This year, though, she's staying home, because as yummy as Demel's Esterhazytorte, as historically informed Tomaselli's coffee is, between the fact that Jommelli's musical talent is not on the same level of Paisiello's absolute genius and that Demofoonte, no disrespect intended, is simply not as engaging as Calandrino's crazy antics, OC chose to sit this edition out.
(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.
Teatro Regio di Torino, under the musical direction of maestro Gianandrea Noseda, is currently staging Massenet's Thaïs. Opening night was awash with bewbs (thanks to Barbara Frittoli's Thaïs in a low-cut costume and topless chorus ladies -- a picture after the jump below), sensitive monkery in a black turtleneck (thanks to Lado Ataneli's Athanaël, tho we also must credit secondary cast's Simone Alberghini), twinkling orchestration (thanks to Noseda), and tumultuous chorus scrimmages, straight out of a Turner canvas (thanks to Stefano Poda's direction). The show runs until December 21, and it's a good excuse to visit Torino for Caffè Mulassano's excellent brioche (and espresso, of course). omg.
**Click on the link below for xXx NSFW naked lady bewbs**
To keep things in perspective, and oldie but goldie image of La Jenkins and La Church, aka The Battle Of The Bewbs (with oversize football used by Brits for a mysterious ancient game, like a pre-NFL pastime of Britannia's Barbarian populations).
Opera Chic loves the German papers because, unlike most American ones, they seem to operate under the assumption that "classical music" isn't a cuss word and concerts and the opera aren't just pastimes for the morons who don't appreciate a nice night sitting in front of the TV watching reruns of American TV shows (or even worse, reruns of non-American TV shows).
"In any event, there certainly wouldn't be a discussion like this with a man".
(Not that anybody would even want to discuss the bulge in former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's pants, frankly). OC of all people understands the appeal of bewbs -- she even inaugurated her blog a year and a half ago posting about Mozart's bewbs. Our unofficial motto is "Viva Le Bewbs".
But this Merkel thing is getting silly now.
Opera Chic's advice to Angela: just flash them.
They're all fourteen year olds, deep inside, these press dudes. And like fourteen year olds they'll all blush, run away, and then we'll all finally be able to move on.
Unlike some of his fellow countrymen who did indeed object to the sudden discovery of Chancellor Angela Merkel's ownership of a pair of breasts, that she suddendly displayed in Oslo creating a bit of a media stir, the powerful Bavarian Governor voted "aye" for bewbs, and more powah to him for that.
Last December 7, when we saw Angela Merkel at la Scala's premiere of Tristan, she was dressed more conservatively; the other night in Oslo, though, at the inauguration of the new opera house we blogged about last week, Big Angela chose to flaunt some serious bewbage: in the AFP photo above, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg with Scandinavian coolness manages not to ogle while La Merkel shows the operagoing Oslo peeps some serious Teutonic strength.
It's indeed obvious that Otto von Bismarck never would have done this. Thankfully, we add.
The German papers we skinned online this morning seem to be at the very least ambivalent. La Angela is rightly baffled. Unlike the Puritanical German press, as a pro-opera, pro-women, pro-bewbs blog, we happily endorse the new l00k.
Now she just needs to lose the bowl cut and we're defintely getting somewhere.
Pop-up picture below for the more scientifically minded readers:
Not that anybody cares at this point, but, bewbs aside, the main operatic attraction at the inauguration was Maria Guleghina:
(above: Maestro Lorin Maazel and the soloists from the Saturday, March 8, 2008 Beethoven Cycle)
Just back in after a night of Beethoven's Ninth courtesy of Maestro Kim-Jong Maazel @ Milan's Teatro degli Arcimboldi with Symphonica Toscanini and the chorus of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Piero Monti, maestro del Coro). Here are just a few impressions before the full review coming hopefully tomorrow.
(above: the exterior of Teatro degli Arcimboldi)
OC had been sorely disappointed by Maazel's Traviata last summer at la Scala, an unfortunate event plagued by shoddy conducting and by Angela Gheorghiu. But OC, even if it's very fashionable back in NYC, has never really chugged the Maazel Haterade; certainly not the warmest of conductors, Maazel nevertheless has very deep knowledge, the clarity and economy of his gesture is so elegant that he always leaves us speechless, and, to quote ourselves because it's late at night here and we're tipsy on post-performance Château d'Yquem, "a good 90 percent of people put in charge of orchestras nowadays would be well served by watching a few DVDs of Maazel in the quiet of their home and just, you know, pay attention to all the things that Maazel knows and they don't".
Anyway, to get immediately rid of the stuff we didn't like:
--> Maazel, unlike his orchestra -- everybody impeccable in white tie and tails -- showed up in a weirdy double-breasted tuxedo -- no tails, obviously -- and no tie at all and, especially, a pair of icky black shoes with thick rubber soles, the kind of shoes you see midlevel managers of second rate insurance companies wear on the LIRR when the weather's bad. We know the man is in his golden years, but if we can manage to strap on a pair of Gucci 7" velvet-printed platforms for the evening, he can equally compromise. The good news is that he at least got rid of the inexplicable mullet he sometimes favors.
