Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Opening Night Met Rheingold

A few personal caveats: I saw this Opening Night performance of the Met's Das Rheingold at an HD screening at Times Square, not in the house. Moreover, as a dear friend of ours, the late Paul Jaretzki, would often remind me, hearing a performance via mechanical reproduction, no matter how sophisticated, is simply never the same as hearing a performance in the house. In addition, no review is objective. Every review must, at best, be a deeply personal set of impressions, no matter how carefully measured. Consequently, since what I'm providing here are strictly personal impressions, and personal impressions formed through a video screening yet, everything written here should be taken with both caveats clearly in mind.  My general view is that the sound system at Times Square is certainly superb, and it was amazing just how undistorted even the most awe-inspiring orchestral climaxes in Wagner's writing sounded that night. I take my hat off to whoever supervised the audio. Nevertheless, however undistorted the sound seemed, I remain aware that both voices and instruments will always sound different in the house, and thus my impressions via a virtual telecast can never be a substitute for a proper review inside the hall.

As always these days, what emerged from James Levine's orchestra was perfectly correct, with impeccable tuning and reflecting disciplined preparation. There was nothing that one could find really objectionable. He has now become an attentive accompanist for his singers, and that was still the case on this night. If there was any fault at all -- but the problem was only intermittent -- he did not always allow the strings the full prominence that many, including this listener, view as ideal. But that may partly have been a function of mike placement; things may have sounded different in the house. The other aspect to his conducting that renders it sometimes less than ideal is a tendency to present the music as a sequence of symphonic highlights rather than a continuous narrative span. This Opening Night performance was no exception. It's always possible that this impression on this night was also partly due to the way the mikes were set for the HD transmission.  But it does reflect what I've heard from him before.  Fortunately, however symphonic the occasional impression, the singers under Levine these days are rarely swamped the way they used to be. Over the years, he has brought a considerable degree of self-discipline to his performances in that respect. That too was reflected in his eminently dependable choices on Opening Night.

A lot of ink has been spilled on Robert LePage's special effects throughout this production. Unfortunately, while the audio supervision was superb, the choices in camera work circumscribed genuine opportunities of seeing the full stage picture far, far too much. Tight close-ups were the order of the day, and visual context was sometimes unclear. For as much as I could see, this is a production of both striking visuals -- for instance, the giants are always on a higher platform than the other principals -- and minimal interference with Wagner's narrative. This is an admirable combination in principle. Sadly, though, characterization and interrelationships, though never willfully distorted, appeared sketchy on the screen -- also a flaw, if we recall, in the Met's previous Otto Schenk production as well. What this means is that the heart of Wagner's drama -- which, as with all great drama, is often the interactions between characters -- is heavily dependent on the artistic imaginations of the individual principals instead. Unfortunately, in this case, whether through directorial neglect or ill-advised directorial choices or poor artistic imagination from some of the principals themselves, key distinctions among the various characters were virtually lost. One exception was the moment when Fasolt has to take final leave of Freia after Wotan has given up the ring. Here, the bond he's tried to make with her was made very clear, and his reluctant letting-go of her hand was actually quite moving. But the most critical distinction drawn in Wagner's drama is between Alberich and Wotan. This is the heart of the work, and if this is effaced, the rest of Wagner's powerful Ring cycle is rendered meaningless.

Candidly, for me, both Eric Owens' Alberich and Bryn Terfel's Wotan were entirely inadequate. This is my own take -- just one listener's -- but what I saw and heard at Times Square from the two of them was pointless. Not one ounce of musicality from either: just monochromatic bawling. It carried only one message: "Hey, man, phrasing is for sissies; we are men!"  Revolting.

There is such a thing as a vocal persona that is inherent for a whole role.  It's not just a matter of doing one or two token and insincere softenings every hundred hours or so when some clueless coach bothers to tell you to. It's also a matter of maintaining a face in the voice at all times. The only face that came from their two voices was a grim scowl -- boring!

