Stephanie Blythe: Grand Verdi to Intimate Songbook Standards

This Show Airs Saturday at 12 pm

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

In a big break that was truly operatic, Stephanie Blythe debuted in the role of Mistress Quickly in Verdi's Falstaff when Marilyn Horne suddenly had to drop out of the Metropolitan Opera's production in 1996. Horne had learned that Henry Lewis – her former husband, and lifelong friend and mentor – had just died of a heart attack at age 63.

On this edition of Operavore, Blythe talks with Horne about that pivotal moment, and about her career path in the years since.

Blythe is reprising the role of the wily Mistress Quickly this month at the Met. She talks about that, about her other signature roles including Fricka in Wagner's Ring, and about her new crossover album, "As Long As There Are Songs." It features songs by Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen and other American Songbook composers.


Also: It’s the holiday season and that means parties. Get two or more opera lovers together, and that means party records. Do you have a favorite? A stunning performance or something really offbeat? Leave your comments below and we’ll close out the year with your picks and an operatic New Year’s party on December 28.

 

Playlist:

Giuseppe Verdi
Falstaff Act III, Sc. 1: “Amor ama il mistero”
Bavarian Radio Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis, conductor
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
BMG 09026-60705-2
 
Giuseppe Verdi
Falstaff Act III, Sc. 1: “Amor ama il mistero”
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
James Levine, conductor
Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera | April 6, 2002
 
George Frideric Handel
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: “Al lampo dell' armi”
Ensemble Orchestral de Paris        
John Nelson, conductor
Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano
Virgin Classics 45475
 
Irving Berlin
“God Bless America”
Kate Smith
Orchestra and Chorus directed by Jack Miller
Smithsonian Collection Recordings
American Songbook Series: Irving Berlin
A 22403 | Recorded March 21, 1939
 
Richard Wagner
Das Rheingold excerpt from Act III, Sc. 2
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Fabio Luisi, conductor
Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera | April 26, 2012
 
Ira Gershwin/Harold Arlen
A Star is Born “The Man that Got Away”
(arr. S. Blythe and C. Terry)
Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano
Craig Terry, piano
Innova Records #875

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Comments [3]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Being a Wagnerian romantischer heldentenor myself, I have sung opposite mammoth sized singers with extraordinary singing voices, but girth is NOT required to have a sizable voice that projects big and far across the footlights. Many so-called big voices lacking the proper vocal technique are swallowed up by a retreating tongue pressing back and downward against the pharyngeal area and muffling the larynx's capacity with the vocal cords to perform adequately well. STEPHANIE BLYTHE and JESSYE NORMAN thankfully have not had that problem. MARTINA ARROYO is all one would want to see in a person with high achievements and one wishing to succor, help, others in this highly competitive world. At the Hunter College Opera workshop Martina and I were participant members. We sang a duet from AIDA with ROSE LANDVER as the stage director and maestro WILLIAM TARRASCH as our accompanist. Under the same ausoices, I sang the title role of FRA DIAVOLO in the MET OPERA's JOHN GUTMAN English adaptation with maestro WILLIAM TARRASCH conducting the orchestra, with impressive sets and costumes at the HUNTER COLLEGE PLAYHOUSE, renamed the DANNY KAYE PLAYHOUSE. Others in the cast were PETER BINDER, WILLIAM WORKMAN and JANET SOUTHWICK. I also sang a staged performance there as SIEGMUND [DIE WALKURE]. Eating at the same table \with MARTINA at the cafeteria in the building downstairs, one could soon be aware that here is a real smart, imaginative and droll personality. Everyone loved MARTINA and her self-deprecatory comments should be common currency for all. HAPPY THAT MARTINA AGAIN HAS GOTTEN THE RECOGNITION SHE SO HIGHLY DESERVES !!! . ] am a Wagnerian romantischer heldentenor and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. I will sing the four song cycles that are most often performed in their orchestral garb: Wagner's "Wesendonck Lieder," Mahler's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen," Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" and Schoenberg's "Gurre-Lieder" at the New Life Expo at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC on Saturday March 22nd at 6 PM. I have sung four three-hour-long solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall including programming the Wagner and the first named Mahler song cycle. I am the director at the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute of Boonton, NJ. where I teach voice and train artists in all the Wagner and Shakespeare roles. One may hear my singing LIVE from my CARNEGIE HALL solo concerts by downloading, FREE, 37 out of the nearly 100 selections that I have sung there by going to RECORDED SELECTIONS on my websites www.WagnerOpera.com, www.ShakespeareOpera.com and www.RichardWagnerMusicDramaInstitute.com

Jan. 05 2014 06:19 PM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

It is good to hear from the reigning heavyweight champion of opera,proving that not all singers will be judged on external appearance.The corpulent young performers Angela Meade and Jamie Barton are proof that there is hope for aspiring Caballes and Normans.

Dec. 07 2013 02:42 PM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

It is good to hear from the reigning heavyweight champion of opera,and to realize that not all singers will be judged on their external appearance.The corpulent young performers Angela Meade and Jamie Barton are proof that there is hope for future aspiring Caballes and Normans.

Dec. 07 2013 02:37 PM

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