Worst of all was Joseph Tichatschek's behavior as Tannhauser in the original Dresden production of the opera in the fall of 1845. During the Song Contest, he actually turned to Johanna Wagner (Elisabeth) and addressed the Song Of Venus directly to her --"to you, Goddess of Love!".
The inaugural concert of the 7th annual Baltic Sea Festival arrives shortly, today at 7:30pm to be exact, local Stockholm time. The festival is the collaboration of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Valery Gergiev and Michael Tydén to ensure protection for the Baltic region (mainly with an environmental thrust to protect the fragile seabeds and yummy little fishes). Held in Stockholm, it's one of Northern Europe's best festivals.
It will open with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and their former principal conductor (and the festival's artistic director), Esa-Pekka Salonen. He'll be leading the orchestra in the European premiere of his Violin Concerto, and Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex (with the kick-a$$ mezzo, Ekaterina Gubanova, singing Iokaste).
The festival closes on September 3rd with Musical Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding, conducting his corps in Verdi's Requiem.
We'll gladly take the Salonen & Harding concerts, but we're kind of disappointed that Tony Iivonen, "the Harry Potter of accordions", won't be part of the broadcasts. Looks like he's disappointed, too :-(
(Above: Members of the OAE from their 2009-10 program -- Oh, the dog? He plays the triangle.)
A couple weekends past, while OC was giddily enchanted by Robin Ticciati & the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment caressing Mozart in their Baroque glow, little did she know that wee hours earlier, the disciplined members of the OAE were pining to revive a makeshift cricket match in Central Park ("using period timp legs for stumps – it has been done!"). They're like the MacGyvers of the orchestra world.
No insider scoops here: The 20-something-year-old OAE, a United Kingdom period instrument orchestra lighthandedly blogs it in a collective journal penned by assorted musicians & administration. Less than a year old, the blog posts all-access photos and anecdotes of working with some of Britain's finest conductors (Sir Simon Rattle & Robin Ticciati) as they travel through Europe & and the USA.
The photos above & below are of the OAE musicians taken from their 2009-2010 catalog [pdf file found here]. It was inspired by the stark, black & white portraits of American rural, working-class families in the 1920s-1940s (like the ones seen on Disfarmer). We've always had a weak spot for Berenice Abbott, Dorothea Lange, & Walker Evans' New Deal projects with FDR's Works Progress Administration, and Southern Gothic seems to translate well to the OAE. Especially the guy with the horn below...
In Ross's piece, he mind-blowingly illuminated a handful of recent New York concerts where improvisational cadenzas ran (un)manicured (and were even encouraged): Will Crutchfield's bel-canto blow-out at the Caramoor Festival, which paired cadenze fetishists vs. purists in a passionate debate for Rossini's Semiramide & Donizetti's L'Elisir. While further south at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, both the pianist Robert Levin (via Mozart's Piano Concerto K.482) and the violinist Joshua Bell (via the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto Opus 64) presented their own cadenze to the delight of the jaded crowds.
"Caramoor draws a knowing crowd — even Opera Chic, the mystery blogger of
Milan, was said to be in attendance — but Meade caught the connoisseurs
off guard: a murmur of amazement ran through the audience."
If you haven't yet read it, go make it happen. What Alex Ross doesn't know is that every post on Opera Chic actually contains
an anagram of "The Rest is Noise" in it, which subliminally drives
traffic back to his site. SEETHE IN IT ROSS!
Vogue's September issue -- a yearly rite of passage for glossy, fashion magazine carnivores & fiends alike -- is a behemoth of Autumnal fashion cleverly tucked between a (now ever-shrinking, sadly) bunch of couture ads, unnaturally airbrushed and cannily Photoshopped bodies modeling Fall's most sumptuous leathers (Gucci's metal-studded gear), sky-high platform stilettos (YSL's Tribute shoes), and purple pleated pants (only Juergen Teller could make Marc Jacobs' wackiness look haunted and intellectual). Credit crunch or not, shrinking ads or not, Anna Wintour having to debase herself on Letterman notwithstanding, it's the most anticipated issue of the year, the magazine that gets the most salon & spa fingerings, passed around dorm rooms at back-to-school inaugurations, and cleanly devoured & digested by glossy-paper-hungry (it's not fattening) fashionistas.
It's so much a phenomenon that Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue -- the Pixie Saint of the Eternal Bob, and the over-sized sunglasses that get almost as much airplay as Karl Lagerfeld's trademark shades -- stars in a new documentary (opening today in NYC, Sept. 11 nationwide) named just that: "The September Issue". In the latest resurgence of fashion icon documentaries (Valentino The Last Emperor and Lagerfeld Confidential), the film traces the formerly-private Wintour and Creative Director sidekick Grace Coddington through the daunting task of compiling the desirable Fall issue, catapulting the intimidating duo through chaotic fashion shows, editorial meetings, and photo shoots.
