Saturday, March 31, 2007

10 Reasons Why We Love Maria Callas

  1. She showed prospective opera singers that their voices don't have to sound like the angels to qualify (although it helps!)
  2. She showed the world that opera also has acting involved. Acting is important in opera!
  3. We have some one to compare all the "new" or even "bad" opera singers to.
  4. She can sing Turandot one night then turn around and sing Rosina the next.
  5. If you want to piss off your opera-hating relatives, you just turn her Lucia on.
  6. If you want to impress your opera-loving friends, you just turn her Tosca on.
  7. You can always distinguish her voice. If someone was to ask you "Who is the soprano singing here?" You don't have to decide whether it's Kiri te Kanawa's or Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. You always know it's her. (I'm not saying that Dame Kiri and Schwarzkopf sound the same, but they had the same kind of soprano voice =])
  8. You can trust that practically all of her full opera recordings will have either Tito Gobbi or Giuseppe DiStefano.
  9. Her Tosca is like no other. Ever.
  10. Her Turandot is believable. Because you all know that you chuckle when an ugly Turandot gets kissed by Calaf. Come on, you know you do.

Viva La Divina!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lucia Sextet Party!

(Sorry for the delay. I've been in denial since I left "Barber" last Saturday. I can't stop listening to "Cessa di piu resistere", other Juan Diego Florez works, and various selections from "Barber". It's ridiculous! =) in a good way. However, "A te, o cara", Don Giovanni, and, today's selection, the Lucia di Lammermoor sextet, snapped me back into my old self. And I'm back! *coughs* Lucky you...)
With two greats, Pav and Cappuccilli. However this clip is entitled "June Anderson in sextet LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR" so I will mention that, yes, she does sing in this clip. =)
With the wonderfully wonderful Dame Joan in her (from the looks of it) younger years. Diction better than what it would become. I love Dame Joan though, her Lucia is just beyond what Donizetti could have ever imagined it to be! (At least I think so...)
Now, I didn't promise they would all be good. Roberto Alagna in this glorious sextet. It took me a minute to figure out whether he had terrible diction, or if it was in French. Turns out it's in French. It looks like the guy singing with Alagna at first is not having a fun time, looks kinda bored. The Lucia looks half mad already. No offense to the clip, it's very well sung.
I love this clip. Maybe it's the stellar line up (Jose Carreras, Katia Ricciarelli, John Paul Bogart, and Leo Nucci) or maybe the visuals. Maybe not Ricciarelli at her absolute best, but still pretty awesome.
This clip is awesome. Carlo Bergonzi, Renata Scotto, with that set and all the men drawing their swords at the same time! It's glorious! Carlo Bergonzi shows why he's the best tenor around. Viva Bergonzi! Some of Scotto's high notes are a little "eh", but still, she's Scotto! What can you do!
This was my first Lucia sextet and what a whirl! That pushed me over the edge for Donizetti. It was love at first Lucia!!

Thank you to YouTube for allowing people to put these kinds of things on the Internet! Thank you to the people who put them up! Thank you for (hopefully) not getting mad at me for giving the links to your videos, it's only because I love them! =)

Sorry. I'll try to do something "interesting" next time. lol I'm going to do something on "The Turandot Project." It's the movie that changed my life forever, so I'm going to need a lot of time to think, write, rent the DVD and re watch it all, so maybe this weekend? Thanks, y'all.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Il Barbiere di Siviglia

There's a wide line between a good performance and an amazing performance.

Last night's "Barber" at the Metropolitan Opera past far over that line. Far, far over.

If there was ever such a thing as a perfect performance of "Barber of Seville" this was definitely it. Mind you, I don't usually give out this kind of praise lightly. An opera production has to work extra hard for me to call it "perfect." Bartlett Sher's sets were fun and inventive to say the least. When the singers came to the front of the platform that overhang the orchestra pit, it was fantastic! The people in the front row could have reached out and touched the singers! The costumes looked wonderful! My favorite costumes definitely had to be Don Bartolo's and, of course, the Don Alonso wig.

