The fashion world has always relied on its young DJ darlings du jour to blast its armies of models down fashion week runways on dirty, thumping beats. But on Monday, Venezuelan-American fashion designer Carolina Herrera will
send her girls down the fall/winter 2013 New York Fashion Week runway
to a five-minute classical music pastiche called "Capriccio for
Carolina" by English composer Tom Hodge, adapted from Beethoven’s
Herrara commissioned the new work (which
cost $40,000 to produce) after tapping Hodge's eclectic Paganini Rocks in one of her past shows, Youtube above.
In Milan, however, leave it to the Italian fashion houses to faithfully tap into
their classical music roots -- we've heard Pavarotti and Verdi overtures at Dolce
& Gabbana shows and Cavalli, despite runway beats, often wheels out a
grand piano pre-show, twinkling with Chopin.
Last night, OC Götterfunken on with la Verdi at its annual Concerto di Capodanno to pre-ring in the New Year, Oppan Beethoven style. <-- topical humor -- don't shoot the messenger (unless the message said to shoot the messenger then kindly give us a five-second gentlemen's agreement head start.)
Since 1999, Milan's young, roguish la Verdi orchestra, based in bohemian neighborhood Navigli's Auditorium di Milano, has been singing its bloated-from-Xmas a$$ off with Beethoven's fetish-inducing Ninth symphony.
What better message to megaphone into the New Year than Schiller's Ode An Die Freude poem of unity and brotherhood? Really, a perfectly-formed narrative before the final O Freunde kiss of death.
To bow 2013, la Verdi's MD Zhang Xian gave us a-buck-twenty-five of sterling tempi, grave tension and four great soloists, including another American girl living in Milan, soprano Laura Aikin, and Austrian bass Thomas Tatzl who probably declines invitations from Abercrombie's street team recruiters every time he treads the pavement. Yeah, we crushing. Haters fly away. Read more next week when OC reviews the performance officially for her Grazia.it column -- and in case you missed it, here's her La prima della Scala Wagner Lohengrin.
OC's rhapsodizes endlessly on Wilhelm Furtwängler's ethereal August 22, 1954 Lucerne Beethoven's Ninth with the Philharmonia and Schwarzkopf, Cavelti, Häfliger and Edelmann for good reason -- it's a chillingly sober reconciliation of a man who understood he was living on borrowed time and was grappling with his own mortality ("This time I had one foot in the other world," he had told his wife) -- so we've cued it up on the 'tubes -- all Gioia-scintilla-divina-e-bella-nata-nell'aura-elisia of it. Enjoy Brothers!
Like popping endless bottles of Bollinger and tins of crème fraîche & Beluga spooned with mother of pearl antique spoons onto buttery blinis, the New Year in Milan traditionally brings Concerto di Capodanno, where on December 31st, OC annually rings in the approaching year with a live performance of Beethoven's Ninth. OC's already strapped-on 5 pairs of towering stilettos (at times, in snow) yearly to celebrate at Milan's Auditorium di Milan with her homebeezy Ludwig Van. This year being no exception, OC found herself in Auditorium's plush velvet seats for Wayne Marshall's sold-out Beethoven Ninth, Gucci black platform suede wedges, Alexander Wang black satin mini-dress, J Brand The Deal leggings, vintage '80s Tiffany & Co. bracelets from OC's mom & her favorite vintage Cartier, and a black Burberry trench all kept OC toasty in the cold mist that blanketed the city last night.
Oc's heard it all, every year an almost predictable reading of Beethoven's cultish 9th: 2005 brought us Herbie Blomstedt's adept & solid performance; in 2006 we heard Leonard Slatkin's sloppy mess; in 2007 the American maestro returned for a more careful read; and last year we heard Leopold Hager (filling-in last minute for an ill Vladimir Fedoseev), who dazzled us with Beethoven's Fantasia in C minor but fell short with the Ninth.
This year, British maestro Wayne Marshall took control of Orchestra Sinfonica and Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, and although we can't say it was particularly good, it was a fresh & witty & superfast reading of Beethoven's powerful symphony.
~*click the link below to continue reading & for photos*~
This Juilliard-trained violinist puts the pedal to the metal in a neo-classical tint. The Great Kat, shifting her former violin-love to electric guitar-love, prides herself on the Paganini technique: a left-handed skill she learned at Juilliard which relies on strong attacks. Her mission is to bring classical music to the masses via shred metal, a sub-genre of heavy metal music. Kat says that dead Maestros such as Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart and Paganini compliment the fast and furious strains of shred metal.
