Friday, December 19, 2014

Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Ideas From Heavenly Voices On High

Purchase the album here.
Recommended track: "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
If you want to turn the frequency up this holiday season, check out the plethora of recordings from divas both past and present. From the latest release by Measha Brueggergosman to the Germanic overtones of Rita Streich, Maria Stader, and Anneliese Rothenberger, high notes during the holidays will ensure everyone has a holly jolly time. Check out more than 30 albums after the jump to give you instant holiday spirit through sacred seasonal music or christmas classics. Each one is linked to the full digital version to allow you to either choose the entire package or simply download the tracks you enjoy most. You can even make a compilation off the recommended tracks from each selection. Joyeux Noël, Buon Natale, Frohe Weihnachten, Feliz Navidad and с рождеством! Remember to share the music with someone you love this holiday season.

Deborah Voigt And Mormon Tabernacle In Festive Holiday Mode

"Leading dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt and acclaimed British actor and voice artist John Rhys-Davies join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in a concert of holiday favorites.Among the highlights of the concert, conducted by Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, are Voigt’s performances of the English carol 'The Holly and the Ivy' and the light-hearted 'The Twelve Days After Christmas' with the choir and orchestra. The program includes a new Mack Wilberg twist on the traditional song 'Christmas Is Coming (The Geese Are Getting Fat).' The Bells on Temple Square join the choir and orchestra for an upbeat rendition of 'Ring Those Christmas Bells.' The concert also includes Rhys-Davies’ dramatization of A Dickens Christmas with Robin Dick and the Christmas Players. The vignette features Rhys-Davies as the Ghost of Christmas Present soaring overhead at the LDS Conference Center in a dazzling scene of aerial choreography. Rhys-Davies also reads Luke 2: The Christmas Story with a fervor that
moves audiences. Recognized as one of the world’s most versatile singers, Deborah Voigt is a leading dramatic soprano revered for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. She also has portrayed heroines of Italian opera to great acclaim. An active recitalist and performer of Broadway standards and popular songs, she appears regularly as both performer and host in the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series. Acclaimed British actor and voice artist John Rhys-Davies is one of modern cinema’s most recognizable character actors, best known to film audiences for his role as Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and more recently as the ax-wielding dwarf Gimli in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Together with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, Voigt and Rhys-Davies performed before a combined audience of 80,000 people in the annual concert taped in December of 2013 at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah." [Source] Check your local listings for performance times this evening. You can also purchase the DVD and CD by clicking here.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chris Pine Meets The Barber During Armani Code Commercial

Actor Chris Pine seen here in the elusive cologne commercial for Armani Code. An electronic version of the overture from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia plays under the ad. Watch the clip after the jump.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

For Anna Netrebko Baby Questions Are Harder Than Politics Right Now

Modeling in a fashion show for friend and designer Irina Vitjaz, Anna Netrebko is joined by son Tiago and fiancé Yusif Eyvazov in Vienna. After a stroll down the catwalk, the couple is interviewed for German television. During the segment the host makes mention of fellow opera singer, Ukrainian mezzo-soprano Zoryana Kushpler, and the pending birth of her child. Without skipping a beat, she then asks the recently-engaged couple if offspring is a topic with Anna. See the video here
Holiday Spirit Hits The Runway: Anna Netrebko with son Tiago and fiancé Yusif Eyvazov in Vienna 
(Photo: Irina Vitjaz)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Royal Party Report From University of St. Andrew 600th Anniversary

As mentioned a few days ago, Renée Fleming was a guest among the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's attendance at the 600th Anniversary Gala for the University of St. Andrews. New York Social Diary reports: "After the dinner Renee Fleming, who was at royal couple's table, sang 'O mio babbino caro' from Puccini's short opera Gianni Schicchi. Beautiful, with a voice as splendidly eternal as the ancients' creations surrounding us. She then sang us 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' (originally written for Judy Garland in the MGM movie, Meet Me In St. Louis). Again wonderful. Fleming has an equally alluring non-operatic style to her voice." [Source] The soprano was a stand-in for Sting, who was unable to attend due to his performance schedule in his Broadway show, as she told Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan the other morning on their show. No word on whether the gown is by Vivienne Westwood or another British designer for the occasion. Read more about the evening and see lots of photos by clicking here

Coffee Break: Vocalise-Étude en forme de Habanera By Ravel

"L'Indolence" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928)

Lush Meets Lush: The transcendent voice of Jessye Norman wraps itself in the intoxicating perfume of Maurice Ravel's romantic music in G minor composed in 1907. The composer marked the score: "Presque lent et avec indolence." This music is meant to be luxurious, but not self-indulgent. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Real-Life Opera Between Chinese Restaurant & Harvard Professor

