Friday, January 27, 2006

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart -- 250th!

Today, we have a number of "live" events celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

But I want to draw special attention to one event in particular showcasing one of the finest artists of our age, Thomas Quasthoff:

At GMT 1900/EST 2:00PM, MDR FIGARO and RBB KULTURRADIO will be carrying the Staatskapelle Berlin under Daniel Barenboim in an all-Mozart program starring Thomas Quastoff and also featuring soprano Sylvia Schwartz and violinist Nikolaj Znaider. Daniel Barenboim will also be heard at the piano. If you can, try and catch this broadcast, which starts slightly over an hour from now.

There are at least three or four other "live" Mozart entries today in addition, making it well worthwhile for you to check out the many commemorative offerings yourself:

Happy listening!

Geoffrey Riggs

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart -- 250th!

Today, we have a number of "live" events celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

A few of these are being given multi-station coverage and may prove special:

Starting right now, at GMT 1700/EST 12:00NOON, KBYU, WCLV and WFMT will be carrying the Vienna Philharmonic Gala with Riccardo Muti at the podium and featuring, among others, Cecilia Bartoli and Thomas Hampson. During intermission, the bells of 100 churches in Salzburg will be heard ringing in Mozart's birthday marking the very minute he was born.

At GMT 1800/EST 1:00PM, DR KLASSISK, FRANCE MUSIQUES, LATVIA RADIO KLASIKA, RADIO OESTERREICH INTERNATIONAL, RADIO TRE (RAI) and SVERIGES RADIO P2 carry Idomeneo, with Neil Shicoff (Idomeneo), Angelika Kirchschlager (Idamante), Genia Kühmeier (Ilia), Barbara Frittoli (Elettra) -- Peter Schneider conducting.

More to come very shortly -- stay tuned!

Happy listening

Geoffrey Riggs

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Well, there are two great clumps of stations today. One group is carrying the Met Broadcast of Die Zauberflöte, and the other, a group of seven European stations are carrying a live Norma with Gruberova from the Munich Staatsoper. And that about covers it.....

Seriously, there are other offerings out there. Here's a more detailed account of today's operas:

Bayern 4 Klassik, Cesky Rozhlas-3 (Czech Radio), Latvia Radio Klaika, Musiq3, Radio Slovenia Tretji, RDP Antena 2 (Radio Portugal) and Sveriges Radio P2 (Swedish Radio) - starting at 1:00PM Eastern Time will be carrying the aforementioned Norma, with Edita Gruberova, Sonia Ganassi, Zoran Todorovich and Robert Scandiuzzi.

Deutschlandraadio Kultur - From Staatsoper Berlin, a live performance of Pascal Dusapin's Faustus, the last night with Georg Nigl, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Robert Wörle, Jaco Huijpen and Caroline Stein, Michael Boder conducting.

DR P2 (Copenhagen) - a live performance of Schreker's De mærkede with Duke Antoniotto, Robert Hale, Michael Volle, Wolfgang Schöne, Anne Schwanewilms, Robert Brubaker and Bernard Richter, Kent Nagano conducting.

Radio 4 Netherlands - a 2005 live performance of Prokoviev's War and Peace, from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, with Andrei Grigoriev, Yekaterina Shcherbachenko and Roman Muravitsky, Alexander Vedernikov conducting.

Metropolitan Opera Broadcast - Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, with Eric Cutler, Mary Dunleavy, Morris Robinson, Erika Miklósa, Nathan Gunn, Anna Christy, Greg Fedderly, Susannah Glanville, Maria Zifchak and Malin Fritz, Paul Daniel conducting.

NRK P2 (Norwegian Radio) - will be having a Portrait of Birgit Nilsson, and then what looks to highlights of Thomas Adès opera Powder in Her Face.

Radio Oesterreich International - From Vienna, a live concert performance of Vivaldi's Bajazet (Tamerlano), with Christian Senn, Vivica Genaux, Wilke te Brummelstroete, Elisabetta Scano, Manuela Custer and Marina de Liso, Fabio Biondi conducting.

YPR (Billings, Montana) - NPR World of Opera, which this week features a live performance from Glimmerglass opera of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte with Anne-Sophie Duprels, Sandra Piques Eddy, John Tessier, Palle Knudsen, Sanford Sylvan, and Camille Zamora, Stewart Robinson conducting.

Espace 2 (Laussane, Switzerland) - a February 2005 live performance from La Fenice in Venice of Rossini's Maometto II with Lorenzo Regazzo, Maometto II
Federico Lepre, Maxim Mironov, Carmen Giannattasio, Anna Rita Gemmabella and Nicola Marchesini, Claudio Scimone conducting.

France Musiques - a November 2005 live performancs of Handel's Tamerlano featuring Les Talens Lyriques with Bejun Mehta, Bruce Ford, Sandrine Piau, Patricia Bardon, Kristina Hammarstrom, and Lars Arvidsson, Christophe Rousset conducting.

