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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
If you tuned into this week’s show on The New Canon, you probably heard me talking about 21c Liederabend. Producer Beth Morrison (dubbed by Zachary Woolfe of The New York Observer as “the opera lady who likes it crazy”) along with Opera on Tap and VisionIntoArt have created a series devoted to contemporary opera and art song that is continually satisfying—and continually ambitious. It started as a one-night program in 2009 but has since exploded into a three-day festival featuring the works of 20 composers. With so many composers converging April 7th through 9th, we’re here offering a bit of a primer for each one—and what you can expect to hear this weekend. Click on the composer’s name to sample their works off-site.