Monday, April 27, 2015

Jessye Norman Talks Racism, President Obama, And Hillary Clinton

Politically Inclined: Soprano Jessye Norman is ready to support Hillary Clinton for 2016. (Photo: Sarah Lee/Guardian)
"Looking back at her childhood, the opera star Jessye Norman says she cannot remember a time she was not trying to sing. 'I liked to put on some of my mother’s costume jewellery and a feather boa or something, and pretend I was some grand singer,' she recalled recently. Today, although Norman no longer performs in full-scale opera, she is solidly established as a 'grande dame'. Last week, Norman, 69, stormed centre-stage once again with some full-throated support for her friend Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. 'I would certainly support this enormous brain,
The soprano seen here in December 1997 with President 
Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton at the Kennedy
Center Honors during the playing of the National Anthem.
this incredibly generous heart this amazing woman,' she proclaimed. The celebrated soprano’s bold contribution to the presidential race followed fast on her recent public complaint that many attacks on Barack Obama’s record are fuelled by hidden racism. She alleged that 'racialism was practised at the highest levels of government', adding: 'We should be better than that, we should be bigger than that.' For Norman, the culprits are mostly 'on the other side of the aisle' – Republican Congress members who have plotted against President Obama since his inauguration, she claims. If the Democrats felt the lack of a Wagnerian Valkyrie on their side, the role is now filled. And what’s more, they have found someone who can bridge the awkward gap between Ms Clinton’s supporters and Obama’s people. Norman is that rare thing, a prominent member of both camps.....Political awakening came young. While she has described her childhood home in Augusta, Georgia, as 'our little Garden of Eden', her middle-class, church-going family were involved in the civil rights struggle. So Norman and her four siblings were aware, though sheltered from the harsher side of segregation: 'I came from a very strong core of people who told us, practically on a daily basis,
Jessye Norman receiving the 2009 National Medal of Arts
 from President Barack Obama at an East Room ceremony 
at the White House.
that, ‘You are as good as any other of God’s creations, and you will hear something different when you’re outside of this house but know that the truth is here’.' Her first experience of 'American apartheid' came as a five-year-old on a station platform, waiting in her Sunday best for a train to take her to visit relatives in Philadelphia. ;I of course had too much energy to sit there and I saw the sign and it did say ‘whites only’ and I thought, well, there wasn’t anybody sitting there, so what difference would it make if I were to go over there and sit and play? Why would it bother anybody? Of course my mother and father took a different view.' She understood more later when she saw President Eisenhower on one of his regular golfing trips to Augusta. Watching him walk into church, her father informed her they were not allowed to worship in the same place. Later, as an adult, she kept a journal, noting down instances of casual racism. She stopped when it began to depress her: 'It became clear to me after doing this for a while that I wasn’t serving any purpose except to make myself sad.' Further political insight came when she sang in Berlin, regularly passing through Checkpoint Charlie. She was impressed by the love of the arts she found in East Berlin. 'Even though they lived
In 2013, Jessye Norman sang during a ceremony honoring 
the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for U.S. 
Rep. John Lewis, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,
 and Speaker of the House John Boehner. 
under the oppressive regimes, their spirits were not squelched'....Landmarks of her career include singing at both Ronald Reagan’s and Bill Clinton’s second inaugurations and a recording of Wagner’s Liebestod in the late 1980s. Her farewell performance at the Met in the Makropulos Case was hailed as a great achievement in 1996, but since then she has focused on highly lucrative recitals." [Source] Click here to see a list of other opera singers that have performed at Presidential Inaugurations since 1941. Watch videos of Jessye Norman singing Copland's "Simple Gifts" at the Inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1985 and a medley of spirituals for the Inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1997. Other political or government-related performances highlighted during her career include singing for Queen Elizabeth II's sixtieth birthday celebration in 1986; performing the French national anthem, 'La Marseillaise,' to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution on July 14, 1989; singing at Tchaikovsky's 150th Birthday Gala in Leningrad in 1990; performing for the 700th Celebration Party of Swiss National Day in 1991; singing at the funeral of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1994; performed at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, singing "Faster, Higher, Stronger"; On June 28, 2001, she and light lyric coloratura soprano Kathleen Battle performed Vangelis' Mythodea at the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, Greece; On March 11, 2002, Norman performed "America the Beautiful" at a service unveiling two monumental columns of light at the site of the former World Trade Center, as a memorial for the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City. [Source]

