Saturday, May 28, 2005

Saturday LIVE on OperaCast

It's another Saturday - a three-day holiday week here in the United States, and here in New York it's finally SUNNY!

So , what's on OperaCast today?

The Houston Grand Opera Giulio Cesare with Laura Claycomb, Brian Asawa and Phyllis Pancella is being aired yet again, this time by Espaces Musiques (French CBC).

France Musiques, Latvia Radio Klasika and Radio Slovenia Tretji - Rossini's Semirade from Rome with Darina Takova, Antonino Siragusa, and Michele Pertusi, conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti.

DR P2 - Scarlatti's Telemaco with Johanna Stojkovic, Elisabeth Kulman, and Corby Welch, conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock.

Radio 4 Netherlands - from Nationale Reisopera, Schouwburg, Arnhem, Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande Debussy's with Nathaniel Webster, Franco Pomponi, and Lenneke Ruiten, conducted by Ed Spanjaard.

In honor of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's 80th birthday, WHRB is having an 11-hour Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau Orgy. NDR Kultur and RBB Kulturradio are each running their own tributes.

WICR, KUSC and WCNY - this year's Metropolitan Opera National Council Winners Concert.

Opera Stage (The European Opera series desseminated by WFMT in Chicago) - most stations are carrying Tomás Bretón's La Dolores from Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain, with Maria Rodriguez, Cecilia Diaz, Gustavo Porta and Dario Schmunck, conducted by Antoni Ros Marb; but WRTI is running this series on a two week delay, carrying Janacek's From the House of the Dead, with Peter Mikulas, Stéphanie Novacek, Stefan Margita, Alexander Vassiliev, Bernard van der Meersch, Gordon Gietz, and Pavlo Hunka, conducted by Jiri Belohlávek (this was a great performance - if you missed this, try and catch it today).

NPR World of Opera - Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda from the National Opera of Ukraine, with Tetyana Anisimova, Anzhelina Shvachka, Liudmyla Yurchenko, Sergy Magera, Dmytro Popov, and Igor Mokrenko, conducted by Volodymyr Kozhukhar.

BBC Radio 3 - a BBC Symphony Orchestra concert performance of Chausson's Le Roi Arthus, with Susan Bullock, Andrew Schroeder, Simon O'Neill, François Le Roux and Daniel Okulitch, conducted by Leon Botstein.

CBC Two - Delibe's Lakme, with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, with Amy Hansen, John Tessier, and Dean Elzinga, conducted by Robert Dean.

KBYU - From Utah Opera, Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, with George Dyer, Kathleen Brett, Serena Benedetti, and Gary Lehman, conducted by William Lacey.

MDR Figaro - after a short opening tribute to Fischer-Dieskau, a rebroadcast of the performance of Bellini's La Sonnambula from Palais des Beaux-Arts, La Monnaie, Brüssel, with Sumi Jo, Antonio Siragusa and Enrico Marabelli, conducted by René Jacobs.

NRK Alltid Klassisk and NRK P2 - Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth from Mtensk, from the Bolshoi in Moscow, with Valerij Gilmanov, Maxim Paster, Tatjana Anisimova, and Vadim Zapleknij, conducted by Zoltán Pésko.

Cesky Rozhlas 3-Vltava - Salieri's Europa Riconosciuta, from La Scala, Milan, with Diana Damrau, Désirée Rancatore, Genia Kühmeier, Daniela Barcellona), and Giuseppe Sabbatini, conducted by Riccardo Muti.

Espace 2 - From Copenhagen, two works by Igor Stravinsky, the ballet Le Baiser de la fée, and Le Rossignol, with Elenae Brilova, John Mark Ainsley, Wojciech Drabowicz, Hanne Fischer, Nina Pavlovski, Vadim Lynkovsky, and Valery Gilmanov, conducted by Alexandre Vedernikov.

Radio Tre (RAI) - From last September in Edinburgh, Scotland, Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischutz, with Hillevi Martinpelto, Ailish Tynan, Jonas Kaufmann, John Relyea, and Christopher Maltman, conducted by Charles Mackerras.

