The Ghosts of May Day

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

On WQX-Aria, blogger Fred Plotkin asks: "What happens when an evil character in opera dies, one for whom we have not developed positive feelings -- Hagen in Götterdämmerung or Scarpia in Tosca? Do we feel bad? Do we rejoice?"

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Is the Philadelphia Orchestra Suffering from Hysterical Blindness?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

With the Philadelphia Orchestra docking at Carnegie Hall this week to perform Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, WQX-Aria blogger Olivia Giovetti considers some discrepancies in Sophocles's tragedy—and the orchestra's financial situation.

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Five Operatic Wedding Disasters

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Royal Wedding may have gone off without a hitch, but thank goodness there's opera to satisfy our collective sweet tooth when it comes to drama. Here are our picks for operatic (in every sense) wedding disasters.

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Pursuing Anvil Leads

Friday, April 29, 2011

As the Metropolitan Opera presents Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Verdi’s Il Trovatore this month, Fred Plotkin investigates one of the more striking ingredients shared between the two productions: the use of the lead anvil.

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Thomas Hampson Matches Mahler with George Crumb

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Mahler centenary is big but Hampson's George Crumb concert in D.C. tonight and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center tomorrow may be his most important recital this year.

 

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In Memoriam: Anita Välkki

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Anita Välkki (October 25, 1926-April 27, 2011) has just died and I realize that most people have no idea who she was. This is strange, because she was a major artist, certainly behind Birgit, Leonie and perhaps Astrid Varnay (1918-2006), but nonetheless one of a very small group.

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Angela Meade Takes Home the 2011 Richard Tucker Award

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Honey-voiced soprano Angela Meade, 33, is the recipient of this year's Richard Tucker Music Award, which comes with a $30,000 bonus and a priceless amount of prestige.

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The Perils (and Art) of Singing with Microphones

Monday, April 25, 2011

On WQX-Aria, blogger Fred Plotkin decries the use of microphones in opera. "I don’t care how good the 'sound design' is, the mediation of electronics between voice and audience inevitably flattens and cheapens the performance," he writes.

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Die Walküre Rides Again at the Met

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ultimately the power of the Ring is that the myriad immortal characters we encounter over the four operas are driven by very human emotions rather than deific rationality. This may be where Lepage fails hardest, which explains the outcry against this work. To content ourselves with saying that it’s at least not the worst work produced under the Gelb era does a disservice to the audience, the artists and the art. But it’s hard to judge a new Ring halfway through. And while this is surely not a hit, it at least has a considerable kick.

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Spotlight: Berlioz Fanatics Unite

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A few years ago, June LeBell, an announcer beloved to generations of WQXR listeners, organized a lecture series about composers called “The Busy B’s” in which I was invited to participate. Each speaker would be assigned one composer whose name begins with that letter. June was concerned that most of us would ask for Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, and was hopeful that someone might request Borodin, Bartók, Britten or Barber.

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In Memoriam: Vincenzo La Scola

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nowadays, it seems, you have not died until you have died on Facebook. On April 15 at 6:01 pm, Samuel Ramey posted, "I just received a message from an Italian FB friend that the tenor Vincenzo la Scola died. He died in Turkey but I have no other details. So sad. What a nice man and a wonderful singer he was.

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A Swampy Séance at City Opera

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

While many devoted members of the audience at Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon seemed to laud the production last night, Olivia Giovetti found herself among the skeptics, deeming the drama "lifeless and dull." More on WQX-Aria.

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Working the Room with the 2010 Opera News Awards Recipients

Monday, April 18, 2011

With the recent award consolidations at the Grammys, and the NEA Opera Honors ceasing operations after this year, the Opera News Awards may be our last hope for awarding classical mettle. 

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Operatic Gods, and God

Friday, April 15, 2011

In polite society, we have been told, it is not nice to talk about religion, politics or sex. This would mean that opera lovers are not polite company, which is wrong. We just happen to be more open to topics that are central to the human experience than people who are confined to talking about the weather.

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Sarah Connolly: Down to Earth Diva

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sarah Connolly talks with Olivia Giovetti about tonight's appearance at the Met Opera, her rocky road to the top, and why she won't put on makeup to meet you at the stage door.

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Iván Fischer Will Seduce Mostly Mozart Audiences with a Fully-Staged Don Giovanni

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Among the 25 Mostly Mozart debuts this season, the one we’re most anticipating is that of the Budapest Festival Orchestra's fully-staged performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, directed by Fischer himself.

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The Art of Sleeping at The Opera

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"We sleep at the opera for at least a couple of reasons," writes Fred Plotkin. "One is that we are overtired. The other is the sublime twilight we enter while listening to exquisite music played in a congenial space without electronic transmission."

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Emoticons are for Lightweights: Opera in Less than 140 Characters

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chances are the following has happened to you at least once. You bring a friend to the opera and, just as the house lights dim, they turn to you and ask: “So what’s this about?” Enter Twitter's popular #operaplot contest, with guest judge Eric Owens.

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Master Class: When Opera Singers Act (But Don’t Sing)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

On WQX-Aria, Fred Plotkin considers Tito Gobbi, Maria Callas, William Shimell and the notion of opera singers who act in films.

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Is $5 Million the End of the World -- Or an Opera Company?

Friday, April 08, 2011

For many, it seems a maddeningly disconcerting that New York City Opera should now postpone its announcement of the 2011-12 season in order to reconcile its financial woes, chief among them a $5 million deficit. But maybe that’s not the worst thing.

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