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Reviewers wanted

Opera Today is looking to expand its coverage of live performances in North America and Central Europe, particularly with respect to Seattle, Minneapolis, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, southern Florida, Berlin, Munich, Zurich and Vienna. Anyone wishing to review musical performances or recordings, as well as books on music, or to write discographic essays, is invited to send us a brief message. Books and recordings are available for review. Please include a CV and writing sample.

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Spring Gala: Cream of the Crop!

Monday, March 30, 2015, 7pm
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall

Hear the stars of tomorrow today in a spectacular gala evening celebrating New York Festival of Song's Emerging Artists programs! Over the past decade, NYFOS has taken a growing interest in mentoring, coaching, and nurturing some of the most promising young vocalists of our era. Many opera programs exist for young artists but there are very few that focus only on the art of song. It is the most exposed and direct kind of performing—no costumes of make-up to mask one's vulnerability—just the musicianship, intelligence, and honesty of the singer. Over 100 young talents have participated in NYFOS residencies and some of our most distinguished alumni will appear in the gala, including Paul Appleby, John Brancy, Julia Bullock, Theo Lebow and Annie Rosen.

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Get out of the goove! Now Radio 1 bans Madonna, 56, for being 'irrelevant and old' for its teenage listeners

By Chris Hastings [Daily Mail, 14 February 2015]

She has dominated the airwaves during 30 years as a chart-topper, but now Radio 1 has decided that Madonna is an immaterial girl and just too old for its teenage listeners.

Despite her determined efforts to look - and sound - youthful, the 56-year-old has been dropped from the station’s playlist that determines which songs are played by DJs during the day.

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Syracuse Opera’s ‘A Little Night Music’ a little too lean

By David Abrams [CNY Café Momus, 6 February 2015]

There’s little point in arguing whether Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music is, at its core, a musical or an operetta. It could be either, depending on the resources put into the production effort. Syracuse Opera chose to trumpet the work as “operetta,” not musical theater, during the weeks leading up to Friday’s premiere. And that label calls into question the company’s use of a chamber-sized pit orchestra.

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A Definitive New Callas

By Michael Shae [The New York Review of Books, 24 January 2015]

Maria Callas converted me to opera. I am sure I am not unique in this, except in the particulars. In my early college years I immersed myself in recordings of the nineteenth-century symphonic repertory—Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner, the Russians—but for a long time I refused to listen to opera, would listen to an overture and then rush to change the record before the singing started. Then one day my roommate put Callas’s 1953 Tosca on the turntable and dropped the needle onto “Vissi d’arte.” I had no idea what she was singing, but near the conclusion of that imploring aria, as she comes to the end of the arching wordless phrase that soars from an A down slightly to a G, there is an audible intake of breath. She gasps—or is it a sob?

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alt folks at home

By John Yohalem [Parterre Box, 25 January 2015]

Operamission, a scrappy little company that performs music from all sorts of eras and styles in venues all over town, is in fact its Kapellmeisterin, Jennifer Peterson. Her latest brainstorm was to give A Countertenor Cabaret, starring no fewer than 14 of these once-rare songbirds, in the cabaret space of the Duplex on Sheridan Square, and to live-stream the entire event, with translations of the remarkably varied musical fare.

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The Met’s ‘La Traviata’ lean on glamour, rich in insight

By David Abrams [CNY Café Momus, 17 January 2015]

Beyond the austere set and surreal visuals, Willy Decker’s controversial 2010 Met production probes deeply into the heroine’s psyche.

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La belle au bois dormant, Théâtre de l’Athénée, Paris

By Francis Carlin [FT, 19 January 2015]

Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936) was Italy’s answer to Ravel as far as orchestration is concerned and best known for a trio of tone poems on Rome. He also completed nine operas, none of them on today’s performance radar.

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Why bother?

With news that The Metropolitan Opera is having financial problems -- again -- now a dispute is brewing over the assets of the defunct New York City Opera with a view to reviving the company. Why bother?

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Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Metropolitan Opera, New York

By Martin Bernheimer [FT, 14 January 2015]

Bartlett Sher’s interpretation of Les Contes d’Hoffmann was a mess at its Met premiere back in 2009. The sets, designed by Michael Yeargan, looked gaudy, the narrative seemed confused, and the stage remained chronically overpopulated.