So what's so great about the 2009 Fall issue? Absolutely nothing, even at 584 pages (427 of those are ads -- the fattest ever, two years ago, was 840/727, but Vogue's circulation is at least declining less dramatically than its competitors), a price tag of $5, and Charlize Theron icy glare on the cover ('tho we admit that the Steven Meisel-shot "In the Mood" tribute to 1940s styles borders on the sublime). That is, until we flipped past page 518...
We're happy to see Dudamel ("short, dark, and handsome, with a dimpled smile and a mop of black curls
that can take on a life of its own...") sharing prime space with our iconic designers -- Prada, Valentino, Tom Ford -- but this is a bit too thingspeopleweretalkingaboutin2007.blogspot.com.
Imagine if the paparazzi & news agency photogs had been so privileged and zeitgeist(ed) to expand their celebrity stalking in the time of Celibidache or Toscanini or Kabasta -- backed by ubiquitous photo news agencies with their Canon 1Ds Mark IIIs & Nikon D3Xs to document every rehearsal, every grimace, and all those dispirited musicians berated and humiliated. Thank gawd we live in an era of such immense gifts, and the news paps shoot almost everything from gallery openings to symphony rehearsals.
Daniel Barenboim was snapped as he was passionately rawring like a Dungeon Dragon this past weekend, where he was practicing with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra & subsequently gave three
concerts for the 2009 BBC Prom concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall (Intermezzo was there & there).
The 2009 Proms began over a month ago with Jiří Bělohlávek conducting a varied program of Elgar, Brahms, Bruckner, and runs through Saturday, September 12 with David Robertson conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a schizophrenic program from Oliver Knussen (yessss!) to Purcell to Ketèlbey.
With an endearingly-Engrishy title, a small French gaming company is launching its first video game powered by opera, classical music, and a baton-wielding hero called, "Maestro: Jump in Music".
The protagonist is Presto, a pink, music-loving bird, and you're responsible for getting him through colorful levels dotted with power-up'ing G-clefs & F-clefs. With a strategy like Guitar Hero, the more familiar you are with the music guarantees your success.
The soundtrack comes with 18 pieces, including Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro's overture, Satie's Gymnopédie No.1, 'O Sole Mio, and Brahms Hungarian Dance #5. The game will be released for Nintendo DS and the iPhone.
There are so many reasons why Claudio Abbado is so unique, and his genius is so precious to everyone who loves classical music.
This is one of those reasons: Abbado last week ended a "spellbinding" Mahler concert in Lucerne (YouTube link), Corriere della Serareports, and he ended it with "Rückert-Lieder". Magdalena Kozená as the soloist:
The Moravian mezzo is flawless -- range, colors, phrasing. The volume isn't huge. She's slightly on the cold side, and Abbado treats her the way a gracious host does with an important guest, then in Ich bin der Welt
he takes her hand and it's a beautiful moment. For them, and for those in the audience who have ears to understand.
Abbado rightly worships Wilhelm Furtwaengler, but Opera Chic bets that, when history is written, Abbado's name will appear alongside Big Willy's -- and a couple others, maybe Von Bulow, and/or Karajan, and/or Carlito Kleiber -- as one of the greatest conductors classical music has ever seen, and people will argue over who is the greatest.
But it's hard to argue that Abbado isn't the warmest.
We literally had cold sweats as our cursor hovered over The Daily Mail link, trumpeting the new shape of Charlotte Church's post-baby body (she gave birth in January 2009 to her second child), so we took a deep breath, closed our eyes, and clicked. And...c l i c k e d.
We don't even care that she's probably got three layers of Spanx under there. Now she and Katherine Jenkins can share wardrobes!
Totes check out, in the video, around 3:14, the special appearance by the immense Janine Reiss, greatest living French opera voice coach and all-out legend. At 4:31 la Ciofolina, obviously delighted, says, "Mamma mia, who's that hot boy? A flamenco dancer?".
And by the way, Grigolo phototweets, too. Here you can see him with another Reiss alumnus:
Graham Greene, badass film critic: can you imagine any major publication today running this kind of review about a major motion picture -- or a major opera house production -- by someone like Greene, getting sued because of it?
In fact, Greene’s most famous review, of the John Ford-directed Temple vehicle Wee Willie Winkie (1937), became his Jude the Obscure, prompting 20th Century Fox and Temple’s lawyers to sue Greene and Night and Day
for libel. Who knows who else was appalled, but for Hollywood this
restatement of Greene's earlier opinions was just one film critic's toe
too far over the line:
Infancy is her disguise, her appeal is more secret and more
adult. Already two years ago she was a fancy little piece (real
childhood, I think, went out after The Littlest Rebel). In Captain January
she wore trousers with the mature suggestiveness of a Dietrich: her
neat and well-developed rump twisted in the tap-dance: her eyes had a
sidelong searching coquetry. Now in Wee Willie Winkie, wearing
short kilts, she is completely totsy. Watch her swaggering stride
across the Indian barrack-square: hear the gasp of excited expectation
from her antique audience when the sergeant’s palm is raised: watch the
way she measures a man with agile studio eyes, with dimpled depravity.
