Opera Chic would be surprised if Martina Serafin were to actually appear in LA Opera's Ring as Sieglinde -- OC has good reason to think Serafin will be replaced, replacement name to be announced later (when they find one).
First things first: Opera Chic would like to thank, as everybody else in the audience tonight should, Simone Alberghini: despite having sung last night at the second cast's general rehearsals and being scheduled to sing tomorrow, Alberghini tonight replaced an indisposed member of the first cast -- thus committing himself to sing for three nights in a row his different parts (Lindorf, Coppélius, Docteur Miracle and Dapertutto).
So, big hugs and cheers and teddy bears to Alberghini: without him, we would have been Offenbach-less for the night.
Tomorrow in the full review we'll discuss the production -- with a steampunk touch that OC found endearing, despite her doubts about many choices by the director), the conductor Emmanuel Villaume, a tall order of French coolness waving some impressive windmill-like arms who shaped very boldly and beautifully Act I, coaxing lightness and beautiful clarity from the Regio's orchestra to shift later to darker hues.
The talented cast -- among them Monica Bacelli and Nino Surguladze -- was one of the reasons we traveled up to Turin on a freezing, scarily foggy bleak Northern Italian midwinter night. But we need to make clear that the longest ovation, by far, and the warmest applause at curtain call, was won by the young woman -- who just turned 32, auguri! -- who became Olympia, opera's favorite automaton, under our watchful eyes. Desirée Rancatore, coloratura soprano of wonders, has already emerged as one of the (very few, there's Dessay and frankly very few others) leading Olympias worldwide. And tonight she brought the haus down with her humor, her sweetness, the unabashed power of that voice, and the fearlessness she showed in attacking the trickiest passages -- a highwire act delivered with coquettish smiles, sweet rubbery moves, and her special way of blinking robotically with a very human twinkle in her eyes.
It's probably not physically possible to perform the scene twice in a row; but when it's over, you wish you could Tivo Rancatore back on stage -- the rest of the opera can wait -- and see and hear her all over again. There are not many artists you really really want to rewind, as you're cheering happily at the end of an aria. It's a small sorority of singers -- and a fraternity, too -- with elite members, who can usually achieve that magic only in their (few) trademark roles. But Rancatore as Olympia is like that -- she projects that light. She's like a rainbow.
How do you make Naxos (aka the Hyundai of classical music) cool?
The woman in charge of this insanely difficult mission, Paula Mlyn, just spake to Amanda Ameer (of Life's A Pitch) about everything you might possibly want to know about the impossible business of pitching classical music to a mostly unwilling public and media.
"Amanda, are you really going to ask me that old question about Naxos cover art?"
(Which is a bit like George W. Bush saying, "are you really going to ask me that old question about Iraq"?). Defensive statements about the superlame cover art aside, the interview is really really interesting. OC's two cents? Might as well go (link not safe for work) the Calvin Klein, NSFW way(link not safe for work).
Did you see Milk already? If you haven't yet, do so -- there's also a nice bonus for all opera lovers, a special cameo: Callas's voice. The Tosca reference has been added by the film makers not simply for its metaphorical value, but for a very real historical reason:
"On November 25, 1978, I found myself sitting in the dress circle of
San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House. The opera was Puccini’s
“Tosca,” with sets by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, a designer who at that time
was widely admired despite his somewhat innovative approach to the
classics. The diva of the evening was the now (and then) legendary
Magda Olivero, who without the help of supertitles was able to keep the
audience totally riveted. The ovation that followed her performance was
the longest I have ever witnessed in the performing arts of any genre.
The management brought down the golden curtain, turned on the house
lights – and still nobody would go home.
At some point, however
– and it’s difficult to remember exactly when – attention in the house
turned toward the box of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. Sitting
there was not Moscone but the famous Brazilian soprano Bidu Sayao. Her
companion was San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk.
Two days later Milk would be shot dead by another city supervisor, Dan White".
A long time chorister with the San Francisco Opera remembers that Tosca performance vividly. Tom Reed recalls in detail how those backstage and on stage felt that night as they performed in the Tosca production Milk attended just before he died. Further, long time super Andrew Korniej comments on Tosca's role in Milk.
Thr good news is she's on the wagon, the bad news is she has a fridgeful of ice cream just sitting there.
Oh. and Schrott's doing the cooking:
At their apartment near Lincoln Center - their other place is in
Vienna, where they're stars of Brangelina magnitude - the singers call
each other "mi amor" and share child-care duties for little Tiago.