If one tends to view the world as one's oyster, and gets outraged at the very thought of having to accommodate others, one setback is sufficient to throw one right over the edge. That's what overtakes Alberich.  He is outraged at the Rhine Daughters' rebuff. How dare they? And there is nothing like the bitterness of such rejection to propel someone so self-centered into fathomless evil. Alberich leaves himself open to ridicule from the Rhinemaidens when his guard is down, and he is wounded!  So he erupts like a stung tiger: swift and terrible. His danger comes from the classic "I'll show you" attitude we've seen in countless shooting sprees on the news of the last twenty years from countless social misfits and worse. They have given in to evil totally, hurling shafts of destruction at a world that cannot accommodate them. Did we hear this fatal transformation from self-centered suitor to dangerously stung tiger in Owens' singing?  No!  He sang everything as if he was already in Nibelheim, slave-driving his enslaved compatriots from the get-go.  There was not an ounce of transformation in his singing from beginning to end. NOTE, NOTE, NOTE, NOTE, NOTE! That was all I heard. Not only didn't I hear an ounce of phrasing, every note seemed stuck in the throat without a shred of musicality. Maybe the most one-dimensional Alberich I've ever heard.

And Terfel?  He sounded as if he had been coached by every anti-musical Wotan who has ever lived. It is giving it too much respect to call it a characterization. I hope I'm wrong, but no (apparent) thought went into the character at all, that I could see. It came off as a simple "I AM GOD; HEAR ME ROAR!"  He may be the worst epitome of the Wotan-as-gangster shtick that I've ever heard -- although it may not be deliberate ............ since that would presume more thought behind it than I saw. If there was any deliberate character to it at all, then Scarpia is a sweetheart compared to this guy! And Terfel was occasionally sloppy with his music as well. He went totally off key for at least two phrases in the final "Abendlich strahlt", not just one note. It was a complete amnesia moment: He literally forgot which key he was singing in, and bawled two phrases way higher than they really go, making up completely new notes as he went along until back in place on the third phrase. It was pathetic and horrifying. There were also a number of other approximations and screw-ups like that throughout. What happened in the "Abendlich strahlt" was merely the most egregious. He really didn't seem so sure with his music for much of the performance.

With his having conveyed maybe the most frightfully thuggish Wotan I've ever encountered, the critical change of heart at Erda's appearance was more unconvincing than I have ever seen or heard. Nothing in his voice conveyed the least bit of being chastened at all. Oh, sure, he went for one nanosecond from forte to mezzoforte on the "Geheimnishehr" solo, but when he "softened" that one time, the face in the voice, softened or not, never departed from that all-purpose scowl. It was as convincing (not) as the most crude deus ex machina in Restoration tragedy. This Wotan wouldn't spend six seconds, let alone six minutes, even listening to an Erda at all! His plea to Erda, "Dich muss ich fassen, alles erfahren", came out the most insincerely I have ever heard it sung.  Some Wotans have not only managed to moderate their persona at that point, but have even contrived to show -- in their voices -- that Wotan is falling in love with Erda there and then (yes, maybe a step too far, but it's an object lesson in showing just how much vulnerability one can wrench out of Wotan's music at this point if one listens like a musician; going by this telecast, my personal impression, unfair or not, is that Terfel listens more like a macho egoist than a musician -- hopefully, future performances may prove me wrong).  From that point to the end, Terfel's singing was possibly worse than ever. Robbed of the opportunity to play mean, Terfel's vocalism now grew especially tentative, with the train wreck in the "Abendlich strahlt" the coup de grace. He did throw out one good high note at the very end of the "Abendlich strahlt" ("SOOO gruess ich die Burg"), but I felt that came too late to redeem himself.

The only respectable moment for him, where he seemed somewhat comfortable with his music, was his colloquy with Alberich back in Valhalla leading up to his wrenching the ring from Alberich's finger. Of course, this is Wotan's most menacing moment in Rheingold anyway (apart, perhaps, from his refusal to yield the ring right before Erda's appearance), so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at his suddenly getting so comfortable with Alberich here. This scene was his "norm" for Wotan, after all. So naturally it worked better. Still, it was ironic hearing more natural phrasing at the very point where Wotan is being at his most baleful.

Ultimately, though, we cannot really blame Terfel. There is a misplaced zeitgeist around this role today, and it will take at least two generations to dislodge it. That zeitgeist dictates that Wotan be monochromatic and "dangerous". Naturally, Wotan as Mr. Menace is never going to assume a persona that is any different from Alberich, and we are foolish to expect otherwise. Terfel is merely following the herd. Listening to Wagner's music more attentively might wake him up. Wagner's music makes it clear that -- however wrong-headed the youthful Wotan's actions in Rheingold -- there is still an abiding loftiness to him from the very start. That loftiness makes his sudden attentiveness to Erda perfectly natural. The audience will have already sensed this dimension in him way before that last scene, if the Wotan does his job and sings the music clearly and honestly.  Sung that way, the Erda scene becomes a fulfillment of a potential already glimpsed, not a cheap deus ex machina surprise.