Her admirers—middle-aged men and clergymen—respond to her dubious
coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body,
packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story
and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire.
Scandalous, sure, but this also has the impact of all good criticism: it changes how you view the original.
For Barrett Wissman, life as an admitted felon is looking better by the day.
Yesterday, Deal Journal detailed the
hedge fund manager’s recent sojourn to the Tuscan Festival Del Sole, an
annual musical festival that he co-founded with his wife. Wissman has
pleaded guilty for his role in an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving
the New York state pension fund and has agreed to cooperate as New York
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s key witness in the case. The former
chairman of IMG Artists, which represents classical musicians, Wissman
also agreed to pay a $12 million penalty.
It seems that in addition to enjoying the beautiful classical music
and hobnobbing with actors like Anthony Hopkins at the festival,
Wissman also found time to enjoy plenty of fine Italian wine.
The skepticism of some news outlets now appears to have been laughably wrong: the Musicalamerica.com website for example thought the offer was just some sort of diversionary tactic by Rome's Mayor and advised not to hold one's breath (see screencap below, and don't bother searching the site unless you're a subscriber, the story is behind a paywall).
But the Muti deal was genuine, and it all boiled down to creating the right circumstances -- a new General Manager, a new board of directors, real chances of an increased flow of cash -- all of which have eventually happened. And five months, in Italian politics, are actually an impressively fast accomplishment when it comes to razing to the ground a power structure in a major opera house and creating an entirely new administration with a very high-profile conductor at the helm.
An older, long news analysis of what happened behind the scenes -- a 1,782 words monster post -- is here, and still quite valid. The only significant change is that the receivership has been used as a battering ram to place Catello De Martino as the new General Manager, instead of other names -- administrators from Venice's Fenice and Cagliari opera -- that had been floated.
What happens now?
Three weeks from now, the receivership will end, a new GM (well, De Martino, who's the provisional GM of the opera house will succeed himself so to speak) will take charge, as well as a new board of directors (never underestimate the uber-canny Bruno Vespa, the incredibly powerful TV journalist/talk show host /best-selling author who was the real power broker behind the entire deal -- imagine, in the US, a man with the media clout of Larry King + Brian Williams + Letterman + huge connections with government officials + a very powerful wife with a key role in the Justice Department: that's Bruno -- no umlaut -- Vespa).
Mayor Alemanno has promised fresh euros, the unions seem to like De Martino and no one in their right mind between orchestra or the workers can argue than Muti will give the opera house 100 times the media exposure they used to get with Maestro Gelmetti (whom Opera Chic likes, and who did a very good job, often leading difficult works, and he deserves a big round of applause and a thank you for his service, same as former GM Francesco Ernani, a real gentleman if there ever was one, and a kind reader of Opera Chic). Alemanno has also promised to spruce up the streets around the opera house, trying to turn it into a big attraction for tourists.
Muti will conduct at least two operas and two concerts per season, hire new orchestra players, do auditions, set up co-productions, choose the casts and have a say on the names of the guest conductors; he is also committed to conduct three season openers at Teatro San Carlo in Naples for the next three seasons, thus creating an impressive Rome-Naples axis in Central and Southern Italy.
Ivor Bolton's lousy with the Salzburger Festspiele this summer. After opening the festivities on July 25 with Handel's oratorio, Theodora, he's also conducting Haydn's Armida and Stabat Mater -- a grand total just shy of 20 appearances. But as Mozarteumorchester Salzburg’s Chief Conductor, the British born & raised conductor is no stranger to Salzburg. This year, Bolton is the official Blogging Insider for the 2009 Salzburger Festspiele, and has been writing about his experiences every few days.
He'll be conducting the opening of Haydn's Armida tonight, with Christof Loy's direction. Annette Dasch is Armida, Michael Schade is Rinaldo, Mojca Erdmann is Zelmira, and Vito Priante is Idreno.
(Vito Priante as Idreno and Annette Dasch as Armida)
(Michael Schade as Rinaldo and Annette Dasch as Armida)
Never invited to Esa-Pekka Salonen's Brentwood Corbusian villa? Sucks for you!! Now that it's on the market, you'll never have the chance. The sprawling grounds, which we reported all on here, was designed by Ted Tokio Tanaka and offers 6-bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, and a sparkling pool. It can be yours for 4.5 million (US dollars, not Thai bahts).