Saturday, October 25, 2008

Live Offerings - Saturday, October 25, 2008

Three historic Metropolitan Opera broadcasts: a 1957 Tosca (with Tebalsi, Tucker and Warren), a 1968 Die Walküre (with Vickers, Rysanek, Ludwig and Stewart) and a 1976 I Puritani (with Sutherland, Pavarotti and Milnes) .... We are interested to hear: Janice Baird, who made such a good impression in the Met's Tristan when she replaced Deborah Voigt last season, make her company debut with Seattle Opera as Elektra ... Paolo Gavanelli in Attila on CBC Two ... Christopher Schaldenbrand as Don Giovanni with Utah Opera on KBYU ... The most fun amongst the live offerings today - Houston Grand Opera's Daughter of the Regiment with the delightful Laura Claycomb and Ewa Podles (part of the WFMT Opera Series).

Here's the lineup for this afternoon and evening:

  • BBC Radio 3 - From the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Cavalli's La Calisto, with Dominique Visse, Veronique Gens, Monica Bacelli, Joao Fernandes, Markus Werba, Sally Matthews, Lawrence Zazzo, Guy de Mey, Ed Lyon and Clive Bayley, conducted by Ivor Bolton.
  • CBC Two - From the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Verdi's Attila, with Ildar Abdrazakov, Paolo Gavanelli, Hasmik Papian, Massimiliano Pisapia, Giorgio Trucco and Dennis Wilgenhof, conducted by Jaap van Zweden.
  • Deutschlandradio Kultur - From the Vienna State Opera, Gounod's Faust, with Roberto Alagna, Kwangchul Youn, Angela Gheorghiu, Adrian Eröd, Alexandru Moisiuc, Michaela Selinger and Janina Baechle, conducted by Bertrand de Billy.
  • DR P2, Dwojke Polskie Radio, NRK Klassisk & NRK P2 - From Teatro Regio in Turin, an October 18th performance of Cherubini's Medea, with Giuseppe Filianoti, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Sara Mingardo, Giovanni Battista Parodi and Cinzia Forte, conducted by Evelino Pido.
  • Espace Musique - From the 2008 Vancouver Festival, Early Music Society de Vancouver's production of Mozart's Idomeneo, with Kresimir Spicer, Measha Brueggergosman, Peggy Kriha Dye, Michael Maniaci, Olivier Laquerre, Vasil Garvanliev and Curtis Sullivan, conducted by Andrew Parrott.
  • KBYU - After a program focussing on the career of Anna Moffo, a May performance of Utah Opera'a production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, with Christopher Schaldenbrand, Gustav Andreasson, Susanna Phillips, Ryan McPherson, Deanne Meek, Mark Schnaible, Chad Sloan and Shannon Kesslerconducted by Robert Tweten.
  • Radio 4 Netherlands - From Netherlands Opera, Mussorgsky's Boris Gudonov, with John Tomlinson, Brian Azawa and Marina Zyatkova, conducted by Alexander Lazarev.
  • Radio Clasica de Espana - Yet another chance to catch the archival Metropolitan Opera broadcast from March 13, 1976 of Bellini's I Puritani, with Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti and Sherrill Milnes.
  • RTP Antena 2 - From Munich, a December 11, 2007 performance of Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, with Violeta Urmana, Lana Kos, Jane Henschel, Ramón Vargas, Kevin Conners, Michael McBride, Franco Vasallo, Christian Rieger, Steven Humes and Rüdiger Trebes, conducted by Marco Armiliato.
  • WFMT Opera Series (on numerous stations) - From Houston Grand Opera, Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment, with Liam Bonner, Ewa Podles, Cameron F. Schutza, Bruno Praticò, Laura Claycomb, Barry Banks, James J. Kee, Grant Loehnig and Ross Chitwood Diane Zola, conducted by Riccardo Frizza.
  • WFMT & XLNC1 - From its opera series, from Houston Grand Opera, Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, with Ryan McKinny, Nikolay Didenko, Lyubov Petrova, Ramón Vargas, Carlo Guelfi, Beau Gibson, Ewa Podles, Liam Bonner, Cameron F. Schutza and Tamara Wilson, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • WQXR - From San Francisco Opera, Handel's Ariodante, with Susan Graham, Ruth Ann Swenson, Sonia Prina, Veronica Cangemi, Richard Croft and Eric Owens, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • Bartok Radio - A September 27th performance of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, with Leo Nucci, Roxana Briban, Giacomo Prestia, Eijiro Kai, Dan Paul Dumitrescu, Mario Malagnini, Florin Ormenisan and Donna Ellen, conducted by Yves Abel.
  • France Musique - From Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, an October 10th performance of Enesco's Oedipe, with Franck Ferrari, Arutjun Kotchinian, Vincent Le Texier, Emiliano Gonzales-Toro, Enzo Capuano, Harry Peeters, Jérôme Varnier, Andrew Schroeder, Léonard Pezzino, Sylvie Brunet, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Amel Brahim-Djelloul, Maria José Montiel and Qiu Lin Zhang, conducted by Pinchas Steinberg.
  • NPR World of Opera - From Washington NAtional Opera, Bolcom's A View from the Bridge, with Kim Josephson, Catherine Malfitano, Christine Brandes, Gregory Turay, Richard Bernstein, John Del Carlo, Kirc Eichelberger and Greg Warren, conducted by John DeMain.
  • Lyric FM - From the Wexford Opera Festival, Rimsky-Korsakov's Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden), with Irina Samoylova.
  • MDR Figaro - From Oper Halle, Mozart's Don Giovanni, with Johannes Weisser, Lorenzo Regazzo, Alexandrina Pendatchanska, Olga Pasichnyk, Kenneth Tarver, Sunhae Im, Nikolay Borchev and Alessandro Guerzoni, conducted by René Jacobs.
  • Radio Oesterreich International - Another archival Metropolitan Opera broadcast: From February 24, 1968, Wagner's Die Walküre, with Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek, Christa Ludwig, Jon Vickers, Thomas Stewart, Karl Ridderbusch, Phyllis Brill, Gwendolyn Killebrew, Louise Pearl, Carlotta Ordassy, Clarice Carson, Barbro Ericson, Rosalind Hupp and Joann Grillo, conducted by Berislav Klobucar.
  • Sveriges Radio P2 - From Malmö musikteater an August 8th performance of Larsson's Prinsessan av Cypern, with Nils Olsson, Signe Lind, Lisa Löfqvist, Ethel Schelin and Naja Monrad Hansen, conducted by Andreas Lönnqvist.
  • Cesky Rozhlas 3-Vltava - The third and last in their series of archival Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, the 1957 broadcast of Puccini's Tosca, with Renata Tebaldi, Richard Tucker, Leonard Warren, Fernando Corena, Alessio De Paolis, Clifford Harvuot, George Cehanovsky, Peter Mark and Calvin Marsh, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos.
  • Espace 2 - From Grand-Théâtre in Geneva, Offenbach's Les Contes D'Hoffmann, with Marc Laho, Stella Doufexis, Nicolas Cavallier, Erich Huchet, Patricia Petibon, Rachel Harnisch, Maria Riccarda Wesseling, Nadine Denize, Francisco Vas, Bernard Deletré, René Schirrer, Gilles Cachemaille, Bisser Terziysky, Romaric Braun and Delphine Beaulieu, conducted by Patrick Davin.
  • Klara - Rossini's La Cenerentola, with Silvia Tro Santafé, Javier Camarena, Lhionel Lhote, Donato di Stefano, Raffaella Milanesi, Giorgia Milanesi and Tisbe François Lis, conducted by Marc Minkowski.
  • Radio Slovenia Tretji - From the 2008 Bayreuth season, Wagner's Die Walküre.
  • Radio Tre (RAI) - A September 26th performance from the Bel Canto Festival in Rome of Bellini's Norma, with Micaela Carosi, Sonia Ganassi, Gregory Kunde, Simon Orfila, Alessandra Volpe and Massimiliano Tonsini, conducted by Kent Nagano.
  • KING - Later on this evening, a live performance from Seattle Opera of Strauss's Elektra, with Janice Baird, Irmgard Vilsmaier, Rosalind Plowright, Richard Margison and Alfred Walker, conducted by Lawrence Renes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