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Michigan Opera House Joins Prestigious List Of Historic Theatres

"The Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater has been included in the 2015 Membership of the League of Historic American Theatres (LHAT), a list that also includes all the major NYC Broadway houses operated by Disney, Nederlander, Shubert, and Jujamcyn. As an LHAT member, Tibbits Opera House staff will have access to professional development opportunities and national media attention and will be able to attend the National Conference of Historic Theatres taking place in Nashville this summer. 'I am delighted to include Tibbits Opera House as a member of the League,' said Ken Stein, Executive Director for LHAT. 'We constantly showcase the important contributions being made in arts and preservation from historic theatres throughout North America, and it will be great to include the contributions from Coldwater.' The League champions the preservation, restoration and ongoing operations of historic theatres across the United States and Canada. Tibbits Opera 1-louse is among the distinguished list of theatres that have proven to be economic drivers and cultural cornerstones in communities across the nation." [Source]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Partying In Paris And Singing R. Kelly Helped Lucas Meachem


Click here to watch an amusing anecdote from Lucas Meachem about how hanging out with Paul Groves and Susan Graham at Karaoke really paid off at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The story begins at the 5:36 marker of the video. See photos of the infamous Iphigénie en Tauride production from 2006 by clicking here. And feel free to click on the above photo to enlarge it and get lost in the blue eyes of the star baritone. Watch Lucas Meachem perform "Soliloquy" from Carousel after the jump.

How A Photograph Gives Renée Fleming A Full-Circle Moment

This image of Renée Fleming was shot by photographer Matthew Rolston for Vanity Fair magazine in the early 1990s. What is the significance of this photo today? Read all about it after the jump.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Olafur Eliasson: Where Art Design Meets The World Of Opera