After graduating with honors from Juilliard and touring the world
on violin, she realized that, "classical music was dead, so she began
updating Classical Music with Speed Metal and transcribed intricate
violin solos to the guitar." Now she mixes Beethoven's 5th, Bach's
Brandenburg, and Paganini's Caprice 24 with her shredding styles. Below is "Beethoven Mush", which she claims is the "Beethoven of the 21st century"; Well, if Beethoven carried RIAA's Parental Advisory warning. \m/ \m/
[Update] Thanks to commentator, David, we've been pointed to a Youtube clip of a tête-à-tête between mustachioed '90s anchorman, George Ciccarone, who speaks to Kat from a NYC flophouse, where she smacks a portrait of Beethoven (her entire room is plastered in Beethoven posters), harasses old people, and compares herself to Jeanne d'Arc and Madame Curie. Her tagline: "You don't know Great Kat? Then get outta here!"
He tells me there's a dame. He's in love again. Crazy, obsessive love.
"Immortal Beloved" love, he would say. He says that he plays the dame
the Adagio of Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata on the stereo and
tells her, "This is how I feel about you."
This is a shot of Ellroy's apartment, with framed Deutsche Grammophon LP covers:
As per yearly New Year's Evening tradition, OC boogied down to Audtiorium di Milan to hear Orchestra Sinfonica and Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi's annual ~Concerto di Capodanno~. If you missed OC's adventures in the years prior, here's 2005/2006 and 2007. Again, we were signed on for Beethoven's 9th, but this time a bright & lovely additional surprise greeted us, in the form of Beethoven's Fantasia in C minor, opus 80. Holy unf, that was insanely good. Like a lovely little wedge of Beluga & crème fraîche before lobster. Novara-born pianist, Simone Pedroni, played with excellent control, well-paced fingering, and flawless pedal work. We loved his creamy & almost meditative approach. Even better, in his catalog biography, it's revealed that he cut a recording of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with *LOL-Records*. omg whut? I mean, ok, it's a serious typo (because Simone Pedroni is actually with *LoL Productions*) but it still makes us looool!
After a brief intermission, OC smoothed some of the wrinkles out of her Halston black silk shirtdress and shook the cold from her Marni black platform boots (it snowed all night, so her sweet, delicate little Louboutin booties had to stay behind). Then it was time for Beethoven's 9th with conductor Leopold Hager filling-in last minute for an ill Vladimir Fedoseev (who felt so terrible that he sent apologies in the form of a program insert stating that he fell ill with a cold and a virus after a concert in Berlin). We really liked Leopold Hager cuz he looked just like Ted Knight...you know, Henry Rush from 80s sitcom "Too Close for Comfort"?
Under direction of the adorable chorus master, Erina Gambarini, Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi sang with lovely phrasing, a nice range of dynamics, showing-off the rewards of good practice. Soloists were German soprano Dorothee Jansen, Milanese mezzo Gabriella Sborgi, Austrian tenor Kurt Azesberger, and Latvian bass Egils Silins. Everyone sang, well, you know...let's just focus on the spirit of the event here.
Sadly, no outings to Cernobbio this year...OC is still recovering from a double-punch of flu/cold that possibly felled poor Maestro Fedoseev as well. Happy 2009, y'all!
Can't slip into that holiday spirit while shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow man among the year-end shopping mall madness? Do as the Japanese! Your credit card debits are rewarded with strains of Beethoven's ubiquitous Ninth symphony.
Celebrating their 24th annual performance, we could easily argue that the Japanese weren't the first to mix classical music with the iconic mall setting.
During his 1904 American tour in New York City, Richard Strauss himself conducted concerts at the famous Wanamaker's, one of the first department stores in the USA -- a practice that horrified those boring Europeans but actually brought fine, fine music to the US public way before the heroic maestro Toscanini thankfully brought classical music to the North American masses. Oh hay...one hundred years later, we Americans have proudly replaced Strauss with Taylor Swift and Hannah Montana (who, in fairness, all look better on a plasma screen than that old balding half-a$$ed Nazi who played Wanamaker's!) .