--> Soprano Maria Luigia Borsi chose an unflattering cappuccino-colored dress with a downright bizarre fur stole (raccoon? Lordy, lordy). Her hair, greasy and unwashed, looked even worse than that shameless Spears girl who runs around Hollywood without panties. For somebody who already sang at la Scala, la Fenice, Torre del Lago, and the Opernhaus in Zurich, she should know better than look like Britney's older [opera-singing] sister.
--> Young Russian mezzo Anna Smirnova -- she'll be Princess Eboli this December 7th @ la Scala in Don Carlos under Daniele Gatti's baton so more than a few eyes were on her tonight -- showed up in a very tight (frankly, too tight for her) rubbery black dress with a dominatrix theme, and with an impossibly cantilevered (already quite massive) decolletage that made most people in the audience -- we could read it on their faces -- think "OMG b00bs!".
What about the performance itself, you ask? It'll be mostly the subject of our full review, coming soon, but suffice to say that Maazel chose deliberate tempi and very cool -- and, yes, somewhat restrained -- phrasing (one does not listen to Maazel for the big Lenny moments of unabashed emotion, right?). The only exception came in the 4th movement during the Turkish March, when he picked up pulse very fast, and kind of left poor Robert Dean Smith, the American tenor for the night, trying to chase the orchestra as Maazel mercilessly glanced at the poor man who, by the end of his part (sang quite well despite all) looked positively pink-faced (but gleefully giddy) with exertion.
Barely awake after partyin' all nite & damaging a fine reserve of vintage bubbly, OC watched live on ZDF a sizable slice of Maestro Pretre's not-so-fresh Sachertorte, the New Year's Concert from Vienna (we love GP, he's like a kindly grandpappy, and he almost always moves us: not today, tho, too weak, too flat -- in the last few years other conductors such as Jansons and Mehta have rawked Strauss much MUCH harder). OC then tuned her big shiny plasma to RaiUno, that had decided instead to broadcast live from la Fenice in Venice the Italian version of Vienna's classic new year's extravaganza.
The first part of the concert (Luisa Miller: Sinfonia; I vespri siciliani: Le quattro stagioni
Inverno, Primavera, Estate, Autunno) has been ruthlessly killed by Rai's powahs because the Pope was simultaneously giving a ginormous speech in Rome and Italy's most popular channel was totally whalin' on that, because if you'd rather listen to an old cranky Italian (Verdi) than an old cranky German (the Pope) you'll make the Baby Jesus cry; after the Pope hath spawken, finally, they managed to beam, live, the images and sound from Venice for the second part of the concert: a mashup of Italian opera arias and the inevitable Va' Pensiero. (not exactly the happiest sound to welcome the new years, but whatevs).
Maestro Roberto Abbado -- who hadn't chosen personally the program for the second part of the concert but had to execute a RAI-made list of blockbuster tunes, as he managed to wisely let know to Corriere della Sera's a few days ago -- managed to make lemonade out of those state-TV lemons, showing us once again what a fine, fine, elegant, underrated conductor he really is.
The singers: a juicy Barbara Frittoli who flaunted some exquisite colors, a massive bewbétage and, we're frank because we *heart* her, a dangerously sagging neckline (at the very least, she needs to be lighted very differently; Dr. 90210 can come to the rescue too); il maestro Ferruccio Furlanetto who shook the Fenice's recently rebuilt walls with the raw powah of his bass-baritone; and Marcello Giordani's last-minute replacement, il signor Walter Fraccaro -- Alagna's doppelganger for Zeffirelli's unlucky Aida of December '06 at la Scala -- who was just happy that Alagna was nowhere to be seen. Sadly, Alagna would have totally eaten WF's lunch, and we're not sayin' much here, are we.
As we said above, Abbado's beautiful phrasing managed not to drown Va' Pensiero in the usual sea of corniness, kept Libiamo's band-like waves of sound within the limits of the acceptable, and even Aida's Marcia Trionfale (photo above) was elegantly shaped by the Milanese maestro. Who gets a bonus because he didn't show up, like many conductors lazily choose to do, in white tie for a morning concert. Avoiding the stuffy classic morning suit, he opted for a beautiful midnite blue suit with simple white shirt and pearl gray tie, an OC rating of A. Very nice also the natural gray of the maestro's hair.
Abbado's hand clasping Frittoli's for the post-concert applause:
New Year bonus for our readers: a closeup of la signora Frittoli's impressive cleavage. No n1pple slip, mebbe next year! Rawk on 2(.)(.)8
Since Luciano Pavarotti died, Opera Chic has been receiving a fair amount of email asking basically the same question: why is it that Pavarotti was the last of the great Italian tenors, and now Italian opera is all about Peruvian, or Mexican, or Argentinian tenors? Why is it, they ask, that the Italians are getting pwnZrd at their own game? Whare r the great Italian tenors, they ask?