WOSU is carrying the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Opera Gala.

WDAV - a rerun of the NPR World of Opera Alcina with Karina Gauvin, Christine Brandes, Krisztina Szabó, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Nathaniel Watson, Benjamin Butterfield, and Shannon Mercer, conducted by Bernard Labadie.

Happy listening!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Very Interesting Ballo

Dear fellow opera lovers,

One of our esteemed webmasters, Geoffrey, is running a bit behind today, so he authorized me to post a heads-up regarding a particularly interesting OperaCast today offered by Radio Oesterreich International and BBC Radio 3 at GMT 1730/EDT 1:30PM. It is a recent performance of Verdi's Ballo in Maschera at Covent Garden and features two of the most exciting young singers in the world of opera today, Marcelo Alvarez and Karita Mattila. I know I will certainly be listening, and I hope many of you will enjoy this performance as well. Of the two audio streams I'd give a slight edge in quality to that offered by Radio Oesterreich International.

Happy listening,


Friday, May 20, 2005


Our regrets to all. We have had some severe computer gremlins the past two days, and it has thrown back our schedule considerably. We will try as we can to bring the pages up to standard within the next 12 to 24 hours. Many thanks for your patience.

Geoffrey Riggs

Monday, May 16, 2005

Happy 40th Mirella Freni!

Last night was a very special one at the Metropolitan Opera House. Geoffrey and I attended the Mirella Freni Gala celebrating the 40th anniversary of her Met debut. Here is a treasurable singer who still has something left to give to opera lovers. The voice sounds healthier now than it did nine seasons ago when she sang Fedora at the Met. She has made the necessary technical adjustments to control a then-developing wobble so as to maintain a clear line and legato. With the exception of consistent flatness in the very highest notes, she sounds better than many sopranos twenty years and more younger. An amazing performance.

There really were no bad singers on this special occasion. After James Levine conducted a lively account of the overture from The Bartered Bride, Ms. Freni made her entrance on the arm of Met General Manager, Joseph Volpe. Greeted by a standing ovation, Ms. Freni took a moment to collect herself, then launched into Adieu, notre petite table from Manon. It was immediately apparent that she is not ready for the retirement home yet.

Frederica von Stade then came on to sing Connais-tu le pays? from Mignon. Although her voice has darkened a bit with the years and the vibrato has loosened some, Ms. von Stade still delivered a well-judged and heartfelt performance. She still has that lovely "tear in the voice" quality that has always moved me, her French was impeccable and the phrasing and legato were, as usual with this artist, exemplary.

The remaining guests for the evening were all gentlemen. Salvatore Licitra sang Un di, all'azzurro spazio from Andrea Chénier with impressive verve and forceful presence - one might have expected better legato and more elegant phrasing, but he did much better later in the program where he proved to be a genuinely tender and sensitive partner for Ms. Freni in the first act duet from Adriana Lecouvreur.

James Morris was in fine form in the Prologue from Mefistofele. And the Met Chorus, and particularly the Childrens Chorus, who were luminous and displayed amazing dynamic control, were fine in the choral portions of the Prologue.

Marcello Giordano sounded husky, as if he might be battling a cold (I understand he cancelled at least one Tosca in recent days), but was still impressive in Cielo e mar from La Gioconda. He was able to sing piano when called for (although he did not end the second verse softly, perhaps because he was unnerved by going badly sharp on the note leading into dell'amor and decided it would be wiser not to risk another pianissimo).

The first half of the Gala ended with two selections from Adriana Lecouvreur, the aria Io son l'umile ancella, sung affectingly by Freni, followed by the aforementioned Act One duet with Freni and Licitra.

In the second half of the program, Ms. Freni changed from the lovely red gown she had worn in the first half into a most becoming blue gown. First she sang Prostite vi from Maid of Orleans, an opera which she has made her signature piece of late (the friend we were with had seen her in this role at the Washington National Opera a month ago and liked her very much). This was Ms. Freni's best performance of the night, full of longing and very lovingly sung. It's tessitura ideally suits her current vocal estate - with only one or two high-ish notes, the aria mostly stays in the upper middle of the voice where she still seems most comfortable, in fact amazingly liquid in quality with poised even line. For a woman of seventy, her voice still has a youthful timbre that allows her to convince as the young Maid of Orleans or as Tatiana in Eugen Onegin.