Schrott bustles in the kitchen, fixing bowls of ginger-carrot soup,
as Netrebko offers me a throne-like MacKenzie-Childs seat she calls
"the diva chair."
The bad news is that the Washington Postis shutting down Book World, their excellent Sunday section, moving some reviews to other parts of the paper, and taking everything else from Book World online (the staff had already been cut in the past anyway, so at least no layoffs were needed at this time).
The worse news is that someone who should really know better thinks this is a good thing.
"I've said it before, but it's worth repeating: it is the destiny of
serious arts journalism to migrate to the Web. This includes newspaper
arts journalism. Most younger readers--as well as a considerable number
of older ones, myself among them--have already made that leap. Why tear
your hair because the Washington Post has decided to bow to the inevitable? The point is that the Post is still covering books, and the paper's decision to continue to publish an online version of Book World
strikes me as enlightened, so long as the online "magazine" is edited
and designed in such a way as to retain a visual and stylistic identity
of its own."
The problem here, obviously, is that for someone who's been in journalism since before Opera Chic was born, Teachout seems to forget that publishers -- including his bosses at News Corp. -- still take the (very costly) trouble of printing the Wall Street Journal on (very costly to purchase, print, and deliver to your door or local newsstand) paper not because they're nostalgics of the good old days of Hemingway, but because they cannot charge advertisers nearly as much for their website's ads. Because most newspapers content online is still 100% free -- remember Times Select?
Print survives, among other reasons, because of the very real issue of ad revenue (if Teachout really thinks paper is 100% obsolete, he's free to resign from the WSJ, move all his content to www.terryteachout.com and try to make a living only over his website's ad revenue -- OC is not exactly holding her breath that he'll try that anytime soon). Perez Hilton doesn't need print and can indeed make a nice living out of the web. A dude who writes about plays and books? Not so much.
The problem here, again, is not that the Washington Post is trying very generously to give Book World the great chance to become cool, a 100% online entity, while instead the rest of the paper remains lamely attached to grody paper and stinky ink. The problem is that they're dumping coverage about books the way other papers are firing their music and film and theater critics left and right -- the Washington Post takes Book World online because -- literally, and so sadly -- arts coverage is not worth the paper it's printed on.
The -- very expensive -- newsprint remains in use for "hard news" (whatever that means nowadays). Arts? Whatever. Make the staff as lean, young and inexpensive as possible, then move the content online where column inches cost nothing.
So, "the destiny of
serious arts journalism to migrate to the Web" thing, as TT writes? Yeah, but that's actually part of the problem. It's migrating now because it's expendable. Because those of us who like it will probably look for it online anyway. And because serious book lovers -- just like operagoers -- are a shrinking, aging, not-that-relevant-anymore section of the public anyway (when in doubt, compare Junot Diaz's -- or John Updike's -- sales to The Dark Night's box office; or Rene Pape's record sales (and digital downloads) to Leona Lewis's or Kanye's.
(Above: Lance Ryan's Siegfried on the right and Mime's Colin Judson)
L'Opéra National du Rhin will premiere a new staging of Wagner's "Siegfried" on Friday, and the man with the plan is David McVicar. A fitting ~Lord of the Rings~ version of the "Beware of Jewish Plans For World Domination" handbook opera from the old antisemite is what we're Tolkien about.
Canadian tenor Lance Ryan sings the (100% Aryan) lead with the Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg. Where the ladies at?
(Above: Mime as Colin Judson and Wanderer as Jason Howard)
(Above: Lance Ryan's Siegfried on the right and Mime's Colin Judson)
(Above: Lance Ryan's Siegfried on the right and Mime's Colin Judson)
Seriously, if there's one perk to living in Italy, it's the mainstream availability of opera and classical that has more or less infiltrated popular culture. Which is why we're excited that daily newspaper Corriere della Sera has introduced a new series called, "La Grande Opera Lirica".
The initiative consists of 25 individual CD sets (with 2-3 CDs each) of opera's greatest works, which will drop every Monday from January 26, 2009 - July 13, 2009.
The first one was Verdi's La Traviata (out this past Monday), and is currently going for 1 cool euro. Every additional CD will go for 9.99 euro.