Three chandeliers (2004) by Olafur Eliasson, adorn the lobby of The Royal Danish Opera House in Copenhagen.
"Olafur Eliasson (Icelandic: Ólafur Elíasson; born 1967) is a Danish-Icelandic artist known for sculptures and large-scale installation art employing elemental materials such as light, water, and air temperature to enhance the viewer’s experience. In 1995 he established Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin, a laboratory for spatial research. Eliasson represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 and later that year installed The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London. Eliasson has engaged in a number of projects in public space, including the intervention Green river, carried out in various cities between 1998 and 2001; the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007, London, a temporary pavilion designed with the Norwegian architect Kjetil Thorsen; and The New York City Waterfalls, commissioned by Public Art Fund in 2008. Olafur Eliasson was born in Copenhagen in 1967 to Elías Hjörleifsson and Ingibjörg Olafsdottir.
Glasfassade Bühnenfenster (2005) at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.
His parents had emigrated to Copenhagen from Iceland in 1966, he to find work as a cook, and she as a seamstress. He was 8 when his parents separated; he lived with his mother and his stepfather, a stockbroker. His father, then an artist, moved back to Iceland, where the Eliasson spent summers and holidays. At 15 he had his first solo show, exhibiting landscape drawings and gouaches at a small alternative gallery in Denmark. However, Eliasson considered his "break-dancing" during the mid-1980s to be his first artworks. With two school friends, he formed a group — they called themselves the Harlem Gun Crew — and they performed at clubs and dance halls for four years, eventually winning the Scandinavian championship. In 1987, Eliasson’s grandfather killed himself, in Copenhagen. The same year, Eliasson’s father, who had
Music Wall (2006) at the Alsion Concert Hall in Sønderborg, Denmark. (Photo by Adam Mørk)
remarried, was hospitalized for alcoholism. Olafur returned to Iceland to help care for his two-year-old half sister, Anna Viktoria, and he decided to apply to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied between 1989 and 1995. In 1990, when he was awarded a travel budget by the Royal Danish Academy, Eliasson went to New York where he started working as a studio assistant for artist Christian Eckhart in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and reading texts on phenomenology and Gestalt psychology. Eliasson received his degree from the academy in 1995, after having moved in 1993 to Cologne for a year, and then to Berlin, where he has since maintained a studio. First located in a three-story former train depot right next door to the Hamburger Bahnhof, the studio moved to a former brewery in Prenzlauer Berg in 2008. In 1996, Eliasson started working with Einar Thorsteinn, an architect and geometry expert 25 years his
Echo House (2007) for Manchester International Festival Opera House. (Photo by Joel Fildes)
senior as well as a former friend of Buckminster Fuller. The first piece they created called
8900054, was a stainless-steel dome 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 7 feet (2.1 m) high, designed to be seen as if it were growing from the ground. Though the effect is an illusion, the mind has a hard time believing that the structure is not part of a much grander one developing from deep below the surface. Thorsteinn's knowledge of geometry and space has been integrated into Eliasson's artistic production, often seen in his geometric lamp works as well as his pavilions, tunnels and camera obscura projects. For many projects, the artist works collaboratively with specialists in various fields, among them the architects Thorsteinn and Sebastian Behmann (both of whom have been frequent collaborators), author Svend Åge Madsen (The Blind Pavilion), landscape
Olafur Eliasson created the production for Henze's opera Phaedra at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin (2007)
architect Gunther Vogt (
The Mediated Motion), architecture theorist Cedric Price (Chaque matin je me sens différent, chaque soir je me sens le même), and architect Kjetil Thorsen (Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 2007). Today, Studio Olafur Eliasson is a laboratory for spatial research that employs a team of c. 30 architects, engineers, craftsmen, and assistants who work together to conceptualize, test, engineer, and construct installations, sculptures, large-scale projects, and commissions. As professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, Olafur Eliasson founded the Institute for Spatial Experiments (Institut für Raumexperimente, IfREX), which opened within his studio building in April 2009. Eliasson had his first solo show with Nicolaus Schafhausen in Cologne in 1993, before moving to Berlin in 1994. In 1996, Eliasson had his first show in the United States at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) organized Eliasson's first major survey in the United States Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson, on view from 10 September 2007 to 24 February 2008. Curated by the director of
The Other Wall (2010) in the lobby at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo.
the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Madeleine Grynsztejn (then Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA), in close collaboration with the artist, the major survey spanned the artist's career from 1993 and 2007. The exhibit included site-specific installations, large-scale immersive environments, freestanding sculpture, photography, and special commissions seen through a succession of interconnected rooms and corridors. The museum's skylight bridge was turned into an installation titled One-way colour tunnel. Following its San Francisco debut, the exhibit embarked on an international tour to the Museum of Modern Art, and P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center, New York, 2008; the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, 2008–09; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2009; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney 2009–2010. He has also had major solo exhibitions at,
Glass brick façades (2011) of The Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall home to The Icelandic Opera.
among others, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, and ZKM (Center for Art and Media), Karlsruhe (2001); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2004); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2006); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa (2009); and Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2010). Eliasson has also appeared in numerous group exhibitions, including the São Paulo Biennial and the Istanbul Biennial (1997), Venice Biennale (1999, 2001 and 2005), and the Carnegie International (1999).
The Spiral Pavilion, conceived in 1999 for the Venice Biennial and today on display at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, brought Olafur Eliasson the Benesse Prize by the Benesse Corporation. In 2004, Eliasson won the Nykredit Architecture Prize and the Eckersberg Medal for painting. The following year he was awarded the Prince Eugen Medal for sculpture and in 2006, the Crown Prince Couple's Culture Prize. In 2007, he
Artist Olafur Eliasson
was awarded the first Joan Miró Prize by the Joan Miró Foundation. In 2010, Eliasson was the recipient of a Quadriga award; he returned his award one year later after it was revealed that Vladimir Putin would be recognized in 2011. In October 2013, he was honored with the
Goslarer Kaiserring. That same year, Eliasson and Henning Larsen Architects were recipients of the Mies van der Rohe Award for their Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center in Reykjavik, Iceland. In 2014, Eliasson was the recipient of the $100,000 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); the prize is considered an investment in the recipient’s future creative work, rather than a prize for a particular project or lifetime of achievement. The awardee becomes an artist in residence at MIT, studying and teaching for a period of time. On the occasion of a state visit to Germany in June 2013, the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, visited the Studio Eliasson in Berlin. Brazilian filmmaker Karim Ainouz's documentary piece, Domingo, shot from his encounter with Eliasson during the 17th Videobrasil Festival, had its world premiere at Rio International Film Festival in 2014, and will be released on DVD in 2015. Eliasson is married to Danish art historian Marianne Krogh Jensen, whom he met when she curated the Danish Pavilion for the 1997 São Paulo Art Biennial. They adopted both their son (in 2003) and their daughter (in 2006) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The family lives in a house designed by architect Andreas Lauritz Clemmensen in Hellerup near Copenhagen; Eliasson commutes to Berlin. Eliasson speaks Icelandic, Danish, German, and English." [Source, Source] See more select works of Olafur Eliasson after the jump.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