Recently, we did hear a little something of both the real Alberich and the real Wotan in the singing of Johannes Martin Kränzle and René Pape at La Scala this past season. But I see no sign of Kränzle anywhere this year, and Pape will no doubt be told sooner or later that he has Wotan "all wrong" and shouldn't bother listening to his music the way he's been doing. Again, phrasing is for sissies, remember?

It's only a matter of time before we hear Pape expectorating his Wotan from his throat, the way all the hand-me-down Terfels do. Proper "coaching" will quickly tell Pape to "mature" his reading so it's properly unmusical and one-dimensional to fit with the knee-jerk Mr. Menace so de rigeur these days.

In any case, Pape is a heavy smoker, so it's only a matter of time before Pape will be unable to do the role any other way than as a Terfel redux. There's also no point to acquiring the video of Pape's marvelous reading, because the Scala production is an insult and an object lesson in how to distract from every ounce of Wagner's drama. We can only hope for an audio CD instead, particularly since -- and you heard it here first -- the powers-that-be will not allow Pape to develop the three-dimensional musical Wotan he initiated at La Scala. It will be corrupted soon enough, making any audio CD of the Scala reading a precious snapshot of what happened before the rot set in.

On Opening Night at the Met, we did get a sensitive multi-dimensional Loge from Richard Croft, and Stephanie Blythe was a stunning Fricka, and Richard's brother Dwayne was in the best shape I've heard him in in years -- his Donner showed a superb authority and ease and musicality throughout, with none of the rasps and snarled nasal tone we've sometimes heard from him recently, which made me think that he and Richard may have had a useful heart-to-heart. Hans-Peter König was also an excellent Fafner (complete with a Salminen-like trill).  Positive contributions were also made by Wendy Bryn Harmer as Freia and Lisette Oropesa as Woglinde, leading a strong trio of Rhinemaidens.  Patricia Bardon's Erda was not really at this level; but despite her not being a true contralto, she was never unmusical.  She may come off to better advantage in higher repertoire.

With all these pluses, though, when you get a Rheingold where the heart of the drama -- the face-off between Alberich and Wotan -- is hobbled by a Wotan and an Alberich who sing like two peas in a pod throughout -- and bor-ring peas at that -- what have you really got? Nothing.

© Geoffrey Riggs

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Live Offerings - Saturday, September 25, 2010 - Part II

I want to give a shout-out for Indiana University's live videocast this evening of their production of Barbiere di Siviglia....

Further listings for this afternoon:

  • Klara - From the Bavarian Opera in Munich, a June 12th performance of Mayr's Medea, with Ramón Vargas, Alastair Miles, Elena Tsallagova, Laura Nicorescu, Alek Shrader, Kenneth Roberson and Francesco Petrozzi, conducted by Ivor Bolton.
  • KBIA2 & WDAV - NPR World of Opera: From the Royal Albert Hall, Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel.
  • From Indiana University, a live videocast of their production of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
  • KING - From San Francisco Opera, Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel.
  • Concert FM (New Zealand) - From the Rococo Theatre in Stuttgart, Gretry's Andromaque, with Judith van Wanroij, Maria-Riccarda Wesseling, Sébastien Guèze, Tassis Christoyannis, Kirsten Drope, Frank Bossert and Torsten Müller, conducted by Hervé Niquet.
  • ABC CLassic FM (Australia) - From Theatre des Champs Elysee in Paris, Cavalli's La Calisto, with Sophie Karthäuser, Lawrence Zazzo, Marie-Claude Chappuis, Giovanni Battista Parodi, Véronique Gens, Milena Storti, Cyril Auvity, Mario Cassi, Sabina Puértolas, Graeme Broadbent, conducted by Christophe Rousset.

Happy Listening . . . .