The series promises luminaries such as Callas, Pavarotti, Tebaldi, Caballé -- and conductors such as von Karajan, Furtwaengler, Prêtre, and Klemperer -- in 25 operas spanning from Fidelio to La Gioconda to Godunov.
Here are two of the advertisements below, where our dead composers have been outfitted with modern technology:
("With this Don Giovanni, even Mozart would ask for an encore.")
("Not even Verdi listened to a Traviata like this.")
(Above: Rinat Shaham's gonna cut you! Carmen @ the Vancouver Opera never looked so good. Photo by Tim Matheson.)
Vancouver Opera has pretty much gotten it down by introducing smart initiatives that successfully culture-jam the operatic art form, and break it down for the masses. And O.C. is obviously all about applauding accessibility. We saw it with their manga, and now they've done it again.
Tonight, the Vancouver Opera will be hosting their very first "Blogger Night at The Opera". They've invited four local bloggers (and their laptops) to attend tonight's Carmen at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and simultaneous liveblog the experience. The majority of the bloggers (URLS found here) have never been to the opera before, and will share their newbie impressions during pre/post show & intermission.
The performance starts at 7:30 pm (Pacific Standard Time). This VO production of Bizet's classic opened on Saturday night and has been slaying the critics, featuring the bewbtastic Rinat Shaham with a kung-fu grip as our smoking temptress (we kinda wonder if this post was just a flimsy excuse to publish the picture of Shaham's magnifi-scent glory above), David Pomeroy as Don José, Mariateresa Magisano as Micaëla, and Daniel Okulitch as Escamillo.
Netrebko simply lacked the vocal agility to pull it off. She stinted
on much of the usual ornamentation and failed to hit the final high
E-flat squarely. The applause that followed was surprisingly tepid for
a scene that usually stops the show in its tracks.
For Met audiences who have heard both Natalie Dessay and Diana
Damrau triumph as "Lucia" in the last 18 months, the question is why
Netrebko should undertake the role at all when her voice is so much
better suited to other repertory.
As for Villazon, he sounded in bad shape from his first entrance, an
ominous rattle infecting his high notes. During his solo outburst in
the wedding scene, his voice cracked and he froze for several seconds,
then continued a half-tone lower. Before the curtain rose for the final
act, general manager Peter Gelb announced Villazon "was not feeling
well" but would continue. He made it, just barely, through his final
scene, but the ovation he received was surely more a sympathy vote than
a true endorsement.
It's especially worrisome to hear this once-promising Mexican tenor
in such ragged shape, since he suffered a vocal crisis nearly two years
ago and stopped singing for several months. This was his first Met
appearance since he resumed his career in early 2008.
If you're a glass half-full kind of a person, well, at least no one collapsed on stage! Still, it pretty much sucks, esp. given how many bad nights Rolandino seems to be having as of late (his comeback happened about a year ago already).
Opera Chic is on the record as one of the biggest Duparc fans on the Internet: and it's always a treat when a great singer takes us to explore the breathtaking heights of Duparc's greatness. Earlier tonight, dear Ben Heppner at la Scala included four Duparc songs in a recital where he sang -- beautifully, and with great generosity -- Schubert, Strauss, Britten, Bellini, Donizetti (seriously: Donizetti, as if this were a Florez recital or something), Verdi, Puccini and Giordano.
And for the final encore -- as the opera house's audience cheered wildly in a standing ovation -- Hep even played the piano himself and sang a lively bluesy/jazzy ode to Rock&Roll in his booming voice, Jerry Lee Lewis-like, under the watchful, smiling eyes of pianist Thomas Muraco, a big bad bald linebacker of a maestro who had played with great skill and delicate nuance until then.
But of all this, tomorrow in the full review -- it's late now and Opera Chic is still recovering from the beauty of it all. Especially from the deeply moving moments of the Duparc section of the recital (Extase, Chanson Triste, Rosemonde and, of course, Phidylé). But suffice to say, for now, that Heppner -- forget about his Wagner for a minute, forget about the ravages that kind of repertoire inflicted on his voice, an instrument that does indeed get sweetly threadbare at times, like a much-loved teddy bear -- Heppner is a perfect interpreter for Duparc's rare gems, the few precious artifacts that survived the fire of Duparc's madness and are the lonely remnants of his genius. To those songs, Heppner brought tonight his sense of dignity, and grace, his ability to make dramatic sense of the most subtle phrases. "Before dying, this heart still drinks Fire, and Light" sang Heppner in another moment of the concert (Schubert's "Im Abendrot"); and it sounded like the most appropriate introduction to Duparc's chansons.