David Daniels To Join University Of Michigan Voice Faculty In Fall 2015

Rising Star: Daniels appeared in the pages of Vanity Fair
 magazine just three years after getting his masters
 degree at the University of Michigan.
"The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) has announced that American countertenor David Daniels will be appointed professor of music in the Department of Voice beginning fall 2015, pending U-M Regental approval. Daniels will maintain his active international performance schedule while launching his academic career in Ann Arbor. He received his master's degree from SMTD in 1992, studying with acclaimed tenor George Shirley. Hailed by The New York Times as 'the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever,' Daniels, has appeared with the world's major opera companies and on its main concert and recital stages. The Chicago Tribune described him as 'today's gold standard among countertenors,' and Gramophone magazine acknowledged his contribution to recorded excellence, as well as his expansion of the repertoire for his voice type, by naming him one of the 'Top Ten Trailblazers' in classical music today. Honored by the music world for his unique achievements, Daniels has been the recipient of two of classical music's most significant awards: Musical America's Vocalist of the Year, and the Richard Tucker Award. Highlights of Daniel's recent seasons include multiple appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Handel's Giulio Cesare directed by David McVicar; in the inventive The Enchanted Island; and in the title role of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice in a new production marking Mark Morris' debut at the Met as a stage director, conducted by music director James Levine. Daniels has won admiration for his performances of extensive concert and art song repertoire, including song literature of the 19th and 20th centuries not usually associated with his voice type. An accomplished recording artist with several critically acclaimed and best-selling solo albums to his credit, his latest release was a collection of Bach's Sacred Arias and Cantatas conducted by Harry Bicket with The English Concert. Daniels joins a celebrated voice faculty at SMTD, chaired by Stephen West. Recent graduates of the program include tenor Michael Fabiano, soprano Janai Brugger, and mezzo-soprano Carla Dirlikov. " [Source]

Sony Re-Packages Elena Moşuc Recordings Into Budget Box-Set

Purchase the album by clicking here.
"Elena Mosuc ist eine der führenden Sopranistinnen unserer Tage. Vor drei Jahren war sie bei den Salzburger Festspielen an der Seite von Startenor Jonas Kaufmann in Ariadne auf Naxos von Richard Strauss als Zerbinetta zu erleben. 2015 wird sie an der Scala in Mailand in Carmen,  Luisa Miller und als Lucia di Lammermoor auf der Bühne stehen. Die hohe Interpretationskunst, Vielseitigkeit und Virtuosität der Sängerin widerspiegelt sich wunderbar in den drei vorliegenden CDs Au Jardin de mon Coeur,  Mozart Portrait und Notre Amour, die einen bunten musikalischen Blumenstrauss von Arien und Liedern enthalten. Die nun vorliegende CD-Box zum unschlagbaren Preis mit diesen Einspielungen aus den Jahren 2000 und 2002 bietet eine willkommene Gelegenheit, sich die außerordentlichen Qualitäten dieser sympathischen Künstlerin erneut vor Augen (und 'vor Ohren') zu führen." [Source] See the track listing for the three-CD box-set after the jump.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Early Reviews Mixed For Patricia Racette As Nedda At MET