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Live Offerings - Saturday, September 25, 2010 - Part I

We've narrowed our choices to four for this afternoon - Idomeneo with Groves, Trittico with Gavanelli, Podles and Silvestrelli, Trovatore with Radvanovsky and Blythe and Simon Boccanegra with Poplavskaya, Calleja and Furlanetto.
  • BBC Radio 3 - From Glyndebourne, Britten's Billy Budd, with John Mark Ainsley, Jacques Imbrailo, Phillip Ens, Iain Paterson, Matthew Rose, Darren Jeffery, Alasdair Elliott, John Moore, Jeremy White, Ben Johnson, Colin Judson, and Richard Mosley-Evans, conducted by Mark Elder.
  • CBC Two - From Lyric opera of Chicago, Verdi's Ernani, with Boaz Daniel, Salvatore Licitra, Sondra Radvanovsky, Giacomo Prestia, Kathryn Leemhuis, René Barbera and Paul Corona, conducted by Renato Palumbo.
  • Deutschlandradio Kultur - From La Scala in Milan, a September 9, 2009 performance of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, with Roberta Invernizzi, Georg Nigl, Sara Mingardo, Luigi De Donato, Raffaella Milanesi, Giovanni Battista Parodi and Furio Zanasi, conducted by Rinaldo Alessandrini.
  • DR P2 - From Odessa, an April 15 performance of Tchaikovsky's Iolante, with Volodymyr Tarasov, Viktor Mitiushkin, Anatoliy Duda, Volodymyr Murashchenko and Serhiy Krasnykh, conducted by Oksana Lyniv.
  • Espace Musique - From the Canadian Opera Company, Mozart's Idomeneo, with Paul Groves, Krisztina Szabò, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Tamara Wilson, Michael Colvin, Adam Luther, Neil Craighead, Laura Albino, Ileana Montalbetti, Michael Barrett and Neil Craighead, conducted by Harry Bicket.
  • KBYU - From San Francisco Opera, Puccini's Il Trittico, with Patricia Racette, Brandon Jovanovich, Paolo Gavanelli, Catherine Cook, Andrea Silvestrelli, Matthew O’Neill, Tamara Warpinsky, David Lomeli, Thomas Glenn, Ewa Podles, Rebekah Camm, Catherine Cook, Daveda Karanas, Meredith Arwady, Leah Crocetto, Heidi Melton, Virginia Pluth, Daniela Mack, Mary Finch, Tamara Wapinsky, Dvora Djoraev, Mary Finch, Claire Kelm, Rachelle Perry, Sally Mouzon and David Lomeli, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • KOHM, WPLN, WABE Classical, WHQR & WUGA - NPR World of Opera: From the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel, with Alice Coote, Lydia Teuscher, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrkacke, Imrgard Vilsmaier, William Dazeley, Tara Erraught and Ida Falk Winland, conducted by Robin Ticciati.
  • KUSF - From San Francisco Opera, Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, with
  • Mary Dunleavy, Anna Christy, Matthew Polenzani, Andrew Bidlack and Peter Rose, conducted by Cornelius Meister.
  • KWAX - From San Francisco Opera, Wagner's Tannhauser.
  • RTP Antena 2 - From Ópera de Paris, a September 26, 2009 performance of Gounod's Mireille, with Inva Mula, Charles Castronovo, Franck Ferrari, Alain Vernhes and Sylvie Brunet, conducted by Marc Minkowski.
  • WCLV & WRTI - From San Francisco Opera, Verdi's Il Trovatore, with Sondra Radvanovsky, Renee Tatum, Stephanie Blythe, Marco Berti, Burak Bilgili and Dmitri Hvorostovskyconducted by Nicola Luisotti.
  • WETA - From Covent Garden, Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, with Placido Domingo, Marina Poplavskaya, Joseph Calleja, Ferrucio Furlanetto, Jonathan Summers and Lukas Jakobski, conducted by Antonio Pappano.
  • WFMT Opera Series (on numerous stations) - From San Francisco Opera, Handel's Ariodante, with Ruth Ann Swenson, Veronica Cangemi, Sonia Prina, Susan Graham and Eric Owens, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • France Musique - Handel's Semele, with Richard Croft, Peter Rose, Danielle De Niese, Vivica Genaux, Jaël Azzaretti, Stephen Wallace, Claire Debono, conducted by
  • Christophe Rousset.
  • Radio Oesterreich International (OE1) - From the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a February 16, 1963 performance of Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer, with George London, Leonie Rysanek, Sandor Konya, Giorgio Tozzi, Lili Chookasian and George Shirley, conducted by Karl Böhm.
  • Sveriges Radio P2 - From Kungliga Opera, a 1959 perfromance of Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, with Aase Nordmo-Lövberg, Birgit Nordin, Kerstin Meyer, Ragnar Ulfung, Arne Wirén, Kolbjörn Höiseth, Hugo Hasslo, Georg Svedenbrant, Bo Lundborg and Arne Tyrén, conducted by Sixten Ehrling.
More to come......

