It's not like British conductor Daniel Harding had to convince us of his sartorial prowess, easily making the cut for Opera Chic's Five Best-dressed Conductors in W Magazine's Editors' Blog with his penchant for Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford, and Trussardi.
The 34-year-old conductor (and unabashed Manchester fan) was back in Milan between Teatro alla Scala guest performances and invited a Corriere della Sera journalist to tag along during a typical day of ~Fantastic Mr. Harding~, showing-off his superior sartorial, culinary and gadgetry fetishes. In the article called, "Vorrei sposare Natalie Portman" ("I'd Like to Marry Natalie Portman") Harding could come off insouciantly douchy, but frankly, he doesn't care. He's Daniel Harding, byotches: "Self love is a good jumping-off point for loving someone else," he tells thepaper. All translations copywrite Opera Chic, tia.
The first stop is a private tuxedo fitting at Tom Ford's luxury Via Verri 5-floor boutique in downtown Milan, where everyone calls him by name, including the security guard. Then it's lunch at Libera, a Brera-neighborhood restaurant that frequently hosts Corriere journalists because of its flexible, late hours (and good food), where Harding is joined by Gaia Trussardi (the young Italian designer/inheritor of her family's fashion label) and her boyfriend at a corner table. Then it's over to The Four Seasons in Via Gesù's intimate, prive' garden setting between Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone, which Harding calls home when he's in Milan: "When I'm in the city for a few days, I stay always at the Four Seasons because it's convenient and quiet. They make my trip seem like a vacation." FYI Daniel Harding never uses the hotel's wake-up call service -- he just wakes up naturally because he owns so hard.
A gadget junkie, he travels with his Mac (he banishes micro$uck although he loves Bill Gates), two cell phones, a Blackberry, and an iPhone. Big pimping, but it sucks to get stuck behind him at airport security! Since Harding spends almost 300 nights sleeping away from from home, he has two British passports to accommodate the high volume of passport stamps. All that's missing is a butler, a supermodel girlfriend, a private jet, a sleek sports car/submarine hybrid, and a spandex bodysuit. Bullet-proof, of course.
The Times writes about Danielle de Niese in an article (that just doesn't translate well into American) "Diva of the Downs" and joined the singer in her Glyndebourne digs shared with Gus Christie and his four sons (and a Portuguese water puppy!) She hints at a transition into television media, participating in a forthcoming BBC reality show called The Diva Diaries.
What the heck is a piano cruiser? Don't even both asking Captain Stubing for permission to come aboard because no one is cool enough to come aboard the piano cruiser. Look at that thing! It's part of Fazioli's collection in their Milan via Conservatorio showroom, where Fazioli's pianos (from his Venice-area factory) wait to be boarded.
Anna Netrebko shared the stage with Michelle Hunziker, Emma Thompson, Beth Ditto, Shakira, a guy who balances on eggs shells, and a few others on last night's Wetten, Dass..?. [full stop!!] American rock star Beth Ditto (above with Anna) stole the show by sitting onAlpine skiier Hansi Hinterseer's lap. Lesson learned: everyone needs to step up their game if they want to compete with Ditto, stylists included.
Milan's hairstylist to the stars, Alessandro Lisi of Area #6 Salon, chats with Opera Chic for W Magazine about styling Milan's (and Hollywood's) biggest stars from his a gorgeously elegant downtown salon.
The Wall Street Journal now reports on the replacement: Anna's new digs. With a slideshow of ten images spanning from her bedroom to son Tiago's room.
Oh, and not that that we didn't know that already but there's somewhat bad news for her fans:
"Three years ago, singing, singing, singing is everything for me," said Ms. Netrebko, surrounded by a shifting group of publicists and friends and picking at a tray of takeout sushi on a dining table. "Now, no. I enjoy singing but it's just part of my life—besides decorating houses!"
Opernhaus Zürich has released their 2010/11 season (download a .pdf here), and it's full of win. There's a crapload of very cool ballet! Falling Angel with music by Steve Reich & choreography by Kylián; Jerome Robbins' In The Night; and Il giornale della necropoli with music by Sciarrino.