Tears of a Clown: Patricia Racette as Nedda with Marcelo Álvarez as Canio at the MET
Yesterday, the new David McVicar's production of Pagliacci by Leoncavallo had its opening night at the Metropolitan Opera. Critics didn't all agree on Patricia Racette's performance:

"Patricia Racette as the doomed Nedda gives one of her finest performances in recent memory, finding focus and honey in her middle range. She wholly inhabits her role, playing the wanton scamp 'Colombina' with aplomb, but earnestly yearning to be free of her life with Canio. Even in the midst of her infidelity, she commands sympathy in her duet with Lucas Meachem, who brought a warm, smooth baritone to the role of Silvio." [Source]

"But as Nedda, the luminous Patricia Racette is an optimist in spite of everything, her bright soprano spinning buoyantly in her duet with the orchestral birds in 'Stridono lassù.' Still, Ms. Racette is ready to switch into play-acting whenever she must." [Source]

"Patricia Racette delivers a fine performance as Nedda in Pagliacci, fiery in her aria 'Stridono lassu' and sultry in her love scenes with Silvio, making out on the running board of the truck." [Source]


"The soprano Patricia Racette may have a slight hard-edged quality in her full-voiced top notes these days. Still, as Canio’s wife, Nedda, who has become involved with the villager Silvio, she sang with beguiling feistiness, sizable sound and great character. She looked charming and captured the suffocating young woman’s restlessness." [Source]

"Patricia Racette as Nedda, the floozy with a heart of tarnished gold, acts, reacts, shimmies and swishes with such virtuosic glee that one wants to disregard some patchy vocalism." [Source]


"He has persuaded some of the singers to match his elegance, especially Patricia Racette, whose sultry Nedda in Pagliacci is the second-best reason to buy tickets. Equipped with a sumptuous black wig and a deluxe soprano in its prime, she toggles between heavy passion and light mockery. In the duet with her lover, Silvio, Racette’s voice rides the orchestra’s warm currents in long, legato glides, making the physical craving she inspires in men seem like an acoustical phenomenon." [Source]


"Joining them was Patricia Racette, who played Nedda like a has been hooker, and sounded like an over-the-hill soprano." [Source]


"In Pag, Patricia Racette's ever-widening vibrato (recalling late-period Maria Callas) meant that redemption for this Cav/Pag skeptic wasn't in the cards, even though David McVicar's production is perfectly respectable at worst and full of impressive, dramatically-relevant theatrical flourishes at best." [Source]

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Diana Damrau Shows Off Favorite "Hotspots" In New York City