Listening to classical music is one thing. Wearing it is another. If you're kewl enough to play off the inherent geek quotient, Ludwig could be an option. As if there weren't enough already, str8 outta L.A. comes another "high-end streetwear label" (read: Low-quality clothes with edgy marketing shilled to the cobrasnake/last night's party crowds so they can justify $50 for a cotton t-shirt) , however this time with an unpredictable protagonist as their brand identity. The creative powers behind the Ludwig brand have hailed Ludweegie van Beezie as their homeboi, stating,
"Ludwig draws inspiration from and pays homage to the work and
philosophy of one of the greatest minds of all time: Ludwig van
Beethoven. Despite being deaf in his later years, Beethoven crafted
beautiful music through hard work and a life-long commitment to quality
and art. Think Miles Davis' Byotches Brew vs. Beethoven's Ninth
Symphony...with a wry Clockwork Orange sense of humor thrown in for
In their collections, you can find pieces named after dead composers like the Bach shirt and the Elgar jacket, sporting a liberally-translated bust of El-Vee-Bee as mated with Alex DeLarge. I guess you could walk around wearing one of these shirts and be like, pffffff plebeians I know stuff about Beethoven no big deal. l@@k:
Currently in the performance rotation is the Opéra National du Rhin's run of Beethoven's Fidelio. Conductor Marc Albrecht leads the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg in the Andreas Baesler production of Beethoven's only opera. The production is in co-production with The Canadian Opera Company and Der Staatstheater Nürnberg and runs until June 26, 2008. Since OC couldn't be there (and neither could you), here are a few shots:
(Above: German bass-baritone John Wegner as Don Pizarro.)
(Above: Sopranos Christina Landshamer as Marzelline and Anja Kampe as Leonore.)
(Above: Jyrki Korhonen as Rocco and German bass-baritone John Wegner as Don Pizarro.)
With Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, this coming Saturday, Antonio Pappano will unveil with Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome a new work by cool-as-the-proverbial-cucumber Italian composer Luca Francesconi (former student of Stockhausen and Berio, Berio's assistant for many years, Mac user).
(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.
I didn't care that much for your compatriots on the stage, although Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi was pretty good, and Slatkin washed the passages in an overall lightheartedness that took away any of the heavy, frightening, & thunderous readings that we've heard in the past from dead maestri. Götterfunken, indeed. That was pretty balls out.
One of the coolest things about Beethoven -- there's like millions of them, obviously -- is the totally off tha hook metronome markings that make us lawl with joy and make conductors kinda go all like, "whatevs let's pretend it sez somethin else k rite thx".
But still, even if Opera Chic is an avid jogger, "Beethoven 5K Run", a Kentucky institution, leaves us kind of baffled.
June 1997, the event is pure KSO, mixing great music - in this case,
Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 - with an outdoor activity that appeals to a
wide-ranging, contemporary audience.
Beethoven, the original gangsta, gets a raptastic remix by rapper 50 Cent, splicing Beethoven's Ninth + In Da Club = omg, in a commerical spot for Glaceau’s Vitaminwater Formula 50 (50 Cent’s own grape-flavored invention).
It was recently rumored that 50 Cent (née Curtis Jackson) had bought 10% of the public stock a while ago, and on May 25 of this year when Coca-Cola Company bought Glaceau (the brand name behind Energy Brands beverage company) for 4.1 billion dollars, the rapper's share made him $400 million off the acquisition...but many sources dispute the truth behind this.
Are you guys getting this commercial in the USA?? Because all we have are those lame Lavazza and Mulino Bianco commercials.
We at OC hate commercials and hate the infectious, viral mass marketing of crap being pushed down our throats, but we love to imagine living in a world where Temirkanov or Tilson Thomas could bring down the house with remixes of The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa" or ODB's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya".
WilkommenWelcome to the 2007 Beethovenfest Bonn! We hope you like everything about Britain because this year's annual Beethoven festival program will highlight Beethoven's influence with the Land of Tea-Time, Worchester sauce, and lol crumpets lol.
Titled, "Joy! -- Beethoven and the British Cultural Sphere," (A Schiller "Ode an die Freude"-inspired name) the festival will thusly showcase British conductors and artists -- such as the Philharmonia Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis, and Sir Neville Marriner with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Beethovenfest Bonn 2007 will be held from August 24th to September 23rd, 2007, and will feature 61 performances, featuring works by Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar and Benjamin Britten, in addition to contemporary British composers.