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Live Offerings - Saturday, September 18, 2010 - Part II

Continuing with today's Live offerings:
  • Bartok Radio - Berg's Wozzeck, with Georg Nigl, Mardi Byers, Maxim Paszter, Pjotr Migunov, Roman Muravickij, Fredrik Akselberg, Xenia Vjaznyikova, Valerij Gilmanov and Nyikolaj Kazanszkij.
  • France Musique - From Salle Favart de l'Opéra Comique in Paris, Thomas's Mignon, with Marie Lenormand, Ismael Jordi, Malia Bendi-Merad, Nicolas Cavallier, Blandine Staskiewicz, Christophe Mortagne, Frédéric Goncalves and Laurent Delvert, conducted by François-Xavier Roth.
  • NRK Klassisk & NRK P2 - From the Vienna State Opera, a June 5th performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugen Onegin, with Zoryrna Kushpler, Olga Gurjakova, Nadja Krasteva, Margareta Hintermeier, Pavol Breslik, Dmitrij Hvorostovskij, Ferruccio Furlanetto and Alexander Kaimbacher, conducted by Kirill Petrenko.
  • Radio Oesterreich International (OE1) - From the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, a June 7th performance of Mayr's Medea in Corinto, with Alastair Miles, Alek Shrader, Nadja Michael, Ramón Vargas, Elena Tsallagova, Kenneth Roberson, Francesco Petrozzi and Laura Nicorescu, conducted by Ivor Bolton.
  • Sveriges Radio P2 - From the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, a May 30th performance of Schumann's Genoveva, with Anne Schwanewilms, Morten Frank Larsen, Shawn Mathey, Birgit Remmert, Markus Marquardt, Jae-Hyong Kim and Gun-Wook Lee, conducted by Jun Märkl.
  • KBIA2, WABE Classical, WDAV, WHQR & WUGA - NPR World of Opera: Bellini's I Puritani (see previous post for cast details).
  • Cesky Rozhlas 3-Vltava - Grétry's Andromaque, with Judith van Wanroij, Maria-Riccarda Wesseling, Sébastien Guéze and Tassis Christoyannis, conducted by Hervé Niquet.
  • Dwojka Poplskie Radio - From the Vienna State Opera, the August 6th performance of Puccini's La Boheme, with Stephen Costello, Krassamira Stoyanova, Alexandra Reinprecht, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.
  • Espace 2 - From the Metropolitan Opera in New York, an historic broadcast from February 27, 1960, of Verdi's Il Trovatore, with Carlo Bergonzi, Antonietta Stella, Giulietta Simionato, Ettore Bastianini, William Wilderman, Helen Vanni, Charles Anthony, Robert Nagy and Ronald Reitan, conducted by Fausto Cleva.
  • Klara - From the Vienna State Opera, a January 9th performance of Massenet's Manon, with Diana Damrau, Ramón Vargas, Markus Eiche, Dan Paul Dumitrescu, Alexander Kaimbacher, Clemens Unterreiner, Simina Ivan, Sophie Marilley and Zoryana Kushpler, conducted by Bertrand de Billy.
  • WOMR - Also offering the Il Trovatore from San Francisco.
  • KING - From Los Angeles Opera, the final installment of Wagner's Ring, Götterdämmerung, with Linda Watson, John Treleaven and Eric Halfvarson, conducted by James Conlon.
  • Concert FM (New Zealand) - From Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg, Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, with Yann Beuron, Marta Márquez, François Le Roux, Renée Morloc, Malcolm Smith, Léa Pasquel, Daniel Djambazian and Andreas Külzer, conducted by Rainer Mühlbach.
  • ABC Classic FM (Australia) - From the Grand Theatre in Geneva, Mozart's Don Giovanni, with Pietro Spagnoli, José Fardilha, Diana Damrau, Serena Farnocchia, Christoph Strehl, Raffaella Milanesi, Nicolas Testé and Fjodor Kuznetsov, conducted by Kenneth Montgomery.
Happy listening . . . .