Opera Chic is a big big fan of Stefano & Domenico (in the photo above by Mikael Jannson) because:
a) She sees them at la Scala a lot -- the only major designers here who consistently show their love for the opera besides the classical music loving Missonis.
b) They do their own thing and unlike most major designers they still own their company
c) And, especially, after a quarter of a century together, they show everyone -- gay or straight -- what a really cool adult relationship is about.
d) Stefano has actually a butler who loads music in his iPod, possibly the ultimate luxury in this world
e) Finally, Opera Chic has bought and worn so much of their stuff over the years that she considers them members of the family.
Dolce & Gabbana, amici complici and ex-amanti elaborate beautifully on point c) in a great interview in the new Interview mag. One of the best moments is this:
TB: Do your boyfriends ever get jealous of your relationship?
SG: If so, it’s too bad for them. We are really good friends—that’s
it, like brothers. We are family. I say Domenico is the first person in
my life. If you don’t like it, it’s your problem.
TB: Do you think your relationship is unusual?
DD: Very unusual.
SG: Our relationship is also a very good example for everybody in
the world, gay and straight. Because our love story continued, without
sex and without living together. Why not? He was the first big love
story in my life. Why do we need to cancel that? And I don’t want to
TB: Do you think you’ll end up together again?
SG: But we do live together. No, not together, but he lives on one
floor and I live on another. I don’t know what he does in the night
with his boyfriend. And I don’t care, really.
DD: No, listen to me. Let me tell you about last night. You were
supposed to call me. My boyfriend had a fever so he couldn’t go out,
and you said, “Ciao. I’ll call you later. We’ll go to dinner.”
SG: And I forgot and I didn’t call him.
DD: And I’m waiting for dinner. Yesterday I didn’t eat, and I told
him that. And I waited. And on Saturday night I stayed home because my
boyfriend had a fever, and I fell asleep on the sofa in front of the
TV, and then I wake up and I hear the noise, boom, boom. I think maybe it’s the air conditioner. I turn off the TV and it’s boom, boom, boom, over my kitchen.
SG: Because Giovanna [Battaglia, erstwhile house model, now a contributing fashion editor at L’UomoVogue] was there, dancing like Madonna in the “Give It 2 Me” video.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra doesn't care where you live. Don't take it personally, tough guy. They're offering anyone who has access to the WWW information superhighway a live webcast of their 2009-2010 Season Announcement Press Conference.
Airing tomorrow morning, Tuesday, January 27, 2009 @ 11:00 am (Eastern Standard Time) from Atlanta, Georgia, USA, you can rely on the magic of internet real-time and watch it all go down yourself.
Coffee breath, puffy eyes, and awesomely naked & eating instant oatmeal from a coffee mug? Whatevs! Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles can't see you anyway, so go for it! Go here for the exclusive e-vite!
Remember, on the internet, it doesn't matter where you live, but what's in your ♥!
San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley announced the ambitious line-up for the company's 2009-10 season earlier today, and it's chock full o' star power for their upcoming 87th season. We can expect gorgeous appearances from Diana Damrau, Nadja Michael, Sondra Radvanovsky, Patricia Racette, Nina Stemme, Deborah Voigt, Stephanie Blythe, Juan Diego Flórez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
Incoming Music Director, Puccini man Nicola Luisotti (taking over this summer from Donald Runnicles's 17-year-reign), has been saddled with the company's new agenda to return to an Italian opera repertory, and will inaugurate it with an auspicious David McVicar production of Verdi's Il Trovatore on September 11, 2009.
More plans include three commissions by American composers Christopher Theofanidis, Mark Adamo and Jennifer Higdon, a June 2011 Wagner Ring Cycle, and two free simulcasts (Tosca and Il Trovatore) in the San Francisco Giants's baseball stadium. Visit the site for more details.
We're Totes ecstatic for two versions of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Die Tote Stadt, which aside from the prevalent darkness, coulnd't be any more different.
First up is Teatro La Fenice's version, conducted by Eliahu Inbal and directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi (PLP created costumes and sets too). The show opened on Friday night, and was the first time Korngold's work was seen at La Fenice since its world premiere in 1920 in Germany. Inbal created parallel spaces on stage with mirrors, reflecting a fairytale-like narrative couched in a twisted, dark world.