Although Beethoven never actually made a visit to England, biographers assert that he had great desire to travel there. Beethoven suffered from Anglophilia. How sexy. He was inspired in one symphonic work by the Duke of Wellington’s 1821 victory ("Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria"), where one can find allusions to both "Rule Britannia" and "God Save the King."
[...] "When the Society learnt that Beethoven was both ill and much in need of money, the Directors decided that a sum of £100 should be sent to him 'to be applied to his comforts and necessities'. The money, held up en route, reached him only a few days before he died, but time enough for him to express his heartfelt appreciation to the Society. Schindler, his amanuensis, reported that 'the Society had comforted his last days, and that event on the brink of the grave he thanked the Society and the whole English nation for the great gift, God bless them.'"
(A scene from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. This year there was a Swarovski sponsorship.)
Capodanno (New Years) found Opera Chic splitting appearances between Milan and Cernobbio to enjoy/appease the best of both the city and the country, and drinking myself through an impressive reserve of early 1990s Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon Cuve'e Vintage and 1970s Mumm Vintage. I'm not str8 edge by any means so the vintage bubbly was quite nice (Opera Chic follows Jay Z and Diddy's boycott of Cristal.)
(An ad on via Brera for the Beethoven Slatkin Concerto di Capodanno)
As per a blossoming tradition, the early hours of New Years evening were spent at Auditorium di Milano at Largo Gustav Mahler for the annual Concerto di Capodanno. Teatro alla Scala is dark for Capodanno, so we intrepid pirates must find music at alternate venues. This year at Auditorium, there was a performance of Nona sinfonia di Beethoven - Beethoven's Ninth - with the Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.
Last year also found Opera Chic at Auditorium to enjoy Beethoven's Ninth, conducted by Herbert Blomstedt. OC remembers last year well, having just arrived in Milan a week prior, somewhat ignorant of the brilliance of Italian cashmere, and therefore unable to keep warm in the zero Celsius temperature. This year was much lovelier (nine degrees warmer) so OC set-out to Auditorium wrapped in a black short-sleeve waffle-knit Paul Smith cashmere sweater, with a matching Paul Smith high-waist black silk skirt; a vintage, double-breasted dark brown leather trench from Shabby Chic, black Chanel vintage pumps, and my Gucci midollino.
(A picture of the ceiling of Auditorium. I was sitting so close to the orchestra that it was impossible to snag a shot of the stage discretely.)
Singing Schiller's An die Freude was soprano Oksana Dyka, mezzo soprano Irina Cistjakova, tenor Simon O'Neill, and bass Stanislav Shvets. All were relatively worthy, but tenor O'Neill chose to interpret the usual old-skool heldentenor color instead with a very modern tenore di grazia. Whatever. It was almost impossible to hear him anyway, as OC's seat was about four rows from the stage, directly aligned with Oksana Dyka's deafening lyric. Also because of the proximity, I was unable to snap any good photos (too tacky!)
Slatkin made a bit of a mess with the Ninth Symphony. And when I say "a bit of a mess", I really mean, "a lot of a mess". Between the four movements, the concerto was a giant chaotic afterthought. I know that the orchestra is filled with kids my age, and I know that tackling Beethoven's Ninth symphony is a huge compromise and mastering between tempi, chorus, orchestra, as well as the conflicts within the sections of the orchestra; but Slatkin just didn't have any control. He sped through the entire performance at breakneck, careless speed which proved too fast for anyone but the strings to keep-up. His Allegro ma non troppo and Molto vivace clocked-in together at less than a half hour. The entire brass section was completely out-of-sync with the strings. They couldn't keep up. His Adagio molto e cantabile was even worse, with soloists flubbing fairly easy cadences. (The image to the left is of the interior architecture of Auditorium.)
It was only during the last movement, Presto, that Slatkin finally showed a bit of proficiency with the orchestra, and his frantic tempi (sort-of) worked. The reason being is that the chorus ignored his direction completely, and sang at their own speed, forcing Slatkin to slow down the entire tempo to one that was more manageable. Slatkin was just going too fast, and they weren't having it. This created a huge conflict within the entire ensemble, and the last movement was very tense. Overall, there were times when the entire piece went under, completely lost; there were also many instances when the piece didn't even sound like Beethoven's Ninth.