Opera is also well-balanced with Marc-André Dalbavie's modern Gesualdo (the composer will be conducting), Verdi's I masnadieri will be heard for the first time in Zurich; Rossini's Le Comte Ory with Cecilia Bartoli as La Comtesse Adèle and Javier Camarena in the lead; Bellini's Norma with Vittorio Grigolo as Pollione and Elena Mosuc in her Norma debut; Verdi's Falstaff with Daniele Gatti, Leo Nucci in the lead and and Barbara Frittoli as Alice; Verdi's Un ballo in Maschera conducted by Nello Santi; Claus Guth's Parsifal conducted by Daniele Gatti; and Il re pastore conducted by William Christi with Rolando Villazon singing Alessandro.
Next season will be fellow Inter fan Daniele Gatti's second season as Principal Conductor.
Past midnight in Milan, March 25, 2010. Magda Olivero is 100 years old, and it's impossible to thank her enough for her career, for her poetry, for her life. She is, truly, l'umile ancella, a soprano of infinite wonders and infinite class. Her verismo, more than any other singer's, is real. So is her genius.
Dear Lawd, thank you for this daily LOL, and bless google that hath prepared it.
While Villazon enjoys his Vienna comeback, let's not forget about that other tenor, Roberto Alagna, who appeared on France3 with Salvatore Adamo & Frederic François to sing Adamo's Les Filles Du Bord De Mer.
USA Spoleto has announced that Natalie Dessay has canceled her appearance in Spoleto's Opening Gala (in Charleston, SC) on April 1st "due to illness" and will be replaced by Mezzo Denyce Graves. Graves sings in Spoleto's new production of Flora, a "ballad opera with lyrics written to the accompaniment of popular tunes of the time," which will be performed to celebrate the opening of Spoleto's new Dock Street Theatre after three yearsof renovation. Dessay's been having health issues since last month when she canceled a Paris Sonnambula halfway through the show, and has since withdrawn from The Metropolitan Opera Ambroise Thomas Hamlet run.
Hanns Eisler stood on the beach in front of his Malibu house looking at
the Pacific Ocean and pronounced 'Nature is boring!' This, from a man
who escaped Hitler's purge, who enjoyed the comfort of success in
Hollywood, but who never abandoned his alignment with the common man,
and who was ultimately deported, a target of the House Un-American
The death of Wolfgang Wagner, announced Sunday night, ends a post-war era at Bayreuth that was almost as unpleasant as the Nazism that preceded it. Wolfgang, with his brother Wieland, conspired in covering up the family's collaboration with Hitler...
...Wolfgang was a petty dictator, modelled on a brutal one. As a stage director he was risible, a regressive shadow of his adventurous brother.
In the opera world, all eyes will be on Austrian capital on Monday when Mexican star tenor Rolando Villazon makes his stage comeback at the Vienna State Opera.
Villazon, 37, who has now had to put his career on ice twice due to problems with his vocal chords, will sing the role of Nemorino in a one-off performance of Donzetti's best-loved comic opera, "L'elisir d'amore".
He is then due to sing the role of Lensky in Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" in Berlin later this month.
Fact #1: Wilford Brimley said oatmeal keeps away the diabetes. Fact #2: the steel cut Irish oatmeal at West Hollywood's Sunset Tower poolside brunch is yum yum yum. Fact #3: MTT's "Hot Oatmeal Soufflé With Fresh Seasonal Berries and Wild Berry Sauce" will run you $16.50. Fact #4: MTT is in DC with the San Francisco Symphony for a performance later this week for a Liszt/Ravel/Tchaikovsky program featuring Christian Tetzlaff on violin.
Among the many wonderful things that James Conlon mentioned in the Opera Chic interview posted earlier this week, there's the fact that Alexander Zemlinsky was not just a fantastic composer but was, in his time, highly regarded as a conductor. This 1928 recording of Cosi' Fan Tutte makes the case very eloquently.
Also, after the jump, Zemlinsky conducts the Abduction from the Seraglio ouverture...
