FRED PLOTKIN is one of America’s foremost experts on opera and has distinguished himself in many fields as a writer, speaker, consultant and as a compelling teacher. He is an expert on everything Italian, the person other so-called Italy experts turn to for definitive information. Fred discovered the concept of "The Renaissance Man" as a small child and has devoted himself to pursuing that ideal as the central role of his life. In a “Public Lives” profile in The New York Times on August 30, 2002, Plotkin was described as "one of those New York word-of-mouth legends, known by the cognoscenti for his renaissance mastery of two seemingly separate disciplines: music and the food of Italy." In the same publication, on May 11, 2006, it was written that "Fred is a New Yorker, but has the soul of an Italian."
What to Hear in NYC Opera and Vocal Music: A Guide for All Interests - Part Two
Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 05:00 PM
In my previous article on highlights in the upcoming season that would appeal to lovers of opera and vocal music, I gave suggestions for those on a budget as well as those of you who are just getting to know these art forms. But my recommendations are applicable to everyone—who would not want a bargain ticket for something classic or experimental? Similarly, we all like things that are tried-and-true.
Today's article is for people who focus on particular preferences: the cult of the voice; operatic rarities making an appearance in the city; and cutting-edge art for those of us who like to be among the first to experience the next big thing.
For Cultists of the Singer's Voice
Handel’s Alcina in concert. Joyce DiDonato in the title role and a strong cast led by Alice Coote and Anna Christy, with Harry Bicket conducting the English Concert at Carnegie Hall on October 26? Absolutely!
Although French soprano Natalie Dessay announced she has retired from opera to become an actress, she and excellent countertenor Christophe Dumaux will sing selections from Handel’s Giulio Cesare at Alice Tully Hall, with Emmanuelle Haïm leading Le Concert d'Astrée. November 30.
The Lincoln Center Great Performers Art of Song series offers catnip for vocal connoisseurs who like recitals: Matthew Polenzani (Feb. 4); the luminous Anna Caterina Antonacci performing Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine (Mar. 5); Sarah Connolly (Apr. 12) and Simon Keenlyside (Apr. 29, with Emanuel Ax at the piano).
Rossini’s La Donna del Lago is scheduled to get its Met premiere in February 2015 with a dream cast of Joyce DiDonato, Daniela Barcellona, Juan Diego Flórez and John Osborn. It should be vocal Nirvana.
Opera on film can never equal the real thing, especially as regards the experience of hearing a live voice and orchestra. But Lincoln Center’s Great Voices on Film nights (March 2, 4; Apr 1, 2015) offer the compensation of hearing singers who are dead, retired or infrequent visitors to New York: Anja Harteros, Lotte Lenya, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Vesselina Kasarova, Teresa Stratas, Dawn Upshaw and Willard White.
For Those Who Like Opera Rarities
Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride (1899) will be sung in concert form by Moscow’s formidable Bolshoi Opera, Orchestra and Chorus led by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. July 12 and 13.
Handel’s Teseo will be performed in concert at the Mostly Mozart Festival, with the exemplary Nicholas McGegan leading the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and an appealing cast that combine youthfulness and experience, including the trailblazing countertenor Drew Minter. August 17.
Rossini’s William Tell, though famous, comes our way as often as an asteroid. A concert version at Carnegie Hall, with Angela Meade, John Osborn, Fabio Capitanucci and the full forces of the Teatro Regio di Torino, all led by the dynamic Gianandrea Noseda, will be one of the must-hear events of the season. Dec. 7.
Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta is scheduled to get its long overdue Met premiere with Valery Gergiev conducting Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala in roles they were born to sing. On the same program is a new staging of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Mariusz Trelinski and his entire production team make their Met debuts, an event that is always of interest. Jan. 26-Feb 21, 2015.
The Rake’s Progress, Stravinsky’s only full-length opera, is due to have three Met performances in May 2015 with James Levine leading an excellent cast. You’d be crazy to miss it.
Edgy and the Next Big Thing
As One, a new work by Laura Kaminsky, should appeal to opera-goers in several categories. BAM is the venue for American Opera Projects’s premiere about a transgender person, with the role to be played by excellent mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and her real-life husband, the fine baritone Kelly Markgraf. All tickets are $25, which means that even traditionalists can afford to expand their operatic horizons. September 4-7.
The Chicago-based troupe, Eighth Blackbird, brings a commedia dell'arte program, Heart & Breath, to the Miller Theater at Columbia University on September 18. There will be music by Monteverdi, Gesualdo and new works. Eighth Blackbird will also present free performances of Sila, a world premiere by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, July 25 and 26. Not opera, but worth checking out.
Shostakovich’s dark and lurid Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk provides a towering role for a soprano who can sing and act. The Met will have the formidable Eva-Maria Westbroek in its cheeky Graham Vick production and the expert James Conlon in the orchestra pit. Scheduled for November 10-29.
Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake will come to the New York Philharmonic in June 2015 with Marion Cotillard acting the role of Joan and Alan Gilbert conducting.