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Live Offerings - Saturday, September 18, 2010 - Part I

 Here are the live offerings for this afternoon:

  • BBC Radio 3 - From the Edinburgh International Festival, Mozart's Idomeneo, with Kurt Streit, Joyce DiDonato, Rosemary Joshua, Emma Bell, Rainer Trost, Keith Lewis and Jan Martinik, conducted by Sir Roger Norrington.
  • CBC TWO - From La Monnaie in Brussells, a May 8th performance of Massenet's Don Quichotte, with Silvia Tro Santafé, José Van Dam, Werner Van Mechelen, Julie Mossay, Camille Merckx, Gijs Van der Linden, Vincent Delhoume, André Grégoire, Marc Coulon, Bernard Villiers, Jacques Does, Aldo de Vernati, Gérard Lavalle and Pascal Macou, conducted by Marc Minkowski.
  • Deutschlandradio Kultur & Espace Musique - From the Vienna State Opera, an August 9th performance of Puccini's La Bohème, with Stephen Costello, Krassimira Stoyanova, Boaz Daniel, Alexandra Reinprecht, Adam Plachetka, Sorin Coliban and Alfred Sramek, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.
  • DR P2, Radio 4 Netherlands & Radio Clasica de Espana - From Teatros del Canal in Madrid, Graun's Montezuma, with Flavio Oliver, Lourdes Ambriz, Rogelio Martin, Lucia Salas, Lina López, Adrián Popescu and Christophe Carré, conducted by Gabriel Garrido.
  • KBYU, WCLV & WRTI - From San Francisco Opera, Puccini's Il Trittico, with Patricia Racette, Brandon Jovanovich, Paolo Gavanelli, Catherine Cook, Ewa Podles, Rebekah Camm, Meredith Arwady,Leah Crocetto, Heidi Melton, Virginia Pluth, Daniela Mack, Mary Finch, Tamara Wapinsky, Dvora Djoraev, Mary Finch, Claire Kelm, Rachelle Perry and Sally Mouzon, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • KOHM & WPLN, - NPR World of Opera: From the Vienna State Opera, Bellini's I Puritani, with Désirée Rancatore, José Bros, Alexandru Moisiuc, Christof Fischesser, Mariusz Kwiecien, Benedikt Kobel and Roxana Constantinescu, conducted by Jan Latham-Koenig.
  • KUSF - From San Francisco Opera, Verdi's Otello, with Johan Botha, Zvetelina Vassileva, Marco Viratogna, Beau Gibson, Renee Tatum, Eric Halfvarson, Daniel Montenegro, Julien Robbins and Austin Kness, conducted by Nicola Luisotti.
  • Latvia Radio Klasika - From the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Italy, a July 9, 2009 performance of Rossini's Zelmira, with Juan Diego Flores, Marianna Picolato, Alex Espozito, Keita Oldridža, conducted by Roberto Abbado.
  • RTP Antena 2 - From Bucharest National Opera, a September 19, 2009 performance of Enescu's Édipo, with Franck Ferrari, Stefan Schuller, Valentin Racoveanu, Oana Andra, Mihai Lazar, Horia Sandu, Pompeiu Haras Teanu, Adriana Alexandru, Crina Zancu, Vicentiu Taranu and Ionut Pascu, conducted by Oleg Caetani.
  • WETA - From La Monnaie in Brussels, Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, with Nadja Michael, Stéphane Degout, Topi Lehtipuu, Werner van Mechelen and Violet Serena Noorduyn, conducted by Christophe Rousset.
  • WFMT Opera Series (on numerous stations) - From San Francisco Opera, Verdi's Il Trovatore, with Marco Berti, Sondra Radvanovsky, Stephanie Blythe and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Nicola Luisotti.

And more to come...stay tuned!

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Live Offerings - Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who died nine years ago today and their families....