BERLIOZ Romeo et Juliette

Another squib from Sam Shirakawa --

Philadelphia Orchestra 16 October 2008

I never have understood why Berlioz composed Romeo et Juliette. I know, I know. It's a paean to the British actress who eventually became his wife. I understand too that he apparently was looking for a means of expressing transcendent longing by transcending every means he was using to express it.

Ah the French! Never tiring of searching for a way to say "fuck me" without actually saying it.

As a result, Beau Berlioz ended up with an entity that's never quite an adequate substitute for the actual sensation. Romeo et Juliette is frequently operatic but it is not an opera, it is short of a cantata but much too long on cant, it aspires to be a kind of a symphony but it remains bereft of... You get the idea: It's a mishmash. But it's a mishmash that left a searing impression on what Balzac called the "brains of Paris" at its wildly successful first performances in the autumn of 1839.

Love, as mentioned already, played a huge role in its composition: the composer's adoration of Shakespeare and the bard's play, as well as his passion for Harriet Smithson, the English actress with whom he fell in love, while witnessing her portrayal (in English) at the Odeon. All this made more remarkable by the realization that Berlioz' command of languages excluded English.

Odd too is the composer's use of a text by Emile Duchamps. Much of it is derived from a version of Romeo and Juliet that was popular at the time by the English actor and entrepreneur David Garrick. No matter how much sauce béchamel you may ladle on to it, Duchamps' text is trop liquide compared to the ambrosial verbal harmonies of the source material.