She Made It After All: Diana Damrau in front of the Metropolitan Opera. She gives Austrian publication Kurier a 
tour of her favorite hotspots in New York City. Every destination the soprano enjoys, including the Meatpacking 
District, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Broadway Dance Center, Macy's Department Store, the Frick Collection, 
and more, are included in the article that is packed with photos as well. (Photo: Ulrich Wagner)
"'Diese Metropole, so multikulturell, hat eine unglaubliche Energie. Wenn ich von New York wieder weg bin, merke ich, dass ich immer noch vibriere und eigentlich hundemüde bin. Kein schlechtes Gefühl.' So beschreibt Diana Damrau Manhattan. 'Ich liebe den Sog dieser Stadt. Hier kann man ganz ruhig leben oder sich voll reinschmeißen." Ein Mal im Jahr steht die Stadt, die niemals schläft, auf dem Programm der deutschen Sängerin. Dann verbringt Damrau – sie gilt zurzeit als weltbeste Koloratursopranistin – bis zu sechs Wochen in New York. Der Grund: Die 43-jährige Bayerin ist ein gefragter Star an der Metropolitan Opera. Heuer stand sie bei der Wiederaufnahme von Massenets "Manon" sogar mit ihrem Ehemann, dem französischen Bassbariton Nicolas Testé, auf der Met-Bühne. Auf den vielen Reisen der Künstlerfamilie sind die Söhne, Alexander (4) und Colyn (2), und das Kindermädchen immer dabei. Businessclass im Flieger ist da selten drin. 'Wenn möglich, buchen wir Economy Plus,' erzählt die Diva – eine erfrischend natürliche, hübsche Frau, so frei von jeglichen Allüren. 'Theater habe ich auf der Bühne, das brauche ich zu Hause nicht.' Bevor die Buben auf der Welt waren – Damrau hatte ihr
Debüt an der Met 2005 als Zerbinetta – wohnte sie am liebsten mitten im West Village, nahe dem Meatpacking District. 'Entlang des Hudson Rivers bin ich kilometerweit mit den Inlineskates gefahren. Heute gehe ich dort auf der begrünten High Line mit meinen Jungs spielen. New York ist durchaus eine Stadt für Kinder.' Sie liebt das Sex and the City -Flair im West Village. Bei Tag laden die unzähligen Boutiquen, Galerien und Cafés zu einem Streifzug ein. Bei Nacht werden Kopfsteinpflaster und Backsteinhäuser des Meatpacking Districts zu einer schillernden Kulisse. 'I love it,' sagt Damrau, die neben Englisch und Deutsch auch Französisch, Italienisch und ein bisschen Spanisch spricht. Wenn sie nicht gerade mit ihren Kindern einen Spaziergang über die Brooklyn Bridge 'zur besten Eisdiele der Stadt' macht oder mit ihnen den Central Park Zoo besucht, 'gehe ich ins Broadway Dance Center, suche mir eine der vielen Kurse aus, zahle 17 Dollar und tanze oder steppe eine Stunde.' Meist ist die Sängerin mit dem Taxi oder dem Bus – 'da sieht man mehr als in der U-Bahn' – unterwegs. Bei Macy’s, dem größten Kaufhaus der Welt, müsse sie bei jedem New-York-Aufenthalt ein Mal hineinschauen. Zu ihren Lieblingsmuseen zählt, neben dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, die Frick Collection. 'In sechs Wochen lässt sich, trotz meiner Arbeit, schon einiges in dieser herrlichen Stadt unternehmen.' Nach den 'Good Vibrations' von New York freut sich die Belcantospezialistin dann doch immer wieder auf ein bisschen Ruhe und Landluft. 'Ich bin ein Landei, ich brauche die Natur.'" [Source]

Juan Diego Flórez Raises Over $100K For Peru At Vienna Concert

Vittorio Grigolo and Aida Garifullina join Juan Diego Flórez for a worthy cause in Vienna.
"The audience filled the Vienna State Opera and applauded tenor Juan Diego Florez enthusiastically and often during a benefit concert he gave on behalf of 'Sinfonia por el Peru,' the foundation he created in 2011 to help poor children in his homeland. Sources at the Viennese theater told Efe that the box office would easily surpass 100,000 euros ($106,000), from which only technical costs would have to be deducted, since all the artists donated their services. 'It's a dream come true that we can now say Sinfonia por el Peru is going so well it's changing the lives of many, many children in Peru,' Florez told Efe during one of the rehearsals before the gala performance. The tenor noted that big international opera stars would share the stage with young musicians from different social programs around the world, all motivated by the concept of transforming society through music. The gala served to present the Friends of Juan Diego Florez, an association created to support Sinfonia por el Peru and similar projects. Among those friends were Cecilia Bartoli, Russian soprano Aida Garifullina, tenor Celso Albelo and baritone Michele Pertusi, among others. Unfortunately absent was soprano Anna Netrebko, who announced Saturday that she would be unable to take part in the gala. Sinfonia por el Peru's 15 branches in different parts of the country are teaching some 2,500 children and young people living in unfavorable conditions to use music as a way to escape poverty, violence and child labor." [Source]

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kathleen Battle Spiritual Is Backdrop For Solo Dancer Kara Wilkes

"In Kara Wilke’s [sic] solo, set to Kathleen Battle’s haunting version of 'Over My Head I Hear Music in the Air,' Wilke moves swiftly from graceful to grotesque, changing the mood from gorgeous grandeur with effortless jumps to unsettling with unexpected kicks outward and flicks of the wrist." [Source]