Some interesting operas on offer this weekend:

  • CBC Two - From Teatro Real in Madrid, Martin y Soler's L'arbore di Diana (The Tree of Diana), with Ekaterina Lekhina, Ketevan Kemoklidze, Ainhoa Garmendia, Marisa Martins, Jossie Perez, Jose Luis Sola, John McVeigh, Simeon Orfila, conducted by Ottavio Dantone.
  • Deutschlandaradio Kultur - From Konzerthaus Berlin, a May, 1993 performance of Cornelius's Le Cid, with Robert Schunk, Ronnie Johansen, Gertrud Ottental, Albert Dohmen, Endrik Wottrich, Michael Schopper, Georg Taube, Klaus Silber, Michael Timm, conducted by Gustav Kuhn.
  • DR P2 - Ruders' Dancer in the Dark, with Ylva Kihlberg, Palle Knudsen, Hanne Fischer, Gert Henning Jensen, Ulla Kudsk Jensen and Guido Paevatalu, conducted by Michael Schønwandt.
  • Espace Musique - From Opéra Lyra Ottawa, Massenet's Manon, with Nathalie Paulin, Michael Schade, Brett Polegato, Alain Coulombe, Renée Lapointe, Christina Tannous, Eva Rachel McLeod, Theodore Baerg, Michel Corbeil, Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and Philippe Sabourin, conducted by Tyrone Paterson.
  • Last Night of the Proms, carried on numerous stations and starting as early as 1:00PM EDT and as late as 4:30PM EDT - Live from the Royal Albert Hall, featuring Renee Fleming, soprano, Maxim Rysanov, viola, conducted by Jiri Belohlavek.
  • KBIA2, KOHM, WABE, WDAV, WHQR, WPLN, WUGA - NPR World of Opera: From Opera Carolina, Gounod's Faust, with Maureen O'Flynn, James Valenti, Chester Patton, Corey McKern, Diane McEwen-Martin, Jeremy Collier and Kim Blanchard, conducted by James Meena.
  • KUSF - From LA Opera, Schreker's The Stigmatized (Die Gezeichneten), with Robert Brubaker, Anja Kampe and Martin Gantner, conducted by James Conlon.
  • Radio de Espana - Live from Teatro Real in Madrid, Tchaikovsky's Eugen Onegin, with M. Kasrashvili, T. Monogarova, M. Mamsirova, O. Volkova, N. Romanova, M. Kwiecien, S. Romanovsky, A. Kotscherga and V. Gilmanov (Zaretski), conducted by D. Jurowski.
  • WFMT Opera Series (on numerous stations) - From the San Francisco Opera, Puccini's Il Trittico, with Patricia Racette, Brandon Jovanovich, Paolo Gavanelli, Ewa Podles and David Lomeli, conducted by Patrick Summers.
  • WRTI - From the San Francisco Opera, Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, with Matthew Polenzani, Peter Rose, Andrew Bidlack, Charles Shaw Robinson, Mary Dunleavy and Anna Christy, conducted by Cornelius Meister.
  • Sveriges Radio P2 - From the Musikverein, Vienna, a September 1 concert performance of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, with Gerald Finley, Bernarda Fink, Sophie Karthäuser, Elisabeth von Magnus, James Taylor, Wolfgang Holzmair, Johanna Aschenbrenner and Peter Kövari, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
  • NRK Klassisk & NRK P2 - From Norske Opera, Kverndokk's Jorden rundt på 80 dager (Around the World in 80 Days), with Tom Erik Lie, Thor Inge Falch, Hege Høisæter, Magne Fremmerlid, Mari Eriksmoen, conducted by Christian Eggen.
  • KING - From LA Opera, Wagner's Siegfried, with John Treleaven, Vitalij Kowaljow, Graham Clark and Linda Watson, conducted by James Conlon.
  • Concert FM (New Zealand) - From Teatro São Carlos in Lisbon, Niobe, Regina di Tebe, with Alexandra Coku, Jacek Laszczkowski, Chelsey Schill, Luís Rodrigues, Pascal Bertin, Peter Kennel, Leandro Fischetti, Musa Nkuna and Luisa Francesconi, conducted by Sebastian Rouland.
  • ABC Classic FM (Australia) - From Palais Garnier in Paris, Gounod's Mireille, with Inva Mula, Charles Castronovo, Franck Ferrari, Alain Vernhes, Sylvie Brunet, Anne-Catherine Gillet, Sébastien Droy, Nicolas Cavallier, Amel Brahim-Djelloul and Ugo Rabec, conducted by Marc Minkowski.

Happy listening.....