While the hot 'n' heavy passion Berlioz poured into what he called a "Dramatic Symphony" (what symphony should not be dramatic?) remains unmistakable in the score even today, it takes inspiration of a special sort to pull it off in performance -- the kind of oomph that Leopold Stokowski and even Eugene Ormandy were able to conjure up virtually at will when they were on the podium of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where the work now is in the midst of a four-performance run in the City of Brotherly Love. For good or ill, the Orchestra has changed beyond recognition, and its current Chief Conductor Charles Dutoit is more intent upon laying wreaths in memory of Berlioz than on reviving the spirit of the music at its creation.

So the net-net impression left by the first performance in the current series of R & J at Verizon Hall was one of admiration rather than epiphany. Dutoit revealed the contours of this odd work efficiently, drawing some nice performances from the vocal soloists, chorus and orchestra, but without uncorking the magic that palpably intoxicated its first audiences.

Berlioz assigned the bulk of the solo vocal line to the bass role of Friar Laurence, who appears toward the end of the work to exhort (at some length) the warring Capulets and Montagues to bury their hatchets. British baritone David Wilson-Johnson carried out his duty flawlessly, spinning out a fine cantilena, where there often was little melody to latch onto. Papa Laurence is a thankless role; I hope Wilson-Johnson received merit pay for flying in to do it.

I wondered if Rumanian mezzo-soprano Roxana Denose and American tenor Gregory Kunde (making his Orchestra debut) would be as good at story-telling if they had to speak their brief lines, instead of singing them. Churlish as it might be to say it, these parts offer these gifted artists little to chew on. I also wondered why Berlioz used these vocal parts for telling what happened rather than for enacting what took place. There are no soaring lines to speak of, no invocations to l'amour, no protracted expressions of longing. Some of that is left to the Philadelphia Singers Chorale under the direction of David Hayes, the rest is left to the Orchestra, both of which performed satisfactorily on 16 October.

I must admit I longed for Stoki's ghost to stoke some fire into the proceedings. There was hélas no sign of him, possibly because he never conducted the work with the Orchestra. In a few weeks one of the most underrated conductors of the 20th century is set to conduct Wagner with the Philadelphians. Stokowski, Ormandy et le auteur will surely be listening...

Performances of Romeo et Juliette continue on tonight and 21 October in Philadelphia.

Sam H. Shirakawa

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Live Offerings - Sat., October 18, 2008 - PART II

Later in the afternoon, catch a very special 1939 broadcast from Stockholm of La Traviata with a very young and fresh Jussi Björling....and the 1956 Bayreuth Gotterdammerung.....

Continuing with listings starting at EDT 1:30 or later:

  • Cesky Rohzlas 3-Vltava & Espace 2 - An historic Metropolitan Opera broadcast: the March 13, 1975 performance of Bellini's I Puritani, with Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti and Sherrill Milnes, conducted by Richard Bonynge.
  • DR P2 - From Aiz-en-Provence, a July 13th performance of Haydn's L'infidelta delusa, with Claire Debono, Ina Kringelborn, James Elliott and Andreas Wolf, conducted by Jérémie Rhorer.
  • NPR World of Opera - From Washington National Opera, Mozart's Don Giovanni, with Erwin Schrott, Ildar Abdrazakov, Anja Kampe, Erin Wall, Amanda Squitieri, Trevor Scheunemann and Morris Robinson, conducted by Placido Domingo.
  • KBYU - From Utah Opera, Rossini's La Cenerentola, with Patricia Risley, Chad Freeburg, Daniel Belcher, Derrick Parker and Stephen Condy, condcuted by Gerald Steichen.
  • Lyric FM - The Budapest Ring Cycle Gotterdammerung.
  • NRK Klassisk & NRK P2 - From Welsh National Opera, Verdi's Falstaff, with Bryn Terfel, Anthony Mee, Neil Jenkins, Julian Close, Janice Watson, Claire Ormshaw, Imelda Drumm, Christopher Purves and Rhys Meirion, conducted by Carlo Rizzi.
  • Radio Oesterreich International - From Theater an der Wien, an October 14th performance of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, with Bejun Mehta, Miah Persson and Sunhae Im, conducted by René Jacobs.
  • Klara - From Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Puccini's Turandot, with Andrea Gruber, Marco Spotti, Fabio Armiliato, Aldo Bottion, Norah Amsellem, Giorgio Caoduro, Aldo Orsolini, Stefano Pisani and Andrea Porta, conducted by Pinchas Steinberg.
  • Radio Slovenia Tretji - From Bayreuth, Wagner's Das Rheingold.
  • Radio Stephansdom - From Bayreuth, the 1955 Gotterdammerung, with Astrid Varnay, Wolfgang Windgassen, Hermann Uhde, Maria von Ilosvay, Gustav Neidlinger, Josef Greindl, Gré Brouwenstijn, Jutta Vulpius, Elisabeth Schärtel, Maria Graf, Maria von Ilosvay, Georgine von Milinkovic, and Mina Bolotine, conducted by Joseph Keilberth.
  • Sveriges P2 - From Kungliga Opera in Stockholm, a very special 1939 broadcast of Verdi's La Traviata, with Hjördis Schymberg, Jussi Björling, Conny Molin, Göta Allard, Margit Sehlmark, Georg Svedenbrant, Folke Jonsson, Olle Strandberg, Gösta Lindberg, conducted by Herbert Sandberg.
  • WDAV - NPR World of Opera - From Washington National Opera, Puccini's La Boheme, with Adriana Damato, Vittorio Grigolo, Nicole Cabell, Paolo Pecchioli, Hyung Yun and Trevor Scheunemann, conducted by Emmanuel Villaume.

