Proud: Hitting all the high notes in a gown by Katya Kotova.|
Thursday, February 6, 2014
On February 2, 2014, Renée Fleming sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" for Super Bowl XLVIII to a stadium with a capacity of 82,566 people in addition to a home-viewing audience of 111.5 million (the largest in the history of American television). The response to an opera singer performing America's National Anthem for the first time in the sports event's history came swiftly from the Twitter crowd, Facebook followers and YouTube commentators. The general public, more accustomed to the likes of Christina Aguilera, Dixie Chicks, and Beyoncé Knowles warbling out the famous tune, was surprisingly supportive with positive feedback. What does all of this media exposure mean to Renée Fleming and her illustrious career? At the time of this writing, the video of the event on YouTube has been viewed over 800,000 times. Taking a look at the artist's Facebook page days before the Super Bowl appearance, she had just over 77,000 "likes" and now the page stands at 94,362. No official data has been released on whether record and MP3 sales have skyrocketed, but a quick glimpse at Amazon.com shows that the Decca-exclusive artist has three albums in the top-20 best seller list for opera & vocal (Guilty Pleasures, The Art of Renée Fleming, and her self-titled album from 2000). Next week's results may yield a more revealing story. Be sure to keep an eye on the Billboard charts. The opera star has already sung for the Queen of England, the President of the United States, and has even read the "Top 10 List" on Late Show with David Letterman. Two nights after the Super Bowl, the soprano was back at the Metropolitan Opera performing the title role in Dvořák's Rusalka to a crowd of 4,000. How large that number must seem to a young singer at the beginning of their career and how small it must feel after performing at the Super Bowl. Are there going to be stadium concerts in the future that will sell out the likes of "The Three Tenors" during it's most popular days? Unlikely. The real question: What is the next level? Write a book? Done. Appear in a movie? Done. Win a Grammy Award? Done (4 times). Act in a stage play? That's coming too. Perhaps she really isn't looking for more. After all the accomplishments, she might list happy wife and proud mother as her most cherished. And for the fashionistas that are wondering, she wore "...a custom Vera Wang black long sleeve gown with pleated accent at the waist, and an ivory silk faille floor length wrap coat with exposed shoulder and hand draped detail." [Source, Source]
"Marking a departure for the Peruvian bel canto superstar, this new recording offers a personal survey of the French operatic repertoire from Donizetti to the romantic outpourings of Gounod and Massenet, including Massenet’s ‘Pourquoi me Reveiller’ from Werther. This is a disc that not only plays to Flórez’s strengths – virtuosic and high-lying – but also shows a new side to the popular singer, featuring repertoire which he has rarely sung on stage. The first solo album in four years by one of the classical world’s biggest stars reveals a voice which has become richer, rounder and more mellow; the choice of repertoire draws further new colours from this ever-stylish tenor. [Source] Due out in March 2014, the complete track list is after the jump.