"Kara Wilkes a native of Wisconsin, began her professional career performing classical and contemporary work for five seasons with Milwaukee Ballet Company. In 2006, she was invited to join Victor Ullate Ballet in Madrid, Spain; she then returned to the United States and was a member of North Carolina Dance Theatre for four seasons. While based in Charlotte, Wilkes performed works by Nacho Duato, Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey, Jacqulyn Buglisi, George Balanchine, Dwight Rhoden and Mark Godden. Wilkes was named one of '25 to Watch' by Dance Magazine in 2009 and joined LINES Ballet in 2011." [Source] Learn more about the Alonzo King LINES Ballet by clicking here. Watch a beautiful video, Tracing Lines with Alonzo King by Franck Thibault, after the jump.


Opera Auction: Private Graham Concert; Meade Dinner X2; Signed Fleming Photo; And More!

"Welcome to the bidding site for the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s 10th Annual OPERA NEWS Awards Live and Silent Auction. We invite you to browse our auction catalog and forward it on to your friends and colleagues. The auction will close at the end of the event and winners need not be present to bid or win. Be sure to check back frequently as new items will be added as they are secured! We encourage you to bid generously, knowing all proceeds go directly to fund our community and school programs. The mission of the Metropolitan Opera Guild is to enrich lives through an awareness and deeper appreciation of opera, while supporting the Metropolitan Opera by expanding its reach to diverse communities and a wider audience. The Metropolitan Opera Guild is the world’s premier arts education organization dedicated to enriching people’s lives through the magic and artistry of opera. The Guild fosters collaboration, literacy skills, and self-confidence in children with customized education programs integrated into the curriculum of schools, and builds a deeper appreciation of opera in adults through workshops, community programs, and by publishing Opera News, the world’s leading opera magazine. Through its unique relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, the Guild offers newcomers to opera and its most ardent fans access to one of the world’s most renowned performing arts companies." [Source] Items up for bid include:

**Twenty-minute recital by Metropolitan Opera star Susan Graham at your next dinner party at a mutually agreeable date and time in either New York City or Los Angeles.

**Dinner for two with Met Opera star Angela Meade and the Editor-in-Chief of OPERA NEWS magazine, F. Paul Driscoll, at Loi Estiatorio (132 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019).

**One autographed photo of Renée Fleming from the OPERA NEWS December 2014 cover shoot. Framed, 11” x 14”, archival quality print. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Browse many more of the items up for bid by clicking here!

L.A. Opera Gets An Admirer In Alleged-Murderer Robert Durst

И смело ей себя вверяю: Durst took a page out
 of Tatyana's handbook and wrote a letter.
"In a scrawling, handwritten letter to The Times, murder suspect Robert Durst doesn’t speak of the serious charges he now faces but instead writes wistfully of his days in Los Angeles. The real estate scion muses about watching the city lights, the hopeless traffic congestion, spending time at a Sunset Boulevard coffee shop and his love of attending the opera. 'I loved watching the traffic come up La Cienega and mush into Santa Monica,' he wrote in his two-page letter, postmarked nearly two weeks after his arrest in the mysterious murder of author Susan Berman, found shot in the head at her Benedict Canyon home 15 years ago. Durst blames L.A.’s political and business leaders for the absence of professional football in Los Angeles, ridicules a performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle as being a 'true example of Hollywood gone berserk' and ruminates on his own medical condition. 'I have said nothing about charges, crimes or trials,' he adds. 'I’m sure you know what your abilities are to visit me when I get to L.A.' But it seems unlikely Durst will be coming to California anytime soon. Nearly after a month after his arrest, the 71-year-old subject of the HBO documentary The Jinx was in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Thursday to plead not guilty to state weapons charges, a case that has delayed his extradition to California." [Source] Experts say that Durst is trying to play crazy. Perhaps he's taking cues from the ID Channel. See an excerpt  of the note after the jump.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Yusif Eyvazov Loses Over 30 Pounds And Talks Future Plans