Happy listening.......

Live Offerings for Saturday, October 3, 2008 - Part I

Another chance to hear the Washington National Opera Tamerlano, with the exquisite Sarah Coburn....Two different performances of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress....Several WFMT stattions have fallen behind the regular schedule, so now you have a second (and sometimes, a third) chance to hear an opera you missed the first time around....

Already started:

  • Espace Musique - From l'Opéra de Québec, Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe, with Tracy Dahl, Elizabeth Turnbull, John Fanning, John Avey, Marcia Swanston and James McLennan, conducted by Hal France.
  • Bartok Radio - FInishes the Budapest Ring Cycle, with Wagner's Gotterdammerung, with Stig Andersen, Oscar Hillebrandt, Matti Salminen, Hartmut Welker, Susan Bullock, Markovics Erika, Cornelia Kallisch, Kovács Annamária, Németh Judit, Temesi Mária, González Mónika, Gémes Katalin, and Schöck Atala, conducted by Adam Fischer.
  • Dwojke Polskie Radio, Deutschlandradio Kultur - From Washington National Opera, Handel's Tamerlano, with David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, Sarah Coburn, Patricia Bardon, Claudia Huckle and Andrew Foster-Williams, conducted by. William Lacey.
  • BBC Radio 3 - From the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, with Charles Castronovo, John Relyea, Sally Matthews, Darren Jeffrey, Patricia Bardon, Peter Hoare and Kathleen Wilkinson, conducted by Thomas Ades.
  • CBC Two - From Vienna, Verdi's I Due Foscari, with Leo Nucci, Francisco Casanova, Manon Feubel, Dan Paul Dumitrescu, Jörg Schneider, Nina Bernsteiner, Jörg Schneider, Eugen Gaal, conducted by Bertrand de Billy.
  • France Musique - From Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Lully's Armide, with Claire Debono, Isabelle Druet, Stéphanie Oustrac, Nathan Berg, Paul Agnew, Marc Mauillon, Marc Callahan, Andrew Tortise, Laurent Naouri, Anders J Dahlin, conducted by William Christie.
  • Radio 4 Netherlands - From Venice, Vivaldi's Orlando Furioso, with Romina Basso, Manuela Custer, Sylva Pozzer and Anna Rita Gemmabella, conducted by Andrea Marcon.
  • Radio Clasika de Espana - Teatro Regio in Turín, Cherubini's Medea, with A. Caterina Antonacci, G. Sabbatini, C. Forte, S. Mingardo, G. Battista Parodi, D. Matamoros and E. Grimaldi, conducted by E. Pidò.
  • RTP Antena 2 - From Opéra Garnier in Paris, a March 22nd performance of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, with Laura Claycomb, Hilart Summers, Jane Henschel, Toby Spence, Ales Briscein, Laurent Naouri, René Schirrer and Ugo Rabec, conducted by Edward Gardner.
  • WFMT Opera Series (on numerous stations) - PLEASE NOTE THAT A NUMBER OF WFMT STATIONS ARE NO LONGER ON THE STANDARD SCHEDULE AND MAY BE A WEEK OR MORE BEHIND. From Houston Grand Opera, Verdi's A Masked Ball, with Ryan McKinny, Nikolay Didenko, Lyubov Petrova, Ramón Vargas, Carlo Guelfi, Beau Gibson, Ewa Podles, Liam Bonner, Cameron F. Schutza and Tamara Wilson, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • WQXR - WFMT Opera Series - From San Fransisco Opera, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, with Patricia Racette,
  • B.F. Pinkerton Brandon Jovanovich, Zheng Cao and Stephen Powell, conducted by Donald Runnicles.
  • XLNC1- WFMT Opera Series - From San Fransisco Opera, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, with Natalie Dessay, Giuseppe Filianoti, Gabriele Viviani and Oren Gradus, conducted by Jean-Yves Ossonce.

More to follow.....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Live offerings - Sat., October 11, 2008 - PART II