OC's verdict is, ahem, no qway Kosay. Because maybe it is true that, as Juan Diego Florez usually says, there must be something in the Peruvian tap water that works some strange magic for tenors -- and that magic water does seem to have gotten scarce in Italy's aqueducts.
But dissing the Italian singers doesn't really cut it -- because even if it is true that, for example, recently, Italy's biggest hope circa 2000-2003 -- Salvatore Licitra -- has turned out to be not as awesome as we all thought/hoped he'd become, and we all know about Roberto Alagna's troubles in recent years -- RA comes from a family of Italian immigrants to France, and he's more Franco-Italian, technically, and his best repertoire is French opera, even if his youthful Alfredo at la Scala under Muti is still a joy to listen to -- but despite Licitra's and Alagna's problems Opera Chic thinks that hope is on the way.
Because not only there are excellent singers who are becoming better known -- such as Giuseppe Filianoti, 32, who has a brilliant future ahead if he carries himself better than other less professional contemporaries -- and, we have to say, we're impressed by Vittorio Grigolo, whose talent is definitely there but who risks to follow the dangerous sirens of crossover big buck$ toward the abyss of crapstatic artistic achievement. If Filianoti keeps studying and takes good care of his voice, and if Grigolo tones down the Orlando Bloom-ish photo shoots and the "popera" stuff -- how barfogenic are his side projects, fo' reals -- the glory is just there, gleaming in the distance.
And Filianoti studied with Carlo Bergonzi, Grigolo with Pavarotti: they certainly had the best teachers, it's up to them now -- the future can be theirs.
But history is now, and Italy already has a tenor with a gigantisaurous voice, a beautiful timbre, impeccable professional credentials and intense acting skillz.
You may not hear his name a lot because by all accounts -- OC has never had the pleasure to meet him -- he is a shy, private man who'd rather spend his work hours rehearsing and studying, and his free time with family (and we hear that -- he's a native Genoan -- he cooks a mean linguine al pesto); averse to the pimptastic media system that often builds hype where there is very little voice to support such hype, he nevertheless sings the Italian repertorio with talent, passion, and class in many of the most important opera houses around the world (Vienna Staatsoper, Scala, Liceu, Met, Covent Garden, San Carlo di Napoli, Regio di Parma).
But then, he can afford to avoid the pitfalls of the hype machine.
Because Fabio Armiliato, heir to the greatest lineage of Italian opera tenors, has this voice*
* and we ride in a LOLs Royce every time we see this video's ending, because Gergiev as always loses his peWp and goes full blasts drowning poor Armiliato, Val just can't avoid it, the baton is like a sledgehammer for him sometimes, but the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus's audience drowns Gergiev back, with a thunder of applause, all for Fabio.
This is one of the highlights from the successful, nostalgic "I Dreamed" Maidenform bra ad campaign that was launched in 1949, and lasted well through the 1960s. [An article on Ida Rosenthal, founder and chair(woman) of American company Maidenform can be found here.] The advertisements highlighted models in both everyday situations and extraordinary scenarios, wearing nothing but the appropriate costumes accented with Maidenform bras.
"Sweet Music", a specific model of bra, was available for a mere $2.50, and was proclaimed as the: "Sweetest bra this side of heaven...it was born to be worn with the 'Empire Look'". The actual bra can be found here. No offense, but when OC makes her triumphant debut at the MET, you sure as heyll won’t find no Maidenform supporting my (.)(.) I’d have to be paid in the souls of the innocent to put that bewb armor near my tender skin.
Another ad from the “I Dreamed” series features the epiphany, “I dreamed I played in an all-girl orchestra in my maidenform bra.” Or maybe it's one of Gérard Mortier's edgy new ideas for the NYCO.
The all-girl orchestra is pretty hot, tho. In fact, it reminds me of this vvvvv
At Vienna's Theater an der Wien New Zealander surfer dude Teddy Tahu Rhodes and his abs star as Stanley Kowalski in André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire. Sister-in-law Blanche is played by Janice Watson and preggers wife Stella is played by Mary Mills.
This was the Austrian premiere of an operatic version of Tennessee Williams's superawesome 1947 play
Valentine's Day is approaching and there's no better way to celebrate it on an Opera blog than to pay our respects to a cool opera couple -- on stage and off: the divinely bewbalicious Daniela Dessì -- an Opera Chic favorite -- and her dark boytoy Fabio Armiliato. The couple is getting the excellent reviews they deserve for their performance in Vienna: a hawt, Robert Carsen directed Manon Lescaut with big extra helpings of teh sexiness, and lots of pushup bras. Costumes by Victoria's Secret.