KING (Seattle, Washington) - Late tonight, catch a live Fledermaus from Seattle Opera with Jane Eaglen, Richard Berkeley-Steele, Sarah Coburn, Christopher Feigum, Alan Woodrow, Nancy Maultsby and Patrick Carfizzi, Gerard Schwartz conducting.

Also to keep in mind:

Mozart's upcoming 250th Birthday means that some stations (Klara from Belgium comes immediately to mind) are already carrying a heavy load of special Mozart programming in lieu of their regularly scheduled programs.

WHRB, Harvard's radio station in Cambridge, Mass. is still carrying on with their January season of Orgy® programming, offering something for every imaginable taste. Tomorrow they are running a Bruno Walter Orgy®.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Manrico in Il Trovatore: Who is he?

In 1849, Meyerbeer's Le Prophete introduces certain startling patterns
for that time in opera: there is the unaccustomed (though not
unprecedented) dominance of an unequivocally mezzo role combined with
the tenor's having to make, at one point, a choice for that mezzo
character -- his mum! -- over the Falcon role -- his sweetheart.
Verdi, in 1853, picks up Le Prophete's new pattern in Il Trovatore.
Granted, cultural differences between our Anglo world and the world of
the romance languages, both French (Le Prophete) and Italian (Il
), may impact on varying standards of what it means to be the
"hero". Sometimes in the Anglo world, making a choice for the Mom can
make one a "Momma's boy", but that may not necessarily carry the same
pejorative connotations in France and/or Italy. Still, to be the hero
and to engage, in addition to a dependency on "Mom", in a game of
self-deception as well(!) does bring the concept of the "hero" into
question, and this self-deception is what Manrico seems to do in
parallelling Jean's choice in Prophete in favor of the Mom, even
though Jean makes his choice with open eyes, while Manrico seems
profoundly unaware of the game he's playing with himself.

Consider: To begin with, Manrico's vocal line contrasts the intense
and the heroic versus the lyrical and the contemplative. The latter
conveys Manrico as the artist, the troubadour, the man of imagination.
The former depicts him as the revolutionary, the gypsy, the follower
of Urgel. It seems to me the librettist, Cammarano, conceives
of the revolutionary as the real Manrico and the lyrical artist as a
put-on, rather than a genuine projection of Manrico's soul - the
opposite of what a genuine artist's art would be. Verdi's music
reflects the polarities in the libretto. Does he maintain an aura of
artifice around the lyrical moments?

We first hear Manrico in his "deserto" serenade as the contemplative
artist, creating a song for his lady love, Leonora. He weaves a
self-created persona, constructing a world unrelated to his gypsy
camp, his Mom and his political activism. The divide between these two
worlds is never bridged, not in the text and not in Verdi's music. I
find it odd that the only duet moments with Leonora are a fleeting
duettino between Manrico's cavatina and his cabaletta, and a
full-length duet intruded on by the chorus with Manrico entirely off
stage, and this too is placed between a cavatina and a cabaletta. But
our "hero" has in Act II one extended duet scene with Azucena, which
is a full-bore two-part duet with both of them on stage throughout,
together with yet another onstage duet for the two of them in the last
scene of the opera for good measure.

Verdi states in his correspondence that he views Azucena as more
important than Leonora, and certainly, musically, the relationship
between Azucena and the "hero" is explored in much greater depth than
that between Leonora and Manrico, who always seem to have an angry
baritone, or a fire-reporting comprimario, or a funereal chorus, or a
sleeping but mumbling mezzo to keep them company.

Who is "the woman" in Manrico's life? Here is where his game of
self-deception comes in. Not only does he never really "duet" with
Leonora, but his "poetry" to Leonora (the serenade, "Ah! si ben mio",
and his offstage verse in the Miserere) is an (unconscious?) lie. "Ah!
si ben mio" can stand for the whole: he says he will die with
Leonora's name on his lips. That is put to the test in the final
scene: With poor Leonora dead at his feet(!), he is dragged to his
execution, and what does he say? "Madre addio!"

My two cents,

Geoffrey Riggs

Saturday, January 07, 2006

January 7, 2006

The most striking items on offer today:

  • RDP ANTENA 2 - rebroadcasts last year's star-studded revival of Verdi's Ballo in Maschera at Covent Garden, with Marcelo Alvarez, Karita Mattila and Thomas Hampson.

  • Metropolitan Opera International Radio Broadcast - Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore, with Ramon Vargas, Ruth Ann Swenson and Andrew Shore.

  • MDR FIGARO - rebroadcasts Berg's Wozzeck from the Metropolitan Opera, with Alan Held and Katarina Dalayman.

  • RADIO OESTERREICH INTERNATIONAL- a performance from Geneva, of Wagner's Tannhäuser, starring Stephen Gould, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet and Nina Stemme.

  • CBC TWO- an all-Mozart Gala, featuring soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, tenor Michael Schade and baritone Russell Braun.

  • Happy listening!