Where to begin with the singing. Where to begin...
Let's start with John Del Carlo. A phenomenal Bartolo. Funny in all the right places and menacing in all the others. He is probably about 6-foot-6 because he made Peter Mattei look like a midget. (Maybe it was the white wig???) He did have, I feel, a little bit of trouble with the high note of his aria "A un dottore della mia sorte," but with all the coloratura that comes before, I can't blame him. Claudia Waite (Berta) also had a little problem with a note in her aria, but it didn't affect the rest of her performance at all! She was a wonderful Berta.
John Relyea (who seems to be singing everything at the Met this season) was a very exciting Don Basilio. His aria "La calunnia" was amazing. It was funny in that "I'm supposed to be scary, but instead I'm funny" kind of way. Every one in the smaller parts (Fiorello, the captain, etc.) was splendid. They did a very very excellent job.
On to the main singers of the evening: Juan Diego Florez, Joyce DiDonato, and Peter Mattei. Joyce DiDonato, I don't believe I can say anything that will really do her credit. Her Rosina was fun, witty, a little immature (but isn't she supposed to be?), and you really believe her when she says that she can turn to a viper. She was a damn good singer, too! "Una voce poco fa" went from pleasure to pleasure with every moment she sang. The "Music Lesson" scene was hysterical and sang very very very well. Everything about her portrayal was perfect. (Did you hear that? "Perfect." I used that word again.) Peter Mattei is simply the greatest Figaro out there. He embodies the character so wonderfully and dramatically, he never skips a beat. His acting was sublime and faultless. Mattei doesn't have a problem with distinguishing acting and singing. He does both wonderfully. There was an entire article in the NY Times about people like Peter Mattei who not only sing beautifully, but act beautifully, too. The opera really is Figaro's opera and last night was obviously Mattei's night to shine.

Now, you have to understand something about me and Juan Diego Florez. We have never met, and this is the first time I ever saw him live, in person, on stage, with him right there in front of me. (And I don't want to sound like a stalker/freak but...) Even though we have never met I plan on meeting and marrying Mr. Florez even though he was no idea who in the world I am...yet. Not to mention to extreme age difference, but who cares about those things anymore? That being said, I was in no way biased to think that Mr. Florez sang like an angel last night. =) His Count Almaviva is like no other Count Almaviva in the history of "Barber of Seville." I almost melted into the floor when he sang "Ecco Ridente." I wasn't sure if I could take the rest of it! The Don Alonso (aka "Music Lesson") part of the second act remains one of the funniest (and one of my favorite) moments in the opera. I say "pace e gioia" nearly every single day. His acting was incredible and his singing incomparable!! He not only sang well, but he didn't look half bad, either! His costumes were great! I loved them. I loved him!

Thank you Uncle Tommy for this great night!!! I had sooooo much fun! (PS thanks for putting up with my huge gasp whenever Juan Diego Florez came on the stage lol. I'm sure it got annoying <3<3)

Having said all that,
Pace e Gioia everybody!!!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Why I really like opera...

The real reason I love opera...

It was the night before I was born. My mom and dad get all dressed up and head out of the house with my grandparents. They drive towards the Metropolitan Opera House. They sit through God-knows-how-many hours of Philip Glass's The Voyage when it first premiered. My mom said I was bouncing around to the bass line the entire performance. 12 hours after the performance ended, I was born (2 weeks early). I needed to get out and hear that beautiful music! (by the way, the opera hasn't been heard at the Met since, I don't think!!)

And that's the reason I love the opera! I was born to listen, haha.