  • NPR World of Opera - From Washington National Opera, Puccini's La Boheme, with Adriana Damato, Vittorio Grigolo, Nicole Cabell, Paolo Pecchioli, Hyung Yun and Trevor Scheunemann, conducted by Emmanuel Villaume.
  • Lyric FM - Also carrying the budapest Ring Cycle Siegfried.
  • NRK Klassisk & NRK P2 - From Washington national Opera, Handel's Tamerlano, with David Daniels, Placido Domingo, Sarah Coburn, Patricia Bardon, Claudia Huckle and Andrew Foster-Williams, conducted by William Lacey.
  • Sveriges Radio P2 - Forssell's Death and the maiden, with Erika Sunnegårdh, Joseph Wolverton and Fredrik Zetterström, conducted by Thomas Söndergård.
  • Cesky Rozhlas 3-Vltava - A historic 1966 Met Broadcast of Beethoven's Fidelio, with Birgit Nilsson, James King, Geraint Evans, Otto Edelmann, Mary Ellen Pracht, Charles Anthony, Sherrill Milnes, George Shirley, Russell Christopher and Harold Sternberg, conducted by Karl Böhm.
  • Espace 2 - Another historic Met broadcast: Wagner's Die Walkure, with Birgit Nilsson, Thomas Stewart, Leonie Rysanek, Jon Vickers, Christa Ludwig, Karl Ridderbusch, Phyllis Brill, Gwendolyn Killebrew, Louise Pearl, Carlotta Ordassy, Clarice Carson, Barbro Ericson, Joanna Grilllo and Rosalinde Hupp, conducted by Berislav Klobucar.
  • Klara - From Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk, with
  • Vladimir Vaneev, Vselovod Grivnov, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet and Sergei Kunaev, conducted by James Conlon.
  • WDAV - Last week's NPR World of Opera offering: From Washington National Opera, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, with Xiu Wei Sun, Arturo Chacon-Cruz, Elizabeth Batton, Luca Salsi, Anthony Laciura, Oben Urena, Robert Cantrell, Elizabeth Roberts and James Shaffran, conducted by Placido Domingo.

Happy listening.....

Live Offerings - Sat., October 11, 2008 - PART I

Already under way:

  • LRT Klasika - Janacek's Katia Kabanova, with Dalyvauja B. Deletre., P. Straka, N. Deniz, C(. Barker, conducted by Jiri Belohlavek.
  • Espace Musique - Puccini's Tosca, with Adrianne Pieczonka, Neil Shicoff, Juan Pons, Dale Travis, Robert Pomakov, Joel Sorensen and Levi Hernandez, conducted by Richard Armstrong.
  • YLE Klassinen - Handel's Acis and Galatea, with Septima Nebulae, Aapo Häkkinen, Anna-Kristiina Kaappola, Kajsa Dahlbäck, Tuomas Katajala and Robert McLoud, conducted by Vilppu Kiljusta.
  • Bartok Radio - Continues the June Budapest Ring Cycle, with Siegfried, featuring Christian Franz, Michael Roider, Alan Titus, Hartmut Welker, Walter Fink, Cornelia Kallisch, Evelyn Herlitzius and Gál Gabriella, conducted by Adam Fischer.
  • Dwojke Polskie Radio, Radio Oesterreich International & Radio Slovenia Tretji - Gounod's Faust, with Roberto Alagna, Kwangchul Youn, Boaz Daniel and Angela Gheorghiu, conducted by Bertrand de Billy.
  • DR P2 - From Copenhagen, Handel's Partenope, with Inger Dam-Jensen, Andreas Scholl, Christophe Dumaux, Tuva Semmingsen, Bo Kristian Jensen and Palle Knudsen, conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen.
  • BBC Radio 3 - From Glyndebourne, Eotvos's Love and Other Demons, with Allison Bell, Robert Brubaker, Nathan Gunn, John Graham Hall, Marietta Simpson, Felicity Palmer, and Jean Rigby, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.
  • CBC Two - From the Bavariab State Opera, Verdi's Nabucco, with Paolo Gavanelli, Alexander Antonenko, Giacomo Prestia, Maria Guleghina, Daniela Sindram, Andreas Kohn, Kevin Conners, Lana Kos, conducted by Paolo Carignani.
  • France Musique - From l'Opéra de Marseille, a September 27th concert performance of Reyer's Salammbô, with Kate Aldrich, Murielle Oger-Tomao, Gilles Ragon, Sébastien Guèze, Jean-Philippe, Lafont Wojtek Smilek, André Heyboer, Antoine Garcin and Eric Martin-Bonnet, conducted by Lawrence Foster.
  • Radio 4 Netherlands - Mozart's Idomeneo, with John Mark Ainsley, Juliane Banse and Pavol Breslik, conducted by Kent Nagano.
  • RTP Antena 2 - From Coiseu do Porto, a November 10th performance of Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore, with Ângela Alves, Ana Barros, Mário João Alves, Kevin Greenlaw and Jorge Vaz de Carvalho, conducted by Nicholas Kok.
  • WFMT Opera Series (on numerous stations) - From San Francisco Opera, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, with Natalie Dessay, Giuseppe Filianoti, Gabriele Viviani and Oren Gradus, conducted by Jean-Yves Ossonce.
  • WQXR - Part of the WFMT Opera Series, from San Franciso Opera, Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride, with Susan Graham, Virginia Pluth, Sally Mouzon, Mark S. Doss, Torlef Borsting, Paul Groves, Bo Skovhus, Jeremy Galyon, Melody Moore and Heidi Melton, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • XLNC1 - Part of the WFMT Opera Series, from San Francisco Opera, Handel's Ariodante, with Susan Graham, Ruth Ann Swenson, Sonia Prina, Veronica Cangemi, Richard Croft and Eric Owens, conducted by Patrick Summers.