The program ended with the third act of Eugen Onegin (in my opinion always the best act for Freni in this opera - some Tatianas excell in Act One in the Letter Scene, and while Freni's Letter Scene was always beautiful, I treasured more her face to face confrontation with Onegin in Act Three). She was joined by Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Onegin and Robert Lloyd as Prince Gremin. All I can say is that Gremin's Aria, always a moving moment for me in this opera, brought a tear to my eyes last night. I have always loved Robert Lloyd, and he did not disappoint, singing with, by turns, tender and ardent love for his young wife. Another singer getting on in years who still has the line, phrasing and legato some singers half his age should envy! Hvorostovsky was an effective Onegin. And Freni? What can one say - she was touching and magnificent. When she really let out to upbraid Onegin, her tone acquired a sheen and brilliance that were amazing without disturbing the musical line.

Ms. Freni came back after a tumultuous ovation, on the arm of Marcello Giordani, and the two of them sang a simple Non ti scordar di me.

After it all, Mr. Volpe came out with all the evening's guests to present Ms. Freni with an autographed photograph of Puccini framed in a piece of the curtain from the Old Met.

All-in-all a memorable evening to be long remembered and treasured.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

When the dust settles...

...We'll let you know.

It's been Hell Week here at OperaCast. The Met finished its broadcast season last week, so this week we spent most of our (free?) time trying to figure out what the Met network stations had decided to do next. With over sixty stations to check, it's been a very busy week.

Several Met stations (five so far) are carrying the Met National Council Grand Finals Concert. This year's Concert is worth a listen for several promising young voices - a personal favorite of ours was soprano Suzanna Phillips.

The other Met stations are split between those offering NPR's World of Opera - Bizet's Carmen from Orange, France with Alagna, Uriah-Monzon, Tezier and Ansellem, Chung conducting; and those carrying WFMT's eight week European Opera Series - Janacek's From the House of the Dead from Geneva, Switzerland with Peter Mikulas, Stéphanie Novacek, Stefan Margita, and Alexander Vassiliev, Jiri Belohlávek conducting.

WRTI will be airing a live performance of Verdi's Aida from Opera Company of Philadelphia with Angela Brown (who made such a splash at the Met last October as a late replacement replacement Aida), Barbara Dever, Gregg Baker and Renzo Zulian, Corrado Rovaris conducting.

Deutschlandradio Kultur is re-airing a live performance of Bellini's La Sonnambula with Sumi Jo and Antonio Siragusa, Rene Jacobs conducting - another opportunity to hear the renewed vocal health of Sumi Jo.

DR P2 is repeating a performance of Chabrier's Le Roi malgré lui from Lyon, France with Nicolas Rivenq, Magali Léger and Laurent Naouri, Evelino Pidò conducting.

For those who may have missed it last week, Radio 4 Netherlands is offering another chance to hear a live performance of the Peter Sellars' production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde from Opera Bastille in Paris with Ben Heppner, Waltraute Meier and Yvonne Naef, Esa Pekka Salonen conducting. All three leads were in wonderful form for this performance.

CBC 2 will be carrying a performance from Opera de Montreal of Handel's Agrippina with Lynne Fortin, Krisztina Szabó, Karina Gauvin and Daniel Taylor, Bernard Labadie conducting.

Last season's Houston Grand Opera Giulio Cesare with Laura Claycomb, David Daniels, Brian Asawa, Patricia Risley, Phyllis Pancella sure has legs! It is being broadcast yet again today, this time by Cesky Rozhlas 3 - Vltava. If you STILL have not heard this performance, it's a gem.

