Monday, September 26, 2011

The best of all possible worlds

It was another operatic weekend for your faithful correspondent, concluding with a delightful production of Mr. Bernstein's Candide presented by coĆ³pera: Project Opera of Manhattan and The Players Foundation. This was the second of two performances, which is unfortunate. The production deserves a wider audience.

Candide is based on Mr. Voltaire's 1759-ish novella of the same name, mocking some of the ridiculously optimistic philosophers of the Enlightenment and their naive amazement at human tragedy and the evil that man does to man. How could a benign God, ruler of the best of all possible worlds, allow such things to happen? One often hears the same question today. Several versions of Candide have been produced since its premiere as a musical in 1956 with a book by Lillian Hellman. We saw the 1974 Hal Prince revival (the "Chelsea Version", for the theater where it premiered) with a rewritten book by Hugh Wheeler and lyrics by lots of folks.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guest Blogger EB Reports on Il Trittico at ROH

Il Trittico
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Sept 23rd 2011

Image courtesy
Royal Opera House
If this review spills over into hyperbole, I make no apology, for I had been looking forward to this production for years. I have long admired Puccini's Triptych, never having understood why it isn't better known and more frequently performed - I suppose the fearsome demands it makes on a company taking up the challenge would probably explain the latter. Still, there have been some high profile international productions in recent years and I have been fortunate to see complete performances at ENO in London (twice) and at the Met (with the late, lamented Salvatore Licitra), along with assorted productions of the single operas elsewhere. I still feel it would make an overwhelming evening at Glyndebourne.

Enough! This new production at the Royal Opera is most welcome and anything by Richard Jones is worth seeing. I greatly enjoyed his gloriously dingy, Fellini-lite production of Gianni Schicchi when it first saw the light of day at Covent Garden in 2007 in a double bill with L'Heure Espagnole. That occasion marked Bryn Terfel's first stab at the title role. This revival (differently cast as below), with the addition of new productions of Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica, represented a new version of the Triple Bill as a whole.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Golden Age Singer of the Week--Beverly Sills as Anna Bolena x 3!

Thanks to the wonder that is Coloraturafan, we have these three audio excerpts of Bubbles singing Anna Bolena in 1973, 1974, and 1975. In honor of the MET's new Anna Bolena with Nebs, which opens this week, I act as mere messenger and pass on the offerings of Coloraturafan:

I look forward to seeing the MET's production. I adore Anna Bolena, and I'm OK with Nebs. I heard the streaming audio of her role debut in Vienna last spring, and there were some perfectly glorious moments. I have heard good reports about this show, and look forward to seeing it, both live and in the movie theater.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Golden Age Singer of the Week--Lucia Popp

I can not imagine how it is that I have never featured Lucia Popp in this blog before. She has long been a great favorite of mine, and a singer of amazing beauty and grace throughout her short career. It makes me sad she is no longer with us. Please to be reading about her life here.

We are fortunate that YouTube abounds with examples of Lucia Popp's singing. I coujld post gazillions of videos, but these three will suffice.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Golden Age Singer of the Week--Francisco Araiza

Today, boys and girls, we are going to study the wonder that is Francisco Araiza. His singing career took off in the 1970s, and I first heard him in the 1980s, when I myself. was a student of singing. I recall the wonder with which I watched on TV as he sang Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola at the Salzburg Festival. I also recall the wonder with which I, studying in Salzburg that summer, saw on TV some feature about singers and athletes and medical exams--I don't recall exactly, and I'm not sure I understood at the time--and saw for a few moments his shirtless torso.

I have included him in earlier posts, but this is the first post dedicated to him. Here is his Wikipedia bio, and here is his web site (auf Deutsch). Now for the singing!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Only Murder One Queen Per Day

My review of Giasone at Opera Omnia for Opera Pulse.

On Saturday, Sept. 3, I had the pleasure of seeing what Opera Omnia ( – two performances remain, on Sept. 6 and 7) can do with Mr. Cavalli’s popular 1649 masterpiece Giasone at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. This is Opera Omnia’s second outing, the first being The Coronation of Poppea in 2008. The economic downturn prevented the group from producing anything else in the intervening years, which is a shame. If an opera company can specialize in early Baroque opera, beautifully sung and creatively staged, accompanied by a fine early music ensemble, and make it laugh-out-loud fun, I say more power to them!

See the full review here.