Rico Suave: The tenor shows off his new svelte fashion body (Photo: Gilbert Novy/Kurier)
"Er ist fast nicht wieder zu erkennen: Ganze 15 Kilo hat Yusif Eyvazov (38) seit seinem letzten öffentlichen Auftritt mit seiner Verlobten Anna Netrebko (43) abgenommen. Sein Outfit – glitzernde Silberjacke, enges rotes Shirt und goldene Sneakers – muten an, als hätte er vom Operngenre ist Popbusiness gewechselt. Fehlanzeige: Das österreichische Publikum wird von dem sympathischen Tenor in den nächsten Monaten viel zu hören bekommen. Bevor er am 16. Mai beim Life Ball singt und im Sommer in St. Margarethen den Cavaradossi in Tosca gibt, setzt Eyvazov am 30. April mit einem Charity-Konzert im Musikverein ein Zeichen: Bei Hibla Gerzmavas Festival wird er mit der Sopranistin und Ildebrando D’Arcangelo unter der Leitung von Vladimir Spivakov italienische Arien und Duette singen. Anlass dazu gab Netrebkos Sohn Tiago (7)." [Source] The interview goes on to discuss how he lost the weight; his relationship with Anna's son Tiago; dates for the wedding in St. Petersburg; and spending more time in New York City. Read the full interview by clicking here.

Ninfa Gianfala, Former Metropolitan Opera Young Arist, Releases CD

Ninfa Gianfala, far right, after winning first place in the 1962 
Gulf Coast regional auditions of the Metropolitan Opera.
"The ghostlike image of the little girl from Magazine Street hovers in the background, but she’s not an apparition. 'That’s me,' Ninfa Gianfala says, pointing to the image. 'I was the little girl from Magazine Street.' Inside, she’s still that little girl, the one who loved to perform, the one who was teaching neighborhood kids to sing at age 9, the youngest person ever to become a member of the New Orleans Opera Chorus. The one who has put together a retrospective CD chronicling her career in opera and concerts, titled — what else?— The Little Girl from Magazine Street. The CD comes in a two-disc set and is available on iTunes and at Amazon CDBaby.com. The cover features a photograph of Gianfala from her performance days in the foreground, the ghostlike photo of her as a child in the background. Now she sits at the dining room table in the Baton Rouge home she shares with husband, Daniel Caruso, to tell her story. It was Caruso, along with the couple’s daughter, Lori, who encouraged Gianfala to compile the CD of the music that had taken her from the New Orleans Opera to New York for the Juilliard School for the Performing
Click here to purchase the album
Arts, then to LSU for her master’s degree. Eventually, she opened the Mexican restaurant El Palacio with her husband. Critic Rex Reed used to frequent the restaurant when visiting his ailing father. Gianfala never met him, but he knew about her musical background. And he remembered her upon receiving a copy of the CD, opening his review with, 'Nina Gianfala may not be a household name, but that is just an accident of fate. She deserves to be widely known because her talents are varied and many.' Reed points out that Gianfala is equally at home singing opera and Broadway show tunes. What he doesn’t discuss — and perhaps didn’t know when writing the review — is that she also is a composer, having written a Christmas opera titled 'Malachi.' Gianfala teaches voice lessons, her students ranging from age 5 to 70-something. It’s a job she’s loved since her childhood at 3915 Magazine Street." [Source]

Pool Time Is For the Birds In Promotional Featuring Aquatic Youth

A group of young people assemble at a swimming pool to create a Bellagio-style water show using water guns. Under the show plays the overture from Rossini's La gazza ladra. "La gazza ladra (Italian pronunciation: [la ˈɡaddza ˈlaːdra], The Thieving Magpie) is a melodramma or opera semiseria in two acts by Gioachino Rossini, with a libretto by Giovanni Gherardini based on La pie voleuse by Jean-Marie-Theodor Badouin d'Aubigny and Louis-Charles Caigniez. The composer Giaochino Rossini wrote quickly, and La gazza ladra was no exception. According to legend, before the first performance of the opera, the producer assured the composition of the overture by locking Rossini in a room, from the window of which the composer threw out the sheets of music to the copyists who then wrote the orchestral parts, to complete the composition of the opera. As such, The Thieving Magpie is best known for the overture, which is musically notable for its use of snare drums." [Source] Watch the video after the jump.