“I particularly want to reach newcomers” writes Anthony Tommasini, Times chief classical music critic, in his preface. I do not think they will be helped very much by this book. A rookie who picks it up and reads the subtitle may expect something more than two operas by Bellini, two by Donizetti, one Gounod (not Faust), one Massenet (not Manon) and no Lohengrin.
Soprano Renée Fleming, one of opera’s biggest names, heads a star-studded parade of 12 singers set to perform at the Sept. 10 gala opening of the $86 million Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Opera Colorado announced Monday.
MUSIC AND COURTLINESS
The elite civilisation of Europe in the central and later Middle ages is often spoken of as a ‘courtly’ one, where the ‘courts’ at issue include the households of secular magnates, bishops and abbots. Men and women of exalted station had always possessed courts in the West, since Roman imperial times, but after approximately 1050 writings from Western Europe refer with increasing frequency to a quality of ‘courtliness’, or curialitas. A music theorist of c1100, whom we know only by the name ‘Johannes’, is the first European writer to identify certain kinds of music as inherently ‘courtly’ (curialis) and therefore appropriate to courtliness. Since his treatise is a technical one, we can trace this courtliness in terms of actual musical procedures. We can also place him, with some confidence, exactly where other sources lead us to expect him, in the episcopal and indeed imperial milieux of ‘Germany’.
EXACTLY 100 years ago Sir Edward Elgar delivered his first lecture at the University of Birmingham, where he had been persuaded to become the professor of music. With the Enigma Variations and Pomp and Circumstance Marches being played everywhere, the 47-year-old composer was at the pinnacle of his fame and creative powers. So anything he said was bound to resonate.
Wagnérien passé à la postérité grâce à une espagnolade (España) représentative du brio orchestral français, Emmanuel Chabrier a suscité l’admiration de Ravel et de Stravinsky avec Le Roi malgré lui, dont l’Opéra de Lyon présente une nouvelle production. Pourtant, cet opéra-comique repose sur un livret que peu de commentateurs ont apprécié avec bienveillance. A commencer par le compositeur, aigri par les multiples remaniements du texte : “Une bouillabaisse de Najac et de Burani, que fait cuire Richepin et dans laquelle je colle quelques épices.”
Einen Schubert-Liederabend im Großen Musikvereins-Saal zu veranstalten, ist eigentlich eine Schnapsidee. Umso mehr, als ein so persönlicher und intimer Liedzyklus wie die “Schöne Müllerin” auf dem Programm stand, zu singen von Ian Bostridge mit seinem zarten, schlanken Tenor. Immerhin konnten dem Publikum auf diese Weise zwei Schubert-Experten auf einen Schlag präsentiert werden: Bostridge, der zuletzt mit seiner Einspielung der “Winterreise” für Aufsehen sorgte, und Mitsuko Uchida, sicher eine der führenden Schubert-Interpretinnen unter den Pianisten.
Angela Brown has attracted the attention of those eager for the appearance of the next great Verdi soprano, and she continues to live up to the high expectations. Appearances with the Opera Company of Philadelphia as Leonara in Il Trovatore, Elisabetta in Don Carlo, and Strauss’s Ariadne evoked high praise from local and national critics, and her recent debut as Aida at the Metropolitan Opera was well received. All have noted the powerful and richly expressive voice in early bloom as well as Brown’s commanding stage presence. So this recent recording of spirituals, sung only with guitar or piano accompaniment (they all three contribute to the final “Ride Up in the Chariot”), is an interesting release. Brown is minimizing resources in search of what, in the liner notes, she calls an “intimate recording” of “songs of personal introspection.” The results are a little more mixed than her operatic reception.
This Andante release is a marvelous compilation of two recordings of Verdi’s Falstaff performed at the Salzburg festival, the first conducted by Arturo Toscanini in 1937, the second by Herbert Von Karajan in 1957. The juxtaposition and accompanying extensive program notes encourage the aficionado to compare, contrast and delight in the music through the lens of time. Falstaff was a favorite of the maestri and both took professional chances with it. Toscanini performed Falstaff during his first season at La Scala in 1898; Karajan perplexed his German-speaking audience by programming Falstaff in Aachen during his final season in 1941-2.