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

David Bispham program at Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace - Saturday, Sept. 11

If Italy is famous for its tenors and Russia is known for its basses, then America is celebrated for its baritones. A sterling tradition highlighted by luminaries like Lawrence Tibbett, Leonard Warren, Robert Merrill and stretching all the way back to legendary figures like Clarence Whitehill and David Bispham at the turn of the 20th Century, the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace in lower Manhattan may afford us an opportunity to hear a new star in that distinguished line. Jimi James has received accolades in an enormous repertoire that stretches from Mozart to Verdi to verismo to the French repertoire and also the German Lied. It is only fitting, then, that Jimi James be featured in a celebration of David Bispham, the first in this notable tradition. For a number of listeners lucky enough to have heard James sing, Verdi is his truest metier. But his Mozart has also been highly praised and readers can sample it here.

Saturday, September 11th at 2 pm

American Landmarks Festival


A Musical Homage to
Theodore Roosevelt, David Bispham
and Pablo Casals

operatic baritone Jimi James
pianist/composer Roger Steptoe
cellist Andrew Yee


repertoire of Casals and Bispham ("TR's Favorite Baritone")
the New York City premiere of Steptoe's Sonatine II for Cello and Piano
Debussy's great Cello Sonata composed in 1915

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
28 East 20th Street, between Park and Broadway in Manhattan

Telephone 212-260-1616 for further information.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Live Offerings - Saturday, September 4, 2010

We are back from a well-deserved vacation and back to blogging....  We see at least three or four interesting things to listen on this holiday weekend:
  • Deutschlandradio Kultur - Of historical interest, a September 5, 1950 Berlin performance of Verdi's Rigoletto, with Rudolf Schock, Josef Metternich, Rita Streich, Fritz Hoppe and Margarete Klose, conducted by Ferenc Fricsay.
  • KBYU, WRTI - From San Francisco Opera, Verdi's Otello, with Johan Botha, Zvetelina Vassileva, Marco Viratogna, Beau Gibson, Renee Tatum, Eric Halfvarson, Daniel Montenegro, Julien Robbins and Austin Kness, conducted by Nicola Luisotti.
  • KBIA2, KOHM, WABE Classical, WHQR, WPLN, WDAV & WUGA - NPR World of Opera: From the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Berg's Wozzeck, withGeorg Nigl (Wozzeck); Mardi Byers, Maxim Paster, Pyotr Migunov, Fredrik Akselberg, Roman Muravitsky and Xenia Vyaznikova, conducted by Teodore Currentzis.
  • KUSF - the LA Opera Götterdämmerung.
  • Radio Clasica de Espana - From the Vienna State Opera, Wagner's Tannhäuser, with J. Botha, A. Kampe, M. Schuster, C. Gerhaher, A. Anger, G. Németi, A. Moisiuc, P. Jelosits, M. Pelz and A. Mühlbacher, conducted by F. Welser-Möst.
  • WETA - From the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Schumann's Genoveva, with Anne Schwanewilms, Birgit Remmert, Morten Frank Larsen, Matthias Klink, Markus Marquardt, Jae-Hyong Kim and Gun-Wok Lee, conducted by Jun Maerkl.
  • The WFMT Opera Series (on numerous stations): From San Francisco Opera, Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, with Matthew Polenzani, Peter Rose, Andrew Bidlack, Charles Shaw Robinson, Mary Dunleavy and Anna Christy, conducted by Cornelius Meister.
  • France Musique - From the Palais Garnier in Paris, a June 14 performance of Rossini's Donna del Lago, with Juan Diego Florez, Simon Orfila, Colin Lee, Joyce DiDonato, Daniela Barcellona, Diana Axentii and Jason Bridges, conducted by Roberto Abbado.
  • Radio Oesterreich International (OE1) - From Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, a May 8 performance of Massenet's Don Quichotte, with Silvia Tro Santafé, José van Dam, Werner Van Mechelen, Julie Mossay, Camille Merckx, Gijs Van der Linden and Vincent Delhoume, conducted by Marc Minkowski.
  • HR2 Kultur, MDR Figaro, NDR Kultur, RBB Radiokultur & WDR3 - ARD Radiofestival 2010: From the Lucerne Festival, an Auugust 12 performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, with Jonas Kaufmann, Nina Stemme, Christof Fischesser, Rachel Harnisch, Christoph Strehl, Falk Struckmann and Peter Mattei, conducted by Claudio Abbado.
  • Klara - From the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, a September 23, 2009, performance of Verdi's Don Carlo, with Jonas Kaufmann, Marina Poplovskaya and Simon Keenlyside.
Happy listening . . . .

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