Funny, I've never actually heard a Glass opera. Maybe I should go see Satyagraha after all!!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Don Giovanni

My opinion on why people would consider Don Giovanni to be "the perfect opera"

  • There is all of the following: love, death, murder, damnation, corruption, good, evil, faithful servants, talking statues, stalker lovers, secret spouses? (oooo), revenge, adultery, treachery, repentance (or lack there of), seduction, jealousy
  • IT'S ITALIAN! I mean, really, guys! People are gonna like it!
  • Melodies are simple and memorable (ex. "la ci darem la mano", "vedrai carino")
  • Basso/mezzo duets (can't resist 'em!)
  • The catalogue aria. you can't get much better than the catalogue aria!
  • There's a deranged in love with Don Giovanni.
  • A Devil drags Giovanni down to Hell. It does NOT get more exciting than THAT.
  • The entire Commendatore scene! It's bone-chilling!
  • Sir Thomas Allen as Don Giovanni. Just because it's too awesome to behold! It's too much to handle, frankly. When he's dragged down to Hell it's like "Hey! Wait! What in the world just happened??? He was singing a second ago!!"
  • Leporello and Don Giovanni switching places and Leporello "seducing" Donna Elvira while Don Giovanni's doing...whatever he's doing...
  • Leporello's "hidden wife"??? That's never explained!!! Oh, well. It leaves something for the imagination!
  • Mozart...Just because the opera is Mozart. It just makes it amazing.
  • The use of random numbers: seicento e quaranta, duecento e trentuna, cento, novantuna, (ma in Spagna) mille e tre. mille e tre? mille e tre!
  • Vedrai carino, because it's such a cute aria!
  • Masetto. Because you just have to feel bad for the poor little thing! So jealous, so naive! haha
  • When Don Giovanni won't freaking repent at the end. You wanna slap him across the face and yell "Repent, you idiot! REPENT!" Seriously, how stupid can you be??
  • Don Giovanni's reasons for not being faithful to one woman. (He is being "generous" to all the woman by giving them all "his love." If he saved it for only one woman, not every woman would get his "love." Get it? Yeah, doesn't make sense....)
  • The little Mozart self-promotion while the Don is having dinner ("Non piu adrai" playing in the background and Lep/Don singing to the tune.)

Apparently, it doesn't get any better than this?

(Wanna add a reason? Just comment...) =]

Friday, March 2, 2007

NYC Opera's new season!

Just as exciting as the Met's new season is its next-door neighboor New York City Opera's 2007-2008 season!!

New Productions:

Margaret Garner- with a cast full of debuts!!
Cavalleria/Pagliacci double bill- with Carl Tanner in Pagliacci and Brandon Jovanovich in Cavalleria
Cendrillon- with Joyce Castle as Mme. de la Haltiere and Cassandre Berthon as Cinderella
Vanessa- with Lauren Flanigan and Rosalind Elias as The Old Baroness
King Arthur- with director/choreographer Mark Morris
Ragtime- as the musical theater production of the season


Agrippina- starring Ruth Ann Swenson and Heidi Stober
La Boheme- with Inna Dukach and Dinyar Vania
Don Giovanni- with Aaron St. Clair Nicholson as the devious Don Giovanni and Julianna Di Giacomo as Donna Anna in Harold Prince's production
Carmen- starring Beth Clayton as Carmen and Scott Piper as Don Jose
Madama Butterfly- with Shu-Ying Li as Cio-Cio-San and James Valenti as Pinkerton
Falstaff- with Jan Opalach as Sir John Falstaff and Pamela Armstrong as Alice Ford
Tosca- starring Anna Shafajinskaia as Floria Tosca and Todd Thomas and Baron Scarpia

I'm hoping to make my own audience-member debut at the City Opera this season!!! There are four (count 'em, four!) operas that I wish the Met was doing that City Opera is doing! Falstaff, Carmen, Tosca, and Don Giovanni. I've been waiting to see all except Tosca live for a long time, because I've already seen Tosca. Next season, however, the Met is not doing Tosca so I thought maybe I'll stroll across the plaza to see how the City Opera singers are doing. "Yo!! NYCO! Sup, my peeps????" I was praying every night that Don Giovanni would be one of the operas they do at Lincoln Center. I was thinking the Metropolitan Opera, but I guess my prayers were answered! Thank you, NYC Opera! =)=) I just want to hear "Madamina, il catalogo e questo", "vedrai carino", and "La ci darem la mano" live, on stage, with real opera singers. And voila!! City Opera does it again!!!!!!!!