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The Biggest Music Comeback of 2014: Vinyl Records

By Neil Shah [WSJ, 11 December 2014]

Nearly eight million old-fashioned vinyl records have been sold this year, up 49% from the same period last year, industry data show. Younger people, especially indie-rock fans, are buying records in greater numbers, attracted to the perceived superior sound quality of vinyl and the ritual of putting needle to groove.

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Mozart and His Operas

From Open Yale Courses

Lecture 17 — Mozart and His Operas

Overview

Mozart and the nature of his life and work make up the topic of this lecture. Professor Wright begins by discussing the basic ways in which classical music differs from Baroque music. He then launches an exploration of Mozart's life and compositional process, making use of Mozart's letters and compositional sketches to illustrate his points. The lecture culminates with a performance of select scenes from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, featuring guest singer Professor Richard Lalli.

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A Shakespearean Songbook

By Matthew Gurewitsch [WSJ, 12 December 2014]

While he lived, the schoolmaster’s son Franz Schubert made no great splash in the world. Intimates called him Schwammerl, or Mushroom, supposedly because he was small and round. His occasional travels never took him more than 200 miles from his native Vienna. Before his death, much of his music was played only at private gatherings or not at all. Yet the catalog of symphonies, piano sonatas, chamber music and sacred works he brought forth in his brief 31 years—four years fewer than Mozart’s, 26 fewer than Beethoven’s—places him well and truly in the company of the immortals. Arguably most impressive of all is his legacy of song, inexhaustible in its Shakespearean variety, upward of 700 items, each, to the mind of Graham Johnson, “a law unto itself.”

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daggers are a thane’s best friend

By John Yohalem [Parterre Box, 12 December 2014]

A Birnam Wood of Macbeths and Ladys has come traipsing through New York this year. Dell’ Arte Opera staged Verdi’s early masterpiece last Summer, and the Met revived its grandiose production of the work back in the Fall. The Met followed that up with a splendid revival of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. And now the Manhattan School of Music’s Opera Theater program (through Sunday) is giving performances of Ernest Bloch’s opera of the same (only to be whispered) name.

[More . . . . ]

Making a Note of It

By Eric Felten [WSJ, 28 November 2014]

In our age of easy playback, it’s hard to imagine how ephemeral music once was.

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Most Recent Archives

Mirabai: New opera, holograms and eternal love

A brand new opera — especially one that is groundbreaking— can really put an opera company on the map. British composer Barry Seaman’s stunning new work, Mirabai, which explores the story of the free thinking, mystic 16th century Hindu princess, Mira, is ambitious on many levels — artistically, technically and creatively.  »

Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition 2015

Bampton Classical Opera has announced that applications are now open for the company’s Young Singers’ Competition 2015. This biennial competition was first launched in 2013 to celebrate Bampton Classical Opera’s 20th birthday, and is aimed at identifying the finest emerging young opera singers currently working in the UK.  »

Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Wigmore Hall

Commenting on her recent, highly acclaimed CD release of late-nineteenth-century song, Chansons Perpétuelles (Naive: V5355), Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux remarked ‘it’s that intimate side that interests me … I wanted to emphasise the genuinely embodied, physical side of the sensuality [in Fauré]’.  »

Eine florentinische Tragödie and I pagliacci in Monte-Carlo

An evening of strange-bedfellow one-acts in high-concept stagings, mindbogglingly delightful. »

Carmen, Pacific Symphony

On February 19, 2015, Pacific Symphony presented its annual performance of a semi-staged opera. This year’s presentation at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, featured Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Director Dean Anthony used the front of the stage and a few solid set pieces by Scenic Designer Matt Scarpino to depict the opera’s various scenes. »

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, ENO

Although the English National Opera has been decidedly sparing with its Wagner for quite some time now, its recent track record, leaving aside a disastrous Ring, has perhaps been better than that at Covent Garden. »

San Diego Opera presents an excellent Don Giovanni

On Friday February 20, 2015, San Diego Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production by Nicholas Muni originally seen at Cincinnati Opera.  »

Tosca at Chicago Lyric

In a production first seen in Houston several years ago, and now revised by its director John Caird, Puccini’s Tosca has returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago with two casts, partially different, scheduled into March of the present season.  »

Henri Dutilleux: Correspondances

Henri Dutilleux’s music has its devotees. I am yet to join their ranks, but had no reason to think this was not an admirable performance of his song-cycle Correspondances»

LA Opera Revives The Ghosts of Versailles

In 1980, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned composer John Corigliano to write an opera celebrating the company’s one-hundredth anniversary. It was to be ready in 1983.  »

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