The music for the new cycle follows in the lyrical vein that characterized the “Neruda Songs,’’ which came as something of a surprise to those who knew his dense earlier works. Many hailed this “approachable’’ style, but Lieberson says it’s less a matter of being accessible than being “more naked — something that wants to come through and allowing it, whatever its form should be.’’
Finley says Lieberson’s “lyric voice is beautiful; he’s got a great sense of melody. It’s like all of these songs sound like they are already standard, part of the repertoire. They are extremely — I hate to use the word catchy — but there’s melody that’s instantly suited to the words and the mood of each poem.’’
Lieberson is not sure whether he’ll continue to compose in this style. “I might go in a completely different direction,’’ he says as he contemplates future projects, including a percussion concerto for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a piece for the National Symphony Orchestra to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.
Ryan McGinley is so talented that we even forgive him for the title of his new exhibit (link Not Safe For Work, NSFW) that just opened in New York at Team Gallery -- Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, that comes from a Neil Young song.
Basically, when someone walks in, I’ll talk to them, but then I sort of retreat into the camera. And if there’s one thing that I hate is that really silly photographer talk where you’re like, “Oh, you look great. Keep doing that.” So having someone else there with me who’s constantly engaging the model just lets the person be totally un-self-conscious. Brandy has the gift of gab, and everyone just loves her, so when people come in, she just instantly makes them feel very comfortable.
The other night at la Scala, the premiere of the new Tannhauser directed by La Fura dels Baus (and conducted by Zubin Mehta) went down quite badly, with loud, insistent boos and catcalls drowning out the final applause.
"Because as a young conductor, when you stand up in front of an orchestra for the first time, it's so easy to think, 'What are they thinking of me?' And the whole point is that it's completely rubbish. It's what they're thinking about the music you're doing."
Los Angeles Opera will make history in May by unveiling the company's first complete Wagner Ring cycle: it carries a chunky $32 million dollar price tag, and was created by director/designer Achim Freyer. Among the less-traditional choices made for the staging there are light sabers and puppet heads (photo below). Freyer's new production was already staged in parts for L.A. Opera the past year: Das Rheingold in February/March 2009; Die Walküre in April 2009 (with Plácido Domingo as Siegmund); Siegfried in September/October 2009 -- now Götterdämmerung’s premiere is imminent for April 3, and after its run, Der Ring des Nibelungen will be presented in L.A. Opera's first complete performances (in three full cycles) that will take over Los Angeles in May & June.
The man behind the Ring initiative is the Music Director of the L.A. Opera James Conlon, who has championed Wagner through his career and conducts all of Wagner’s works for the L. A. Opera. The American conductor's 60th birthday is today (YAY!) and Conlon’s still trailblazing. When he’s not at the L.A. Opera, he divides his time guest conducting at the world's top houses (we had him at La Scala in February for Rigoletto). He's also Music Director of the Ravinia Festival (the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival. His early career was marked as Principal Conductor for Paris National Opera, General Music Director of the City of Cologne, and Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic. All richly deserved, he’s got a couple of Grammys, a 2004 Commander de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a 2002 Légion d’Honneur.
In addition to Götterdämmerung and this summer's Ring cycle for L.A. Opera, Conlon's rehearsing a new production (by Ian Judge) for the U.S. premiere of Franz Schreker's late-romantic tragedy, Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized), the first time a Schreker opera will be heard in the USA (although his work has been staged in Europe). Four performances will be given of Schreker's best known work, and will be presented as part of Conlon's Recovered Voices Series, a unique project that revives the works of composers who were silenced by the oppressive ideology of the Nazi regime, erasing a legacy of (mostly Jewish, but not all) composers and musical heritage. Conlon's Recovered Voice project was inaugurated for the 2006/07 season and includes the works of Walter Braunfels, Erich Korngold, Ernst Krenek, Erwin Schulhoff, Viktor Ullmann, and Alexander Zemlinsky.
Opera Chic was able to speak with the American conductor in Milan while he was here last month to conduct (a critically acclaimed) Rigoletto at La Scala. We discussed with the maestro the L.A.’s Ring, his love for Zemlinsky and Varese, his ideas about interpretation, and all about Alma Mahler’s taste in men.