All Mixed Up: Bar manager Ran Duan might feel like he is in the middle of an opera plot gone bad.
"Ben Edelman is an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit. Ran Duan manages The Baldwin Bar, located inside the Woburn location of Sichuan Garden, a Chinese restaurant founded by his parents. Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food from Sichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location. Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out. Read the complete email exchange by clicking here. Ran Duan moved to the U.S. from
Plaintiff: Ben Edelman
China when he was 3-years-old. His father had hoped to support the family with a career as an opera singer, but when that didn’t pan out, Duan says 'like all Chinese families we decided to open up a restaurant.' Sichuan Garden opened its doors in Brookline in the early 1990s. A second location followed in Woburn." [Source] You can learn more about Benjamin G. Edelman by clicking here and if you're in Woburn area, check out The Baldwin Bar. The "Read Between the Lines" cocktail looks particularly delicious. Read a Boston Magazine feature on Ran Duan ran in June 2014 and a 2011 story by the Boston Globe reveals his mother was also a promising opera singer.

Angela Gheorghiu Provides Live Vocals For Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe

Live From New York: Gheorghiu sings an aria to
accompany a dance depicting violence between a man
 and a woman in a relationship. (Photo: Facebook)
"The joyless 'Uprising' had contradicted this, and so did what followed: the depiction of a mutually abusive male-female relationship that is Mr. Battle’s 'Unfold.' The woman’s showily sustained backbends seem to invite her partner to manhandle her; he duly obliges, and occasionally she gets him back by tugging him down to the floor. If you understand the ecstatically erotic French words of the operatic aria that Mr. Battle takes as his accompaniment here — 'Depuis le jour,' from Gustave Charpentier’s Louise — then you see that Mr. Battle means his duet as an exercise in pointed theatrical irony. The soprano sings of the delicious tremblings arising from her charming memories of living with her lover; the dancing shows us a couple forever locked in grimly flamboyant and aggressive behavior that brings them no joy. Is this really part of the Ailey legacy? To me, it looks wholly anti-Ailey. Usually, 'Unfold' is accompanied by Leontyne Price’s slow, lush recording of the Louise aria. On this occasion, the aria was sung live onstage by Angela Gheorghiu, with Eugene Kohn’s piano accompaniment. Ms. Gheorghiu’s singing, often under the note, was into a microphone; though she makes more of the words than Ms. Price, her singing on this occasion was unusually tense and unsteady. (It’s worth listening to recordings from Charpentier’s day, all of which take a far less dilatory tempo.)" [Source] Ms. Gheorghiu had a similar personal situation back in 2013 regarding domestic abuse. Watch a brief clip of the Alvin Ailey dance after the jump.

Diana Damrau On Her Mad Journey With "Lucia di Lammermoor"

A Vision of Delirium: Diana Damrau
(Photo: Rebecca Fay)
"So when did this particular journey begin? 'I saw my first Lucia performance in Vienna standing in the famous Stehplätze [standing places] for a few euros,' she tells me. 'I was a student and I went to Vienna and I got to see Edita Gruberová in Lucia. But I think I already heard the Sutherland recording and also Callas.' And the Damrau version? She’s probably more ‘Callas’ than ‘Sutherland’. But where have her ideas about the part come from? 'Lucia di Lammermoor is the most veristic of the bel canto roles,' she explains. 'The madness of Lucia makes it a real role for acting and singing. Lucia’s madness is an illness. It’s not just a vehicle for a soprano to show her skills and her technique. I talked to doctors about that. She is bipolar and you can hear that very clearly in the first aria.' The particularly modern concept of a bipolar bel canto heroine is intriguing and Damrau has clearly thought it through. 'She gets very, very happy and almost frenetic when she talks about her visions. And ill people can have visions – she’s not just the standard ‘romantic’ figure of the time. Because she is bipolar she really gets very dark and very frightened. Everything seems to be real and very dramatic to her.
Click here to purchase the recording.
She’s under great, great pressure because her mother has died and she’s in a really bad situation. This comes to its peak when she finds out her brother betrayed her – that he forced her into a political marriage and everyone around her has actually manipulated her. When Edgardo comes back and curses her and says, 'you betrayed love and you betrayed God', that’s more tension than she can take. Then the illness comes. The madness breaks out and she kills someone.'" [Source] Read Diana Damrau's tribute to Maria Callas by clicking here. You can sample Erato's new recording of Lucia di Lammermoor featuring Diana Damrau. A video of the mad scene from the recording is after the jump.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rose Hall Will Be New York City Opera Performance Home By 2015