More to come....


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Irina Rindzuner as Turandot

Sam Shirakawa has been lurking on the Upper East Side:

Dicapo Opera -- 10 October

Just when I was beginning to despair that Birgit Nilsson was really the End of the Wagnerian Line, up pops a voice that appears to be fulfilling The Promise of a new dynasty.

But I had a problem with Irina Rindzuner at the dress rehearsal of Dicapo Opera Theater's up-coming Turandot: her voice is simply too big for Dicapo's intime home in the cellar of a church on the Manhattan's East Side. When Rindzuner fired off those notes above the staff with such laser beam accuracy, I could feel my gums rattling.

The voice is huge, but it also is beautiful. It's even from top to bottom and opens out gloriously as it ascends to those killer Bs and above. As with most quality singers of her ilk, Rindzuner has vibrato to spare, but it's tight and torrid. Think Eugenia Burzio meets Magda Olivero, but not quite as devouring as either.

Skeptical? Check her out on YouTube. As they used to say about Leider, Lawrence and Big F, the documentation is but a shadow.

Maybe it's fortunate that Rindzuner is only covering Santuzza at the Met this season. But given some of the Wiener Schnitzel scheduled for this year's Ring Cycle, she'd be a sensation there, if she stepped in.

Best not to say too much, because I attended a dress rehearsal.

The rest of the cast was noteworthy, but some of them were marking, so no names will be mentioned here. For all I know, Rindzuner was marking too. The US economy should only have such reserves.

Turandot begins a four-performance run this Friday at their home on East 76th Street at Lexington.

Sam H. Shirakawa

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Monday, October 06, 2008


Our old friend Sam Shirakawa gives his view of the Met's Lucia (keep them coming, Sam!):

Metropolitan Opera -- 3 October

If love can make you loony, there was plenty of lunacy to be found during the first fortnight of the Metropolitan's 125th season. On Friday 3 October Lucia di Lammermoor returned to the boards. It's the opera (1835), some critics claim, that restored the themes of transcendent love and death to lyric theater of the 19th century.

Gaetano Donizetti and his librettist Salvatore Cammarano stick fairly closely to the story Sir Walter Scott tells in The Bride of Lammermoor, but they amend some salient details. In the opera, for instance, Lucia is said to be extremely distraught over her mother's death. In Scott's novel (1819), Lucia's shrewish mother is very much alive and takes the lead in forcing her daughter to renounce her paramour and enter into an expedient marriage. In another deviation from the source, Donizetti's Lucia fatally stabs her bridegroom on their wedding night, while Scott's Lucy wounds Arthur Bucklaw seriously, but not fatally. The victim, pursuantly goes to some length in forbidding evermore the mere mention of the incident in his presence.

Why such emphatic entreaties for discretion?

Some surmise, perhaps correctly, that hapless Lucy, having become irreparably separated from her senses, attempts to separate her groom from his private parts. [How many sane women throughout the ages have done that?] In simply eliminating Bucklaw entirely, Donizetti and Cammarano saved countless impresarios from having to hire a castrato/counter-tenor for just one expository scene.

The Arturo, by the way, was the big surprise at the premiere. Sean Panikkar made a meal out of the bit-part and displayed a clarion lyric tenor that was nothing less than large. Blessed with musicality as resplendent as his voice, he brought his all-too-brief appearance into bold relief against some hefty competition from the lead singers.

Those who know, knew that Diana Damrau's Lucia would be good, but few could have guessed how much so. It took a moment or two for her to find her focus, but by the time she got around to the second verse of "Regnava nel silenzio" Damrau was well on her way to surpassing her immediate predecessor at the Met in the part -- vocally at least -- in this hold-over of last season's hotly hyped new production. Damrau traversed the fiortituri up and down the scale with the ease of a gold-medal skateboarder, and her top notes were uniformly bang-on. [Yes, all the high Cs and Ds have been restored, thank you very much.]

Dramatically, she still needs to decide what kind of heroine she wants to embody, but she appears to be working on it. The challenge lies in her genes: a German coloratura and then some, but she's on Italian turf. Berger was perhaps the most recent of that pedigree to assimilate this rep comfortably. And that was eons ago. If Damrau can succeed in making her Lucia sound easy and inevitable, she stands a chance of fading fond memories of Jaws, who owned the role from 1959 until her retirement.

Piotr Beczala as Edgardo was no real surprise either. Watch his stuff on YouTube. Do it in chronological order, and you'll see how rapidly he's developing into a contender. But enjoy him while you may: imbecilic agents and moronic managements have a way of wasting up-and-comers like Beczala or just ignoring them.

Vladimir Stoyanov made a likable debut as Lucia's dislikable brother Enrico. There is no doubt that a fine baritone, faintly reminiscent of Bastianini, has come among us. Fine as the basic equipment may be, it remains to be heard how refined an artist this Bulgarian can become.

The payroll was respectably rounded out by Ildar Abdrazakov, Ronald Naldi and Michaela Martens as Raimondo, Normanno and Alisa respectively.