(A shot from 2005 Concerto di Capodanno at Auditorium; Blomstedt's Beethoven's Ninth.)
Last year conductor Herbert Blomstedt directed the same exact group of kids in Beethoven's ninth at Auditorium, but it could have been a completely different orchestra considering Sunday night's performance. Last year, Blomstedt was adept; the orchestra held tight, the choir synchronized, with everyone giving a very solid performance. Blomstedt propagated a ten minute standing ovation, whereas this year, we treated Stlatkin to like five minutes of tepid clapping before the orchestra scurried off the stage. (okay, there was one bis, with just the "fourth movement" of the Presto reiterated, and the soloists awkwardly smiling). yay.
The 2005 performance was also more exciting in the respect that OC had a run-in with someone quite spectacular. Last year as OC entered the garage where she had parked the car on Corso San Gottardo, as she was waiting for the auto, a large black 2005 model Mercedes pulled up. OC then witnessed the largest man she'd ever seen getting into the car. He was dressed impeccably, with a black cashmere overcoat and a gray cashmere scarf. OC was not yet familiar with Italian celebrity, but knew the world of soccer well. It was GiacintoFacchetti, a former legend of Internazionale Calcio, as well as the (at the time) current president of the Internazionale soccer team. (btw, when Facchetti passed away just this last September 2006, OC went directly to Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio the morning of his funeral to say goodbye. Arriving at 11:00 am, already the line was wrapped around the entire church, rows and rows of people waiting to honor the legacy of the former Inter leader. With appointments impending, OC had no choice but to leave, but it was touching to see so many people regardless.)
This year, no one of importance surfaced. Well, except me, of course! :)
And now OC must mention in passing the extremely awesome Beethoven's Ninth that she was treated to, the very evening she arrived in Milan last year. On Friday, December 23, 2005, she heard the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala play their annual Concerto di Natale, which was also Beethoven's Sinfonia n. 9 in re min. op. 125. It was conducted by Maestro Daniel Barenboim with Thomas Quasthoff singing baritone.
It was most exciting because everyone in Milan knew that this was a precarious moment time in Maestro Barenboim's career, as he was the most favored candidate to fill some sort of leadership position of influence after the turbulent, former reign of Muti's artistic and musical direction. We had been hearing many rumors that La Scala was going to ask Barenboim to fill the position of a guest conductor or some other leadership role, so it was awesome to see Barenboim on his best behavior, smiling broadly and prancing across the stage, absolutely effervescent.
But Barenboim had nothing to worry about, as La Scala was completely enthralled by his appearance. As the concerto drew to a close, it was obvious that this was a monumental Beethoven’s Ninth, and the audience acknowledged it with about twenty-five minutes of applause. Barenboim was ecstatic, and braved his laudatory applause well. The orchestra began that steady, rhythmic stomping of their feet on the floor to beacon their approval.
(Image of the Mehta Concerto di Capodanno with the Wiener Philharmoiniker. My friends don't have plasma!)
Then after Concerto di Capodanno, Opera Chic drove to Cernobbio, and promptly got wrecked. But not wrecked enough to wake up bright and early the next morning for the traditional viewing of the all-male review of the Wiener Philharmoniker playing the Neujahrskonzert 2007 aka New Year's Day Concert (well, the concerto started at 2:00 pm, but close enough). This year it was lead by his highness Zubin Mehta conducting a Johann Strauß and Josef Strauß heavy program. Here you are treated to the orchestra and a montage of arial views of Vienna in the springtime and ballet at Schloß Schönbrunn aka Schönbrunn Palace. And constant shots of Mehta's gigantic-shouldered wife applauded between every piece. It's super-lame, but you watch it in an ironic way. There's also the fascination that the Vienna Philharmonic is comprised of an amazingly all-white, all-male contingent (or is there already a female harpist?), as Alex Ross recently reported. Anyway, it's a huge deal in Europe, and tickets have a five-year waiting list.
(Another picture of Giulini's baton and first violin behind the glass at Auditorium di Milano.)
So if there is anything to be gleaned from the auspicious New Year celebration, the upcoming year will be filled with bad concerti but good champagne. Not bad, but OC hopes she read the signs wrong.