"We plan to return New York City Opera to Lincoln Center in 2015 at an exciting new venue that was designed as one of the world’s finest medium-sized opera houses: the 1100-seat Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Its state-of-the-art technical specifications, acoustic design and spacious orchestra pit make it an ideal new home for City Opera. The shops, restaurants and nightlife of the Lincoln Center will provide City Opera’s patrons with a host of amenities for pre- and post-performance enjoyment as well as easy and convenient transportation options. Since late fall of 2013, our team has laid the groundwork for a successful re-launch of City Opera. A new Board of Directors has been formed; over $2.5 million in pledges of financial support have been secured; artistic alliances have been created with industry leaders at home and abroad; and we have reached a landmark, 5-year agreement with American Federation of Musicians Local 802. With a highly experienced artistic and production team in place, our business plan combines a distinctive and imaginative artistic vision with a streamlined, entrepreneurial structure. City Opera’s return will include a broad slate of educational programs to introduce opera to New York City’s schoolchildren. The company’s commitment to advancing American opera will continue with a revitalized VOX Contemporary American Opera Lab in collaboration with American Opera Projects, and its long tradition of fostering emerging American talent will continue in a partnership with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance® program. Our first full season will launch in 2015 with details to be announced this spring. We invite you to be part of this exciting new chapter of City Opera’s history." [Source]

Renée Fleming Among Guests To Attend Royal Fundraiser

Crème de la Crème: Soprano Fleming 
(Photo: Timothy White/Decca)
"During their three-day trip, the royals will be staying at the Carlyle Hotel, a favorite of William's mother, the late Princess Diana, when she frequently visited Manhattan in the 1990s. William and Kate, who are expecting their second child in April, have scheduled a full slate of events in New York, including a visit to the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum and a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their visit also will include some events with other high-profile guests. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton are accompanying William and Kate to a New York reception highlighting conservation efforts. The royals also are due to join actor Tom Hanks, opera singer Renee Fleming and others at a black-tie, up-to-$10,000-per-seat scholarship fundraiser for the University of St. Andrews, the Scottish institution where the royal couple met and earned degrees." [Source] Renée Fleming is a close friend of Prince William's father, Prince Charles, and has sung for many occasions of the Royal Family. See a wonderful photo after the jump from 2008.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What Is Missing From The 57th Annual GRAMMY Nominee List?

Nominations for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards came out today and there were some albums, artists, and labels, conspicuously missing from the classical opera, choral, and vocal, recital lists. Eligibility rules state that for the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards albums must be released between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014. For whatever reason, here is a sampling of those not making the list: Elīna Garanča - Meditation (DG); Verdi: Giovanna d Arco- Anna Netrebko, Plácido Domingo (DG); Juan Diego Flórez - L'Amour (Decca); Jonas Kaufmann - You Mean the World to Me (Sony); Jonas Kaufmann - Die Winterreise (Sony); Max Emanuel Cencic - Rokoko: Hasse Opera Arias (Decca); Ildar Abrazakov - Power Players: Russian Arias for Bass (Delos); Rolando Villazón - Mozart Concert Arias (DG); Sabine Devieilhe - Rameau: Le Grand Theatre de l'amour (Erato); Marina Rebeka - Mozart Arias (Warner Classics); Iestyn Davies - Arise, My Muse (Wigmore Hall Live); Javier Camarena - Tenor Recitales (Urtext); Karina Gauvin - Mozart: Concert & Opera Arias (ATMA Classique); Anna Prohaska - Behind the Lines (DG); Thomas Hampson - Notturno: The Strauss Recital (DG); Madgalena Kozená - Prayer: Voice & Organ (DG); Poulenc: Stabat Mater, Gloria, Litanies à la Vierge noire - Patricia Petibon (DG); Verdi: Simon Boccanegra - Hampson, Opolais, Calleja, Pisaroni; Zanetti (Decca); Joseph Calleja - Amore (Decca); Muhly: Two Boys - Coote, Appleby, K. Miller; Robertson (Nonesuch); Vittorio Grigòlo - Ave Maria (Sony Classical); Sacred Verdi - Maria Agresta; Nagano (Warner Classics); Olga Peretyatko - Arabesque (Sony). Ever wonder how your favorite recordings get nominated each year? Find the answer out after the jump, which is where the complete list for year's best opera, choral and solo vocal recordings can be found as well.