For an alternative , check out Bayern 4 Klassik's program on various interpreters of Giulio Cesare with numerous conductors: René Jacobs, Marc Minkowski, Karl Richter, Julius Rudel, Peter Mark, Herbert Albert, Walter Goehr, Hans Swarowsky, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Ferdinand Leitner, Arnold Gramm, Nicola Rescigno, Charles Mackerras, Marcello Panni und Jean-Claude Malgoire.

MDR Figaro, France Musiques, Radio SLovenia Tretji and Sveriges Radio P2 - From Semper Opera in Dresden comes a May 7th performance of Hasse's Cleofide, with Maria Bayo, Axel Köhler and Iridé Martinez, Alessandro De Marchi

NRK Alltid Klassisk and NRK P2 are airing a performance from Covent Garden of Verdi's Rigoletto with Christine Schäfer and Paolo Gavanelli, Edward Downes conducting.

Radio Oesterreich International is carrying a May 12th performance from Vienna of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, with Falk Struckmann, John Horton Murray, Jan-Hendrik Rootering, Heidi Brunner, Maria Bengtsson and Stella Grigorian, Bertrand de Billy conducting

WCLV is airing a live concert performance from Cleveland Institute of Music of Mozart's The Garden Girl in Disguise K 196 (1774), with Tifton Graves, Rachael Pavloski and Jung Eun Oh, Steven Byess conducting.

Espace 2 will present a May 9th performance from Geneva, of Frank Martin's Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornet Christoph Rilke, with Monica Groop, and Xavier Dayer's Mémoires d’une jeune fille triste, with Joan Rogers, conducted by Patrick Davin.

Radio Tre (RAI) is carrying an April 8th performance from Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, of Puccinin's La Fanciulla del West, with Andrea Gruber, Alberto Gazale and Walter Fraccaro, Nicola Luisotti conducting.

BBC Radio 3 is presenting Tippett's The Knot Garden live from the Barbican, with Christopher Purves, Karen Cargill, Ailish Tynan, Rachel Hynes, Roderick Williams, James Gilchrist and Alan Opie, Andrew Davis conducting.

Lyric FM is starting a 5-part series on Maria Callas.

WDAV airs NPR's World of Opera on a one week delay, so it is presenting Mozart's Magic Flute today, from International Baroque Festival Beaune, France, with Isolde Siebert, Suzy Le Blanc, Christopher Genz, Sigiswald Kuijken conducting.

Happy listening to this multitude of offerings......

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A few high points for Saturday, May 7th

Today, May 7th, we especially look forward to what may be an excellent Tristan und Isolde starting at GMT 1700/EDT 1:00PM on France Musiques (Latvia Radio Klasika will also be covering it, but their streams seem shaky today). Ben Heppner and Waltraud Meier star as the doomed pair, and the excellent Yvonne Naef will be heard as Brangaene.

Other items of interest:

The Metropolitan Opera broadcast season closes today with an always wrenching Mozart masterpiece, his last opera, La Clemenza di Tito, starting at GMT 1730/EDT 1:30PM and featuring Melanie Diener and Anne Sofie von Otter (Lopardo sings the the title role).

On Musiq3, ten minutes before the Met b'cast starts, the curtain rises on Sumi Jo's return to one of her most spectacular roles, the Queen of the Night. Baroque specialist Rene Jacobs is at the podium for this Zauberfloete from the Monnaie.

Starting usually at roughly the same time as the Met broadcast, NPR World of Opera's series presents another Baroque specialist, Sigiswald Kuijken, leading his Petite Bande in another Zauberfloete from the International Baroque Festival Beaune.

Over Espace 2, starting half an hour later at GMT 1800/EDT 2:00PM, we hear a rebroadcast of the Covent Garden Werther from last year, with Marcello Alvarez under Antonio Pappano.

Also, Radio Tre airs Strauss's Elektra from the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, led by Semyon Bychkov. Anne Schwanewilms is heard as Chrysothemis (Polaski attempts the title role).

Over Rete Due, also starting the same time, Marcello Giordani stars in Verdi's Jerusalem, with Fabio Luisi leading the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Happy listening to all, whatever your choice -- or choices!

Geoffrey Riggs, Webmaster