Mary Zimmerman's production is arguably the most interesting Lucia seen at the Met in decades, but problems with Daniel Ostling's Adobe-driven sets continue to generate interminable intermissions. Adding a dubious lagniappe at the season premiere, the huge flying staircase refused to recede into the wings at the conclusion of Damrau's riveting Mad Scene. That left the poor lackeys carrying Lucia to the balcony holding the bag, so to speak, for what seemed an eternity. And that left the audience madly clapping and clapping and... Really, now, must any production of Lucia in this day and age of nifty hi-tech scene changes shlep on for nearly three hours and forty minutes?

Proceedings in the pit went much more fluidly. The orchestra under Marco Armilato performed miracles with a score that all too often falls prey to oom-pah-pah listlessness; sensational solo playing by harpist Mariko Anraku, flutist Stefan Ragnar Höskuldsson and Celia Breuer on glass armonico. Only Anraku, however, got to go home before the epic-length second intermission.

Sam H. Shirakawa

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Live Offerings for Saturday, October 3, 2008

More live offerings for today:

  • Radio Slovenia Tretji - From this summer's Bayreuth Festival, Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, with Franz Hawlata, Artur Korn, Charles Reid, Rainer Zaun, Michael Volle, Andreas Macco, Diógenes Randes, Klaus Florian Vogt, Norbert Ernst, Michaela Kaune, Carola Guber and Friedemann Röhlig, conducted by Sebastian Weigle.
  • NPR World of Opera - From Washington National opera, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, with Xiu Wei Sun, Arturo Chacon-Cruz, Elizabeth Batton, Luca Salsi, Anthony Laciura, Oben Urena, Robert Cantrell, Elizabeth Roberts and James Shaffran, conducted by Placido Domingo.
  • Cesky Rozhlas 3-Vltava - From Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liége, Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, with Patrizia Ciofi, Marianna Pizzolato, Diana Axentii, Danilo Formaggio, Federico Sacchi and Mario Cassi, conducted by Luciano Acocella.
  • Espace 2 - A historic broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera: Puccini's Tosca, with Renata Tebaldi, Richard Tucker, Leonard Warren, Clifford Harvuot, Fernando Corena, Alessio De Paolis, George Cehanovsky, Clavin Marsh and Peter Mark, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos.
  • Klara - Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, with Stéphane Degout, Sandrine Piau, Dietrich Henschel, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Alain Vernhes, Jean Teitgen, Nabil Suliman and Valérie Gabail, conducted by Mark Wigglesworth.
  • Latvia Radio Klasika - Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, with Deborah Polaski and Julia Juon, Williard White, conducted by Sylvain Camberling.
  • Radio Tre (RAI) - We're still not really sure what they are airing today, but it's one of the following: EITHER BIENNALE MUSICA, direct from Teatro Fenice in Florence, OR from La Scala in Milan, a July 12th performance of Puccini;s La Boheme, with Svetla Vassileva, Nino Machaidze, Fabio Sartori, Luca Salsi, Massimo Cavalletti, Giorgio Giuseppini, Ramtin Ghazavi, Domenico Colaianni, Matteo Peirone, conductde by Gusatavo Dudamel.
  • WQED - From Pittsburgh Opera, Verdi's Aida, with Eszter Sümegi in the title role, with mezzo-soprano -- either Marianne Cornetti or Jane Dutton or Stephanie Blythe -- and Ukranian tenor Vladimir Kuzmenko. Music Director Antony Walker conducts.
  • Lyric FM - at a later start time, the Ring cycle from Budapest: Das Rheingold, with Stig Anderson, Evelyn Herlitzius and Susan Bullock, conducted by Adam Fischer.
  • WDAV - Last week's NPR World of Opera: Rimsky-Korsakov's The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, with Tatiana Monogarova, Vitaly Panfilov, Vsevolodovic Kazakov, Mikhail Bubsky, Gevorg Hakovyan, Marika Gulordava, Stefano Consolini, Alessandro Senes, Rosanna Savoia and Elena Manistina, conducted by Alexander Vidernikov.

Happy listening,

Live on Saturday, October 3, 2008 - PART II

More live listings for today:

  • BBC Radio 3 - From English National Opera, Bernstein's Candide, with Alex Jennings, Toby Spence, Marnie Breckenridge, Beverley Klein, Bonaventura Bottone, Mairead Buicke, Mark Stone and Ferlyn Brass, conducted by Rumon Gamba.
  • CBC Two - From the Montreal Baroque Festival in June 2007, Montiverdi's Orfeo, with Charles Daniels, Samantha Louis-Jean, Monika Mauch, Catherine Webster, Matthew White, Colin Ainsworth, Michiel Schrey, Nathaniel Watson, Harry Van der Kamp and Normand Richard, conducted by Eric Milnes.
  • Deutschlandradio Kultur & Espace Musique - From the Vienna State Opera, a September 27th performance of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, with Leo Nucci, Bariton, Roxana Briban, Giacomo Prestia and Roberto Aronica, conducted by Yves Abel.
  • DR P2 - From the Rossini Festival in Pesaro,an August 10th performance of Rossini's Ermione, with Sonia Ganassi, Marianna Pizzolato, Gregory Kunde and Antonio Siragusa, conducted by Roberto Abbado.
  • France Musique - From l'Opéra Bastille in Paris, a July 1st performance of Verdi's Don Carlo, with James Morris, Stefano Secco, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Mikhail Petrenko, Paul Gay, Tamar Iveri, Yvonne Naef, Elisa Cenni, Jason Bridges and Elena Tsallagova, conducted by Teodor Currentzis.
  • Radio 4 Netherlands - From Teatro Real in Madrid, Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, with Marcelo Alvarez, Violeta Urmana and Carlos Alvarez, conducted by Jesús López-Cobos.
  • RTP Antena 2 - From Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, Vivaldi's Motezuma, with Laura Cherici, Gemma Bertagnolli, Theodora Baka, Mary-Ellen Nesi, Maite Beaumont and Vítor Priante, conducted by Alan Curtis.
  • WFMT Opera Series (on numerous stations) - From San Francisco Opera, Handel's Ariodante, with Susan Graham, Ruth Ann Swenson, Sonia Prina, Veronica Cangemi and Richard Croft, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • WQXR - Patrick Summers conducts Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah with Olga Borodina as Delilah, Clifton Forbis as Samson, Juha Uusitalo as High Priest of Dagon, Oren Gradus as Old Hebrew, and Eric Jordan as Abimelech, and also including Noah Stewart, Richard Walter, and Jere Torkelsen.
  • XLNC1 - From San Francisco Opera, Wagner's Das Rhengold, with Mark Delavan, Stefan Margita, Richard Paul Fink, Jennifer Larmore, Jill Grove, David Cangelosi, Andrea Silvestrelli and Günther Groissböck, conducted by Donald Runnicles.

Look for PART III . . .

Live for Saturday, October 3, 2008 - PART I

Starting now, a chance to hear Juha Uusitalo, the singer who so impresses as Jokanaan in the Met's current run of Salome:

  • Bartok Radio - Wagner's Die Walkure, with Stig Andersen, Walter Fink, Juha Uusitalo, Eveyn Herlitzius, Susan Bullock, Németh Judit, Gertrud Wittinger, Somogyi Eszter, Ardó Mária, Fodor Gabriella, Várhelyi Éva, Bokor Jutta, Bakos Kornélia, Kovács Annamária, conducted by Ádám Fischer.

More to come shortly . . . .

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

SALOME or The Lick of Love

Our friend, Sam Shirakawa is enthusiastic about the new season's Salome . . .

Metropolitan Opera, September 23 and 26

The current run of Salome at the Met certainly has the lick... er... the look of love. Or Lust. Even if a little of Oscar Wilde's Nasty Nubile goes a long way for you, Strauss' incarnation -- with a little help from his librettist Hugo von Hofmanstahl -- was again a sensation at the Met.

From start to finish, it's Karita Matilla's show, and she leaves you begging for more. So I went back for more -- yup, two performances in a row, and I still couldn't get enough of her. Her Biblical Brat is so alluringly monstrous, that she has you suppressing morbid chuckles right from the get-go. Whether she's undulating her estrogen-laden body parts or slurping for testosterone from her beheaded boy-toy, Karita keeps you giddy.

So how did she sing? Put it this way: Karita riding the Met orchestra going full-tilt is a bit like stories of Queen Christina riding the throes of sexual hyperesthesia -- the apogee of unnatural ecstasy in either case.

Speaking of the orchestra, Patrick Summers stepped in at the last moment for Mikko Franck and stepped in proverbial Scheisse. With barely one orchestra rehearsal, he steered the Met band a league beyond its usual Olympian standard. Some fabulous playing, if you were paying attention, especially from the brass section. Listen to those trills among the horns on Salome's last words. Unbelievable!

Along the way -- a veil dance that left no birds in the bush -- neither in the pit nor on stage. Karita's revealing climactic moment -- front, center and full-frontal -- would surely have drawn a chuckle from the late and lamented Bob Fosse, who knew a thing or two about dirty dancing. Whether Doug Varrone's snazzy choreography will look as stylish when other less agile Salomes step up to the charger is cause for dread.

The rest of the cast keeps out of Karita's way. Kim Begley as Herod, Ildikó Komlósi as Herodias and Joseph Kaiser as Narraboth move around a lot in Jürgen Flimm's over-lighted production. They looked like they knew where they were going. Superb vocalism from all of them, but who noticed?

You couldn't avoid noticing Juha Uusitalo because the score gives Jokanaan so much space. In any other circumstance, the burly Finn would have aroused more excitement, but Jacques the Jesus Freak is a thankless role. Uusitalo is performing some Wagner in Washington later this month, where he will be better poised to showcase his estimable gifts.

It's a long march for the Met from now until May, but if Salome is a harbinger of things to come this season, some memorable performances are in store.

Sam H. Shirakawa